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Best cheap microscopes in 2021 – Comparison & Reviews

Last Updated: 29.11.21


Top affordable microscopes this year – Guide & Comparative Analysis


If you’re in the market looking for the best cheap microscope, but you have no time to spare, this short paragraph is here to guide you. After analyzing the features, performance, and value of the top-rated models in this line, we’ve concluded that the one you should get is the Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro 48-Piece Microscope Set. It is a perfect purchase for children since this complete set will encourage discovery and exploration. The set includes a die-cast microscope with glass eyepieces that can deliver a magnification in the range of 50x to 600x. Apart from the included accessories that will help you get the most out of the microscope, the set also comes with specimen vials and prepared slides that are ready to be examined. In the event that our first option is no longer available for sale, we recommend you give the AmScope M162C-2L-PB10 a look.



Comparison table


The Good
The Bad



What’s the best budget microscope? If you can’t find the answer to this question and you haven’t settled on a number of details that are important for you in such a device, perhaps you should take the time to read our buyer’s guide. It’s packed with all the info you ought to bear in mind if you want to make a smart purchase.

Who are you buying it for?

The first thing you ought to do is try to look at your purpose, expectations, and the person that will use the microscope. If you’re getting one for children, you may have to consider the fact that kids have close-set eyes. As such, a monocular microscope might be a better idea than a binocular one.

Besides, if the child you’re purchasing the model for isn’t accustomed to using heaps and heaps of devices on a regular basis, you may have to purchase a unit that’s rather simple to use. In this case, you may even have to lower your expectations and choose a USB magnifier. Some of these options are actually rather efficient and versatile. On the other hand, if what you’re trying to find is a good all-around microscope for adults, be sure to check out some of the full-size models available for sale nowadays.


Consider the design

As formerly mentioned, there are several ways of going about things. Typical microscopes can be split up into two categories. Some are dissecting microscopes, which are low-power, and others are compound alternatives, which are high-power. In most cases, you’ll see that dissecting microscopes are rather limited when it comes to their magnification capabilities.

Another issue at hand is the matter of whether you’d benefit from using a compact USB microscope. Some of the best inexpensive microscopes simply have to be plugged into an USB port of your computer or laptop, and you’re ready to go. Obviously, as their optics are usually made out of plastic, and they don’t feature a sturdy design, such choices are significantly more affordable than stereo or compound alternatives.

What do you intend to look at?

When it comes to the matter of your samples, you need to look at the magnification range allowed by the microscope and the lighting system that it comes with. It used to be that all microscopes came with a small mirror that you’d have to handle in order to focus the light on the slide.

Nowadays, almost every model you’re going to take into account comes with some sort of bulb or bulbs installed either as an upper or transmitted system. If you’re going to use the device for looking at coins and other shiny objects, you might have to check if the brightness and intensity can somehow be adjusted. Otherwise, you’ll be bothered by the glare.

The magnification range is surely important if you’re a biologist, a teacher, a physician, or a veterinarian. Otherwise, if you don’t intend to look at cells, tissues, and other samples, be they of plant or animal origin, perhaps you don’t need such a generous magnification capability. Maybe you could do with one that goes up to 80x, such as that of most stereo microscopes, or up to 300x or 500x, such as that of most USB microscopes.



 8 Best Affordable Microscopes (Reviews) in 2021


As we know that selecting the perfect product for your preferences and needs may be daunting, we’ve put together a list of some of the highly regarded choices out there. All of the following have acquired some of the best microscope reviews, so they appear to be worth investing in.



1. Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro 48-Piece Microscope Set 


If you plan to introduce young scientists to the wonders of the microscope, this set is a great option, especially for budget-conscious parents. The microscope comes with 10x and 20x glass eyepieces that allow it to achieve 50x-600x magnification so that kids can get a clear image of even the smallest specimen.

The set includes all the accessories that one needs to make the most out of the microscope, including three prepared slides. If you want to encourage hands-on discovery using real scientific experiments, then this 48-piece set won’t disappoint. It also includes an 18-page instruction and activity guide that has been tailored specifically to the needs of young kids.

