Oscilloscopes are notoriously expensive. Whether you’re an enthusiast or a professional, you know how costly these machines can be. However, that doesn’t mean you need to break your wallet to get a good one.
In fact, there are several superb oscilloscopes out there that offer impressive signal processing and waveform representing prowess. You just need to know where to look.
As such, we scoured the market to find the cheap oscilloscopes. After thorough research, we found eight units that stood out.
We’ll introduce you to these magnificent devices and teach you everything you need to know before you buy them. In case you want to know just how an expensive and a cheap unit differs, you’ll get to know that as well.
So, let’s not wait any longer and get down to the reviews!
Cheap Oscilloscopes Comparison 2021
Last update on 2021-11-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
8 Best Cheap Oscilloscopes for Budget User
As we’ve mentioned before, eight units stood out as the top-tier cheap oscilloscopes. So, let’s take a look at exactly what makes each of these units so special.
1. Rigol DS1054Z – Best Oscilloscope for Beginners
- Body Style: Benchtop
- Brand Name: Rigol
- Color: Grey
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 5 inches; 6.6 Pounds
- Power Source Type: corded-electric
When it comes to quality and price, Rigol can’t be beaten. There’s a good reason why they are one of the most popular brands in the entire industry, especially for beginners. That’s because they are experts in delivering premium quality for an affordable price.
- Impressive Bandwidth Range: So, let’s take a look at what they can do. Starting off, we have to talk about the bandwidth. The DS1054Z has an impressive 50 MHZ bandwidth that offers you a ton of range when it comes to recording signals.
- 50 MHZ might not seem like much to some, but you get top tier Rigol quality to make up for that. As such, it is one of the best-made oscilloscopes you’ll ever find. The device has four analog channels to bolster its utility.
- Features 4 channels with high memory: This lets you receive signals from four sources simultaneously. When you’re gathering so much data, you’ll also want high memory as well.
- High sampling speed: The more it has, the more signals it can capture per second, creating highly illustrative and detailed waveforms for analysis. How much does the DS1054Z have? It has an astounding 1 GSa/sec sampling rate that is more than adequate for any kind of hobby and lab work.
- This is because, the more waveforms a scope can record, the more data you can analyze. It’s especially important for a device with four channels. That’s why the Rigol DS1054Z offers 12 mpts memory.
- Not enough for you? You can use a software key to upgrade it to 24 mpts as well. You can’t ask for more memory from a device that costs so little. Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate its sampling speed.
To utilize its hardware, the folks at Rigol made sure to include a handy software bundle for free. The software and the impressive 7-inch display make this an excellent option for anybody who’s looking for quality at a good price.
- The maximum waveform capture rate is up to 30,000 wfms/s for four analog channels.
- As well as quick focus, the DS1104Z-S Plus provides the ability to quickly isolate a certain area of a recorded waveform.
- It is possible to view all channels simultaneously on the large 7-inch display of the DS1104Z-S Plus, which has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels.
- It comes with a refund policy of 30 days, which is recommended for budget-conscious and demanding customers.
2. Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL+ – Best Oscilloscope at Reasonable Price
- Brand Name: Siglent Technologies
- Specification Met: Certified Frustration-free
- Display: 7 inch (8*18 div) color TFT-LCD display.
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 17 x 15 inches; 7.36 Pounds
Siglent is a brand you’ll often hear about whenever you look up quality oscilloscopes. That is simply because of the sheer quality they offer at such a reasonable price. The SDS1052DL+ is a prime example of magnificent quality scope with a plethora of functionalities at a very reasonable price.
- A portable device: What sets this unit apart from most is its compact design. It’s easy to carry as it does not weigh much, and yet it still possesses a wide range of hardware to match its utility. To start off, this device has a great display system.
- Ensure high resolution: It offers high resolution, so you can view the waveforms in maximum detail, allowing you to conduct a more thorough analysis. The O-scope needs to utilize this high resolution with a detailed report.
- High sampling speed: As such, the SDS1052DL+ offers 500 MS/sec real-time sampling speed on a channel. Therefore, you get to view thoroughly detailed waveforms on a pristine LCD display for maximum effect.
