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Topcon or Hemisphere GNSS: Who is the Better Fit for You?

topcon alternatives

When on a survey or construction project, there are a lot of different factors that can impact your success in the field, including the accuracy, efficiency, and overall usability of your equipment. There are a lot of different manufacturers and options on today’s market, and understanding how different manufacturers offerings compare to one another is crucial in making the right purchasing decision.

Among the prominent providers of surveying equipment solutions, Topcon and Hemisphere stand out as key players, each offering a range of advanced technologies tailored to meet the diverse needs of construction and survey professionals. In this writeup we hope to provide a comparative analysis of Topcon and Hemisphere survey equipment, exploring their respective features, functionalities, applications, and strengths.

Who are Topcon and Hemisphere?

Comparing Equipment Offerings

Applications and Use Cases

Strengths and Limitations

Final Thoughts

Who are Topcon and Hemisphere?

Founded in Japan during 1932, Topcon has long been one of the leaders in the surveying equipment space. Topcon manufacturers a wide variety of equipment including GNSS receivers, total stations, laser scanners, machine control and more. Within the surveying space, they also are the owners of the well-known Sokkia brand. With their recognizable yellow enclosures, you can almost be sure you will spot at least one piece of Topcon equipment on any construction site. 

On the other hand, Hemisphere GNSS is an American company based out of Phoenix, Arizona. In 2023, Hemisphere combined forces with Case New Holland to better enhance their offerings. Founded in 2001, Hemisphere is comparatively a relative new comer on the scene but has quickly emerged as a prominent player in the GNSS market. Hemisphere specializes in providing high-precision positioning and navigation solutions for various industries, including surveying, agriculture, marine, and construction. Their latest GNSS receivers are some of the best performing receivers on the market. 

Comparing Equipment Offerings

GNSS Receivers

Both Topcon and Hemisphere offer GNSS receivers capable of receiving many of the latest signals from all the major satellite constellations, including; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou. These receivers provide real-time centimeter-level positioning accuracy, making them indispensable tools for surveying applications where precision is paramount.


From Topcon, at the time of this article being published, the latest receiver is the Topcon Hiper VR (also known as the Sokkia GRX3). Although the Hiper VR is the latest receiver from Topcon, it is unable to track many of the latest signals from the BeiDou constellation. In effect, this means that the Hiper VR is missing some of the most important under canopy signals that are now available. For more information on what the different constellations and signals offer you under canopy and near buildings check this video out: Comparing 6th and 7th Generation RTK Technology. Additionally, Topcon’s Magnet Field software provides intuitive data collection and processing features, enhancing the overall efficiency of field operations.

From Hemisphere the latest receiver is the Hemisphere S631. Hemisphere’s GNSS receivers, are renowned for their compact design, ruggedness, and superior performance in challenging environments. Hemisphere’s innovative technologies, such as SureTrack™ and Athena™ RTK engine, ensure reliable positioning even in areas with limited satellite visibility or signal obstructions. With software like MicroSurvey’s FieldGenius you get a super robust and usable platform for field operation. 

On top of this, unlike the Hiper VR, the S631 can also track all the available BeiDou signals. This means that it will achieve the best possible accuracy under canopy. To see how the two receivers compare to one another, check out the video below. 


For marine receivers, topcon does not currently have many offerings. Although there are some OEM GNSS boards that can be integrated into custom housings, they do not currently offer an off the shelf solution. 

Hemisphere is well known in the marine space for their Vector line of antennas and receivers. There systems are meant to be integrated in everything from pleasure craft (like the V200) to cargo ships (VS1000) to drilling platforms (solutions like Atlas). Their systems are designed to provide positioning, heading and velocity. Want to see how easy it is to get a system like the V200 installed and integrated? Check out the video below:

Total Stations

Topcon is well known for their optical offerings, from manual total stations, robotic total stations and laser scanning systems. With almost 100 years in optical experience, their equipment is very reliable and you can be assured that it will work as you expect. With the acquisition of Sokkia, they further enhanced their optical lineup, giving them one of the most robust lineups in the industry. 

Unlike Topcon, Hemisphere does not offer any optical instruments. With a focus on refining their GNSS offerings, they instead make their receivers available in many different software packages, so that users can work with the equipment and software they want. Software like MicroSurvey’s FieldGenius is brand neutral, meaning you can work with the equipment you want. 

Machine Control

The final product option we are going to look at today is Machine Control. With machine control, you have several different options, from agricultural auto-steer to full hydraulic control. Both companies have great options for both use cases. 

Topcon is one of the most popular machine control solutions on the market with both laser and GNSS options available. If you have been a construction site and seen machine control in action, it is likely one of two companies, Trimble or Topcon. With options for excavators, bulldozers, motor graders, haulers, pavers, and more, Topcon offers a wide variety of options to meet your needs. 

