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If this will be your first time ordering from Banggood, you should know a few things.
An FPV quadcopter’s battery has a tough job. A racing drone or freestyle quadcopter demands a huge amount of power. The best batteries can deliver this power without damaging themselves in the process.
Batteries come in different voltages, indicated by their S-rating. The most common battery used by mini-quads (5″ props) is 4S voltage. However, 6S voltage has gotten much more popular recently; the highest tiers of drone racing use 6S almost exclusively. For beginners, though, I still think 4S is the right choice. 4S packs are less expensive. 6S makes it more likely that you’ll fry an ESC, and can make tuning more difficult. If you’re flying a micro-quad (3″ props or smaller), there’s less flexibility in choosing voltage. Most of these tiny aircraft are designed with a specific weight in mind, and changing to a larger or smaller battery throws off this delicate equation.
It’s impossible to tell from marketing which batteries are the best. C-rating is supposed to indicate a battery’s ability to deliver current, but there is no standard way of determining C-rating, so many manufacturers basically make it up. In general, a 100C battery probably will out-perform a 70C battery. But two 100C batteries from different manufacturers are not guaranteed to perform even remotely the same.
Capacity, measured in milliamp-hours (mAh) is like the size of a car’s gas tank. But bigger batteries don’t always mean longer flight times, because they’re also heavier. And heavier batteries make the quad handle worse. The good news is, I’ve done a lot of real-world testing, so I know which of batteries are worth having. Here they are!
VALUE FOR INTERNATIONAL BUYERS
Purchase at Banggood – 4S 1500 mAh
Purchase at Banggood – 6S 1050 mAh
Purchase at Banggood – All Other Sizes
You’ve probably bought a GNB battery before and didn’t know it. Some “premium” brand batteries are really a GNB pack with another brand’s sticker on it, and the price jacked up to $40. The real question is why GNB sells the same packs, cheaper, under their own label! But I’m glad they do. GNB packs are some of the most consistent performers I’ve ever seen.
The first two links above are to the specific packs I would get for a 5″ mini-quad. But honestly, almost any GNB pack is worth buying. If you’re looking for another size, click the 3rd link.
If you’re in the United States, RaceDayQuads packs offer similar performance for a lower price. The main reason this pack stays on the list is for international buyers who find shipping from the U.S. impossible.
AMAZING PERFORMANCE FOR THE PRICE
CNHL batteries offer mid-tier performance and reliability with budget pricing. The tradeoff is that they run a little large. Compared to a similar mAh battery from another vendor, the CNHL will be a little larger and heavier. That’s the tradeoff for getting great performance at such a low price.
CNHL has several different product lines at several different price/performance points. The packs linked above should be about $20 or less. If you find CNHL packs priced higher, they might be a higher-performance pack (or they might just be over-priced).
PREMIUM PERFORMANCE / BUDGET PRICE
RDQ SERIES (RACEDAYQUADS)
I don’t know how RaceDayQuads can offer a pack that performs this well at this price point. On my battery test rig, this pack performed shockingly close to some premium-priced packs like Tattu. I keep squinting at the results and wondering when I’m going to find out what the catch is.
If I were spending my own money, this is pretty much the only pack I would buy right now. I haven’t seen a single other pack that performs this well, at this price.
Packs are available in sizes from 300 mAh 1S to 1300 mAh 6S. The 1500 mAh 4S or the 1050 mAh 6S would be my personal choice for freestyle.
TOP OF THE LINE
LUMENIER N2O EXTREME
If you want the absolute best performance you can get from a battery, and you don’t mind paying for it, this is the one I recommend.
Before these packs were released to the public, Lumenier sent me a set to test. I was blown away. The 1st-generation version of this battery held 120 amps, the maximum my battery test machine can handle, for its entire 1500 mAh capacity. I’ve never seen another pack pull that off. In case you’re skeptical (and you should be) here’s the proof (click image to enlarge):
Other than being pricey, the other tradeoff with these packs is that they are heavier and larger than equivalent-capacity packs from other brands. Substantially so! The 4S 1500 mAh N2O Extreme weighs 216g, which is 20 or 30 grams heavier than some competitors. If you’re concerned about weight, consider buying the next-size smaller (for example, buy a 1300 instead of a 1500). I haven’t run this test myself, but based on the performance of these packs, I would bet that a 1300 N2O Extreme would beat a 1500 from almost anybody else.
