Which is the best GoPro for you? We compare the different options

Want to splash on a new action camera, but are unsure which is the best GoPro for your needs? This handy guide is here to help

best GoPro: GoPro HERO8 Black
(Image credit: GoPro)

GoPro has been making best-in-class action cameras for many years now. If you're thinking of buying one, but aren't sure which is the best GoPro for your specific needs, read on. While each new generation has improved upon the last, it might be the case that you don't actually need all the latest model, and a previous incarnation could serve you just as well.

A GoPro will almost always be found at the top of our best action cameras ranking, and older models from the Hero range are also regulars in our guide to the best cheap action cameras. But which is the best GoPro for you will depend on what you want to use it for. 

There are four different iterations in the GoPro Hero range, each with different levels of image quality and functionality. Choosing the right one for you is about deciding which features matter most to you, and which you can live without or will barely ever use.

GoPro’s latest flagship camera is the HERO 9 – we'll be updating this ranking with this new model shortly, but in the meantime you can check out our in-depth GoPro HERO 9 review. Preceding the 9 are the T3 Award-winning GoPro HERO 8 Black and the 360-degree GoPro Max. The HERO 7 range is still in production and the two models available are both excellent cameras too.

GoPro action cams are reliable, bombproof and capable of capturing incredible footage. Whether you want one for filming yourself hurtling down a mountain, catching huge waves, or something a little more sedate, there’s a GoPro camera to suit. Before we walk you through those, let's first recap on what an action camera is so that you are clear you need one of these rather than another type of camera.

The best GoPro: a man films himself skateboarding

Best GoPro: the main uses explained

Whether it's Kai Lenny surfing house-sized waves at Jaws, or Felix Baumgartner's epic skydive from space, if you're watching an action sports video, the likelihood is that at least some of the footage will have been filmed using a GoPro.

GoPros are the ultimate accessory for mountain biking, surfing, white water rafting, skateboarding, or just about any action sport you can think of. However, their bombproof nature, excellent image quality and small size makes them extremely versatile and useful devices for situations in which you wouldn’t want to risk using a regular camera.

Their small size and the range of range of mounts available (helmet mounts, handlebar mounts, even dog mounts, etc) also allows you to record from a huge range of POVs.

Currently there are four cameras in the GoPro range, each offering top-level optics, image stabilisation, waterproofing and usability. But how to choose the best model for you? Well let’s look at what considerations you might want to make to help you choose the best GoPro for your hobby, sport or lifestyle pursuit.

How to choose the best GoPro for you

The main things to consider before purchasing a GoPro are: 1. What will you be mainly using your footage for? and 2. How big is your budget? The good news is that there is a GoPro camera for all kinds of different applications and for a wide range of budgets.

The T3 5-star rated GoPro HERO Black sits at the very top of our best GoPro guide. The flagship model is followed by the HERO7 Black, then the HERO7 Silver in third place. Each of these models is waterproof to 10 metres and features a 2-inch touchscreen and voice control for optimum control. Aside from price, the big differences between these three cameras are video resolution and image stabilisation.

If 360-degree video is your thing, the fourth camera in the GoPro line-up is the twin lensed Max, which can shoot mind-blowing 360-degree footage up to 5.6k (at 30fps) resolution and features many facilities found on the conventional cameras.

The best GoPro you can buy right now

Best GoPro: GoPro HERO8 BlackT3 Awards 2020

(Image credit: GoPro)

1. GoPro HERO8 Black

The top-specced and best GoPro available

Specifications
Video: 4K/60fps, 2.7K/4K, 1080p/240fps
Stills: 12MP
Screen: Touchscreen
Waterproof: 10m
Voice control: Yes
Image stabilisation: HyperSmooth 2.0 with High and Boost options
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Sleek, new, frame-less design+The best image stabilisation available+Totally bombproof construction+Simple post-production via the app
Reasons to avoid
-Most expensive option

With a dramatically improved body and a host of other innovations, the GoPro HERO8 Black seizes the throne previously belonging to the HERO7 Black and is without a doubt the best GoPro around (and actually, the top action camera all round).

Visually the HERO8 Black looks pretty similar to the HERO7 Black, but its body is sleeker, it has cleaner lines and a lens that’s not quite as proud. Unlike its predecessor, the HERO8 Black does away with the need to seat it in a frame attachment in order to mount the camera to anything. Instead, two ‘fingers’ fold out from its base allowing you to directly fit it to a mount or any other compatible accessory.

While the HERO8 Black has very similar shooting modes and features as the HERO7 Black, the new flagship camera comes with improved software and additional extras. For example, the HERO7 has GoPro’s highly impressive Hypersmooth stabilisation, but the HERO8 comes with Hypersmooth 2.0 along with additional High and Boost settings to smooth out even the most rattly footage. Similarly, while both cameras can shoot in 4K at 60FPS, the Hero8 Black’s higher bit rate results in better quality footage and gives it the edge over its stablemate.

While the HERO7 Black does pretty much everything that the H8 Black can, the newer camera is just slightly better at it all. For most, choosing between the two will come down to how deep your pockets are.

Best GoPro: Hero7 Black

2. GoPro HERO7 Black

An incredible action camera that can do pretty much everything the HERO8 can

Specifications
Video: 4K/60fps / 1080p/240fps
Stills: 12MP
Screen: Touchscreen
Waterproof: 10m
Voice control: Yes
Image stabilisation: HyperSmooth
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+4K (60fps) video+Supreme 8x slo-mo+Live streaming capability
Reasons to avoid
-Frame required for mounting-Software not quite as good as the H8

The HERO 7 Black is GoPro's most-recent-but-one flagship model, and is still  an incredible action camera. The HERO7 Black can do pretty much everything that the newer (and pricier) HERO8 Black can, but the newer model has a few tweaks that mean it does it slightly better. 

