ImpulseRC Apex EVO Review: The Best 5″ Freestyle Frame Kit Ever Made?

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RCHobby Lab’s Author: Daniel Henderson
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Reviewed by Marshall Abrams
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Reviewed by Marshall Abrams

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The ImpulseRC Apex has long been considered one of, if not the best 5” freestyle frames on the market. With its refined design, excellent durability and stellar flight characteristics, it’s easy to see why so many FPV pilots have fallen in love with it over the years.

Now with the release of the new Apex Evo, ImpulseRC aims to take an already amazing frame and make it even better.

In this in-depth review, we’ll be taking a close look at the new Apex Evo to see what improvements have been made and find out if this new iteration can live up to the phenomenal reputation of the original Apex.

Overview – What’s New With The Apex Evo?

At first glance, the Apex Evo looks very similar to its predecessor. But take a closer look and you’ll notice some key differences and upgrades that aim to optimize the frame further.

Here’s an overview of the main changes and upgrades found in the new Apex Evo:

  • New camera plates – The standout upgrade here is the new camera plates designed specifically to accommodate the DJI FPV Air Unit camera. The plates allow you to easily mount and soft-mount the Air Unit camera.
  • Revised main body plates – While not a hugely impactful change, the main body plates have been redesigned. The new aesthetic is cleaner and more refined.
  • Conversion kit available – For current Apex owners, a conversion kit is available that allows you to upgrade your current Apex to the Apex Evo. The kit includes the new camera plates and main body plates.
  • Everything else is the same – Aside from the new camera plates and minor tweaks, the rest of the Apex Evo remains unchanged. Same durable 5mm arms, robust design, and excellent flight characteristics.

So while the upgrades are relatively minor, the new camera plates allow the Apex Evo to accommodate the latest digital FPV gear. And the revised body plates give it a more refined look.

But how do these small changes actually come together when building the frame? And how much of an improvement do they make in real world use? Let’s dig in and find out!

Unboxing & Contents

As expected from ImpulseRC, the Apex Evo arrives in very premium packaging. Inside the box you get:

  • 1 x Apex Evo freestyle frame
  • 1 x Build manual
  • Spare hardware bag
  • 1 x Lens protector
  • 1 x GoPro mount
  • 4 x Motor vibration dampeners
  • 1 x Battery pad
  • 1 x Battery strap
  • 1 x Antenna mount
  • 1 x Video transmitter isolation pad
  • 2 x LED boards

It’s great to see spare hardware included, as well as extras like the battery pad, strap, antenna mount, isolation pad and LED boards.

The inclusion of the build manual is much appreciated too, as the Apex does have some small intricacies in its assembly. The manual ensures you get everything right during the build process.

As expected, the quality of all included components is excellent. Now let’s take a closer look at how it all comes together.

The Frame Layout Explained

The overall layout and design of the Apex Evo is identical to the previous Apex. So you get the same robust 5mm thick 6061-T6 aluminum 7075 alloy arms, with a very wide profile to optimize strength.

The arms connect to the main frame plates in a very secure fashion thanks to the proprietary wedge system – which we’ll cover in more detail shortly.

The wedge system securely attaches the thick, robust arms to the main frame plates

At the center are the replaceable aluminum camera plates, which now accommodate the Air Unit camera as well as other FPV cameras.

The stack is mounted between the main plates with easily accessible 20mm and 30mm holes to cater for different stack hardware.

And at the rear is the universal VTx mount, which caters for both 20mm and 25mm sized video transmitters.

So in terms of layout and overall design, ImpulseRC has stuck with tried and tested formula. The changes are mainly in the camera mounting department, which we’ll cover next.

New Camera Plates – Optimized for DJI Air Unit

The most significant upgrade with the Apex Evo are the new camera plates. They’ve been specifically designed to accommodate the DJI Air Unit camera.

Rather than requiring separate plates for different cameras, the camera plates feature mounting holes positioned in a way that supports multiple camera types and mounting options.

The off-center mounting holes allow for multiple mounting positions

The off-center mounting holes allow you to easily move the camera forwards, backwards or centered depending on your preferred position. And if needed, you can flip the plates upside down to further fine tune the camera angle.

This level of adjustment means you can dial in the perfect camera angle for your flying style and location. No longer do you need separate plates for separate cameras.

Overall, this relatively small change makes the Apex Evo much more accommodating for pilots running the latest DJI FPV gear. And it provides a level of future-proofing too, as new cameras are released.

