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With COVID-19 Vaccination certificates now becoming a necessary travel document for most countries and establishments, it means that the demand for Real-Time testing for COVID-19 is at an all-time high, especially among travelers and the rest of the population for persons that present with COVID-19-like symptoms.

Laboratories worldwide are getting equipped with the best test equipment, and the nose swab PCR COVID test is the most reliable test done. It is also the most accurate test for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

The high demand for the tests also means hospitals and medical centers are trying to find the right RT PCR testing machines. But which is the best PCR machine price for laboratory testing?

Keep reading to learn more about the RT PCR Testing machines.

What is an RT PCR Test (Test Machine)?

For starters, the PCR test or the polymerase chain reaction test can be defined as the biological test that is run to detect the presence of genetic materials from organisms like viruses. This test detects a specific virus if you are infected at the time the test is carried out. This test is also effective and quite reliable because of its ability to detect the presence of viral fragments, even after you’re not infected anymore.

With these in mind, it makes sense that the PCR test is the top recommended and ideal kind of test for COVID-19.

So, what’s the COVID-19 PCR Test? As the name suggests, this is the test to diagnose individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. And today, this test is considered the ‘gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19 thanks to the high accuracy levels and the reliability of the test.

About the RT PCR Machine

A machine known as an RT PCR machine is used to ensure that you have your COVID-19 results in minutes rather than hours. This Real-Time PCR machine is also known as the Quantitative PCR or qPCR, and it is a piece of equipment that’s been developed to allow for the fast detection of the nucleic acid and the RNA/DNA expression of the virus in the collected sample. This machine ensures that the virus detection process takes place rapidly, precisely, and efficiently while ensuring that the results are obtained in a short time span.

With the conventional PCR testing systems, the equipment only detects the amplified DNA in the sample, also known as the amplicon, in the end-point analysis. But with the modern RT PCR machine, the test or detection process keys on the measurement of the total amplified product accumulated through a reaction progression process that happens in real-time. At the same time, this modern real-time testing process will quantify the measured/ detected product after every cycle.

This determination of the DNA template copies with accuracy is, without a doubt, the top reason why the real-time PCR tests are superior to the conventional tests. There is also the fact that the tests could be carried out both qualitatively and quantitatively.

So, how does this machine work, exactly?

How does the RT PCR test work?

How RT PCR Machine Works

The first test in the RT PCR testing is gathering samples needed for gene expression quantification. The collection of the samples is done using swabs – in the case of COVID-testing, the swab is used to collect the respiratory materials from the nose. These swabs have soft tips on flexible and long sticks inserted in the nose to collect the nasal swabs (from the nostrils).

There also are the nasopharyngeal swabs which go further down into the nasal cavity. These two types of swabs are effective, and they will collect a sufficient amount of samples for the testing. And after the collection, the swab is sealed tight in a tube before it’s sent to the laboratory.

The collected sample must be as homogenous as possible for the best level of DNA/ RNA isolation. This is done by the laboratory technologist who does something called extraction to isolate the necessary genetic material to be tested.  However, it should be noted that it is rather difficult to easily/successfully pinpoint the specific gene expressions for most cell types. When handling heterogeneous samples, it’s often much easier to separate the different types of cells.

Once the samples are collected, the machine is put to work. Here, the Real-Time PCR machine utilizes the fluorescent light-emitting indicators creating copies of the labeled DNA samples in proportional intensities.

There are two main types of indicators used for the PCR machine, the dye and the probe. The fluorescent dyes bind to the double DNA strands – here, the fluorescent dyes are preferred because they are less expensive than the probes. The probes, though expensive, would also be a good option when affordable because they boast multiplexing advantages over the dyes.

In addition to the dyes or the probe, the RT PCR machine also features a thermal cycler boasting an optical detection module. This feature takes measurements of the fluorescent signals generated from every amplification cycle – which is also the needed qualification in the RT PCR machine to collect accurate results.

The thermal cycler is used in SARS-CoV-2 virus testing for COVID-19. The thermal cycler created millions of copies of the virus, then chemicals added will produce a fluorescent light in the presence of SARS-CoV-2, signaling positive results. There is also a piece of software that is used to interpret the results obtained.

Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction

RT PCR also refers to the Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction.

As mentioned above, PCR is one of the most common techniques used in medicine and research. This technology has been around for 20-30 years, and it’s used to detect specific genetic information.

Reverse Transcription PCR is a more special kind of PCR in which RNA, rather than DNA, is detected. It is highly accurate, so it is the go-to test procedure for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. This test is the preferred test procedure for COVID-19, thanks to the fact that it tests for the presence of viral RNA. This test is also quick, reliable, and sensitive, with results expected in 3-4 hours. The tests could take longer (between 6 and 8 hours) when the test samples must be sent out to the specialized external laboratories first.

Generally, the RT PCR machine test is necessary to detect whether or not there is viral RNA in the patient’s test samples.

So, how does this test work?

Once the sample is collected, the RNA is extracted. This is done by running chemicals through the sample, ensuring the complete removal of the fats, proteins, and other molecules. The test sample often contains the viral RNA, along with the individual’s genetic material. This is done at a temperature of 95 degrees Celsius.

