Since you’re on the hunt for a high-performing metal detector, you’ve probably come across the Minelab Equinox and the Garrett AT MAX. Not only that, but you’ve seen numerous subreddits (I’m looking at you r/metaldetecting) discussing the value of these two metal detectors.
Pros in the community highly recommend these two models because of their performance, features, and results. But what sets these two apart? Let’s find out.
Let’s Compare Equinox (600/800) VS Garrett (MAX/AT) Pro
At my core, I’m an Engineer so I like stuff laid out in a clear chart. Yup, I’m one of those guys that carries around a note pad scribbling down stuff. I ditched my pocket protector years ago. 😎 The below prices are at the time of this writing, they may have changed.
|link to KellyCo >||Equinox 600||Equinox 800||Garrett AT MAX||Garrett AT Pro|
What You Need to Know About the Minelab Equinox 800 Vs. Garrett AT MAX
Understanding the Garrett AT MAX and the Minelab Equinox requires analyzing these models separately. With that in mind, I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the features that make them different and similar.
Firstly, it should come to your attention that the Garrett AT MAX comes from the AT Series. At the same time, the Minelab Equinox is a series consisting of two models in its range.
We can start by looking at these models separately through a microscopic lens. Hopefully, we can showcase what it means to own either an AT MAX or an Equinox. So be sure to keep reading to get more information on these metal detector models.
The Garrett AT MAX is part of Garrett’s AT Series. The series consists of three models:
- The Garrett AT MAX
- The Garrett AT PRO
- The Garrett AT GOLD
The Garrett AT MAX is an advanced metal detector. It’s the middle child between the AT PRO and the AT GOLD. However, it does offer some extra perks than its companions in the AT Series. Regardless, Garrett made it so that the AT MAX could compete with the rest of the series’ models and showcase its unique features.
If you’re thinking the Garrett AT Max is for you read even more with this shortcut link to KellyCo.
Here are some of the features you’re sure to find in the Garrett AT MAX:
- The AT MAX is the only series that offers the wireless headphone Z-Lynk technology.
- Fortunately, this model is the only one in the series with a backlight. So, those of us that cannot enjoy prospecting without a backlight, you’re in good hands.
- Users have 44 iron discrimination segments.
- You also get four search modes.
- It comes with a fast recovery speed.
- You get eight sensitivity levels.
- It also comes with Auto/Manual ground balancing.
- It’s waterproof up to 10 feet or 3 meters, and you can use it in both saltwater and freshwater.
- It has an operating frequency of 13.6 kHz.
- It also comes with a target depth indicator.
Other features come with this model, but they’re mainly standard features that you can find on the other AT models or on other metal detectors in the market. The features listed above make the AT MAX shine compared to its competitors.
Metal Detecting Tip: I love Amazon, but spending close to $1000 dollars for a metal detector means I’d like a little bit of customer support. The team at KellyCo live and breath all things metal detecting Here’s a link – KellyCo I trust these folks.
The Minelab Equinox Series is a house favorite in the metal detecting industry. If you check forums and Reddit threads majority of the community will speak highly of this series. The Minelab Equinox Series consists of two models:
- The Minelab Equinox 800
- The Minelab Equinox 600
So, what makes this metal detector a favorite? Let’s take a look at some of its features:
The Minelab Equinox 800 features:
- Multi-IQ Simultaneous Multi-Frequency – This feature is Minelab’s best feature and one of the highlights of owning an Equinox 800. The Multi-IQ on the Equinox 800 has five operating frequencies: 5, 10, 15, 20, and 40 kHz.
- Next up is the detecting mode feature. The Equinox 800 has four detecting modes.
- You get auto and manual ground balancing.
- 1-25 sensitivity levels.
- It includes a depth indicator with five levels.
- It also comes with a monochrome backlight.
- The Equinox 800 has a 12-hour battery life with a USB Chargeable cable.
- It’s also waterproof up to 10 inches or 3 meters.
