The 10 Best Racing Drones

Updated October 03, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

10 Best Racing Drones
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Flying a drone is both thrilling and challenging, especially when you're doing so at speeds that can reach well over 50 miles per hour. We put these racers through their paces by considering factors like camera resolution, flight stability and responsiveness, and by their resilience after those inevitable crashes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best racing drone on Amazon.

10. Holy Stone HS200

The budget-friendly Holy Stone HS200 offers an altitude hold function and one-key automatic return-to-home feature, and its rapid-recharging 3.7V, 650mAh, LiPo power cell needs only an hour to be fully charged and ready to rip for 7-9 minutes.
  • headless mode for easy navigation
  • intuitive smartphone app integration
  • has a tendency to drift
Brand Holy Stone
Model pending
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Air Hogs Helix X4

Because its rotors are shielded by protective foam housings that reduce the risk of injury and/or property damage, the Air Hogs Helix X4 is one of the few options that can be safely flown indoors and even piloted by youngsters or newbies.
  • crash-resistant exoframe
  • intuitive controls are easy to use
  • too heavy for serious competition
Brand Air Hogs
Model 20070359
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Hubsan X4

With distinct flight modes for beginners and experts, the versatile Hubsan X4 strikes a good balance between responsiveness and ease of use. While its camera is better than its speed, it can hold its own against other racers and send exciting live feeds of the competition.
  • spare propeller guards
  • follow-me function
  • heavier than other racers
Brand Hubsan
Model H501SW
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Eachine Wizard X220

While the Eachine Wizard X220 isn't made for cheapskates, considering that you get a speedy quadcopter and an impressively well-designed remote control, complete with a large, crisp monitor, for less than it costs to put together a custom kit, it's a pretty decent bargain.
  • spare propellers included
  • longer flight times than most units
  • no altitude hold function
Brand Eachine Tech
Model pending
Weight 4.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. TBS Vendetta

Experienced racers can reach speeds as high as 70-100 mph for short bursts with a souped-up TBS Vendetta quadcopter. For aggressive or accident-prone pilots, its modular design and quick-swap arms make solder-free repairs a snap, and replacement parts are easy to come by.
  • fully configurable via osd
  • up to 5 minutes flying per charge
  • crash-resistant carbon fiber body
Brand Team Blacksheep
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. DYS XDR220

Fully assembled and equipped with an HD camera, flight controller, transmitter and FPV goggles, the DYS XDR220 comes with everything you need to get started in competitive high-speed flying, giving you the chance to earn your stripes before building your own custom racer.
  • powerful brushless motors
  • lightweight carbon fiber fuselage
  • balancing charger included
Brand USA Toyz
Model pending
Weight 7.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. ImmersionRC Vortex 250 Pro

Topping out at about 60 mph, the ImmersionRC Vortex 250 Pro is capable of precision cornering without losing speed, giving it an edge over faster racers that slow down when banking curves. Flanged aluminum lock nuts prevent the rotors from working loose in flight.
  • foldable airframe
  • anti-vibration carbon fiber plate
  • preloaded cleanflight parameters
Brand ImmersionRC
Model pending
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Blade Inductrix

Playful-looking but tough as nails, the Minionesque Blade Inductrix is equipped with a 25mW video transmitter and 4.3-inch FPV monitor for tracking your tiny yellow speedster's in-flight progress, and high-performance motors compensate for the weight of the onboard camera.
  • recharges in about 40 minutes
  • bicolor led visibility lighting
  • 5-7 minutes flying time
Brand Blade
Model BLH8500G
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Holy Stone F181

Packing the capabilities of a higher-end racer into an affordable, lightweight and durable airframe, the Holy Stone F181 is a good place to start making tracks and customizing your design to leave all those other quads in the dust.
  • comes with an extra battery
  • flies for up to 9 minutes per charge
  • has altitude hold and one-key return
Brand Holy Stone
Model F181
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Walkera Rodeo 110

Delivering speed and performance without leaving a giant hole in your budget, the Walkera Rodeo 110 has a sturdy carbon-fiber airframe to withstand high-velocity collisions. Quick-swap batteries, flexible rotors and a modular design make recharging and repairs easy.
  • efficient brushless motor
  • responsive and versatile controls
  • compatible with fatshark headsets
Brand Walkera
Model Rodeo 100/RTF1-DEVO 7
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Racing Drones

The first unmanned military aircraft buzzed like a bee, so much so that those who witnessed it in action started calling it a drone.

Today's slick and compact consumer racing drones hardly resemble their military predecessors. Most military drones have a single rotor and fixed wings or are jet powered, while racing and consumer drones are based on a four-rotor design nearly as old as manned flight.

