Available on Amazon
RadioLink Direct sells this on Amazon
What Came Before
We’re looking at the RadioLink RC8X radio system today, but first, I want to take a short wander back in time with you. The year was 1987 and I had my first hobby-grade radio-controlled buggy in my hands. The radio transmitter was one of those old Futaba dual stick arrangements – still in use today in much of the hobby, but not with cars and their ilk. The transmitter took 8x AA batteries and the receiver took 4x AAs, as well as the NiCad stick pack. It was a tedious affair and though it worked, it was clunky.
In the decades since, I’ve encountered a multitude of transmitters, each with its own quirks and features. I have my budget favorites and there are models I like and ones I don’t. But here’s the thing: there are only so many ways you can make a radio transmitter. People have a variety of ways they want to use one and if you’re in the after-market (as opposed to OEM, being supplied with RTR models these days), you have your work cut out for you: your product needs to be familiar and intuitive enough to use, but different in some way so it stands out and to look good doing so.
Enter the Radiolink RC8X!
This radio system is something a little different to previous RC radio upgrades I’ve had. RadioLink sent me their new RC8X handset along with a few receivers to review – you may have noticed it in some of my videos recently (the speed run series and the Redcat Gen9 to name a few). I’m pleased to report that this is not just a new iteration of the same old stuff. This tricky little handset has some features that may surprise you – let’s take a look.
Straight out of the box attractive carry case, the RadioLink RC8X feels special. It isn’t pro-level briefcase special (keep an eye out for our FlySky NB-4 system review soon!), but that’s a different beast. No, the RC8X feels more like a utilitarian do-it-all model that I’m hoping might be my new go-to for a bunch of my models (I have over 100 in my garage at this point and keeping track of everything is a task!).
The handset’s sleek design is complemented by the 4.3-inch full-color IPS touch screen, framed in burnt-orange LED strips on each side of the base. Radiolink seems to have hit the mark in blending form with function and I really like how this one looks.
One thing that stands out immediately is the hulking ‘PS4’ button at the rear of the radio’s base, or foot. In my testing, I’ve bumped this button repeatedly, so I’ve had to disable it. The good news is this is one of just two negative things I have to say about this radio. More on that in a bit.
A Screen That Does More
The RC8X’s display is nothing short of impressive. Boasting an 800*480 resolution, it promises a smooth screen refresh experience akin to mobile phones. The absence of any lag during fast scrolling is a testament to its capabilities.
And as a neat surprise for FPV fans, the screen doubles up as an FPV display – we’ll touch on that in our video, at the end of this article. It might seem gimmicky, but there are a couple of situations where having this feature is really going to be quite handy. Personally, I’m a fan and I’m going to miss this on other radios from now on!
Customization: A Personal Touch
The system’s designers have outdone themselves with the customization options on the RadioLink RC8X. I have many different systems in my collection and customization is common. However, it’s often a clunky experience and the “limitless options!” from the sales copy often translates to a small choice of colors or layout changes.
I have been surprised at both how easy and how broad the customization is with the RC8X. If you’re like me, you don’t mind how it looks and sounds in stock form, as long as it’s functional. However, given making changes is so easy, you’ll probably be tempted to try it. From system themes to voice broadcasts, the transmitter can be tailored to your preferences. You can tweak background colors, font colors, and function buttons, and it’s easy!
Voice Broadcast: Keeping You Informed
The voice broadcast feature is a noteworthy addition. It allows for alarms based on various parameters, including low transmitter voltage and low RSSI. These features are fairly standard.
Where the RC8X gets special is with its ability to customize the voice broadcast content. And I don’t just mean a little. I’ve browsed the file system on the removable mSDHC card and found you can completely redo the sounds for this thing. It’s filename-based, so if you were so inclined, you could fully redo the sounds for the RadioLink RC8X and have a radio uniquely your own. It’s pretty cool. The inclusion of a headphone jack ensures you’re always in the loop, even in loud environments.
The RC8X promises a ground control distance of up to 600 meters, a testament to its FHSS spread spectrum and 67 channels. More is better here, though the radio must operate within a given band. Having a powerful computer driving the frequency hopping means agile interference-avoidance for maximum SNR (Signal to Noise Radio). This should also be helpful in hilly or otherwise convoluted/crowded environments, as lower frequencies may do better and the radio will adjust on the fly, automatically. We’re talking small improvements, but it all helps. 2.4GHz is already pretty good, but you should notice a difference with a powerful radio system and its various tricks to maintain a good signal.
Response Time: Precision in Control
A response time of 3ms is close to the best in what’s currently available. Futaba, FlySky and Sanwa have this handset beat with 2ms to 2.8ms best measurements across different models – but I challenge you to notice the difference at 5ms or less. I can speak personally to the feel between +10ms and the faster handsets like the Futaba 4PK or Sanwa MT12 on the track, with a previous comparison I’ve done, but modern premium radios have their own implementations of maxing out response speed and the Radiolink RC8X is one of them. Notably, the consistent low speed is what’s important to track racers and historically, the Sanwa easily beats the Futaba 4PX/K models with consistently low latency. The new Flysky NB-4 and this RadioLink RC8X also show promise in low average speeds, where others have tried and failed in the past.
The way they usually achieve it is with some form of duplexing, at the cost of additional channels. Instead of having 8 active channels, for example, the RC8X will only allow you to have throttle and steering active when you’re at the highest speed. The FlySky NB-4 is similar in this regard. It’s a limitation of physics and what can be achieved with a single transmitter and receiver module, but I’m glad of the choice. Even with all the channels enabled, you still have a snappy system, while when you’re in a race environment you’ll only need throttle and steering anyway. Good compromise!
