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$300 oscilloscope review

LAST UPDATED: May 21st, 2020

Many people are under the impression that they have to bust their wallets to get an oscilloscope at a budget price. However, that’s not true at all. There are so many excellent units available, but not many people know about them.

So, we’re here to help. We’ve tested and analyzed several models considering a budget of $300. In the end, we came down to 8 of the best ones. With this info, we’re ready to help you find the best oscilloscope under 300 dollars for you.

You can read our reviews for the 8 units to get a better understanding of the options available to you. Moreover, there is a buyer’s guide section to help you get a better idea of what to watch out for too. So, let’s go through this guide and find the perfect budget oscilloscope!

Best Oscilloscope under $300 Review 2020

Best Oscilloscope under $300

It wasn’t easy, but we were able to narrow our options down to the 8 of the best units for our 300-dollar budget. So, let’s have a look at what they can offer.

Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL

So, to start it off, let’s look at a great budget option. While working with a budget, you’ll have to sacrifice some power. However, even with that, the SDS1052DL from Siglent manages to retain both a low price point and quality hardware for a good deal of your oscilloscopes need.

When we talk about the bandwidth, channels, and sample rate, you’ll see why we had to start off with this model. For starters, it has a respectable bandwidth of 50MHz.

You’ll get a superb range of frequencies for an unbeatable price. Its ability to capture wide frequencies makes the waveforms much more accurate.

This kind of capability is hard to expect from such a small and low-cost device. In addition, it grants you two channels to work with. The more channels you have, the more signals you can take in simultaneously.

Of course, there are units with more channels than 2, but the unit manages to make up for that with sheer quality. The device has a sample rate of 500 MSa/sec. Since it can gather so much data at the same time, the waveforms offer a lot of detail.

As such, you’ll get more points of interest as the waveforms offer intricate detail of the signals.

As such, you’ll get to examine closely and conduct a clear and accurate analysis. People would pay much more than 300 bucks for something like this. We didn’t even mention it has an excellent display that provides output with pristine resolution.

There are built-in frequency counters and automatic measurement options to make the entire process much easier for you. Not to mention that it uses quality Siglent hardware that maintains the brand’s high standard of quality.

Good Things

  • 32 KPTs record length capacity (1 Channel)
  • Gorgeous display for a pleasant viewing experience
  • Cursors for easy navigations
  • Built-in math functions
  • USB and LAN interfaces included

Could be Better

  • Might come off a bit noisy

Rigol DS1102E

We wouldn’t leave out our readers looking for a solid budget analog oscilloscope. It was hard; nevertheless, we found the perfect unit that is more than capable of filling up all your needs at a reasonable price. If you’ve been around these devices much, we’re sure you’ve heard of Rigol.

However, if you haven’t, let’s explain how this high bandwidth, powerful memory, and the fast analog oscilloscope is the perfect introduction to this spectacular brand.

A key part of any oscilloscope is how much memory it has. The more it has, the longer streams of waveforms you can examine. As such, the increased timespan makes your tests much more accurate. How does it do so?

It does so with its 1-million-point deep memory system. With such a high capacity, it’s fit for a wide range of projects, no matter how intensive they might get. Speaking of intensity, have we mentioned that the device has a 1 GSa/sec sampling speed? With speed like that, no signals are fast enough to escape its graphs.

As such, you can test faster currents, while also storing plenty of data fast as well. Because of this, you’ll get very intricate results.

You can examine the waveforms through the color display that uses its colors to make points of interest easier to notice. As such, you’ll get a better grasp of what you’re analyzing without having to pay too much extra.

Of course, it also has two wonderful analog channels we’ve already mentioned. Along with that, they have high-tech features like 3 unique types of cursor movement, free PC software to help analyze on PC, and adjustable waveform intensity. With so much under its belt, it’s not just a good oscilloscope under 300; it is a great one.

Good Things

  • Superb 1-million-point deep memory
  • Multiple cursor options offer a lot of freedom
  • Waveform intensity is adjustable
  • Multiple math functionalities
  • 100MHz bandwidth and 1 GSa/sec sample speed for high performance

Could be Better

  • The persistence setting isn’t very flexible

SainSmart DSO212

Usually, oscilloscopes aren’t very easy to carry. There are light and portable options, but the extent of that portability is limited.

