EEVblog #91 – $50 Multimeter Shootout – Extech EX330, Amprobe AM220, Elenco, Vichy VC99, GS Pro-50Posted on June 4th, 2010 69 comments
Dave compares five $50 Multimeters to see if they are any good, and how they compare.
Download the PDF comparison sheet
Thanks to Evan from Tequipment.net
The Extech EX330:
The Amprobe AM220:
The Elenco M-2625:
(Also Jaycar Digitech QM1535)
The Global Specialties Pro-50:
The Vichy VC99
(Also on Ebay)
69 responses to “EEVblog #91 – $50 Multimeter Shootout – Extech EX330, Amprobe AM220, Elenco, Vichy VC99, GS Pro-50”
Awesome! Perhaps you could do another shootout for a slightly higher range? Also, could you explain how your internal impedance test worked?
Again, awesome post!
Dave i know you just posted a spot review of failed product design on a idea meter in your $100 shoot out are their any Extech in that hundred dollar shoot out. If so in testing them is the overshoot still an issue? I am also wondering if you’d be willing to review one of the $50 ideal meters if it were sent to you.
What are the model numbers of your Keithley high voltage and current supplies? Thanks.
That slow motion fall out test was a killer, LOL.
Great overall, thanks!
Alas that elenco is very much like my digitech.
Btw I have just found your blog and like it very much.
Thanks for the great review Dave!
I noticed that the voltage on the Amprobe meter floats around 320 mV with unconnected leads (see the video from 4:50~). What is causing that and do you think it is a disadvantage?
Well happy to say I was only a half dick head in my choice having a VC99 and an AM220
Man, that must have taken a lot of work to put together. It was a very well-executed comparison of what you can really get for $50.
I felt like I was watching the multimeter equivalent of BBC’s Top Gear–an incredible mix of testing and seasoned opinion!
Go Extech! I’m already looking forward to the $100 shootout!
Doesn’t it make more sense to test the meters before you take them apart?
How do you know you didn’t damage the meters in the process? It is easy to call something a heaping pile of shit, but you may have actually damaged one.
An entertaining and thorough review, thanks. But I agree with Hugo, leave the take-apaaaaht test until the end, even after the drop tests, so we can see if there’s any tendency for internal damage from rough treatment. And all the functional tests can be done in “as delivered” condition.
Also thumbs up to the guys at Tequipment.
Great job on the multimeter shootout. by far the best eevblog yet and it was well worth the wait for it. thanks again.
just wanted to see how long we would have to wait for the $100 shoot-out and if there is any way to see if you are going to do a UNI-T multimeter review sometime? they have been on ebay alot like the VC99 you reviewed but im not sure if they can be put into the category of crappy meters.
also when you reviewed the multimeters, their accuracy and stuff was good but what about longivity? i mean will they stay that good for a good while? just curious.
alright well thanks again.
I laughed my ass off every time you made a comment about “our friend the Global Specialties” after it stopped functioning properly.
All in all, great review. I give it a big thumbs up and look forward to the next shootout.
found your shoot-out very interesting.
I would have found it even better, if you had provided a short table at the end, that summarizes the different points for each meter.
Something like a “-” for thumbs down or a “+” for thumbs.
Anyways, I like your videoblog, “Thumbs up” from Germany.
Great meter reviews. I laughed my *** off! Thumbs Up!!
LOL, call me a dickhead.
I bought a VC99 a couple of months back for just a general chuck about meter.
First impression was what’s that horrible rockmelon colour? (was yellow in the ebay listing)
Slow buzzer, totally wrong temperature readings, crap fuse access, but gorgeous display.
Am I happy? no, but it did only cost $30 from China.
YOU DEFINITELY GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!
Yea same with me in fact I left neutral feedback for it and the seller hammered me offering a small refund but I stuck to my guns, refused the money which a poor excuse for compensation for an item that is unreliable and left the neutral feedback
Did you build the PSU you use to test the DMMs with? Would you share the schematics or better yet make a quick video of it in the future? (I know you’ve shown your lab and the equipment, but we never got to see inside!)
Great reviews, I wanted to see some Mastech meters in there though…
lol! Slides around like a used car salesman. Hahahahahaha!
I second the idea of a review of the Fluke 17B, which is a discount Fluke product aimed to compete in the Asian market. If it’s significantly better than the Extech for ~$100, then I’d buy it.
Also a table would be really nice for the pros and cons of each product in these reviews.
