For those of you living near lakes, river or even the ocean, RC boats can present a whole array of fun opportunities. Even though the majority of these little contraptions are primarily targeted at children, there are those which offer advanced performance and tweaks to suit more experienced (and older) users. So basically, there is something for everyone!
So, whether you’re a beginner, experienced RC hobbyist, or just a parent wanting to keep his kids off electronics… I got some fantastic news for you. Whichever might be the case for you, I reckon cheap RC boats sound like a great investment and that’s exactly why I’m going to share with you 5 awesome entry-level RC boat models. All of them can be purchased for under $100.
As a matter of fact, not a single one gets near to the $100 mark which means they’re insanely affordable. But does that mean they suck? Well, the answer to that question (and much more) can be found down below in the FAQs section. But for now, let’s jump straight to the list of TOP 5 RC boats under $100 to see which models are worth purchasing:
Table: Best RC Boats Under $100
|5. SZJJX H100
|See best offer
|4. GoolRC GC001
|See best offer
|3. UDI001 Venom
|See best offer
|See best offer
|1. UDI007 Voyager
|See best offer
First up on our list we have a model made by SZJJX. They are a relatively popular toy-grade brand that sells all sorts of RC toys including RC cars and RC boats. Today, we will be focusing on their entry-level mini boat which apparently has no real name to go by. There’s H100 name on the side so I guess that should be it. But, whatever might be its name (let’s call it Boatie McBoatieFace for now), our goal is to take a closer look at it and see what’s it all about; and that’s exactly what follows…
This little boatie comes with all the standard features we’d come to expect from entry-level RC boats. Of course, I am referring to 4-channel controlling system as well as 180 flips and self-rightening feature. Furthermore, SZJJX Boatie McBoatieFace’s motors won’t turn on until the water gets into its cooling system, serving as an extra layer of protection. The transmitter that comes with the package actually feels quite good in hands – as a matter of fact, it even sports a miniature LED display featuring relevant runtime information.
As far as specifications are concerned, SZJJX is holding onto the average numbers for this price range. However, I believe they are a bit below the standard with only 8 minutes of runtime. Still, keep in mind that it takes only 45 minutes to charge the battery in contrast to other models that take 2 hours and more but are able to give out just a few more minutes of runtime. Operating range is actually pretty good thanks to a fool-proof 2.4Ghz connection. You are looking at approximately 100 meters which should be more than enough for casual users. So, to summarize – considering everything that’s been said about SZJJX’s nameless RC boat, I’d say it is definitely worth the price it goes for.
4. GoolRC GC001
GoolRC is known for having both drones and models of exceptional quality and nothing different can be said about their GC001 model. We are talking about an extremely fast yet stable mini boat that is bound to provide you (or your kids) with a ton of fun. Plus, it has several underlying features that aim to up the fun even further. Last but not least – it can be found for dirt cheap which makes it that more attractive for purchasing.
Don’t you hate when you’re riding on big ass waves only to see your boat flip upside-down?! Oh, you don’t know that feeling? Well, that’s because most modern-day boats come equipped with a self-rightening feature which allows them to get right back up without you having to intervene… and by intervene I mean getting yourself wet in order to reach it. GoolRC GC001 is one of those models and is able to effectively self-righten in a matter of seconds.
Furthermore, it also sports standard features such as 360 flips and even comes with a dedicated stand for display purposes. All in all, I’d say this little swimmer has no drawbacks as far as its features are concerned. However, is that the case with its specifications as well?
Specifications-wise, you are looking at roughly 10 minutes of playtime. Realistically speaking, you’ll realize 10 minutes is somewhat of a standard for these mini boats. It takes up to 2 hours to charge it though, but that’s because it’s running a bulky 2S 1500mAh LiPo battery. It’s providing juice to the single 540 brushed motors which can output quite the punch. We are talking up to 30 km/h (cca 18mph). Not bad for a toy boat of this size, right? And finally, this little boatie can reach up to 150 meters away from its transmitter which is quite the feat coming from such a cheap model.
At the third spot, we have a fantastic miniature RC boat called Venom. It is manufactured by UDI, a popular brand that deals with all sorts of RC vehicles. As a matter of fact, they are equally good at making drones and boats… so much that I featured 2 of their models in this list at the 3rd and 1st spot. For now, we will be focusing on UDI0001 AKA Venom which offers unparalleled performance in an impressively compact form factor. So, with all that being said, let’s dissect this boatie and see what’s it all about!