You’ll have to use them with wires, carry them around with or without handles, and so on and so forth. The only reason we can call them portable is that they have handles.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t serve the purpose of true portability. However, if you’re looking for the purest form of portability, the SainSmart DSO212 will blow you away.

We’re talking about an oscilloscope so eloquently compact, that you can stuff into your pocket. Usually, conciseness to this degree requires hyper-efficient hardware that drives up the price.

However, this is still an oscilloscope under 300 dollars. So, let’s see what it can offer. As great as the portability is, its display is what sells it. Forget dials and buttons; it employs a completely touch-based interface.

It almost feels like a smartphone. The device itself offers radiant colors with a user-friendly UI to make usage a lot simpler. It can accurately convey AC currents in any form, including sine, square, and sawtooth waveforms.

Since it’s a fully handheld unit, it needs a battery to run properly. As such, it uses a handy 500 MAh battery to get the job done. Of course, it needs to sacrifice its mearing capabilities to obtain its handheld status.

And as a result, the device itself has a low 1 MHz bandwidth and a 10 MSa/Sec sampling speed. Although these values are considerably low, it is still capable of handling a good deal of experiments and tests for academic, maintenance or engineering purposes.

Also, it’s a device you can take anywhere with no issues. As such, it is likely the oscilloscope under 300 bucks to keep as a handheld backup option.

Good things

  • Impressive touch and color display
  • Highly portable
  • Offers 2 analog channels
  • Built-in 8 MB memory to store data
  • 500 MAh battery lasts a considerable amount of time

Could be Better

  • It is less than ideal for demanding experiments

Hantek DSO5072P

Let’s move on from something small to something larger in comparison. However, it brings power with its size, offering incredible bandwidth, sample speed, and a spectacular display.

If you’ve never heard of what a Hantek model can do, then you’re in for a surprise. So, let’s take a look at what our fourth entry can do. Starting off, we have to talk about its large impressive display.

It offers 7 inches of pristine viewing quality with excellent resolution to take it to a whole new level. You’ll get a WVGA screen with 800×480 resolution.

Combined with the 7-inch display, you have a lot of viewing space to work with as the waveforms become much more identifiable.

As a result, you’ll have an easier time analyzing the details and noticing points of interest. A good display is essentially useless if it can’t input effectively. So, what can this do?

It has an impressive 70 MHz bandwidth that can effectively record at a decent range. In addition to this, the unit has a sample speed of 1 GSa/sec. With that kind of speed, it captures any and all signals, no matter how fast.

Coupled with its bandwidth range, you get a budget oscilloscope with detailed waveforms. Of course, if you don’t have the memory to store this detail, then what is the point? You need a long stream of waveforms if you want to get a fully detailed result.

As such, this unit has a record length of up to 40k. You can utilize that to look over data from a long period and assess accordingly. Multiple additional features take this unit to a whole new level.

This includes trigger modes such as edge, pulse width, and so on. It has a plethora of math features, including the essential FFTs standard.

Good Things

  • Impressive detailed display
  • 40k record length
  • Free software to conduct analysis on PC in real-time
  • Cursor measurement option
  • 1 GSa/sec sample rate

Could be Better

  • Switches and rotary motors might feel old

SainSmart Mini DSO213

We aren’t done with portable models just yet. By now, it’s quite obvious that SainSmart is an expert when it comes to portable devices.

So, if you saw the last entry and worried about the battery life or power capacity, then we have the best oscilloscope under $300 for you.

For a boost in price, you’re getting a lot more in terms of capacity than the DSO212. So, how significant is this boost?

Well, it brings a lot more to the table in terms of bandwidth, sample rate, and even battery life. It even has a much higher 4 channel capacity.

However, it still manages to be a highly portable device. So much so that you can simply stuff it into your pockets and take it anywhere you need.

For bandwidth, it upgrades to 15MHz, a notable increase that’ll give you a better range of frequencies on the go. To match the higher range, the device also has a 100 MSa/sec sample speed. These combined increases its ability to capture data.

Although its memory remains at 8 MB, it’s still more than enough to effectively collect and record data. It has an impressive battery that doubles the one from the DSO212. That’s right; you have 1000 MAh to work with, offering you plenty of charges to conduct your tests comfortably.