The test kit is subjected to specific enzymes (polymerase enzymes) at 55 degrees Celsius that copy the RNA into DNA, and these are then amplified for detection of viruses, using the PCR machine that cycles at a specific test temperature, resulting in about 35 billion copies of the viral RNA made for every strand of RNA that was present originally. This takes place at a higher temperature of 73 degrees Celsius.

Next, the fluorescent markers come in. These markers are essentially used to bind to the DNA that has been amplified already, hence the production of light. The light is then read by a specific machine or software that gives the results from the test.

Generally, the test is positive if the intensity of the light produced from the sample reaches a specific threshold. There is also a specific number of PCR temperature cycles that would have to be reached before the threshold for the fluorescence is determined/ recorded. This is necessary because it gives insights into the estimated volume of viruses in the test sample.

Is RT PCR accurate?

THE RT PCR machine is one of the most reliable viral RNA testing kits since it focuses on important genetic materials.

How to choose the right RT PCR machine?

choose the right RT PCR machine

If you plan to get a PT PCR machine for your laboratory, you need to ensure that your choice meets your needs. You’d have to review what the machine demands from you and also think of the changes you’d have to effect in the lab, at present or in the future. To make the right choice, you’d want to answer the following questions:

  • What type of PCR Thermo-cycler do you need?

With your end goal in mind, your options range from the standard endpoint PCR, a digital PCR, or the qPCR.

For your basics tests like the generation of RNA and DNA sequences, checking gel reactions, or cloning, you’d want to get the standard thermocycler. But if your focus is on the real-time quantification of the DNA’s target sequences or maybe to measure the presence of specific biomolecules like polymorphism or mRNA, you might want to opt for the qPCR models.

You could also get the digital thermocycler for DNA quantification, although the results obtained will not be in real-time. The reactions will happen in larger numbers but smaller partitions, with each partition having between 0 -1 DNA molecules. So, the digital machine would be an ideal fit for you if you are looking for a test option that boasts a high degree of sensitivity than what you’d ordinarily get from the QPCR units and with no use of the standard curve.

  • Expected Sample Throughput

While the digital PCR thermal cycler offers a higher degree of sensitivity and a higher level of discrimination when compared to the qPCR cyclers, the digital units have limited throughput. Generally, if you occasionally work with fewer samples, you could opt for smaller or personal cycling systems capable of running multiple samples, say 48 samples once.

But for higher throughput regularly, you’d have to opt for bigger thermocyclers like the qPCR machines with dual 48/48 capacity while also allowing you to run different independent protocols simultaneously.

For bigger batches, you may want to try out the multi-bay cyclers or even the quad cyclers like the ones with 384 well blocks and the 3 96-wells, the Alpha Cycler 4. And for 384 well blocks, the Eppendorf Mastercycler EP Thermal Cycler Range would be a good option, or the Perkin Elmer PE 9700 Thermal Cycler to run 96 samples once.

  • Flexibility needed for the application

The heating blocks of the thermal blocks are meant to store the DNA samples, either in small or large quantities. If you will be dealing with or prefer machines with instantaneous temperature changes in the DNA samples amplification, you may want to opt for the thermocyclers that feature the Peltier element since this allows for a high degree of temperature control. An example of this is the Eppendorf Mastercycler Nexus Flat Thermocycler.

That said, you need to bear in mind that whether you are incubating 0.2mls or 0.5mls of the PCR sample tubes, the PCR strip tubes, or the PCR plates, the thermal blocks come in different formats and types. It would help if you opted for the models that feature blocks in different capacities and sizes rather than the PCR machines with a fixed-sample block format.

These options include the Benchmark T5000-A-IS TC 9639 or any others that have the interchangeable thermal blocks for you to easily switch between the different wells, whether the dual 48/48 wells, the 96-well, or the 384-well formats. These are generally excellent options for running multiple tests at once.

How to Buy RT PCR machine Unit for Your Medical Laboratory?

PCR Machine Price

First, review the amount of lab space you have and where you will place the PCR machine. If you have an open and large space, you could opt for a modular system like Bio-Rad C1000 Thermal Cycler, but smaller units like the Techne 3PrimeG would work for modest or small benchtops spaces with the space-saving and portable design.

You also need to consider your budget. If your budget is what you call ample, you could opt for the bigger and new PCR machines often used in animal diagnostics, detection of pathogens like viruses/ bacteria, or personal product testing.

But if you are on a tight budget, you could opt for the PCR thermal cycler that is either used or the ones that have been fully recertified to specific factory specifications for use in pharmaceutical engineering or scientific research, and even food testing. And thanks to OEMs, you can find many other options of the economically-priced PCR thermal cyclers.

The other things to bear in mind when buying are as follows:

  1. User-experience – should be easy to use, allow remote access for protocol adjustment and viewing results, and offer accurate and fast results. The software features should also be easy to work with and reliable.
  2. Specialized lids – the machine should come with heated lids, with great sealing to minimize evaporation of the sample and for maintenance of the sample-volume to reagents ratio.
  3. Ramp-rate – this shows how fast the heating block responds to the selected temperature and completes specific cycles. It would be best to have a high ramp rate for applications that require a high throughput rate.
  4. Gradient functionality – if you don’t want PCR units with the multi-thermal cyclers, get one with the gradient function for quick testing.

