Best 11 Affordable Rowing Machines That Won’t Break the Bank

updated August 3, 2018

A rowing machine is an essential piece of home gym cardio equipment. It will fast track weight loss, build stamina and build muscle. But rowers can be expensive. Often cheap rowers are very low quality. Fortunately, we’ve gone in deep to bring you the 11 best value rowing machines that will deliver a great workout without breaking the bank.

A Quick Overview of the 11 Best Affordable Rowing Machines

Our favorite affordable rowing machine is the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5612. This dual function machine works as a rower and an upper body resistance machine. It offers 8 levels of smooth, adjustable resistance and extra comfortable settings. We were also very impressed with the Stamina Black Chrome air rower, which provides an excellent air resistance workout at a great price.

The cheapest quality rower of all is the Sunny Water Rower hydraulic position driven machine, which gives you a smooth action, free seat glide and comfortable seat, all for under $100.

​To make it easy for you to compare the best priced rowing machines, we’ve rated the Top 11 in terms of price and durability, and then given them an overall quality rating. In the following section, we’ll provide in-depth reviews of our Top 11 affordable rowers.

Please read our in depth review about Xebex Rower.

The Top 11 Rowing Machines Review

Machine Rower

The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5612 is the best rowing machine under $500. It is a dual function affordable machine that will give you a great rowing workout as well as doubling as a resistance training machine for the muscles of your upper body. You get a magnetic tension system with 8 levels of adjustable resistance. The movement of the cable is very smooth, allowing for a jerk free motion.

This Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5612 has high spec fittings that you normally wouldn’t see in rower under $400. The seat is extra wide and thickly padded for comfort. The footplates are dual function, providing an ideal rowing platform and then adjusting to hold you secure while performing resistance movements.


  • Dual function wrower and resistance trainer 
  • Great price
  • 8 levels of adjustable resistance


  • Rail doesn’t completely fold for storage
ATS Air Rower

At under $300, the Stamina Black Chrome is among the cheapest air rower machines that we have ever come across. Yet, you are not having to sacrifice quality for cost here. This is a wind resistance rower that packs in multi function performance. The large, easy to read monitor provides all the data you need. You also get a comfortable padded, upholstered seat which allows you to row for longer than 30 minutes without discomfort.

The wind resistance motion on this Stamina Black Chrome machine is very smooth. The faster you row, the more resistance you generate. The wind turbine is quite noisy, however. An angled seat rail allows for efficient gliding of the seat as you row. The unit has portable wheels and folds for easy storage.


  • Large, easy to read monitor
  • Large, padded upholstered seat
  • Smooth wind resistance


  • Band resistance doesn’t kick in during first third of the movement
Water Rowing Machine

The Sunny Health and Fitness rowing machine is the best cheap rowing machine that we reviewed. It is the best machine that you’ll find for under $100. This hydraulic piston driven rower gives you 12 levels of adjustable resistance. The rowing motion is relatively smooth and jerk free. The seat glides smoothly and is comfortable to sit on. The foot plates pivot to position your legs better and add comfort.

A simple electronic monitor displays all of the workout data that you need to know. The unit is solid and compact and folds easily for storage. It is a reliable rower that will give you a decent workout at an unbeatable price.


  • Cheapest value machine on the market
  • 12 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Foot plates pivot


  • Piston pin rubs on frame
Water Rowing Machine Rower

The Sunny Water Rower Obsidian Surge 500 uses the power of water resistance technology to deliver an incredibly smooth, fluid rowing experience. This is one of the most affordable water rowers that you’ll find on the market. Steel fan blades provide unlimited resistance and combine with the dynamic resistance of the water to provide a unique experience that more closely replicates on the water rowing than air or magnetic resistance rowers. The durable steel blades on the air resistance unit are rust resistance and built to go the distance.