- High bandwidth and multiple channels: Speaking of channels, this unit offers 2. As a result, you can gather signals from 2 sources simultaneously. Each channel also has a recording length of 32 kpts. So, you have high sample speed and memory on your side. The unit has a 50 MHz bandwidth. As such, it records a wide range of frequencies with relative ease.
- User-friendly features: Whether you’re trying to conduct circuit tests or lab tests, this unit will have your back. Coupled with the sample rate and channels, the model offers immense utility for you to use for any kind of task.
- Variety of functions: It’s got a lot of utility for a device that costs so low. The device adds a plethora of math functions and a built-in frequency counter as well. In addition, it also has automatic measurement functions for superior convenience. The scope even tops it all off with a USB and LAN interface.
- This oscilloscope is a digital two-channel oscilloscope with 50 MHz frequency.
- Triggers that isolate specific signals using advanced technology.
- A sampling rate of 500 MSa/s is available, as well as 32 Kpts of memory depth.
- The bandwidth is 50 MHz to 150 MHz.
Related Guide: Micsig Tablet Oscilloscope
3. SainSmart DSO212 – Best Handheld Oscilloscope for Hobbyists
- Brand Name: SainSmart
- Color: Black
- Channels: 2 analog channels, 1 operation channel
- Trigger Mode: ascend/descend edge trigger mode
- Display Type: 2.8″ TFT LCD, Resolution- 320 x 240
Looking for a good handheld oscilloscope? Well, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that there are quite a few out there in the market. However, their portability comes at a cost. To try and match the efficiency of stationary models, they need to invest in highly compact hardware that drives up the price.
- Portable handheld device: However, brands like SainSmart manage to offer an unbeatable deal when it comes to portable oscilloscopes. They offer high-grade quality hardware in small packages. The device itself is exceptionally light; it’s barely an issue to carry.
- This way, you can use your device anywhere you need with next to no issues. If you do a lot of electrical work, you should always carry one of these devices with you. This lets you conduct necessary experiments on the go.
- As such, it’s an essential piece of equipment that makes your life much easier. In addition, it is extremely portable, and it is small enough to carry in your pocket.
- Data storage facilities: The device has a built-in USB flash-drive storage. This lets you save waveform data and transfer it elsewhere if you need to. You can record and read a good number of waveforms, allowing you to conduct superior analysis and also ensure you can transfer the data for future analysis and comparisons.
- High sampling speed: While its specifications might seem feeble compared to what the less portable models can offer, you must remember that this model is a portable unit. Considering its portability, its 10 MSa/s sampling speed is more than impressive. It is further complemented by the 1 MHz bandwidth. And the device itself even offers an impressive sample memory depth as well. Since it’s portable, we have to look at how reliable it is.
Thankfully, the DSO212 will have your back with its 500 mAh battery. It lasts quite a while and requires minimal charging as well. As such, among cheap oscilloscopes, this is likely the best portable option.
- Sainsmart DSO212 weighs just 3.17 ounces and is small in size, so it will fit well on your workbench.
- Its small buttons and thumbwheel simplify its design dramatically, making it easier to use for beginners.
- DSO212 offers two digital channels and a max sample rate of 10 MSa/S; making it an outstanding choice for many hobbyists.
Related Review: Oscilloscope under $1000 – Buying guide.
4. Hantek DSO5072P – Best Oscilloscope for Student’s
- Brand Name: Hantek
- Display Type: 7″ TFT 16K Color LCD,800*480 dots
- Units of measure: US
- Item Weight: 7.72 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 14.96 x 7.87 x 11.02 inches; 7.72 Pounds
You’ll hardly ever find an oscilloscope that can pack in power and utility as well as the DSO5072P. It managed to bring forth an astounding display, powerful hardware, and a plethora of trigger modes in a cheap package. There’s no wonder why Hantek is such a well-reputed brand.
- High-resolution display: Firstly, we need to discuss the large 7-inch display. This gives you a lot more viewing space when it comes to analyzing the produced waveforms. The extra viewing space makes it exceptionally easy for you to go read and analyze the data through the high 800×480 resolution screen.
- High sampling speed at an affordable price: Coupled with some extra features, you get an extraordinary analyzing experience. As far as bandwidth goes, it has a lot considering its price. This unit offers 70 MHz for such a measly price that it’s an absolute must buy.