The activity guide explores eight different hands-on experiments that any kid can perform with the microscope. The activities are designed to keep children engaged and make learning science fun. What’s more, the instructions are very clear, and they also include basic usage and care tips.



Despite the low price point, this is not a toy but a true scientific instrument that includes all the components and features required to make it appropriate for scientific learning.

The microscope can be used to investigate everything from crystals to cells in great detail thanks to the 50x-600x magnification power.

Kids are encouraged to make their own slides, but for first-time users, the set also includes three prepared slides to help kids get an idea of what this microscope is capable of.

The set provides a wide variety of accessories, including 16 slide covers, 8 slide labels, 8 blank slides, a petri dish, tweezers, and much more.



It is an excellent entry-level microscope to spark the curiosity of young children, but you shouldn’t expect to get the same performance as a lab instrument.

It is very small and easy to knock over, especially when used by small children.


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2. AmScope M162C-2L-PB10 40X-1000X Dual Light Glass Lens


This kit might be another reasonable option to bear in mind, especially as it even comes with a collection of slides.

It’s even more affordable than other models we have seen, but it manages to boast a frame made out of metal.

If you’re buying the microscope for a kid, you may already be aware of the fact that they can sometimes be clumsy. So a metal frame is a reassuring detail in regards to the durability of the unit.

Just like other monocular microscopes of this kind, this particular one comes with a magnification range of 40x to 1000x.

The lighting system is composed of two LED lights placed both at the top and at the bottom of the model.

Because most of the people who have bought it appear to have only good things to say about it, it seems that this unit is another choice to give some thought to.



It offers no less than 10 different slides to watch, which makes it extremely suitable for science projects and school use.

The overall metal frame is trustworthy and reliable, meaning your little children won’t get to be clumsy near this item and easily break it off.

It comes with five different magnification rates, ranging from the classic 40x to 1000x, and they are plenty to clearly see objects, cells, and more.

This is an optical glass monocular microscope featuring top and bottom LED lights for easy observing in all lighting conditions.



Although most customers were pleased with the top quality and the affordable price for this microscope kit, some clients claimed that they received the product with missing or faulty items, including missing slides or missing eye pieces.

The focus of this microscope could also be improved but, overall, clients were satisfied with what they received.


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3. AmScope M100C-LED 40X-1000X Student Biological Field Microscope

In some respects, the performance and quality ensured by the design of this model makes it possible for you to rest assured that it will never disappoint.

Granted, it’s a rather limited choice compared to some compound options, but it’s a great alternative for kids, teenagers, high school students, and any other beginning microscope user.

The AmScope M100C-LED boasts optics made out of glass and a solid metal body. Besides, it comes with a LED illumination system and allows you to take advantage of any of its five levels of magnification ranging from 40x to 1000x.

Since it’s backed by a five-year warranty, this microscope appears to be an investment that is both safe and sound. Also, it won’t even ruin your budget as it is typically priced under eighty dollars.

Some of the buyers argue that it performs better when used at lower magnifications, so you may have to use it for larger samples.




The product offers five different magnification rates, up to 1000x, for clear shots and in-detail captures.

It features the same 360-degree rotatable monocular head for easily handling slides and seeing every detail that matters.

The metal framework and the built-in LED illumination make from this microscope a powerful and useful tool for children, students, and more. Also, the hard metal case makes the product reliable, trustworthy and safe to carry around and deposit without the risk of breaking.

This microscope also features a wide series of accessories, useful for fulfilling plenty of school projects or satisfying your kids’ curiosity. Choose between four different focusing objectives, depending on how close you want to see your sample, and use any of the many accessories provided in the deal.



While most customers rated this product as a five-star, some others considered the manufacturing was of a poor quality and that the design wasn’t all that reliable.

Some customers say that they received faulty items with lens detached from the body.


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4. AmScope M158C-E Compound Monocular Microscope


As it is priced a tad higher compared to some of the other choices we have showcased earlier on, we saved this unit for the end.

