chinese 936 clone is minimally viable hakko is decent oki metcal is overkill for /diy/ and if you minmax into buying one it's time to check yoself.
don't cheap out on the consumables. buy 60/40 or 63/37 tin/lead solder from multicore, kester or cynel. buy desoldering wick from goot or chemtronics. yes it costs more than the iron did. you won't regret it.
If you want to go as cheap as possible, buy an old one from a thrift store or ebay before you buy one from radioshack. I found one in the basement of the house I'm renting and it's ten times easier to use than the expensive piece of shit I bought from radioshack.
>>943822 Whatever is cheap on amazon. I bought an el cheapo blue one with temp control dial. Came with all needed tips and works great. Although I suck at soldering and am a pleb automatically for not recommending the top tier soldering iron. Just see the replies to my post.
>>944289 Actually the price and brand of the iron matter less than the tips.
Hobbyking makes a hakko clone that can use hakko tips for something like $12.50.
I've been told it performs almost as good (with hakko tips) if not better than my fx-951.
There really is no point to buying an iron that cost more than the fx888 (analog, the digital is shit) unless you're doing this all day every day. Even then for most applications the difference is negligible. That being said, the difference in soldering between my fx951 and the Chinese station I had before was pretty substantial. I attribute this to the tip.
>>943822 OP if you want something good for small or even SMD work, get thin solder, and an adjustable temp iron with small chisel tips. I'd recommend 2mm or smaller for smd. Needle tips are less useful than you might think. Ceramic heating is easier to work with, but isn't a must.
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