Revised Main Frame Plates

While the upgrade to the camera plates is the most significant change, ImpulseRC has also refined the styling of the main frame plates.

The new frame plates now feature beveled edges and cutouts that give them a sleeker, more refined look.

In terms of construction, they seem just as durable as the previous plates. The 6mm thick aluminum shows no signs of compromise despite the aesthetic changes.

Functionally, the new frame plates offer the same performance as before too. So the styling changes are purely aesthetic rather than functional.

That said, the new shape does allow the frame to accommodate the redesigned camera plates. So in that sense, the changes were somewhat necessary.

Either way, the end result is an undeniably better looking frame overall. And one that is right at home in 2023.

Arm Attachment System

One of the standout features of the Apex frame is the robust arm mounting system. This proprietary design makes great use of the 6mm thick frame plates to ensure rock solid arm attachment.

It works like this:

The arms attach to the frame plates with two high-quality hex-head bolts on each arm. A wedge-shaped “keystone” piece then slots in-between the frame plates above each arm.

Apex Evo arm attachment

The wedge-shaped keystone pieces lock the arms firmly in place

Once fully tightened, these keystone pieces pressed tightly against the frame plates, locking the arms firmly in place with zero wiggle or rotation.

Despite the 5mm arm thickness, there is no bending, flexing or movement of the arms even under hard crashes. This system keeps the arms locked in precisely to avoid twisting or loosening over time.

The end result is a frame that feels incredibly solid and rigid when assembled. Vibrations are minimal thanks to the precise alignment of all components.

When combined with the thick, robust arm design, this proprietary attachment system is a big part of what makes the Apex so durable. If you’re looking for a freestyle frame that can handle heavy crashes and hard landings, it’s easy to see why so many pilots trust the Apex.

Build Quality & Hardware

As expected from ImpulseRC, the quality control and hardware used at every point in the frame is truly exceptional.

The CNC machined aluminum parts feel incredibly smooth and refined. Cutouts and holes are perfectly accurate with no signs of issues. And all screws install smoothly without any binding or resistance.

Many of the fasteners even come pre-installed with threadlocker too – a really nice touch that makes the build process easier while ensuring solid fastening.

Pre-applied threadlocker on hardware is much appreciated

Honestly it’s hard to find any flaws in the hardware or build quality. ImpulseRC has always delivered premium, highly refined frames. And the Apex Evo is no exception.

From the robust 5mm 7075 alloy aluminum arms, the buttery smooth aluminum plates, down to the high grade hardware, everything oozes quality.

For anyone prioritizing quality and workmanship when selecting a frame, the Apex Evo delivers in spades.

Stack Mounting System

Most frames use simple standoffs to separate the flight controller stack from the frame plates below. But ImpulseRC has put more thought into the stack mounting system.

Rather than relying solely on standoffs, the Apex Evo stack is secured using threaded aluminum spacers with locking nuts on the underside.

This approach of using a nut on the underside of the mounting screws is something ImpulseRC has implemented since their early frames. And it has proven to provide a more secure stack mounting method.

By locking the stack screws at both ends, there is minimal possibility of them loosening over time. This makes sense, as there are no vibrations or rotational forces trying to work the screws loose.

So not only does this ensure a secure stack install. But data shows that this method also improves gyro performance compared to simply using standoffs with a nut on top.

Known as the “golden nut” method, this dual-lock approach first pioneered by ImpulseRC is now widely adopted by other top frame manufacturers due to the tangible benefits it provides.

Arms – 5mm of Freestyle Durability

The Apex Evo arms remain 5mm thick to deliver maximum durability for hardcore freestyle and racing pilots. This thickness is around the point where any thicker provides minimal gains at the cost of more weight.

The widened arm design is made from 7075 aluminum alloy, chosen for an ideal balance of strength, weight and cost.

And even after some hard crashes and abuse during testing, the arms show next to no signs of damage. No cracks or deformation whatsoever.

Each low-profile arm provides ample space for modern hobby-grade motors while leaving room for larger motors if needed. There are also multiple mounting holes to fine tune the motor position.

Heat-treated aluminum alloy lock nuts and high grade steel hardware hold the motors in place securely. And the included anti-vibration standoffs effectively absorb vibrations for smooth video footage.

For freestyle pilots who put durability above all else, the 5mm arms of the Apex Evo provide the reassurance that they can take hard hits and keep going.

And the refined arm design avoids any potential weak points or failure points even under heavy impacts.

Flight Performance & Handling

While the Apex Evo may look very similar to its predecessor, the devil is always in the details. So the big question is – how does it actually fly?

