hero-walkera-f210-3dSource: Walkera

Best Racing Drones iMore 2020

Drone racing is one of the fastest-growing sports, and it's a fun hobby or pet project to pick up. It requires an investment of time and equipment but has a relatively low cost of entry. Ready to get started? My top pick is the Walkera F210 3D, but it's not the only drone I recommend. This list will guide you to the best racing drone for your skill level and budget.

Best Overall: Walkera F210 3D

walkera-f210-3d-lifestyleSource: Walkera

Ready-to-fly quadcopters have opened up the world of drone racing to the masses. No longer do you have to build your own aircraft to participate in the sport. Today's pilots can invest in a fun-to-fly drone that's ready to go right out of the box. The Walkera F210 3D is one such racing drone, and it's also our best overall pick this year. If you don't have the time or desire to build your gear, this pre-assembled quadcopter should be on your shortlist of possible aircraft choices.

Walkera has fine-tuned the receiver on this model to deliver maximum speed and minimum response time. In conjunction with a bow body design, an antenna that bends both ways, and a 13-ounce lightweight but sturdy carbon fiber body, the F210 3D will bring your A-game to the field. The center of gravity on the F210 3D is in the middle of the aircraft, making your flights more stable and your turns more agile. The Walkera also flies safer. They've bumped up protection over the motor so, even in the event of a crash, you won't lose your aircraft's most valuable asset. The battery on this model is a 4S, so it's capable of higher top speeds than previous generations and much of the competition.

When switched into 2D aerobatic mode, the F210 3D can perform flips, rolls, and other cool acrobatic movements. The switch is seamless, and it doesn't stutter with performance, or with moving in and out of dives. When something does break, and it will, fixes are easy with included hex keys and plug-in style connections that require no soldering. My one beef: camera resolution is low. If that seems an odd oversight, it's because it is. The analog camera gets the job done, but there's room for improvement and a clearer picture. If that doesn't bother you, this is the best racing drone for your money today.

Pros:

  • Covered motor
  • Agile turning radius
  • Good for beginners to experts
  • Fun acrobatic modes
  • Works straight out of the box

Cons:

  • Low camera resolution

Best Overall

Walkera F210 3D

A tough little racer and fun acrobatics drone

It comes with a long-lasting battery, hex keys, and motor protection. It also rocks at flips, rolls, and races.

Best Value: Holy Stone HS150

holy-stone-hs150-racing-drone-lifestyleSource: Holy Stone

Getting into drone racing doesn't have to set you back an entire paycheck. The Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee Mini Racing Drone is proof of that. Our best value pick comes with lots of extras, including two batteries and extra propellers. With a low starting price, this ready-to-fly drone gives you raw flight experience and speeds that are truly impressive.

First, let's touch on the many goodies included in the box. This is a fully packed kit that comes with the quadcopter, a 2.4GHz controller, two batteries, one charging cable, four propeller guards, eight spare propellers, two landing mats, and an instruction manual. There's no camera on this drone, so if that's a must-have, it's best to choose another option.

If you're in it to win it and don't care about flight video, this rock-solid racing drone from Holy Stone is a gem in both performance and price. While beginners can use it, it has no altitude hold, so it's suited more toward those with a few flight hours under their belt. If that's you, this is a lightning-fast quadcopter with quiet motors and excellent wind resistance that's also able to perform flips, dives, and other trippy moves. And with included propeller guards, you can practice your skills indoors without fear of shearing off propellers or damaging your favorite lampshade.

Pros:

  • High power quiet motors
  • Fast
  • Good wind resistance
  • Affordable
  • Lots of extras included

Cons:

  • No camera

Best Value

Holy Stone HS150

A big kit with a little price tag

You'll get a lot for your money with the Holy Stone HS150. Motors are quiet, it's fast, and it comes with a pleasing price tag.

Best Pocket Drone: ImmersionRC Vortex 150 Mini

immersionrc-vortex-150-lifestyleSource: ImmersionRC

The Immersion RC Vortex 150 Mini ARF Racing Quad is a fantastic choice as a first quadcopter for those new to the world of drone racing. Setup is easy as can be! You install a receiver, bind it to your radio, tune to the correct channel, and you're good to go. Beginners quickly learn how to fly in angle, horizon, and acro mode as they steer around objects and build up speed.

The Vortex 150 Mini is nimble and easy to control. At just three inches, it weaves in and out of branches, dodges objects, and glides through the air with grace. Even when crashes happen (and they will), the Vortex 150 Mini is sturdy enough to get right back up in the air. There is an onboard camera, and it takes superb shots in broad daylight and on lowlight flights.

