Monster PowerCenter HT 800G Tear-Down

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Daniel Sauvageau

Daniel Sauvageau is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He’s known for his feature tear-downs of components and peripherals.

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  • bit_user
    I long ago replaced my Monster Power A/V surge protection / power filtering product with a Panamax unit, which were peerless at the time. It would be nice to know how their quality rates, these days.

    Oh, and thanks for yet another excellent teardown.
  • toddybody
    Not trying to be negative...but Tom's is really confusing me lately;

    Continued Power Strip Teardowns (admittedly boring, though technically interesting) juxtaposed against some goofy op eds (yes Im talking about you, Mr. Used Macbook)...with a considerable lag in reporting tech news behind it's peers (i.e., GTX 970 VRAM-Gate, recent AMD 3xx tweets).

    Tom's, you ARE an AWESOME site because of your attention to:

    PC Component Reviews (though a topical review of Apple Products wouldn't offend master race folks either)

    Manufacturer Q&A Articles

    System Builders and Benchmarks!

    ...anyhoo, please dont loose the spark that makes you a special site.

    PS: How about a refreshed customer water loop guide?
  • bit_user
    434937 said:
    Not trying to be negative...but Tom's is really confusing me lately; Continued Power Strip Teardowns (admittedly boring, though technically interesting) juxtaposed against some goofy op eds (yes Im talking about you, Mr. Used Macbook)...with a considerable lag in reporting tech news behind it's peers (i.e., GTX 970 VRAM-Gate, recent AMD 3xx tweets).
    Why not complain about this in the comments on those Op Eds and the late news articles, then?

    Or, better yet, perhaps the site feedback forum (might actually get some results):

    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum-9.html
  • Steelwing
    Now show us a tear-down of a professional level surge protector that doesn't use MOVs (is a non-sacrificial protector) but cancels the surges in another manner.

    I want to see something from SurgeX, Zero Surge, or Brick Wall.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    427637 said:
    Now show us a tear-down of a professional level surge protector that doesn't use MOVs (is a non-sacrificial protector) but cancels the surges in another manner. I want to see something from SurgeX, Zero Surge, or Brick Wall.

    Send an email to SurgeX and try convincing them to contact me and send me a review sample. At $200 and up, those fancy units are far too expensive to tear down at my own expense.

    If I did receive one, I would also feel compelled to try giving its protection some sort of work-out to prove a few points based on what I read in their patents during a long argument with other forum posters about SurgeX many months ago.

    (Hmm, looks like THG ate my signature and won't let me set it again.)
  • babernet_1
    I really hate these new horizontal windows. They usually don't work for me. I have Google Chrome and a cable modem
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    434937 said:
    Not trying to be negative...but Tom's is really confusing me lately; Continued Power Strip Teardowns (admittedly boring, though technically interesting) juxtaposed against some goofy op eds

    Then you might be happy to read that my next tear-down won't be a power strip... and my next two stories after that might not be either, now that I have enough basic test equipment to start building my own and dig into more intricate stuff - THG has lent me an oscilloscope last month and the Eyeball + DFT power factor slides in this story were my first of likely many future uses of it in a story... a hint of on of the things I might end up using it for at least until I get a more convenient method of obtaining the same measurements.

    I started doing power strips because it was something simple sparked by an unexpected failure that got more interest than expected from readers. The wild manufacturing quality variability helped keep things entertaining so I will probably continue doing them whenever I get something potentially different enough to turn into a story - you never know where the next shocking revelation will come from until you look and it jumps into your face!
  • tsumeone
    I personally love these teardowns. Goes to show you that money is not always quality, but sometimes it can be. I'd personally love to see a teardown of one of those highly regarded metal Tripp-Lite units, the ISOBAR Ultra ones. I wonder just how much quality is actually in those, but I don't want to bust mine open.
  • 06yfz450ridr
    i have a few panamax pdus that we pulled from a job literally 20+ of them. I use one for my tv equipment and a panamax ups for my pc stuff.

    I could donate a pdu to disassemble if you would like here is the model #m4315-pro
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    991735 said:
    i have a few panamax pdus that we pulled from a job literally 20+ of them. I use one for my tv equipment and a panamax ups for my pc stuff. I could donate a pdu to disassemble if you would like here is the model #m4315-pro

    That would certainly be much appreciated.
  • Beer Butter and Bacon
    The delay for devices to become ready when plugged into the green sockets will be annoying to set up with a programmable remote.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    Well, for all of you who were asking for a SurgeX tear-down, I sent an email to their sales rep and got a first response asking for more details within minutes, so it looks like they are at least a little intrigued.
  • Vistouf
    Do you use a way to measure readers' interest other than the number of comments or shares?

    These articles are amongst my favorite on this site, but I rarely comment anything...
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1041489 said:
    Do you use a way to measure readers' interest other than the number of comments or shares? These articles are amongst my favorite on this site, but I rarely comment anything...

