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Cheap Oscilloscopes vs. Used Oscilloscopes – Read This Before You Buy!

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As an engineer in the market for a new oscilloscope, you have a choice. Do you go down the route of a cheap oscilloscope or a used one? Years of first-hand experience have taught you the importance of reliable test equipment in your toolkit.

An oscilloscope is an essential tool for analyzing and troubleshooting digital signals in electronic circuits and can be a significant investment. Deciding on what type to buy could make or break your project, so you must choose wisely!

On the surface, the cheap oscilloscope may seem more appealing. It looks new and may have all the features you think you need. But before you pull the trigger on that purchase, you should consider the pros and cons of both options.

While a used oscilloscope may not have the latest features, it can be a more cost-effective and reliable choice. Experienced engineers often opt for used oscilloscopes because they have a proven track record and have likely been well-maintained. On the other hand, cheap oscilloscopes are made with lower-quality components and may not be as durable or reliable over time. These cheap devices come with inferior specifications, resulting in 

  1. Low sample/capture rates
  2. Low MHz bandwidths
  3. Fewer input channels 
  4. Less accurate representation of faster signals

Why Used Doesn't Mean Cheap (and Vice Versa)

There are three main options when purchasing a cheap oscilloscope: 

  1. Cheap new oscilloscopes 
  2. Cheap used oscilloscopes
  3. Refurbished oscilloscopes

Here is a summary of the key differences between these options.

  1. Cheap new oscilloscopes. These brand-new oscilloscopes are typically made with lower-quality components and sold at lower prices. These entry-level scopes are less reliable and durable than more expensive models.
  2. Cheap used oscilloscopes. These oscilloscopes have been previously owned and may show signs of wear and tear. They may not have all the latest features or be in perfect cosmetic condition. However, they are often a more cost-effective option. They may also have a proven track record of reliability if they have been well-maintained.
  3. Properly refurbished oscilloscopes. These used oscilloscopes are professionally restored to their original condition. This process includes repairing damaged components, replacing worn parts, and testing to ensure that the oscilloscope is functional. Refurbished oscilloscopes offer many benefits and advanced features of a new oscilloscope at a lower price point. In addition, they are backed by warranty to give you peace of mind.

If you are on a budget, a cheap entry-level scope might seem attractive, but it's important to remember that these devices will not provide the same accuracy and performance as used high-end oscilloscope models.

A cheap entry-level oscilloscope may be enough for hobbyists or someone that only uses it occasionally. For professionals who rely on accurate measurements and results, a cheap oscilloscope will not be able to handle more complex circuits or measurements.

At Keysight, we understand that not everyone has the budget to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an oscilloscope. In today's challenging economic climate, many companies face tighter budgets and are looking for ways to stretch their resources as far as possible.

Our Used Equipment Store helps thousands of companies worldwide look for a cost-effective solution for their equipment needs. We understand that budget constraints can be a real challenge, and we are committed to helping our customers find the best value for their money.

So if you're looking for a reliable oscilloscope but can't afford to spend a fortune on a new one, don't worry! Check out our used equipment store. If you need helpful tips on buying a used oscilloscope that works like new, read our buying guide. It will help you choose the perfect used oscilloscope at a fraction of the cost of a new one.

Benefits of Buying Used Oscilloscopes

When investing in an oscilloscope, you may think purchasing a brand-new cheap model is the best option. However, there are better options than this. Used oscilloscopes offer many benefits, especially if you are on a budget.

Cost savingsRefurbished oscilloscopes are typically much less expensive than new ones. Some of our used oscilloscopes are up to 90% cheaper than new ones. This means you can still get a fully operational, calibrated, and accurate oscilloscope on a limited budget.
QualityProperly refurbished oscilloscopes are restored to their original condition. Reputable resellers repair damaged components, replace worn parts, and test to ensure that the oscilloscope is fully functional. This means that a refurbished oscilloscope offers many of the same benefits as a new one, including accuracy and reliability.
WarrantyMany refurbished oscilloscopes come with a warranty, which can give you added peace of mind and protect your investment.
Environmental benefitsPurchasing a refurbished oscilloscope also has ecological benefits. It helps to reduce waste and prevent perfectly usable equipment from ending up in landfills. With about 50 million tons of e-waste produced each year globally, buying a used oscilloscope is a great way to do your part in reducing that number.
AvailabilityRefurbished oscilloscopes are more readily available than new ones. This is helpful if you need to purchase one in a hurry or are looking for a specific model.


