Ranking All Telescope Mounts in the US

Ranks & ratings last updated on

At TelescopicWatch.com, we understand that choosing the right mount for your telescope can be a daunting task. Many telescopes are sold with shoddy mounts or provide poor value for money. Our rankings here feature mostly high-quality mounts, as few manufacturers would bother with selling cheaper and lower-quality mounts that are uneconomical to ship on their own without a telescope. If you’re purchasing a mount for deep-sky astrophotography, you’ll want a driven equatorial mount that is designed to allow your telescope to move in a way that follows the Earth's rotation along a single axis. If you’re looking for a mount for a telescope for visual use, perhaps as a “grab n’ go” setup for travel or public events, an altitude-azimuth mount is probably what you want. A bad mount leads to wobbly views or trailing astrophotos.
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Alt-Azhimuth (Below $500, Above $500)

Alt-Azimuth (AltAz) Mounts

An alt-az mount allows for movement in two axes: altitude (up and down) and azimuth (left and right). Altaz mounts can be simple, all-manual designs or have motorized GoTo and tracking capabilities.

Most cheaper alt-azimuth mounts are designed for holding smaller catadioptric and refractor telescopes. Newtonian reflectors usually go on a Dobsonian mount unless you are doing imaging, in which case you’d use an equatorial mount.

Alt-az mounts under $500 or so are usually limited to holding a 5-6” Cassegrain/Newtonian or a 4” refractor. More expensive alt-az mounts ranging from $500-$1500 or so can usually hold something like a 7-11” Cassegrain, or a 6” refractor. Larger refractors and Cassegrains are usually used atop German equatorial mounts or custom-designed fork mounts made specifically for the telescope.

Manual alt-az mounts can have digital setting circles added to aid in pointing (as with Dobsonians), while tracking requires that the mount also have GoTo which will also aid in automatically pointing at targets.

Under $500 AltAz Mounts

Best GoTo
Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi
Rank 1
4.6/5
The Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi is a sturdy, lightweight alt-azimuth mount with GoTo, able to hold up to a 6” Cassegrain or a fairly short/lightweight 3-4” refractor. You can control the GoTo with the SynScan app or SkySafari Pro on your phone or tablet, unless you plug in a third-party SynScan hand controller that costs more than the GTi itself. The AZ-GTi features Sky-Watcher’s FreedomFind technology to allow you to aim the mount manually even while the GoTo system is activated.
Best Manual
Explore Scientific Twilight I
Rank 2
4.5/5
The Explore Scientific Twilight I is a heavy-duty manual mount that can hold a 4-5” refractor (longer or heavier scopes will be less steady), 6” reflector, or a 6-8” Cassegrain, though an 8” is pushing the mount’s limits. The Twilight I has a heavy-duty steel tripod and fine adjustment cable for pointing. The side arm holding the Twilight I’s altitude axis can be adjusted in angle to allow the bottom of your tube assembly to clear the mount depending on its length.
Orion StarSeeker IV GoTo Altazimuth Mount and Tripod
Rank 3
4.4/5
The StarSeeker IV GoTo mount has a lot in common with the Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi, sharing its phone-controlled GoTo System and dual encoders allowing for manual aiming. It is a little heavier duty than the AZ-GTi thanks to its beefy included tripod. However, it lacks the AZ-GTi’s astrophotography capabilities and the fixed angle of the head may not allow some telescopes to clear the base of the mount.
Sky-Watcher AZ5
Rank 4
4.3/5
The Sky-Watcher AZ5 features many of the same features as the Explore Scientific Twilight I but adds an optional pier extension to make it more suitable for long refractors. However, the motions are not quite as smooth as the Twilight I and the price is quite a bit steeper for essentially the same features otherwise.
Vixen Mobile Porta
Rank 5
4.2/5
The Mobile Porta is the successor to Vixen’s beloved Porta II, though it’s not quite as high in capacity. The Mobile Porta will hold up to a 5” Cassegrain/Newtonian or a short 4” refractor, and is quite compact when disassembled. The motions are quite smooth and the angle of the mount head is adjustable for clearance. However, even if you’re using a small telescope you may be better served by a beefier mount or something with GoTo like the Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi.
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Sky-Watcher AZ-GTe
Rank 6
4.1/5
The Sky-Watcher AZ-GTe is identical to the AZ-GTi, with the same capacity and smartphone-controlled GoTo. However, it lacks the FreedomFind technology that allows the GTi to be aimed manually, which makes for a less convenient user experience and a minimal decrease in price
Orion StarBlast AutoTracker Altazimuth Mount
Rank 7
3.8/5
The StarBlast AutoTracker mount is identical to the mount provided with the Sky-Watcher Virtuoso 90 Maksutov and Orion’s own 114mm AutoTracker kit. It’s not a GoTo mount but can track the sky automatically for you and works on either a table top or attached to a suitable tripod. However, given that the StarBlast 114mm kit or Virtuoso 90 kit costs the same price and includes a small telescope OTA and accessories by default, we would recommend just purchasing one of those instead.
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Orion VersaGo II Altazimuth Telescope Mount
Rank 8
3.9/5
The VersaGo II mount is nice for holding smaller telescopes up to 5” or so in aperture but lacks fine adjustments for manual aiming and the angle of its head is fixed. However, the tripod is fairyl sturdy and the large accessory tray comes in handy.

