Best Data Acquisition System: Our Top Picks

Best Data Acquisition System: Our Top Picks

We have a lot of experience with data acquisition systems here in the Encida Team. We work with data acquisition hardware, data acquisition software, and data acquisition solutions in general every day.

In this post, we are going to share with you our top picks for the best data acquisition systems in the market. At least in our experience. We don't know about every system out there but we have worked with a lot of different DAQ hardware over the years.

So hopefully these top picks will give you a good starting point if you are in the market for a new data acquisition system for your measurement applications.

We are not affiliated with any of the products or manufacturers that we mention in this article, we just really like them and want to help you with reliable measurement and control products.

What is a Data Acquisition System?

Before diving into our top picks, let's first define what a data acquisition (DAQ) system is. A data acquisition system is any device or software used to collect and process data from various sources such as sensors, instruments, and other measurement instruments.

It typically includes hardware for signal conditioning and conversion, as well as software for data logging and analysis. DAQ systems are used in a wide range of industries for test and measurement, industrial automation, and other applications used by measurement engineers and technicians.

If you want to know more about what data acquisition and data acquisition systems is I would recommend you read our article on that right here:

Best Data Acquisition System Period

Our favorite and in our opinion, best data acquisition solution is the National Instruments (NI) CompactDAQ series. In our experience, this data acquisition hardware just sets the tone for what data acquisition systems should strive for. It does not matter what application you need it for, CompactDAQ can be used and that is why this is our pick for the best system period.

Features of the NI CompactDAQ Series:

  • Modular Hardware: Easily customizable with various modules to suit different measurement requirements.
  • High-Speed Communication: Offers both USB and Ethernet options for fast low latency data transfer and data recording with high sample rates
  • Scalability: Can be scaled up to accommodate larger systems or more complex applications with multiple sensors.


  • Flexibility: Its modular nature ensures that it can be tailored to specific project needs.
  • Ease of Use: Designed to be user-friendly, especially when integrated with NIs own software or our data acquisition software SAFE.
  • Reliability: NI is known for producing robust and reliable hardware that can withstand demanding environments.


  • Cost: The initial setup cost can be high, especially for smaller projects or those on a tight budget.
  • Complexity: While it is user-friendly, there is a learning curve, particularly for those unfamiliar with data acquisition software or who have simpler needs.

In summary, the National Instruments CompactDAQ series stands out for its adaptability, reliability, and compatibility with powerful software, though it may be less accessible for those with limited budgets or simpler needs.

Best Low-Cost Data Acquisition System

Our pick for the best low-cost data acquisition solution is the Helmholz Distributed Fieldbus I/O System. This system offers a cost-effective and modular solution for data acquisition with options for different fieldbus protocols such as Modbus. It's great as a simple data logger for industrial industries where sample rates when testing are very low (below 1 Hz).

Features of the Helmholz Distributed Fieldbus I/O System:

  • Modular and Scalable: Supports up to 64 peripheral modules, allowing for easy expansion.
  • Wide Range of Fieldbus Protocols: Compatible with Modbus and other common protocols, facilitating integration with existing systems.


  • Cost-Effectiveness: Offers a budget-friendly solution without compromising on essential data acquisition features.
  • Ease of Installation and Use: Its design and user-friendly tools provide an unintimidating experience for beginners.
  • Flexibility: The systemโ€™s modularity and support for various fieldbus protocols make it highly adaptable to diverse applications.


  • Limited Advanced Features: While it offers great fundamentals, it might lack some of the advanced features found in more expensive systems.
  • Low sample rate: The system is not suitable for high-speed data acquisition applications.

In summary, the Helmholz Distributed Fieldbus I/O System is a great option for those on a budget or with simpler measurement needs, providing essential data acquisition features without breaking the bank.

Best Stand-Alone Data Acquisition Device

Again our favorite All-In-One data acquisition hardware comes from National Instruments. It is their entry-level plug and play USB Data acquisition devices. More specifically the NI USB-6001, NI USB-6002 and NI USB-6003 dependent on your needs. When we need a simple device to measure an analog signal this is our go to device.

Features of the NI USB-600x Series:

  • Plug and Play: Designed for easy setup and use, requiring minimal configuration to start.
  • Portable and Compact: Small size makes it easily transportable and suitable for setups with limited space.
  • Multipurpose Inputs and Outputs: Offers a versatile range of inputs and outputs for measuring and controlling a variety of signals.


  • Cost-Effective for Entry-Level: Provides an affordable entry point into data acquisition for those new to the field or with simple needs.
  • Ease of Use: The simple setup and intuitive operation lower the barrier to entry for beginners.
  • Flexibility: Capable of handling a wide variety of sensors and signals, making it versatile for many types of projects.


  • Limited Scalability: While perfect for small-scale projects, its capabilities may be insufficient for more complex or demanding applications.
  • Lower Speed and Precision: For very high-speed or precision-demanding applications, higher-end models may be necessary.

The NI USB-600x series stands out as an excellent choice for those seeking cost-effective, easy-to-use data acquisition devices for smaller or entry-level projects. While it offers significant flexibility and convenience, potential users should consider the scope of their project needs, particularly relating to scalability and precision.

Criteria for Our Top Picks

When choosing our top picks for the best data acquisition products, we considered 4 key factors including:

Performance and precision

The accuracy and speed of data acquisition are crucial for many measurement applications. We looked for systems that offer high-performance capabilities with minimal noise, distortion, and other sources of error.

Compatibility and flexibility

A good DAQ system should be compatible with a wide range of sensors, instruments, and other devices. It should also offer flexibility in terms of data acquisition channels, sample rates, types of measurement data, support for different electronic instruments etc.

Ease of use

We value user-friendly systems that are easy to set up and operate. This is important for efficiency and reducing the potential for human error in data acquisition processes.


While there are many expensive DAQ systems available, we also wanted to include more budget-friendly options without compromising on performance and quality. We looked for systems that offer a good balance between cost and features.

Let us help you with your next project!

In conclusion, choosing the right data acquisition system is crucial for successful and accurate data collection. With our top picks of the best data acquisition systems, we hope to assist you in finding the perfect fit for your specific project needs. Whether it's for large-scale industrial applications or a small prototype test there are many options available that offer a combination of performance, compatibility, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness.

if you have any questions or need further guidance, feel free to book a time with us for expert advice and support. At Encida, we are engineers dedicated to helping our customers achieve their data acquisition goals with top-quality products and exceptional technical support.