What Are the Differences Between National Instruments CompactRIO and CompactDAQ?

Updated Sep 17, 2019

Issue Details

I'm interested in using National Instruments hardware for my application but I am not sure if I need a CompactRIO (cRIO) device or a CompactDAQ (cDAQ) device. What are the differences between the two types of devices?


CompactDAQ devices and CompactRIO devices can be used in many of the same applications but one may be better suited for your specific application.

Data Acquisition (DAQ) is the process of measuring an electrical or physical phenomenon with a computer. CompactDAQ devices provide a customizable solution for you to perform data acquisition either at your benchtop or in a distributed environment.

CompactDAQ Components:
  • cDAQ Chassis - Controls timing, synchronization, and data transfer between C Series I/O modules and an external host.
  • cDAQ Controller - Integrates a multicore processor with modular I/O, standard peripheral connectivity, and display capabilities.
  • Conditioned I/O Modules - Connect to sensors and buses and support measurements of physical phenomena.
  • Software - cDAQ Systems can be configured using LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, and more.

Reconfigurable I/O (RIO) is a powerful FPGA-based technology that you can use for controls, robotics, mechatronics, automotive projects, and data acquisition. CompactRIO systems provide high-performance processing capabilities and sensor-specific conditioned I/O that make them ideal for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), monitoring, and control, applications.

CompactRIO Components:
  • Packaged cRIO Controller - Combines customizable software with powerful processing and I/O for measurement, control, or monitoring applications.
  • Board-Level Controller - Combines a processor, a programmable FPGA, and memory for a custom embedded design.
  • Conditioned I/O Modules - Connects to many sensors and buses and support measurements of physical phenomena.
  • Software - cRIO systems can be configured using LabVIEW, the LabVIEW Real-Time Module, the LabVIEW FPGA Module, LabWindows/CVI, and more.

Additional Information

Many Conditioned I/O modules are interoperable between cDAQ and cRIO systems but not all are. Compatibility can be found on your module's product page.