In addition, it has four channels to work with, two analog and two digitals. The diversification opens up your options if you want to work with either an analog or digital signal. Of course, this means the price of the DSO213 is higher than that of the DSO212.

You don’t necessarily need to choose this one over the DSO212 either. The differences are marginal, and it’s up to you to decide which one would suit your handheld needs better.

Good Things

  • Powerful despite being portable
  • Diversified channels open up your options
  • 1000 MAh offers great battery life
  • Compact enough to fit into a pocket
  • Gorgeous and interactive display

Could be Better

  • Updating can feel difficult

JYETech DSO Coral

Seeing how great the aforementioned portable units are can naturally lead you to gain interest in portable units. It’s a better idea to buy a backup portable unit and keep a powerful unit at the same time. However, if you want to buy both, you’ll have to pay much more.

However, there is an excellent portable unit from JYETech that may just be the cheapest oscilloscope on this list. This low price point makes buying two units a lot more viable. Nevertheless, you can’t purchase a powerless device and expect to call it a good investment. So, what does this unit offer exactly?

Before we dive into that, it’s best to note that if you want a secondary portable oscilloscope, you don’t have to worry too much about power. It is more of an emergency backup or something you keep with yourself at all times in the off chance you need it.

The tool also serves as a temporary test taker before you conduct the real test on your primary oscilloscope. So, don’t worry too much about power. So, let’s take a look at its specifications. It only has 1 channel and operates with a 2 MHz bandwidth.

This may not seem much, but it’s enough to test a plethora of equipment, including generators. It utilizes a 3.7V Li-ion battery with a built-in charger for easy charging whenever you need it. There’s even a micro USB connector. This unit is unbeatable when it comes to portability.

It weighs a measly 3 ounces. You won’t even feel it in your pockets. The display is also spectacular of a device like this. It’s very bright and vibrant. And its touch functionality is immersive as well. How can we not recommend this when it has so much to offer?

PROS

  • Very inexpensive
  • Extremely light and portable
  • Has voltage and time measurement cursors
  • Convenient built-in charger
  • The display is very vibrant

CONS

  • Can’t handle high demand work

Owon HDS1021M

We’re not done with handheld models just yet. There’s just a lot of excellent portable oscilloscopes, and the few we’ve mentioned are great options.

However, if you want both portability and power, the Owon HDS1021M is the crème of the crop. Yes, it is still weaker than its more stationary counterparts.

However, we cannot understate how effective this unit is, especially if you encounter a lot of electrical work in your line of work.

It comes with multiple cables for input. The interface is quite simple, too, making it exceptionally easy to use. They aren’t overly complex, but they have enough options to satisfy general needs.

In terms of memory and capacity, they are on a whole other level. It has an impressive 20 MHz bandwidth and 100 MSa/sec sample speed that’s almost unexpected from a device this small in stature and cheap.

Besides, it has a superb record length of 6,000 points. That lets you obtain longer waveforms for analysis. Its inclusion of an excellent lithium-ion battery is also convenient. The battery is easy to charge and lasts for a considerable amount of time.

Finally, it can measure both AC and DC currents. The maximum voltage it can measure stands at about 400V while the current stands at 20 amps.

It’s a good enough range for small to mid-scale electrical work. So, it’s an excellent option to keep if you don’t have any heavy work, but need a reliable device you can take anywhere in case you need to.

PROS

  • CD ROM for PC software included in the box
  • Good memory even though it is a portable unit
  • Decent maximum AC and DC voltage and current measuring capacity
  • Comes with a small convenient pouch to carry and secure it
  • Relatively powerful when comparing sizes

CONS

  • Screen response is a bit slow

Hantek DSO5102P

We brought Hantek over to take the spot of our final entry for this list. Trust us; we’re ending with a bang. This scope gives you an excellent all-round experience at just the right budget with very little drawbacks.

It has power, speed, and memory under its belt. Nevertheless, to truly appreciate what this scope can offer us, let’s take a look at its specs.

We arrive at a strong start as it has a wonderful 100 MHz bandwidth capacity to measure a wide range of frequencies. It’s quite high considering the price you have to pay.

There’s more. The oscilloscope has a fast sample rate of 1 GSa/sec, meaning it can record signals quickly and effectively. With the better range, you get to capture wider signals; the sample speed makes waveforms denser for more intricate details.

