The Best 7 Magnetic Rowing Machines – Top Rowers for a Smooth and Silent Workout

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Our top ten chart highlighting the best rowing machines on the market was in need of a little attention.

So we decided to reshuffle things – removing an older model, and adding a new top pick: the incredible RW500 from NordicTrack!

The winner after the latest chart update:
  • Folding: Yes
  • Resistance Type: Magnetic/Air
  • Resistance Levels: 16 levels
  • Features: Steel frame, 5.5” bright blue LCD console, flex pedals, long durable slide rail, transportation wheels, 10 built-in programs, heart rate receiver, 350lb weight capacity

In terms of achieving an efficient and effective low-impact workout, nothing beats a good rowing machine .

Without a doubt, a rowing machine gets pretty close to being the ‘perfect’ fitness apparatus, combining cardio and muscular activation in the arms, back, legs and core for a complete full-body workout.

The rower activates your cardio system and optimizes your body’s ability to process oxygen for the ultimate fat-burning experience. In addition, rowing on a machine is impact-free, sparing your connective tissues while prioritizing muscular and cardio activation.

For those of you who are looking to maximize your fat-burning and muscle-toning results while minimizing both your workout time and stress on your joints, the magnetic rowing machine is the perfect choice – especially if you like to keep your workout quiet and smooth.

In today’s article we will run you through seven of the best magnetic rowing machines to suit all fitness needs, complete with brief reviews of each.

After this, we take a closer look at the features and finer points of magnetic rowing machines in our buyer’s guide, before tackling a few of your most often-asked questions.

Top 7 Best Magnetic Rowing Machines:


  • Smooth and quiet action with a natural feel
  • Large easy to read LCD monitor
  • 16 levels of resistance and 10 preset programs for good variety
  • Strong and durable rower, supporting users up to 350lbs


  • Doesn’t feature heart rate programs

Folding: Yes
Resistance Type: Magnetic/Air
Resistance Levels: 16 levels
Features: Steel frame, 5.5” bright blue LCD console, flex pedals, long durable slide rail, transportation wheels, 10 built-in programs, heart rate receiver, 350lb weight capacity

With its sturdy steel frame and a durable 97” beam, the EXTERRA Fitness ERG700 is quite an exciting rowing machine. Like a couple of others on the market, it combines both magnetic and air resistance for a best of both worlds approach.

The features found on the ERG700 are very comparable to high-end rowers, allowing users to taste a gym-grade experience, while keeping within an affordable price range.
The larger than normal LCD console allows you to keep a close eye on distance, strokes/min, calories, heart rate, watts and much more.

The addition of 10 built-in fitness programs will add a variety of challenges for beginners and advanced users alike. In order to maximize space, the ERG700 also includes a fold-up feature for simple and easy storage when not in use.

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  • Features 26 levels of smooth and silent magnetic resistance
  • Also includes the option to switch to air resistance for high-intensity workouts
  • Easy to fold and store thanks to SpaceSaver design
  • Comes with a 5” LCD screen, built-in speakers and an included 10” tablet


  • One of the expensive magnetic rowers on the market

Folding: Yes
Resistance Type: Magnetic/Air
Resistance Levels: 26 levels
Features: Two forms of resistance, inertia-enhanced flywheel, SpaceSaver design, quick-adjust pedals, SoftTouch ergonomic handle, 5” LCD screen, built-in speakers, 10” Portal 10i tablet, built-in workout programs, iFit compatibility

Our new top pick, the NordicTrack RW500 may show off a higher price tag than many magnetic rowers, but it also displays top-class versatility, performance and features.

Like a handful of others on the market, the RW500 features both magnetic resistance and air resistance. This allows you to enjoy the best of both resistance styles, with the magnetic option offering 26 levels of silent resistance – ideal for any ability level and intensity.

However, unlike many other magnetic rowers, this model features both a large LCD screen and built-in speakers, so you can listen to tunes as you row. The rower also includes a 10” Portal 10i tablet – a great bonus and perfect for both entertainment and workout videos while you exercise!

