Microscopes under $100 – Buying guide & Comparison


If time isn’t on your side, but you still want to find the best affordable microscope out there, this short paragraph will let you know just what model you might have to consider. According to our findings, the AmScope M150C-I is the unit you ought to bear in mind. This budget-friendly choice comes with a magnification range of 40x to 1000x, which means that it is perfectly capable of serving you under most circumstances and for many specimens. As it has been outfitted with a LED illumination system, you’ll get plenty of light on your sample so that you can examine it conveniently. Because it boasts glass optical components and a sturdy frame made out of metal, it has a high chance of withstanding the test of time. In case the AmScope M150C-I is unavailable, be sure to give the AmScope M162C-2L-PB10 a shot.



Comparison table




If you want to get your hands on a cheap digital microscope that allows you to benefit from excellent performance, you are in the perfect place. After having carefully analyzed the current market and since we have taken the time to look at many resources to perform an extensive research process, we might be able to help.

Our buyer’s guide is composed of some of the crucial factors that you may need to consider if you’re in the market for a budget-friendly device in this line. Should you have the time, maybe you might want to read it.


What’s the right design for you?

First thing’s first. Whether you’re looking for one of the cheap microscopes for students available for sale out there or just one that can be used under any circumstances and speaks to the needs of various users, you need to take its design into account. What this means is that you have the choice to select a cheap compound microscope or just a handheld portable alternative.

It’s very likely that you will find it nearly impossible to get a stereomicroscope for less than one hundred dollars, and that’s because they’re usually priced above this point. So, if you want to purchase the model for SMD soldering or jewelry making, you might have to be patient, save some money, and get a reasonable dissecting microscope.

USB microscopes are convenient and easy to use, but they rarely come with the same cutting-edge functionalities of full-size models. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to sacrifice a bit of quality for a compact design.


Magnification range

If there is one feature you should focus on when you’re starting to prospect the market for such a device, it’s the magnification power. It’s quite an adventure to try and get a microscope with a maximum magnification capability of over 1000x for less than one hundred dollars. Those units that go well beyond this mark and can even magnify the image by up to 2500 times can cost up to three hundred dollars.

As previously mentioned, handheld models typically come with maximum magnification settings such as 250x or 500x. This largely varies from one choice to the next. Superior magnification translates to a higher price point.


Construction quality

Even a cheap compound microscope should boast a sturdy build that can enable you to use it for several years to come. A worst-case scenario would be that you grow tired with the functionalities of the model and decide to sell it to someone else in order to upgrade to a better unit.

It’s preferable that the frame is made out of metal. This will ensure reasonable durability especially if the person using the product is a child and might pay less attention when working with the microscope. Also, the optical components should be made out of glass, despite the fact that those that compact USB units have been outfitted with are often times made out of plastic.

The fact of the matter is that plastic has little to no resistance to higher temperatures, so if you accidentally forget your handheld microscope on your desk, but under the sun, you might find it hardly usable. Plastic melts easily. If you have concerns in this sense, we suggest you take the time to read some of the best microscope under 100 reviews.



Top affordable microscopes reviews in 2018


Some of the critically acclaimed options we have come across have been showcased below. Check out the selection if you want to save some minutes that you would otherwise have to waste trying to discover which models are worth every penny and which ones you can do without.



AmScope M150C-I


As one of the most affordable alternatives out there, you may need to consider this AmScope model. It can offer you the benefit of four magnification settings ranging from 40x to 1000x.

What this means for you is that you can even take a peek at bacteria and other germs that normally require a magnification power of above 400x.

Because the unit has been equipped with a proprietary lighting system consisting of LED illumination, you have nothing to worry about in this sense.

The 360-degree monocular rotatable head can allow you to use the device for educational purposes and homeschooling as it will enable you to first find the area of interest on the slide and then show it to your pupil.

Given that most of the feedback received by the M150C-I is favorable, we say that it is worth considering. If you have the availability, you may need to analyze its specs.



This device is a best seller in this line of products, which is a reason why many trust it and warmly recommend it to other interested people.

This unit has all the features that one might need in a home or school microscope. Even more so, the product is suitable to be used by beginners.

The product has a 360-degree rotatable monocular head and numerous magnification settings 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X and 1000X.

The device has a durable metal frame, and it features a LED illumination system that can be powered with the use of batteries or by connecting the model to an outlet.



Some buyers claimed that this is not a feature-packed device. Still, it is worth reminding you that this is a student model that has limited features.

If you have no idea how to use the product, you might find it challenging to focus it at first.


Buy from Amazon.com for ($86.98)





AmScope M162C-2L-PB10


Just when we thought that we would be unable to find an even more budget-friendly choice, we came across this AmScope model.

It’s just as versatile as the M150C-I and shares many of its features with this model. The magnification range is one of them as is the fact that the product boasts a built-in illumination system.

Having been equipped with a frame made out of metal, it’s rather obvious that the unit will withstand the test of time.

Unlike other choices in the same line, this particular unit comes with a series of slides. It can be used with batteries, so you’re free to carry it everywhere.

