Airspy vs HackRF

Comparing the HackRF One to the Airspy series involves looking at two very popular options in the world of software-defined radios (SDRs), each with its own set of features tailored to different user needs and applications.

Table of Contents

Comparison Table

Device TypeReceiver OnlyTransmitter + Receiver
Frequency Range24 MHz to 1800 MHz1 MHz to 6 GHz
Bandwidthup to 10 MHz20 MHz
Front-end FilteringYesYes
Noise Figure7.9 dB11 dB
Max Input Level+10 dBm-5 dBm
Expansion HeaderNoYes
10 MHz In/OutNoYes
Open SourceNoYes
Form FactorSmall Box (4 × 1 × 0.6 in)Small Box (6 × 4 × 1 in)
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

Key Differences and Similarities

Frequency Range:

  • HackRF One: Covers a very wide frequency range from 1 MHz to 6 GHz, making it extremely versatile for a broad spectrum of applications.
  • Airspy: The Airspy series includes several models, such as the Airspy R2 and Airspy Mini, with a typical frequency range of 24 MHz to 1.8 GHz (Airspy R2) and 24 MHz to 1.7 GHz (Airspy Mini). The Airspy HF+ Discovery model focuses on HF and VHF, covering 0.5 kHz to 31 MHz and 60 to 260 MHz, highlighting its capability in lower frequency bands.

Nooelec HackRF One Software Defined Radio, ANT500 & SMA Adapter Bundle for HF, VHF & UHF. Includes SDR with 1MHz-6GHz Frequency Range & 20MHz Bandwidth, ANT-500, and 4 SMA Adapters

Sampling Rate and Resolution:

  • HackRF One: Offers a sampling rate of up to 20 MSPS (million samples per second) with 8 bits of resolution. This is suitable for many applications but can be a limiting factor for those requiring higher resolution.
  • Airspy: Known for its high-performance receivers, the Airspy R2 offers up to 10 MSPS at 12 bits of resolution, and the Airspy Mini offers up to 6 MSPS at 12 bits. The HF+ Discovery model, designed for high sensitivity and low noise, provides even higher resolution in its targeted bands. The higher bit depth allows for better dynamic range and sensitivity.

Application Focus:

  • HackRF One: With its wide frequency range and transmit capability, it is often used for educational purposes, security research, and testing across a wide range of frequencies. It’s versatile but might not be the best in terms of raw receiving performance.
  • Airspy: Focuses on receiving capabilities with higher sensitivity and selectivity, making it particularly favored among radio enthusiasts, especially those interested in listening to air bands, amateur radio, and HF broadcasts. It’s designed for users who prioritize reception quality.


  • HackRF One: Generally more expensive than the basic Airspy models due to its broader frequency range and transmission capability.
  • Airspy: The price varies across models. Basic models like the Airspy Mini are more affordable and provide excellent value for receivers within their coverage range.


  • The HackRF One is a versatile tool for those looking to experiment across a wide range of frequencies and who need transmit capabilities. It’s well-suited for educational purposes, development, and testing.
  • The Airspy series is better suited for serious radio hobbyists and enthusiasts who prioritize receiving performance, with its high sensitivity, selectivity, and lower noise figures. The Airspy HF+ Discovery, in particular, is highly regarded for its exceptional performance in the HF and VHF bands.

Your choice between the two should be guided by your specific needs: whether you prioritize a wide frequency range and transmission capability, or superior receiving quality within a more focused frequency range.

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