6 best budget badminton rackets: upgrade from garden to court

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I find it hard to review the best budget badminton rackets. 

Harder than the high-end rackets, at least. The latter has the best technology and material available, and the price is less of a concern. 

On the other hand, cheap badminton rackets are all about balancing price with value and avoiding a bad deal.

They tend to vary more in quality, there are more brands to compare between, and their descriptions offer fewer specifications, which makes it harder to find a great fit between you as a player and the racket.

Many of these affordable badminton rackets are intended for beginners and there’s a big difference between playing with a power-prone racket compared to a speedster.

A speedy racket allows you to slice holes in the air like a ninja longer before you get tired, whereas a power-based racket helps you smash harder and hit the backline.

If you’d like to dive deeper into picking a badminton racket, there’s your guide but I’ve found that budget rackets often don’t have the information available you’ll need for it to be that useful.

Before we dive into the rackets themselves, there’s something you should know.

A breakdown of the best budget badminton rackets

I’ll only be looking at the best budget rackets that are sold as single rackets rather than including, say, 2-for-1 picnic sets as those will get their own article eventually.

I’ve seen single rackets sold for as cheap as $15 but for that price, all you get is the privilege of telling your friends that you technically do own a badminton racket (and I’m not sure it’s worth the bragging rights). They are usually made with the aim to be sturdy and durable so you can dig them up from your shed for the yearly garden BBQ.

When it comes to badminton rackets, price, quality, and skill level tend to follow each other. For example, rackets for advanced players will often be pricier than those for intermediate players, which will again be pricier than those for beginners.

In my experience, the best budget rackets cost between $40-$80 for players who get on court regularly (as opposed to playing in their garden).

However, within this range, I’ve noticed two subcategories. Oddly enough, many of the rackets around the $50-$60 mark seem to be outdated or older rackets that are hard to place.

In my experience, you’re better off either saving some money and going down to, say, a $40-racket or spending a little more and going for Yonex’s new budget range of their top rackets called “Play” which tends to cost around $75. They offer tremendous value for the price.

Finally, whichever racket you choose, I recommend that you get it restrung as the factory strings and tension tends to be subpar.

Okay, enough with the introduction, let’s look at what’s good: the best budget badminton rackets.

Hey reader, a quick interruption...

I’m experimenting partnering with webshops that sell badminton gear, like Amazon. I’ll include links to buy the gear I review and if you do, they’ll pay me a small commission. That doesn’t change your price and you’ll get more play-tested gear as a result but I thought it was fair to let you know.

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Aske

The dirt cheap sub-$50 options

1. The “Just Gimme A Racket”-Racket: Franklin Sports Elite Performance

2. The Lightweight Power Racket: Yonex Voltric Lite 25I

3. The Lightweight Speedy Racket: Yonex Nanoray Light 18i

The good value for money

4. The All-Arounder: Yonex Arcsaber 7 Play (or Arcsaber 11 Play)

5. The All-Arounder Mixed With Power: Yonex Astrox 77 Play 

6. The Power hitter: Yonex Astrox 99 Play 

The best budget badminton rackets

Let’s dive into the rackets.

1. The “Just Gimme A Racket”-Racket: Franklin Sports Elite Performance

best budget badminton rackets - franklin sports elite performance racket
  • Pros
    • Suitable for doubles as it’s in the 4U weight class
    • All-around racket catering to most aspects of the game
  • Cons
    • You won’t get help generating extra power
    • It’s unclear which skill level is best suited for this racket

You know it’s a good sign when the manufacturer bakes words like “elite” or “pro” into the name. 

Smart move, Franklin Sports.

At the time of writing, this racket is on sale for $37 (down from $69). At the discounted price, it might be worth a shot but at full price, you can get a kickass Yonex Play-racket for the same.

I haven’t tested this racket as it isn’t available where I live, so what I’m sharing with you is based on my interpretation of the limited information I can find and my experience as a player using other budget rackets.

The Franklin Sports’ Elite Performance racket falls in the lighter 4U weight class, which is commonly used in doubles games. It only comes in one size so there’s no decision to be made on grip size.