- Moreover, it boasts a 1 GSa/sec sampling speed for extremely fast signal collecting. With this speed, the resulting waveforms remain extremely detailed. The high sampling rate prevents any signals from escaping, boosting the device’s accuracy as a result.
- Provide lengthy waveforms: If you’re looking for a device that can give you long streams of data to analyze, then this oscilloscope has you covered.
- How? Well, the device offers a 40k record length. So, you get lengthy waveforms to analyze and check. As a result, this is an excellent option for laboratories. Nevertheless, we aren’t done yet.
- Convenient trigger option: To maximize its utility, the device offers a plethora of trigger options for you to select. Each of these grants you a better understanding of the waveforms and lets you pick out and filter the information you need.
Your work becomes faster, and the analysis becomes more accurate. The trigger includes edge, pulse width, overtime, and many more. It’s really nothing short of a must-have.
- A 7′′ LCD color display is included with this oscilloscope, which features bandwidth of 70MHz with 1GSa/s real-time sampling rate.
- A trigger with edge/pulse width/line selectability as well as slop and overtime.
- It is an excellent digital oscilloscope available at an affordable price, making it ideal for both electronic hobbyists and students of engineering.
Related Guide: Top 10 Oscilloscope under $500
5. SainSmart Mini DSO213 – Best Pocket-sized Oscilloscope
- Brand Name: SainSmart
- Color: Black
- Storage: 8MB USB flash disk memory
- Battery: 1000mAh
- Display Size: 3″
- Dimension: 99.5 x 58.5 x13.5mm
- Weight: 129g
We’ve already reviewed a model from SainSmart just one entry ago. Coming from the same line-up as the DSO212, the DSO213 is a step up in more than one way. Being the successor, it has additional features that ascend it to newer heights. However, that ascension does make it a costlier model.
- Cheap and portable: Let’s take a close look at what makes this device so special. We have to take a moment to talk about its bandwidth. It’s hard to expect 15 MHz from a device as small and compact as this one. Moreover, it’s harder to expect it from a portable device this cheap.
- Impressive bandwidth and sampling rate: It doesn’t end here. It’s got more in terms of specifications. The sample rate stands at 100 MSa/sec. This synergizes perfectly with the impressive bandwidth to drastically increase what this device can actually do.
- Durable and user-friendly: As such, it is one of the strongest portable oscilloscopes for this price. However, strength isn’t all. It needs to add more to quality in order to land a spot on this list. That’s where it’s incredible UI and hardware come in.
- Color touch display: The device has an excellent touch display that enables easy navigations throughout the device’s many smart menus. The colors are vivid and bright, allowing you to see every detail in much greater quality without any strain to your eyes.
- This makes data analysis much simpler. It’s easy to connect and even easier to operate. Of course, there’s more that this pocket-sized oscilloscope can do. Like our previous portable oscilloscope review, it has a built-in 8 MB flash drive.
- Great storage facility and battery life: As such, you can save waveform data for later and make comparisons. And its 4k memory depth is sure to leave you satisfied as well. It doubles the battery life of the DSO212 with a whopping 1000 mAh battery. So, if you have the budget, then this should be the portable oscilloscope of your choice.
- In the family of SainSmart DSO oscilloscopes, the DSO213 is the latest Upgrade Version oscilloscope.
- The DSO213’s analog bandwidth has been upgraded to 15MHz and its maximum sampling rate increased to 100MSa/s
- The pocket-sized device fits conveniently into any pocket so you always have it handy.
- It is now easier than ever to save and transfer waveform images with the 8 MB of flash memory.
6. OWON XDS3104E – Best Portable Oscilloscope
- Brand Name: OWON
- Display: 8-inch multi-touch screen
- Trigger Type: Multi-trigger
As great as portable units are, they have a fatal flaw; their screen sizes are measly. You’ll naturally want the best screens possible if you want to analyze long streams of waveforms. This is especially true if you need an oscilloscope for a laboratory setting.
- High-resolution large screen: That’s where OWON comes in. They don’t settle for the already large 7-inch screens the previous units have offered. The unit takes things further. With an 8-inch view, you have plenty of room to interpret waveforms and spot anomalies. And what’s better is the quality.
