Brushed or brushless? This is a question that we get asked all too often. Many of the brushed models we stock are also available with brushless power, often for just 30% more on the purchase price, but is the upfront outlay worth it? We decided to find out first hand with FTX’s ever popular Carnage truggy. This ready-to-run 4WD model is available with a brushed or brushless power train with little difference beyond the motor/esc/battery combo. We unboxed the pair and put them against each other.
FTX Carnage at a glance
- Ready-to-Run 1/10th scale RC truggy
- Shaft-driven 4WD system with slipper system
- Adjustable turnbuckles and suspension
- Metal pinion and gearbox crown
- Big bore oil-filled adjustable shocks
- 3kg steering servo
- 2.4Ghz Etronix Sport radio system
- Includes battery and wall charger
- 42cm long, 33cm wide and 16cm tall
How do they compare?
Unsure what we mean by brushless? Firstly, check out this short article which will explain! Now, lets take a look at how they compare ‘on paper’ and in the plastic with a pair of freshly unboxed models.
What is the same?
The two Carnage truggies share the same body shell, but the brushless model is finished in a darker-base, more complex livery and includes some small ‘brushless’ stickers to shout about the upgrades underneath. A removable plastic bash bumper is mounted to the chassis and sits ahead of the body. The brushed model has white wheels whilst the brushless is fitted with black ones of the same design, mounted with the same tyres.
Under the skin they share the same moulded tub chassis, an identical drive train layout and probably around 70% of the components. This includes the same steering system design and basic servo (with saver), the same large battery tray with adjustable hold down bar, the same top deck and transmission covers, suspension towers and more.
Those big bore oil-filled shocks can be adjusted for ride height and have two potential mounting holes on the hard plastic lower arms and shock towers. Similar limited adjustment can be found on the servo horn for gearing up the steering throw. The same basic Etronix 3-channel receiver is cabled tied to the top deck.
Lastly they both include the same transmitter, an ageing 3-channel Etronix sport model. This beast of a controller has reverse switches and trim adjustments for throttle and steering channels as well as a dual rate adjustment for the steering. These plus the bind button and power switch can be found under the hinged lid atop of the controller. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, check our short transmitter guide article.
Overall the aesthetic is pretty dated but the transmitter does the job. Our real issue with the unit is that it required EIGHT(!) AA batteries (both the cost of and the resulting weight) to power it up to the 12v operating voltage.
What is different?
We selected this model as our test subject as the real difference is in the power source and output; Namely the battery, ESC and motor combos FTX fit them with.
The brushed model ships with a 15 turn 550 size brushed can motor (with added heat sink), a 20A brushed speed controller terminated with a Tamiya connector and a 1800mAh 7.2v NiMH stick battery. The ESC is a passively cooled tiny (35x33mm) box with a corded power switch, mounted to the top deck of the chassis. The included charger is a trickle type unit that takes 6 hours to fill the included NiMH. You can learn more about the model in the manual here.
The brushless model has a 2950kv sensorless brushless motor, 45A brushless speed controller hooked up to a 3250mAh 2S (7.4v, 25C) LiPo hard case battery pack. FTX include an intelligent balance charger that takes just 3.5 hours to fully charge a single battery. The speed controller (and trickle charger) will accept a 3S battery should you wish to upgrade and has a large fan stacked on top to keep it cool.
Like its brushless brother it features a corded power switch attached to the upper deck. Unlike the brushless unit it has two large capacitors to assist with the bursts of power and is programmable (using an optional programming box/card) allowing you to alter throttle limits, drag brakes, motor timings and much more. Again, you can learn more about the model in the manual here.
The two setups take up a similar amount of space on the chassis tub, the adjustable battery tie-down coming in use should you want to stuff a tall high-capacity LiPo into the brushless model.
Which one is fastest?
Considering so many customers are predisposed with top speed, we may as well get this head to head out of the way. We mounted our GoPro Hero7 to the chassis and ripped up and down our flat tarmac carpark 5-6 times till we had a solid average for the top speeds of each chassis.
We logged the brushed model’s top speed at 18mph on the included NiMH battery. The brushless model hit 24mph on the included 2S LiPo and a reasonable 37mph when fitted with a 3S LiPo.
Its worth noting that as standard the brushless ESC is programmed for normal motor timing and high initial acceleration with no throttle limit.
In a head to head drag race, even over a short distance, the brushless car smashes its cheaper sibling. Once the brushless car hooks up, it hurtles past and leaves the brushed car for dead.
In fairness to the brushed system, such results are to be expected when looking at the specs of the power-train.
How do they drive?
Considering they share a good 70% of components, the cars perform relatively differently from each other. The brushed Carnage is an entertaining and easily controllable car that would be a suitable first RC model for a young teenager.
With enough ground clearance to clear most greens, ruts and the low kerbs found at local parks, the Carnage can be driven in a wide variety of locations. A flexible, reliable chassis with good electronics cooling you can hammer around for extended periods (with enough batteries) without concern.
Both the brushed and brushless painted bodies are on the thin side, but are inexpensive to replace should one-too-many crash punch a hole in. Should you prefer the black/blue livery of the brushless body, or the dark rims with pre-mounted tyres, the majority of the parts between the two are interchangeable.