Best RT PCR Machine for Your Laboratory Testing in 2021

1. CFX Connect Bio-Rad ($8,500.00)

CFX Connect

Overview

Bio Rad’s CFX Connect is one of the leading real-time PCR detection machines available today. It is designed for evaluating two targets and has a host of impressive features that make it stand out. 

The thermal performance on the CFX Connect is very efficient, thanks to the 96-well reaction module. You also get uniform results throughout the whole block. 

So, how does the CFX Connect measure up when used in real-world testing scenarios? To answer that question, let’s look at some of the standout features of the CFX Connect. 

Capabilities and Features

  • The CFX Connect’s optical system (Reaction Module) comes with three LEDs (filtered) and three photodiodes (filtered). It can gather data from all 96 wells, potentially catching two targets from each well. 
  • The unit comes with six thermal electric units, each independently controlled. As you perform a run, each of these thermal units can provide precise temperatures throughout the process. 
  • You can use a remote computer to operate the controls of the CFX Connect and up to three other CFX devices. 
  • If your duplex experiments involve using SYBR Green or EvaGreen, the CFX Connects acts as an integrated solution. 
  • Recombining DNA in a double-stranded design requires precision temperature and control. The CFX Connect’s thermal gradient feature will automatically provide the optimum temperatures for annealing. 

These features and capabilities combine to make the CFX Connect an incredibly efficient device for your scans and tests. Here are a few ways it stands out from the competition. 

Key Benefits of the CFX Connect
  • Efficient startup

The factory-calibrated dyes, intuitive program, and easy setup work together to give you instant results. 

  • Instant optimization

The thermal gradient is a time-saving and cost-cutting alternative that makes optimization easy. 

  • Advanced Analysis of data

The CFX Maestro Software lets you validate any data accurately and perform advanced analysis with just a few clicks. 

  • Easy publication

Using the qBase Software by Biogazelle, you can create RDML files or add MIQE annotations. So, submission for publications is a breeze! 

Technical Specifications

  • General

The unit comes with native CFX Connect Chassis and uses advanced Peltier technology for heating and cooling purposes. It has a maximum ramp rate of 5°C/sec and a minimum ramp rate of 3.3°C/sec. 

  • Temperature

The CFX Connect supports a temperature range of 0°C to 100°C. As far as the accuracy goes, you should expect about ±0.2° if the target gets programmed at 90°C. 

  • Gradient

The thermal gradient’s operational range rests between 30°C to 100°C. And the programmable span ranges from 1°C to 24°C. 

  • Optical Detection

The unit uses three filtered LEDs for excitation and three filtered photodiodes for optical detection. The range of excitation should fall between 450nm to 580nm (nm: nanometers). 

It can detect one copy of the target sequence in a given strand of DNA. 

  • Scanning Time

If you consider all the channels simultaneously, it takes about 12 seconds to complete the scan. However, if you’re taking only the FAM/SYBR Green, it should come down to about 3 seconds. 

  • Software

You can run the CFX Connect program on any operating system that’s Windows 7 or later. But using it on Windows 10 will give you the best results. It will let you perform multiplex analysis of up to two targets for every well. 

Components

Your CFX Connect system will come with the following parts and components. When you purchase and receive your Bio-Rad CFX Connect, check to ensure all these items are present. 

  • The CFX Connect Thermal Cycler Chassis
  • The CFX Connect Optical Reaction Module (96-Well).
  • A USB Cable
  • An Instruction Manual. 

2. Afinion 2 ($2,095.00)

afinion 2

How happy would patients be if their tests were carried out and the results were revealed the same day? That’s what breakthrough systems like Afinion 2 seek to accomplish. 

Overview

The Afinion 2 is a state-of-the-art analyzer that allows reliable near-patient testing and furnishes diagnostic results within a few minutes of testing. It is rapid, compact, and comes with multi-assay capabilities. 

This analyzer seeks to cut down the time that patients spend visiting labs and tracking their results. It makes testing easy and swift without compromising on accuracy and reliability. With this device, healthcare providers and patients enjoy lower costs, faster results, and a better focus on treatment. 

Let’s look at some core elements that make Afinion 2 a superior and trustworthy alternative to traditional testing and analysis. 

Core Benefits

One device, Multiple Analysis

The Afinion 2 offers you a unique four-in-one capability that covers a range of tests. The process is easy, swift, and efficient. Here are the tests it can conduct. 

  • HbA1c: A test that determines what amount of blood sugar the patient’s hemoglobin contains. 
  • Lipid Panel: Blood analysis test that reveals the different lipids present. 
  • ACR: A test that takes the albumin and creatinine content in a given sample to reveal elevated protein levels. 
  • CRP: Analyses the C-Reactive Protein level in the blood to monitor inflammation or symptoms of other chronic diseases. 
Efficient handling of data and test results

Modern healthcare services all work with some sort of information system. Whether it’s a LIS (Lab Information System) or HIS (Health Information System), the Afinion 2 offers full compatibility. You can easily transfer test information and data to any information system without losing accuracy. 