Above $500 AltAz Mounts

Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ6i
Rank 1
5/5
A convertible alt-azimuth and equatorial mount, the AZ-EQ6i features easy-to-use GoTo controlled via your smartphone or tablet with the SynScan or SkySafari Pro app, and can be freely aimed manually with its FreedomFind technology just like the AZ-GTi. It’ll hold an 11” SCT, 6” refractor, or anything else weighing up to 44 lbs on both sides.
Orion Atlas Pro AZ-EQ-G
Rank 2
5/5
The Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G is identical to the Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ6i but features a hand controller instead of the latter’s WiFi adapter, though you can still purchase a WiFi adapter separately or plug it into your PC. You get the same encoders, weight capacity, and dual alt-az/EQ as well as multi-telescope capability and other great features.
Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5i
Rank 3
5/5
The smaller AZ-EQ5i features a variety of astrophotography capabilities in its EQ configuration, along with the FreedomFind technology and control via your smart device. For those looking for a more portable and cheaper option than the AZ-EQ6i, the AZ-EQ5i can hold up to around 25 lbs on each side of its saddle (the 33 lbs specified is a little too generous), enough for a 10” SCT or most 6” refractors. A pier extension for longer refractors is also provided by default.
Orion Sirius Pro AZ/EQ-G
Rank 4
5/5
Identical to the AZ-EQ5i in every way apart from having a hand controller instead of a WiFi adapter (still available separately), the Sirius Pro AZ-EQ-G is an equally great choice for holding one or two telescopes in its alt-azimuth configuration.

German Equatorial (EQ) Mounts

If you want to do deep-sky astrophotography or carry larger refractor and catadioptric telescopes that may be too heavy for a portable alt-az mount, you should use an equatorial mount.

Equatorial mounts are designed to allow your telescope to move in a way that follows the Earth's rotation along a single axis, known as right ascension. An equatorial mount can be easily tracked by using a simple, motorized "clock drive" that rotates the entire right ascension axis over a 24-hour period, or by simply turning a fine-adjustment knob to move the telescope westward across the sky. The other axis, declination, adjusts pointing in the north-south direction. Deep-sky astrophotography will require you to use a driven equatorial mount, and most equatorial mounts for astrophotography feature GoTo to simplify pointing as well as features like PC control and autoguiding. 