It is a more than adequate choice if you’re in the market for a microscope that costs under one hundred dollars. Something that sets it aside from its competitors is that it comes with two eyepieces and a 0.3-megapixel camera.

Otherwise said, you can either utilize it in a typical manner, in that you’ll have to use your eyes to look at the sample, or you can connect it to a laptop or personal computer to visualize the images this way.

As is the case with many other microscopes manufactured by the same company, this particular one boasts a LED illumination system.

Since it has garnered the appreciation of over one hundred customers on various online websites, it goes without saying that this particular model is worth its weight in gold.



As a good hybrid between a monocular microscope and a digital one, this AmScope product comes with a slightly higher price than the previous models.

It features a similar 40x up to 1000x magnification rate for clearly seeing your samples and observing them in the tiniest details.

It also comes with stage clips to secure the slides and prevent them from moving while focusing, as well as a stage stop to prevent damaging slides or objectives.

Since it is a digital microscope, it comes equipped with a 0.3MP camera and USB 2.0 output for connecting it to your computer and capture images. The software works with the main Windows OS, from XP to Windows 10.



The camera on this microscope is of poor quality, only at 0.3MP, meaning there is no clarity of the image you are downloading on your computer.

Also, the software is not compatible with Mac OS, meaning you cannot use the microscope to download pictures on your MacBook or iPhone.


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5. Bysameyee USB Digital Microscope 8 LED


Portable and extremely easy to use, this digital microscope can be easily connected to your smartphone, tablet or laptop and deliver high-quality images with a magnification rate from 40X to 1000X. 

With the help of this product, you can capture screenshot images, and even record a video given the installed software. The USB microscope serves a variety of purposes and is a useful tool for students, engineers, inventors, and even children. 

One of the features we liked the most about this item is its compatibility with various OS systems, from Mac OS X 10.5 to Windows XP, Linux, and Android phones with OTG function. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to connect the microscope to your iPhone or iPad. 

It boasts 8 LED lights that allow you to easily control the brightness through a wire control knob and see items in close detail, as bright and close as you want. 



This microscope is lightweight and easy to use, which makes it a great invention for all kinds of people, from children and students to teachers, researchers, and scientists. 

It can be connected to a wide array of laptops, smartphones, and tablets, as it is compatible with Android, Linux, Windows XP, and Mac OS X 10.5.

The product is delivered with numerous useful accessories, including a metal stand, an OTG adapter for video compatibility, a ruler, a driver, and a carrying case. 

Another thing that we liked about the microscope is the large magnification rate that goes from 40X to 1000X, allowing you to see all objects as close as possible. And, thanks to the 8 LED lights with brightness adjustment, no image will be too dark anymore. 



One of the main issues with this device is getting it to focus the image on a magnification rate higher than 20X. The field of view is extremely narrow so, unless you focus on anything else but precise viewing, this product won’t deliver. 


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6. Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope with Flexible Arm


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.


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7. Carson MicroBrite Plus MM-300 or MM-300MU


Available in a single pack or a set of four, this affordable microscope from Carson represents a good choice for children and students. The LED light with an aspheric internal lens system ensures an adjustable, bright image, while the maximum magnification rate achieved is 120X. 

When using aspheric lenses, the light rays converge at a single focal point, which results in a clearer, sharper image, free of distortions, which is the main reason why you should opt for such a microscope.

Each microscope uses 1 AA battery, which means you won’t have to worry about finding a power supply to keep it working. Another thing that we liked about this particular Carson model is the compact and lightweight design which makes the unit extremely portable and convenient to carry around with you. 

Put it in your school bag or purse and enjoy its great magnification rate for school projects or for expanding your personal knowledge.



The item is easy to use and comes with detailed instructions on how to make the most out of it. For best results, the manufacturer recommends that you place the base of the microscope flush against a flat viewing surface and start focusing on the lowest magnification, then gradually increase the magnification and readjust the focus when needed. 

One of the best features of this microscope is its compact, lightweight design, which makes it portable and extremely easy to carry around. It fits in any backpack, pocket or purse, so you can enjoy its benefits wherever you are. 