The data transfer is also a quick and convenient process. Afinion 2 can use any TCP/IP networking to send a patient’s tests and results to the destination system. 

Test Cartridge versatility

The Afinion 2 analyzer boasts of individual components that are all engineered to perfection. And the test cartridges are one of the best examples. 

Every single test cartridge is calibrated with precision so that there are no anomalies or discrepancies during tests. And each unit comes with its own device dedicated to sample collection. In addition to this, all test cartridges contain various reagents required in a single test. 

Self-check mechanism

One of the standout features of the Afinion 2 is the automatic self-testing it performs. During each start-up, the device performs a self-assessment to ensure that all the components are working according to specifications. 

The assessment and self-test include:

  • Evaluation of hardware and software integrity. 
  • Assessing the test cartridge’s transport and transfer system. 
  • The visual camera test. 
  • The liquid and sample transport system. 

If your Afinion 2 stays powered on for long periods, the self-assessment will automatically take place in between. And this test doesn’t affect or disrupt any testing already going on in the device. 

Pre-set Calibration

The Afinion 2 does not require any additional calibration on your part. In the manufacturing process, each Afinion 2 unit gets calibrated based on a specific reference chart. So, any Afinion 2 device you hold runs on the same precise standards as the rest. There are no arbitrary values or uneven parameters. 

The precise data on calibration for every lot of test cartridges are embedded in the bar code label. As the analyzer detects the test cartridge, the in-build camera will scan the appropriate barcode label. Then, the data gets transferred to the device, where it is used to determine the results. 

Afinion 2 is at the forefront of testing and delivering results conveniently at the point of care. And any healthcare system will benefit by having these compact yet powerful devices in its arsenal. 

3. StepOnePlus Real-Time PCR System ($8,999.00)

Applied Biosystems StepOnePlus

The StepOnePlus Real-Time PCR System is a ready-to-use and intuitive PCR device that supports a variety of configurations. Its versatility makes it ideal for both new users and experienced professionals in the industry. The advanced software, 4-color LED, robustly built, and simplicity of use make it one of the top instruments in the PCR and testing industry. 

Let’s look at some core features to understand whether they will fit your needs. 

Standout Features of the StepOnePlus Real-Time PCR System

Advanced native software by StepOne

StepOne has included its own in-house software as part of the PCR system. The program allows you to perform several actions:

  • Control instruments with your computer. 
  • Collect data through a few clicks
  • Analyze the collected data for information and results. 

For intense data collection measures, the software also supports the collection of melt curve data. This feature is convenient for High-Resolution Melt (HRM) applications, and you can also export the data in RDML (Real-Time PCR Data Markup Language) format. So, all your results will be in tune with MIQE guidelines. 

The software runs on systems as old as Windows XP or even later versions like Windows 7. So, compatibility is no issue, regardless of your operating system.  

Convenient setup of Assay Testing

Setting up the device and getting it ready for tests is super simple and easy. The device comes with an incredibly intuitive LCD touchscreen. And the interface is straightforward to use and aesthetically pleasing too. So, whether it’s the quick start setup or a more detailed task, the SteOnePlus makes it really convenient. 

It also has protocols to assist new users in operating the device correctly. So, even if your company is new to the healthcare industry, PCR experiments and tests will be a breeze. 

Accurate and Sensitive reading

The optical system on this device is a generation ahead of the competitors. The StepOnePlus uses a 4-color LED Fluorescence system that reads and records data accurately. 

It can detect a wide variety of dyes and samples, giving you the full range of optical scanning capabilities—the results for the StepOnePLus system touch accuracy rates of 99.7% on average. 

Multiple compatibility levels

The StepOnePlus system comes with a unique combination of hardware and software that allows a wide variety of sample testing. Most of the PCR machines in this category will only support a limited range of testing capabilities. But the StepOnePlus covers everything from basic testing to intense genetic analysis. 

Whether it is SNP Genotyping or Viral Load Analyses, there’s almost nothing this system cannot handle. The software supports analytics that ranges from standard curves to High-Resolution Melting. 

Compact and Economic energy-use 

PCR machines can draw a lot of energy when in use and in a heated state. However, the StepOnePlus Real-Time PCR System uses up to 38% less power than other similar models. It also uses Verifex Block Technology to regulate the temperature. So, there’s no excessive use of heat and energy. 

The device also comes in a small and compact size. So, if you consider a model like the Bio-Rad CFX96, this one occupies about 15% less space. With lab tables strewn with devices and instruments, this space-saving feature is also a plus for StepOnePlus. 

Advanced High-Resolution Melting (HRM)

 The StepOnePlus allows you to perform sequence variation analyses after any PCR test. And it’s mostly thanks to the High-Resolution Melting v3.0. 

The HRM v3.0 comes with a superior clustering algorithm so that all results are more accurate and fully reliable. You can even run multiple analyses on several assays functioning on a single plate. 

4. Rotor-Gene Q 6Plex Real-Time PCR Machine ($14,500.00)

Rotor-Gene Q 6Plex Rotor-Gene Q 6Plex

The Rotor-Gene Q is one of the most advanced and reliable PCR testing machines in the industry today. It comes with optimized design features that can fit any research and testing need. And if you can invest in the machine’s associated devices like ScreenClust software or HRM Priority Package, you’ll have everything you’ll need for a point of care testing kit. 