If you’re ready to pull the trigger and get an Equinox machine – PLEASE take my advise and work with KellyCo. < shortcut link They provide – Advise, Parts and Service
- Like the Equinox 800, the 600 also comes with Multi-IQ Simultaneous Multi-Frequency. The only difference would be that the Equinox 600 has three operating frequencies: 5, 10, 15 kHz. ‘
- The Equinox 800 has four detecting modes, and the Equinox 600 has three.
- It only has manual ground balancing.
- It has a 1-25 sensitivity level.
- Fortunately, it comes with a monochrome LCD with a backlight.
- It’s also has a 12-hour battery time with a USB charging cable.
- The Equinox 600 is also waterproof up to 10 inches or 3 meters.
Please note that these features are some of the main components in the Equinox 600.
I looked at a couple of factors when comparing these two metal detectors. So here are the factors I took into account when comparing the Minelab Equinox Series and the Garrett AT MAX. Yes, I did compare both the Equinox Series to the AT MAX and the Equinox Series to each other for clarity purposes.
Regarding performance, we’ll be looking at how the metal detectors detect targets, how they differentiate different types of targets, and how they can efficiently differentiate them.
- Ground Balancing
Ground balancing is a detrimental feature for any metal detector. Having both automated and manual ground balancing is a plus.
These models use different power sources, so they’ll have different runtimes. Regardless, the longer, the better, in my opinion.
You can’t forget operating frequency. The higher the operating frequency, the better. However, it should be alright to have a ‘good enough’ operating frequency.
With those guidelines in place, we can start comparing the metal detectors with the hopes that we can come to a solid ruling on the Minelab Equinox v. Garrett AT MAX.
Regarding performance, we have to give it to the Minelab Equinox 800. The Equinox 800 is a newer model, and quite frankly, the Garrett AT MAX needs a modern upgrade to its system. It doesn’t mean that the Garrett AT MAX isn’t a good metal detector, it is good, and it was a beacon for its time.
Not only that, but I noticed an issue with the iron discrimination feature. For targets under 10-inches, the unit will give an iron signal. The AT MAX doesn’t bode well because the Equinox 800 does not showcase those results on the same target.
- Ground Balancing
The Minelab Equinox 800 and the Garrett AT MAX offer automatic and manual ground balancing features, which is a welcome reprieve for any prospector. So in terms of ground balancing, there isn’t that much to consider here.
The Minelab Equinox 800 falls short in this regard. With only 12 hours of battery life, the battery life is the biggest downside to the Equinox series. On the other hand, you have the Garrett AT MAX, which requires 4AA batteries that will last longer but are unsustainable.
- Operating frequency
The Minelab Equinox 800 takes the cake on this one. Thanks to the innovative Multi-IQ technology, you get an operating frequency of up to 40kHz. On the other hand, the Garrett AT MAX offers an operating frequency of 13.6 kHz, far from the 40 kHz the Minelab Equinox 800 offers.
You have to give it to the Minelab Equinox 800. It’s a modern metal detector that provides more than the Garrett AT MAX. However, there is the issue of the battery life which is a deterrent to many prospectors. 12-hour battery life isn’t ideal, and it’s present throughout the Equinox series.
The Garrett AT MAX isn’t a lousy metal detector despite all that. I’d heavily recommend it because it’s trusted and genuine to perform even without its modern features. You will not fail with the Garrett AT MAX.
But if you want something that offers more within the current time, be sure to trust the Minelab Equinox 800.
This comparison is challenging because the Equinox 600 offers less than the Equinox 800 and still has the same disadvantages as the Equinox 800.
Earlier, I shared the problems with the Garrett AT MAX metal detector, which still applies here. In terms of the performance, I’d give it to the Equinox 600. It’s newer than the Garrett AT MAX and offers faster and better performance. It may falter with things like detect modes (it has three detect modes while the AT MAX has four), but it doesn’t impede its general performance.
- Ground Balancing
The Garrett AT MAX is the winner here. The AT MAX offers both automatic and manual ground balancing.