Bear in mind that despite the 4WD, with open differentials front and rear, it is not impossible to get stuck off-road. We only beached the truggy on a loose dirt bank, just remember to take a run up when tackling anything like this!
On the brushed edition we were happy to find a waterproof motor and speed controller, something often overlooked at this price point. With the addition of some grease in the receiver box lid joint and tape around the unit you can get away with some (shallow) puddle jumping without frying the electronics, always entertaining.
For us (with admittedly more RC experience than the average consumer) the brushed model always felt a tad pedestrian. It nobly accelerates up to its top speed but you were always felt like it ran ‘up against a wall’ failing to go any faster. This is where the brushless model came into its own.
Side by side, from the off the brushless Carnage just feels so much quicker, substantially more than the 25% increase in top speed would lead you to believe. The key here is in the power delivery, with rabid acceleration whenever the wheels can bite. This model is not suitable for unaccompanied children, it is just too fast!
Those metal driveshafts, dogbones and CV’s make a lot of sense when running the power associated with a brushless motor. They were reliable throughout our testing despite some rollovers and other crashes. The oil filled dampers don’t have a huge amount of travel so this isn’t a buggy you want to ‘air-out’ in a big way.
The stock tyres grip nicely onto the fresh tarmac at our local pump track, allowing us to hammer through turns, high on the banking. They also allow us great braking control for negotiating tight chicanes or hairpins. With the added brushless power you will find yourself using the brakes a lot more, shifting weight to get the nose to turn into corners.
On loose surfaces the most fun can be had, slightly lifting on entry to a corner before gassing up for the apex and four-wheel-powersliding through the turns; this is what beginner RC fun is really about.
Run on 3S power (install something like this overlander battery to try it yourself) the car takes it to the next level. This an entry-level brushless model, its likely that drivers will have never experienced 40+mph in a small scale RC car and it is quick. Doubling up jumps becomes second nature, but at the same time getting the car to grip on gravel takes some fine throttle control.
Whilst the ESC supports 3S voltages, we’d advise against extended use of such batteries if you value your model. The added load through the drive-train will eventually end with either cooked slipper clutch plates or a shredded pinion gear.
Both have drawbacks
For the price its not surprising to hear that the models aren’t perfect. From the factory the chassis were not perfectly aligned with some adjusting needing to the tie rods, plus tightening down of wheel nuts to get the chassis running nicely.
The pinion/spur housing isn’t sealed. This means that even with the covers, small rocks and dust can find their way between or on-top of the gears. In a worst case scenario these can get caught between the plastic spur teeth and the housing itself (in our case emitting a high pitched shrill when accelerating). If ignored the stones will likely win the war, shredding the spur gear until it resembles something like the below image.We recommend regularly popping the covers off (it only takes a couple of minutes and a 2mm hex driver) to inspect the spur gear for damage and clean out the area.
Etronix’s ancient transmitter/receiver combo isn’t the most responsive. We’d be tempted to switch them out for a ‘proper’ Spektrum radio set that could also be used on other models in the future.
The 3kg steering servo is relatively well matched to the setup but likely to die first, even with the inclusion of the servo saver. Thankfully it is a standard-sized item, making upgrading to a metal-gear unit of higher torque a breeze.
Which one should I buy?
If we really oversimplify things you are getting a kit with a 25% higher top speed for 70% more money but this statement doesn’t tell the whole story. The punchy acceleration of the brushless model totally transforms the experience, giving the car the much-needed character it lacked in brushed trim.
Whilst we understand that everyone has a budget, we feel its worth digging deep and purchasing the brushless FTX Carnage. Lets recap the main differences:
|Price (£ RRP)||132||225|
|Top Speed (mph)||18||37*|
|Battery Capacity (mAh)||1800||3250|
|Approx. Run-time (mins)**||18||35|
*Using a 3S LiPo battery (not included)
**Run-time based on casually lapping our local pump track on partial throttle with the included battery.
Perhaps you are looking for a brushless model but can’t quite stretch to the FTX Carnage? Read our review on the BSD Racing Flux Storm 2, the brushless truggy available on a budget.
Where can I buy an FTX Carnage?
The brushless and brushed models featured in this article are available in our webstore today alongside a whole load of other FTX models. They both qualify for free next-day-delivery to mainland UK addresses.
Both models offer only average run-time, its always worth checking out our batteries and chargers section for extra cells to keep you driving. This Overlander 3300mAh battery could potentially double the running time of the brushed carnage whilst this Overlander 5300mAh 2S would extend the fun had with the brushless model.
Accidents do happen but thankfully we have the parts that you will need to rebuild this car after a crash, check out spares section for this model here.
RC Geeks : brushless fans
If you don’t know your brushed from your brushless, start by reading our guide here. We reviewed BSD Racing’s fantastic Flux Storm 2 earlier this year, another brushless truggy but one even cheaper than the Carnage, read the review here. Should you have a brushed car at the moment and be wondering if you can convert it to brushless, the answer is 90% of the time a resounding yes. Read how we converted our Traxxas TRX-4 to brushless here. For all our other brushless blog content (and we have a lot), see here.