Best Oscilloscope

Digital oscilloscopes are typically small, portable devices that deliver both data storage and printing capabilities.

Since an oscilloscope can only be as accurate as the data going into it, a reliable measurement probe is important. A good probe tip will ensure a signal’s overall integrity and accuracy when taking readings.Making sure your device of choice has adequate bandwidth is extremely important, as well, since the tool will not be able to resolve high-frequency changes with limited bandwidth. A higher bandwidth is directly proportional to the level of reproduction accuracy of a given signal.

Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes 

Excellent for the price. You won’t find a much better brand-new 4-channel digital oscilloscope for the price, as of 2016. There is some decent competition from even newer players (such as Siglent), possibly with better specs according to EEVblog, but there are also a lot of bugs and other issues with some of them. I’d definitely consider the competition, but I feel that Rigol has really established itself as a solid brand.

If you have ever used any oscilloscope, I’d say that the DS1054Z is actually very intuitive. I watched a few videos online of people explaining all the features first (again, mainly from EEVblog), and then spent some time with it myself, and 99% of it is pretty much self-explanatory. The number of buttons and functions was daunting at first, but it really didn’t take long to learn.

It’s a huge improvement in every way over the only slightly cheaper and much older DS1052E. The screen is great: it’s large, bright, and features a signal intensity setting similar to analog scopes. The sample rate and memory are quite high for the price. It can be upgraded to 100mhz, it has numerous trigger modes, and just in general has tons of features.Also this device is just tiny compared to the old analog scopes I used in school. Those things weighed 50+lbs and a couple feet deep. The Rigol is about a foot wide, 4 inches deep, and 6 inches tall. Technology just amazes me sometimes.

Cons that I’ve found thus far:

High-ish noise floor. Very weak signals will get swallowed up. It also has some internal noise in the MHz range that shows up. You’ll have to learn what it looks like and ignore it if you are going to be analyzing higher frequencies. Of course, it’s not really a spectrum analyzer, it’s an oscilloscope.

The main problem that I have with it is the awful FFT. Now, having an FFT in a low-end scope like this is pretty great, don’t get me wrong. But, from what I’ve read, the FFT count is something like 600. Higher end scopes can have FFTs going up to ~130000 count or more. The low count means that you get very little information from your FFT, and you can’t really trust it. Frequencies can just slip through the cracks, so to speak.

A firmware update (which seems to be included with the units sold through this listing) includes a memory mode, which accumulates a lot more data points and draws a much better FFT chart, but it’s still not amazing. For higher frequencies, you can also get some free computer software written by another Rigol owner, but it’s a little bit of trouble to set up if you don’t know what you’re doing. The software does a decent job of gathering data from the scope over USB and performing an FFT on your computer’s CPU, instead of relying on the scope itself to do the heavy lifting.

The triggers are also a little finicky at times. More expensive scopes seem to have better triggering than this one, but I can usually get it to stabilize relatively well by playing with the trigger setting a bit. I do wish it had a built-in arbitrary waveform generator, but again that’s a higher-end scope feature. It’s definitely something that they could consider in future versions of their low-end scopes, though.

Despite all this, I give it 5 stars, because Rigol seem genuinely dedicated to improving their scopes through firmware updates, and because it’s so cheap that it’d be silly to expect more than it already delivers. It’s a solid low-end scope. It’s great for simpler uses, and can suffice in a pinch for more complex ones. It’d be great for educational use, home use, etc. Just look at what similar scopes from the more ‘respected’ brands cost and compare. We’re talking somewhere in the realm of 5x the price or more for their lower-end scopes.

Let me put it this way: I would have never been able to afford a scope this nice for this price before Rigol and some of their competition came along. I bought a semi-portable digital scope for field work w/a monochrome display in 2003 for $500 and it has little more to it beyond a waveform display. No triggers, no cursors, no math functions. Everything had to be eyeballed and hand-calculated.

  • Excellent for the price, tons of features, a little weak in some areas
  • This Rigol scope is orders of magnitude more powerful, better in every way except it’s slightly less portable and slightly larger.