Benefits and advantages

  • The Rotor-Gene Q delivers incredibly efficient performance in both thermal and optical functioning. Thanks to the rotary format, the device can withstand and handle a wide range of capabilities in both formats. 
  • The optical range for the Rotor-Gene Q is superior to most other PCR testing machines. So, it can cover anything from infrared to UV wavelengths. 
  • The analyses capabilities on this device use cutting-edge hardware and the latest software support. 
  • Thanks to the robust build of the Rotor-Gene Q, you don’t have to worry about maintenance or wear and tear. 
  • The Rotor-Gene Q uses QIAGEN assays to deliver superior performance in a host of applications and testing scenarios. 

Performance Assessment 

The Rotor-Gene Q delivers excellent performance when it comes to single nucleotide polymorphism tests. In fact, it’s the only machine available today that behaves as a real-time cycler capable of measuring the most complex IV SNP tests using HRM. 

If you can combine the specialized QIAGEN HRM Kits with the Rotor-Gene Q, you can extend the use of HRM to more complicated tests like genotyping. 

It predicts and detects gene mutations in levels that are more reliable and accurate than competing devices. Also, you can quickly monitor variations in the CpG methylation status of converted DNA. 

Rotor-Gene Q Applications

You can use the Rotor-Gene Q in a variety of testing situations. Some common areas of application for the Rotor-Gene Q are listed below. 

  • Analysis of Gene Expressions. 
  • Accuracy of results in testing of pathogens. 
  • Analysis of DNA Methylation. 
  • Reliability in gene scanning and genotyping. 
  • Applicable in research of miRNA. 

The Q-Rex Software

The device uses state-of-the-art software that lets you conveniently perform all the tests and analyses. As it’s called, the Q-Rex Software can perform any type of experimental setup, acquisition of data, and a wide range of analyses ranging from basic tests to advanced operations. 

One standout feature of the Q-Rex Software is that you can make custom configurations that fit your needs. So, you can calibrate it to perform specific analyses without installing new functions in the program. 

Here are some of the advantages of the Q-Rex Software

  • You get access to a variety of preset templates and easy recovery of previously performed experiments. 
  • Setting up new experiments is fast and easy, thanks to the drag-and-drop controls. 
  • You also have the option of adding plug-ins if you wish to expand the capacity for particular applications. 
  • The program is fully compliant with 21CFR Part 11 regulations. 

Product Specifications

Dimensions

The Rotor-Gene Q measures 14.6 inches in width, 11.3 inches in height, and 16.5 inches in depth (excluding cables). 

Temperature

The operating temperature of the Rotor-Gene Q ranges between 18° to 30°C. The values are 64° to 86°F if measured in Fahrenheit. 

Pollution regulation

The Rotor-Gene Q is categorized under Environment Class 3K2. 

Humidity Levels

The device exerts non-condensing humidity that ranges between 10 to 75%. 

Range

The Rotor-Gene Q has a dynamic range that comes with ten orders of magnitude. 

Optical System

This device uses high-energy LEDs that use six channels. As a result, it can detect light wavelengths ranging from infra-red rays to UV light. 

Storage Conditions

The ideal temperature storage for the Rotor-Gene Q is between 15°C and 30°C (Fahrenheit values: 59°F to 86°F). Make sure the maximum humidity is not beyond 75% (Non-condensing). 

5. Quidel Sofia 2 ($1,390.00)

Quidel Sofia 2

The Sofia 2 compact yet versatile benchtop analyzer can collect hundreds of test-strip data points via a test cassette. Using native algorithms, it can interpret signals, analyze data, and verify all the results cost-effectively. 

Quidel Sofia is among the premier PCR testing machines for detecting and monitoring infection conditions like SARS-Cov-2. It uses an advanced lateral flow technology to determine the nucleocapsid protein levels emanating from viruses like SARS-Cov-2. 

The Software

The Sofia 2 comes with proprietary software that’s easy to use, intuitive, and incredibly efficient. 

The user-friendly interface makes it easy to navigate through the tests and results of analyses. And you can customize any of the settings based on the experiments and tests you need to perform. 

Sofia 2 uses top-of-the-line Virena technology for connectivity and barcode labels for accuracy. Also, all the results are automatically brought up and displayed on your immediate screen for easy reading. You can also program the device so that results are printed for reference. 

Benefits of Quidel Sofia 2

  • Both beginners and experienced healthcare professionals can easily operate the user interface. Running patient samples and browsing patient data is simple, intuitive, and instant. 
  • The automated results avoid discrepancies that arise from different people operating the machine. Whether it’s displayed on-screen or printed on paper, there is no confusion in interpreting test results. 
  • The Sofia 2 comes with optimized performance and function thanks to its superior fluorescent technology. 
  • Dual modes (Walk Away and Read Now) make it flexible enough to handle single patient testing and multiple patient testing efficiently. 
  • You can also avoid any errors or mistakes thanks to the reliable accuracy of barcode labels. 
  • The Sofia 2 has an optional battery-operated mode. So, you can test and operate it anywhere you need. 
  • You can set up access rights and restrictions to ensure that only authorized individuals can operate the machine. This added layer of security makes your data safe and prevents misuse. 
  • The result data can be transported via a USB, printed on paper, sent to Virena, or simply stored on the device for analysis. Regardless of your situation, you get multiple ways to store and manage your data on the Sofia 2. 
  • Virena Connectivity makes it easy to send the data to its intended destination. 
Sofia 2 Modes

You can operate the Quidel Sofia 2 primarily in two modes. Based on the requirements of your workflow, the two modes available are – the Walk Away Mode and the Read Now mode. 