- OWON made sure to utilize its larger screen size with a superb 800×600 resolution. These two features combined together make this device a treat for those who want clear viewing. There’s still more. The device utilizes an optional multi-touch screen.
- With this, navigating through the many menus and finding the numerous features has never been easier. This further ties into just how user-friendly this device is. You’ll hardly ever feel like you’re lost. And your hands are naturally guided to the settings you need to complete whatever you’re trying to do.
- Multi trigger and interface integration: Whether it’s going through the multiple trigger option or utilizing the multi-interface integration feature, the XDS3104E has you covered.
- Speaking of triggers, this unit has a lot of them. It includes a plethora of useful ones that you’ll find yourself using time and time again, such as edge, pulse, windows, logic, and a lot more. And with each use, you become more and more accustomed to how to utilize each of the countless triggers, boosting your efficiency immensely as a result.
- Outstanding sampling speed: Finally, when it comes to raw power, it’s the golden standard at this price range. It has a 100 MHz bandwidth with an astounding 1 GSa/sec sampling rate. When you combine the widescreen, the plethora of trigger, and the massive 40M record length, then you have an O-scope very few can stand up to.
- A 3rd generation of OWON XDS 4-channel series DSOs offers much higher performance and lower prices for users.
- It has four channels, 8-bits ADC, a 100 MHz bandwidth, a sampling rate of 1 Gs/s, and a refresh rate of 45000 WFMs/s.
- It provides standard bus decoding functions for SPI/I2C/RS232/CAN.
7. Tektronix TBS1102B Digital Storage Oscilloscope – Best Budget Oscilloscope
- Body Style: Benchtop
- Brand: Tektronix
- Display Type: TFT color LCD
- Dimensions: 19.33 x 16.61 x 7.87 inches; 7.05 Pounds
- Warranty: 5 Years
When looking for a good oscilloscope in a budget, you have to make some compromises. You can’t expect to buy industry-grade oscilloscopes with outstanding performance when restricted by a budget.
- Cheap with high sampling speed: However, this oscilloscope can bring you close to the industry-grade for a very reasonable price. Simply put, if you’re searching for a budget scope with the highest sampling speed, then this Tektronix unit has you covered. We’re talking about a device that offers 2 GSa/sec sampling speed.
- That’s twice as much as the highest sample rate on the previous entries. It’s the ability to gather signals is simply astounding.
- The waveforms become chalked full of detail as the device captures every single signal you send its way. The detail-rich waveforms are perfect for experimentation and lab uses.
- High bandwidth: To make the most out of its high sampling speed, the device has a 100 MHz bandwidth. It might not be the highest in the list, but it’s more than enough to utilize the high sample speed. The added bandwidth grants the unit a significant range in terms of frequency.
- Large display and good recording length: Not to mention that the device has a respectable 2.5kpts recording length per channel. The display is something to admire as well. You’re getting a 7-inch WVGA screen to go over the detailed waveforms. It makes analysis much more pleasant and allows you to find anomalies and points of interest faster and easier.
- User-friendly display resolution: Moreover, the 800×480 resolution also lends to its superior display qualities. Tektronix’s TBS1102B offers plenty of supplementary features to help analyze. It includes a myriad of math and measurement features to help examine the waveforms.
There is a total of 34 automated measurement options to make the process even simpler.
- For the acquisition of detailed waveforms, a real-time sample rate of 2GS/s per channel and a record length of 2.5kpts per channel is the maximum value.
- Its bandwidth ranges from 30 to 200 MHz and its sample rate is up to 2GS/s.
- This product has automated measurements and convenient features.
- Active TFT color LCD provides exceptional waveform viewing and high reliability.
8. Quimat Updated – Best Oscilloscope at Cheapest Price
- Brand Name: Quimat
- Dimensions: 3.94 x 1.18 x 1.18 inches; 0.71 Ounces
- Display Type: 2.4-inch color TFT LCD
- Country of Origin: China
Even the cheapest oscilloscopes can cost quite a bit. Considering how each of these entries boasts such advanced technology, it’s only natural that would be the case. However, if it’s still too much, or if you want to have an excellent portable backup scope, then this Quimat model is for you.
