Best Flight Controllers For Mini Quad & Racing Drones

There are too many great flight controllers out there. In this edition of “top 5 best” we picked 5 FC’s for racing mini quads based on community feedback in July 2017.

The flight controllers featured here are chosen by our FB group members in a recent poll, as well as consideration on their capability and features. Anyway, please do your research on how to choose FC to decide which one is better for your build.

First of all the choice of flight controller depends on which FC firmware you prefer to run. Some FC might be compatible with more than one firmware, but the FC recommendation might change from one firmware to another. Therefore this list is divided into the following sections:

(click the following link to jump directly to sections)

For other latest popular racing drone products, check out the “Top 5 Best” lists.


Betaflight Flight Controllers (5 boards)

In these popular Betaflight FC’s, we found more and more of them to have the following common features:

  • Using either F3 or F4 processors
  • Equipped with MPU6000 gyro with SPI Bus to allow up to 8K Gyro sample rate. More and more FC’s are using ICM20602 for max 32K Gyro rate
  • Boards designed for Betaflight tend to have integrated SD card logger or flash memory for blackbox
  • Built-in Betaflight OSD
  • Integrated PDB

Betaflight F3 (FPVModel)

Betaflight F3 FC - Best Flight Controller

  • F3 Processor, MPU6000 Gyro
  • Integrated OSD
  • PDB capability, current sensor and 5V 3A BEC
  • In-built SD card logger for blackbox

Designed specifically for Betaflight, by the Betaflight founder Boris B, this board is packed with features that you need to unlock all the potential of BF. The BFF3 built-in OSD is much easier to use than MinimOSD, all configuration can be done in the BF Chrome configurator. You can even tune your rates and PID in the OSD. If you don’t need the OSD you can simply bypass it.

This board acts like a hub for all your components, ESC, VTX, camera, RX, LiPo battery can all connect directly to this board. This allows a really compact, simple and “single board” racing drone build.

Shop | Review

Matek F405 AIO

  • F4, ICM20602 SPI
  • Betaflight OSD
  • Integrated PDB
  • 5 UART’s
  • In-built SD card slot for blackbox
  • BEC: 5V/2A, 9V/2A

Matek has recently released a Matek F405 AIO which basically has PDB integrated in the popular OSD version. We are going to review this one shortly. Excellent board layout, and great package as it supplies with soft mounting bobbins and capacitor for the power.  However you must do the inversion hack for Smart Port with this FC.

There is also an “OSD” version which basically this FC without PDB capability. It’s also a highly recommended board and it would work best when paired with their “FCHUB-6S” PDB.

Shop | Review

Holybro Kakute F4 AIO

  • F4, ICM20689 SPI
  • Soft-mounted Gyro sensor
  • Betaflight OSD
  • Integrated PDB
  • 5V/1.5A BEC
  • 16MB Flash memory for blackbox
  • Supports 2S – 6S

The Kakute F4 is another AIO board that has a great pad layout. With the soft-mounted gyro means we don’t need to worry about soft-mounting the FC, because those rubber bobbins aren’t always the correct height to fit in our frame. The downside with the soft mounted gyro is you can’t mount anything on top of the FC such as a radio receiver.

It has dedicated ports for both Frsky SBUS and Smart Port telemetry (built-in inverters for both), means it will make things so much easier for the Frsky users.

Shop | Review

DYS F4 Pro

  • F4, MPU6000 SPI
  • Soft mounting grommets
  • Betaflight OSD
  • Integrated PDB
  • 5V/3A BEC
  • 8MB Flash memory for blackbox
  • Supports 2S – 6S

The DYS F4 Pro has very similar features and capability to the Kakute F4. Excellent board layout and the ESC/XT60 power pads sticking out would help building and soldering tremendously.

There is only 1 hardware inverted UART, which is for SBUS. If you want to use Smart Port telemetry you would have to get the uninverted signal from the receiver. For those who don’t use S.Port telemetry might not find this a lost, as that means one more available UART for other serial devices. (inverted UART for Smart Port can’t be used for other stuff)

Shop | Review

 

Omnibus F4 Pro

  • F4 Processor, MPU6000
  • SD card logger for blackbox
  • OSD built-in
  • Integrated Current Sensor
  • Built-in Barometer – BMP280

The Omnibus F4 has Betaflight OSD that allows you to change PID/rates with your sticks, and built-in current sensor provides information about current draw and mAh used. This FC can take 4S power directly from battery as it has a inbuilt 5V BEC. However it does not have PDB capability like the Betaflight F3, which means you will need to run a separate PDB for your ESC’s.

One thing to be aware of with F4 FC’s is the trouble running Smart Port telemetry, because S.Port signal is inverted from X4R/XSR receivers, and F4 does not natively support UART inverting. Normally you need an external inverter, or hack your receiver to get uninverted S.Port signal.

Shop


 

KISS (2 boards)

Since KISS firmware is closed-sourced, users have no choice but the options from Flyduino.

KISS FC V1.03

  • F3 Processor, MPU6050 Gyro
  • Comes with KISS FC firmware, also supports Betaflight

Probably the longest-standing flight controller in this list, the KISS FC was released back in Dec 2015. I think the main reason for its lasting popularity is Flyduino’s closed source KISS FC firmware, which is exclusive to the KISS FC.

KISS offers easy setup and very unique flight characteristics. I personally found KISS flies a bit smoother and softer while Betaflight feels more precise but more robotic. Not really the most accurate description, but this is the best way I could put it.

