Human biomarkers are indicative of the body’s relative state prior to the onset of disease, and sometimes before symptoms present. While blood biomarker detection has achieved considerable success in laboratory settings, its clinical application is lagging and commercial point-of-care devices are rare. A physician’s ability to detect biomarkers such as microRNA-17, a potential epigenetic indicator of preeclampsia in pregnant woman, could enable early diagnosis and preventive intervention as early as the 1st trimester. One detection approach employing DNA-functionalized nanoparticles to detect microRNA-17, in conjunction with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), has shown promise but is hindered, in part, by the use of large and expensive benchtop Raman microscopes. However, recent strides have been made in developing portable Raman systems for field applications. Characteristics of the SERS assay responsible for strengthening the assay’s plasmonic response were explored, whilst comparing the results from both benchtop and portable Raman systems. The Raman spectra and intensity of three different types of photoactive molecules were compared as potential Raman reporter molecules: chromophores, fluorophores, and highly polarizable small molecules. Furthermore, the plasmonic characteristics governing the formation of SERS colloidal nanoparticle assemblies in response to DNA/miRNA hybridization were investigated. There were significant variations in the SERS enhancement in response to microRNA-17 using our assay depending on the excitation lasers at wavelengths of 532 nm and 785 nm, depending on which of the three different Raman systems were used (benchtop, portable, and handheld), and depending on which of the three different Raman reporters (chromophore, fluorophore, or Raman active molecule) were used. Analysis of data obtained did indicate that signal enhancement was better for the chromophore (MGITC) and Raman active molecule (DTNB) than it was for the fluorophore (TRITC) and that, although it is possible to obtain enhancements when using excitation lasers that do not directly coincide with the optical properties of the Raman reporter molecule, clearly the enhancements are more significant when it reaches to the characteristic wavelengths of those molecules.