Technical Insights > RF + Microwave

Network Analyzer Match-Up: E5071C vs E5080B

2020-02-11  |  5 min read 

Recently, Keysight introduced the E5080B ENA vector network analyzer. It’s easy to look at the specs and get lost in the numbers, but seeing a real-world example gives the numbers meaning. So, I ran a small test.

How do the E5071C and the E5080B network analyzers perform measuring the same device with the same stimulus? In this head-to-head matchup I make simple S-parameter measurements on a bandpass filter with both instruments.

Looking at the specs, we can see the E5080B has better numbers on paper.

E5071C vs E5080B Key Specs
Specification E5071C E5080B
Dynamic Range @ 10 GHz IFBW, 4 GHz 123 dB 140 dB
Trace Noise (dB rms), 4 GHz 0.003 (70 kHz IFBW) 0.0015 (10 kHz IFBW)
Cycle Time (2-p Cal, narrow span, 201 pts, typical) 5 ms (100 kHz IFBW) 2.2 ms (1 MHz IFBW)
IF Bandwidth 10 Hz to 1.5 MHz 1 Hz to 15 MHz

But how do the numbers affect performance in the real world? Is the E5080B better or are legacy systems still good enough?

I did a hands-on comparison to answer these questions. I swept frequency on a bandpass filter to get S11 and S21 responses. Here are the measurement parameters I used:

  • Start Frequency: 8 GHz
  • Stop Frequency: 12.5 GHz
  • IF Bandwidth: 1 kHz
  • Number of Points: 201 Points

On the E5071C, the noise floor for this measurement was at about -85 dB. Using the same stimulus and filter, the E5080B had a noise floor of about -95 dB. 

E5071C S-parameter trace
The E5071C had a noise floor around -85 dB for the first measurement.
E5080B S-parameter trace
The E5080B's noise floor was about -95 dB on the first measurement.

But what if we take it a step further, and bump the IF bandwidth from 1 kHz to 100 kHz? If time is crucial for your measurements, a bigger IF bandwidth provides the speed you need. Now, we’re taking our measurement 100 times faster.

On the E5080B, the new noise floor with the wider IF bandwidth is -80 dB. This is close to where the E5071C was with a 1 kHz IF bandwidth.

E5080B at 100 kHz IF bandwidth
At a 100 kHz IF bandwidth, the E5080B performs similarly to the E5071C's 1 kHz IF bandwidth

Changing the IF bandwidth to 100 kHz on the E5071C gives us a much higher noise floor — about -60 dB.

E5071C with 100 kHz IF bandwidth
The E5071C did not perform nearly as well at the wider IF bandwidth

This quick test shows us that the improvements to the E5080B’s dynamic range and trace noise make a significant difference on even a basic measurement. If speed is important to you, the flexibility to use a wider IF bandwidth and a faster cycle time give the E5080B a strong advantage in simple S-parameter measurements.

Beyond S-parameters, the E5080B truly shines. Featuring the same firmware as the high-end PNA series network analyzers, the E5080B supports applications for spectrum analysis, pulsed measurements, noise figure measurements, and more. As you can also see in the comparison video, the updated E5080B user interface adds some quality-of-life improvements like the quick setup wizard, making measurement setup fast and simple.

Modern RF devices often require more than just S-parameters, so you need a flexible and integrated network analyzer to keep up with tomorrow’s challenges. The white paper below describes more ways the E5080B improves your workflow with intuitive applications for advanced measurements.