Thursday 12 October 2023


XIEGU X6100  V1.1.7

Given a couple of minutes thinking time, I can justify any of my crazy purchases and in the case of the X6100, this is how it goes...

Every weekend I go to our static caravan near the Trough of Bowland and every weekend I pack a radio and load it into the truck. So I bought a beautiful used Yaesu FT-818 to permanently leave there - makes sense! And then I started to miss having a panadapter, so I thought I'd swap the 818 for a Xiegu. 

I sold the 818 and made £125 profit 😲 and bought an X6100 to replace it. Buying an X6100 makes even more sense when you consider that I recently got my hands on an XPA125B for an absolute song!! 

I've previously owned a Xiegu G90 and I thought it was a fabulous little radio, offering great value for money (although I paid £165 less than the usual price and the deal included extras), so would the X6100 impress as much as the G90?

In the UK, the X6100 costs around £580 new from reputable dealers, although you could probably make some savings by purchasing from Eastern outlets. I didn't fancy risking that, so I went with Nevada

So what is the Xiegu X6100? Well basically it's a portable HF/50MHz, MultiMode SDR transceiver with a 4" full colour display screen and up to 10W output. The radio has a host of useful features...

  • Built-In Batteries
  • Built-In CW Keyer
  • Built-In Modem
  • Built-In BlueTooth
  • Built-In WiFi
  • Built-In ATU
  • SD Card Slot
  • USB-C Sockets
  • Noise Blanker
  • Digital Noise Reduction
  • High Stability TCXO (1ppm)

The parcel arrived promptly from Nevada with the L4001 Interface Lead for the XPA125B which I’d ordered separately. According to the information I've read, this interface makes the radio 100% compatible with the amplifier in terms of control functions like tracking the radio's mode, band, alc, etc. We'll see.

In the box you get the radio, an Icom style microphone (with a backlit keypad), a power lead, a charger lead and a computer interface lead. I know from past experience that the microphone is really quite good and it's certainly a step above some of the bargain basement mics that the big manufacturers ship with their radios.

First impressions when you remove the radio from the box are very good. Now bear in mind that I own an IC-705 and have owned a couple of Elecrafts, so I was half expecting to be disappointed by the Xiegu. But I needn't have worried because it's all metal construction and weight (880g) provide a quality feel and the buttons and printing seem to be of a high standard too. The large VFO dial looks good, but the friction provided by a felt-washer below it needed adjustment so that it rotated more freely.

The screen has no touch capability but the menu system is quite intuitive and you very quickly get to know your way around the radio. I like it!  By the way, I strongly recommend the book by Andrew Barron - I got it on Kindle and it was a bargain!

The "LOCK" button has a handy secondary feature whereby it reduces the brightness of the screen in five steps, going from maximum brightness to barely visible (for those times when you wish to leave it switched on for hours and don't want any screen-burn).

I was pleased to see that the radio was installed with the very latest FirmWare as advertised on Nevada's website 👍. The battery was showing a 7.8V charge level and I've read in the manual that you need to fully charge and fully discharge the radio FOUR times for the accuracy of the reading to be reliable. 

I was pretty surprised to find that the supplied 600mA mains charger came with a 13A fuse in it, LOL. Surely the UK importers should address that before shipping on to the retailers? 😵 Someone pointed out that many small chargers don't even have fuses and that's true, but here in the UK, if you supply a Mains Plug, you should follow best practice and insert the appropriate fuse.


The X6100 comes pre-installed with a couple of handy peg-legs to stand the radio at a viewable angle on a desktop. I was pleased to see that, but they do seem a little flimsy so I fitted some laptop stands that  I've used on some of my other radios and they help to keep the radio in place as you push the fascia buttons.

First thing to do was to attach a dummy load and scan the bands for unwanted noises and artifacts. Sadly, the X6100 has more birdies than an aviary!! Many of them are LOUD and in places which wouldn't really effect my listening, but some are definitely in the way! I don't know if we're stuck with that or if firmware updates will be able to resolve the problem. (I'm currently on V1.1.7).

Birdies may differ from radio to radio

After connecting a 66ft EFHW, the radio sprung into life and the built-in ATU managed to find a good match on all bands. Within a few moments I was picking up strong, clear signals and got my first taste of the radio's audio - it wasn't bad, but if you wanted to do some extended listening, you'd probably want to connect a good external speaker. I tried a small BOSE SoundLink Mini II and it sounded great, but if you wanted something much smaller and cheaper, then the LeadSound is highly recommended!

I was impressed with the performance of the radio on its first outing. I was connected to a 40-10M End Fed Half Wave and the X6100's internal tuner found a usable match on 80M! And then using the internal batteries and 5W I managed to get a great contact with Graham G4FNL. See video below...

Click HERE if video doesn't play

After that, I bagged a few more on 80M before getting into a little net on 40M with a group of guys from Ireland and England. They were all amazed at the quality of the signal from this little 5W radio. 58's and 59's all the way.  So the X6100 receiver works just fine on SSB (although it can get a little overloaded and you definitely wouldn't want to have it around other transceivers on a field day). There's no front-end rejection💥

I noticed that in the CW section of the bands, I could detect some voices behind the Morse signals and when I switched to LSB, it became clear that there was a Chinese broadcast station bleeding through. Strangely enough, I couldn’t hear it if I switched to AM 🤷‍♂️.  This interference was on both 20M and 40M - I didn’t try any other bands. This is quite disappointing.

