Full Speed Leader 3 Micro FPV Racing Drone

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Back in December, I bought a Leader 120 micro quad. It was a fantastic deal. It was on sale for $85 at the time, and I just couldn’t pass it up. It had a few shortcomings—an under-powered 25mw VTX, and a low-end FPV camera. I figured it would be a good upgrade over my aging, beat-up KingKong 90GT.

The Leader 120 was an amazing upgrade. It has way more power than my old KingKong 90GT—even when using the same 550 mAh 2S batteries. I upgraded to a set of Infinity 550 mAh 3S for $8 a-piece, and that really opened up the Leader 120. It wasn’t quite as capable as my 5” racing quads, but it wasn’t far off, and it was tons of fun.

The Leader 3

About a month ago, I saw the Leader 3 show up on Banggood.com. It wasn’t in stock yet, but I was intrigued, and I told myself I would order one as soon as they started shipping.

It looked like a worthy upgrade over my Leader 120. The Leader 3 has a VTX that can be controller by the Betaflight OSD and dialed up to 600 mw. At first, the 25 mw VTX on the Leader 120 didn’t bother me much. If you crash too far away with a micro drone, they’re extremely hard to find. At some point, I added a Crossfire Nano receiver module to my Leader 120. That really made the 25 mw VTX feel limiting.

The Leader 3 has a much better camera—a Caddx Turbo F1. I often have to stop flying my Leader 120 in the evening due to a lack of light. The extra dynamic range and faster exposure adjustment on the Caddx Turbo F1 let me transition from flying above and below trees much more easily.

That would have been enough of an upgrade to justify the purchase for me, but it doesn’t end there. The 1106 motors on the Leader 3 are 50% larger than the 1104 motors on the Leader 120, and the frame is big enough to accommodate 3” propellers. The Leader 3 also comes equipped with an F4 flight controller and more capable ESCs.

How does the Leader 3 fly?

I was happy that I bought the Leader 3 less than a minute into the first flight. It flies more like a 5” quad than any micro I’ve ever flown. It is more stable than the Leader 120. The wind doesn’t knock it around as much—you wouldn’t think an extra 20 grams would make such a big difference there.

I was power looping trees and hitting gaps with confidence right away. The stock tune is pretty locked in, too. Snap flips and rolls are quite sharp with no bounce back. I haven’t experienced much in the way of propwash oscillation, except on a very windy day.

When flying on a 3S 550 mAh battery, the Leader 3 is very responsive. It has more bottom end power than the Leader 120. I haven’t taken the radar gun to the Leader 3 yet, but I have a feeling it has a lower top speed than the Leader 120 on the same battery. It isn’t a big gap in top speed, but it is almost certainly there.

I’m sure the Leader 3 has a higher top speed on 4S!

You’re running 3S batteries? Why not 4S?

I already have five 550 mAh 3S batteries that I used on the Leader 120. I had to solder XT30 connectors on each of them, but I’m glad that I didn’t have to buy new batteries.

The Leader 3 does support 4S. That means I have to give it a try, but I don’t think it will be ideal. I’ve heard of a few instances of 4S batteries burning out motors on Leader 3 quads, but I believe they were all with earlier versions of the motors.

The Leader 3’s 1106 motors are 4500 KV. That’s just a bit lower than ideal when running 3S on 3” props. My Leader 3 has a lot more oomph on the low end, but doesn’t seem to reach the same maximum speeds as my Leader 120. The KV of the motors is the reason for this.

If you’re going to run 4S, you should probably stick to 2.5” props. I’d recommend the Gemfan 2540—they’re fantastic props!

As I said, I will be sticking with 3S. I don’t want the fastest micro quad in the world. I want something that flies as much like my 5” miniquads as possible, and I’d like it to be durable and reliable.

Which batteries should you buy?

I wouldn’t buy my Infinity 550 mAh batteries again. They have the wrong power connector, and there are cheaper, better alternatives now with much faster shipping.

You can get a 3-pack of 450 mAh 3S batteries with XT30 connectors from China Hobby Line for $24. They have free shipping on orders over $50, and I usually get my batteries in less than a week.

I’ve been flying 5S 1300 mAh packs from China Hobby Line since February. I’m still flying most of those batteries today. The only one that isn’t still airworthy is one that got smashed in a crash.

