Five Things to Look for When Choosing an Oscilloscope

Looking for and choosing the right oscilloscope can be challenging. With many different options, models, and price tags it can be difficult to find the oscilloscope that is best for you. Here at Circuit, we are going to help make this process as easy as possible.

A digital storage oscilloscope is absolutely necessary for anyone designing, building, or repairing electronic equipment because it enables you to see single-shot or high-speed repetitive signals across several channels and identify glitches and other transient events. Furthermore, an oscilloscope is useful for qualifying elements of a new design as well as isolating components with issues in systems needing repair.

Five things to look for:

  1. Rise Time
  2. Sample Rate
  3. Triggering
  4. Waveform Navigation and Analysis
  5. The probes
Let go into detail.

When choosing an oscilloscope, most people focus solely on bandwidth, because they assume a faster oscilloscope is a better oscilloscope but, although bandwidth is undeniably important, you should also consider rise time, sample rate, triggering, waveform navigation/analysis, and the probes.

  1. Accurate rise-time measurements are central to making accurate time-domain measurements. Rise times are especially important for viewing square waves and pulses; square waves are used for testing amplifier distortion and timing signals for various devices, and pulses represent discrete bits of information or glitches.
  2. The next thing you should look for is a fast sample rate, which determines how much waveform detail your oscilloscope can capture. Speed is of utmost importance when capturing glitches. High sample rates improve resolution and allow you to view intermittent events. You should look for an oscilloscope with a sample rate of at least five times the highest frequency component in the circuit.
  3. You should also look for versatile triggering. Every oscilloscope has edge triggering, and most have pulse width triggering as well. Advanced triggering capabilities can really save time and speed up the time to answer when you’re dealing with more complex signals. A wider range of trigger options — including A & B sequence, video, logic, and communications triggers — makes for a more versatile oscilloscope.
  4. Another thing to look for when you’re choosing an oscilloscope is powerful waveform navigation and analysis. Searching for specific waveform errors can be challenging, but capabilities like mark speed and search drastically speed up the process of searching waveform errors. Other capabilities to keep an eye out for are pan and zoom, pause and play, and advanced search tools.
  5. The last thing to look for in an oscilloscope is matching probes because precision starts at the tip of the probe. The probe’s bandwidth needs to match the bandwidth of the oscilloscope and must not overload the device under test. Your probes are actually a part of the oscilloscope circuit and add resistive, capacitive, and inductive loading which alters the measurement. You should also invest in a range of probes — passive probes with high bandwidth and low loading are a great place to start. Current probes let the oscilloscope calculate apparent power, instantaneous power, true power, and phase. Logic, optical, and environmental are types of specialty probes.

The Top 3 Oscilloscopes

Hantek DSO5202P 200MHz 2 Channel Oscilloscope

Hantek DSO5202P 200MHz, 2 Channel Digital Storage Oscilloscope

Price: $295.76


The Hantek DS05202P is a 200 MHz 2 channels oscilloscope, one of our best beginner series oscilloscopes 2021. Firstly, the unit has a 1 GSa/s real-time sampling rate, which is impressive for its price range. Furthermore, the unit comes with a 7’’ WVGA (800×480) color display for easy navigation, reading value and, manipulating the graphs.  In addition, the unit boasts a memory depth of 40k (wow). The trigger mode has edge/pulse width/line selectable video/slop/overtime etc. Finally, the USB host and device connectivity are standard and it has four math functions, including FFTs standard, which is needed for any engineering classroom

Ideal for: Hobbyists and looking for the best entry-level or basic Oscilloscope at the best price on the market.

Hantek2D72 70 MHz 2 channel Oscilloscope, Waveform Generator & Digital Multimeter

Hantek2D72 3-in-1 70 MHz Oscilloscope, Waveform Generator & Digital Multimeter with a Tactical Safety Case

Price: $202.44


The Hantek2D72 70 MHz Oscilloscope, Waveform Generator & Digital Multimeter is a next-generation tool that can keep up with most if not all of your technical and engineering needs. Firstly, the unit is a 70 MHz oscilloscope with a 250M Sampling Rate, an arbitrary waveform generator, and a highly accurate digital multimeter. Secondly, it’s powered by 18650 lithium batteries that could go a full-day work so it’s extremely portable and safe. For instance, Electroboom found it quite useful in testing voltage and current in his How Safe Is the SHOWER HEAD OF DOOM?! video.  Since it can do the job of three, you wouldn’t have to keep tons of devices on your bench to work on any projects. Needless to say, it’s the perfect budget hobbyist digital oscilloscopes for technicians on the go! The 2D72 is the most budget hobbyist oscilloscopes 2021 option since you got 3 in 1 deal.

Ideal for: hobbyists who are looking for an all-inclusive kit without breaking the bank.

SDS1202X-E 200MHz 2 Channel Phosphor Oscilloscope

SDS1202X-E Digital Super Phosphor Oscilloscope

Price: $379.00

Short description: Our SDS1202X-E Digital Super Phosphor Oscilloscope is a fully equipped model that and includes a very high bandwidth. It is the most versatile Oscilloscope featured in our five things to look for when choosing an Oscilloscope blog. This model features a very user-friendly front panel design and is one of our most purchased Oscilloscopes.

Ideal for: hobbyists who are willing to spend a little extra for higher quality materials.


Check out our 17 Best Oscilloscopes for Hobbyists!!

Still need more information or would you rather talk to someone directly? You can email us at any time at or 1-800-528-1417. 

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