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  • Super compact design and folds for optimal storage
  • Strong and durable build supporting users up to 275lbs
  • Comes with a chest strap and built-in heart rate programs
  • Super easy to assemble


  • Short warranty for parts (90 days)

Folding: Yes
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 12 levels
Features: Steel frame, 12 workout programs, LCD monitor with workout tracking, chest strap monitor, built-in wheels, protective floor mat, 275lb weight capacity

Compared to most compact rowing machines, the Stamina Avari offers some very exciting features not found on others of a similar price. This includes 12 workout programs to choose from, including six cardio programs and a heart rate program – perfect for use with the included chest strap monitor.

Another interesting feature of the Avari is the tilted seat. By using a tilted seat, the exercise prioritizes thigh activation for further strength and muscular development.

With a brightly-lit and easy to read console, the Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower provides a unique rowing experience that challenges beginners and advanced users alike. When not in use, it can be folded for easy storage, which is ideal for small spaces.

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  • Features an affordable price tag
  • Very sturdy build for good stability
  • Compact but still takes users up to 6ft
  • Extremely quiet when in action


  • No preset workout programs
  • Monitor is very basic

Folding: Yes
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Features: Lightweight build, double padded seat, large LCD readout, downward-tilted seat design, tension knob, transportation wheels, 264lb weight capacity

The Merax Adjustable Rower is a simple and popular rower that is easy on the wallet, while providing an effective full-body workout.

Given its price range, this Merax rower is everything you’d expect from a budget rowing machine, but with two major exceptions. Firstly, it’s one of the better-looking affordable models on the market and, secondly, it remains rock-solid even during intense rowing sessions. For such a lightweight machine (just 74lbs) it is amazingly stable.

The magnetic resistance system offers a super quiet rowing experience, using a simple resistance knob for quick on-the-fly adjustments. The LCD readout is simple and easy to read – there are no programs to worry about. Simply sit down, lock in and start rowing.

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  • Very affordable price tag
  • Compact design and sturdy build
  • Can accommodate taller users
  • Extremely quiet when in action


  • Not as advanced when it comes to secondary features
  • No backlight on LCD monitor

Folding: Yes
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Features: Steel frame, padded seat, ergonomic hand grips, LCD console with full workout feedback, large anti-slip foot pedals and foot straps, 220lb weight capacity

The Goplus Folding Rower is an entry-level magnetic rowing machine designed to do one thing – make you sweat! Given the price of this rower, it is surprisingly comfortable, with a fully padded seat, ergonomic handles and large, non-slip foot pedals.

The compact yet sturdy design allows for maximum effort without compromising the mechanical integrity of the rower. It won’t shake or wobble, even at the highest intensity levels, for a true rowing experience.

Considering how compact this Goplus rower is, it can still accommodate people who are over 6ft tall. The 3.5” LCD readout is simple but effective, allowing users to control it ‘on the go’ with the push of one button. A surprisingly good rowing experience, without putting a huge dent in your finances.

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  • Comes with a very affordable price tag
  • Easy to use and read LCD monitor
  • Compact design and sturdy build
  • Pretty easy to assemble


  • Does not feature any built-in workout programs
  • Short warranty – just 90 days parts and labor

Folding: Yes
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Features: Steel frame, large LCD readout, padded seat, ergonomic hand grips, large anti-slip pedals, 250lb weight capacity

The SF-RW5515 from Sunny Health & Fitness is a budget-friendly rower that offers mid-range comfort and stability for users up to 250lbs. The non-slip handles are a great addition, while the padded seat provides comfort for longer rowing sessions.

One of the big problem areas for many budget rowers is poor foot traction, which can often result in a poor workout experience. Not so with the SF-RW5515. With its large anti-slip pedals, users can keep rowing without having to worry about slipping or adjusting their foot positioning.

Given the price range and light weight (60lbs) of the SF-RW5515, it is also surprisingly durable. With its folding design and transport wheels, the RW5515 is a worry-free and very mobile rower.

