x5105 or ft818

I have enough money to buy either the x5105 or the ft-818. I also know someone selling the ft-817ND for $300. I am looking for a radio for all purpose use (sota and in shack). That way I can learn different aspects of radio such as digital modes and weather fax.

I just wanted to get some opinions on what would be the better purchase. I do not have much expendable income so this would be the radio I will be using for many years.

edit - Just checked with the guy I know who was selling the 817, he sold it already.

817 for $300 is a no brainer if you have limited funds.

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The X5105 does not have 2m or 70cms like the FT818/FT817 have.

I second Andy, the 817 is a no brainer, grab it before they change their mind or sell to someone else. The money you save over an 818 (which is effectively the same radio) can go towards antennas/parts, a tuner if you so desire, or myriad of other things that make operating and experimenting more fun.

$300 for an FT-817ND sounds about $180 less than I would expect to have to pay for a good working unit in a reasonable condition, so I suggest you take a good look at it before buying. If it’s in good order - grab it, it’s a bargain.
The one thing that the X5105 has that they FT817/818 range don’t have is an internal ATU. The X5105 is a current design, SDR based rig, so the receiver is probably somewhat better than the old design FT817/818. But is the new X5105 worth another $300 dollars over the used FT817ND, probably not.

73 Ed.

PS: If you do go for the FT817ND - two modifications you might wish to consider - The 2500 mAh LIPO battery upgrade modification and RF-Clipper type speech compression. OK you can add an external ATU as well, but as long as you use resonant antennas, you wont need an ATU.

PPS: Take a look at the XIEGU G90 as well - I’m not sure what the price is as it’s very new but it’s basically the 20w version of the X5105 and replaces the X108G. Going from 5 watts to 20 watts is noticable, where 5w to 10w isn’t.

I have owned and used a FT-817nd for a number of years and close to 100 portable operations. It’s a trusty workhorse, does everything and you can’t go very wrong with it.

However, now I’ve moved to the X5105.

It’s about the same weight, about the same price as a new FT-818 and it won’t cover 2m and 70cm. It is very well built and finished, comes with a good manual and does the job. These are the main advantages of X5105 vs FT-818:

  • user interface is miles ahead the FT-818: buttons spaced apart, large screen, a lot of displayed information;
  • the internal antenna tuner is a real tuner, not those 3:1 jobs you usually see;
  • large internal battery, 3800mAh/11.1V vs 1900mAh/9.6V in the FT-818. Never managed to run it down in one day;
  • integrated antenna analyzer with graphical display (plots a chart of SWR response);
  • output power stays 5W until the battery is completely depleted. TX is also exceptionally clean, IMD3 reported at -37dBc by QST. I can’t even see the harmonics on my FFT spectrum scope (QST says -51dBc worst case);
  • has TX voice compressor and DSP that does high-pass/low-pass audio filters, NR and notch. NR and notch implementation is mediocre, but better than nothing;
  • the whole layout is much better suited for portable operations, the connectors are well protected and you have an IF output if you want to use a panadapter or use SDR software on a PC;
  • internal microphone and PTT button on the side, can be used as a walkie-talkie (tuner will tune any short antenna).


  • strong-signal receive performance is weaker than the FT-817 (which isn’t great either). I have noticed this empirically while on SOTA, but then I’ve reviewed the QST tests for both radios. While the reported RMDR 2kHz at is a reasonable 70dB (vs FT-818 71dB), the Blocking Gain Compression Dynamic Range is only 58dB (FT-818 is at 93dB). This will make you work the PRE/ATT a lot and will generally make weak stations harder to copy when a strong signal is present on a nearby frequency.

Let me know if you have any questions.


Just my 2¢ worth. Save up another couple of hundred bucks and invest in an FT-857. If you’re into DXing, it’s radio royalty. Covers top band to UHF. It simply blows away the FT-817 and nearly every other rig which cost three times as much.

Downside, well it’s not exactly light, however, you’ll soon forgive it when you’re in a pile-up. And of course, you’ll need a bigger battery. GL.

KX2 and a hand held for 2m 70cm.
Just checked e bay x5105 is more expensive than a FT 817/8 or KX2. I have an FT 817 and its a great radio and seen lots of them in use on SOTA . The KX2 or KX3 is very popular too with a bit more power and antenna tuner all the good stuff on board.
Sorry you missed the bargain assuming it was in going order at that price.
Ian vk5cz …

Hi Ian, not sure if eBay is the best source for pricing, but the KX2 costs more than both of the other 2 combined.

USA prices:

Xiegu X5105 - US$ 599.95
Yaesu FT-818 - US$ 649.95
Elecraft KX2 - US$ 1,270.60

Hi Razvan,
You might want to add to that comparison list the new XIEGU G90 at €479 but only now on backorder the first batches sold out quickly. This is the replacement for the X108G and is effectively a 20w version of the X5105.
Then again the Yaesu FT-891 can be got with some good discounts, it is lighter than the 857 (which it was originally meant to replace) and has a more modern receiver in it.

Both of these have no VHF or UHF but the original poster was looking at an X5105, so from that I take it that VHF/UHF is not in his scope of requirements.

Isn’t it great that we HAVE all these good options at the moment!!

