Drones are one of the coolest changes to arise from the rise of robotics and automation technology. These powerful tools are used for everything from military and rescue operations to farming, but not all drones have such serious purposes. Racing drones may be used primarily for (you guessed it), racing, but that doesn’t mean they’re mere toys.
The tuning and customization options can seem almost as serious as tuning up a hot rod, but the range of models here are broad, and getting into the world of drone racing doesn’t have to be that difficult. HotRate is here to help you recognize the best racing drone models on the market going into 2020 and provide you with the knowledge you need to shop smarter.
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10 Best Racing Drones - Fall 2020:
- Hubsan H122D X4 Storm 5.8G FPV Racing Drone
- Walkera F210 Professional Racer Quadcopter Drone
- Goolsky JJRC H31 Waterproof Racing Drone
- ARRIS X-Speed 250B V3 250 Racing Drone
- Fat Shark FPV Racing Drone
- UVify OOri Racing Drone
- ARRIS C250 V2 250mm RC FPV Racing Drone
- ImmersionRC Vortex 230 Mojo ARF Racing Quad
- EMAX Hawk Sport 5″ Inch PNP FPV Racing Drone
- RISE Vusion House Racer Ready to Fly (RTF) Drone
1. Hubsan H122D X4 Storm 5.8G FPV Racing Drone
Available for about half the price of the Arris X-Speed, the Hubsan H122D X4 Storm is a compact and nimble drone. Its size and great sense of stability make this drone one of the best choices for flying indoors or outdoors, and the 720p camera is even a step up from what the X-Speed can offer. Even cooler, this drone's best feature may be the inclusion of VR goggles that let you immerse yourself right in the middle of the race.
Whether you're just getting started at drone flying or a more seasoned racer looking to flex your skills, this drone can scale to your demands. 3D rolls can be performed with quick and simple flicks of the control stick, while the expert mode takes the training wheels off entirely, allowing you greater speed and mobility at the sake of the sort of safety features that help beginners get oriented.
2. Walkera F210 Professional Racer Quadcopter Drone
Beginners won't get a lot of use out of the Walkera F210, but it's one of the best drones on the market for pilots with a little more experience. This is a fast and solidly constructed racing drone with a frame made mostly from carbon fiber and aluminum, and that allows it to stay nimble and responsive while still being able to take a hit. The equidistant axis design similarly bolsters the stability of this drone. The F3 flight controller is especially impressive, letting you customize your settings through your computer.
This is a drone that's designed for use with FPV goggles, and with a 700 TVL cam supported by a 5.8G transmission rate means you won't have to worry about lag throwing off your performance in the middle of a race. It also offers one of the longest control distances around with a best in class maximum range of 400 meters.
3. Goolsky JJRC H31 Waterproof Racing Drone
The Goolsky JJRC H31 isn't going to win you any serious drone racing tournaments, but it's a great toy that can also double as an opportunity to cut your teeth in how to operate a drone. Learning the fundamentals is easy. A headless mode ensures that you don't have to worry too much about the more complex navigation, and performing 3D flips is as simple as turning the stick. There's even a one key return function, so you'll never have to worry about your drone getting lost.
And in case you do make a mistake early on, this is a dependably reliable choice. Its frame is fully waterproof and makes use of a six axis stabilization system so you can fly easily in wind or rain without losing your balance. This may be an entry level drone, but it can last for nearly 10 minutes on a single charge.
4. ARRIS X-Speed 250B V3 250 Racing Drone
On the other side of the price equation is the ARRIS X-Speed 250B. This drone may come with a $300 price tag, but it's a capable means to actually learn the ropes for drone racing. That's not to say it's pretty. As a drone that's been stripped down to its base components, the X-Speed 250B is more focused on helping you with the fundamentals. With everything easy to identify and accessible, you can easily repair or swap out parts as need be and develop an intimate understanding of how a drone works.
And there's no doubt that this is a fast drone. It can reach a speed of up to 60 miles per hour in the right conditions, and that's before you even make some adjustments to it. As an added bonus, it comes with a dedicated 700 TVL cam that can help you make the most of the long distance supported.
5. Fat Shark FPV Racing Drone
Fat Shark is legendary in the drone racing scene thanks to the fact that their headsets are basely recognized as synonymous with racing. But this kit is proof that they can make drones nearly as well as they can make drone headsets. The drone itself looks really cool thanks to the fact that it's shaped like a shark, and it maintains a lightweight design despite promising some of the best durability in the price range.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Fat Shark if it didn't include its own headset, and these continue to be the best in the business. The goggles included work well, fit well, and look stylish, and it even comes with a simulator for the Drone Racing League and three months of membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics. This may just be a starter kit, but it's one of the best ways to learn about drones.