Walk Away Mode

The Walk Away Mode is ideal for situations where you have to analyze a single patient’s information. It takes as little as three minutes or less to deliver the results of your tests, thanks to Advanced Results Technology (ART). 

You’ll have to place the sample into the given test cassette. And then, the cassette is inserted into the Quidel Sofia 2. The device will analyze the given patient’s sample based on the pre-programmed configuration. And in a few minutes, you’ll have the results ready. 

Read Now Mode

The Read Now Mode is better suited to situations where you have multiple patients and various samples. 

Once you’ve taken the patient’s sample, you’ll place it within the test cartridge. After inserting it into the Sofia 2, you’ll set the timer for the device manually. You’ll find the timer located on the benchtop/counter on the top of the device. When you’ve calibrated the development time, the Sofia 2 will begin scanning the test cassette. The analyses and results will instantly be available, taking as little as a minute sometimes.

6. Cepheid Genexpert System ($6,920.00)

Genexpert System

The Cepheid GeneXpert System is a leading PCR testing machine that has set new standards in the industry. It comes with heightened testing accuracy, the flexibility of workflows, and an interface that’s easy to operate.

With all these features, you’d expect a big and ungainly device. But the Cepheid GeneXpert comes in a compact machine that’s portable and space-efficient.  You can choose between 2, 4, or 16 modules based on the configuration you prefer.

Experts claim that its testing methods are crucial to curing the disease. If the condition is diagnosed in the early stages, it would be easy to provide the right treatment. Keeping that in mind, Cepheid introduced its Genexpert systems for accurate testing. The best part is, that these systems received emergency approval for SARs COVID – 19 testing. Here is a peek into different Cepheid Genexpert systems. 

7. LightCycler 96 Real-Time PCR System ($10,850.00)

LightCycler 96

The LightCycler 96 Real-Time PCR System offers one of the highest standards of PCR testing. It’s a mid-throughput, mid-sized device that is both efficient and reliable. 

This PCR solution combines temperature uniformity, accuracy, and reproducibility to give you fast results that make it convenient for the operator and the patient. 

Whether you run a lab or a scientific research project, the LightCycler 96 Real-Time PCR System is the ideal solution. 

However, the manufacturers do mention that the LightCycler device is not meant for diagnostic procedures. So, the real-world application will depend on your own discretion and choice. 

Core Applications

The LightCycler 96 Real-Time PCR System is an all-in-one PCR solution that supports a variety of tests. Here are the specialized areas where it truly excels. 

  • Absolute Quantification.
  • Relative Quantification
  • Endpoint Genotyping
  • Melting Peak
  • Qualitative Detection
  • High-Resolution Melting. 

Besides these specialized tests, the LightCycler also provides primary testing capabilities in other areas. You can perform gene expression analyses, mutation detection, and gene detection. In addition to these capabilities, you also get to do miRNA research and methylation analysis. 

Features

To better understand the device and what it offers, let’s look at some of LightCycler’s standout features and capabilities. 

  • The machine is a 96-well block that performs real-time, plate-based PCR tests. 
  • The temperature gradient is optimized for accurate results. 
  • It’s a stand-alone PCR solution with an integrated computer, so all your operations can be conducted on a single device.
  • The convenient touchscreen is easy to operate. And you can get additional software if you want to operate it via a different PC. 
  • The LightCycler comes with a dynamic range with a magnitude of 10 logs. 
  • It supports a 4-plex multicolor. 
  • The device can perform relative quantification, absolute quantification, endpoint genotyping, and melting curve analyses. 
  • The analyses software for PC is intuitive and loadable without additional costs. 

Benefits and advantages

With many core features, the LightCycler 96 Real-Time PCR System has a variety of benefits that will enhance your testing and analyses. 

  • The thermal block is a low-mass, modern unit that ensures uniformity across all wells. The block and 96-well plate fit together perfectly without creating unnecessary air cushions thanks to the electroforming production. 
  • The speed and sensitivity run on maximum levels due to the innovative optics design and high-intensity LEDs.
  • The software does not impose any license requirements. So, you can get it installed on any system or PC without undergoing extra expenses. 
  • Many capabilities include email notifications, wizards, real-time monitoring, remote monitoring, and other intuitive options. 
  • The analysis is a fast and time-saving process. 
  • Once the results are ready, you can extract and export the data in various RDML formats that are ready to publish. 
  • Based on your assay format and application, you can pick between 8-tube strips or a 480 multi-well plate. 
  • The LightCycler system offers a dynamic range as far as gene quantification is concerned. The reproducibility is not compromised even in cases where the copy numbers are extremely low. 