A balance point of 294 MM puts this racket in the even balanced racket category. These types of rackets tend to be all-arounders rather than focusing on speed or smash power, and are often popular among the pro doubles players as they like to be able to maneuver fairly quickly during defense while having a technique strong enough to generate power.

I’m struggling to find specifics that tell us which skill level this racket is best suited for. I see some signs suggesting it’s for intermediate players due to its medium flexibility but I’m unable to verify that.

2. The Lightweight Power Racket: Yonex Voltric Lite 25i

best budget badminton rackets - yonex voltric lite 25i example
  • Pros
    • Very lightweight, meaning you’ll feel less tired playing with this racket, especially during longer sessions, compared to a typical racket
    • Can help generate extra power in your smash or when hitting the backline
    • Able to withstand high string tension, meaning you can “grow” into the racket as you level up your skills
  • Cons
    • As the racket is lightweight, you might not get as much help with power as with other power-based rackets

Weighing just 77 g. the Yonex Voltric Lite 25i is an ultra lightweight racket (5U, if you need a reference point, which as confusing as it sounds, is lighter than 4U). Oddly enough it’s built to withstand a string tension as high as 30 lbs. That might not mean anything to you, so allow me to explain.

The higher the string tension the more power you can generate, but in exchange you’ll need to hit the shuttle more cleanly on the strings. There’s a sweet spot where it’s ideal for the shuttle to land and that becomes smaller the higher tension you use. 

The more experienced a player is the higher the tension they can command. Some players choose a tension higher than their skill level to hit a powerful shot but when they don’t, there’s a higher chance of the shuttle flying somewhere they didn’t intend.

This racket has a flexible shaft, suggesting that it’s a good fit for beginners as that helps if you haven’t practiced timing your shot well just yet.

With a balance point of 297 MM, that makes this racket head heavy, which can increase the power in your smash or open up variety in your game by helping you hit the backline.

I haven’t tested this racket but you might find that the combination of lightweightness and power will help you get the shuttle back over the net if you’re late to the shot, but you may struggle with precision in exchange.

3. The Lightweight Speedy Racket: Yonex Nanoray Light 18i

best budget badminton rackets - nanoray light 18i
  • Pros
    • Faster swing and easier maneuverability to make you less tired (compared to a power-based racket)
    • Able to withstand high string tension, meaning you can “grow” into the racket as you level up your skills
    • Very lightweight, allowing you to play longer before getting tired
  • Cons
    • No help with power

The Nanoray Light 18i is another option in Yonex’s Light (or Lite) i-series, making it super light at just 77 grams (5U). It offers to withstand a high string tension as described under the racket above: choosing a higher tension can help you extract more power but it’ll be more difficult to hit a clean shot and you run the risk of hitting more shots somewhere you didn’t plan. 

Fortunately, you can grow into a higher string tension with this racket later on as your skills improve.

In terms of playing style and what this racket will do for you, it’s the opposite of the racket above. Instead of offering power, it gives you a faster swing, easier maneuverability especially around the net, and makes you less tired throughout your games.

It falls in the middle on the flexibility scale, which normally tends to suggest it requires an intermediate skill level. While I haven’t played with this racket yet, it might not be as prominent in this case since you’re less likely to “whip” and smash a lot with this racket.

4. The All-Arounder: Yonex Arcsaber 7 Play

  • Pros
    • All-around racket catering to most aspects of the game
    • Suitable for doubles games where you’ll play both front- and rear court due to its low weight and even balance
    • Built to help with shot precision and control
  • Cons
    • No specialized in either smash or speed (for those who prefer that)

I haven’t had this racket on court yet but I understand that if you’re a beginner and want an all-around racket that can still support you if your timing isn’t great, the Yonex’s Arcsaber 7 Play is a viable option.

It’s an even balanced racket with focus on control and precision, meaning you’ll have to focus more on your net game and hitting creatively around the court to outsmart your opponent rather than smashing them dead. It won’t be the fastest or most powerful racket, but right in the middle, slightly towards the speedy side.

Considering that this Play-edition costs only about a third of the price of the high-end pro model intended for intermediates and above, I bet you it’s great value for money if it’s anything like the other Yonex Play rackets I’ve tested.

It only comes in the 4U weight class, which is ideal for doubles games as it’s faster to swing and will make you less tired during the increased speed of doubles games. If you want extra power you could consider stringing a power-based string onto it.