6. UVify OOri Racing Drone
The UVify OOri is marketed as the "world's first smart racing drone", and while we don't quite buy that argument, it's still a great drone whether you're an experienced drone pilot or just looking for one of the best ways to learn, the tools are right available to you. You can shift between beginner, intermediate, and racing modes. And once you achieve the confidence to advance into racing mode, this drone can achieve a speed of up to 50 miles per hour. Thanks to its small size, this drone can even work indoors.
A decent selection of additional specialized modes are also included here. Acro mode is the best means for beginners to pull off stunts, since it allows you to accomplish complex acrobatics with a simple twist of the stick. Multiple OOri drone models can race each other comfortably because of the ability to assign colors to each.
7. ARRIS C250 V2 250mm RC FPV Racing Drone
The second Arris quadcopter to make an appearance on our list employs a design that similarly puts practical access and functionality over aesthetics, but it's a decision that works. The incredibly flat build makes it easy to learn the ins and outs of how your drone operates and replace or repair any parts as necessary. It's easily one of the best models in terms of modular design. Each Arris drone has been tested before delivery so all you have to do is turn it on to get it up and running.
Also different from the traditional drone is the presence of an innovative new rotor system. These rotors offer some of the best performance in the business, with speeds of around 10% above that of a more traditional propeller. Durability is also key here thanks to a frame made from steel and some durable magnets.
8. ImmersionRC Vortex 230 Mojo ARF Racing Quad
The ImmersionRC 230 Mojo is an RTF ready to fly drone built with racing in mind, but it can also double pretty effectively as a stunt drone if that's what you're looking for. All you have to do is mount the props and plug in the battery, and this drone will be up and ready to deliver a racing experience in a matter of minutes. This is a serious drone through and through, with a level of power that's practically unrivaled and a lightweight frame that helps you make the most of that juice so you can push over the finish line.
And while this racing drone doesn't come with its own FPV cam, it has a mount to hold one, so you can actually pick a cam that works for your needs rather than be stuck with a sub-par video experience that you aren't satisfied with.
9. EMAX Hawk Sport 5″ Inch PNP FPV Racing Drone
The Hawk Sport is one of the fastest RTF drones on the market, so it's a surprise that it's so small. With a five inch frame, this is a drone that you can use for racing indoors, but its durable frame and high speeds make it just as appropriate for more traditional course racing. This is one of the few ready-to-fly drones with a s top speed over 100 MPH, and that makes it an appropriate choice even for seasoned racers.
A lot of people who know FPV drone racing through and through have clearly worked on the design of this model. The motors find the perfect balance between weight and power, while the props rely on linear response for transitioning between speeds, and they offer a sense of smoothness that's both highly effective for racing and a whole lot of fun for more casual users.
10. RISE Vusion House Racer Ready to Fly (RTF) Drone
Few drone racing kits are as comprehensive as what you'll find with the RISE Vusion. While this drone is best used indoors, it comes with everything you need to get comfortable with the fundamentals of flying a drone. A battery charger is to be expected when picking up an RTF drone, but this model also comes with a dedicated cam, goggles, and flight controller, and you can pick it up for right around $150.
This is also a drone that will keep pace with your learning, so you can enjoy your time in the air rather than struggling with a drone that's too slow or too dummy proofed to suit your needs. Three different flight modes mean you can progress to more advanced flight methods on your own time, and the 6 channel radio ensures that you won't have to concern yourself about losing the signal of your racing drone.
Racing Drone Buyer’s Guide
We’ve put together a lot of guides for drones here at HotRate. If you want to know everything you could possibly learn about drones, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to drones. In this guide, we’ll focus our attention on the features and qualities as they specifically apply to racing drones. We hope that when you’re done, you can shop for a race drone with confidence.
Any racing drone worth your time is going to come with an FPV (first person view) cam built in, but the actual quality of the FPV resolution isn’t as much of a big deal for racing drones as it is for drones used for aerial photography. You typically won’t find a 4K video experience here. Instead, the experience is focused more on delivering footage at quick speed rather than on delivering drone pilots crystal clear vistas. As such, the resolution tends to be downgraded for the sake of communicating as quickly and clearly as possible.