Specifications

Dimensions

The LightCycler has a width of 40cm, a height of 53cm, and a depth of 40cm. 

Noise Levels

The device is fairly quiet even when performing intense testing procedures. When running, the LightCycler emits about 43dB of noise. 

Runtime

The runtime is less than 40 minutes when it comes to three-step, 40-cycle PCR tests. And for HRM procedures, it’s about 1.5 hours. 

Thermal Cycling System

The LightCycler’s thermal system is a 96-well, Peltier-based system that does not need further calibration. 

Optical System

It comes with fiber optics that are fixed and runs on four excitation filters. It also has four emission filters. 

8. CFX Opus Bio Rad ($15,999.00)

CFX Opus

If you’re looking for a reliable PCR system that works in real-time, nothing gets better than the CFX Opus Bio-Rad. The CFX Opus Bio-Rad is the perfect equipment to bless your modern lab as it offers enhanced performance and connectivity.

The efficient CFX Opus Bio-Rad is easy to use, consistent, and more connected than the previous iterations. Customers have two options to go for: the 384- and 96-well formats.

CFX Opus Bio-Rad boasts the new CFX Maestro Software and the latest cloud platform of BR.io. If that isn’t enough info, read through our article on CFX Opus Bio-Rad.

While the CFX Opus Bio-Rad boasts the latest enhanced functions, it still holds tight to its most efficient features.

  • Design

The modern design of CFX Opus Bio-Rad is probably among the first aspects that stand out. The brand used a retracting lid for the CFX Opus Bio-Rad instead of using the usual clamshell variety. That grants more space to the CFX Opus Bio-Rad.

  • Shuttle Optics

Beneath the retracting lid, CFX Opus Bio-Rad houses the shuttle optics. Through the usage of this tech, Bio-Rad continues the tradition of using CFX systems in its PCR equipment. This pair of excitation detectors are capable of reading and analyzing all the wells from a constant distance.

The Shuttle Optics efficiently avoids all variabilities related to the usage of a variety of detectors. Therefore, it removes the requirements of correcting for well-to-detector angle variations. These variations usually develop due to the one fixed camera.

  • Consistent Results

CFX Opus Bio-Rad also boasts enhanced thermal performance, as stated earlier. It’s capable of offering accurate readings of ±0.2C constantly. At the same time, the uniformity in its thermal readings is around ±0.3C.

Thus, the reaction plate of CFX Opus Bio-Rad offers accurate and consistent readings through its thermal and optical systems.

  • CFX Maestro Software

The PCR system also features the latest CFX Maestro Software.

Among the various functions, the most convenient and user-friendly feature is that the software doesn’t require any export data. One can directly analyze the significance of gene expression statistically.

Therefore, the software allows users to carry out detailed analyses efficiently. Other than that, the software itself is easy to get used to and learn.

CFX Maestro Software also offers audit and signature functions, API (Application Programming Interface), and LIMS integration (Laboratory Information Management System).

  • Cloud Platform: BR.io 

As long as users have access to the internet, they will remotely retrieve data through the new cloud platform that Bio-Rad offers. A cloud platform also makes it possible for efficient checking of the status of registered instruments.

By using either WiFi or ethernet, the system can easily initiate a connection to the cloud platform. It makes it possible for anyone with authority to also access the files on the cloud network.

One can also retrieve protocols and save runs if given access for the same.

It’s clear that CFX Opus Bio-Rad surely made massive improvements inconsistent in results and cloud connectivity. Now, be it experienced or new users, they will get used to any lab scenario or workflow much more easily.

To check out its efficiency, you can test drive the new CFX Opus Bio-Rad today. If you choose to do, simply visit your app store and install the detailed CFX Opus app to get a gist of the interface.

9. Eppendorf Mastercycler X50s Thermal Cycler ($6,999.00)

Mastercycler X50s

Thermal cyclers by Eppendorf Mastercycler surely stand above all other devices on the market. Thus, if you wish to make use of a trusted and efficient thermal cycle, you’ll not go wrong by availing yourself of these devices.

The devices consume a very minimal amount of energy and, thus, are energy-efficient. They are easy to use and reliable. For scheduled PCR operations or daily requirements, these devices are more than ideal to fit the role.

The device itself is quite compact and does not require much space. In that way, Eppendorf Mastercycler devices can fit effectively on any bench in the lab.

Eppendorf Mastercycler Features

The majority of the devices by Eppendorf Mastercycler offer extendable columns. They are mostly of the gradient type.

  • The Nexus Gradient by Eppendorf Mastercycler

It is a thermal cycler that belongs to the gradient category. It supports a total of over twelve columns.

This specific device also offers a 4°C to 99°C gradient range for a thermal block made of aluminum. That holds with regards to well PCR plate capacities or the two types of PCR tubes it employs.

The Eppendorf Mastercycler device also boasts a 30°C to 99°C range when it comes to the temperature of the gradient. With regards to the controlled temperature range, it’s about 1°C to 20°C.

The company’s Nexus Gradient thermal cycler is an efficient, safe, and fast thermal cycler.

  • Eppendorf Mastercycler 5331 Gradient

The device is another gradient variety. If you are looking for a thermal cycler that offers flexibility and speed, along with all the new features, get this gradient device by Eppendorf Mastercycler.

