[Cytometry] Summary of Accuri C6

Siu Hong Ho hsiuhong at yahoo.com.hk
Thu Jan 22 14:51:32 EST 2009

Dear all,

Thanks for the response/comment/advice/suggestion about the Accuri C6, please see below the summary for this post.


Flow Cytometry Core Facility
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Original Question:
I remember somebody put the same question a while ago, however, I didn't see a lot of response from the community.  I would like to ask again the same question, has anybody purchased the Accuri C6 cytometer and what's your experience on it?
Response 1
I've used a C6 for over 1 year, nearly daily. Fantastic instument. Everything that a garden-variety LSR does and more (volumetric event counting). Great company. Great support. Virtually nil maintenance issues.
Follow up email to same person:
I just got a response from the community saying that "pump mechanism that pushes the sample through the machine
needs servicing every six months and that service for this is not "on-site"", is it ture?  Since you have had the machine for more than 1 year, I think you are the best person to tell the answer.
Not true. Tubing should be changed (< 1 minute), but not the pumps. We've not needed any servicing of the pumps in over a year.
Response 2
One of our labs purchased one earlier this year, not in our facility but they give me feedback now and then.

Apparently the software is not quite there yet - if you want to analyze in FlowJo (which all of our users do) you have to manually change the scale first.  There is no preset.  The instrument/software displays  a 6 or 7-decade scale in which you cannot adjust voltages.  You zoom into the population instead of changing voltages.  Sensitivity is comparable to a FACSCalibur.  It has a tiny footprint and seems to have a simple fluidics system.  It can also double as a cell counter in that you can specify a volume for the instrument to look at.  

As far as service goes, if anything is wrong with the instrument they simply send you a loaner instrument and you ship back the one that isn't working.  Instead of coming in to service, they simply ship you a new one.  The lab here has had one problem with the laser and they sent another one out right away.  Cleaning and maintenance is fairly simple.

Overall an easy to use machine... maybe better for novice users and a little frustrating for advanced users (there is no control over anything!).  For the price, it is pretty decent.  The lab uses it for fairly simple assays - typing, purity checks, infectious samples, cell counting - and then they still use our facility for more complicated/important experiments.
Follow up email to same person:
Would that be very complicated to manually change the scale in FlowJo to analyze the data acquired from Accuri C6?
It's not too complicated... you just have to derive the parameters for FSC and SSC and change the scale for the fluorescent parameters.  They do have a step-by-step method and I believe it's on the Daily Dongle if you search for Accuri data. It's just not an automatic read like it is for DiVa data.
Response 3
I have personally used the Accuri cytometer and use it as the demo instrument when i teach the flowcyte course. The PMT's are of a new technology such that they have much greater dynamic range than an lsr 2 type machine. Since the range is so great there is no need to adjust pmt voltage. you simply just put your cells on and aquire on the fly... i like it.
Response 4
We had a demo and I was the most impressed I've ever been with a new cytometer.  It set up easily and instantly, and was analyzing our samples in 10 minutes out of the box (in spite of the fact that the shippers had crushed part of the instrument!)  It looked very intuitive and practical.  The approach is different from BDs both in software, setup, operation, and mechanics, but the results look the same.

We asked for the demo to know whether or not to recommend it to one of our collaborators, so we have not purchased one and have not seen it in use on a daily basis.
Response 5
I did not purchase it, but did review this equipment on my cytometry review site called The Cytometry Report.  You can find the review of the accuri C6 here:  http://cytometryreport.com/2008/11/first-look-at-accuri-cytometers-c6-flow.html
Response 6
I was the one. And I got a lot of positive feed-back (and very few
critiques). I am probably going to buy one. I get another demo on Monday
through Wednesday next week. I will tell you more then. I had a few
questions with their software compensation and analysis. The data (in 7
logs) does not translate so perfectly into Winlist (which I use) and Flwojo.
Flowjo is working on it, and in Winlist the 7 decades are compressed into 4,
so it looks a bit 'compressed'. But if their software handles the
compensation properly, I see no need to use anything else as software,
theirs is sooooo easy and intuitive that one doesn't want to use anything
else anymore.