When you purchase a high-quality used oscilloscope from Keysight, you get the superior performance and functionality of a new unit. We offer two standards of used products: "Premium Used" and "Used."

Premium Used: 

  • Up to 70% savings
  • Like-new condition
  • Updated firmware
  • Fully calibrated
  • Same great warranty as a new product (1-5 years depending on the model and region)


  • Up to 90% savings
  • In full working condition
  • 30-day right of return

Whether buying new or used, you can always count on the high standards and reliability Keysight prides itself on. You will have peace of mind knowing that you're buying a reliable and accurate piece of equipment and not just a cheap alternative. Other resellers' shipping times vary from 8-21 weeks. Depending on item availability, we ensure that our oscilloscope will reach your door within two weeks for US customers. That means you can get your oscilloscope up and running in no time. 

Why You Should Avoid Certain Cheap Resellers

As an engineer, have you found yourself in this position before?

"Tony was an engineer at a small startup, and he was excited when given the opportunity to lead the development of a new product. He had a tight budget and timeline but was confident he could make it work.

One of the key pieces of equipment Tony needed for his project was an oscilloscope. He researched and found a cheap, used one for sale online from a reseller. The price was too good to pass up, so Tony placed an order and waited for it to arrive.

When the oscilloscope arrived, Tony was impressed by how good it looked. It appeared in good condition, and he eagerly set it up and started testing his circuit. But soon after, he began to notice some strange readings. The oscilloscope was giving inaccurate readings, and no matter what he did, Tony couldn't get the accurate results he needed.

Panicked and running out of time, Tony called the reseller to see if they could help. But when he explained the problem, the reseller told him that the oscilloscope was sold "as is" and there was nothing they could do.

Tony knew the project was at risk of failing and had to find a solution fast. He started looking for other options and eventually found a refurbished used oscilloscope. It had higher specifications and a full warranty. He took a chance and ordered it, hoping it would answer his problems.

To Tony's surprise, the refurbished oscilloscope arrived quickly and was in excellent condition. It was fully calibrated and ready to use and worked perfectly with his circuit. With the help of the refurbished oscilloscope, Tony could complete his project on time and to the highest standards.

In the end, Tony learned that sometimes it pays to invest extra money in high-quality, reliable used equipment."

The example of Tony serves as a good reminder of how important it is to purchase used test equipment from a reliable source. When purchasing an oscilloscope, it's important to be aware of the risks of buying from the wrong reseller. While it is tempting to purchase a used or refurbished oscilloscope from the cheapest reseller, there is a high chance that you will end up with a faulty or miscalibrated product.

This is a significant problem and can be a waste of time if you are working on a critical project that requires accurate measurements and reliable results. A faulty or miscalibrated oscilloscope leads to incorrect data and project failures.

Purchasing your oscilloscope from a reputable source is essential to protect yourself from these risks. Keysight's Used Equipment Store is the only place where you can get officially refurbished and calibrated oscilloscopes. Other resellers cannot provide this guarantee or compete with our warranties and shipping times.

So if you want to be sure that you are getting a reliable, calibrated, high-quality oscilloscope, buy from the Keysight's Used Store. Don't risk your project and reputation by buying from the wrong reseller. Keysight prides itself on helping small business owners, big tech companies, and government and education clients get quality equipment to succeed at their projects at a price they can afford. 

How to Choose a High-Quality Oscilloscope

As our article has shown, buying a used oscilloscope online is a cost-effective way to get a reliable instrument at an affordable price. But in doing so, you want to ensure that what you buy is high quality and comes with certain guarantees. Here are a few tips for determining the quality of a used oscilloscope when shopping online.