Also, for those who want a quantitative PCR device with varied usages, the 5331 Gradient Thermal Cycler is an efficient choice.

It offers tests that are reliable daily, intuitive assay programming, and a short time for detection. The device also features speedy temperature ramping options.

The device allows testing for multiple samples at once. The 5331 Gradient Thermal Cycler by Eppendorf Mastercycler makes that possible due to temperature gradient variations. The range of the variation is 1°C to 20°C.

Other than the above two types of devices, it also offers other variants such as the X50h and EP, and so on.

Benefits of Using Eppendorf Mastercycler

  • Certifications

The brand ensures that it only offers its customers fully tested and recertified devices.

  • Warranty 

The brand offers a limited warranty on its devices and equipment. Regarding labor and all parts of the devices, Eppendorf Mastercycler extends a warranty of ninety days.

  • Versatile Equipment

The devices offer extensively high levels of performance throughout the course of their usage. They also provide easy and automated options for networking.

The configuration of all its devices is simple, and the equipment is easy to use.

  • Customer Support

The company hires only professional and trained individuals to make up its expert customer support team. Be it technical support or simply clearing doubts of the customers, the Eppendorf Mastercycler staff is ready for all situations.

Thermal cyclers by Eppendorf Mastercycler are no doubt among the best devices in the market. These devices are efficient and save time while not compromising on the accuracy of results.

Extendable columns, a varied range of gradient temperature that’s vital to test many samples simultaneously, and usage of flexlid are some of the other features. The company offers all such features at very affordable rates compared to other competitors.

Therefore, if you also wish to gift your modern lab one of these devices, go ahead and purchase it today.

10. Applied Biosystems Quantstudio 7 Flex ($30,999.00)

Quantstudio 7 Flex

The Quantstudio 7 Plex PCR systems are built to be versatile. Its purpose is to improve productivity by enhancing the user experience.

The device has user-friendly software, a simple interface, and hands-free functionality. Its characteristics work together to make PCR a smooth part of a lab workflow.

Apart from that, you can now log in with facial authentication and get started without removing your gloves. And use voice commands to start a run hands-free and avoid potential contamination easily.

It also features automated data entry with TaqMan RFID plates. Hence, it eliminates the need for manual input and reduces human error.

With the new Smart Help, assistance is a tap or voice command away. Furthermore, it has a library of videos featuring the most commonly used help content.

You can easily access data, organize experiments, and monitor results in real-time. Plus, you can stay connected outside of the lab and even schedule experiments on your afternoon coffee run.

Overall, it’s a smarter, more personal, and more efficient PCR workflow. The Quantstudio 7 is a step into smart science. It’s designed to meet your needs and improve your productivity.

Benefits of the Quantstudio 7 Plex

  • Highly Efficient

With TaqMan® Array 384-well microfluidic cards, you can easily run thousands of real PCR assays. You can also combine it with the Twister® Robot Automation Accessory.

The integration of the two devices enhances your performance capability.

  • Versatile

It features numerous formats, reliable assays, and user-friendly software for a wide range of applications. This includes applications such as Protein Thermal Shift™ experiments.

The Quantstudio 7 can also run High-Resolution Melt (HRM) gene regulation, genetic variation, and gene expression.

  • Thermo Fisher Cloud

Thermo Fisher Cloud is a secure data storage, analysis, and sharing platform for scientists. The Thermo Fisher Cloud Quantstudio 7 is versatile, rapid, and simple to use.

It’s compatible with use on both the PC and Mac.

  • Interchangeable Blocks

Quantstudio 7 includes interchangeable blocks to satisfy your needs. On selected systems, small size optimization with 96-wells is available, as well as 12,000 data points.

Replacing the blocks is simple and does not require the use of any equipment.

Features of the Quantstudio 7 Plex

  • Quantstudio 7 Plex is a versatile PCR device that offers varied applications to its users. It makes that possible by providing a variety of four different types of blocks.
  • The device is especially efficient when it comes to experiments involving protein expressions. Users can employ the device for gene regulation, and genetic variation as well as to induce gene expression.
  • The Quantstudio 7 offers such features due to its compatibility with TaqMan assays (around eight million).
  • It ensures high levels of accuracy in terms of results and reliability when it comes to the quality of instruments it employs.
  • The flawless features of Applied Biosystems add immensely to the intuitive makeup of the platform of Quantstudio 7. It endows the device with efficient features.
  • Quantstudio 7 doesn’t require the use of other tools for a block exchange. It allows easy block exchange without much hassle.
  • The device offers automation capabilities and a responsive and sensitive touchscreen. Other than that, the software it employs is easy for the users to use.

With the Quantstudio 7, there’s no need for you to have a separate computer to download data. You can collaborate with people on-site or at a distance.

It also allows you to retrieve and analyze your data from your desk. Making it easier to plan your experiments, create your protocols, then send them to your preferred instrument.

So, if you’re interested in a highly versatile and efficient device, purchase the Quantstudio 7 Plex.

CONCLUSION

If you are planning to buy an RT-PCR Machine, consider all the factors, features, and specifications above to ensure that you pick a machine that will serve your laboratory in the best way possible.

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