UDI001 Venom doesn’t fail to deliver when it comes to features. Among other things, this boatie sports a water-cooled propulsion system as well as the usual self-rightening mechanism that will keep you dry at all costs. But, the brightest point of UDI001 Venom (as far as features are concerned) is the extra battery that aims to double your playtime… And it does so with ease. But how much can you play on a single battery? Well, that’s what you will be able to find out down below!
Specifications are always a huge plus for UDI’s RC models and the same goes for their Venom RC boat. This miniature RC boat can deliver thrilling performance. We are talking roughly 25km/h which is quite the feat coming from such a miniature drone. Furthermore, this thing is powered by a potent 600mAh LiPo battery. However, we are talking about 1-cell, not 2-cell battery which usually means a significant power drop. But still, this boatie is capable of running 10 to 15 minutes per charge which goes to show 1S batteries aren’t to be taken for granted. Combine all that with up to 50 meters of operating range and you’ll realize what a fine purchase UDI001 Venom is.
Runner-up for the best RC boat under $100 is GordVE. Another very interesting little fella that can brag about its small form factor and brilliant performance. The package itself is not that well produced – it comes in a cheap box with not a lot of extras involved. However, it does come with a stand so I guess you will have to be satisfied with that. No extra batteries with this one, but the one provided is going to have to do you justice. Anyway, enough with the introduction – let’s jump straight to the action and see what’s this little boatie all about!
The first thing you’ll notice when you take this boatie into your hands is the fact that it falls on the heavy side of the deal. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that heavy to make it sink underwater, but when you place the battery inside you’ll definitely notice its weight. However, don’t let that fool you – GordVE H100 is more than capable when it comes to actual racing.
As far as other features are concerned, GordVE H100 sports impact resistant ABS body as well as a sweet transmitter featuring solid build quality and design. It shows you the current battery capacity and beeps when you’re low on voltage. Lastly, it sports self-rightening too so there are no worries in that department.
This RC boat sports a 2S 800mAh battery which, to be completely honest here, isn’t that beefy at first sight. Still, it is capable of producing up to 8 minutes of playtime with charging lasting less than an hour. The operating range is actually faring quite well. You are looking at anywhere from 100 all the way to 150 meters which is absolutely praiseworthy considering the price GordVE H100 goes for.
At the moment, the best RC boat available for less than $100 is definitely UDI007 Voyager. This absolute beauty of a boat delivers exceptional all-around performance and packs it all into nice design with an extra accessory included in the packaging. We are talking about a model that was hovering on the edge of our price range until just recently. Now, it can be found for a lower price due to a slight price drop which happened a while back. So, if you are looking for a great (but cheap) RC boat, what are you waiting for?!
First things first – UDI007 Voyager comes with not just one but two LiPo batteries. This extra battery will practically double your playtime with a quick pit stop at the mid-point. It’s a great addition, no doubt about that, and it definitely proves my point that UDI007 Voyager is one of the best value for money options when it comes to entry-level RC boats.
Of course, this little boatie supports the same self-rightening feature the same as all others before it. It works like a charm so there’s no need to worry about getting wet after you flip your boat upside down. Last but not least, UDI007 Voyager also sports 2 safety features – out of range and low battery alarm. Both of these will prove handy if you happen to go near the end of its operating range and/or near emptying its battery. The transmitter will start beeping notifying you to bring it in closer.
As far as the batteries are concerned, you are getting 2 2S LiPo batteries with 1500mAh capacity, each of which can provide you with up to 8 minutes of runtime. That means cca 15 minutes of fun with 1 pit stop – that’s a good deal for this kind of money, don’t you agree? In terms of acceleration and top speed, a small 370 brushed motor is leading the charge with a miniature propeller in the back. This allows UDI007 Voyager to reach a top speed of up to 30km/h. Finally, the operating range goes on to around 100 meters.
FAQ: Best RC Boats Under $100
Are RC boats under $100 durable?
Most of the time, these cheap-ass boats are made out of ABS plastic. I’m sure you can all agree with me that ABS plastic isn’t exactly the most durable material out there. However, if you do not go all crazy with it (and by crazy I mean you don’t hit every bank on your way), your RC boat’s frame is probably the last thing that will go bad. On the other hand, there are cheap brushed motors on the line and these are the most likely culprits of something going faulty. Don’t get me wrong – they are not needlessly bad right out of the box, but they can be considered the weak links… not just with RC boats but all other RC vehicles powered by brushed motors.