On the agricultural side, Topcon also offers auto-steer, seeding and more. Although not as popular for agricultural applications Topcon is still an important player in the space. 

In contrast to Topcon, Hemisphere is relatively new on the construction machine control side but are the creators of some the most popular agricultural machine control options. Their GradeMetrix line of machine control is all GNSS based and designed to be integrated with any equipment. With options for Loaders, Scrapers, Excavators and Dozers, there are a lot of options to meet your needs. 

On the agriculture side of things, Hemisphere is behind the incredibly popular OutBack brand. Their auto-steer and positioning options are often one of the first names out of farmers mouths when talking about agricultural machine control. 

excavator on background

Application and Use Cases

Topcon and Hemisphere survey equipment find applications across a wide range of industries and sectors, including construction, engineering, mining, agriculture, environmental monitoring, and urban planning. Their versatile and reliable solutions cater to the diverse needs of surveyors, engineers, GIS professionals, and other stakeholders involved in spatial data collection and analysis.

In the construction industry, Topcon and Hemisphere equipment are used for site planning, earthwork monitoring, building layout, and quality control tasks. GNSS receivers and total stations facilitate precise positioning of construction machinery and accurate measurement of as-built structures, contributing to improved project efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

In agriculture, GNSS technology plays a crucial role in precision farming applications, such as field mapping, soil sampling, crop monitoring, and variable rate application of inputs. Topcon and Hemisphere receivers enable farmers to optimize their agricultural practices, minimize resource usage, and maximize yields through targeted interventions based on spatial data analysis.

In the mining sector, laser scanning and GNSS technology is employed for volumetric analysis, slope stability assessment, asset management, and mine planning purposes. Topcon and Hemisphere provide mining engineers with detailed 3D models of mine sites, allowing them to visualize terrain features, identify potential hazards, and optimize extraction processes for improved safety and productivity.

Strengths and Limitations

Topcon’s strengths lie in its extensive product portfolio, advanced technology offerings, and a strong focus on innovation and customer satisfaction. The company’s commitment to research and development ensures that its solutions remain at the forefront of the industry, continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of accuracy, reliability, and usability.

However, Topcon’s premium pricing may be a limiting factor for smaller surveying firms or budget-conscious professionals. Additionally, some users have reported compatibility issues or software bugs with certain Topcon products, highlighting the importance of thorough testing and ongoing support from the manufacturer. This means that you can become beholden to your local dealer, and if their support is not top tier, you could be stuck without help.

On the other hand, Hemisphere’s strengths include its competitive pricing, user-friendly interfaces, and robust performance in challenging operating conditions. The company’s commitment to customer support and product reliability has earned it a loyal customer base, particularly among surveyors and GIS professionals looking for cost-effective yet dependable solutions.

With Hemisphere’s commitment to providing a more consumer friendly solution their receivers are capable of being used in a variety of different software packages. However, this is very much against the industry standard, where manufacturers are increasingly moving to a more walled garden approach. This means that software like Topcon’s magnet will not be able to use the full abilities of the Hemisphere S631 as Topcon refuses to implement the proper drivers.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, both Topcon and Hemisphere offer a comprehensive range of survey equipment and positioning solutions tailored to the diverse needs of modern surveying professionals. While Topcon excels in terms of product diversity, advanced technology features, and global brand recognition, Hemisphere stands out for its competitive pricing, user-friendly interfaces, and robust performance in challenging environments.

Ultimately, the choice between Topcon and Hemisphere survey equipment depends on factors such as project requirements, budget constraints, technical specifications, and personal preferences. By carefully evaluating the features, functionalities, applications, strengths, and limitations of each manufacturer’s offerings, surveyors can make informed decisions to ensure the success and efficiency of their surveying projects.

Through continuous innovation, collaboration, and adaptation to evolving market trends and customer needs, both Topcon and Hemisphere are poised to remain key players in the surveying industry, driving advancements in geospatial technology and empowering surveying professionals to achieve new heights of precision, productivity, and excellence.

Bench Mark Equipment & Supplies is your team to trust with all your surveying equipment. We have been providing high-quality surveying equipment to land surveyors, engineers, construction, airborne and resource professionals since 2002. This helps establish ourselves as the go-to team in Calgary, Canada, and the USA. Plus, we provide a wide selection of equipment, including global navigation satellite systems, RTK GPS equipment, GNSS receivers, and more. We strive to provide the highest level of customer care and service for everyone. To speak to one of our team today, call us at +1 (888) 286-3204 or email us at [email protected]

About the Author

Nolan has been working in the surveying field since 2017, starting as a part-time student at Bench-Mark while attending the University of Calgary. He now works in technical support and sales helping customers find the right product for them.

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