So what is it missing compared to the newer HERO 8? The body is slightly less sleek, and you'll need to add a frame before you can mount it to anything. The software is also not quite as good – although it still knocks competitors' efforts out of the park. Just like the HERO 8, you can shoot up to 4K in stunning clarity, even in low light. Dial in 1080p/240fps to harness the camera's ultra high frame rate and add slick slo-mo cuts to your videos.

You may not have Hypersmooth 2.0 here, but the original Hypersmooth stabilisation technology is still absolutely excellent, and can be relied up to bring fluidity to your shots, whether you’re bouncing down a rock-strewn mountain on your bike or shredding slopes on your snowboard. In the photography department, you're getting 12MP HDR shots (again, the HERO8 has improved HDR software, but the original is still extremely good), and the HyperSmooth-aided TimeWarp produces stunning time-lapse clips, even in the absence of the TimeWarp 2.0 upgrade. 

Overall, if you're wanting absolutely the very best GoPro, it's the HERO 8. But the HERO 7 is still an incredibly capable action camera, and will be plenty good enough for most people's needs.

Best GoPro: HERO7 Silver

3. GoPro HERO7 Silver

An excellent GoPro, with fewer frills than its newer siblings

Specifications
Video: 4K/30fps
Stills: 10MP
Screen: Touchscreen
Waterproof: 10m
Voice control: Yes
Image stabilisation: Yes
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+10MP stills with wide dynamic range+4K/30fps video resolution+Voice control+2x slo-mo

If your budget won’t stretch to the Black edition, or you don’t need that much tech, the cheaper GoPro HERO7 Silver edition offers plenty of great features with only a handful of compromises. Stabilised 4K/30fps footage looks fantastic and gives you plenty of angles to work with in your edits. With a top frame rate of 60fps (at 1440p), slo-mo isn't the Silver’s strongest suit, so you’ll need to stump up for a Black model if that’s a deal-breaker.

10MP HDR stills with Wide Dynamic Range are great for documenting days (and nights) in the wild, and it’s easy to share shots directly to social media from the GoPro app. As with all the HERO7 cameras in the current GoPro range, the HERO7 Silver is waterproof to 10 metres, making it ideal for adventures above and below the water. It’s built to tough it out during even the most hardcore of pursuits, and voice control means you can start rolling even if the camera is out of reach on a helmet or handlebar mount.

Best GoPro: HERO7 WhiteT3 Awards 2020

4. GoPro HERO7 White

The best GoPro for adventurers on a tight budget

Specifications
Video: 1080p/60fps
Stills: 10MP
Screen: Touchscreen
Waterproof: 10m
Voice control: Yes
Image stabilisation: Yes
GPS: No
Reasons to buy
+Best budget option+Easy-to-navigate 2-inch touchscreen+QuikStories editing function
Reasons to avoid
-No longer available through GoPro

The HERO7 White edition is an absolute game-changer at the budget end of the action camera spectrum. For two years running, this nifty GoPro has bagged the Best Budget Action Camera prize at the T3 Awards, and with good reason. Very little outlay bags you best GoPro pedigree, still-unrivalled waterproofing (10m, same as the latest flagship) and rugged build, plus voice control and a slick 2-inch touchscreen. Oh, and compatibility with GoPro's killer range of mounts. If you’re a weekend adrenaline junkie, or you simply want to film yourself taking the dog for a walk, this is the ideal, no-frills action camera to chuck in your backpack. 

There's no 4K video here, but the top 1440p/60fps resolution and 10MP stills should deliver all the quality, stabilised video and photos you need to load your channels with cool edits and galleries. And if the thought of detailed video editing turns your stomach, QuikStories within GoPro’s Quick app makes it a doddle to create fun edits from your clips.

You won’t be worrying the producers at Red Bull TV too much with footage captured on the HERO7 White, but at around half the price of the latest flagship model, this is the best GoPro for weekend warriors looking to document their adventures. The only down-side? GoPro's not selling them any more, so you'll need to head to a third party retailer to get your hands on one... and they might not be sticking around for too much longer.

Best GoPro: GoPro Max

(Image credit: GoPro)

5. GoPro Max

The best GoPro for capturing 360-degree footage

Specifications
Video: 6K source/5.6K stitched
Stills: 18MP, Hero: 5.5MP, PowerPano: 6.2MP
Screen: Touchscreen
Waterproof: 5m
Voice control: Yes
Image stabilisation: HyperSmooth
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Mind blowing 360 video+360 degree photos+Sturdy construction+Fantastic app support

Released not long after the HERO8 Black, the 360-degree GoPro Max shares the same intuitive operating system and many design cues with its more conventional stablemate. It also uses the same frameless mounting system, consisting of two metal fingers that fold out from the base, in order to attach the camera to mounts and other accessories.

The GoPro Max directly replaces its 360-degree forerunner, the GoPro Fusion, which is no longer in production. The new camera vastly improves on its predecessor in every respect and comes with many popular facilities found in the Hero range, such as Hypersmooth image stabilisation and TimeWarp moving time-lapsed video.

While the Max’s 360-degree capabilities give you the ability to create some truly amazing content, the stitching together of the images taken by the front and rear mounted lenses can be noticeable at times. Vloggers will appreciate the ability to flip between front and rear views on the Max’s touchscreen, but the only was to see what you are shooting in 360-degree mode is by via the feature-packed smartphone app – which handily also gives you access to the camera’s controls.

The Max is a hugely versatile piece of kit that makes it easy to create stunning content. A combination of GoPro’s unmatched functionality and an excellent smartphone app makes Max stand head and shoulders above its 360-degree rivals.