We understand there are 2 trains of thought when building 3” quads. Some use 13XX/14XX motors while others tend to use 11XX. We have decided to list both these options on this list. Although after seeing a 3” 11XX quad in action and a 4” 14XX quad in action we strongly recommend you build 11XX in the 3” category and 14XX in the 4” category.
The names of the frames are hyperlinked to their product page and links open in a new tab
Rotorious have been putting out a number of great frames designs for over a year now and the RIP 120 is no exception. The V2 version was released to add better support for the swift micro camera. Despite this they have managed to keep the weight down and still maintain support for all in one cameras like the FX797T. The weight has increased slightly from the V2 version to 24.6g, this is not quite as light as some of the other frames on this list but nevertheless it’s respectable for a quad this size. The best feature in our opinion is the fully adjustable carbon camera plate, which is adjustable from 0-45 degrees. This offers ample protection yet is easy to adjust in the field.
The BQE Pixel is another high quality frame, and probably the best looking on the list. (We all know the better your quads look, the faster it goes). It weighs around 10-11g depending if you use aluminium or nylon standoffs, which is good for something this size. The Pixel is capable of running 3” props if you use 15/16mm standoffs, or slightly smaller 2.5”. If you want to run a cam like the Micro Swift, you can buy the Mega Pixel; if you want to run an AIO cam, you can buy the regular Pixel. This is great as it means you can select the correct pod you would like to use before hand, as each pod is optimized to fit either an AIO or the Micro Swift. You can even interchange parts between the Mini Pixel as well, as they all have the same mounting pattern for the camera mount. Like the RIP 120 V2, the Pixel is designed to be used with 11XX motors.
The Cerberus Mini is the best frame on our list if you are planning to use 14XX motors. At 38g its light compared to other options on the list, but not in the league of frames designed for 11XX motors. It is designed for larger cameras like the Swift 2, and offers ample protection to the central stack using 2 carbon plates and 3d printed TPU spacer. This makes the frame look awesome and means even if you take a hit from head on while racing its highly unlikely it will damage your electronics.
As the younger brother to the famous freestyle frame the Chameleon, the Japalura looks just like its sibling. The frame is designed to be used with standard size components, such as 25mm board camera and 30.5mm FC mounts. However this comes at a cost and the Japalura is very heavy for its size at 51g, at $67.50 it’s also by far the most expensive frame on the list. But Armattan carbon is some of the best in the industry and you get what you pay for, as it comes with full warranty on all the parts. As you might expect for such a heavy frame it is designed for 14XX motors.
The GEP MSX3 is, much like the Japalura, modelled on a bigger brother. This time it is based on the Leopard series of frames. The leopard frames are great value for money and are easier to build in than most freestyle and racing frames. The advantage of the Sparrow frame is that you can choose between either a stretch x or a true x design (MSX3 and MX3 respectively). A stretch x is generally preferred for racing whereas a true x is preferred for freestyle. At 41g the Sparrow frames are heavy for their size, but they have the added ability to run either 30.5mm or 20mm electronics.