Pros / Along with its reasonable price it offers long and strong warranty coverage.
Cons / This is not the most attractive design and it does not come in stainless steel.
Verdict / This is a truly compact microwave that offers even cooking of a wide variety of foods at a very budget-friendly price.
The Magic Chef MCM990B did great on most of our tests, takes very little space on a countertop and comes with a budget-friendly pricetag. This is the type of microwave that would do well in any setting – from full-sized kitchen to college dorm to RV. It appears overly petite at first, but we found its internal capacity to be perfectly acceptable. It fit a relatively large dinner plate, tall glass, and large bowl during our testing, so you should not have any problem fitting most items. We hesitated to test it on the bigger bag of popcorn at first, but it fit that bag and all of our testing supplies just fine.
The MCM990B has a potato button that is actually accurate – not the case with many competing units. It cooked our test potato all the way through leaving few spots underdone. It didn’t score great on our popcorn test. There were seven grams left unpopped, which is not the best. There were microwaves that left fewer unpopped kernels, but some of them also had burnt spots. At least, it didn’t burn the popcorn, which many others did.
The pizza rolls test was where the MCM990B really set itself apart – there was no difference in temperature from one end of the plate of food to the other. The MCM990B is the only one that could claim that. Some microwaves had as much as a 54-degree difference from the pizza roll on one side of the plate to the other. Uneven cooking can matter for food safety, especially if you have a meat dish that needs to reach a certain temperature. Even cooking also matters for overall taste and texture of your meals. Nobody likes biting into a cold spot.
The MCM990B costs well below the average for this category and it still has all of the features that matter, including a nice selection of cooking options. There are 11 power levels and pre-set buttons for popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage and dinner plates. You can choose to defrost by weight or time, and get instant start-up that requires no selections – push one of the numbered buttons and the food starts to heat.
With a price of less than $80, you can expect that there are a few less features, and there are. This one does not have sensor cooking. Some of the more expensive units will detect the release of steam and adjust cook times to automatically prepare the food. If you think you will use that feature quite often you might want to check out the Panasonic NN-SD372SR.
This also is not the most fashion forward design. It is plain old plastic – black or white. There is no stainless steel or black stainless steel option.
It is surprising that this has the second-best warranty of all the microwaves we tested since it is one of the least expensive. The magnetron, which is the most important and most expensive part of any microwave, is covered for eight years. Lots of the competing units are only covered for one year on all parts.
This is not the smallest microwave we tested, but almost. Generally, small is a good thing, though it might not be the best choice for a family that wants to prepare large portions at the same time. It might be fine for a family that uses the microwave mostly for reheating individual portions. And, as mentioned, the MCM990B fit all of our testing materials fine – large dinner plate, glass, and even the largest microwave popcorn bag.
The Magic Chef MCM990B is not the most sleek in terms of design and it may be a little small if you like to prepare family portions in your microwave, but it has all the important features. It also does a good job of cooking food evenly. In our tests it produced practically perfect potatoes, pizza rolls and more. Add to that excellent warranty coverage and it becomes even more impressive, especially at less than $80.