Best QRP Transceiver for 2021

In amateur radio, QRP operation refers to transmission at reduced power – typically less than 5 Watt. The quality of a QRP transceiver will determine how far and well you can communicate. Additionally QRP enthusiasts will experiment with and optimize their antenna setups and operating modes to maximize range. Power constraints inspire creative solutions! In this post we review the top QRP transceivers.

Editor’s Pick – Xiegu X5105

Top Features

  • 3.6-inch LCD screen.
  • Built-in AF-DSP digital noise reduction processor.
  • Very portable.
  • Key switch uses both manual and automatic modes.
  • Easy to operate with the VOX function.
  • Built-in battery with a large capacity.
  • SSB, CW, AM, and FM modes.

The Xiegu X5105 is ranked first because it has an assortment of valuable features. It also has a VOX feature that enables you to operate without having to press the PTT key. It is small and easy to carry around with you. The Xiegu X5105 comes with a 1-year warranty which becomes void if you tamper with the radio hardware. Users of the previous version complained about a bugs related to channel storage and spectrum display – these bugs have now been fixed.

Pros

  • There is a reduction in noise because there is a built-in noise reduction processor
  • It has a trestle that enables desktop operation
  • It is easy to set up
  • It enables communication on four of the most popular bands on ham radios
  • The volume button works for both switching the transceiver on or off

 Cons

  • You cannot use it for periods above two hours because it starts overheating
  • It needs an air conditioner for better heat dissipation

User reviews

For the most part, users were happy with the Xiegu X5105’s operation and the ease with which they could set it up. Many were delighted with the battery life and excellent antenna analyzer.

Only one person had problems with a rig that malfunctioned after a week.

Read more reviews on Amazon

Runner Up: Xiegu G90

Top Features

  • It has a detachable display unit.
  • The G90 offers a wide range of auto antenna tuners.
  • It is easy to use and operate.
  • It comes with firmware updates to boost the functionality of the radio at no cost.

The Xiegu G90 is unlike other QRP radios because it provides an internal automatic antenna with an extensive range. With the G90 transmitter, you can listen in from several miles away. For example, Greece radio stations and those in Spain when you are in the USA.

The body of the radio separates from the display unit. You can therefore place the head of the transceiver remotely.

It has a fantastic color LCD screen. While you use it, you can see all the information that is displayed even in daylight.

It has a 48KHZ spectrum display that gives you the sensitivity of the signal conditions surrounding you.

Pros

  • It has a separation cable added to its detachable faceplate.
  • The full-color display has both spectrum and waterfall.
  • It has side panels meant to protect the front and the back of the radio.
  • It has a built-in automatic antenna tuner.

Cons

  • It does not provide an option for a built-in battery pack.
  • It has no bail (support or what you would call stands/feet) that supports the front for ergonomic function. ( You have to use something to prop it up so you can comfortably view the display)
  • Its lack of stands also means heat cannot be appropriately dissipated unless you prop it up, yet the bottom of  the chassis gets hot after prolonged use

User Reviews

Most of the Xiegu G90 users love it because it allows bandwidth adjustment plus center frequency and the upper and lower limits. Users also love it for its smallness and portability.

Some of the users, however, raised issues concerning the noise floor and uncontrollable volume in headphones.

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Most Reliable: Xiegu G1M

Top Features

  • It has a protective metal case.
  • It has an exceptional receiver.
  • It is portable.
  • It is easy to use.

The Xiegu G1M is a Multiband QRP HF transceiver. It is also the cheapest QRP transceiver. The portable QRP HF transceiver has surprisingly great features for its price.

The audio from the receiver is very clear, even though the internal speaker is relatively small. The radio menus are easy to navigate and you get the hang of its operation very quickly.

Pros

  • It is inexpensive.
  • It has a menu that is easy to use.
  • It has a clear display in whatever lighting you use it in.
  • It is excellent for remote operation.

 Cons

  • The connectors for the microphone, phones, and keys are weak.

User Reviews

Most users loved the Xiegu G1M because it performed seamlessly on both SSB and CW. The performance comes as a surprise because, for the modest price, users do not expect so much.

One of the users did not even have trouble with the mics. Having known about the issue, he handled it carefully, and it operated seamlessly throughout.

The complaints about the radio are mainly about the weak mics. Users complain that they have to handle them with utmost care or risk failure when the mic is disconnected.

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Most Versatile: Icom IC-705

Top Features

  • The volume on the transceiver is continuously adjustable.
  • Portable
  • Offers FM air broadcast and band air reception.
  • It incorporates both the high-resolution real-time spectrum and the waterfall display.
  • GPS functions.
  • It has a large 4.3-inch touch screen that boosts visibility.

The  Icom IC-705  applies RF direct sampling, which helps to lower the level of distortion significantly. It has a GPS receiver built within to find receiver and transmitter locations through D-PRS.

Pros

  • Users have direct access to the D-star network terminal/access mode points.

Cons

  • It is expensive.

User Reviews

The Icom IC-705 has a five-star rating on most review sites. All its users are always particularly thrilled by its functionality. In addition, most users also loved it for its portability and crystal clear sound.

Read more reviews on Amazon

Budget Pick: Shortwave Transmitter Receiver Kit

Top Features

  • It has good reception.
  • It uses a 9V square battery.
  • The code is easy to read.
  • It has a metal case that can shield interference from the outside.

This is a QRP transceiver DIY kit. It comes with all the components necessary to make your own QRP transceiver. Consult the schematics for the right way to assemble the radio.

Pros

  • Assembling this kit is a great learning experience
  • The QRP transceiver can get good reception
  • Affordable

 Cons

  • You need to have some knowledge of electronics
  • You have to be able to solder

User reviews

Many of the users successfully assembled the Shortwave Transmitter Receiver kit, and it worked perfectly. One of the users said she was a resistor short of completing the project but found it fun overall.

Only a few of the users complained that their projects did not work at all.

Read more reviews on Amazon

How we picked the best products for this article

When buying a QRP transceiver, you want one with good quality audio. Overall you want one that is easy to operate. Additional features are a welcome plus. To help you make the best decision, we followed these criteria.

Outstanding features

The QRP transceivers come in various brands.  The selling factor is what features they possess that make them better than the rest. The radios with the best features are ranked best.

Audio quality

The QRP transceiver is a radio, and you purchase one for that purpose. If the sound quality is not good enough, then it is not serving its purpose.

Overall performance

The radio should be able to do what the description says it does. Before venturing out to purchase a QRP radio, people will want to know what works best and that performance is validated through multiple user reviews.

The size

Most of the time, people want radios they can use remotely. When you go out to buy a QRP radio, you are looking for something you can put in your backpack on the go.

Ease of use

Whether the radio produces the best audio with no noise, no one will want to use it if it is impossible to operate. The dials should be easy to use and the instructions clear.

Conclusion

An exemplary QRP transceiver should be able to produce quality sound with very minimal interference. The experience is even better if there are additional features that boost the functionality of the radio.

You should not be at war with your radio trying to get a signal. Consider the factors given above and run down this list.

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