If I have to nitpick, the manual is lacking proper instructions. There's excellent forum support online, and that's helpful, but I'd prefer to get answers straight from the source. This tiny quadcopter comes with everything you need for your maiden journey and is a favorite choice for beginners and those with a few hours of airtime under their belts.

Pros:

  • Excellent camera
  • Small and nimble
  • Built tough
  • Easy to control

Cons:

  • Instructions are poorly written

Best Pocket Drone

ImmersionRC Vortex 150 Mini

A tiny quadcopter perfect for beginners

With an excellent camera, small size, and tough build, this is a solid quadcopter that's perfect for beginners and enthusiasts.

Best for All Skill Levels: EMAX Tinyhawk Freestyle BNF

emax-tinyhawk-freestyle-bnf-lifestyleSource: EMAX

EMAX's Tinyhawk Freestyle BNF is a micro outdoor racing drone designed with beginners and experienced fliers in mind. A brush motor paired with a 2.5-inch propeller system gives pilots full control over thrusts, maneuvers, and flight time. The onboard CMOS camera is also a plus!

The Tinyhawk Freestyle BNF has dual battery connectors, so two batteries can be employed simultaneously to increase power output and flight times. The externals on the EMAX are a combo of aerospace-grade carbon fiber materials that are both lightweight and durable.

This is a punchy little model that flies like a full-size drone. It rips through the air, can take tight corners, and is just all-out fun for pilots of any age or skill level. Thanks to the self-leveling features, beginners can take this out without fear of instantly crashing. My only issue with this model is the video transmitter range. It's short. You'll get about 50 feet of range before receiving an RSSI warning. If you fly open fields, take note of that. If you fly smaller courses, this is a stellar outdoor racing drone that works for all skill levels.

Pros:

  • Onboard camera
  • So fast
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Operates like a full-size model

Cons:

  • Short video range

Best for All Skill Levels

EMAX Tinyhawk Freestyle BNF

So much fun

It has a short-range, but the EMAX comes with dual batteries and a sturdy build that's perfect for all skill levels.

Best Build: HGLRC Wind 5 6s

HGLRC-Winds-5-lifestyleSource: HGLRC

HGLRC has put out some of the best aircraft in recent history, and the Wind5 6s is one of our favorite models this year. It has a strong and lightweight carbon fiber frame that can withstand bumps and crashes without falling apart. It's a beast! Geared toward intermediate and advanced pilots, the Wind5 6s comes tuned perfectly right out of the box.

The HGLRC kit includes the Wind 5 racing drone, 6x GF51499 3 propeller, one Hammer 5.8gHZ antenna, and a single battery strap. The drone has a Caddax Ratel FPV camera and supports a 6S battery. Speaking of which, and it pains me to say this, the Wind5 6s does not come with a battery or receiver. There's a bit of extra investment for those things needed on your part.

Video quality is super clear. The hybrid frame is so lightweight this thing flies through the air at intense speeds, even when not at max throttle, while giving you stable, smooth flights. Freestyle flying is doable too. If you have some experience or consider yourself an expert, you're going to love the Wind5 6s.

Pros:

  • Speedy
  • Good camera
  • Made from tough carbon fiber
  • Excellent craft for advanced pilots

Cons:

  • Battery and receiver not included

Best Build

HGLRC Winds 5 6s

Just right for experts

It doesn't come with a battery or receiver, but it has a tough build, good range, and is the fastest in the sky.

Bottom line

If I have to pick one racing to drone to invest in, it would be the Walkera F210 3D Edition. This quadcopter has a little more oomph than others, works well for everything from obstacle courses to aerobatics to races, and it arrives on your doorstep ready to fly.

The F210 3D is a tough little drone that can withstand the occasional tumbles. Its carbon fiber body is a little thicker than the competition, and it has a protective cover for the engine, so accidents needn't be fatal to your craft. It's also lightweight, comes equipped with a long-lasting 4S battery, and has excellent reception through trees, around walls, and over obstacles.

There's room for improvement with the camera on the F210 3D. It comes with an analog camera that is comparable to TVs before the introduction of HD. The picture is there, but it can be smeary-looking. You can upgrade to an HD transmitter and HD goggles if you have nothing better to do with your money, but for most of us, that pricey option is out of reach. If you want a drone that satisfies your need for speed, maneuvers around corners as smoothly as your car, and can perform rolls and flips, the Walkera F210 3D is a ready-to-fly copter that's loads of fun.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jodi Owan is a writer and photographer who lives and breathes new technology. See her on Instagram and her website.

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