Check the seller's reputationLook for reviews and ratings from previous customers to get an idea of the seller's reputation. A reputable seller is more likely to offer high-quality used oscilloscopes in good condition.
Look for detailed descriptions and photosA good seller should provide detailed descriptions and images of the oscilloscope. This will help you get a sense of the overall condition of the device.
Check for a warrantyA warranty gives you added peace of mind and protects your investment. Look for a seller that offers a warranty or return policy in case of any issues with the oscilloscope.
Consider the priceWhile it's always tempting to save money by purchasing a used oscilloscope, be wary of prices that are too good to be true. The oscilloscope may be faulty or in poor condition, which could lead to problems down the line.
Look for calibrated equipmentCalibration is the most important step in ensuring the accuracy of the measurements taken with your used oscilloscope. Only look for a seller that offers calibrated equipment to guarantee the highest levels of accuracy.

Following these tips can increase your chances of finding a high-quality used oscilloscope that meets your needs and budget. For a more in-depth look, please read our 15 features you should look for before buying an oscilloscope. This guide will help you to buy a used oscilloscope that will continue working effectively and accurately for years to come.

Save Cash Without Sacrificing Quality

When purchasing a refurbished oscilloscope, it's vital to consider not only the initial cost but also the long-term value of the device. While buying from a reseller may seem more cost-effective, it can also come with many uncertainties.

One of those uncertainties is not knowing the condition of the oscilloscope or if it has been properly calibrated. You may also not have access to support or service if you encounter any issues.

That's where Keysight's refurbished equipment comes in. We are the only place where you can get refurbished and officially calibrated oscilloscopes. This removes many of the uncertainties that come with buying used scopes. Our team of experts has the knowledge and experience to ensure that every oscilloscope we sell is fully functional and ready to use.

In addition to providing a high-quality, reliable device, Keysight offers a range of support and service options to help you get the most out of your oscilloscope. This includes access to our technical support team, repair services, and upgrade options to help you keep your oscilloscope up-to-date and performing at its best.

Choosing a used oscilloscope from Keysight gives you confidence knowing you have a reliable, high-quality device backed by the support and service you need. Don't take chances with an uncertain purchase from other resellers – choose Keysight for a reliable, cost-effective solution.

Buy a Used Keysight Oscilloscope That Works Like New!

If you're in the market for an oscilloscope and are deciding between a new cheap oscilloscope or a used one, remember you don't have to sacrifice quality to get a good deal. Buying a used oscilloscope from Keysight will ensure you get a reliable, high-quality device without breaking the bank.

Keysight is the only place you can get an officially refurbished and calibrated used digital storage oscilloscope. This gives you the reassurance that you are getting a fully functional device that is ready to use. 

So, if you want to buy a used oscilloscope without sacrificing quality, look no further than Keysight. Visit the Keysight's Used Equipment store today and browse our selection of oscilloscopes. You'll be glad you did!

Closing Thoughts From Keysight

As we have seen in this article, it's essential to carefully consider your options when buying a digital storage oscilloscope. Cheap new oscilloscopes may seem attractive, they will not provide the same accuracy and performance as more premium used models, especially when analyzing complex electronic signals. 

Cheap, used oscilloscopes from other resellers also come with risks, including the possibility of faulty or miscalibrated devices. Refurbished Premium Used Oscilloscopes from Keysight are a great solution, offering many of the same benefits as new oscilloscopes at a fraction of the cost.

Remember, Keysight's used equipment store is the only place to get officially refurbished and calibrated oscilloscopes. Our team of experts has the knowledge and experience to ensure that every oscilloscope we sell is fully functional and ready to use.

In addition to providing a high-quality, reliable device, Keysight offers a range of support and service options to help you get the most out of your oscilloscope.

So, if you want to save money on a reliable, high-quality oscilloscope, buy a refurbished one from Keysight!

Whenever You’re Ready, Here Are 4 Ways We Can Help You

  1. Browse our Premium Used Oscilloscopes offers
  2. Call tech support US: 1 800 829-4444
    Press #, then 2. Hours: 7am – 5pm MT, Mon– Fri
  3. Talk to our sales support team by clicking the icon (bottom right corner) on every offer page
  4. Talk to your account manager about your specific needs