The digital monitor screen on the Obsidian Surge 500 provides you with a comprehensive accounting of all of your key training statistics. It is fully equipped to take a telemetry heart rate strap, though this is not provided. It provides ongoing readouts of your total time, 500m time, SPM, total strokes, calories, heart rate, and ambient temperature. Non slip for pads with velcro nylon straps ensure that you are firmly locked into place while foot levellers at the bottom of the unit ensure that the machine is evenly placed regardless of what surface it is sitting on. This is a very impressive, fluid water rower at a great price.


  • Mooth water / air rowing action
  • 3 hydro blades
  • Molded padded seat
  • High spec monitor


  • Not foldable
Magnetic Rowing Machine

The Sunny SF RW5515 is a magnetic tension budget rower that provides you with eight levels of magnetic resistance. The centrally located tension knob allows you to transition between resistance levels fluidly without any of the jerkiness that you often get with magnetic rowers within this price range. The cushioned seat on this model is ergonomically designed to enhance your exercising comfort, while the large sturdy pedals provide you with a non slip surface and sturdy velcro straps to keep you securely in place when you are rowing.

The RW5515 is solidly constructed to provide a durable rowing experience. It will not shake, regardless of how intensely you work out on it. The maximum user weight on the machine is 250 pounds. Tracking your progress is easy with the digital monitor screen which shows your speed ,count and time, along with a scan mode. The dimensions of this rower is 82 inches long by 19 inches high by 18 inches wide, making it impressively compact and able to be used in the most compact of workout areas. 


  • 8 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Smooth rowing action
  • Ergonomically designed cushioned seat
  • Compact design


  • Max user weight limited to 250 pounds
Hydraulic Rowing Machine

The Harvil Hydraulic Arm rowing machine is a simple hydraulic rower with pistons in the arms to provide the rowing resistance. The sturdy steel frame construction provides you with a solid rowing experience. The max length of the rowing bar 35.4 inches, with assembled dimensions of 50 inches in length by 36.2 inches wide by 20 inches in height. The max user weight on this rower is 265 pounds.

The rowing action on these type of hydraulic machines are usually not very good. However, with the Harvil rower you get a better than average fluidity to your rowing movement that is absent of the jerkiness and stuttering that many of its competitors provide. The molded seat glides freely with every motion, while pivoting foot-plates with safety straps give you a secure footing. A simple monitor displays time, row count and calories burned, with the scan function scrolling through your workout metrics every six seconds.


  • Durable steel frame
  • Smooth action
  • Compact
  • Max user weight of 265 pounds
  • Molded seat


  • May not be suitable for taller users

Rowing machines do a whole lot more than improve your cardiovascular endurance. The following clip provides 10 reasons why you need to make rowing a regular part of your training routine . . .

You want a rowing machine but you have limited space available. Check out our article on 9 Compact and Portable Rowing Machines for Small Spaces to find the ideal machine for your small space.

Folding Rowing Machine

The Merax Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine is a compact, smooth rower that provides you with 8 levels of magnetic resistance. The 15-degree angled seat rail provides you with the ideal positioning to provide maximum comfort and allow for a smooth and efficient return. The built-in magnetic flywheel minimizes noise while maximizing a smooth feel during the rowing motion. A convenient tension knob allows you to easily and quickly adjust the intensity of your workout. 

The sliding, extra padded seat on the Merax Magnetic Folding Rower provide comfort during those long training sessions. Large strapping footplates keep you securely locked n place. This machine has a built-in folding frame and transportation wheels. Floor protectors keep the machine from sliding round while also protecting your floor from damage. The maximum weight capacity of this rower is 264 pounds.

The simple LCD monitor on the Merax Magnetic rower displays your time, count,calories and total count, presented on a simple, easy to use screen. The foldable nature of this machine makes it an ideal choice for those with limited room to exercise.


  • Smooth operation
  • 15-degree seat angle
  • Extra padded seat
  • Ax weight 264 pounds


  • Not overly durable
Fitness Rowing Machine

The Body Extreme Fitness Rowing Machine is a budget rower that does its job well. It makes use of 16 pound inner magnetic system to provide you with a smooth, fluid rowing experience. A large knob allows for easy adjustment of tension control, while the comfortable ergonomic seat is ideal for all intensity levels of exercise. The pedals are secured with secure toe straps and your hands are protected with non slip foam handles.