Under $700 EQ Mounts

A sub-$700 equatorial mount will not have GoTo and will be either a manual equatorial mount solely for visual use with 6" and smaller scopes or a motorized star tracker capable of carrying only the smallest telescopes and telephoto lenses for astrophotography use.
Best for Larger Telescopes
Celestron CG-4
Rank 1
4.4/5
The Celestron CG-4 is great for 6” and smaller telescopes, and features high-quality metal parts with fine adjustment cables and worm gears, a hole for a polar alignment scope, and sits atop a solid steel tripod with no plastic parts. It’s comparable to the Sky-Watcher EQM-35i but lacks electronics, though you can add a dual-axis motor drive if you wish.
Best for Astrophotography
iOptron SkyGuider Pro Camera Mount Full Package
Rank 2
4.4/5
The iOptron SkyGuider Pro is a great motorized star tracker for the smallest astrophotography rigs and can hold a 4” Cassegrain or 3” refractor for light visual use, though aiming is complicated by the lack of fine adjustments or drives on the mount’s declination axis.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro
Rank 3
4.2/5
The Star Adventurer 2i Pro makes for a great astrophotography star tracker and can also be used for holding a small Cassegrain or refractor telescope, though the declination axis of the mount has no adjustments besides a coarse manual pivot. You’ll also need to find yourself a suitable tripod for the Star Adventurer or purchase the separately-sold unit from Sky-Watcher.
Orion SkyView Pro
Rank 4
4.2/5
The Orion SkyView Pro is more or less identical to the Celestron CG-4 in design but is often sold at a high price. The mount can be upgraded to GoTo but is is hardly cost-effective to do so, and while the SkyView Pro is decent a CG-4 can often be found for a lower price.
Rank 5
4.1/5
The regular EXOS-2 GoTo mount is similar to the Celestron CG-4 but has full GoTo and tracking, steered by stepper motors. At first glance this would seem like a huge boon; however, the clunky firmware, hand controller, and low-quality motors mean that the mount is poor for imaging and rather time-consuming if not outright frustrating to use for visual observation. You would probably be served better by a manual or more expensive GoTo mount.
Orion AstroView Equatorial Telescope Mount
Rank 6
4/5
Similar to the Celestron CG-4, the Orion AstroView mount is a lightweight equatorial mount designed for small scopes for visual use up to around a 12 lb weight capacity. The design differs little from the CG-4 apart from its slightly less beefy exterior and aluminum instead of steel tripod. A motor drive can be added, though it’s expensive to do so.
Explore Scientific FirstLight Exos Nano
Rank 7
3.9/5
The FirstLight Exos Nano is a lightweight equatorial mount which can hold telescopes no bigger than a 3” refractor or 5” Cassegrain, though Explore Scientific does sell it bundled with an unfortunately undermounted 4” f/10 refractor. The Exos Nano, like it’s alt-azimuth counterpart the Twilight Nano, is really best as a replacement mount for an existing low-cost telescope. It is decently constructed and easy to add a motor drive to, but lacks the ability to be precisely aligned with a polar scope or carry heavy loads.
Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 EQ Mount with PMC-Eight GoTo
Rank 8
3.5/5
The iEXOS-100 is little more than an Exos Nano with electronics and a polar scope added. It’s nowhere near as simple to operate as a star tracker but doesn’t have any more capacity than something like the SkyGuider Pro or Star Adventurer, while being too complicated and expensive for a visual setup.
Orion EQ-13
Rank 9
3.3/5
Despite Orion’s bold claims that the EQ-13 can hold a 13-pound telescope (which would be something like a 4” refractor or 6” SCT), the EQ-13 is little more than a rebadged Exos Nano with a marked-up price and embellished advertising. Like the Exos Nano, you’re limited to a shorter 4-5” telescope or a long 3” refractor at best with this mount.