THE CHOICE OF TOP RACERS
The fastest racing pilots in the world have chosen Tattu’s R-Line for years. Version 3.0 stuffs some of the most energy into the lightest packs I’ve ever seen. There’s no doubt that R-Line packs deliver performance. But here’s the catch: some people feel they don’t last. And given how expensive they are, that’s particularly painful. If you want world-class performance and don’t mind paying for it (potentially again and again), Tattu R-Line is the one you’ll buy.
Packs are available in a variety of sizes. The 1500 mAh 4S or the 1050 mAh 6S would be my personal choice for a beginner. Pay careful attention to the packs marked LiHV. These are designed to be charged to 4.35v / cell, which gives more power in a lighter package, but even shorter expected lifespan.
DC-INPUT BATTERY CHARGERS
There are two basic schools of thought about chargers. One approach is to use a parallel charge board to combine your batteries into one big array, then use a single, big charger to charge them all at once. This is the most cost-effective way of charging batteries, but it carries a lot of risks. If you don’t follow safety precautions EXACTLY, your batteries can burst into flames and burn your house down. Many people safely parallel charge, but many people–especially beginners–prefer to avoid it. The second approach to charging is to get a few small chargers, or one big multi-channel charger. Of course, you could also charge one battery at a time. It’ll take a while, but it’ll get the job done.
The chargers in this section are “DC-input” chargers. This means they don’t plug into the wall. You need an external DC power supply to run them; or you can plug them into a battery for field use. The advantage of this is that they’re smaller and more portable. They also tend to have higher output power ratings than AC/DC chargers.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
The M8 is a 300 watt / 15 amp charger for about $40. That’s more watts and amps per dollar than almost anything else you can buy. But it’s way more than just a great charger. It’s got a ton of “toolkit” functions like current-regulated DC power supply, PWM and SBUS signal tester / generator, and ESC power meter.
Frankly, the price and power of this charger make it not just the best for the buck, but arguably the best overall. Need more than 300 watts? Buy two!
So why even consider another charger? The M8’s interface isn’t very pleasant. It’s low-resolution and looks like something from ten years ago. If all you want to do is charge, scrolling through all the options can be tedious. The build quality on the M8 feels a little cheap and lightweight, and some people have had issues with reliability and precision. The truth is that the ISDT Q6 is a much more reliable and precise charger, for only about $20 more. But if you need to save every last dollar, or if you want the “toolkit” functions, the ToolkitRC M8 is the one you’ll buy.
The original D6 Duo is reviewed below in the “AC/DC” section of this page. Ever since it came out, it has been my pick for best value, and it’s been my personal charger (there are three of them on my bench right now).
The only thing I didn’t like about the original D6 Duo is that it had a built in AC power supply. That’s fine if you need to plug it into the wall, but I already have a massive 1200 watt DC power supply. So the AC input of the D6 Duo was kind of wasted on me.
Hobbymate was listening. This version of the D6 Duo leaves out the AC input capability and knocks $50 off the price. That’s a clear winner to me. If you need a charger that can plug into the wall, get the AC/DC Duo. If you are going to use an external DC power supply, get this one, the DC-only version.
You may see this same charger listed under other names, such as HOTA and Turnigy Reaktor. These aren’t copies or clones. The original factory manufactures the exact same charger under different names. Whether the product listing says Hobbymate or HOTA, you can buy with confidence that you’re getting a legitimate product.
35 AMPS / 1000 WATTS
If what you’re looking for is a single, huge charger, to push lots of amps into your batteries, the ISDT T8 is it. I know I said that the Q6 Plus was “all you’ll ever need,” but if you’re one of the rare exceptions who needs MORE POWER, here’s your answer. The person who’ll buy the ISDT T8 is someone who parallel charges more than 10 typical mini quad batteries at once or someone who charges 6S to 8S packs, where a smaller charger will hit its output power limit.
Be aware that this charger requires higher input voltage to reach its full rated power. So you’ll want to look for a 24 volt, 1000 watt power supply if you intend to get the most out of it.
ALL YOU’LL EVER NEED
20 AMPS / 500 WATTS
Here’s why this is “all you’ll ever need”. At 20 amps output, it can charge 13 typical mini-quad batteries simultaneously, in about an hour! If you comparison-price against other chargers 300 watts or bigger, you’ll see why the ISDT Q8 is such a great value.
Be careful! The above example assumes you’re using a parallel charge board to let you charge 13 batteries at once. If you don’t intend to use a parallel charge board because of safety concerns, then you can only charge one battery at a time, and a smaller, cheaper charger would be right for you.
This spot on the list used to be filled by the ISDT Q6. That charger was the same price as the Q8, but only 14 amps and 300 watts. So the Q8 is just better.