The Arcsaber 7 Play is part of Yonex’s popular Arcsaber series and I understand that this version is slightly quicker and more beginner-friendly than its cousin, the Arcsaber 11 Play below.

Alternative: Arcsaber 11 Play

  • Pros
    • Offers help guiding the shuttle around the court without losing that much power (compared to a very power-based racket)
    • Good all-around the court and well-suited for doubles games
  • Cons
    • Decent during net play but still requires a steady hand

If you’re more experienced, such as a low-intermediate player moving up (or even higher), you might be interested in the Arcsaber 11 Play. It has a tad more power, whereas the Arcsaber 7 Play is slightly lighter and faster.

I’ve been play-testing this racket for a while and I freaking love it. I usually prefer some power in my rackets and even though this is an even balanced one, and I did lose some power, it wasn’t as much as I had expected.

On the other hand, I did feel like I had more control and precision in my shots. I especially like its smash blocks and defensive shots where I found it easy to send the shuttle crawling back over the net without having to adjust my technique much.

For someone like me who isn’t a crazy skilled player, I found that it was decent during net play but still requires you to be nimble which can be challenging if you’re moving at speed to get the shot at the same time.

5. The All-Arounder Mixed With Power: Yonex Astrox 77 Play

  • Pros
    • Nice and quick for doubles games, especially during drive duels in the midcourt
    • Decent power without losing much in other aspects of the game
  • Cons
    • Not the most smash prone racket out there for beginners
    • Smash blocks will require you to adjust your technique if you come from a very power-based racket

Yonex’s Astrox 77 is an interesting racket. Its high-end Pro-edition is popular among the top doubles players and this Play-edition is our chance at getting a similar racket for a fraction of the price. 

When I play-tested it, I noticed that it’s a power-based racket but feels closer to being an all-around type of racket than a power hitter. This racket is a good fit for beginners who don’t know what to get but know that they want at least a bit of power. For reference, it’s more powerful than the Arcsabers above.

Despite that, during smash blocks I often found myself missing that last bit that makes the shuttle crawl over the net and catches your opponent off guard. If this is something you enjoy, you’ll have to adjust your game if you’ve had a very head heavy racket before.

In exchange, I found that this racket feels faster than your typical power racket during drive duels in doubles and interceptions. I also noticed my drop shots tend to be more controlled.

6. The Power hitter: Yonex Astrox 99 Play

  • Pros
    • Loads of power
  • Cons
    • May make you tired during longer sessions
    • Not nimble around the net

This slammer is the most powerful of Yonex’s beginner rackets and while some of the other rackets can feel a little confusing, this is a simple one. If all you’re looking for is extra power, this racket is for you.

Despite this being a lightweight 4U racket, you’ll need to be strong to keep swinging this racket around during longer game sessions, especially if you’re playing doubles as those games tend to be faster than singles.

The Astrox 99 Play struggles around the net and during fast midcourt defense duels due to being on the slower side of things in exchange for the power it offers. On the other hand, it makes it easy to whip the shuttle back over the net if you’re late and out of position without needing amazing technique.

It’s one-sided with a full focus on power but offers good value for money if that style of racket is for you. I took it for a spin on court and you can find my experience play-testing the Astrox 99 Play here.

Takeaways

  • $40-$80 is a good budget to find a cheap racket but the middle, around the $50-$60 mark, doesn’t offer as much value as both the cheaper and slightly more expensive rackets
  • Most of these rackets are intended for beginners as price and skill tend to follow each other when it comes to badminton rackets
  • You’ll gain a lot by restringing these rackets with a better string and higher tension than what they come with
2 comments
  1. I got the Yonex Astrox Lite 27i at 20% off from Yonex’s online website. It’s a great value racket for attacking with a lightweight 5U racket. It’s head-heavier than the Voltric Lite 25i. Good for attacking beginners to intermediate players on a budget. For stronger players on a budget the 4U PLAY rackets would make more sense though. I’m nursing a tennis elbow, so this mid-flex 5U racket is perfect for me … for now. Don’t buy those cheap Decathlon rackets, coz the feel of the Yonex racket is superior to their Perfly models.

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