While some buyers argue that they would have appreciated the microscope more if it had come with a case, the fact is that it’s too reasonably priced to include anything other than a dust cover.

This is not a USB model, so you can’t connect it to a computer or laptop.



This unit is budget friendly. Because of this, it is best that you use it to learn how to work on a device of this type before you invest in a more expensive product.

The model includes two lenses, five blank slides, five prepared slides, and a plastic slide case. Three batteries that you have to insert in order to use the LEDs are also supplied by the seller.

A dust cover and a power adapter are provided to the buyers by the manufacturer. Hence, you won’t have to make additional investments.

The product has a sturdy frame constructed from metal and a lens condenser that features 6-hole disc diaphragms.



One user claimed that the stage on this unit does not go up and down as it should. Consequently, one might find it difficult to adjust it.

Numerous of those that have purchased the device before remarked that this is not a high-quality unit.


Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.99)





Plugable USB 2.0 


This digital microscope has been outfitted with a camera of which the resolution is 2 megapixels.

Its design is unique in that it doesn’t come with an eyepiece to speak of, so you will require a storing device or a laptop or computer at all times in order to visualize what’s going on. The maximum magnification allowed by this alternative is 250x.

The neat thing about the Plugable model is that it works with a variety of operating systems.

So, if you use a Windows computer as most people do because of its price and maybe you also own a Mac OS X laptop, you don’t have to worry about anything as the device will be a good fit for both. The software is part of the deal.

It’s also worth noting that the Plugable choice is equipped with a LED halo light of which the brightness can be customized depending on your needs.



This device has a minimalistic design that makes it effortless to operate, even if you are a novice when it comes to microscopes.

This digital product is very useful and fun to work with. Because of this, the product is suitable for students and other science enthusiasts.

The unit uses a webcam chipset and a sensor. Consequently, the model can supply you with clear images of the microscopic world.

The LED light that the product features can be adjusted to the suitable brightness level that you prefer. To do so, just follow the instructions that the seller provides.



The model might not be entirely proper for coin collectors, as it is not completely capable of showing the real colors of the objects.

Furthermore, there have been buyers that noted that this device does not have a great resolution. Still, given its price, the model is worthy of one’s attention.


Buy from Amazon.com for ($34.95)





Teslong Digital


Yet another model that fits the bill quite nicely is the Teslong Digital as we’ve found it priced just under sixty dollars at a variety of online retailers.

The difference between this kind of magnifier and others we’ve seen is that it also works with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The model can magnify the image by up to 200 times, so it’s rather limited in this respect. Nonetheless, it does prove its worth for areas such as SMD soldering, watchmaking, and jewelry repair.

Plus, the camera that this unit has been equipped with is waterproof so you can use the magnifier in virtually any environment.

Thanks to its user-friendly design, this model can prove to be a good choice for parents who want to check whether or not their children are suffering from some sort of ear condition before going to the doctor’s office for an appointment.



This model is very practical to use as it can be linked to a tablet. Hence, the unit can be used by both students and collectors.

The product is compatible with Mac, Windows, and all Android devices that feature an OTG function.

The device has a magnification ratio of 10X to 200X, which is more than enough than what a beginner might need.

The camera of the unit has up to eight LED brightness levels that you can pick between them. The included camera works in various environments.



The model is said to get hot easily. Therefore, it might be best that you do not use it for an extended period of time.

Last but not least, the device comes supplied with a connector that you can use to link the unit to mobile devices. Still, this connector might not be compatible with your device. So, before you order the product, be sure to check this aspect.


Buy from Amazon.com for ($41.99)





Celestron 5 MP


As one of the world-known brands in the industry of manufacturing telescopes and microscopes, Celestron makes a real effort when it comes to designing high-quality devices.

This handheld alternative is slightly less affordable than others. However, it does seem to be worthy of the investment as it comes with a 5-megapixel camera.

This resolution can rarely be found in such small devices. As for adjustability, the height of the stand that comes with the main unit can be customized in accordance with the requirements of the user.

The USB cable that you’ll be required to utilize to connect the magnifier to a laptop or computer measures 4 feet, so it’s long enough.

The driver that the microscope is accompanied by has been found to be compatible with Windows and Mac OS X computers. As such, it might be a rather versatile option to consider if you haven’t made up your mind just yet.



The 20x to 200x magnification ratio that the device has qualifies it as fit to be used for low-power observation of 3D objects.

The product incorporates a high-quality glass lens that makes all the images that one is supplied with very clear and bright.

A four-foot cable is also provided by the seller so that you are offered the necessary maneuverability that you need.

The product uses a very intuitive software. Therefore, the model can conveniently be used by those that do not know much about how such products work.



The model has to be calibrated very often. Because of this, the product demands quite a lot of time to be sacrificed before one can actually use the device.

The unit is not compatible with all available operating systems. Thus, before you purchase it, spend some time checking if the product is fit to be used with the devices that you own.


Buy from Amazon.com for ($76.92)




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