$700 - $1000 EQ Mounts

Equatorial mounts in this price range are ideal for carrying small refractors no more than 80mm for deep-sky astrophotography, or can hold a telescope of 10-15 lbs for visual use such as 6-8” SCT or Maksutov telescopes and 5” refractors or Newtonians.
Best Value
Sky-Watcher EQM-35i
Rank 1
4.4/5
The Sky-Watcher EQM-35i is a hefty equatorial mount that works well for imaging with smaller instruments - up to around 800mm focal length or 10 lbs - and is also great for visual use with 6” and smaller catadioptric/reflector instruments or 4-5” and smaller refractors. It is mechanically very similar to the Celestron CG-4 apart from its addition of GoTo and precise stepper motor drives, and a polar scope is included by default. The EQM-35i is controlled via a WiFi dongle that connects to your smartphone or tablet, or you can plug the mount directly into a PC with suitable cables. 
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi
Rank 2
4.2/5
The Star Adventurer GTi overlaps heavily in capabilities with the EQM-35i but has the notable advantage of being able to be pushed around the sky manually just like the AZ-GTi thanks to the inclusion of Sky-Watcher’s FreedomFind encoders. It also has an internal battery pack and comes with a pier extension by default, with the ability to buy the mount head alone to use on a heavy-duty tripod should you already have one. However, it has much less weight capacity than the EQM-35i and uses inferior servo instead of stepper motors.
Explore Scientific EXOS-2GT Computerized Mount with PMC-8
Rank 3
4.1/5
Like the Sky-Watcher EQM-35i, the EXOS-2GT uses quality stepper motors and is easy to interface with over WiFi or with a PC cable. The EXOS-2GT can just barely hold a 15 lb telescope for visual use, such as an 8” Schmidt-Cassegrain, and for imaging you’re limited to smaller instruments of 800mm or so focal length and no more than 10 lbs, much like the EQM-35i, and a far cry from the 40 lbs claimed visual and 20 lbs photographic payload advertised. 
Rank 4
4.1/5
The Advanced Polaris is a sleek and elegant mount for visual astronomers, but its manual version is offered at a similar price to many equally sturdy GoTo mounts. It can hold an 8” Cassegrain or 5” refractor optical tube for visual use, while photography requires the GoTo version equipped with Vixen’s StarBook system.
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Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 HD PMC-Eight Equatorial Tracker System
Rank 5
4.1/5
The addition of a real tripod, illuminated polar scope, and an actual fine adjustment on the azimuth axis greatly improves the shoddy iEXOS-100, making it a decent if not particularly cost-effective platform for small astrophotography rigs and visual setups.
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Orion EQ-26
Rank 6
3.3/5
An overpriced disappointment like the EQ-13, the Orion EQ-26 is realistically limited to just over half its advertised payload capacity for visual use, and features no GoTo or even the ability to easily control its motors from a PC, making it a poor choice for astrophotography. It is seemingly a filler product while Orion attempts to develop a full-fledged GoTo mount, or perhaps representative of the death throes of a failing company.
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$1000 - $1800 EQ Mounts

Equatorial mounts in this price range are usually of the EQ5 weight class, ideal for beginners to deep-sky astrophotography, even if you’re starting out with a small telescope or lens, offering high-quality features and room to grow up to a 15 lb or so payload such as a 6” Newtonian, SCT, or Ritchey-Chretien - or a 3.5” refractor - without getting too heavy or expensive. For visual use, mounts in this category offer payload capacities of 20-30 lbs, allowing you to use such scopes as an 8–10” catadioptric, an 8” Newtonian, or a 4” refractor.
Best for Astrophotography
Sky-Watcher HEQ5i Pro
Rank 1
4.9/5
The Sky-Watcher HEQ5i Pro can hold imaging setups up to 15 lbs and features precise stepper motors, easy control via its built-in WiFi or by plugging into a PC, and a built-in illuminated polar scope. The mount’s counterweight shaft retracts inside its body for minimal disassembly but maximum compactness for transport and storage. The HEQ5i is one of the best mounts for astrophotographers period and is an incredible deal for the price.
Orion Sirius EQ-G
Rank 2
4.9/5
The Sirius EQ-G is essentially identical to the Sky-Watcher HEQ5i Pro, using the old-fashioned standard SynScan controller in lieu of a WiFi adapter but able to be controlled via a PC or with an aftermarket WiFi adapter as well. It also has a dual-dovetail saddle capable of accepting both Vixen-style and larger Losmandy/CGE-style dovetail plates, which is the only other difference from the HEQ5/5i.
iOptron CEM26
Rank 3
4.3/5
The iOptron CEM26 is essentially identical to the GEM28 in specs, features, performance, and flaws, though its center-balanced design makes it theoretically more stable - at the cost of being slightly more confusing to set up and balance.
Best for Visual Astronomers
Celestron Advanced VX
Rank 4
4.1/5
A low-priced and beefy mount with a simple GoTo interface, the Advanced VX is able to hold even such instruments as a 10–11” Schmidt-Cassegrain or Newtonian reflector for visual use but struggles to deliver precise tracking and guiding for astrophotography, as well as requiring a more complicated cable interface compared to most other mounts on account of its somewhat antiquated design features.
Meade LX85
Rank 5
4/5
The Meade LX85’s oddly cubic aesthetic is already a turn-off to some, and it has similar hardware and software drawbacks to the Advanced VX but without as nearly user-friendly of a hand controller and with arguably worse tracking and guiding results, along with a much smaller community of users or reliable customer support from the manufacturer to help you out.
Vixen Optics Advanced Polaris-M Motorized EQ Mount with Star Book One
Rank 6
3.9/5
The Advanced Polaris-M is a lovely mount but occupies a similar niche to lower-tier mounts at half its price. The mount does use stepper motors, but it is not nearly as supported by software such as ASCOM, while the StarBook controller is extremely antiquated and hard to use.
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$1800 - $2600 EQ Mounts