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  • Hard to beat the price tag
  • Super compact and easy to maneuver
  • Sturdy build and decent weight capacity
  • Features a funky turquois color scheme


  • Only features eight levels of magnetic resistance
  • LCD monitor offers just basic readout information

Folding: Yes
Resistance Type: Magnetic
Resistance Levels: 8 levels
Features: Attractive design, easy to read LCD screen, padded seat, large secure foot pedals, tear resistance rowing strap, non-slip grip handlebars, 264lb weight capacity

This affordable magnetic rower from Harvil is an ideal rower for beginners who are looking for something affordable, durable and compact. This budget-friendly magnetic rower comes with all the features necessary for a great all-round workout, offering a smooth and efficient rowing experience.

It may not have the bells and whistles of the more expensive models but it is sturdy and stable. At just 46lbs in total weight and with super-compact folded dimensions (28” x 20” x 63”) it is perfect for small apartments, condos and dorm rooms. The rower also comes with transport wheels for simple maneuverability.

With eight levels of resistance, the Havil rower isn’t the most versatile on the market, but will provide enough of a challenge for beginners and intermediates alike.

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Shopping for a Magnetic Rowing Machine

No other cardio equipment compares to the rowing machine in terms of maximizing workout efficiency and effectiveness. Burning an average of 600 calories per hour, the rower offers something that many other cardio machines lack – the ability to bridge the gap between cardio and resistance.

Cardio machines, such as the elliptical, arc trainer and stepper, try to emulate the rowing movement, but fail to capture the true intensity of an actual rowing machine.

If we had to pick an exercise that strikes the perfect balance between fat burning and muscular resistance, rowing is that exercise.

When it comes to purchasing a magnetic rower, there are some important guidelines to consider before investing in one – in this section, we run you through them.


The design of the rowing machine will depend on three main factors – available exercise space, your bodyweight, and your height.

The amount of space that is available for your rower will determine the type of designed required. You will need to consider whether or not you plan on transporting your rower from room to room and the size of your exercise space.

Midrange residential rowers are between 5ft and 8ft in length, so you must make sure your room has adequate space. For example, if you live in a studio apartment or a condo, you will be better suited looking at compact and folding rowers as opposed to a full-size machine.

When folded, rowers will generally fall between 2.5ft and 3.5ft in length, which allows them to fit into most closets or store cupboards.

If you plan on having a dedicated room for your magnetic rower, such as a home gym, you may want to go with a heavier-duty model. A heavier model will offer a level of stability and mechanical integrity that lighter rowers can’t provide.

On the other hand, if you plan on transporting your rower from one room to another, you may want to consider one with a lighter weight.

When in use, remember to factor in around three to four additional feet to allow each user to get on and off of the rower comfortably.

All rowing machines have maximum supporting weight requirements. This will have a huge impact on design, including construction materials and stability.

Heavier models, such as the XTERRA Fitness ERG700, can support user weights of up to 350lbs. This is ideal if you are pretty heavy and using a rower specifically to lose weight. If you are lighter, you can get away with a lighter and more compact machine.

Make sure you are aware of your own weight, then make sure to read the maximum support your rower can accommodate before making a purchase.

Your height also plays an important role in whether or not a rowing machine will be suitable for you. For example, taller individuals will require a longer beam – the central rail on which the seat sits and slides along.

A longer beam will offer an extended leg range, catering best for taller users. If you are 6ft 4” or taller you will need a beam length of at least 7ft (84”) to ensure you can have that full leg extension.


The resistance determines the amount of force needed to complete one successful stroke. Ultimately, this is what gives your workout the challenge required to boost your fitness and torch calories. Without resistance, you are just wasting your time sliding around on a seat!

As the name reveals, magnetic rowers use magnets acting on a metal flywheel to create resistance, as opposed to air or water rowing machines or hydraulic rowers. The closer the magnet to the flywheel, the stronger the resistance.

The advantage of magnetic resistance is that it is quieter, but also that it is more consistent. If you set the level, the resistance stays at that level until you change it.

Of course, the more levels there are, the more options you have for gradual progression and workout variety.

The more expensive the rower, the more resistance levels there tends to be. Budget units may only offer eight or so levels, which is ample for a beginner. More experienced users will be better off looking towards the higher end of the market, where 10 to 16-plus levels are available.

Secondary Features

A rowing machine will offer several features seen as secondary, although that still prove important to the overall experience.