- Cheapest of all: It’s quite possibly the cheapest unit on the list. Nevertheless, it is reliable for most functions. It’s almost astonishing how a device as small as this can be so convenient and capable when it comes to generating waveforms.
- Quimat has discovered the perfect blend of hardware and software to create such a cheap but portable oscilloscope. There’s a lot it can do with relative ease.
- Wide range of sensitivity: Let’s start off by discussing its wide range of sensitivity. It stands at 5mv/div to 20v/div. This range makes garnering data significantly more accurate. The device also has a reliable memory system as its ability to store waveform data even after it’s turned off.
- Also, it’s hard to expect such a feature from a handheld device such as this. The device also comes with several trigger options that make measurements and evaluations simple. This includes auto, single, and normal modes.
- User-friendly interface and portability: Another thing to note is that the device has an encoder that helps reduce the time it takes for parameterization. When a device this small and cheap offers so many features, it’s bound to be something special. The interface seems very simple, but that’s exactly what makes it so great.
There are a few buttons for each option and a dial to turn of adjustments. It’s so easy that even a novice can quickly learn how to handle this device with relative ease. Moreover, the color display does a great job of representing data despite how small it is.
- Sensitive in both directions it reaches 5mV/div – 20V/div.
- The analog channels are located on separate boards, including the majority of the user installation parts, therefore, the analog and digital circuitry can better be separated.
- An encoder rotary knob was added, making parameter adjustment simpler and quicker.
What to Look for in Budget Oscilloscopes
Now that you’ve been introduced to the cheap scopes in the industry, it’s time to buy. However, you need to know a few details before you actually go ahead with the purchase. So, let’s take a look at what these are.
This is pretty much an essential specification for any oscilloscope. It dictates the range of frequencies a unit can detect and properly analyze. So, if you’re out to analyze signals with high frequencies, then you’ll naturally need a device with high bandwidth. As such, make sure you take note of the scope’s bandwidth before you buy it.
The next detail to look out for is the sampling speed. It is the measure of how quickly the device can input samples per second. The higher it is, the more detailed the waveforms will be.
It prevents any samples from escaping, and as such, provides much greater accuracy. So, it goes without saying that it’s an essential part of any oscilloscope.
These let you filter out and focus on specific parts of the waveforms to enable much greater analysis. As such, they are a key part of the evaluation process. So, the more trigger modes a device has, the better it is for thorough examinations.
With more channels, you can input signals from multiple sources simultaneously. It’s essential for comparisons and detail. Normally, you’ll expect 2 or 4 channels for oscilloscopes at this range. So, if channels are important to you, go for a many as you can.
How Do Expensive and Cheap Oscilloscopes Differ
It’s no mystery that high-end oscilloscopes can cost upwards of $1,000. But why is that? Simply put, they are state-of-the-art devices meant to analyze high-tech and power-intensive devices.
They generally have higher channels, sampling speeds, and bandwidth as well. Without it, they wouldn’t be able to handle the demanding tasks they’re put through.
And they also have a plethora of extra trigger modes, math and measurement functions, and more. These models are meant for professionals who have much higher demands.
For DIYers, hobbyists, and others, it isn’t all that necessary. They have fewer features and lower specifications. However, it’s still usually more than enough to handle their purposes.
With advancements in technology, the boundary between cheap and expensive oscilloscopes are diminishing. Soon, maybe the budget oscilloscope can rival higher-end ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have some of the most commonly asked queries regarding the oscilloscopes:
What is the most important specification?
It’s either the bandwidth or the sampling speed. Which one is more important depends on your needs.
Do all of these units have PC software?
Most do, but not all of them.
Can I find a budget model with over four channels?
Scopes, with over four channels, are considerably more expensive. So, as far as we know, it isn’t possible.
Are trigger modes really important?
In most cases, absolutely. If you want to thoroughly examine waveforms, they are downright essential.
Are handheld units good?
They serve their purpose as best as they can portably. We recommend keeping a handheld unit as a backup regardless of what you choose to buy.
You’ve learned everything you need to know. From what the budget oscilloscopes are, to what you need to look out for before you buy and how cheap and expensive models differ. We hope you’ll find your ideal scope at a reasonable price for your future prospects. Now go! The waveforms await your evaluations!