Tech's Perspective: Recommended Benchtop Centrifuges Under $5,000

As a kid, we all loved spinning on merry-go-rounds at the park until we vomited. It had a miraculous way of separating two substances - children and the lunch they ate an hour ago. Just like merry-go-rounds, centrifuges are a much loved, ubiquitous piece of lab equipment used to separate one substance from another.

Another thing that makes people puke is the price of new centrifuges. In order to save you from nausea and revisiting the scarring memories of your past, we’ll introduce you to some of our favorite budget centrifuges on the market, particularly ones under $5,000 in value.

Table of Contents

"Extreme Budget" Option: Beckman Coulter Spinchron 15

Budget Option with Refrigeration: Thermo Sorvall Legend RT

Easiest to Service: Beckman Coulter Allegra 6/6R

High-Speed Option: Beckman Coulter Allegra 64R

Ultracentrifuge: Beckman Coulter Optima TL

"Extreme" Budget Option: Beckman Coulter Spinchron 15

Photo of Beckman Coulter Spinchron 15

A barebones, non-refrigerated model, the Spinchron 15 is ideal for a lab in need of a general-use, high-speed centrifuge and is on a tight budget. As it stands now, you can pick up a used Spinchron for $500 with a rotor. 

The Spinchron has a max speed of 14,500 RPM with a compatible rotor, so it's useful for a decent variety of applications. According to our centrifuge specialist, this is the cheapest unit available that still accommodates standard sample volumes and speed ranges.

Notable Specs:

Equipped with a compatible rotor, the Spinchron 15 can achieve the following:

  • Max Speed: 14,500 RPM
  • Max RCF: 19,280 x g
  • Max Capacity: 6 x 85 mL

Typical Prices:

  • $500 with a rotor
  • Generally, Spinchron 15 units are not sold without rotors.

Budget Option with Refrigeration: Thermo Sorvall Legend RT

One of the cheapest refrigerated models found on the used market, the Legend RT sits right at the nexus of price, performance, and availability. It’s often priced at about $1,700 with a rotor (or $1,000 without), yet it offers faster speeds than more expensive competition like the Allegra 6 -- the Legend RT can spin up to 15,000 RPM, while the Allegra 6 tops out at 6,000 RPM.

Additionally, the Legend RT is very easy to find, though they're lacking rotors more often than not. Nonetheless, if you need a reliable, refrigerated centrifuge for general use, you can't go wrong with a Legend RT.

Need a swing-bucket rotor and buckets to pair with your Legend RT? We recommend the #75006445 Sorvall Heraeus rotor and the #75006441 buckets.

Notable Specs:

  • Temperature Range: -9°C to +40°C

Equipped with a compatible rotor, the Sorvall Legend RT can achieve the following:

  • Max Speed: 15,000 RPM
  • Max RCF: 24,400 x g
  • Max Capacity: 3 liters

Typical Prices:

  • $1,700 with a rotor
  • $1,000 without a rotor

Easiest to Service: Beckman Coulter Allegra 6/6R

Photo of the Beckman Coulter Allegra 6R

As mentioned, Allegra 6 centrifuges aren't as cheap as Legend RT units, nor can they spin as fast. But they do have one significant benefit: they're some of the easiest benchtop centrifuges to service across the entire market. Our centrifuge specialist has personally serviced, repaired, and tested numerous Allegra 6 units, and he says "there's nothing too complicated" about them.

In this way, Allegra 6 units follow the ethos of Beckman Coulter's centrifuge design as a whole. Compared to the other major manufacturers, like Thermo Scientific and Eppendorf, Beckman Coulter centrifuges are usually the easiest to disassemble, troubleshoot, repair, and maintain.

Notable Specs:

  • (Applies only to Allegra 6R) Temperature Range: -10°C to +40°C

Equipped with a compatible rotor, the Allegra 6/6R can achieve the following:

  • Max Speed: 8,000 RPM
  • Max RCF: 5,710 x g
  • Max Capacity: 4 x 750 mL

Typical Prices:

Allegra 6

  • $1,700 without rotor*

*We do not have sufficient data to provide a price estimate for an Allegra 6 that does include a rotor.

Allegra 6R
The Allegra 6 series has been in production for quite a while, so the price of a used one will be influenced heavily by its age.

  • $3,000 to $4,000 with rotor if 10 years old or less
  • $2,600 to $2,900 with rotor if 10 to 20 years old
  • $1,500 to $2,000 without rotor

High Speed Option: Beckman Coulter Allegra 64R

Photo of the Beckman Coulter Allegra 64R

A few decades old but still current-gen, the Allegra 64R is a tried-and-true centrifuge. It's designed to provide, in the words of Beckman Coulter, "the performance of floor-standing instruments several times its size." And provide such performance it does; the 64R can spin up to 30,000 RPM and exert up to 64,400 x g.

Additionally, its refrigeration system can cool down to -20°C. Its speed capabilities combined with its refrigeration enable the 64R to truly rival its floor-standing counterparts while saving much more space.

Notable Specs:

  • Temperature range: -20°C to +40°C

Equipped with a compatible rotor, the Allegra 64R can achieve the following:

  • Max Speed: 30,000 RPM
  • Max RCF: 64,400 x g
  • Max Capacity: 510 mL

Typical Prices:

  • $18,360 new from Beckman Coulter
  • $3,000 used with rotor (that is, 6x cheaper than new units)
  • $2,500 used without rotor

Ultracentrifuge: Beckman Coulter Optima TL

Photo of the Beckman Coulter Optima TL

While the Optima TL is an older model, it's still perfectly viable and happens to be one of the only benchtop ultracentrifuges that you can find on the used market. It has a very wide speed range of 5,000 RPM to 100,000 RPM and can exert 543,000 x g.

There is one caveat, however: as it stands now, you won't find an Optima TL for under $5,000. The cheapest ones sit slightly above that price, and units with rotors included are even higher. Nonetheless, the Optima TL is still the cheapest ultracentrifuge you can get.

Notable Specs:

Equipped with a compatible rotor, the Optima TL can achieve the following:

  • Max Speed: 100,000 RPM
  • Max RCF: 543,000 x g

Typical Prices:

  • $5,000 without rotor*

*We do not have sufficient data to provide a price estimate for an Optima TL with a rotor.

Need a benchtop centrifuge?

If you made it this far, then chances are you're in the market for a used benchtop centrifuge. Feel free to browse our current stock. If you have any questions, you can give us a ring at (567)-221-0615 or shoot a message to cs@newlifescientific.com.

BenchtopCentrifugeTech's perspective