We had three full days to test radar detectors, so we made the most of it. We tested a variety of detectors against 35.5 GHz Ka, 34.7 GHz Ka, 33.8 GHz Ka, K-Band, X-Band, Ku Band, POP, and Spectre III.

The Test Course

The first area we considered using for radar detector testing was plagued by a mysterious Ka signal for the first two days of testing, causing alerts and making it unusable for testing radar detectors (Click here to find out what it was!). But luckily, we had scouted the area thoroughly before the test, and knew of another location a number of miles up the road that would make things very difficult for the detectors (to say the least!). Better yet, there was no radar interference at this location.

We used the terrain to make things difficult for the detectors, in a similar manner to the way police might. The radar vehicle was stationed at the bottom of a steep hill on one side of a "wash" which fills with water during monsoon season. One of the police officers present verified that this is a location where he would feel comfortable working radar.

This course pushed things to the extreme worst-case. If there was a real speed trap at this location, one would have to be very quick on the brakes, even with a high-end radar detector. This test course was purposely chosen to be difficult: it was not chosen to showcase the "true range capabilities" of the detectors. It has been demonstrated that most high-end detectors are capable of many miles of range on a long, straight, flat test course. So remember: small 50-foot differences between detectors tested on our "extreme" course might easily equate to hundreds or even thousands of feet on a much longer, flatter course.

The Radar Units

The following radar units were used in this test:

  • Kustom Golden Eagle, Ka-Band 35.5 GHz
  • Stalker ATR, Ka-Band 34.7 GHz
  • MPH Enforcer, Ka Band 33.8 GHz
  • Decatur GHS, K-Band
  • MPH K-15, X-Band
  • The Ku Box (FCC Part 15 low-power transmitter), Ku-Band
All radar units were checked for proper operation prior to the test.

The Radar Detectors

The following radar detectors were tested:

  • Beltronics RX-55 - Retail, Provided by Whistler
  • Beltronics RX-65 - Retail, Provided by RadarBusters
  • Beltronics STi Driver (#1) - Retail, Provided by RacerX
  • Beltronics STi Driver (#2) - Retail, Provided by RadarBusters
  • Beltronics STi Driver (#3) - Retail, Provided by StealthJamal
  • Beltronics V955 - Retail, Provided by RadarBusters
  • Cobra XRS 9830 - Retail, Provided by RadarBusters
  • Escort 8500 X50 (#1) - Retail, Provided by RacerX
  • Escort 8500 X50 (#2) - Retail, Provided by RadarBusters
  • Escort 9500i (#1) - Retail, Provided by happya$$
  • Escort 9500i (#2) - Retail, Provided by TheStaton
  • Escort SR7 - Retail, Provided by RacerX
  • KAT 500 - Retail, Provided by RadarBusters
  • Valentine One (#1) - Retail, Provided by RacerX
  • Valentine One (#2) - Retail, Provided by happya$$
  • Valentine One (#3) - Retail, Provided by StealthJamal
  • Whistler Pro 73 - Retail, Provided by RadarBusters
  • Whistler XTR 690 - Provided by Whistler
  • Whistler Pro 78 - Provided by Whistler
Multiple samples of some of the high-end detectors were tested, to account for any potential variance.

Test Methodology

All else being equal, how to the radar detectors stack up against each other in terms of performance? This is what we set out to determine. We tested the detectors by exposing each one to a specific set of controlled conditions.
  • All radar guns were held in a fixture for test purposes.
  • Only one detector was tested/powered on at a time.
  • All detectors were mounted level, and high in the middle of the windshield (a piece of masking tape was used as a reference). The Escort SR7 antenna was mounted above the rear-view mirror.
  • Between runs, the power was cycled on the detector under test.
  • Each detector was tested with factory default settings, in it's most unfiltered mode.
  • Three test runs were made with each detector for Ka and K Bands, two runs for Ku-Band, one run for X-Band.
  • The test vehicle traveled at 20 MPH
  • Although there was occasional traffic, all test runs were done when the course was clear of other vehicles

The test vehicle (a Toyota Tundra) proceeded down the test course and stopped at the first alert from the detector under test. The distance back to the radar vehicle was measured by using an LTI Ultralyte in survey mode to target a known reference point in relation to the radar vehicle.

All results are in feet.

NOTE: Surprised by the STi's results? So were we.

Since 33.8 GHz is the frequency for Ka POP, we decided to try a few runs with POP turned ON (instead of the default of POP turned OFF) to see if that would make a difference. On three runs with POP turned on, we got 348, 384, and 397.

We got one of these test runs on video, to watch it CLICK HERE.

POP Test

For this test, we chose a straight 1000-foot course near our laser test course. This test was done on the third day, and there was NO Ka radar interference in this area like there was on the first two days. This test included 67ms K-Band POP, which we have never tested before. POP was turned ON for all detectors.

All three types of POP were tested. The following radar units were used:
  • MPH Enforcer - 67ms Ka-Band POP
  • MPH BEE III - 67ms K-Band POP
  • MPH Z-25 - 16ms K-Band POP
Each detector got five tries against each gun. Results are number of alerts out of five.

"Forward Facing" Test

This test was set up to simulate an officer sitting on an on-ramp, clocking passing vehicles in the rear. Selected detectors got three runs against 35.5 GHz Ka. The results are the number of feet of warning before reaching the officer's location.

Spectre III RDD Test

This test was done on a straight stretch near our laser test course. This test was done on the third day, and there was NO Ka radar interference in this area like there was on the first two days. For this test, the gain control on the Spectre was set to maximum. Results are in feet.

We were surprised at the V1 results, so we decided to try some older versions.
Here are the results.

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