It’s one of the first controller boards that came up with “H” shape with solder pads instead of through-holes because most of us like soldering wires directly on the FC. However I found the ESC pin layout not user-friendly at all: they are all located on one side, on both top and bottom of the board.

The Kiss FC also supports Betaflight firmware, but in my opinion there are better F3 FC out there for Betaflight. The main reason for KISS FC is really just the firmware.

Shop | Review


Raceflight (1 board)

There were more flight controller options for Raceflight before it went completely closed source. I believe going forward they will be like KISS and it will leave the users no hardware choice.

Revolt F4

Revolt F4 FC - Best Flight Controller

  • F4 Processor, Invensense 20602 Gyro/Acc
  • Designed for Raceflight, but also supported in Betaflight

The Revolt F4 FC is designed specifically for Raceflight by the Raceflight team. It allows the fastest gyro refresh rate, PID looptime of up to 32khz. Some disagree with the “faster is better” concept, but many users have expressed positive feedback regarding performance of Revolt F4 running Raceflight. Their latest software “RF1” (Raceflight One) also continues to develop and makes setting up easier for users.

The Revolt F4 is a simple FC without any bells and whistles. Not even an on-board 5V BEC, which means you will need an external 5V power supply for this FC (and an additional VBAT connection to monitor LiPo voltage). RF team explains this is to keep the noise down. But this is usually the main complain from users as it makes it harder to build. An extra VBAT connection is also needed to read the voltage of the battery.

By the way, the Lumenier Skitzo FC is a rebrand of Revolt, they are the same board except the colour and price.

Shop


Other top flight controllers in the past

The following FC’s made it to the list in the past, but didn’t make it to the most recent survey due to better options in the market or other reasons. However I am mentioning them because they are still worth considering for certain builds.

DemonRC Soul

  • F4, MPU6000 SPI
  • Betaflight
  • dedicated filter to the gyro power for low noise

The DRC Soul is a basic and low-profile flight controller that has dedicated SBUS and Smart Port telemetry pins (built-in inverters). However it doesn’t have onboard BEC and requires separate 5V input to power it. Furthermore, it doesn’t have built-in OSD nor blackbox data storage would mean extra cost and wiring if required.

LUX F3 V2

  • F3, MPU6000 SPI
  • Betaflight
  • In-built SD card logger for blackbox
  • 5V/3.3V 1A selectable BEC

If you need a plain and simple FC to run Betaflight, the Lux F3 V2 might be a good option for you. The V2 was improved from the previous version with a better Gyro, and a few other features. It has a very practical and ESC pad layout (at the 4 corners), and the board takes up to 6S LiPo input.


AIO Flight Controller Recommendations

AIO FC stands for “All-in-one flight controller”. An AIO FC has more than one functionality/feature integrated in them, such as OSD, Current Sensor, PDB, ESC, VTX, RX, SD card logger, and so on.

For an easy comparison I compiled a list of new and popular AIO FC’s in this spreadsheet, listing some of the important features and specification.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ae8YgcDa0TmSzWenbn4MMDJSnJckB8GCU_3anvo8mKE/edit?usp=sharing

At the moment I’m not too keen on ESC integrated AIO boards, not only they are more expensive to buy/replace, but also more likely to “catch fire” with all those ESC’s on them. I might consider adding them to the list in the future if I can find a good option.

Edit History

  • March 2017 – Article created
  • July 2017 – List updated to have separate sections for BF, RF and KISS; added DYS F4, Kakute F4, Matek F4; retired Lux V2 and DRC Soul

9 thoughts on “Best Flight Controllers For Mini Quad & Racing Drones

  1. gliderboy

    My favorite is missing, SirinFPV FC/VTX/BF OSD is cleanest possible minimalist package. I run mine with 4in1Aikon ESC. Has all essentials as long as you think it makes better sense to do one’s current sensing on the bench under controlled conditions

    Reply
  2. Robert kosick

    Just a general complaint. To all FC makers. Instead the classic IT WORKS GET IT ON THE MARKET! Why don’t you fully developed these boards before running your greed to the bank? All anyone wants is a standardized FC that you don’t need a degree to operate! Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      New to multicopters?

      That’s been the culture of every drone vendor, even DJI, heck even X UFO (asctec), hell, even the military since the inception of commercial drones. For example, it took dji 4 versions (and lots of crashes) to get to mikrokopter flight quality…. or course at 1/2 the price.

      It’s going to be a rush to sell features, and make it CHEAP. reliability/usability takes a back seat.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Why? That’s counter-intuitive. Can someone explain this? It would be like making cars that have bluetooth, built-in navigation, side and backup cameras, seat warmers, self-inflating tires, and transmissions that randomly seize.

  3. Ole

    Regarding F4 and smartport, you should be able to use softserial as uart for smartport and therefore you can inverted in software instead of modifying receiver og buying / making an inverter.

    In doing this on my Airbot F4

    Reply
  4. James Dicklow - CT Wild Flyers

    Little disappointed that the BrainRE1 wasn’t on the list. It’s the best one I’ve used and I now have 2 of them!

    Reply
  5. Jeff G

    Is anyone familiar with the fpvstyle f3 evo flight control board?? I got it for only 20 but did get any paper work or screws etc and was just wondering if anyone has any knowledge on this board?? Hope to hear back from someone, jeff g

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you Robot? *

I only check blog comments once or twice a week, if you want a quick reply you can post your question on this forum IntoFPV.com... You might get a faster response from me there (multirotor related only).