Hands down, no questions asked; the MXO 4 Oscilloscope from R&S is the most impressive scope I have ever used. The main reason I say that is because it is FAST. Over the past 20 years, I have worked for 3 of the 4 top oscilloscope companies (always in technical roles.) So I have used almost every major oscilloscope model for the past two decades.
Now, regarding oscilloscopes, “fast” can mean a couple of different things. First, it could mean the bandwidth is very high. The MXO 4 is a low-to-mid-range bandwidth instrument with options from 200 MHz to 1.5 GHz. So, that isn’t what I mean by fast. Second, it could mean how quickly it starts up. And even though it is a PC-based instrument, it is ready to make measurements in about 45 seconds. But that isn’t what I mean.
The update rate is a record-breaking (in 2022) 4.5 million waveforms per second. Granted, there are only a few cases where it hits this peak. However, the impressive part is that it isn’t a special mode! And you can turn on some measurements, cursors, and other features without affecting an update rate. And even when it does drop, it stays above 1 million waveforms per second way more often than I expected.
Another way it is fast is for FFTs (or ”Spectrum View”.) R&S says it can do over 45,000 FFT waveforms per second. The fastest I saw was around 35,000. Still amazing if you ask me.
Both of these astounding feats are related to their next-generation MXO-EP chipset. Er, not really a set. It is a single ASIC that consumes samples from the ADC, applies correction filters (I assume), and scans for trigger events—in the digital bit stream. Then it accelerates getting data to the PC side. It also does some hardware acceleration of the FFT, which I suspect is digital down conversion (or something like it) done in the MXO-EP.
Check out my full review / hands-on in this AddOhms episode!