In short – it flies incredibly well. Just like previous versions of the Apex, the new Evo version exhibits stellar flight characteristics and feedback that simply “feels right”.

Despite using the same arm design, overall frame layout, and materials, ImpulseRC has absolutely nailed the fine details that allow the Apex Evo to fly so well.

The arms feel rigid and solid, yet avoid any unwanted harsh vibrations being transmitted to the gyro. This allows for confident, locked-in flights with excellent stability and handling.

And the durable build quality paired with the precise construction inspires confidence to push your limits. The Apex Evo simply flies exactly how a high-end freestyle quad should.

Advanced FPV pilots will immediately notice how refined the Apex Evo feels in the air. Turns are precise and controlled. Flips and rolls are beautifully smooth yet extremely locked-in. And the quad handles exactly how you expect through complex freestyle flows.

For newer pilots, the Apex Evo provides that forgiving, confidence-inspiring stability we all look for in our early quads. It’s no wonder so many pilots cut their teeth with the Apex and continue flying it even after gaining experience.

Simply put – the way the Apex Evo flies will put a smile on any FPV pilot’s face. It offers a near perfect blend of agility, responsiveness and stability that is hard to match.

Vibration Performance

A common goal for frames is avoiding unwanted vibrations reaching the gyro and camera. Excessive vibrations muddy video footage and reduce flight stability.

ImpulseRC has gone to great lengths to optimize the Apex Evo for stellar vibration performance. Chris Rosser of Rotor Riot has extensively tested the Apex frames over the years and found them to be phenomenal in terms of filtering vibrations.

The precisely machined aluminum construction ensures a perfectly rigid structure free of resonance. The wedge arm attachment system guarantees minimal movement or flexing between components.

Even tiny details like the foam between the GoPro mount and center plate show the lengths ImpulseRC has gone to in considering vibration reduction.

In real-world testing, the Apex Evo delivers satisfyingly smooth video footage and excellent PID tuning potential. There are no rattles, buzzing or oscillations to be found.

For pilots wanting a freestyle frame that can run high-performance PIDs while capturing silky smooth video, the Apex Evo hits the mark.


When building a freestyle quad, keeping the weight reasonable is important. Lower weight means better power-to-weight ratio, improved agility and faster throttle response.

While the Apex Evo isn’t the absolute lightest frame out there, it strikes a nice balance between weight and durability.

  • Frame: 140g
  • Frame + hardware: 145g
  • AU + camera: 160g
  • Total weight w/ 5” motors + FPV gear: around 500g

So fully built, a 5” Apex Evo with modern components will come in right around 500g. This is very competitive for a durable metal freestyle frame using 5mm arms.

For pilots chasing ultra-light builds under 250g, the Apex Evo won’t fit the bill. But its balance of weight and strength hits a sweet spot for many freestyle pilots.


ImpulseRC includes a nice assortment of accessories with the Apex Evo that add even more value:

Battery Pads

A grippy foam battery pad is included that does a decent job holding batteries securely. For pilots wanting the ultimate lock-in, using something like Die-cut Foam Double Sided Tape can work even better.

LED Board

The included LED board with wiring allows for easy installation of LEDs on the rear arms for orientation and night flying.

GoPro Mount

To safely mount your GoPro or other action camera, a universal camera mount is included that secures to the top plate.

Antenna Mount

The 3D printed antenna mount with stiff wiring channels keeps your VTx antenna neat, tidy and securely positioned.

Video Transmitter Insulating Pad

If you want to isolate your VTx electrically, a 3M pad is included. Most pilots don’t bother insulating their VTx though.

Lens Protector

A simple lens protector setup is included that allows you to 3D print or manufacture your own lens/camera protections.

Motor Vibration Dampeners

Soft mounting your motors can reduce vibrations, so vibration dampening rubber grommets are included.

Hardware Bag

Plenty of spare hardware, accessories and tools are included like hex drivers, zip ties, 3m tape and more.

The accessory pack really adds a lot of additional value on top of an already stellar frame. Having essential accessories included right off the bat makes building up your quad much easier.


Durability is always a top priority for FPV pilots. After all, you want a frame that can survive the inevitable crashes as your skills progress.

The Apex Evo continues the reputation of the Apex as one of the most durable freestyle frames money can buy. The 5mm thick arms combined with the robust aluminum construction is able to take very hard crashes and keep going.

The only potential weak point is the GoPro mount area, which understandably uses a smaller gauge aluminum. But even this area stands up surprisingly well to crashes.