I’ve to be honest to you, no offence but If I see another *elchapo* multimeter episode I might trow up >:-O
I know, I know… the newbies flood your inbox with questions regarding cheappy DMM’s every day… I’ve a message to them: “Hello newbies, can we borrow Dave for maybe 2 or 3 episodes ?”
And If there’s any doubt about how selfish I am: :-O
Dave could you please review at least one Programmable AC power supply ? something like the HP 6827A.
Thanks, and sorry for the “rant”
Brilliant episode, brought up some interesting points that are often taken for granted with flukes etc
Also thanks to the guys supplying all these meters to you, making this all possible!
Hi, Dave nice video, Would you like to take some internal photos and we can use the forum to analyze the PCBs? or maybe in a few weeks you can make an express video
I just took a look on Ebay at some completed listings and did a search for Fluke Multimeters <
Happy to hear the Extech won the $50 shootout. Been using them for years and feel they’re the best bang for the buck right now.
Though there is always a few nitpicks I have. One of them is there’s a severe drop in quality as you go into the lower end models – some quality drop is to be expected, but the $30 difference between the ex330 and ex430 is a huge difference in quality. I probable wouldn’t recommend anything lower than the 430 or 420.
One nice thing is on ebay you can pick up TK430 pack for around $100USD which comes with the EX430 DMM, MA200 clamp meter and a pen-type AC voltage detector (Not a fan of it). But 2 sets of probes & and a temp sensor is a good thing.
Which Extech model are you using for the $100 shootout?
great blog. i watched it 5 times already for the laughes and to see if i missed anything that you said or when you opened the meters.
so when is the $100 shootout?
Nicely done, but I am missing a test of the overload protection. Can the meter really stand 230 V AC in the ohm/diode/mV/capacity ranges?
A real test would be better than just looking at the protection components.
Great review. Gives a good idea of what to look for and what to look out for when you are on a tight budget.
Got myself a cheap multimeter for the shed after watching this. From Altronics here in Australia, so no postage issues. AU$75 so US$65?
Has USB hookup to PC for data logging, software that sucks but works and fits the bill for most of your other criteria too. Best of all though it does not fall over when you push the buttons on the front panel! Imagine that?!
Only a minute into the video but I’m wondering if we’re talking fifty dollars US or AU or something else. Just trying to help.
The AM-220 doesn’t have metal foil shielding inside, which is another disadvantage of it that wasn’t mentioned (although you did point out the meters that do have foil shielding). On my Amprobe AM-240, the frequency range picks up 60Hz from the mains when the probes aren’t connected to anything, although it didn’t seem to be an issue in the video.
I recently came across a user comment on a product page where a user falsely criticized a multimeter for the sickly sound of the continuity tester beep and not having a latch. And then I found your review blogs which are a bit misleading on this issue, though rightly focus on the importantance of a quick response time on make. However, a quick response time on break is just as important. These debouncing circuits, actually a retriggerable monostable multivibrator (or in some cases software/digital equivalents) are a bad thing and this kind of misunderstanding can lead to bad multimeter design. The job of a multimeter is to tell the truth. Debouncing circuits lie. Period. If your continuity test mode sounds sickly, that is because it is telling the truth – your connection is sickly. If you are testing a relay or switch contact or an intermittent connector or a PCB with hairline fractions, hearing when the connection is broken is critically important information. If a multimeter has this debouncing “feature”, it must be optional. The sickly sound might be annoying so one might want to enable debouncing; however, the unintented consequences of forgetting it is enabled could come back to bite you and cost you a lot of bench time by hidding a problem.
The sickly sound also reminds you how bad your probe contact really is. Probes which are duller than a bowling ball with crappy plating trying to connect to oxidized metal covered with flux or conformal coating, for example. The first thing you want to check when probing a circuit (if you get 0V, 0A, or infinite ohms) is whether your probes are working.
One should avoid, by the way, touching the tips of sharp probes as you do in the tweezer LCR video. It doesn’t help your contact and the Hepatitis B and C viruses can persist on the probes for 6 weeks and it takes only a tiny amount to be infectious. Sharp probe tips should be removable and autoclavable. It is good to have deadly sharp probe tips around when you need them, but because they really can be deadly, you don’t necessarily want to use them all the time. A long time ago, I scored some male/female probe tip connectors which had a side slot to accept wires which could be used to make stacking jumpers for use on probe tip style test points and connectors. I file those down to a sharp point and use them as removable sharp tips when needed (haven’t gotten around to plating them, though).