You can go over these details with the large 7-inch screen display. The vibrant colors help you go through every little detail with pristine accuracy.

Its memory is nothing to scoff at either. With a 40k record length, you can get a cohesive analysis with more legitimacy.

You can identify exceptions, anomalies, and analyze points of interest quite effectively. What more can anyone want? Well, we’re not done yet. There are a great number of features to go with this magnificent hardware.

It has four math functions for better analysis. You’ll also get the software to hook it up to your PC and conduct real-time analysis. It’s a cheap oscilloscope too. So, you get a lot more than you pay for.

PROS

  • Very powerful for the price point
  • Comes with a plethora of additional features like the PC software and the math functions
  • The display offers good resolution
  • The intuitive interface is easy to get into
  • A great option for beginners

CONS

  • Updating firmware is a bit hard to do


What to Look for in an Oscilloscope under 300

Even with the reviews out of the way, you still aren’t ready to buy your oscilloscope of choice just yet. We’ve mentioned a variety of features such as bandwidth, sample rate, and so on.

You’ll need to know what these actually are before you can properly assess which would be best for you. So, here are some key features you should keep in mind before you buy.

Bandwidth

Sampling Rate, Bandwidth and Record Length

If you’ve looked through more guides, you’ve definitely noticed how they emphasize the importance of bandwidth. That’s because this is the most clear-cut metric of an oscilloscope’s quality.

The more bandwidth a unit has, the wider range of frequencies it can deal with. That essentially means that it is responsible for what kind of data it can measure. Essentially, all you need to know is that if a unit has more bandwidth, it’s better.

Of course, if you’re working with frequencies that don’t alter much, then you could get away with low bandwidth. Nevertheless, it is ideal to have more.

Sample Rate

The next important detail is the sample rate. While the aforementioned bandwidth measured what range of frequencies a unit can record, the sample rate is the speed at which it can input signals from its channels.

Low sample rate devices aren’t able to capture fast signals. As a result, it becomes wasted data.

Not only that, the generated waveforms become inaccurate. That’s why, if you’re looking for detailed results, you’ll need to focus on sample rates as well.

Memory

If you’re testing for anomalies or current stability, memory is a must. It essentially determines how much of the waveforms it can record. So, the longer it can record, the more accurate your assessments become.

Of course, it’s more vital for larger and more critical equipment, but even if you’re looking for the cheapest oscilloscope, it’s still important.

Channels

oscilloscope channel

Channels let you accumulate multiple signals simultaneously. As great as that is, you can’t expect to get many channels if you’re on a 300-dollar budget. That’s why this list is filled with scopes with 1-4 channels.

Usually, regular oscilloscopes don’t have channels over 4. Even the top oscilloscope under 300 won’t exceed that number.

Undemanding work doesn’t require many channels either. So, consider what you need before you take the number of channels into consideration.

Other Features

These scopes are limited just to the aforementioned specifications. They have a lot of distinctive features and capabilities you need to take into consideration.

For example, you’ll usually want an oscilloscope with automated measurement features, easy to understand UI, and so on and so forth.

If portability is important, you need to take that into account too. So, read the specifications of each device carefully before you opt to buy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we have some of the most commonly asked queries regarding the oscilloscopes under 300:

How do I conduct firmware updates?


Different devices use different methods. You could use a USB, or you could use LAN/WIFI to install it directly. The best option is to consult the manual of the unit you’re interested in.

Is PC software important?


Generally, it is. They can be very handy if you want to analyze waveforms in real-time.

Can they measure ultrasonic wavelengths?


They can as long as the unit has the required bandwidth. Ultrasonic generally has 20KHz frequencies, so if the bandwidth is more than that, it can.

What can I do if I can’t find firmware updates?


Check the manufacturer’s website; you can find them there in most cases.

What eliminates lag when recording signals?


That would be the sample rate. The higher it is, the lower the lag will be.

Conclusion

We’ve finally reached the end. By now, you’re probably an oscilloscope pro. Now that you know everything you need to, you won’t feel so limited with a 300-dollar budget.

Take your time, read the specifications on each option, and compare them. Once you do, we know you’ll get the best oscilloscope under 300 dollars for your needs. So, don’t wait, get analyzing!

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