In the meantime, I can only recommend that you ask them for a demo too. It
is so convincing that one wonders why one should buy one of the bigger (and
more expensive), and s  much more complicated, machines anymore.
It is basically the machine for the total neophyte, idiot proof! No way to
set-up the machine wrongly (no voltages to set, the machine acquires
EVERTHING), nor to screw up the data analysis. What you want in a facility,
you won't have to take care of people getting stuck on the machine.
Response 7
I have purchased an Accuri and love it. It is simple, relatively maintenance free and inexpensive to maintain. The only drawback is the software which requires more manipulation than I would like to do compensation. However, with some tweaking, you can export the files to Flowjo or FCSexpress and analyze your data there. If you have any specific questions feel free to contact me. The company was very easy to deal with and the delivery of the unit was right on time from what they said it would be. I have been doing flow for almost 30 years and this machine is amazing especially if you have very large cells (I am working with macrophages now) since you don't change the gains, you just zoom in on the area of interest. There are now 7 log decades on the machine.
Response 8
There may not be many responses from Accuri owners, since the system is relatively new.  We recently had an on-site demo, and we were very impressed, particularly the performance for the cost.  The demo instrument was unpacked and up and running in less than an hour, and I believe that anyone with flow experience could have been doing experiments the same day.  At the moment, there is no uv light source, but we were told that one was coming within the year.  One of our main uses will be undergraduate research projects, and my opinion is that the Accuri would be good for such applications.
Response 9
Although impressive, I have heard through the proverbial grapevine that the pump mechanism that pushes the sample through the machine needs servicing every six months and that service for this is not "on-site".  That for me is a deal breaker as I don't like dealing with angry investigators that need a broken or absent machine.  
I have demo'ed the Quava and was equally impressed and then even moreso with the 96 well feature of their instrument.  
I know nothing about the Beckman machine, as I haven't seen it in person. 
Response 10
We have one in our core facility. We like it.Easy to train. No PMTs to adjust. Gives a volume measurement (#cell/ml) which the BD systems don't. Better than the Guava in our immunology core.Small footprint and easy to move, if needed.  I think adding the 96 well sample system will make it even better. You should ask for a demo and see it run firsthand.
Response 11
We have the Cyflow space from Partec to do bacterial work. It was cheap, easy to use, reliable and doesn't require a lot of service. Perhaps this is a good alternative to the Accuri?
Response 12
I had sent my comments on the Accuri C6 directly to some investigators
previously. Since a lot of questions are popping up on the group now, I
thought I'd add my voice too.
We have been using the Accuri C6 in our lab for the past few months (since
May of last year). So far we are very happy with its performance. The
software still needs to be improved but it analysis with the FCS Express
program is sufficient for our needs. We usually run peripheral blood samples
and some other fluids obtained from patients as well as cultured cells. The
machine does what we want it to do and the operation is very simple. We have
a multi-year service contract and the routine service visits have been very
prompt. Their people here are also very easy to communicate with and they
genuinely try to help. We have had only one issue with the machine so far;
the LED switch was faulty and had to be replaced once.
Having the Accuri certainly beats trying to schedule the shared flow
cytometers; now we can design and execute experiments at our own
convenience! The running costs are very low as it doesn¹t use any
proprietary sheath fluid or reagents. Also the filters and lasers can be
swapped out to suit your needs with easily available off-the-shelf
substitutes (this was mentioned by one of the Accuri techs, I personally
cannot verify this).
One other problem we've had was that the electrodes/detectors (?) in the
decon bottle and the waste bottle became corroded and were not detecting the
correct level of fluid in the bottles. Accuri has provided us with a new
bottle which solves the problem of corrosion (at least that is my
Regarding the pump issue, we haven't had any problems. The tubing and
filters of the peristaltic pumps do need to be changed every 6 months (not
the entire pump) and can be done very easily by the users.
The instrument has a small footprint and costs much less than the
competition and I believe can be modified to be portable too. This would be
a great help in 3rd world countries.
We had also demoed the Guava. It was also impressive but the higher cost
(approx. 3 times that of the C6) and lesser capability made us go with the
Hope this helps. I am not associated with Accuri in any way and they have
not solicited the above comments.
Response 13
As regards the pumps on the Accuri C6 it is my understanding that the
"pump servicing" you refer to is just a tubing change on the two
peristaltic pumps (sheath & waste).  It is all luer-lock fittings and
shouldn't take any longer than 5-10 minutes.

This is something that is done "on-site" by the user and does not
require a service technician to do, nor does it require you to send in
the instrument.  Accuri sells maintenance kits that have extra pump
tubing and various filters that can be changed out about every 2-6
months (depending on how heavily the instrument is used.)

Instructions and photos on how to change the tubing can be found on page
29 of the "C6 Instruction Manual" at...

Response 14
Our lab has used the Accuri C6 for over a year. It's been a reliable instrument with very few problems. Besides the obvious features mentioned here by others (two lasers -> four detectors, small size, ease of maintenance), one of the major features that has not been fully mentioned here is a volumetric counting feature (events per microliter). This machine is digital (unlike the Calibur), and detects a wider dynamic range of fluorescence than our LSR II or Aria (for example, we can measure freshly CFSE-labeled cells; try that on an LSR!). We've had very few maintenance issues, all minor or rapidly addressed by the company. The company is very responsive and friendly.

I'd say the biggest problems we've had is in the software. CFlow Plus is fine for acquisition, but just okay for anything else, and is certainly not up to any analysis beyond something simple like FACS-genotyping. Interfacing Accuri files with FlowJo has been problematic, but Flowjo is working on fixes.

Accuri has been mentioning an autosampler (CSampler) on their price list for over a year, but they're not selling it yet.

I'm happy to provide more details or answer specific questions about our experiences with the C6.


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