Mounts in this price range are of the EQ-5 to EQ-6 class, with the heaviest duty mounts able to carry 12” telescopes for visual use and setups weighing up to around 20-25 lbs for imaging. Sky-Watcher’s portfolio of mid-range equatorial mounts at this price range especially shines in performance and value for the money.
Best Features
Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ6i
Rank 1
5/5
The Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ6i holds heavy imaging payloads such as 8” Newtonian and Cassegrain designs with ease, and features belt-driven stepper motors, a dual dovetail saddle, and conveniences like a carry handle and retracting counterweight shaft for portability. It can be aimed manually with its FreedomFind encoders and has a USB port for simple connection to a PC for control in lieu of using your smartphone/tablet. You can also convert the AZ-EQ6i to an alt-azimuth mount capable of holding two telescopes at once.
Orion Atlas Pro AZ-EQ-G
Rank 2
5/5
The Atlas Pro is completely identical to the AZ-EQ6i in every way apart from being supplied with a hand controller instead of the EQ6i’s WiFi adapter by default. As with the AZ-EQ6i, you get the same features such as belt-driven stepper motors, multi-telescope capability and dual alt-az/equatorial configurations.
Best Value
Sky-Watcher EQ6Ri Pro
Rank 3
5/5
The EQ6Ri Pro has the same payload capacity and the same fantastic features as the AZ-EQ6i but lacks the ability to be aimed manually or used in alt-azimuth mode, neither of which are concerns for many imagers who might appreciate the significant cost reduction compared to the AZ-EQ6i.
Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5i
Rank 4
5/5
The AZ-EQ5i offers many of the features of the AZ-EQ6i but in a slimmed-down package similar in size and capacity to the HEQ5i Pro, though slightly more capable of holding heavier instruments for visual use and with the added bonus of a belt drive for even smoother tracking/guiding. You also get a pier extension provided by default which serves to raise the height of long refractors.
Orion Sirius Pro AZ-EQ G
Rank 5
5/5
As with the AZ-EQ6i and Atlas Pro, Orion’s version of the AZ-EQ5i is identical to the Sky-Watcher version apart from including a hand controller instead of a WiFi adapter and usually sold at a higher price tag.
Orion Atlas EQ-G
Rank 6
4.9/5
The Orion Atlas EQ-G is a venerable mount based on the EQ6Ri’s predecessor, the NEQ6. It lacks the EQ6R/Ri’s belt drives and thus isn’t quite as good in tracking/guiding accuracy - and it’s not as easy to carry around given its greater heft and lack of a handle. The interface and performance are still very good, however; the only reason not to buy one is that the EQ6Ri is available at around the same price most of the time.

