Editorial Article: What's The Right Liquid Chromatography System for You?

In this article, we compare quaternary LC systems to help you choose the best for your analysis needs

05 Mar 2018

When considering modern liquid chromatography (LC) systems, one of two styles of pump can be used to provide a mobile phase to the system - binary or quaternary. In quaternary pumping systems, a single pump can deliver the mobile phase and provides the flexibility of allowing up to four different solvents to be used, or mixed, at the same time.

 Water's portfolio of analytical LC systems is designed to meet a variety of requirements for reliability, robustness and repeatability. In this article, we help you choose which system is best for your research needs.

Which LC system is right for your lab?

System Alliance HPLC System Acquity Arc  LC System Acquity UPLC H-class  System
Description The time-tested, reliable workhorse for your HPLC separations - that isn't going away any time soon A versatile LC platform for laboratories in need of a solution to replicate or improve HPLC methods Run true UPLC separations and maximize the efficiency  of your laboratory

Dispersion impact (relative)

Low Medium High
Operating Pressure (psi) <6,000 6,000-15,000 9,000-15,000
Typical flow rate (mL/min)


<2 <1
Optimal particle size (µm) >3.5 1.5-5 <2
Cost per sample (relative) High Medium Low
Optimal column I.D (mm)


2.1-4.6 1-3
Separation efficiency


118 116
Retention time (min)


3.75 1.70
Initial cost of system Low Medium High
Total cost of ownership/time High Medium Low
Cost of solvent 9x more than UPLC 4x more than UPLC Low


In summary, choose:

  • Alliance HPLC System – if you need a time-tested, reliable and flexible HPLC system that consistently delivers high performance.
  • Acquity Arc LC System – for a versatile LC platform with the robustness to bridge the gap between HPLC and UPLC, while continuing to support validated assays.
  • Acquity UPLC H-class System – to invest in your laboratory’s future, by gaining the highest resolution of any quaternary LC system, and improving efficiency by scaling up to UPLC technology.


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