This is an example of marketing “features” which are really bugs and how uninformed consumers can drive product development in the wrong direction. A debounced meter sounds like it is better quality while a truthful meter sounds like a cheap piece of shit, when, in fact, if all other things are equal, the exact opposite is true. Of course, some of them sound like crap for reasons other than contact intermittency; that can be fixed.
Incidentally, several decades ago I used normally closed pushbuttons on an edge triggered circuit. Your garden variety ones, not high quality microswitch style ones. Well, it turned out they were very sensitive. Just lightly resting your finger on the button or bumping the box could trigger the circuit; just the inertia of the tiny plastic button was enough. It can take very little on some switches to break the connection. I real continuity tester will tell you this is happening. A debounced one will lie. Some CNC systems, incidentally, use a normally closed “switch”, specially constructed to be self centering, concentric, symmetric, and repeatable, to detect part edges to within a thousandth of an inch. These are made to the high precision required but a cheap N.C. pushbutton can be remarkably similar in sensitivity.
As a hobbyist in the uk I found both multimeter shootouts great as I was looking for a cheap meter to keep in my tool box, I already have two flukes 87v & 177 that i use on my test bench but there too good to throw in a tool box. After watching your shootout I decided to get the amprobe AM220, it seemed to have the most accurate readings of the lot, one thing I noticed was the number of calibration trim pots, the amprobe only had two, one i think for dc volts and one for ac volts after these are set up all the other functions like milliamps etc fall into place,the Fluke 77 III series multimeters only had one trim pot to calibrate. I just don’t think the manufacturers are going to spend a lot of time setting up a $50 multimeter!
please do a review on a PeakTech 2010DMM it costs about 50USD and I have one and in my opinion it is pretty good value for the money, mostly because it has a lot of functions for example frequency up to 10MHz , amperes up to 20A resistance up to 2000M omh so check it out.
bowling balls that are coated with an acrylic clearcoat are the nice ones “
Excellent job, very diligent. I would suggest one additional test in future meter reviews, the ability of the meter to measure AC voltages of higher frequencies. This is one of the first tests that I do any meter.
Many folks on the internet want to fix their own audio amps and guitar amps, and they are not aware that these DMM’s will not measure signal voltage above somewhere in the 400-1000Hz range, depending on meter, which makes them limited for signal tracing through an amp or measuring power output or other similar tasks. This is an issue even for more expensive DMM’s, including many (most?) Flukes.
How they read is quite interesting. Most meters will read lower (approaching zero as frequency increases), but I have seen one (Greenlee) actually read higher, and the readings continued to rise as frequency increases.
I wonder: WHY is it the Vichy VC99 excelled at EVERY test you put it to, according to your PDF file….. BUT, you rate it so low?
It showed out as being the most accurate, according to YOUR file, has the most ranges, biggest display and best resolution. WHAT, exactly where you looking for in a meter?
Disclaimer, I have a VC99, as well as various other meters. I’ve found it to be just about as accurate as my 300 dollar Fluke “standard”, give or take a few millivolts. 60 mhz freq counter is better than anything you tested, etc.
I’m REALLY at a loss for words why the meter that has the best “as tested” specifications, according to the measurements on your PDF, scored pretty much at the bottom of the list.
Also, why is it when the VC99 scores BETTER than the Extech, or scores the same, you STILL greenbar the Extech.
Please clarify this: I want to pick another meter up for my son (he’s 7 and learning, we just built our first Crystal radio together, now we want to do diode checks to see which of the diodes I have hear would have the lowest forward turn on, meaning, the greatest sensitivity in his radio) so we can do some more tests on a current project… Ran across your blog (I think I read it on MAKE / Facebook as well, and questioned it there, but received a non-plussed answer that didn’t really address a single question I asked, only said “I found what I found”, pretty much”.
Thanks, and I appreciate you taking the time to actually DO these tests: It’s kinda hard, this day in age, to purchase 6 50 dollar meters only to throw 4 or 5 away because they are trash.
Incidentally, I’ve DROPPED my VC99 off my 40 foot tower (granted, it was lowered to the 20 foot level) onto the ground. Didn’t effect anything that I can tell.
what a stupid review?
BIG TIGHT-ASS MARKETING ATTEMPT from your sponsors, Tequipment and Danaher.
Tequipment owns many of the online-test-equipment websites!
YES! You shove the Amprobe and Extech to the fanboys, and Tequipment continues to send you freebies.
WE KNOW! WE KNOW!
The Extech and Amprobe retails at $45 – $55.
You can get a $60 Uni-T, Digitek, Victor, Mastech multimeter for the same price with top-grade TRMS function! (Nahh… TEQUIPMENT kept that a secret!)
