RTL2832u – R820T VS RTL2832u – R820T2

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

RTL2832u – R820T VS RTL2832u – R820T2

According to a few comments around the internet, the new RTL2832u – R820T2 version was said to be a bit more sensitive and had less of a noise floor than the older R820T version. So being curious about this, we dropped $24.95 on one to see what all the fuss was about. After doing a  few quick unscientific real world tests pitting the new R820T2 against the older R820T, it appeared the rumours might be true after all. However while the results weren’t night and day, there definitely were some  noticeable improvements in sensitivity and lower noise over the older R820T. In the ADSB tests, the new R820T2 blew the older R820T away in the distance and number of ADSB packets received. So for ADSB, the R820T2 is the better dongle and would definitely worth replacing your older R820T if you are running an ADSB setup. One interesting note is that allegedly the new Airspy SDR radio will be using the R820T2 chipset. The Airspy is to be priced at $199. Needless to say, it would be pretty interesting to compare the $24.95 R820T dongle to the Airspy to see what $175 more gets you.

The quick comparison was performed by connecting the two dongles to the same computer and using two instances SDR Sharp to run the dongles simultaneously. The two instances of SDR Sharp were configured exactly the same and were using the standard Zadig drivers. Both dongles were plugged into identical 3.5 inch whips. The newer R820T2 antenna was not used so as not to skew the results. So, this was truly a head to head realtime comparison. Each dongle was set to the same frequency in a  few different frequency ranges for the tests. The only slight issue was that there were a few milliseconds of lag time between the two instances of SDR Sharp, but not enough to make any real difference. Two separate instances of RTL1090 were used for the ADSB reception tests. The core I3 PC handled both dongles just fine.

Judging by the results below, it appears that the R820T2 would be a worthy upgrade for R820T users and it’s only $25!

Here are some screenshots of the results:

The R820T and R820T2 pluged into their antennas and a USB hub ready to go!

Test Setup

Test Setup

 

FM Band Reception

Both dongles seemed to perform similarly. Really seemed to be not much of a difference in the FM Band.

FM Broadcast Band R820T2 -  Top R820T    -  Bottom Click for larger image

FM Broadcast Band
R820T2 – Top
R820T – Bottom
Click for larger image

 

National Weather Service Band

Here we can see the R820T2 begin to pull ahead in sensitivity and not quite as noisy as the R820T.

Weather Band R820T2 -  Top R820T    -  Bottom Click for larger image

Weather Band
R820T2 – Top
R820T – Bottom
Click for larger image

 

800MHz Band

Here we see the R820T2 is just slightly more sensitive on 800 MHz, but has a significantly lower noise floor.

800 MHz Band R820T2 -  Top R820T    -  Bottom Click for larger image

800 MHz Band
R820T2 – Top
R820T – Bottom
Click for larger image

 

ADSB

Again the R820T seems a bit quieter with a little stronger ADSB pulses. The pulses are represented as small blips in the waterfall. Notice that the pulses are slightly brighter in the R820T2 waterfall than the R820T waterfall indicating a slightly stronger signal.

ADSB R820T2 -  Left R820T    -  Right Click for larger image

ADSB
R820T2 – Left
R820T – Right
Click for larger image

 

ADSB Data Collection with RTL1090 Software

Ok, the RTL820T2 just kills the R820T on ADSB by picking up double the number of aircraft in roughly a 3 minute period. Both programs were started at the same time and stopped at the same time.

ADSB Data R820T2 -  Left R820T    -  Right Click for larger image

ADSB Data
R820T2 – Left
R820T – Right
Click for larger image

20 Responses

  1. k2ncc says:

    Nice work sir!

  2. manuel vigario salmeron says:

    espero me informen sobre este tipo de anuncio en espera de sus noticias reciban< un saludo atentamente
    manuel vigario

  3. Kris Tucker says:

    Software Defined Radio looks like the future! Because of this article, I am now going to purchase one of these nifty little dongles. cant wait!

  4. Dave says:

    Thanks for this review. I had seen conflicting results on the newer dongle and some saying it was just marketing hype. Going to order one to play with on my own.

    Now if only I could do SDR transmitting that cheaply…

  5. Max says:

    Don’t need to spend over 20$ for a R820T2
    I purchased this one for 10$:
    http://www.buyincoins.com/item/42156.html
    I did not know it was the R820T2
    I have got a Terratec Cinergy TStick+, the new version with R820T2

    • Axel says:

      Is it really R820T2?

      On the page it shows, that’s a R820T and not R820T2 *confused*

      • Max says:

        it’s what i said, but from these sellers you can never be sure; they could change product with the next stock. You can contact the support and ask; they reply in less than 24 hours

  6. Dave says:

    Hi just got a R820T2 will this work with the same settings as the R820T I will I have to load different drivers to use RTL1090 and VRS? Thanks

  7. Axel says:

    Is the R820T obsolete?

    @Max
    Were you satisfied with the purchase? Good to know that there are also cheaper the stick elsewhere are also expensive when they are identical.

    Items comes from Hong Kong/China 😉

  8. Axel says:

    Is the R820T (and the E4000) obsolete?

    @Max
    Were you satisfied with the purchase? Good to know that there are also cheaper the stick elsewhere are also expensive when they are identical.

    Items comes from Hong Kong/China 😉

  9. “THIS IS A FANTASTIC (SDR) KIT TO BE ABLE TO OWN FOR SURE. I AM GOING TO PURCHASE THEIR PRODUCTS SOON!

  10. Tim says:

    NooElec claims it has an improved crystal as well – the freq error and drift always bugged me on the old ones. Has anyone measured the new on?

    • The NooElec R820T2 version has a 0.5ppm TCXO crystal and well worth the money. Most stock R820T and T2 dongles can have up to 100 ppm frequency error owing to the quality of their cheaper crystals. My NooElec has less than 300 Hz error at 150 MHz which is better than most analog receivers that cost far more than $50!

      73,
      Robert

  11. Rui Pedro says:

    hi, i have a SDR RTL2832U & R820T2 USB device, but i don’t have any antenna, what kind of antenna should I use, where can I buy?
    thank you

    • Dave says:

      Asking what type of antenna you need is a bit like asking what type & colour paint you should buy. It is impossible to say unless you tell us what you want to achieve – there are no antennas that will work well on all frequencies and all applications. For broadcast FM listening a bit of wet string will work, but if you want to receive APT satellite images you’ll need a specialist aerial – and the exact type depends on whether there are any ground stations in your area that will interfere (if not you would want an aerial that has horizon-horizon coverage, but if so you would get an aerial that has coverage in a vertical cone to cut out the ground stations).

      • Rui Pedro says:

        Good afternoon,
        what I want is to receive and broadcast in FM, already I installed the software and connected the cable to the antenna of the building, but I can not hear anything, not even a radio station broadcasting on 98.5 MHz here.
        thank you

  12. Yves says:

    The R820T2 seems to be only a match at the end of production to keep the R820T who have 1 or 2 db better result, i think. It is not a new product and not in the catalog of Rafael.

  13. Mark says:

    Why on the photo of the ADSB comparison in SDR# does the R820T2 say 1090.000.000 , and the R820T say 1090.090.000
    A bit of a discrepancy?
    I have just upgraded from a R820T to a T2 and it’s a worthwhile upgrade.
    Thanks

  14. Kevin says:

    Hi,
    Is the max input power of r820t2 also 10dbm?
    I’m afraid of overloading it.

    Thanks

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