    I have not asked what the page view numbers are but I could probably ask nicely for them.

    From the repeat orders and the recent addition of a loaner oscilloscope, I would assume my page view count is at least reasonably good.
  • Niccodemure
    Thanks for a great article. I am glad to see that the "better" Monster product did show some advantages. As for not worth the price I think even at $90 +, if it stops a fire in my home it is well worth it.
    I hope you can get that Panamax piece as we use that here at my work and it seems to be a great unit.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1758637 said:
    Thanks for a great article. I am glad to see that the "better" Monster product did show some advantages. As for not worth the price I think even at $90 +, if it stops a fire in my home it is well worth it. I hope you can get that Panamax piece as we use that here at my work and it seems to be a great unit.

    Thanks for your interest in these little tear-downs.

    The reason why I said "not worth $90" is simply because those ceramic-encased Chinese MOVs cost only a dollar more than three separate MOVs, so it should not be necessary to pay $60 more to get a power strip that uses them.

    Another reason would be that those catastrophic MOV failures shown in videos are usually from sustained gross over-voltages that cause MOVs to heat up much faster than the thermal fuse can open assuming the demonstration did not bypass the fuse for dramatic effect or use an inherently unsafe power strip that lacks said fuse like the Sunbeam unit in my 10-way tear-down. As for actual MOV-related fires, I would be curious to know the proportion that lacked thermal protection.

    BTW, I got a call from ESP earlier today telling me they would be interested in providing a sample, asking for which specific models I might be interested in so I passed along the request for a SurgeX and "professional" surge protection tear-down and left the details to ESP/SurgeX to decide. Which one would readers prefer? A basic SurgeX unit with an MSRP around $300 or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink unit at $900? Either one seems a "little" outside the average THG reader's budget but I could be proven wrong. If you have an opinion, comment quickly since I am expecting a follow-up mail within two days.
  • Karsten75
    "Daughter Dearest"? Bit of a stretch, innit?
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    294812 said:
    "Daughter Dearest"? Bit of a stretch, innit?

    Well, wasn't she cute?
  • Niccodemure
    1736083 said:
    1758637 said:
    Thanks for a great article. I am glad to see that the "better" Monster product did show some advantages. As for not worth the price I think even at $90 +, if it stops a fire in my home it is well worth it. I hope you can get that Panamax piece as we use that here at my work and it seems to be a great unit.
    Thanks for your interest in these little tear-downs. The reason why I said "not worth $90" is simply because those ceramic-encased Chinese MOVs cost only a dollar more than three separate MOVs, so it should not be necessary to pay $60 more to get a power strip that uses them. Another reason would be that those catastrophic MOV failures shown in videos are usually from sustained gross over-voltages that cause MOVs to heat up much faster than the thermal fuse can open assuming the demonstration did not bypass the fuse for dramatic effect or use an inherently unsafe power strip that lacks said fuse like the Sunbeam unit in my 10-way tear-down. As for actual MOV-related fires, I would be curious to know the proportion that lacked thermal protection. BTW, I got a call from ESP earlier today telling me they would be interested in providing a sample, asking for which specific models I might be interested in so I passed along the request for a SurgeX and "professional" surge protection tear-down and left the details to ESP/SurgeX to decide. Which one would readers prefer? A basic SurgeX unit with an MSRP around $300 or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink unit at $900? Either one seems a "little" outside the average THG reader's budget but I could be proven wrong. If you have an opinion, comment quickly since I am expecting a follow-up mail within two days.


    Probably the $300 to make the masses happier.
    I was a Systems designer for a large Home Theater/Home automation company and it may surprise you to know how many home systems have "Surge protection" well over $300.
    Looking at a system as a whole I try to budget 10% of the hardware's value towards power and wire. So a 100k home theater (and there are many) would have maybe 5-6k invested in the power control systems.

    Would be odd to attach a $90 Surge to a $12000 amplifier. Just sayin'

    And thanks for the input on the MOV's that is great to know.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1758637 said:
    Would be odd to attach a $90 Surge to a $12000 amplifier. Just sayin'

    Many of those ridiculously expensive amplifiers use linear power supplies and the transformer's primary inductance would already reject the bulk of the surge's energy as long as there is a lower impedance path elsewhere to eat the rest. If the primary is insulated to withstand 6kV, the in-wall wiring will likely start arcing before the amplifier gets any sort of damage. Linear supplies are far more vulnerable to sustained over-voltages that carry directly over to the secondaries and translate into considerable extra heat, so a voltage regulator should be higher on their shopping list.

    But yeah, if someone can afford spending over 10k$ on an amplifier alone, they aren't going to notice 1k$ spent on an AVR with surge suppression/elimination, filtering and whatever other extras.
  • Steelwing
    1736083 said:
    BTW, I got a call from ESP earlier today telling me they would be interested in providing a sample, asking for which specific models I might be interested in so I passed along the request for a SurgeX and "professional" surge protection tear-down and left the details to ESP/SurgeX to decide. Which one would readers prefer? A basic SurgeX unit with an MSRP around $300 or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink unit at $900? Either one seems a "little" outside the average THG reader's budget but I could be proven wrong. If you have an opinion, comment quickly since I am expecting a follow-up mail within two days.