$2600 – $3500 EQ Mounts

Offering a steadier platform for the largest visual and planetary imaging telescopes, and with the beefiest mounts accommodating up to 30 lb or so payloads for imaging, a good equatorial mount costing over $2500 or so may be the only one you ever need.
Best GoTo
Losmandy G11 Gemini II
Rank 1
4.9/5
The Losmandy G11 was one of the first high-quality German equatorial mounts offered for astrophotographers, and its design has changed little since its debut, including the Gemini II GoTo system which is beginning to show its age. The G11 offers both a modular design – easily upgraded to a heavier-duty G11GT or shrunken into a GM811G – and high-quality mechanics and tracking abilities. It can carry payloads of around 35 lbs for imaging or up to 60 lbs for visual use, enough to hold a 14” Schmidt-Cassegrain in the case of the latter.
Celestron CGX
Rank 2
4.9/5
Slightly smaller than the Losmandy G11, the CGX doesn’t really boast significantly more capability for astrophotography than mounts like the Sky-Watcher EQ6Ri, but it does have superb belt-driven worm gears and stepper motors, along with a USB port to bypass the hand controller for PC control.
Losmandy GM811G
Rank 3
4.9/5
The GM811G is a hybrid between the G11 and GM-8, with the G11’s right ascension axis attached to a GM8 tripod and declination shaft. You can purchase it as-is or upgrade your GM8 to one. The GM811G is a lot more portable and substantially cheaper than the G11, and offers similar features to the Sky-Watcher EQ6Ri but with slightly better mechanics and tracking. However, the interface is a bit outdated as with other Losmandy mounts.
iOptron CEM70
Rank 4
4.3/5
The iOptron CEM70 has many of the same features – and confusion – as other iOptron mounts and is best for the experienced or technically inclined imagers out there. It has conveniences such as built-in USB ports and its center-balanced design aids portability, but it’s not as capable or as consistent in quality as simpler and more robust mounts such as those from Losmandy and Sky-Watcher.
Vixen SPHINX SXD2
Rank 5
4.2/5
The Vixen SPHINX SXD2 offers a capacity of around 20 lbs for imaging and 35 lbs for visual use, and is high-quality in construction with excellent tracking and guiding. However, it fares poorly in user interface and value for the money as with other Vixen mounts.

$3500 – $5000 EQ Mounts

Mounts in this price range offer high-quality parts and heavy payload capacity, though some are pushing the limits of what can be called portable. All three of our top picks in this category are amazing mounts with different specializations that some users may prefer.
Sky-Watcher CQ350 Pro
Rank 1
4.9/5
The new Sky-Watcher CQ350 Pro offers plenty of payload capacity but remains fairly portable, with easy operation via the provided hand controller, with an aftermarket WiFi dongle, or via software on your PC, which can easily plug into the CQ350’s USB ports.
Losmandy G11GT
Rank 2
4.9/5
The G11GT combines the G11’s declination axis with the heavier-duty right ascension drive and tripod of the HGM Titan mount. It is a huge mount with plenty of payload capacity, though it’s not the most portable option.
Rainbow Astro RST135
Rank 3
4.9/5
The Rainbow Astro RST135 is an excellent harmonic drive mount, offering high payload capacity in a lighter and more portable package than many other mounts of similar weight class.
Explore Scientific Losmandy G-11 PMC-8
Rank 4
4.8/5
The PMC-8 system from Explore Scientific simplifies interfacing with it using your smartphone/tablet or PC and cables, as well as offering a few other perks to improve tracking and guiding quality.
Celestron CGX-L
Rank 5
4.6/5
A beefed-up CGX mount with myriad mechanical improvements, the CGX-L is an excellent mount for imaging with heavy telescopes, though it’s not exactly portable.
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Takahashi EM-11
Rank 6
4.4/5
An extremely expensive mount for its weight capacity but with high-quality parts fitting the Takahashi name, the EM-11 is an old school equatorial mount that’s excellent for visual or imaging use, though not nearly as hefty as other mounts offered at such a high price.

$5000 – $8000 EQ Mounts

Most mounts above $5000 USD or so are specialty premium products, and even if they are technically advertised as “portable” and have piers or tripods that can be broken down, you probably should be looking at a permanent observatory setup for many of the heavy-duty of this size.
Best GoTo
Software Bisque Paramount MYT
Rank 1
5/5
Losmandy HGM Titan w/ Gemini 2 GoTo
Rank 2
4.9/5
Sky-Watcher EQ8-R Pro
Rank 3
4.8/5
iOptron CEM120
Rank 4
4.7/5
Takahashi EM-200
Rank 5
4.7/5
Orion HDX110 EQ-G
Rank 7
4.5/5
Meade LX850
Rank 8
4.3/5