Telemetry: Data at Your Fingertips
The telemetry feature is a game-changer, offering real-time insights into model battery voltage, RSSI, and receiver voltage. With support for up to an 8S (33.6V) battery, you’re always equipped with the data you need for a safe RC experience.
I’ll repeat that: the receivers can accept up to an 8S battery directly connected to the voltage telemetry port to give power level data to the handset. Even my previous favorite FlySky radios don’t do that. I’ve always needed an expansion module to achieve this. Many people might overlook this seemingly minor feature, but for those wanting the simplest way to stay on top of battery levels in their models without having to add additional sensor module/s, this is a standout feature!
Receivers: R8FG and R4FGM
This brings us to the RadioLink RC8X receivers that ship in the package. Helpfully, it actually includes two distinct receivers:
R8FG: This receiver comes with an integrated gyro, ensuring precise control. The support for high voltage servos further enhances its appeal.
R4FGM: Compact yet powerful, this receiver is designed for smaller RC models without compromising on reliability.
As covered above, I really appreciate that both of these receivers can handle high voltage servos and even gives you feedback on your model’s voltage – the built-in battery telemetry port handles up to 8S direct! Bananas!
If you’re into SBUS, the R8FG’s got you covered. It can output an SBUS signal, making it a breeze to connect.
But here’s the cool part: the RC8X isn’t just limited to the R8FG. It plays nice with a bunch of other receivers. There are these compact 4-channel ones, the R4FGM and R4F, which are perfect for smaller RC cars. Then you’ve got the 6-channel ones like R6FG and R6F, the 7-channel R7FG (which we used in the Rlaarlo Speed Run video series), and even the long-distance champs, R8EF and R8F, which are great for RC boats and possibly speed runs (as yet unexplored).
Adaptability and Power Options
One of the standout features of the RC8X is its adaptability. The transmitter can be powered using various sources, including 8 AAA batteries, 2S-4S LiPo batteries, 6S Ni-MH batteries, or even a computer or mobile power bank via a Type-C cable. The universal JST connector ensures protection against reverse polarity connections.
Sounds good in theory, right? In practice, you’ll want to be prepared, as this leads into my criticisms of this system. Read on…
I mentioned the PS4 button is a bit of a problem earlier in this little chat. I bumped it frequently when filming my various videos for RC-TNT, so I ended up disabling the button entirely. This is a minor annoyance with the design and one you may overlook unless you’re clumsy like I can be!
My other nitpick with this otherwise brilliant system is the radio’s default power configuration. It needs no less than 8x AAA batteries to work out of the box! In 2023, this is ridiculous. AA batteries at least I could understand, as their capacity makes their number more palatable, but to need this many AAA batteries in a power-hungry computer system like the RadioLink RC8X seems like a design oversight.
Lemons to Lemonade
UPDATE: it’s come to my attention that if you buy this radio system from Radiolink Direct on Amazon, they appear to ship the radio with a 2S LiPO battery, which neatly solves this issue! Woohoo!
Otherwise, if yours comes with the 8x AAA holder, you could do one of a few things:
- Suck it up and use rechargable NiMH AAA batteries. They’ll give you a few hours of life at least and hey, you can keep a second set on standby.
- Remove the AAA battery case entirely and replace with a LiFE or LiPO battery. As long as it has the red JST plug and is 2S to 4S, it’ll work. I’d reocmmend a 2S 1200mAh LiFE or LiPO, as this will fit easily. I’m using a Turnigy Nanotech 1500mAh 2S battery and it fits. Just. This pair will safely fit, and will help keep you powered up with a ready spare.
- 3D print a larger battery lid for the base of the radio and 3D print or buy a 2x 18650 battery holder with red JST plug (mind the polarity matches the radio’s labels). There are also 2S 18650 LiIon premade battery packs that will fit, as long as you have an extended lid printed for it.
The battery compartment is roughly (L) 92mm x (W) 53mm x (D) 13mm – a bit deeper in places – but if your battery is smaller than that, you should be right.
Ergonomics and Design
Radiolink has paid attention to the ergonomic design of the RC8X. Features like adjustable trigger spring tension, threaded design for better grip, and a lanyard for weight balance showcase their commitment to user comfort. A notable design feature is the ability to reverse the installation direction of the wheel section, making it friendly for both left and right-handed users.
I also like that the wheel can be easily removed and replaced with a 3D printed alternative that comes with a built in thumb steer for one-handed operation. I understand RadioLink sells something like this also, if you’d prefer to get the real deal from the company.
The Radiolink RC8X is more than just another transmitter in the market. It’s a blend of innovation, user-centric design, and performance. If you’re on the hunt for a transmitter that ticks all the boxes, the RC8X might just be the one you’ve been waiting for. Grab one here or read more on RadioLink’s website here.
Available on Amazon
RadioLink Direct sells their products on Amazon – buy yours directly from them!
Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂
A note on affiliate links: we were provided with this radio system by the manufacturer for review purposes. The Amazon links in the above article are affiliate links, which means we may be paid a small commission if you choose to click on them to make a purchase. As always, we make effort to ensure that no review is impacted by this – we still report on bugs and issues encountered during product testing, and our fixes or solutions if found. Thank you for reading and happy RC-ing!