CHARGERS WITH INTEGRATED POWER SUPPLY
The battery chargers above all require a separate power supply (PSU). They don’t plug into the wall. The PSU plugs into the wall and the charger plugs into the PSU. The advantage of this is that you save a bit of money (especially if you’re buying larger chargers). Another advantage is that if you upgrade your charger, you aren’t forced to pay for a new PSU at the same time. You can run your new charger off the old PSU.
On the other hand, having a separate PSU is a bit more cumbersome and complicated than buying a charger with an integrated power supply. If you don’t want to buy a separate PSU… if you want your battery charger to plug directly into the wall, the ones in this section are for you.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
What if you didn’t have to decide between a bigger, heavier AC-input charger, and a lightweight, portable DC-input charger? That’s the point of the ISDT 608AC. It comes with a power supply that plugs into the wall (that’s the big thing hanging off the back). But you can easily detach the power supply and take just the charger with you, for charging off your car battery or another LiPo in the field.
The 608AC won’t win any awards for its output power: 60 watts and 8 amps is about what a beginner might need, but it’s not going to blast giant packs to full charge in the blink of an eye. That’s okay… beginners shouldn’t be blasting giant packs anyway.
HOBBYMATE DUO D6
200 WATTS / 2 CHANNELS (AC)
325 WATTS / 2 CHANNELS (DC)
If I had to pick just one lipo charger to recommend to everyone in RC, it would be the Hobbymate D6 Duo. Here’s why.
You can plug the Duo D6 directly into the wall outlet if you’re just starting out and don’t want to hassle with a DC power supply. It can also be powered from a DC power supply, in which case the power output goes from 200 watts per channel up to 325 watts per channel.
The Duo D6 has two channels so you can charge a variety of different packs at the same time, without the risk and complication of parallel charging. The output power is still high enough that it can charge a parallel board full of typical FPV batteries in about an hour or less.
You could buy two ISDT Q6 and get roughly similar functionality to the Hobbymate Duo D6, at roughly the same price. But the Q6 doesn’t come with an AC-capable power supply. So the Duo wins on price. However, if you already have a DC power supply, the Q6 is smaller and lighter, making it more appropriate for charging in the field. Don’t try stuffing the Duo D6 into your pocket!
If you plan to charge at less then about 200-300 watts, and if you’re okay with a slightly larger and heavier charger, then the Hobbymate D6 Duo is the one you’ll choose.
BEST FOR ACCESSORY PACKS
IMAXRC B3 PRO 2S / 3S
This charger solves one of the major annoyances of LiPo batteries: all the hassle that goes into actually charging them. Instead of fussing about with menus and buttons, the B3 charger simply plugs into the balance port of the battery.
Then it charges up the battery.
The place where this charger really shines is when charging up accessory packs like FatShark goggle batteries or a LiPo that you installed in your Taranis. These batteries usually don’t have the XT60 connector that your charger expects. With the B3 charger, you don’t have to dig around to find a lost adapter. Just plug it in to the battery’s balance plug and let it sit for a while.
I also love the B3 charger because it lets me top off my accessory packs without taking up an channel on my main charger. So I don’t have to wait for my Fatshark battery to finish charging before I start charging my flight packs.
The tradeoff of this convenience is that the B3 only works with 2S and 3S batteries, and it charges pretty slowly. At 800 mA charge rate, it would take about 2 hours to charge just one typical mini-quad battery.
Buy the B3 charger if you are looking for an inexpensive way to charge 2S and 3S LiPos–especially ones with non-XT60 connectors.
If you’re buying a charger that comes with a built-in power supply (PSU), then you can skip this section. If you need a PSU to power your charger, it’s in this section. Here’s the bottom line when it comes to power supplies: you have to get a power supply that is as big or bigger than the watt rating of your charger. So if you have a 150-watt charger, you need a power supply rated at least 150 watts. If you buy a bigger power supply, there’s not much advantage except for future-proofing. Frankly, these are so reasonably priced that you should consider getting something in the 300 watt range even if you’re only buying a small charger today.
One more thing! Most people will not get the full rated output power of their charger if they are running off of 12 volts! Here’s a video I made about that. The short version is that most people should use a 24 volt power supply, and yeah I’ve got a link to one.
BEST FOR MOST PEOPLE
24 VOLTS / 400 WATTS
If your charger is rated for more than about 170 watts, then you probably need to feed it more than 12 volts, or you won’t actually get the full rated output power. What sets this power supply apart from the others on the list is that it outputs 24 volts. And it’s super affordable. And it’s got a 3 year warranty. So yeah. Basically, if you don’t know which power supply to get, get this one.
