7 Best Budget FPV Controller in 2024

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RCHobby Lab’s Author: Kristen Ward
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Reviewed by Richard Hargrave
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Reviewed by Richard Hargrave

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Welcome to RCHobby Lab! I’m your host and today we’ll be diving into the world of budget FPV radio controllers.

As an FPV enthusiast, having the right controller is crucial – it’s literally how you fly and control your drone. But with so many options out there, it can be tricky to know where to start, especially if you’re on a budget.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at 7 of the best budget-friendly radio controllers on the market right now, ranging from just $60 all the way up to $130.

For each one, I’ll go over the key specs, pros and cons, and help you understand how to choose the right option for your needs and flying style.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first radio, or a seasoned pilot trying to save some cash, by the end of this guide you’ll know exactly which budget controller is the best fit for you.

Let’s get started!

A Quick Intro to FPV Radio Controllers

But before we jump into the controllers, let’s go over some FPV radio basics real quick.

What is an FPV Radio Controller?

An FPV radio controller, often just called a radio, is the device you use to manually control your drone. It’s what allows you to steer, throttle up/down, flip switches, and everything else needed to fly.

Radios communicate with your drone via a receiver onboard. Both the radio and receiver need to be using the same protocol in order to talk to each other.

Main Components of an FPV Radio

While radios can vary quite a bit in layout and design, most tend to have the same core components:

  • Gimbals – These are the joysticks that you use to control the drone. They allow you to steer and modulate the throttle.
  • Switches/Buttons – Located on the top, front, and back. Used to change modes, arm/disarm, etc.
  • Screen – Displays info like battery life, signal strength, and settings.
  • 18650 Battery Slot – Radios are powered by 18650 Li-ion batteries. The number of slots varies.
  • Power Button – Turns the radio on and off.
  • Antennas – Transmit signal to the drone’s receiver. Usually foldable.
  • Module Bay – Allow you to install different control protocols.

FPV Radio Protocols

One of the most confusing parts of FPV radios is figuring out which protocol you need. The protocol is the “language” that allows the radio to talk to the drone’s receiver. Both must use the same protocol to work together.

There are many different protocols, but the most popular ones for FPV are:

  • FrSky – The old standard, but now losing popularity due to issues.
  • Crossfire – Immense range, but more expensive. Used by racers.
  • ExpressLRS – New affordable long-range system. Gaining huge popularity.
  • DJI – Proprietary system for DJI drones. Limited compatibility.

Choosing the right protocol can be a challenge. For this buying guide, we’ll be focusing specifically on radios that support ExpressLRS.

Here’s a quick rundown of why ExpressLRS is a great choice:

  • Long range – Can easily achieve 1km+ in ideal conditions.
  • Affordable – Much cheaper than other long-range systems.
  • Reliable – Very low latency and near 100% signal integrity.
  • Widely Supported – Tons of receivers and drones support ExpressLRS now.
  • Open Source – Free open source firmware with a huge community.

Unless you plan on flying a DJI drone, ExpressLRS is hands down the best bang for your buck right now when it comes to Protocols. And all the radios we’ll be covering are capable of running ExpressLRS.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of FPV radios, let’s jump into the controller reviews!

1. BetaFPV LiteRadio 3

Price: $60

First up is the LiteRadio 3 from BetaFPV – coming in at the lowest price point on our list at just $60. Here’s an overview of the key specs and what it brings to the table:

BetaFPV LiteRadio 3


  • Extremely affordable price
  • Comes with battery included
  • Supports ExpressLRS
  • Weighs just 130g – nice and lightweight


  • Toy-like build quality
  • No display screen
  • Buttons feel cheap and mushy
  • Not the best gimbals
  • Quality control issues

The LiteRadio 3 is definitely designed for those looking to spend the absolute minimum on their first radio controller. The cheap price and included battery are nice.

However, the poor build quality, lack of screen, and potential quality control issues make this a risky purchase in my opinion. For just a bit more money, you can get a much nicer overall package.

It could be worth it if you only plan on practicing in the simulator. But for actual flying, I think you’ll quickly outgrow the LiteRadio 3.

2. Jumper T-Lite V2

Price: $80

Next up we have the Jumper T-Lite V2 priced at a very reasonable $80. Unlike the LiteRadio 3, the T-Lite V2 feels like a more substantial radio. Here’s an overview:

Jumper T-Lite V2


  • Better build quality with nice hand feel
  • Hall effect gimbals are smooth
  • Comes with a display screen
  • Supports ExpressLRS and multiprotocol
  • Weighs 158g


  • Buttons on front hard to distinguish
  • No included battery
  • No lanyard loop

For just $20 more than the LiteRadio 3, the Jumper T-Lite V2 brings a lot more to the table in my opinion. The overall build quality is nicer, it has a screen, and the hall effect gimbals feel great for the price.

It doesn’t come with a battery, so factor in the cost of an 18650 Li-Ion battery as well. And the lack of lanyard loop could be an issue for some.

But for the price, the T-Lite V2 has everything a beginner needs to start having fun flying FPV drones. It’s comfortable, versatile, and won’t break the bank.

3. BetaFPV LiteRadio 3 Pro

Price: $90

BetaFPV also offers a “Pro” version of their LiteRadio 3 for $90. It improves upon the standard version with the addition of a screen, upgraded gimbals, and increased output power. Here’s a quick rundown:


  • Comes with display screen
  • “Upgraded” gimbals
  • 250mW output power


  • Toy-like build quality
  • No battery included
  • Quality control issues
  • Extra $30 over standard version for minimal upgrades

The LiteRadio 3 Pro takes the standard version and adds a display, slightly better gimbals, and a bit more power output. However, for $30 more I don’t think the upgrades are really worth it.