During testing, the Apex Evo endured multiple crashes into trees, walls, concrete and more at high speed. And it came out of these crashes with only minor scuffs and scratches.

Very hard crashes at high speeds may cause some minor bending of motor mounting tabs or arms. But the damage is only cosmetic and can usually be bent back rather easily thanks to the thick aluminum.

For pilots who fly hard and crash often, the Apex Evo provides a reassuringly robust platform that you can beat on without suddenly needing to rebuild mid-session.


ImpulseRC stands behind the quality of their frames by offering an excellent 2 year “no nonsense” warranty program.

This covers manufacturing defects as you’d expect. But importantly, it also covers crash damage too.

If you damage part of your Apex Evo in a crash, you can get that individual part replaced under warranty by simply providing photo evidence of the damage.

And if you manage to damage your frame beyond repair, ImpulseRC will offer a significant discount on the full price of a new frame as a replacement.

Having this level of support and parts replacement availability helps take the sting out of damaging your prized freestyle frame.

Rather than a sudden unplanned expense to repair it, the replacement parts arrive in your mailbox and you can get back up flying quickly.

For such a premium product, it’s fantastic to see this level of customer care and product backing from ImpulseRC.


Given the stellar reputation of the Apex, it’s no surprise that criticisms of the frame are hard to come by. But there are a couple of minor downsides worth mentioning:

  • Limited stack access – Once built up, the flight controller stack is not easily accessible. The mounting screws are sandwiched between the frame plates with no way to access them. This can make swapping components a bigger job than it needs to be.
  • Average grippyness of battery pad – The included foam battery pad works decently. But for the ultimate lock-in, something like Die-cut Foam Double Sided Tape adheres batteries more securely.
  • GoPro mount area is vulnerable – While very durable overall, the thinner aluminum around the GoPro mount area is vulnerable in heavy crashes. This is understandable due to the camera needing to be isolated, but it’s a weak spot nonetheless.
  • No 50mm spacers included – The hardware pack includes 30mm and 20mm standoffs for the FC stack. But some stacks and accessories require 50mm standoffs, which are not included.
  • Expensive – There’s no getting around the fact that the Apex Evo is a premium-priced frame. $150 is not cheap and may be overkill if you’re just starting out.

So minor gripes aside, the Apex Evo delivers meaningful upgrades over its predecessor – especially for pilots running the latest DJI FPV gear. And even with the minor downsides, it still stands as one of the best freestyle frames money can buy.

Alternatives to Consider

The Apex Evo is far from the only option when choosing a freestyle frame. Here are some solid alternatives worth considering:

GEPRC Crocodile Baby 5 – A very reasonably priced option with 5mm arms. Great performance for the price.

iFlight Nazgul5 V2 – iFlight’s updates have made this frame even better performing. Excellent value.

Diatone Roma F5 – A classy looking frame with great accessories included. Very refined design.

TBS Source One – A legend in its own right, and for good reason. Simple, durable, great flying.

Armattan Marmotte – Armattan’s lifetime warranty is a big plus. And the Marmotte rips.

The Apex Evo holds its own against the best of the best. But there are lots of great options out these days that offer slightly different pros, cons and price points. It pays to pick the frame that fits your needs and budget best.

Final Thoughts

It’s not hard to see why the Apex frame gained its legendary reputation over the years. ImpulseRC nailed the formula right from the beginning. And the new Apex Evo takes those great qualities and improves upon them.

Some observers initially wrote off the Evo as an unnecessary or uninspired update. But having now built and thoroughly tested the frame, I can definitively say the improvements are meaningful and offer clear benefits.

The redesigned camera plates with flexible mounting options ensure broad compatibility with both new and existing FPV camera gear. And the refinements to the frame styling give the Apex Evo a modern, sleek aesthetic.

It retains everything that made the original Apex so great – the robust construction, stellar flight characteristics, and obsessive attention to detail. And offers just enough new tweaks to keep it competitive in 2023.

The Apex Evo carries on the legacy as one of the finest freestyle frames money can buy. If you’re looking to equip yourself with a proven, highly-refined frame, the Evo delivers in spades.

It will be interesting to see how ImpulseRC pushes the envelope even further in the future. But for now, the Apex Evo is easily one of the best options out there and stands at the top of its class.

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Written By Daniel Henderson

My name is Daniel Henderson and I'm an avid FPV pilot and videographer. I've been flying quadcopters for over 5 years and have tried just about every drone and FPV product on the market. When not flying quads, you can find me mountain biking, snowboarding, or planning my next travel adventure.
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