Body Extreme Fitness Rowing Machine comes with a large sized LCD display, providing you with an ongoing readout of your time, scan, count, calories and calories per minute. When you’re finished working out, you can easily fold this unit way for storage.


  • Large LCD screen
  • 16 pound magnetic resistance
  • Folds wy for easy storage


  • A little bulky

Please read our in depth review about Xebex Rower.

Folding Rowing Machine

The GoPlus Magnetic Folding rowing machine provides ten levels of magnetic resistance with n elastic cord. While not as smooth as an air or flywheel based system, this rower does provide you with a full extension on each row and a relatively smooth rowing action. The sturdy beam on this unit is made from aluminum, providing a solid base to work from. Large, anti-slip foot pedals with adjustable straps give you a secure footing while you are exercising. Non-slip grip handles also ensure that you get a secure hold and the ergonomically designed seat has extra padding for comfort.

You get a functional monitor on this rower, with a large LCD screen that gives you readouts of your total calories, count per minute, count, scan and time. This is a simple, functional rower that gives you a smooth, fluid workout every time. It has built-in wheels for ease of transportation and folds for convenient storage. The maximum user weight on this machine is 220 pounds. 


  • 10 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Smooth rowing action
  • Large, anti-slip foot pedals
  • Large LCD screen


  • Max weight limited to 220 pounds

The most popular rowing machines on the planet are in the Concept 2 range. Find out if Concept 2 deserves its reputation as the best with our Concept 2 Rowing Machines 2018 - it’s an eye opener!

Magnetic Rower

The Velocity Fitness Magnetic Rower provides a drum magnetic control resistance to give you a smoother, more natural rowing experience. It also features electronic tension to maintain the ideal strap tension at all times. A great feature of this machine is that it comes complete with a chest strap heart rate monitor to allow for the most accurate pulse monitoring. You get of 12 exercise programs on this machine, with 6 of them customizable.

The monitor on the Velocity Fitness Magnetic Rower features a large LCD screen. It provides a rolling readout of time, count, stroke/minutes, distance, calories, watts and pulse. The saddle is made from molded polyurethane to give and ergonomic feel that is also comfortable. It also has a space saving, foldable design.


  • Drum magnetic roll resistance
  • Electronic tension
  • Comes with chest strap heart rate monitor


  • Frame may start to wear after several months

For a full overview of the best rowers on the home fitness market, regardless of price, check out our Best Rowing Machines Review 2018 - you are bound to find what you need!

Water Rowing Machine

The Stamina 1445 Wave Water Rowing Machine is the best priced quality water rowing machine you are likely to find. It provides you with as close an experience as you’ll get to rowing on water. Water resistance provides you with a dynamic rowing stroke that is different to mechanical resistance. In addition, it gives you an infinite variety of resistance levels.

Stamina 1445 Wave Water Rowing Machine comes with a siphon to facilitate the addition and removal of water from the reservoir. It also has a molded seat for comfort, and ball bearing rollers for smooth seat gliding. The multi function monitor gives you instant feedback on your workout. You even get wheels for easy transport around your training facility.


  • Very realistic rowing experience
  • Soothing and calming
  • Padded seat and pivoting footplates
  • Max user weight 350 pounds


  • Noisy

Water rowing is the most realistic, soothing way to row. Check out the best waterrowers on the planet with our Waterrower Machines Review 2018 - you’ll be glad you did!


The best value rowing machine that we found in our review is the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5612, a dual function rower and upper body trainer. This affordable magnetic rower provides a very natural action and is very solid and compact. Our second best value machine is the Stamina Black chrome air rower, which offers high end air rower specs at a budget price.

The best good cheap rowing machine that we reviewed was the Sunny Water Rower, a hydraulic tension machine that provides a quality workout at an unbeatable price.

Best 11 Affordable Rowing Machines That Won’t Break the Bank
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