For example, the comfort offered by the components. If you plan on rowing for more than 20 consecutive minutes, you will want to make sure your rower is comfortable enough. Look for rowers with padded ergonomic seats, foam handles and non-slip foot pedals.

Midrange to higher priced models tend to be more comfortable, but there are some great lower-end models that still offer a decent amount of comfort.

Comfort aside, the central console is worth paying attention to. Higher-end rowing machines will offer larger and more detailed consoles with bigger screens. The rower is very dynamic and you are always moving, so a larger display is preferred.

Backlit consoles are great to have and offer a lot more visibility than regular consoles. If you plan on using your rower at night, or in dimly lit rooms, this is an option worth having.

At the very minimum, you will want a display screen that includes basic workout readouts, such as calories burned, distance rowed, row count and time elapsed.

Finally, look out for rowing machines with workout programs built in. Preset programs allow users the opportunity to enhance their rowing experience by incorporating challenging and dynamic routines.

Ultimately, repetitive cardio movements can become boring, so programs such as fat-burning, interval, strength and calorie burn tend to add more variation and excitement.

Workout programs are usually offered on midrange to higher priced magnetic rowers, but can occasionally be found on some lower priced models too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Magnetic and air rowing machines each have their place in the fitness community and both are well respected.

The biggest benefit to an air rowing machine is its ability to mimic actual rowing in water, as opposed to a magnetic rower. This is good news if you are looking for a more authentic rowing experience.

However, there are a few drawbacks to the air rower. Firstly, air rowers are noisy. The faster you row the noisier it gets.

Secondly, there are no set resistance levels on air rowing machines. The faster you row the harder it gets (like natural water rowing). This can be an advantage, but equally a disadvantage – especially if you crave consistency.

Magnetic rowers, on the other hand, are virtually silent. It doesn’t matter how hard you row or which resistance level is set, magnetic rowers remain super quiet. In addition, magnetic rowers offer a multitude of resistance levels and programs – unlike air rowers – to keep things challenging and exciting.

There is no definitive answer to which one is better. It’s worth trying both if possible, then making a decision based on your goals and requirements.

Absolutely! Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the magnetic rowing machine is its unique ability to bridge the gap between simultaneously burning maximum fat, and gaining strength and muscle.

No other cardio machine captures the rower’s ability to generate the raw muscle power needed to complete one rowing stroke. The magnetic rower comes as close to the perfect exercise that can be used by beginners and advanced users alike.

Considering you can burn up to 600 calories per hour on a rower (depending on your weight and intensity), users can expect lose a lot of body fat with a dedicated and consistent rowing routine.

However, this must be combined with a common-sense nutrition plan, otherwise you may not see the desired results.

The most efficient and effective exercises are those that require the use of multiple muscle groups to complete the movement.

Rowing requires the use of the entire body including the back, shoulders, legs, calves, hamstrings, butt, biceps, forearms and core. With this in mind, rowing is a more complete exercise than spinning.

Spinning primarily relies on lower body and core strength. But don’t be fooled – the intensity and calorie burn one can achieve on a good spinning bike is hard to beat. However, in terms of full body muscle activation, rowing is much more effective than spinning.

We recommend trying both exercises if possible, then making a decision on how you feel during and after.

Rowing duration and intensity will depend on your level of current fitness. If you are just starting out with no previous rowing experience, a five-minute session on a lower intensity a few times per week is plenty for the first week or so.

However, to progress, you must keep upping the intensity and time. Add two additional minutes with each passing week until you are able to perform a consistent session of 15 to 20 minutes.

Once you are able to perform 20 consistent minutes, try adding more resistance for a more challenging rowing workout.

The Ver(ve)dict!

Whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned fitness veteran, the magnetic rowing machine can help maximize your results efficiently and effectively – while keeping noise to a minimum.

There are plenty of options to choose from, with a handful highlighted in our chart above. Whether you want all the bells and whistles of a higher-end machine, or something more stripped down, finding a suitable rower for you won’t be that difficult.

Just keep our advice in mind during your search and you will end up with a rower that will serve you well for years to come. Good luck!

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