Cartload of OZ bullocks!
Nice review ! But I’d love to see your opinion on DT830B (I’m the “proud” owner of one of the cheapest available ). I just want to hear more than “complete crap, piece of junk” . And don’t tell me that I wasted my money on that
Just in case anyone is still looking here for a new meter, I thought I’d recommend the extech minitec26t. It has very similar specs to the ex330 reviewed (I suspect the same internals) but unlike the ex330 it has a great switch and a good stand. Plus, it’s a fair amount smaller, making it the most compact, good-quality meter I’ve ever used. Best of all though, you can pick it up for $40. $15 cheaper than the ex330. No NCV though (I can’t remember ever using that anyways)
hi i am looking for a mfd multimeter do you have one let me know.
David, What is your overall opinion(if you have one),of the “KLEIN TOOLS MM 2000″ (Homedepot $100.00),for a Multimeter in the $100.00 range ? -Steve
Nice review…You saved me, I was looking for some info about the “Vichy VC99″ (I was told it was “pretty good for that price” but I didn’t believe it, so I decided to check it). On the other hand, I don´t know where do you buy the Extech EX300 in such price, here in my country (Spain) it costs between 87€-110€ (I think they should be crazy, for that price I will buy a Fluke).
Any idea about “Vellerman” brand meters quality?
I just watched it again and I was able to recognize the more expensive Extech, BK Precision and UEi on the background bench. So the work for the other shootout was apparently going on while this was shot. Nice work, both of them, really.
Thanks for the review. I’ve now bought both an EX300 and an AM240 and learned a lot about multimeters.
Prices and availability differ in the UK (they are more expensive) but after some research I found these meters and others for not too bad prices.
Below is a spreadsheet I made of UK sources and prices for some of the better branded meters I could find here.
Great meter reviews, wanted to replace a cheap meter, your reviews pointed me in right direction. Purchased a EXTECH Ex430 for $62.00 Canadian thats included shipping, on ebay.
There seems to a quality difference between EXTECH 300, 400 and 500 series, in $50 review the EX330 PCB was well laid out, in $100 review EX505 had messy PCB design. What is the PCB in 430 like? Another thing about the 430, of all your back light tests, the 430 seems as good or better than any of $50 or $100 meters. 3 green LEDs on each side.
I would like to see you test EX430 and the Fluke 15B and 17B.
Perhaps you could redo this test in the future? There are a lot of sugestions of new meters and I see this page referenced from a lot of sites. Should there is a lot of interest in this topic.
Could you also review the minipa et-997?
Thanks for a thorough review of DMMs. I used review info to buy a Amprobe AM-240 DMM from limited available range of DMMs were I live. It’s nice DMM overall with very few annoying issues (slow autoranging in Ohms, slow continuity and you cannot turn off buttons sound).
By the way, Dave seems to have misplaced probes in AM-220 when testing diode mode (around 30:50 in video, red probe is in the amps socket). My AM-240 outputs ~2.8V in diode test mode (according to my measurements and specs). AM-220 is almost indentical DMM with same specs.
Just wanted to clarify.
Well its easy to knock stuff, isnt it?
If your all that clever, why dont you recommend me what is in your Esteemed Opinions a good Multimeter I can get for the same price as a Vichy VC99 $30 to $35 and as easy to find.(Which is the one I wanted till you lot kicked the crap out of it!)
Please remember I’d ove a Fluke, but I am not Rich! Ok? And I only intend to use it on the Casr and around the House. So Obviously I will need it to test the mains now and then. (220v)
Has anyone got any experience of this Multimeter?
Mastech MS8268 (Sometimes branded Sinometer)
Thinking of buying it instead of the
Vichy VC99. Its not a lot more money than the vc99 either.
Anyone got any news or views on the MS8268 please??
Thanks for this usefull and fun review ! I decided for an Amprobe 240 before seeing it.
So, for the slow continuity test (it is!), is there a way, setting, mod… to speed-up this function ?
Thanks for the guidance. An FYI, for everybody: I found the Amprobe AM-240 for $34.23, at Zoro Tools. I might have paid an extra $10 or so for the Extech EX330, but not $25! The shipping (I’m in Texas) was an additional $5, but I found a $5-off promo code (it’s “Zmail4u”, enter at checkout) that totally offset that. I have no experience with Zoro Tools, but a little searching threw up no red flags.
Got the Extech EX330 today. The input socket for Voltage got loose after sticking in the cables 3 times! Not a problem got it soldered back on easily, also the coms socket has been something out.
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