Casey - have you made your purchase decision as yet? I’m sure you’d be happy with ANY of the radios discussed in this thread.

73 Ed.

Yes Ed, the Xiegu G90 is worth mentioning, but I don’t think it’s available in the US yet. I have actually played with one recently (from the UK distributor, £379 and in stock) and I think it’s an excellent choice for portable as well. My only gripe with it is the small buttons and crammed user interface, but it’s about the same size & weight as an FT-818 and has 20W and integrated antenna tuner. It is also SDR and has a very pretty display.

I’ll just add that there is more to consider than the size or technical specifications. I remember activating whilst sitting in a windbreak that was a horseshoe shaped drystone wall of rocks about the size of my head, and the movement of the feeder in the wind dislodged a rock from the rim which then fell on my FT817. The only damage was a small scratch in the paintwork, the rig still worked OK and I completed the activation. The FT817 and FT818 are built in a very solid white metal casting, they are very robust. I doubt that either the KX2 or X5105 would have survived having that rock land on them!

I can’t speak for the X5105 but the G90 uses the same solid metal case that the X108G does and that thing will stand some bashing about, like the FT817/818.

The Elecraft KX2 and KX3 always seemed somewhat more fragile to me, but I believe there are aftermarket protection handles and cases made for those.

73 Ed.

The X5105 case is more solid that any radio I’ve seen. The only weak point is the screen.

The radio you can afford to buy is much better than the radio you would like to buy when you have no radio.

I haven’t bought anything yet, I probably won’t be buying anything till June to save a little more. VHF is appealing to me which is the only thing that has me looking at the 818. It seems like the X5105 is way ahead compared to the 818. Maybe I will just pair the x5105 with a 2m HT. The only draw back to that is there would be no 2M SSB which I hear is popular. I am interested the most on using 6m and playing with digital modes. My only experience is on 2m and a little on 70cm with my cheap baofeng. I need to get my general license this summer to get more use out of these radios.

There is no perfect radio, and any of the suggestions above will bring you happiness as you explore what it can do.
If you are a critical person, you may well want to change it once you have identified the things you don’t like.
If you are willing to work with what you have bought, and get the best out of it, that’s fine too.

Either way, enjoy choosing which to buy, but don’t overthink it - you risk spending a lot of time getting confused and afraid of making a bad choice!

I went around this loop several years ago (when there was arguably less choice) and dithered for months. Then I found myself near a ham radio shop, went in and bought an FT817ND. I’ve been very pleased with it, and as Andy @MM0FMF said, it is infinitely better than the radio I didn’t have before that :o)

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That KX2 price includes all the options, including the very fine ATU. For a configuration comparable to the FT-818 and Xiegu, it is $789.95.

Also, the comments about the KX2 and KX3 are a myth. They were designed as trail-ready radios, and I haven’t heard of any of them breaking on the trail. I do recommend the aftermarket SideKX handles and cover, because it makes it easier to pack. There are Chinese copies of the SideKX which have some reported problems with fit and softer aluminum.


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The KX2 at US$ 789.95 is half of the radio. No ATU, no battery, no battery charger, no external microphone, no power cord. All those are included with the US$600 X5105.

Plus, the most annoying Elecraft design flaw is not present with the X5105 or FT-818: the battery charges in the radio. You don’t need to take it out every time, like with the KX2.

In the past I had an FT-817 and RS-918 (Chinese clone of the MCHF 0.6 SDR transceiver) and now an FT-857 and KX3.

My observations:

  • FT-817 is a great transceiver. You can use it standalone, no battery leads etc, anywhere anytime. Absolutely loved it. SSB audio is marvelous out of such a small box. Mine was 13 years old and never had an issue with it. I’ll probably end up with another at some point.
  • RS-918 10w very capable transceiver and perfect for digital modes as you have one USB cable for control and audio. If you are looking to use digital modes count the number of cables you are going to need between rig and computer. Quality can vary but get a good-one and they are just excellent for the money.
  • FT-857 man this is a great rig, that extra power is lazy for non-DX activations but makes all the difference DX. Had ZL/VK and Cook island contacts in the past two weeks. I get that some folk think it isn’t right to be using 100w SOTA, but there is a time and place where it will make the difference for DX. 50w VHF, 35w UHF. Does it all.
  • KX3 still on the fence with the KX3. Great receiver, no doubt. The AX1 is a great receive antenna but compromised on transmit, although contacts can be had. I haven’t used non resonant antennas yet so not really needed the tuner. Internal AA batteries are far from convenience without the 100 quid charger which I’m not going to buy, but not deal-breaking inconvenient. 5w with internal Nicads, 15w with an external battery. Optional filter board not made and discernible difference so far when operating. So if I want more than 5w I have to take a separate battery, which takes the shine off the KX3 for me. However, on the higher summits it won’t leave my knees complaining like the FT-857 will.

The FT-891 I’ve heard great things about and is a bit of a bargain by all accounts. No VHF/UHF and lots of menus, but lighter than the FT-857.

If you go for a lighter QRP rig consider one of the Chinese 40-50w amps - they give you the option of light and QRP or slightly heavier but running 40w which 9/10 is as much power as you’ll ever need, and certainly has been used VK to UK recently.