APC Back-UPS 600VA BE600M1 Review

A great battery backup for low wattage gear like networking equipment

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4.3

APC Back-UPS 600VA BE600M1

APC Back-UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector with USB Charger

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

What We Like
  • Nice large number of battery and surge sockets

  • Several sockets feature wide spacing

  • Sufficient power to safely shut down a low-end computer

  • Reliable during testing

What We Don't Like
  • Only good for low powered electronics

  • Sockets are very stiff

  • Some sockets are very close together

  • Only one USB port

  • USB port only 1.5 A

The APC Back-UPS BE600M1 is a great little UPS as long as you’re aware of its power limitations. When used to keep networking equipment up and running through power outages, it shines.

4.3

APC Back-UPS 600VA BE600M1

APC Back-UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector with USB Charger

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

The APC Back-UPS 600VA BE600M1 is a fairly compact uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that provides a limited amount of backup battery power for short outages or intermittent brownouts. It doesn’t have enough juice to keep a powerful desktop computer running in the prolonged absence of power, but that isn’t what it’s designed for.

I’ve had an APC Back-UPS BGE90M powering the modem and router in my office for years, so I was able to slot the more powerful BE600M1 in its place for testing purposes. Over the course of a couple weeks, I tested how well it handles daily use, simulated brownouts and power outages, and stress-tested the unit by plugging in my powerful desktop computer.

APC Back-UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector with USB Charger
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Design: Compact vertical design doesn’t get in the way

The APC Back-UPS BE600M1 has the same toaster-like form factor as the older BGE90M that I’ve been using for years and a matte black finish unlike the semi-gloss white finish of the older unit. It’s taller than it is wide, and longer than it is tall, with all the power outlets arranged in a row on top. The power button and single USB port are also on top, albeit on a slightly lower level than the outlets.

This unit includes an additional connection in the form of a USB Type B port, which is located on the same side as the power cable and circuit breaker, and meant for interfacing with a computer. With the included software, and a connection using the USB-B port, you can monitor power levels and change settings like how and why the alarm will go off.

For smaller UPS devices like this one, this is my preferred form factor. The outlets are all easy to reach, and the unit can fit nicely on an end table or bookshelf if you aren’t using it at your computer desk. I use the older BGE90M to power networking equipment, and I found that the slightly larger BE600M1 fit nicely into the same space during the time I spent testing it.

The outlets are all easy to reach, and the unit can fit nicely on an end table or bookshelf if you aren’t using it at your computer desk.

Initial Setup: Hooking up the battery is a little tricky

The BE600M1 comes with the battery disconnected for what I assume are safety reasons, although I’ve used plenty of UPS units that come already plugged in and ready to go. It’s a minor inconvenience, but your mileage will vary depending on how much trouble you have fishing out the positive battery lead.

The battery compartment cover slides off easily, and the battery itself also pops out without issue. The potential issue comes from the positive battery cable, which was tucked away deep inside my test unit. I was able to jostle it loose by tapping the entire unit on my desk, but it’s easy to see a situation where needle nose pliers might be required to coax the cable out.

Once the battery is plugged in and the unit is charged, it’s technically ready to go. You can use the UPS as it stands without connecting it to a computer, although there is some more setup work involved if you decide to install the PowerChute software.

Display: No display

The BE600M1 doesn’t have a display, and the LED indicators are limited to a fairly bright light that indicates the unit is powered on. If you want any additional information about the state of the UPS, or additional control over its functionality, you need to install the PowerChute software and connect the unit to a computer via USB.

With PowerChute installed, you can check the status of the battery, review a record of past issues like blackouts and electrical noise, choose to silence the power alarm at night, and more.

Sockets and Ports: Nice number of outlets

The APC Back-UPS BE600M1 features a total of seven three-pronged power outlets, which is a significant improvement over the older BGE90M. Five of the outlets are both surge protected and battery backed up, while two only provide surge protection. That’s a really good mix, as a lot of UPS units provide battery backup on half or even fewer of their outlets.

Spacing of the outlets is a little less satisfying, as some of them are quite close together, and others are quite far apart. The ones that are closely spaced are far too close together to accommodate anything but a standard power plug, while the ones that are spaced better are capable of accepting most wall-wart type power adapters.

For additional charging ports, the BE600M1 provides a single USB-A port. It’s a nice touch, but I’d like to see at least two USB charging ports on a UPS this size, especially considering the fact that the smaller BGE90M was able to accommodate two USB ports.

APC Back-UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector with USB Charger
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Battery: Good capacity for the size

This is a 330 watt/600VA UPS, but those numbers all refer to the ability of the UPS to put out power, not the storage capacity when the power goes out. The actual battery in this device is rated at 66 Volt-Amp-Hours, and you can get a replacement from APC that’s rated at a slightly higher 78 Volt-Amp-Hours.

