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Major Differences Between E Series, M Series, and X Series NI DAQ Devices

Hardware: Multifunction DAQ (MIO)>>M Series, Multifunction DAQ (MIO)>>E Series, Multifunction DAQ (MIO)>>X Series

I'd like to better understand the differences in the capabilities of NI E Serires, M Series and X Series Multifunction Data Acquistion (DAQ) devices. What are the major differences in these?

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The E, M, and X series represent three generations of multifunction NI DAQ products.  Each successive release (E, M, then X) has provided a host of new features which are outlined below. Note this document is a summary of the features, please review the manuals and specifications for more detailed information.

For reference, most E-Series devices have a 60xxE model number, most X-Series devices have a 62xx model number, and most X-Series devices have a 63xx model number where xx can be any number. Examples for E-Series, M-Series and X-Series: NI 6052E, NI 6251 and NI 6361, respectively.

Functional Differences Between X Series, M Series, and E Series DAQ Devices.

X Series
M Series E Series
Analog Input      
Analog Input Channels 8, 16, or 32 8,16, 32, or 80 16 or 64
Sampling Rate Up to 2 MS/s/ch (16-bit) Up to 1.25 MS/s (16-bit) Up to 1.25 MS/s (12-bit)
Input Resolution 16-bit 16 or 18-bit 12 or 16-bit
Calibration Method NI-MCal (all ranges) NI-MCal (all ranges) Linear, 2-point (single range)
Calibration Interval 1 or 2 years 1 or 2 years 1 year
Analog Output      
Analog Output Channels 0,2 or 4 0, 2 or 4 0 or 2
Analog Output Rate up to 2.8 MS/s, 16-bit up to 2.8 MS/s, 16-bit up to 333 kS/s, 16-bit
Analog Output Resolution 16-bit 16-bit 12 or 16-bit
Digital I/O      
Digital I/O Lines 24 or 48 24 or 48 8 or 32
Digital I/O Rate 10 MHz
10 MHz*
Timing Source Internal, External
Digital Levels TTL/CMOS TTL/CMOS or 24V TTL/CMOS
Digital Line Protection Improved over/under voltage (±20 V), overcurrent protection
Improved over/under voltage (±20 V), overcurrent protection -
Counter/Timers 4, 32-bit 2, 32-bit 2, 24-bit
Counter Timebase 100 MHz 80 MHz 20 MHz
Quadrature Encoder Inputs Yes Yes No
Digital Debouncing Filters Available on All Digital Lines
Usable with Counter Tasks Only
Max Rate Benchmark for Buffered Counter Input Tasks
10 MHz on all four counters (PCIe)
380 kHz (PCI)
1194 kHz - 621x
single counter
150 kHz on a single counter
Buffered Counter Outputs? Yes No No
Clock Synchronization PLL, RTSI PLL, RTSI RTSI
DMA Channels 8 6 1 or 3
Connector Type VHDCI (high density)  VHDCI (high density) SCSI II
- 60 VDC continuous bank isolation, 1,400 Vrms/1,950 VDC channel-to-bus isolation, withstand for 5 s* -
* Available on some devices
**Digital I/O subsystem does not have its own internal clock source, and therefore, an external signal or clock from another subsystem on the board must be provided (see KnowledgeBase 54BDAUQL: Correlated DIO with USB M Series DAQ Device for additional details)

Advantages of X Series over M Series
  • Dedicated sample clocks for digital I/O tasks.
  • All tasks are retriggerable.  On M Series this is only true for counter tasks.
  • 4 Counters with advanced features (refer to the Product Manuals: X Series User Manual for more information).
  • 100 MHz timebase available for all tasks (M Series uses 80 MHz for counters and 20 MHz for analog tasks).
  • Simultaneous sampling available on some boards.
  • Higher throughput for streaming over PCIe and PXIe busses.
Advantages of M Series over E Series
  • The analog input and output FIFO buffers are much larger for M Series than E Series
  • M Series devices have 4 or 6 DMA channel, which increase performance when performing multiple tasks.
  • M Series supports NI-TIO counter features, such as two-edge separation and quadrature encoding.
  • M Series has 16 PFI lines, whereas E Series has only 10.
  • On M Series devices, timing signals such as counter output, freqout, and sample clocks, can be exported to any PFI line. On an E Series device, these signals must be exported through their dedicated lines.
  • The PFI and RTSI lines on M Series devices have debouncing filters, while those lines on E Series devices do not.
  • The digital input and output and PFI lines on M Series devices have better protection than the lines on E Series devices.
  • The Accuracy M Series boards support AO offset, unlike E Series devices.
  • E Series devices only have an AO internal reference of 10 V. For M Series, the Value boards have a reference of 10 V, the Performance boards have references of 5 and 10 V, and the Accuracy boards have references of 1, 2, 5, and 10 V.
  • M Series PXI devices have the ability to phase lock to a common PXI backplane clock for easier and more accurate synchronization of measurements across multiple devices. E Series PXI devices do not have this functionality.
Other Differences Between Devices
  • X and M Series are only supported with the NI-DAQmx driver, while E Series is supported in both Traditional NI-DAQ and NI-DAQmx.
  • Unscaled data is not calibrated with M Series or X Series, while unscaled data for E Series is calibrated.
  • For analog triggering, M Series and X Series use APFI0 and APFI1; E Series uses PFI0.
  • Synchronization between devices is handled differently between devices.  E Series devices utilize a master timebase of 20 MHz (clocks are divided down from this).  M Series and X series use a reference clock to PLL their own internal timebases to.
  • Internal resistors on the PFI lines have changed between the E Series and X/M Series. The E Series devices have a ~50 kOhm PULL UP resistor connected internally to each PFI line, while the X/M series have a ~50kOhm PULL DOWN resistor.

Related Links:
Products and Services: Data Acquisition (DAQ)
KnowledgeBase 3J79NBUR: PFI Lines (X Series. M Series, E Series, S Series)
KnowledgeBase 4169OM46: Specification Differences: USB-621x, USB-625x, PCI/PCIe/PXI-625x
KnowledgeBase 54BDAUQL: Correlated DIO with USB M Series DAQ Device
Product Documentation: M Series Frequently Asked Questions
Product Manual: X Series User Manual
Product Manual: M Series User ManualProduct Manual: E Series User Manual


Report Date: 10/08/2004
Last Updated: 02/14/2017
Document ID: 3E78PKHS

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