In terms of resolution, there are some 1080p models available, but that’s about the highest resolution pilots will experience. More common are 700 TVL models that deliver a resolution experience of 976 x 582. The best drone models use a 5.8G transfer rate to communicate the video right from the drone to the screen of your controller or phone.
Ready to Fly or Self Constructed
Among racing drones, best models are always going to be self constructed. The ability to customize your individual parts lets pilots tune up performance in a way that RTF simply doesn’t allow. But if you’ve never used an RTF drone before, you’re going to have a lot of questions when looking to build one from scratch. For those new to racing, we always suggest an RTF model. While it won’t have the power that you’d get from building your own drone (and it won’t be competitive in the racing circuit), these racing drones offer you a great way to improve your skills without running the risk of causing them bad damage.
Durability and Safety
If you’re flying a drone for the first time, chances are good that you’re going to experience a crash or two. If that’s the case, you’re going to want to make sure that you invest in a racing drone that offers some level of safety in the instance of a crash. The most important thing to pay attention to is the materials that your drone is constructed from. Cheaper drones tend to be made from plastic, but we’ve largely excluded them from our list. You should keep an eye out for models made from carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is highly durable but also very lightweight, so you don’t have to sacrifice speed for the sake of safety.
If you’re still an amateur, you should also look for safety features. Functions like headless mode, automatic shutdown, and one touch landing and launching can be a great way to safely learn how to fly a racing drone without worrying about destroying it in the process. But if you do opt for a model with a lot of safety features, be sure to keep an eye out for models that offer more advanced modes. While safety features can be a boon for new pilots, they’re only going to get in the way as you become more comfortable flying.
No matter what drone you get, you’re going to have to deal with the fact that you’ll spend significantly more time charging it than you will playing with it. Drones typically offer a flying time of 10 minutes or less, and a battery charger will often take an hour or more to charge. It’s an unfortunate side effect of investing in a drone, but it’s also one that can largely be averted. We suggest investing in at least one backup battery so you can always have a second power source ready to go when you need it. And while all of the drones on our list come ready to fly already, many of them can be customized. Seeking out new batteries and chargers can often help you squeeze more time out of your battery.
Most drones don’t come with goggles, but we highly recommend you at least think of investing in some if you plan on getting serious about racing. Fat Shark is the most popular manufacturer of goggles, and they’re well worth the purchase. With a good pair of goggles, you can immerse yourself directly in the racing experience for everything from practice to serious competition. Just make sure that the drone you have offers support for the goggles you invest in so you don’t have to end up sending them back for a replacement option.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Fast Are Racing Drones?
The best racing drones can hit speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, but that doesn’t mean that’s what you should start with. The top racing drone on our list offers a top speed of just over 100 miles per hour, and if you’re a beginner, you’ll want to fly much slower to start. While RTF (ready to fly) models are common, you’ll get the best results out of investing in a custom racing drone.
What is the Fastest Drone on the Market?
If you’re looking for a ready to fly racing drone with FPV functionality, you’re not going to get the highest speeds possible. But you can get a lot of juice out of an RTF racing drone. The UVify OOri racing drone and the Walkera F210 racing drone can achieve a speed of up to 50 miles per hour, but the fastest racing drone we’ve highlighted is the EMAX Pro Sport which features a top speed of 105 miles per hour.
How Much Does it Cost to Get into Drone Racing?
If you’re just looking to learn the ropes and figure out if drone racing is right for you, you can get decent racing drones for less than $200. But if you really want to excel in the field, you’re going to want to invest significantly more. Some of the more high end racing drones on our list can cost three times that, though they aren’t exactly catered to the needs of beginners. If you get really serious about racing drones, you’ll probably want to eventually start building your own to get the best experience rather than rely on a ready to fly drone.
How Much Does a DRL Pilot Make?
The Drone Racing League may offer a relatively new experience, but the sport of racing drones is quickly becoming more and more appealing. While beginners likely won’t make any money for some time to come, drone pilots can earn up to a $75,000 endorsement for winning the Swatch DRL Tryouts in the DRL Sim. It’s a great way for beginners to start becoming competitive, and serious DRL pilots can make over $100,000 a year for competing.
If you aren’t ready to start building your own drone, there are a lot of racing drones on our list that can suit your needs. Whether you’re brand new to racing drones or a hobbyist, FPV racing drones provide a great way to learn the ins and outs. They offer great speed and power, but if you decide that you want something a little different, you can trade in your racers for products that appear on our best drones for photography and best drones for kids lists.If you liked our article on racing drones, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.