ESCs or Electronic Speed Controllers are what control how fast the motors on your quadcopter spin. For stable flight, the flight controller board determines how fast each motor should spin with the help of onboard sensors and algorithms – and then passes this to the ESCs that are attached to each motor. The ESCs then use this information received from the flight controller to control motor speed.
You could say these are the “throttle” of your quadcopter. They receive their input either from the flight controller or from the radio.
ESCs have 3 wires – one plugs into the battery, another into the receiver’s throttle channel and the third lead into the motor.
ESCs compute exactly how much power to supply each motor with based on the input signal they receive from the radio or the flight controller. This page is all about choosing the best quadcopter ESC.
Here are some of the best FPV drone ESC’s on the market. There are more to consider when choosing ESC than just current rating, some ESC come with key features that improve performance you don’t want to miss out on.
What key features to look for in FPV Drone ESC:
- Runs either BLHeli_32 or BLHeli_S firmware
- Decent noise filtration – when you see lots of capacitors on the ESC, it’s always a good sign
- Bigger MOSFET’s usually means the ESC can handle higher voltage and current, making the ESC more robust and capable to withstand abuses. MOSFET size is especially important for high voltage rigs such as 6S due to the higher voltage spikes
The performance difference between BLHeli_S and BLHeli_32 is minimal, so it really doesn’t matter which one you get. Both firmware now support Bi-directional DShot Protocol, which means you can use RPM filter in Betaflight with both types of ESC.
BLHeli32 is the newer generation and offers advanced features that BLHeli_S doesn’t, such as ESC telemetry, custom startup sound and RGB LED support. Get BLHeli_32 if you want your ESC to be more future proof, or get BLHeli_S if you want to save some money.
Regardless the amount of filtration on the ESC, you should always solder extra capacitors to the power of your ESC, this will reduce the chance of getting noisy FPV feed and improves flight performance.
The Best 4in1 ESC
4-in-1 ESC’s are getting more and more popular these days due to the compact form factor and ease to use by putting 4 individual ESC’s on a single board. This results in less soldering and wiring due to fewer solder joints. 4in1 ESC normally sits under the flight controller, and connect straight to it with a wire harness. However downside is that if one ESC breaks you will have to replace the whole board which is more expensive.
It would cause less headache if you buy a “stack” which consists of a FC board and a 4in1 ESC board, because they are meant to be “plug and play”. Although you can use a 4in1 ESC with almost any FC you want, but FC from different brands might use different pin-out, which can burn your FC or ESC if you connect them without checking. Make sure you check and swap wires in the harness if necessary before connecting.
Zeez 60A 4in1 – Top of the Line
The 60A 4in1 by Zeez is a very sturdy ESC with decent amount of noise filtering onboard. I see a lot of people use these on 7″ even 10″ drones because of the 60A current rating, shows how robust this ESC can be. Wiring is very flexible as you can either use the solder pads, or the plastic header. There are even holes in the power pads for you to solder the low ESR capacitor on.
Racerstar REV35 4in1 – Cheapest Worth Having
The Racerstar REV35 35A 4in1 is one of the cheapest 4in1 ESC on the list. Interestingly it looks identical to the Holybro TekkoS 4in1 we previously recommended, it’s highly likely to be a rebranded product, and I loved the TekkoS 4in1 before they discontinued it. Note that it doesn’t have any solder pads so you would have to use the connector.
XRotor Micro 60A – Tried and Tested
The Hobbywing XRotor Micro 60A is probably one of the most recognizable 4in1 ESC’s in the industry because it’s endorsed by many top pilots. It’s a feature-rich ESC: DShot1200 support, beefy FET’s, direct pins for low ESR capacitor, and you can either use the connector for a plug-n-play setup, or direct solder to the flight controller. If budget isn’t an issue for you, this is a serious contender to consider.
HGLRC FD_45 4in1 – Compact 20x20mm
Not the “cleanest” ESC (in terms of noise), but these have very compact form factor with 20x20mm mounting holes. Don’t be fooled by the small size, they actually have 45A current rating per motor output, and supports up to 6S! It’s small enough to fit in 3″ builds. If you ever need a 20x20mm 4in1 ESC for a light weight 5″ build, this is the one I’d recommend.
The Best Individual ESC
If you use individual ESC’s, make sure to buy an “all-in-one” (AIO) style FC.
Spedix IS30 ESC – Cheapest Worth Having
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2YGPZur
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2M6xrCf
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2VcvmWd
These are some of the oldest ESC on the list, but they are cheap ($10 each) and get the job done. The Spedix IS30 ESC runs BLHeli_S firmware, support DShot600 and 4S, and they have decent performance (low noise). Great for a budget build.
Racerstar RS30A V2 – Cheapest Worth Having
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2lNbzNi
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IlYJQP
The Racerstar RS30A V2 is another budget ESC’s I’d recommend, and the quality is actually quite decent. It runs BLHeli_S, supports DShot and Multishot out of the box without any modification.
These are actually just rebranded Cicada 30A and there is a smaller 20A version if you are looking for slightly lighter ESC’s.
The Racerstar RS30A V2 is capable of running DShot600 ESC protocol and supports 2S-4S input voltage.
Holybro Tekko32 35A (Top of the Line)
Frankly most BLHeli_32 ESC perform kind of the same, what makes them stand out is their reliability. The Holybro Tekko32 35A has been very reliable during my time of testing them. Build quality is top notch, and the solder pads are well sized, you can even solder on both sides of the board, making it very easy to work with. As you can see there are many capacitors onboard for noise filtering, and they are indeed some of the best performers when it comes to noise.
The TekkoS32 35A weighs only 5g, supports 2S to 6S input voltage, and there are built-in RGB LED’s.
I know Holybro has released a newer F3 version, but I just can’t bring myself to recommend them over this one. The F3 35A version is much cheaper, but has little noise filtering onboard, while the F3 65A version is much beefier, however it’s $7 more expensive (each), and frankly 65A is an overkill. The F3 processor is faster than the F0, but it brings little to none improvement in performance. With that said, if you are going for 6S, perhaps consider the F3 65A version if you have the budget 🙂
Aikon AK32 35A ESC (Tried and Tested)
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2F8TLqh
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/32nKnKK
I used the AK32 35A ESC’s on a build for months and didn’t have any issues with them, great reliability and performance. These are simple and plain BLHeli_32 ESC’s without any fancy RGB LED’s. The Aikon AK32 35A ESC is rated for 2S to 6S voltage, and the burst current rating is up to 45A (10 seconds).
To be honest most latest ESC’s these days perform similarly well, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the choices mentioned.