This is where a bit of DIY spirit comes a long way – by knowing when your motor dies and being able to replace it will do you a world of good. As a matter of fact, those are the 2 main lessons you need to learn when starting off with your RC boat hobby. Other than that, you should also learn how to replace broken props and fix potential issues with the wiring.
Are these RC boats good for beginners?
I have already stated this a couple of times above – RC boats which cost under $100 are great for beginners and first-time users. They have water cooling systems, relatively powerful brushed motors, and solid 2S LiPo batteries. All this hardware is definitely sufficient for beginners as it’s easily replaceable and doesn’t cost a lot to buy.
Plus, these little fellas can’t really develop huge speeds which means beginners will have a good time controlling them. Unfortunately, they are mostly intended for ponds, lakes, and pools so going to the sea or ocean is a no-go with these boaties. In fact, that is their main downside.
What are the main differences between expensive and cheap RC boats?
I don’t have to be the one to tell you that there are a whole plethora of differences between toy-grade and high-end RC boats. It’s something that goes without any question and we are all used to the price gap that these differences somehow manage to get overlooked. But, what are they?
Well, for starters, high-end RC boats are made out of lighter and more durable materials which makes them punchy and explosive. Of course, they have better motors as well as batteries, which combined make up for unparalleled performance. Price tags are endlessly different too – you will spend up to $100 for an entry-level RC boat while flagship models will set you back for close to a thousand bucks.
Should you spend more than $100 on your first RC boat?
Spending too much money on your first RC toy, whether it’s a car or a boat, can be a tricky situation. Risky even, some would say. You probably won’t know the basics of how to control them or take good care of their batteries and/or other mechanisms such as cooling systems and motor bearings. This can all lead to problems with more expensive models and poor maintenance.
That’s why I strongly suggest you go for a cheaper model as your first one. There is nothing to be ashamed of – we’ve all been beginners. As a matter of fact, I’ve started out with toy-grade models too and build my way up to the high-end ones. So, if you are asking whether or not you should spend more than $100 on your first RC boat – here’s your answer – No you shouldn’t!
Will these models work in oceans?
Unfortunately, most (if not all) RC boats under $100 that are featured above don’t work very well in an ocean or seawater. First of all, you need to understand that most of them are mere toys which aren’t capable of performing at their best in salt waters. Salt can mess up their cooling systems and at the worst – you will have a dead RC boat in your hands.
If you have no other option but to operate them in salt waters, then I warmly recommend putting them in a bowl of freshwater and turn on the propeller (low speed, of course) in order to wash the salt out. This is not a picture-perfect solution but will prolonge your RC boat’s life if frequently operated in salt waters.
What’s the average runtime I can expect from these best RC boats under $100?
If you are looking to purchase an RC boat for less than $100 and you are not sure which specifications are the standard, then you’ve come to the right place! As far as average battery duration is concerned, entry-level RC boats are standing pretty well in the RC world since they are running (in most cases) on a single brushed motor. This makes them a lot less power-hungry than, let’s say, drones that require all 4 (or 6 and even 8 in some cases) motors to run simultaneously all the time.
With all that being said, it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that RC boats have greater runtimes than other types of RC toys. That’s why for under $100 you will be looking at 10 all the way up to 15 minutes of playtime. Take similarly priced drones for example – only a handful of them will be able to fly around for 10 minutes which is a breeze for boats.
What kind of range should I expect from RC boats under $100?
In terms of operating range, it is safe to say that RC boats are somewhat on par with their aerial counterparts. With that said, both drones and RC boats deliver approximately 100 meters (even 150 on some RC boat models) of operating range. We are, of course, talking about dirt-cheap entry-level models which usually work over the basic 2.4GHz connection without any fancy transmission technologies involved.
Honestly speaking guys, I really suck at writing conclusions for my articles. That’s because I always feel like I’ve already written everything that needs to be known and it just seems stupid writing the same stuff yet again.
So, driven by those thoughts, I only hope that you had as much fun reading this article as I had writing it. Also, I sincerely hope it helped you with your purchase and showed you just how awesome these dirt cheap RC boats can be.
All the best,