Best Flight Controllers For Mini Quad & Racing Drones

Here are some of the best FC (flight controllers) for racing mini quads using Betaflight, KISS and Raceflight firmware, based on their features, spec and user feedback.

As much as I want to help you decide which is the best flight controller to get, you should spend some time doing your own research on how to choose a FC.

I compiled the specifications of all FC’s for mini quad in this spreadsheet so you can compare them more closely.

Before choosing an FC board, you should make a decision on which FC firmware you want to use, because most flight controllers are limited to one firmware.

For beginners I personally recommend Betaflight because it’s the most widely used firmware,. There are tons of resources out there, and the more popular it is the more people can help you when you encounter a problem.

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


The Best Betaflight Flight Controllers

Common features in popular Betaflight FC’s are:

  • Prices around $30-$40
  • Using either F3 or F4 processors
  • Equipped with either MPU6000 or ICM Gyro’s
  • Integrated SD card logger or flash memory for blackbox
  • Built-in Betaflight OSD
  • Integrated PDB
  • Current Sensor

Holybro Kakute F7 AIO

  • F7, ICM20689 SPI (32KHz Looptime)
  • Soft-mounted Gyro sensor
  • Betaflight OSD
  • Integrated PDB
  • 5V/2A BEC
  • SD Card Reader for Blackbox
  • Supports 2S – 6S

Most flight controllers soft-mount the whole board, but the Kakute F7 has the Gyro sensor soft mounted instead, so there is no need to soft mount the FC at all. ICM series Gyro sensors are relatively more noise-sensitive, but I am not too worried because of the effective gyro soft mounting.

The downside is that you have to make sure the gyro is clear from wires and components that might be touching the Gyro and transferring vibration to it. Furthermore, you cannot put anything on top of the FC with things like a receiver or VTX.

With F4 FC’s you have to deal with signal inversion using SmartPort Telemetry and SBUS. This is not a problem anymore with F7 because this can be easily dealt with in the software.

I also like the layout a lot, it’s filled with features without being over complicated.

One common concern is the ribbon cable which might feel a little fragile and could break in a crash. You can replace it though, in fact the FC comes with a spare ribbon cable for the Gyro. However, in my opinion it’s not an easy task to replace such a tiny cable and it certainly requires some advanced soldering skills. Note that I’ve been using the Kakute boards for over a year now and haven’t needed to replace the ribbon cable.

This is a great board for experienced builders/pilots who looking for clean gyro performance and 32KHz looptime.

They also do the non-AIO version, which you can use together with 4in1 ESC’s.

Review | Purchase: GetFPV, Banggood, Amazon

Airbot OmniNXT F7 FC

The Airbot OmniNXT F7 flight controller is capable of running all the latest features in Betaflight and 32KHz looptime at the same time. It’s NOT an AIO FC, and is meant to be used with a PDB board or 4in1 ESC.

It has two gyros built-in, an MPU6000 if you want to run low noise 8KHz, and an ICM20608 for 32KHz. It has an 5V power output as well as an 8V for your VTX and camera. The pin-layout is convenient for wiring.

Purchase: Banggood, Amazon, GetFPV

CL Racing F4S

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

The CL Racing F4S is the successor to the very popular CL Racing F4. It continues with similar clean and convenient layout and only uses solder pads.

It’s one of the most affordable flight controllers in this list given the long list of features it supports. The CL Racing F4S is also one of the very few AIO FC’s that are fully compatible with 4in1 ESC’s: there is a connector header and supports external current sensor input (if your 4in1 ESC has a current sensor).

There are 5V and 9V BEC onboard, which means you can power your FPV camera and VTX with the 9V and not directly from battery, so it gets the extra filtering and gives you cleaner video.

However there was a design flaw with the board previously, it was reported that the CLRacing F4S didn’t work well with certain ESC’s and the FC would “freak out” during flight. As far as we know the issues should have been addressed in the latest batches.

Review | Purchase: GetFPV, Amazon

Omnibus Fireworks V2

  • F4 Processor
  • Soft Mounted ICM20608 IMU Gyro
  • Betaflight OSD built-in
  • Integrated Current Sensor

The Omnibus F3 and F4 flight controllers have been some of the most popular and solid boards in the drone racing industry for quite some time.

What caught my attention in the latest Omnibus Fireworks V2 FC is the ESC connection design. You get ESC power, signal, signal ground and ESC telemetry at each corner which makes wiring and soldering much easier.

It also has the soft mounted Gyro protected inside a plastic case. The high performance ICM20608 allows for 32KHz looptime. With the solder-less IMU connection you can even replace the Gyro easily.

Shop: Amazon, Banggood

Matek F405 and FCHub VTX

The Matek F405 is a simple flight controller with features like Betaflight OSD and SD card reader for blackbox logging etc. It doesn’t have the built-in PDB capability, but you can pair it with the Matek FCHUB VTX using a convenient ribbon cable.

The Matek F405 and FCHUB VTX combo is the same as getting an FC, PDB and VTX in one package with some really good benefits. Moving the high power, high voltage circuit away from the processor and gyro sensor will leave you with cleaner signal and improved flight performance and reliability. Having separate FC and PDB also allows the FC to be easily soft-mounted, without heavy power and ESC wires touching it and transferring vibration.

The ribbon cable even includes a connection for VTX control, so you can change channels and power levels using your TX sticks.