If I have to buy new batteries for my Leader 3, China Hobby Line batteries will be my choice.

What makes a quadcopter durable?

The lighter your quad, the less inertia it has when moving through the air. The lower the inertia, the less force it will take on impact when you smash into a tree or concrete.

My Leader 3 weighs 156 grams with a 550 mAh 3S battery, a Crossfire Nano RX, and a TBS Immortal T antenna.

My friend Brian bought a heavier micro quad—a Diatone GT M3. Its 1408 motors each weigh about 10 grams more than the motors on the Leader 3. Not only is Brian flying a heavier 3” quadcopter, but he also has to equip it with a heavier battery. With a 450 mAh 4S battery, his GT M3 is somewhere around 200 grams. That’s a light battery. The 650 mAh CNHL packs he usually runs put his micro quad at more than 230 grams.

Brian’s Diatone GT M3 is nearly 50% heavier than my Leader 120, so all his crashes put significantly more stress on the quadcopter. In fact, he destroyed a bearing in one of his motors the first day he flew his Diatone quad!

A lighter quad will also do less damage to property when you inevitably crash into something.

Why fly a micro? Don’t 5” miniquads fly better?

The performance and handling gap between 3” and 5” quads is closing, but a 5” still wins by a large margin. The larger quads are more stable in the air, and they don’t get knocked around when it is windy. 5” quads are also much better for freestyle flying, because you can use their huge momentum to huck them over objects like launching a pumpkin out of a trebuchet.

I fly my 5” and 6” quads most of the time, but I always keep a micro quad in my backpack. It was inexpensive. It doesn’t weigh much. It doesn’t take up much space. A set of six batteries for the micro weigh less than a single battery for my 5” quads. It would almost be silly not to carry a micro quad in my giant backpack!

When do I fly my micro quad? Sometimes you’re out flying, and the location gets busy. If a park has too many people wandering around, flying a 5” miniquad can be dangerous and quite a nuisance. Nobody notices a micro quad flying around, and it is unlikely to send someone to the emergency room if something goes wrong.

And sometimes you just don’t want to risk a $450 quadcopter and a $200 GoPro HERO5 Session in a flight over a lake!


The Leader 3 comes with a set of HQ 3x3x3 v1s props. They’re fantastic props. They feel great, they fly great, and they’re quite sturdy. I wanted to buy more, but I had trouble finding them. Every set I found for sale were for motors with a single hole to fit a motor with a 5mm shaft. I couldn’t find any 3-hole versions of the prop.

I decided to try the EMAX Avan 3024 props. They’re available at Amazon with Prime shipping, they’re reasonably priced, and they looked interesting.

The Avan props have a more aggressive-looking profile than the HQ props even though they claim to have a gentler pitch. The Avan props are shaped kind of like the Racekraft 5051 props—they are wide and aggressive near the hub while narrowing out towards the tip.

The Avan props are lighter and more flexible than the HQ props. I have to bend them back into shape after the majority of my crashes, but I’m quite pleased with how they fly. I expected them to be more efficient than the HQ props, but they’re so similar that I can’t tell the difference.

Should you buy a Leader 3?

In the early days, I thought that the Leader 120 was a fantastic value—it was constantly on sale for about $85! After mine arrived, and I got to fly it, I realized that it was still an amazing value at $100 to $120.

The Leader 3 is only a few dollars more, and you’re getting so much more for your money today. It has all the features of a modern 5” quad—a 600mw VTX with Smartaudio control, a quality CMOS camera, and an F4 flight controller. That’s pretty much everything my premium 5” and 6” miniquads are equipped with.

There are more powerful and faster micro quads that fly better than the Leader 3. They cost more, they’re heavier, and they require bigger batteries. You’ll pay less for your Leader 3, you’ll pay less for your batteries, and the lighter weight will make it harder to break things.

If you’re like me, you don’t need or want the fastest, premium micro drone. You want something that flies smoothly and is inexpensive to operate. Something you can put dozens and dozens of batteries through without requiring any serious repairs. That’s the Leader 3.

Do you agree? Is a little 3S micro quad with 1106 motors a good choice? Or do you prefer heavier micro with 1408 motors and a big 4S battery? Tell me your thoughts in the comments, or stop by our Discord server and chat with me about it!