Logic Analyzer VS Oscilloscope

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 20, 2021
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With the massive growth of the electronics industry in recent times, many devices are becoming ever so essential. Both the logic analyzer and the oscilloscope are such devices. They are both used to give digital or analog signals a visual form. But they have many differences and use cases.

What is a Logic Analyzer?

Logic analyzers are a kind of test instrument. They are widely used to test complex digital or logic circuits. They are designed to evaluate and display digital signals. Engineers use them to design, optimize, and debug the hardware used in prototypes of the digital system. It can help technicians fix issues in malfunctioning systems. The fundamental task of a logic analyzer is to capture and display a sequence of digital events. After the data is captured they are rendered as graphical images to be displayed, state listings, or decoded traffic. Some analyzers can capture a new dataset and compare it with a previously captured one.

Types of Logic Analyzers

These days mainly three types of logic analyzers on the market Modular Logic Analyzers These logic analyzers come with both a chassis or mainframe and a logic analyzer module. The mainframe or the chassis contains the controls, control computer, the display, and multiple slots. These slots are used to contain the actual data capturing software. Portable Logic Analyzers Portable logic analyzers are oftentimes called standalone logic analyzers. Every component is integrated into a single package in this analyzer. Despite having lower performance they are more than enough for general purposes. PC-based Logic Analyzers These logic analyzers work by connecting with a pc via USB or Ethernet connection. The captured signals are relayed to the software on the computer. Because these devices utilize the PCs available mouse, keyboard, CPU, etc. they have a very small form factor.

What are Oscilloscopes?

Oscilloscopes are an essential piece of equipment used in electronics testing. The primary function of the oscilloscope is to display analog waveforms on some kind of display. In the normal mode of operation, time is displayed on the horizontal axis or X-axis and the amplitude of the voltage is displayed in the vertical or Y-axis. This display enables a tester to see if the circuits are working properly. It also aids in the detection of unwanted signals or noise. Oscilloscopes carry out functions such as sampling and triggering. The process of sampling is simply converting a portion of an input signal to several discrete electrical values. These values are stored, processed, or displayed. Triggering in oscilloscopes enables the stabilization and display of repetitive waveforms. These are very basic functions of the oscilloscope.

Types of Oscilloscopes

Modern-day oscilloscopes are mainly of two types- digital and analog oscilloscopes. Digital Oscilloscopes These days most high-end oscilloscopes are of the digital kind. Many of them connect to personal computers to use the display. They work on the principle of sampling the signal from the input. This is achieved using high-speed microprocessors. This enables the user to customize many factors. Analog Oscilloscopes Analog oscilloscopes are declining in use these days due to the lack of robust features provided on their digital counterparts. They work like old CRT TVs. They form an image on a phosphor screen. They transmit the incoming signal to the coils used to deflect the electron beam which is formed in the cathode ray tube. That’s what a cathode ray oscilloscope does.

Differences Between Logic Analyzers and Oscilloscopes

Logic analyzers and oscilloscopes are different in a multitude of ways. These differences have been discussed below.

Primary Function

Logic analyzers measure and display digital signals on many channels. On the other hand oscilloscopes measure and analog display signals. Oscilloscopes also display on fewer channels than logic analyzers.

Data Storage and Display

The logic analyzer records all the data before displaying it. But the oscilloscope does this differently. It repeatedly stores and displays small snapshots.

Signal Display

Logic analyzers have the function to allow users to navigate potentially long recordings. But the oscilloscope approaches this by displaying signals in real-time.


The logic analyzer measures between the data capture points while the oscilloscope measures the amplitude and timing of a waveform.

Unique Features

Logic analyzers have many features that are unique to digital systems. An example of this being protocol analyzers. Oscilloscopes also have some real-time features such as fast Fourier transform (FFT).

Trigger System

Logic analyzers possess complex triggering systems used to capture and filter data. Oscilloscopes have a simple threshold or pulse-width triggers used to show a steady waveform.


Logic analyzers and oscilloscopes are both important testing tools. The former mainly operates in the digital domain and the oscilloscope operates in the analog. They are both essential in the world of modern electronics. But their use cases are quite different.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.

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