However if you are looking for a VTX that have a higher output power or is capable of PitMode, then the FCHUB VTX is not for you. Also your frame has to have enough room to house the double-board stack.

Shop


KISS (1 board)

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

KISS FC V2

  • F7 Processor, MPU6000 Gyro
  • KISS FC Firmware

After about 2 years, Flyduino finally released the KISS V2 to replace the first generation. KISS has a huge fanbase who prefers its flight performance and characteristics. When you are spending $80 on a KISS FC V2, you are not only paying for the hardware, but the closed sourced KISS FC firmware as well, which is exclusive to KISS flight controllers.

I’ve flown KISS before and I found it fly smoother and softer on the sticks, while Betaflight feels a bit more precise but more robotic. It might not be the most accurate description, but this is the best way I could put it.

The KISS FC was one of the first controller boards that came up with the “H” shape. They were also the first to replace through-holes with all solder pads so you can solder wires directly on the FC more easily.

The V2 has improved the layout and pin location massively, now the ESC signal pads are at the corners. Integrated plug header also allows for cleaner wiring for certain PDB’s. The latest software setup is very simple compared to that of Betaflight.

The KISS FC V1 supports Betaflight firmware, (hopefully the V2 will follow soon), but there are better FC options out there for Betaflight. The main reason to get the KISS FC is really just for the firmware IMO :)


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
  • Designed for Raceflight firmware

The Revolt F4 FC is designed specifically for Raceflight by the Raceflight team, to run 32KHz gyro update rate and PID looptime.

Some might disagree with the “faster is better” concept, but many users have expressed positive feedback regarding the performance of the Revolt F4 running Raceflight. Their latest software “RF1” (Raceflight One) also continues to develop and makes setting up easier for users.

The original Revolt F4 is an extremely simple FC without any bells and whistles, there isn’t even an on-board 5V BEC, that means you will need an external 5V power supply for this FC (and an additional VBAT connection to monitor LiPo voltage). RF team explains the reason behind this is to keep the noise to the minimum. The lack of 5V BEC has been the main complaint from users because it makes it harder to build. An extra VBAT connection is also needed to read the battery voltage.

But since then Raceflight has released different versions of the flight controller with additional features, such as the RevoltOSD which supports LiPo direct input and OSD, and the MiniVolt which is basically a smaller version of the Revolt.

By the way, the Lumenier Skitzo FC is another FC that runs Raceflight, but in fact it’s just a rebranded Revolt. They are essentially the same board, you are just paying extra for the name on the board.

Purchase:


Top flight controllers in the past

The following FC’s made it to the list in the past, but no longer the best. With that said, you might still find them useful for certain applications.

Matek F405 CTR

  • F4, MPU6000
  • Betaflight OSD
  • Integrated PDB
  • 5 UART’s
  • In-built SD card slot for blackbox
  • BEC: 5V/2A

The CTR FC is the remake of the Matek F405 AIO.

The AIO was a pretty good FC with a long list of features and excellent layout. However there have been many complaints about yaw twitches and vibrations caused by the noise sensitive gyro sensor.

So finally Matek decided to replace the Gyro with a more noise resistant MPU6000, along with a few other improvements. Take a look at our review to find out why we think this is one of the coolest FC for Betaflight and iNav right now.

Review | Purchase: Banggood, Amazon

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


Edit History

  • March 2017 – Article created
  • July 2017 – Separated the list by FC firmware: BF, RF and KISS; added DYS F4, Kakute F4, Matek F4; retired Lux V2 and DRC Soul
  • Jan 2018 – Updated the list
  • Aug 2018 – List updated – Kakute F7, Fireworks V2

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

  1. bils0n

    Kakute F4 v2 “Furthermore, you cannot stick anything on top of the FC with things like a receiver or VTX.”

    Why not? I have matek VTX mounted on top of the Kakute and it works fine and flies beautifully

    Reply
  2. Obinna Ndu

    Hey Oscar, I love you FC…. I bought the CL RACING F4S when it first came out and installed it in my quad but ever time I arm and disarm it won’t rearm unless I unplug the battery and replug…I’ve tried every remedy I could think of but nothing’s woring… I even swapped out the FC for another one of the same kind and still nothing…. I did notice that you mentioned that some esc’s weren’t compatible with it…. could that be my problem?…..please help!!

    Reply
  3. Moritz Beyer

    Hello I am a Newbie,
    I want to built my first mini quad, which qualifies for races and lets me grow. I read your great articles but information from the manufacturer is low.
    I want a 32khz Gyro, F4 Flight Control, OSD, DSHOT 1200, Voltage and Current monitor.
    I want to use Betafly.

    Does my proposed combination work and deliver just that?

    – Omnibus F4 Corner Nano FC ICM20608
    – Racerstar Tattoo_S Mini 25A 4 IN 1 ESC 2-4S Blheli_32bit Dshot1200
    – FURIOUSFPV Innova V4 25/200mW OSD – VTX

    Thanks for understanding!

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      sounds good to me.
      But to be honest i think getting an FC with MPU6000 and run 8k is a much more reliable option.

      Reply
      1. Matt

        I have really fallen in love with the layout of the JBF4, definitely worth the look! If my quad doesn’t have a Heliospring IMUF it has a JBF4.

  4. 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
  5. 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.

  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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

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