On the other hand, the Equinox 600 only offers manual ground balancing. Manual ground balancing has been around for a long time, but it gets harder to use as you change the terrain.
Hence, there’s been rising popularity in automatic ground balancing, which eases the prospecting process.
Like the Equinox 800, the Equinox 600 suffers from 12-hours of battery life. So you have to give it to Garrett AT MAX.
- Operating frequency
The Multi-IQ technology is hard to beat. And the Minelab Equinox 600 beat the Garrett AT MAX by an inch. The Equinox 600 offers a final operating frequency of 15 kHz, so you can safely say that you’re getting more from the Equinox 600. But by a pretty small margin.
Metal Detecting Tip: If you’re searching on a beach – turn OFF discrimination. Gold rings and pull-tabs have a very similar signal. This simple tip earned me a ring an a recent outing. I’ve got lots of other tips in this monster article – Metal Detecting Tips
It’s pretty neck and neck here, but I’ll have to give it to the Equinox 600. It offers more value for your money and better performance. Garrett comes in close, but the Equinox is a tad bit better. One of its main problems would be the battery life. If you can’t stand the battery life, try the Garrett AT MAX.
There isn’t that much difference between the Equinox 600 and the Garrett AT MAX. But there is a considerable difference between the Equinox 800 and the AT MAX. So whether you get the Equinox 600 or the AT MAX, you have a good unit in your hands.
It’s all well and good comparing the Equinox series versus the Garrett AT MAX. However, comparing the Equinox 800 to the 600 can also give more insight.
There are very few differences between the Equinox 800 and 600. They share the majority of the same features. According to experts at Minelab, the Equinox 600 is a simplified version of the Equinox 800. The 600 offers less complicated features while still offering the best of the Minelab Equinox series, such as the Multi-IQ technology.
Not only that but the Equinox 800 offers a gold mode that is not present on the Equinox 600. The gold mode enhances the performance of the model when utilized.
Next up, the Equinox 800 offers users a target identification feature to shift non-ferrous tones and volumes. Alongside this feature, you have these complementary features:
- Tone Break
- Tone Pitch
- Tone Volume
In my experience, the Equinox 800 has the fundamental features you need to get to prospecting. Anything more would mean that it can openly compete with Equinox 800, which would mean a higher price point.
Maybe Minelab will give us an Equinox 700 that might be a middle ground. But I think the Equinox 600 does an excellent job of providing users the Minelab experience at a reasonable price point.
What Others are Saying About the nox 800 vs AT MAX
I recently found a pretty decent video that might be worth checking out. It’s on YouTube the channel is called Rowan Relics. Shortcut link – AT MAX vs EQUINOX 800
Metal Detecting Tip: Your looking at machines that will probably last 10 years. Parts and Service need to be part of the plan. My best advise – work with KellyCo <- shortcut link to their website.
The tradeoffs of picking the Minelab Equinox 800 would be that you’re losing out on a model that functions for more extended periods. This tradeoff might be a massive deal-breaker to most users.
I’d say Minelab Equinox 800. It’s high-performing, modern, innovative, and provides a better experience overall. Garrett has a long way to go to improve the AT MAX, but it’s still a cult classic for any prospector.
Swinging for Treasure 😜
I think the Minelab Equinox and the Garret AT MAX are excellent models. The Minelab Equinox 800 is a superior model, but the Garrett AT MAX is still a formidable opponent to beat.
Whether you buy the AT MAX or the Equinox, you still have a good unit on your hand. But honestly, the Minelab Equinox is the cherry on top.
If you’d like more articles about metal detecting check out the links below.
- Metal Detecting Digging Tools – Tells you all about shovels, scoops and how to dig a plug.
- Where are the Best Places for a Beginner to Metal Detect? – Just like the title says, this article points the beginner to the highest probability places.
- Can You Metal Detect on BLM Land? – So many people have asked me about BLM detecting I had to write this article.