The Mastech MS8264 is a basic budget multimeter for those interested mainly in DIY work. A manual ranging meter, it mostly suits those who already know a bit about electrics and has several useful functions, including capacitance and frequency. You can also measure temperature with the MS8264, as well as check transistors. This is a fairly solid meter with good protection on the outside, while Mastech is a respected lower level brand despite it being a Chinese manufacturer.
- DC voltage to 1000V, AC to 750V
- Measures current to 10A (temporary)
- Large, backlit display
- Manual ranging
- Transistor tester
- Continuity and diode tests
- Data hold mode
- Auto power-off
- Input warning system
- Size: 7.7″ (195mm) x 3.6″ (92mm) x 2.2″ (55mm)
- Weight: 13.4oz (380g)
- 9V battery
- Test leads (with shrouded plugs and tips)
- Basic user manual
- Type-K thermocouple
- Adapter socket for testing transistors and capacitors
In-depth Review of the MS8264
The MS8264 is a 30-range DMM. Although that might sound impressive, most multimeters have that many ranges, but are typically auto-ranging. With a manual ranging meter, it means you will have to select the range you require before measuring, which might be confusing for beginners. There is an instruction booklet, but it is basic.
All main ranges are featured on the Mastech MS8264, including AC and DC voltage and current, resistance, capacitance, and frequency. Capacitance is not always included on cheaper multimeters, so this is a plus if you are into electronics, but bear in mind there is no micro-amps.
The frequency range is also a bit narrow, but you can measure temperature with the MS8264 and it comes with a thermocouple included. AC/DC voltage and current have generous ranges and it is CAT-rated to level III for 600V and level II for 1000V. It is not recommended for use in industry, however, or in high current systems.
In addition are a continuity checker (with buzzer) and a diode tester (to 2.7V). To check transistor gain: select hFE, plug in the included adapter and manually apply the transistor. One of the most useful features is the data hold function, which freezes the display for later viewing. This is manual only.
LOW/HIGH RANGES, ACCURACY
AC Voltage – 4 ranges (2V): ±0.2%, (750V): ±1.2%
DC voltage – 5 ranges (200mV): ±0.5%, (1000V): ±0.8%
AC current – 3 ranges (20mA): ±1%, (10A): ±3%
DC current – 3 ranges (20mA): ±0.8%, (10A): ±2%
Resistance – 7 ranges (200Ω): ±0.8%, (200MΩ): ±5%
Frequency – 1 range (to 20kHz): ±1.5%
Capacitance – 4 ranges (20nF / 20µF): ±4%
Temperature: -20°C to 1000°C
Transistor gain (hFE): 1 to 1000
Stated accuracy is for lower and higher values. Extra offset counts (digits) not shown.
The MS8264 looks nicely built and is tough, with a non-flexing case and rubber on the corners. It features a fold-out kickstand along with probe holders on the rear – probe leads are fairly hefty and have finger guards. As with most other multimeters in this class, it does suffer at the circuit board level, however, with a lack of high quality components.
Display and Labels
The 2000-count display is nice and large and features a backlight, but is not great when read at an angle. In addition, the backlight only comes on for a few seconds at a time in a bid to save battery life.
This being a manual ranging multimeter, unfortunately the dial area is cluttered and a bit confusing in low light conditions. Icons are clearly displayed on the screen, though, and the three buttons are straightforward. The jack input sockets are color-coded and appropriately labeled.
Function and Performance
They decided to group up the capacitance, frequency and temperature ranges onto the milliamp input as the adapter plugs across it and the common input. You’ll need to plug the adapter in to check transistors and can also measure capacitors in-situ on the adapter. The diode test range is with the voltage, resistance and frequency input.
This unit is powered up through a button as opposed to via the dial selector. Along with the on/off button is a backlight button and data hold button. There is also an auto shut-off feature, which kicks in after 15 minutes of non-use.
Input warning: standard on many meters nowadays is a warning system if the leads are plugged into an incorrect socket when a given range position is selected. Example: you plug into amps/common and have AC voltage selected.
Aside from a PTC resistor that protects against over-voltages on continuity, resistance and frequency, there is a lack of input protection on the Mastech MS8264. The milliamp input has a 200mA resettable fuse across it, but the main amperage input is un-fused. The upshot is it would be quite easy to destroy this multimeter when testing high levels of current, especially serious automotive faults.
MS8264 Pros and Cons
- Measures most ranges
- Includes capacitance and frequency
- Can measure temperature (probe included)
- Tough case
- Bright screen
- Data hold
- Manual ranging only
- Busy interface
- Low-res screen
- Low input protection
- Amps input non-fused
- Degrees centigrade only
With the Mastech MS8264 review, we have a multimeter suited to those looking for a backup. It will stand up in many fields, including HVAC, linesman, automotive and property maintenance. Industrial electricians should avoid this however, as it doesn’t have the required input protection for heavier work. Beginners may also struggle with the manual ranging dial.
Bottom line: although okay for light duties, you’d be better off going for the MS8268 which has auto ranging, more functions and a better display. It is also around the same price.