The cheap build quality is still an issue, and BetaFPV seems to have poor quality control from what I’ve experienced. Overall, the Jumper T-Lite V2 is a much better option at this $80-90 price point in my opinion.

I’d personally skip the LiteRadio 3 Pro and either go super budget with the base LiteRadio 3, or spend just a little more for the much nicer Jumper model.

4. Jumper T-Pro

Price: $95

Moving up to the $95 price point, we have another offering from Jumper – the creatively named Jumper T-Pro. This improves upon the T-Lite V2 in several noticeable ways:


  • Better build quality than Jumper T-Lite
  • Gimbals feel similar to T-Lite
  • Buttons on front easier to press
  • Foldable antenna
  • 1,000mW max output power


  • No included batteries
  • Gimbals could be higher quality
  • No included SD card

For an extra $15 over the T-Lite V2, you get a nice bump up in build quality with the Jumper T-Pro. The plastic feels more premium, and it has a foldable antenna for portability.

The excellent addition here is the 1,000mW max output power. This allows for seriously long-range flights compared to other budgets controllers. You can easily get over a mile of range with 1W output!

Downsides are no included battery or SD card. And the gimbals, while very usable, feel a bit cheap in my opinion. But the power output alone makes the T-Pro a super compelling option.

5. RadioMaster Zorro

Price: $100

Kicking off our $100+ budget controllers is the RadioMaster Zorro. It has a very unique gamepad-style design, with the screen placed at the top. Let’s see how it stacks up:


  • Excellent build quality
  • Premium gimbals feel great
  • Intuitive layout with unique design
  • Vibrant full-color display


  • Uses 18350 batteries instead of 18650
  • Very short battery life
  • Smaller module bay

Right off the bat, the Zorro impresses with its excellent build quality and ergonomics. For a budget radio, it feels remarkably premium. The gimbals are also very smooth and precise.

The funky design takes some getting used to, but allows for a large, easy-to-read screen. Unfortunately, the smaller 18350 batteries result in poor battery life of just 1-2 hours. You’ll be swapping batteries constantly.

Overall though, besides the battery issue, the Zorro is a fantastic radio for the price point if you like the unique style.

6. RadioMaster TX12

Price: $100

RadioMaster also offers the TX12, which is essentially a more traditionally styled version of the Zorro:

RadioMaster TX12


  • Premium build quality
  • Same great gimbals as Zorro
  • Increased battery life from 18650 batteries
  • Full size module bay


  • Not quite as unique looking as the Zorro

The TX12 mkii packs all of the great features of the Zorro, but with improved battery life thanks to fitting full-size 18650 batteries (two of them!).

It shares the same excellent gimbals, build quality, and screen as the Zorro – just in a more traditional package. If long battery life is important to you, the TX12 seems like the better option over the Zorro.

For $100, it’s tough to beat the quality and value RadioMaster packed into the TX12.

7. iFlight Commander V1

Price: $130

The final budget radio we’ll look at is the popular iFlight Commander V1. It has an ultra compact gamepad design and integrated battery. Here are the highlights:


  • Sleek, futuristic design
  • Comfortable for thumb flyers
  • 500mW output power
  • Built-in battery


  • Battery can’t be replaced
  • Plastic feels a bit cheap

With its cool looks and ergonomic shape, it’s easy to see the appeal of the Commander V1. It’s an extremely comfortable radio for thumb pilots.

The downside is that the integrated battery can’t be replaced. Once it starts to wear out after 1-2 years, you’ll need a new controller.

But if you love the looks and shape of the Commander V1, that tradeoff may be worth it. Just know the plastic feels a bit cheap and toy-like.

For $130, it packs a good amount of features into slick gamepad-style package.

Important Considerations When Buying a Radio

Now that we’ve compared some of the most popular budget options, let’s go over some key factors to keep in mind when choosing the right radio:


The radio must be compatible with your drone’s receiver protocol. All controllers we covered are compatible with ExpressLRS.

For other protocols, double check that your prospective radio offers support.

Build Quality

Look for radios with smooth gimbals, quality plastics, sturdy buttons/switches, and avoided known quality control issues. The better built, the longer it will last.

Battery Life

Battery life varies drastically between radios. Ones using 18650 Li-Ion batteries tend to last the longest. Integrated batteries generally offer lower battery life.

Form Factor

Consider how the radio will feel in your hands, especially during longer flights. Do you prefer gamepad or transmitter style? What’s comfortable for you?


Think about must-have features like number of switches and channels, display screen, power output, etc. More switches offers more tuning options.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right budget FPV radio controller comes down to picking the model that best fits your needs and style.

If you’re new, I always recommend starting with a basic, affordable radio to get your feet wet. Then you can upgrade later once you’ve settled on how you like to fly.

For around $100, the Jumper T-Lite V2 and RadioMaster TX12 are excellent “no compromise” choices that will serve you well for years before ever needing to upgrade.

The Jumper T-Pro is also fantastic if ultra long-range control is important for the types of flying you do. And the iFlight Commander V1 offers a cool and compact thumb-flyer option.

No matter which budget radio you choose, they all share one important thing in common – the ability to run ExpressLRS. This future-proof protocol will let you fly far and grow your skills for years to come.

Thanks for reading and happy flying! I hope this guide to budget radios for FPV drones has been helpful. Let me know if you have any other topics you’d like to see covered here on the blog.

And if you found this useful, consider subscribing for more FPV tips and buyer’s guides coming soon!

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Written By Kristen Ward

My name is Kristen R. Ward. I’m an adventure Filmmaker and I run a production company based out of New York. FPV drones are integral to my business. I'll be teaching you everything I've learned over the years creating videos for clients.

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