The earliest quadcopters were regarded by some engineers and inventors as a possible alternative to the dominant fixed-wing design. Promoted for its vertical takeoff potential, these primitive quadcopters were unstable and challenging to pilot. For this reason, the design was largely abandoned for decades.

As components like flight controllers, cameras, and GPS units became smaller and more affordable in the late 2000s, drones were produced in increasing numbers by the military and hobbyists alike.

Manufacturers of the first consumer drones enhanced the aged quadcopter design, and it proved stable and nimble. Modern consumer drones are almost exclusively powered by batteries, which grow smaller and more powerful every year. Thanks to this improved battery capacity, drones are now used in disaster areas to establish emergency communications networks.

Consumers and researchers found many applications for the cameras aboard most drones, and they are now used on film shoots and deployed by photographers worldwide. Cameras are also used in auto-follow drones, which can lock on and move in synchronization with a target.

Competitors and observers in drone racing rely on these cameras, as well. Onboard cameras grant the operator a first-person view useful in navigation, and the video feed is shared with observers, granting them an up-close view of the action.

Drone racing started as an amateur sport in Australia in 2014, and has since spread throughout the world.

Drone Safety And Legal Issues

For more than two years American drone operators were required to register their drones with the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

However, in May 2017, a federal court struck down the FAA requirement, and today, personal-use drones need not be registered.

While operators no longer have to register their drones, the FAA still has numerous safety suggestions and rules. The administration advises limiting flights to 400 feet in altitude and maintaining line of sight with the drone at all times. Even with advanced consumer drones, it is dangerous to lose radio contact. While most drones manufactured today have auto-descent programs that trigger when signal is lost, there is no guarantee that the drone will land in a safe place.

The FAA also warns against flying near airports, manned aircraft, and emergency workers. Because of the danger posed by high-speed rotors, operators should also avoid flying over people, public venues, and sporting events, according to the administration.

In 2017, the FAA researched the risks of falling drones and found that they were not as dangerous as similarly weighted items. Despite this, the FAA still requires operators to secure approval before flying over populated areas. Before flying over people, operators should make certain their quadcopter has a blade guard installed. These guards limit exposure of quadcopter blades, and are essential to safely flying over people, the FAA reports.

The FAA is especially concerned about the dangers associated with flying drones near emergency workers. Commercial drones were detected flying near a southern California wildfire in 2015, leading officials to suspend their fire-fighting air missions twice in a single week. The large tankers and helicopters used by firefighters operate at low altitudes, comparable to those of consumer and commercial drones.

While a drone may seem insignificant next to one of these large aircraft, a mid-air collision could cause tremendous damage, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The FAA compares the danger posed by drones to that of birds, which although small can still damage a plane, particularly if they are sucked into a jet engine.

Racing Drone Technology and Organization

In the popular first-person view drone racing format, the pilot sees precisely what the drone camera sees.

In most leagues, video from the drone is fed to the pilot's head-mounted display via radio signal. Drone control and video require extreme radio bandwidth, and the technology to support today's racing leagues only recently became available.

While most consumer drones are suitable for some form of racing, competitive leagues have a number of standards, and they should be researched before enrolling in an event. For instance, the Drone Racing League manufactures and supplies pilots with its own drones. Other leagues allow competitors to bring their own drones, as long as they meet certain specifications.

Unlike standard consumer drones, racing drones are designed with a single purpose: rapid movement. Where a photography-focused drone will often feature four equally-spaced motors in an X-pattern, a racing drone is likely to have its four motors in an H-configuration. This H-arrangement grants the quadcopter more forward thrust, and less vertical thrust.

Racing drones are typically assembled with lighter weight components than other models, and feature more powerful electric motors. While this makes the quadcopters faster and more agile, it also makes them challenging to pilot. The best drone pilots have steady hands and quick reaction times.

Course layouts vary by league. The Drone Racing League builds obstacle-laden, single-lap courses with bright lights, and illuminated movie props. By contrast, the U.S. National Drone Racing Championship mostly races in open spaces, with fewer obstacles.

The world's richest drone race was the 2016 World Drone Prix, which awarded its winner $250,000. Held in Dubai, the race touted a total prize fund that exceeded $1 million.

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Last updated on October 03, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

An itinerant wordsmith with an alphabet-soup of credentials to her name, Lydia has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts, throwing herself into a broad constellation of interests. From antithetical cultural analysis to interdisciplinary combat training, she bears the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience. Reading, biking and exploring are favorite pastimes, but – with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order (not on speaking terms with a higher power) and becoming an artist (can’t even draw a respectable stick-figure) – she’d try almost anything once.

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