The ATU is good (just like my previous G90) and for many, that's a big plus! As I mentioned earlier, the audio is not bad, but if you ramp up the volume, it does get pretty crappy, so when you're outdoors with higher ambient noise levels you'll definitely need to plug in that external speaker or a pair of headphones. Don't forget to switch the Speaker/Headphone setting in the menu (to be honest, I tend to prefer the headphone setting even when using a speaker!).

Some people have complained about the Noise Reduction on the X6100 but I don't think it's too bad. If yours doesn't sound good, take the time to go into the menus and make adjustments to the DNF settings - it might make a difference.

Rather handily, the X6100 has a CW Practise Mode which is perfect for me because I just bought a paddle to learn the code. In this practice mode, the radio will play the tone without actually transmitting.

The Wi-Fi abilities of the X6100 are severely limited and currently can only be used to connect to the Linux file system over an SSH or to connect a to connect to an NTP Server to get the correct clock time.

The other rather poor implementation is BlueTooth. If you were hoping that it would permit the use of popular hands-free headsets, you’ll be disappointed - probably. My experience was one of complete frustration. The only thing you might use it for is to install a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse (if you can get it to pair), but there’s even limitations on how you can use a keyboard with the radio. 🤬

The internal battery is nice to have, but in reality, it’s not very useful if you plan to transmit for any length of time and I certainly wouldn’t rely on it for outdoor activations - it doesn’t last long at all. I would always take my 13.2V FlightMax LifePO4 with me. 

You only have to look around YouTube to learn that there's plenty of unresolved issues with the X6100 (bluetooth, wi-fi and no squelch for a start). These are minor annoyances but still very frustrating. Then again, you musn't lose sight of the fact that this is a cheap transceiver. 

If you are looking to buy a cheap QRP radio for outdoor activities such as SOTA & POTA, then this could be the radio for you. Outdoors you'll very likely have a great take off and a good antenna such as a SotaBeams BandHopper. You'll be able to drop the power to conserve the internal batteries and still make a few Transatlantic contacts.

If you fancy buying this radio to be your outdoor and your shack radio, then you might want to look at something else, maybe an IC-705 or a used KX2.  Yes, the 705 is crazy expensive, but it's also crazy good! Unlike the X6100, everything works perfectly including full and proper implementation of the Bluetooth and WiFi. The 705 has lots of 3rd party support and it's a piece of cake to work remotely with it - even with an iPad. Another radio to consider might be a Yaesu FT-891 - there’s plenty available on the secondhand market for around £500. They’re non-sdr but what a fabulous receiver!! And up to 100W for those who are licensed to use it.

On the plus side, the X6100 does have that internal tuner and you can maybe put up with the things that aren't quite right in the hope that it will be updated and improved by firmware (although Xiegu have still to fix things on the G90 and that’s been out a long time). 

There's also a Discord Group which is taking advantage of the fact that the radio's operating system (Linux) is hackable, so some very clever people out there are making changes which could massively improve the rig. There's even completely alternative firmware available and this makes it a dream radio for the more advanced users out there. I tried it myself but think it’s got a long way to go yet.

Apparently, you can configure the X6100 to run WSJT-X from within the radio itself!! Click here to see a video about it. Personally, I know NOTHING about Linux and so I found the process pretty daunting to consider. 

If you don't want to spend a fortune on a new radio and you see yourself as a bit of an experimenter, then the X6100 would be a very sound candidate! It's not an IC-705 or a KX3, but it does have great potential and it's a "likeable" radio.

There’s no denying though, that it’s very annoying to find that a radio from such a big manufacturer which is sold by big ham radio retail outlets across the globe, has so many issues. As far as I’m concerned, all advertised features should work reasonably well. 

X6100 & XPA125B for sale!

Please feel free to add your thoughts on the X6100 in the comments section below.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.


Xiegu X6100 Key Features

    • HF/50MHz all mode including data
    • 10 W transmit power with external power source, 5 W with internal battery
    • 4″ high-resolution color screen, 800*480 pixels resolution
    • Built-in rechargable large capacity lithium battery pack, 12V/3,5 Ah
    • Built-in efficient automatic antenna tuner
    • Standing wave scanner
    • Voice memory keyer
    • CW memory keyer
    • Native Bluetooth and WiFi supports wireless audio, keyboard & mouse
    • Onboard USB serial adapter with sound card
    • Second USB host port to support mouse, keyboard and storage device
    • High stability TCXO internal clock source

Xiegu X6100 General Specifications

    • Frequency coverage: 0,5-30+50-54MHz (Transmit in Ham Bands) Shame it doesn’t go down to 0.1MHz
    • Operating modes: USB/LSB (J3E), CW (A1A), FM (F3E),RTTY (F1B), AM (A3E)
    • Minimum Frequency Step: 1 Hz
    • External power supply voltage: DC9-15V
    • Frequency stability: ±1.5ppm within 10~30min after startup @25°C: 1ppm/hour
    • Antenna Impedance: 50 Ohm
    • Antenna connector type: BNC
    • Operating temperature range: 0C to +50C
    • Current consumption: RX: <330mA, TX: <3A