It is powered by a regular AA battery so that you won’t have to worry about finding an outlet and always keeping the item plugged in so you can use it. 

It is LED lighted to ensure a maximum brightness of the object you want to magnify. 



As the manufacturer mentions, the field of view for this microscope is extremely narrow. 


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8. Celestron 44308 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope Pro


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.


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Unavailable products


 USB Microscope Crenova UM018 720P HD 1MP CMOS


The design of this product is entirely different, especially when compared to that of compound microscopes.

The Crenova model is a digital USB microscope that can prove its worth under many circumstances, especially if you find it hard to use any eyepieces or you’re simply not interested in learning the way that a full-size microscope works or needs to be operated.

The unit has been outfitted with a 5-megapixel camera and the software offered by the manufacturing brand can ensure that the device works both with Windows and Mac OS X computers and laptops.

With the help of the Crenova, you will be able to increase the size of the area of interest on your specimens by up to 300 times.

In short, this alternative is remarkably easy to utilize and even easier to put together, as reported by some of the individuals who have purchased it.



The design of this microscope is entirely different from what you are used to seeing in regular microscopes, but this doesn’t mean it offers a lower quality or less impressive features.

This is a digital microscope complete with a 5MP video camera to easily capture and watch all relevant information directly on your PC. The magnifying rate is up to 300x, allowing you to enjoy specimens in vivid detail.

The Crenova digital microscope is user-friendly and easy to assemble without requiring special skills or more than one-two hours from your precious time.

It works with all main operating systems, from Windows XP and Windows 7 to Mac OS X.



This item only works with personal computers and laptops, meaning you cannot use it to upload images and videos to your iPads, iPods or smartphones.

The product doesn’t have an attached screen, which forces buyers to utilize their laptops or computers all of the time. In the end, this magnifier does have its limitations, especially as it’s way more affordable than full-size microscopes.



USB Microscope Teslong Portable Multi-Function


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.



AmScope M150C-I 40X-1000X All-Metal Optical Glass Lenses


This monocular microscope is one of the top alternatives available for sale these days, and that’s mostly due to the fact that it boasts a wide array of interesting features.

One of them is the magnification range as with the help of this device you can increase the size of the specimen or area of interest by up to 1000 times.

Besides, the model proves its worth in domains such as education, biology, and anything science-related especially as it has been outfitted with a rotatable monocular head with the help of which you can show to your students or kids what you’ve found.

Another neat thing about this product is that it can be used either with three standard AA batteries or a regular outlet.

What this means for you is that it’s a portable choice that you can even take out in the garden.



It is the ideal microscope for home and school use by all students age 7 and up. From elementary school to high school projects, this affordable microscope will guide you through the basics of biology and microbiology.

It comes with five different magnification rates to offer you a wide variety of choices regarding the images seen. You can get to see your slides up to 1000 times bigger and perfectly analyze them.

The sturdy frame is made from metal, ensuring a long-lasting and reliable design.

You can either use an outlet or three AA batteries to use the LED illumination system.



Some owners have noted that there might be some issues dealing with the packaging or transportation of this device. It is therefore recommended to check the product once you have had it delivered at your home or lab.

Given the absence of any instructions or manual, users might have a hard time assembling the product properly. Putting everything together could take a bit of time.





1) Introduction to microscopes and how they work

2) Microscopy from the very beginning

3) What kind of microscope should I buy?

4) Care of the microscope



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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Nik Bryson
Nik Bryson
1 year ago

With all due respect the technical reasoning behind the recommendations is unsound. All the shown microscopes lack a condenser and a field diaphragm, which makes their use very limited. Also none have moveable stages making centering the specimen bothersome, or even impossible at high magnifications. etc. The models shown are all equivalent in specs, there’s no real difference amongst them.

James Greene
James Greene (@j-greene)
1 year ago
Reply to  Nik Bryson

Hi Nik. I see your point but the purpose of this article is to review the best microscopes from the cheapest ones on Amazon. Protection Status