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Let's Take a Trip Inside Budget Power Bars, Part Three

Our Ninth Contestant: APC's P74-CN

This wasn't strictly the cheapest APC unit on NewEgg. But it was only $0.50 more expensive than the six-outlet variant at the time of purchase, so I decided to get the seven-outlet model.

It's the only unit in our round-up with a recessed switch and a wiring fault indicator. Like the Tripp-Lite, it also features a wall-wart-friendly elongated bottom pad.

What APC's Packaging Says

The P74 is the largest unit of today's hoard, it comes in the thickest and biggest cardboard of the bunch, and it's the only one with a packaging window. APC spared no expense on wrapping this thing up. The marketing department went nuts, filling nearly every available square centimeter with neatly formatted fine print.

Specifications include a 840-joule surge rating, which is the highest of the lot, and a $50,000 equipment protection warranty (also the highest).

APC's Label

Language discrimination strikes again. French-speaking users only need to worry about keeping the power bar dry, while English-speaking users also need to be wary of aquariums and plugging power bars into other power bars.

If you were looking for a UL logo or sticker on this particular model (as I was), you will not find any since it carries a CSA mark instead.

APC's Bonus Content

Of the nine units we're comparing, Diamond and APC are the only two vendors that include some form of outlet covers. With APC's offering, you get four branded caps instead of mechanical shutters.

Inside Yet Another APC Product

This is the last unit of the day and its general layout is, unsurprisingly, similar to nearly every other bar. That PCB does look busier though, as you might expect from the presence of a wiring fault indicator.

APC's PCB

In my modern-day SurgeArrest tear-down, some readers expressed doubts about the soldering quality, suggesting the possibility of receiving a curated review sample. Well, our P74-CN came straight from NewEgg and the soldering on it looks every bit as good as the review sample I received from APC back then.

APC's Components

APC's PCB is fully populated. On the bottom-left, we have the wiring fault circuitry, while the protection-good circuitry resides in the top-right corner. The top-left holds a 100nF X-cap for basic EMI filtering, and the MOVs are tied to their respective thermal shut-off with thick shrink-tubing.

Lifting APC's Skirts

Since I couldn't see part numbers with those tubes on, I decided to pull them off. I was expecting to see different MOVs used for live-ground, due to the 500V rating, but all three turn out to be GNR 20D201K.

Toasty

Since MOVs fail by either increased leakage current, dropping varistor voltage or shorting, they need thermal shutoffs to cut power after they fail. However, those fuses do not operate instantaneously, so a failing MOV may still catch on fire or explode before then. This piece of flame-resistant cardboard prevents MOVs from burning or blowing out straight through the top, helping contain catastrophic failures (hopefully) long enough for the fuses to blow and flame retardants in surrounding materials to put the fire out.

APC's Strips

And here are our last strips of the trip, which employ spot-welding to attach the wires. The welds look good except for one loose strand on the ground wire.

As far as dimensions are concerned, the power strips are reasonably chunky at 6.5mm wide by 0.45mm thick, while the ground strips are slightly better than average at 3.5mm by 0.4mm.

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