In my office setup, I had been using the BGE90M to run my Netgear CM1000 gigabit cable modem, Eero Pro Mesh router, and an Amazon Echo, and I swapped it out for the BE600M1 for testing purposes. That gear draws about 40 watts all put together, and it’s all pretty mission critical, as a dropped internet connection can cause all sorts of problems.

While I didn’t experience any natural brownouts or full outages during my time with the BE600M1, I did simulate brownouts by temporarily unplugging the unit and extended power outages by flipping the relevant circuit breaker and just leaving it off. The BE600M1 switches to battery backup so fast that I never lost my internet connection, and it was able to hold up almost a full hour while keeping my modem, router, and Echo up and running the whole time.

The BE600M1 switches to battery backup so fast that I never lost my internet connection.

For a real stress test, I was going to swap out the beefier UPS I normally use for my desktop computer to see how the BE600M1 handles itself in a much more demanding application, but I decided against it. My gaming PC is capable of gulping over 500 watts of power, and the BE600M1 just isn’t built for that.

Instead, I plugged in a budget workstation I have in mothballs. It draws just under 300 watts when chugging along at full capacity, which was enough to drain the BE600M1 down to nothing in just a few minutes.

If you have a high-end PC, you can probably count on this unit to keep you powered up enough to quickly save your work and power down. Anything more than that, and I strongly suggest stepping up to a UPS with a higher capacity battery.

If you have a high-end PC, you can probably count on this unit to keep you powered up enough to quickly save your work and power down.

Charging Speed: Slow at best

Some UPS battery backups don’t come with USB ports at all, so it’s definitely a plus that the BE600M1 has one. However, it isn’t really anything to be excited about. It’s just a standard USB A port that’s only capable of putting out 1.5A, so it’s pretty sluggish when it comes to charging devices. Some devices may even fail to charge at all when powered up, due to consuming power at a faster rate than the port can supply, although I didn’t run into that particular problem myself.

Since the BE600M1 includes a large number of outlets, including two that aren’t connected to the battery, just using the charger that came with your device will almost always provide superior results. The battery itself isn’t big enough to provide a whole lot of charge when the power is out, but the UPS itself is capable of providing enough wattage to satisfy even the most demanding of high wattage USB chargers.

Price: Decent price for what you get

With an MSRP of $75 and actual pricing that is typically much lower, the APC Back-UPS BE600M1 represents a fairly good value. This unit is usually available in the $40 to $60 range, and it’s a fantastic deal at the low end of that scale. You can find slightly cheaper units that provide a similar amount of backup power, but not with this many outlets and a USB charging port.

APC BE600M1 vs. Cyberpower CP685AVRG

With an MSRP of $80, and typically selling for around $70, the Cyberpower CP685AVRG is a direct competitor of the APC BE600M1. It has a totally different form factor, being squat and taking up much more desk space, but it does have slots on the back that allow you to wall mount it if you prefer.

The CP685AVRG features one more outlet than the BE600M1, for a total of eight outlets, but only four of those outlets are connected to the battery. The other four are just surge protected and don’t receive any juice when the power goes out.

Other than the different number of outlets, and the fact that the Cyberpower unit lacks a USB charging port, these are very similar devices. The Cyberpower has a slightly higher wattage and VA rating, and a slightly bigger battery, but it’s still in roughly the same class in terms of the sort of electronics you can power with it.

The CP685AVRG makes a good choice if you need that little bit of extra juice, but I prefer to APC BE600M1 due to the more convenient form factor, the extra battery-backed outlets, and the USB charging port.

Final Verdict

A UPS that does a good job with a convenient form factor.

The APC BE600M1 is a fine UPS if you’re looking to power low wattage equipment like networking equipment or a television, or to provide very brief backup power for a low powered desktop system. Don’t expect it to run a high-end desktop system, and don’t expect to keep working through a power outage even on a high-end system, and you won’t be disappointed. For keeping networking equipment up and running through brief outages, or any other similar use, it’s fantastic.

Specs

  • Product Name Back-UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector with USB Charger
  • Product Brand APC
  • SKU BE600M1
  • Price $74.99
  • Product Dimensions 5.47 x 10.79 x 4.13 in.
  • Warranty 3 year
  • Output 600 VA / 330 Watts
  • Outlets 7 (2 surge, 5 surge + battery backup)
  • Outlet type NEMA 5-15R
  • Runtime 11.8 minutes (half load), 3.2 minutes (full load)
  • Cord 5 feet
  • Battery User replaceable
  • Average charge time 10 hours
  • ENERGY STAR Yes
  • Waveform Stepped approximation to sine wave
  • Connected equipment guarantee $75,000
  • Ports USB (charger only)