If you are still sitting on the fence, and why else would you read this, go ahead and give this scope a try. As another reviewer said, it is a professional scope on a hobbyist budget. More, this scope is easy to switch to if you have been using only an analog scope before. It easily meets all specs (as far as I could measure, it quickly became the most accurate tool on my bench), it is well built, and it has more features than most hobbyists (and quite a few professionals) will ever use. The manual is comprehensive and written in easy-to-understand English, and the graphical user interface is very intuitive. Of course, there is a bit of a learning curve, but with the amount of features this scope has, this is to be expected.

There is one fly in the ointment though: the software to control the scope from a PC. I could install it with no apparent problems under Windows 10, but it would not recognize the connected scope. I contacted the manufacturer, but they never replied. But since the GUI is so intuitive, I see no real need to control the scope from a PC, and I therefore did not go down to a four star rating. If the manufacturer would have been more responsive, I would have recommended the scope for professional use as well. But since the scope is widely used, you are likely to find an Internet forum where you can ask technical questions and get them answered.

So far, however, the PC software was not among the things people discussed, and, as I said, I did not see a need for the PC software yet either.

Product features

  • 200/100/70MHz bandwidths
  • 1GSa/s Real Time sample rate
  • Large (7.0-inch) color display, WVGA(800×480)
  • Record length up to 40K
  • Trigger mode: edge/pulse width/line selectable video/slop/overtime etc

Product description

Model:DSO5072P•Bandwidth:70MHz•Channel:2•Real-Time Sample:1GSa/s•Equivalent Sample:25GSa/s•Memory Depth:40K•Rise Time:5ns•Time Base Accuracy:±50ppm•Time Base Range:4ns/div-40s/div•Input Impendance:1MΩ•VOLTS/DIV Range:2mV/div~5V/div A/D Converter:8 bit Position Range:±50V(5V/div), ±40V(2V/div~500mV/div), ±2V(200mV/div~50mV/div), ±400mV(20mV/div~2mV/div)•DC Gain Accuracy:±3% for Normal or Average acquisition mode, 5V/div to 10mV/div.

±4% for Normal or Average acquisition mode, 5mV/div to 2mV/div Bandwidth Limit:20MHz•Trigger Types: Edge, Video, Pulse, Slope, Over time, Alternative Trigger Source:CH1, CH2, EXT, EXT/5, AC Line Math:+, -, x, ÷, FFT Cursor Measurement: Voltage difference between cursors: △V. Time difference between cursors: △T

Reciprocal of △T in Hertz (1/ΔT); •Auto Measurement: Frequency, Period, Mean, Pk, Cyclic RMS, Minimum, Maximum, Rise time, Fall Time, Pulse Width, -Pulse Width, Delay1-2Rise, Delay1-2Fall, +Duty, -Duty, Vbase, Vtop, Vmid, Vamp, Overshoot, Pre shoot, Period Mean, Period RMS, FOV Shoot, R PRE Shoot, BWIDTH, FRF•Display:7″ TFT 16K Color LCD, 800*480 dots.

 I service audio equipment as a side line. After reading the specifications of the Siglent scope I decided to buy it. It is rated as a 50 MHz scope – but I have no trouble displaying a 100 MHz signal. On feature which I did not see listed is it has a frequency counter. The frequency counter is dead on and is actually more sensitive than my TEK 5316. My signal generator only goes up to 108 MHz and it only takes about 15 Millivolts of RF for the counter to lock in.

One other thing about this scope is when I use it with a sweep generator and use channel 2 as the horizontal reference, there is no drift in the display. With both analog scoped that I had owned, the scope would need a warmup time of 10 minutes or so to be stable. There is no warm up time needed with this Siglent.

If you are looking for a general purpose scope the Siglent is excellent.

I am 100% happy with it. There is only one thing about it that I had to change in my equipment stack up. On the top of my stack was the frequency counter, then the scope, then the RF generator and finally the distortion analyzer. Well with the small size of the Siglent I could not stack the frequency counter on it. So I took my 5316 out of service because my new scope is actually a better frequency counter.

The TFT display is excellent. There is a on screen menu display that will let you quickly set up the scope. The scope comes with a set up guide, a CD, two very nice probes and a USB cable. It is a compact unit that is only.

(we have also  written a comprehesive guide about the best multimeters under 100 dollars and automative multimeters ).