Xiegu X6100 Receiver Specifications

    • Frequency coverage: 0,5-30+50-54MHz
    • Receive sensitivity (10dBS/N)
      • (PRE=on, ATT=off, NB=off,NR=off, SSB/CW/AM = 10dB S/N, FM = 12dB SINAD)
      • SSB/CW: 0.20 uV
      • FM 28-30, 50-54 MHz 0.22 uV
      • AM 0,55-1,79 MHz: 10 uV
      • AM 1,8-30 MHz: 2 uV
      • AM 50-54 MHz: 2 uV
    • ADC: 24 bit
    • Spectrum display bandwidth: 96 kHz
    • Spectrum refresh rate: 25 frames/a
    • Spectrum background noise: -140 dBm
    • Audio output: 0,4W (4 Ohm ≥10% THD)
    • 2kHz BDR (Critical frequency suppression): ≥110 dB
    • RMDR: ≥85 dB
    • IMD3: ≥95 dB
    • MDS: -138 dBm

Xiegu X6100 Transmitter Specifications

    • Frequency range
      • 1.8~2.0 MHz
      • 3.5~3.9 MHz
      • 5.3515~5.3665 MHz
      • 7.0~7.2 MHz
      • 10.1~10.15 MHz
      • 14.0~14.35 MHz
      • 18.068~18.168 MHz
      • 21.0~21.45 MHz
      • 24.89~24.99 MHz
      • 28.0~29.7 MHz
      • 50~54 MHz
    • Output Power: 10W (SSB/CW/FM) @13.8VDC
      • 2.5W (AM carrier wave) @13.8VDC
    • Output Power, internal battery: 5W
      • 1.5W (AM carrier wave) @ battery
    • Spurious suppression: 1.8~29.6MHz: ≥50dB
      • 50-54 MHz ≥60 dB
    • Carrier suppression: ≥50dB
    • SSB Frequency Response: 300-2700Hz (-6dB)
    • FM Modulation Swing; +/- 5kHz
    • Mic Impedance: o,2-10k (600 Ohm typical)
    • Antenna tuner tuning impedance range: 1:4.5
    • Antenna tuner initial tuning time: ≥ 15s
    • Antenna tuner memory recall time ≥ 0.2s

Xiegu X6100 Wireless network/Bluetooth

    • Wireless LAN standard: IEEE802.11b/g/n
    • Authentication and encryption: WEP (64/128bit)
    • WPA2-PSK(AES)
    • Frequency band: 2.4G
    • Bluetooth version: 4.0

Xiegu X6100 General Specifications

    • Dimensions: 180 x 86 x 49 mm
    • Weight: 880 g (radio unit only)

Xiegu X6100 In the Box

    • X6100 radio unit complete with antenna tuner and internal rechargeable battery
    • Microphone with backlit remote control keypad
    • 12 Volt DC power cord
    • English manual

Xiegu X6100 Suggested Accessories


PE4BAS, Bas said...

Very nice radio Tom. Great contact you made. I know the contest he mentions. It is the one hour UKEI SSB contest which I totally forgot yesterday. Anyway signal was loud and clear for shure. Despite some shortcomings the radio seems to function well. I would especially be interested in the WiFi and Bluetooth functions because I still think a connection between a computer/laptop and radio should also be wireless. 73, Bas

MadDogMcQ said...

Hi Bas, hope you’re well.

The Bluetooth and WiFi are both poorly implemented at this stage (I’ve edited the post to discuss it). Hopefully these are the sort of things that can be much improved by future firmware upgrades, but currently, they’re next to useless IMHO.

73, Tom.

g0vgs said...

Nice honest review Tom. A good friend, G0TUE uses his exclusively for CW and enjoys it. As you say, it isn't perfect but what is? It does the job and if it gets people portable, then more power to its metaphorical elbow :)

73 Ian (G0VGS)

MadDogMcQ said...

Hi Ian, yes, it's cheap and cheerful and to many is like a 705 and provides the often desirable scope/waterfall. It lacks the VHF/UHF but it also lacks a £1400 price tag, LOL.

Hope you're both well.

73, Tom.

Nils said...

I have to agree with your evaluation. More birdies than an aviary is the most damning thing I have found with the X6100. Well, that and the cheap/short life battery. And the internal microphone settings. And . . .

Well, yeah, I have one. I have plans of using it -- with an offboard battery -- for POTA &c but, truth be told, I think the IC705 has a better chance of getting used while the '6100 has a serious chance of being sold.

73 de W8IJN

MadDogMcQ said...

Thanks for visiting Nils - appreciate it.

Yes, it's a real shame about the birdies (and other small but irritating issues). I really wanted to like the radio and make it a keeper, but sadly it had to go.

I love my 705 and it really is difficult to find something to beat it (for the money). Having said that, I'm currently having a lot of fun with my FX-4CR.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.