Building Your Own FPV Drone vs. Buying Pre-Built: How to Choose

Should you build your FPV quad, or buy pre-built? These are the things to consider.

a guide to buying or building an fpv drone

FPV drones have advanced substantially in recent years. When getting into FPV today, enthusiasts often face a crucial decision: should they build their own FPV drone from scratch or opt for a pre-built model? This choice impacts not only the initial experience but also the long-term journey in the FPV hobby. We look at the major considerations below.

The Joys and Challenges of Building an FPV Drone

Building your own FPV drone is an enriching and satisfying experience. It offers a level of customization unmatched by pre-built models. You select each part, from the frame to the motors to the camera, tailored to your specific needs. Whether you want a drone for high-speed racing or smooth aerial videography, building your own drone lets you focus on exactly what you need.

The process also serves as an invaluable learning process. Through building, you gain a deep understanding of the mechanics and electronics of your own quad. This is crucial when you need to troubleshoot or repair your drone when you inevitably crash. The skills developed during the building process, like soldering and firmware configuration, not extend beyond the hobby and can be applied in broader technological contexts.

Advantages of Building Your Own FPV Drone

Building your drone is more cost-effective in the long run. It allows you to choose components within your budget and upgrade your drone part by part as technology advances, rather than investing in a new pre-built drone. By being able to select your own components, you options are almost limitless, whereas buying a pre-built drone, you might be locked into a certain motor, or radio link, or video link that may not be ideal for your use cases.

The sense of achievement in successfully building and flying your own drone is immense. It’s a testament to your skill and patience. For many pilots, this personal accomplishment is a significant draw to building their own FPV drone, and sometimes more fun than flying a finished build.

Engagement with the FPV community is another benefit. The DIY nature of building a drone immerses you in a world of enthusiasts and experts who are often eager to share their knowledge, tips, and experiences. This community aspect can be incredibly rewarding and can be found both online and offline.

Advantages of Buying Pre-Built FPV Drones

Despite the benefits of building your own quad, there are compelling reasons to opt for a pre-built FPV drone. The most obvious is convenience. Pre-built drones are ready to fly out of the box, making them ideal for beginners or those who prefer not to spend time on assembly and setup.

Reliability and warranty support are also significant advantages. Some pre-built drones come with professional assembly and often include warranties, offering peace of mind that isn’t always present with a self-built drone. That said, if you crash, you likely won't get your money back.

For those who want to fly immediately without delving into the technical aspects of drone building, a pre-built drone is the ideal choice.

Browse a wide array of pre-built FPV drones on QuadPartPicker.

Making the Choice to Build or Buy – Factors to Consider

Your intended use for your quad and what type of quad you want plays a crucial role in this decision.

The Case for Building a FPV Quad

If your interest is in drone hardware and software, how parts work and interact with each other, and you love to tinker, you should absolutely build your first FPV drone.

If you want to become a racer, it's crucial to build your own. You will crash and will be spending as much time fixing your quads as much as you fly them.

If you do want to do cinematography and videography, building is also beneficial. Because you'll most likely attach a high quality camera and other payloads like gimbals, you will need to understand if and how your drone flies with varying payloads and in varying environments. There are also certain flight dynamics with motors and propellers that you can make a quad more efficient for filmography. Being able to chose your own combination of parts allows you to tweak the drone to your exact needs.

If you have a very specific use for your quad, building your own allows you to install the exact parts you need, you should build your own.

If you want to use the exact drone set up your favorite pilots are flying, you will want to build. Often, pilots build their own drones and tune them to their flying style.  

If you want premium and reliable parts, you should build your own quad. Often, manufacturers will cut corners by using cheaper or lower quality parts.

If you've looked through the pre-built quads available today, and they do not fit your needs. You can always build exactly what you need.

Budget considerations are also vital. Today, buying a quad can be as cheap as building, but without knowing how to troubleshoot and fix your quad, you will spend money on unnecessarily more quads instead of simple fixes and upgrades to your existing fleet.

The Case for Buying a Pre-Built FPV Quad

If you want to get flying as quickly as possible, buying a pre-built quad will remove a lot of barriers that keep you from getting in the air.

If you want to fly tiny drones like whoops and micro quads, consider buying pre-built first. A common path to learning FPV is to start by buying a tinywhoop to learn how to fly. Because of the smaller form factor, these small quads are more difficult to solder and more difficult for beginners. And since tiny whoops can handle a lot more crashes, you will not likely have to repair them as often.

Find pre-built tinywhoops on QuadPartPicker.


Whether to build your own FPV drone or buy a pre-built one depends on personal preferences, goals, and commitment to the hobby. Both paths offer unique benefits and challenges. Prospective drone enthusiasts should consider technical skills, budget, and what they hope to achieve with their drone before making a decision. Ultimately, whether you build or buy, the world of FPV drones is more accessible than ever and offers a rewarding experience.

Start a drone build list on QuadPartPicker and find compatible parts.

Browse a wide array of pre-built FPV drones on QuadPartPicker.

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