    That's great to hear! I wasn't sure if they'd go for the idea, but I'm glad they did. I'd suggest one of the more inexpensive units as long as it offers the same type of protection. Stay 15 Amps or below for standard wiring. I'm not as familiar with SurgeX products as some of the others, but I would expect that even a "basic" unit would have better protection qualities than any of the other surge protectors reviewed so far.

    If I had to suggest a specific model, I'd go for the SA-15, SA-1810 or similiar "standalone" brick. There's also the AR series ("Axess Ready") which seems to involve control over a web interface but is likely much more expensive. That feature would be interesting in a general review but wouldn't be of much benefit in a tear-down. The SA-1810 has more outlets than the SA-15 but seems about the same otherwise, and it's currently on sale at Amazon for just over $300. There are also rack mount units, but those are much higher-end.

    Thanks again for getting in contact with that company. My earlier request was half-serious (though I really did wish to see this) in a "Okay, now let's see a REAL surge protector!" sort of way. If you have a way of testing its protection qualities, that would also be excellent. I look forward to seeing the tear-down.
  • kyuuketsuki
    Quote:
    I personally love these teardowns. Goes to show you that money is not always quality, but sometimes it can be. I'd personally love to see a teardown of one of those highly regarded metal Tripp-Lite units, the ISOBAR Ultra ones. I wonder just how much quality is actually in those, but I don't want to bust mine open.

    Daniel, I have a spare Tripp-Lite ISOBAR that I'd be willing to donate for teardown if you're interested, as I'd love to see your treatment of one of them as well. If interested, please let me know how I can get in contact to exchange details.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    96459 said:
    Daniel, I have a spare Tripp-Lite ISOBAR that I'd be willing to donate for teardown if you're interested, as I'd love to see your treatment of one of them as well. If interested, please let me know how I can get in contact to exchange details.

    Thanks for the offer. I'll see you in private chat.

    BTW, I got a courtesy mail from Panamax letting me know my web-form inquiry has been forwarded to product management, so I might hear back from Panamax in a few days. I also received a CC mail from Tripp-Lite but that one contained no further details other than who I got CC'd to. At least I know my invitation did not fall through cracks this time. (This is my second time asking Tripp-Lite for a tear-down sample, the first one being back when I did the "Modern SurgeArrest" story.)
  • westom
    Important points address its primary purpose. For example, surges that do damage can be hundreds of thousands of joules. Tiny protector parts in this Monster are maybe a thousand joules. Of course, specification numbers would say better. But obvious is its near zero protection.

    An adjacent (plug-in) protector either must block or absorb that energy. Hundreds of thousands of joules (ie a destructive surge) would blow out its near zero protection. Wrapping MOVs in ceramics is essential so that tiny (near zero) joules in those MOVs do not create a fire.

    Nothing in those pictures show separation necessary to block a surge. A gap in its PC board is too narrow. Even most good power supplies have a wider gap to provide superior isolation.

    Relay for switched receptacles cannot block a surge. Furthermore, a surge done in microseconds would easily blow through a relay that takes many milliseconds to open. And that only creates a millimeter gap that any destructive surge could blow across.

    Protection for cable is a direct connection to safety ground. Anything else that would not pervert cable signals costs significantly more money. Monster used a cheapest solution. Cable protection is virtually useless. In some cases could bypass protection already inside a TV or cable box. Protection routinely installed and required to exist on all incoming cables is far superior to Monster's near zero protection.

    Protector for phone lines is also inferior to what must already exist on all phone lines - as required by codes and industry standards. Worse, that protector circuit can degrade DSL service. The existing and required protection installed by a telco, for free, does not create those problems.

    Electronics already have common mode filters. And additional layers of filters, galvanic isolators and other suppressors and regulators. IOW a common mode filter in that Monster is equivalent or inferior to a filter that exists and is required inside electronics. Then electronics have many more protection layers. That common mode filter does virtually nothing for appliance protection. But may be required by FCC regulations due to a power supply for Monster's power control circuits.

    Relay that controls power to switched receptacles does not, does not claim, and cannot do protection. Destructive surges are done in microseconds. That pictured relay takes too many milliseconds to protect anything. Its millimeter gap also does not stop destructive surges.

    Eliminate Monster's power control functions. Remaining is a near zero protector electrically equivalent to most any $10 or $15 strip protector. Protection that is inferior to what routinely exists electronic appliances. This Monster is mostly a power control strip so that other appliances power cycle when a first one does.

    Calling it a protector is correct. Pictures make this obvious. Calling it a near zero protector is more accurate.