12 VOLTS / 360 WATTS
This power supply can power all of the chargers on this list. It includes an adapter plug for the iSDT charger. The photo shows a European-style plug, but the PSU comes with a plug adapter for the country of delivery, so no worries there.
12 VOLTS / 750 WATTS
HP POWER SUPPLY
This power supply was originally designed for a rack-mount server, not a LiPo charger. But hey! 12 volts is 12 volts, right?
Here’s why it’s awesome:
It puts out up to 1200 watts. Way more than most of us are ever going to need.
It’s not some cheap POS slapped together in China for pennies. This PSU is legitimately intended to run in a production environment. It’s got top-quality hardware and engineering. It’s got short-circuit protection. It’s got thermal protection. It’s the best.
It costs between $20 and $40 depending on the size. You can easily pay more than this for a “cheap” PSU with half the capacity.
It used to be that if you wanted this good of a deal, you had to do some soldering on the PSU to get it to work. But now Banggood has done that work for you! So the only reason to hesitate is the long shipping time.
You can still purchase this same PSU on Amazon or eBay and mod it yourself if you don’t want to buy from Banggood.
The advantage of parallel charging is that it lets you charge many small batteries quickly. Since mini quad pilots use a lot of small batteries, parallel charging is a big help. But parallel charging carries significant risks, and you should absolutely not use a parallel charging board unless you understand the risks and are capable of following the safety procedures. Here’s a video showing my safety procedures, but you must do your own research and not just rely on this one video.
The main risk of using a parallel charge board is that you can cause a battery to explode. Watch this video. This is no joke. A secondary risk is that if you have one damaged battery, it can damage other healthy batteries if they are plugged in together on a parallel charge board.
THE BEST (IN MY HUMBLE OPINION)
STRIX “JB SIGNATURE LINE”, V2
I worked with ReadyMadeRC to design this parallel charge board to my specifications. I think it’s the best value parallel charge board available–as long as you use 4S batteries. The advantage of this board is that, since we included only 4S balance ports, we could fit 10 plugs on the board. Other boards include only 4 or 6.
The biggest mistake people make with parallel charge boards is to plug in two batteries with too much voltage difference between them. This causes massive current to flow between them and typically destroys the parallel charge board or even causes the battery to blow up! This board protects against this by including fuses on both the XT60 connectors and the balance plugs. The XT60 fuses are automotive-style; the balance plug fuses are auto-resetting polyfuses.
For more, check out my video review of this board.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
XT60 PLUG PARALLEL BOARD
Until I came out with the “JB Signature Line” board, this was all I used. Although this board seems cheaper at first, the “JB Signature Line” board has 10 ports compared to this one’s 6. The “JB” board also has fuses for additional safety. But if you need to save every last dollar, this board does come in at a lower dollar amount.
The main reason you would choose this board is if you need to charge a variety of cell voltages other than 4S. This board can take any balance plug from 2S up to 6S.
The product linked above has an XT60 connector on it, which makes it compatible with the iSDT chargers above. The other chargers take banana plugs, in which case this is the one you want.
A battery checker is more than just a convenience, it’s an essential safety tool. The number one way you can damage a LiPo is by discharging it too much. You can even lose your quad if you accidentally try to fly on a battery that you already discharged. If you use a parallel charge board, it’s absolutely mandatory to check the state-of-charge of every battery before you plug it in.
This has been my go-to battery checker for about 2 years now. The great thing about it is that it shows individual cell voltages and main pack voltage on the same screen. This makes it easy to find packs with damaged cells, and to know if a battery is safe to plug into a parallel charging board. This charger also has plugs for a servo connector and a JST connector, so it can check all types of batteries, not just LiPos with balance plugs.
TOP OF THE LINE
ISDT BG-8S SMART BATTERY CHECKER
With its full-color OLED screen, the BG-8S is the prettiest battery checker you ever saw. But it’s way more than that. Plug in a LiPo, and it’ll double as a USB charger. (And it supports Qualcom Quick-charge too!) As if that’s not enough, it’s an RC signal analyzer.
Let me tell you why that’s so cool. Imagine your flight controller isn’t receiving signals from your receiver. In the old days, you would just plug a servo into the receiver and the position of the servo would indicate what signal was coming out. Modern receivers output PPM or serial protocols, and those don’t work with servos. That’s where the BG-8S comes in! Its built-in signal analyzer will show you what your PPM or SBUS receiver is outputting so you can troubleshoot why your flight controller isn’t working properly.