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Hands-on Gear Review
Fellowes Powershred 79Ci ReviewPrice: $240 List | $166.20 at Amazon
Pros: Incredibly fast, high capacity
Bottom line: If you shred 50 or more pages at a go, this model will save you oodles of time
Advertised Sheet Capacity: 16
Measured Sheet Capacity: 14
The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci is a high capacity, easy to use cross-cut shredder that offers great speed. In fact, it once held out Top Pick for High Volume Shredding Award, before the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci stole that honor. It tore through paper at a rate of 140 sheets per minute, nearly double the speed of most of the models we tested. To boot it has a nice user interface and isn't too harsh on the ears. If you are satisfied with the security level of cross-cut and have big shredding jobs that you want to get done quickly, this is a great choice.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Paper Shredders of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Criteria for Evaluation
The chart below compares the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci's performance in our testing (in blue) to the performances of the other shredders we bought and tested.
Read on to see how the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci did in each of our rigorous individual tests.
The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci scored a relatively mediocre 6 in our shredding quality test. This put it almost directly between the worst score of 4 and the high score of 9.
The fact is the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci is actually quite a burly and capable shredding machine. Its has a high capacity, will hungrily eat up most junk mail envelopes, and readily destroys credit cards and CDs. It lost points in this metric for a few reasons. First and foremost it is a cross-cut model, so offers a slightly lower level of security when compared to micro-cut (for tips on getting around this lowered security check out our buying advice page). Secondly, it has a claimed maximum capacity of 16 sheets, but it jammed when we tried to put a stack of that size through it. We found its actual maximum capacity to be 14 sheets, which is still massive and is the highest capacity that came out of our testing. However, a less informed consumer could easily try to feed in 16 sheets and unknowingly end up with unshredded, completely legible bits of paper in their bin, so we had to dock it a few points. Finally, it annihilated most junk mail envelopes, but would occasionally jam on an envelope it seemed it should easily handle. Usually this occurs when the envelope had some sort of plastic stock within it. We think the mix of material may confuse the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci's jamming sensor that shuts off the machine to avoid damaging the blades, but it was quite annoying to watch it eat up a stack of 14 sheets and then suddenly struggle with an envelope that was 6-7 sheets thick. In general, if you're satisfied with the security of cross-cut, know that the actual maximum capacity is 14 sheets, and can deal with the occasional anomalous junk mail jam, you'll most likely be satisified with the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci's shredding quality.
Speed is where the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci takes the cake. It scored a 9 in this metric, putting it just behind its sibling, the 99Ci.
In our testing it registered a blistering maximum speed of 140 sheets a minute. For reference, apart from the 99Ci, the next fastest model was nearly half as fast at 72 sheets per minute, and the average speed of all the models we tested was 68 sheets per minute. To put this model's speed in context, take the Complete Calvin and Hobbes Anthology, a multiple volume tome of coffee table sized books containing 1456 pages of Bill Waterson's whimsical adventures of an overly imaginative boy and his stuffed tiger. This shredder could reduce this collection to ashes in just under 10 and a half minutes. Of course destroying such a treasure would be a travesty, and anyone who does so should be reported to the authorities, but it is an impressive feat nonetheless. Anyone that has large shredding jobs, particularly if those shredding jobs are mostly standard pieces of paper, are going to pleased and impressed with the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci's speed.
Ease of Use
The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci took the top step of the podium in our ease of use testing, scoring an 8. This was also significantly better than the low score of 4.
The Powershred 79Ci has all of the features you'd hope for in a high capacity shredder. A simple interface that allows you to turn it on and run the blades in reverse to clear jams, a drawer style bin that is easy to pull out and empty, and pivoting wheels to allow for easy mobility, when needed. The Powershred 79Ci separated itself from the rest of the pack with some thoughtful, additional features. The nicest one of these is probably its bin full indicators. It has a light on the top of the unit that clearly alerts you when the bin needs to be emptied, effectively avoiding the confetti avalanche that can result from trying to empty an overly full bin. It also has indicators for overheating, if the bin is not in place, and when the blades are on, but the full indicator is the most useful in day to day use. It also has a sensor around the shredding slot that turns the blades off if a finger touches it. It would probably be pretty difficult get a finger into the shredding slot anyway, but this feature adds nice peace of mind, especially if you have small children running about.
There is also a plastic guard that folds over the shredding slot to keep shrapnel from flying out when you're shredding CDs. We didn't encounter any shrapnel related problems when shredding CDs in any of the models we tested, but the ominous, crunching noises that are emitted when doing so makes you scared there will be bits flying everywhere, so again this feature adds some nice peace of mind. Finally, there is an indicator bar to the right of the shredding slot that indicates how hard it is working, and whether you're feeding too much through the slot at once. Most people would naturally gauge this based on the sound of the shredder (if it sounds like its struggling, reduce the load), but it's nice for those that like visual confirmation. The only area where we were slightly disappointed with the Powershred 79Ci's ease of use attributes was the bin size. At a full 6-gallons it is on the larger size, but it can fill up fast due to this model's shredding speed. It felt to us like a larger bin would allow you to better capitalize on this quickness. Overall the Powershred 79Ci provides a pleasant user experience with some added features that many will find particularly handy.
Noise is another category where the Powershred 79Ci took top honors. It scored a 7 in this metric, putting a lot of distance between itself and the bottom score of 3.
It had the most consistent, lowest pitched noise of any of the models we tested. The noise still felt slightly obtrusive, but it was the most easily 'zoned out' noise of any model. And with the Powershred 79Ci's super speed you probably won't have to be listening to the noise for long.
With a list price of $240, the Powershred 79Ci is on the expensive side. At the time of this writing it could be found online for up to 20% off, but even that is a bit pricey. If you just need to do some general shredding this is not a great value, especially considering you can get a better security level for less in the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Micro-Cut. However, if you tend to have lots of big shredding jobs the speed of the Powershred 79Ci can more than pay for itself in time savings, and quickly becomes a great value.
The Powershred 79Ci is a dependable shredder that is a pleasure to use and is easy on the ears. If your shredding jobs rarely exceed 50 pages at a time then the Powershred 79Ci is overkill and you can find better values elsewhere, but if you have lots of high volume shredding days this model's Belmont Stakes worthy speed can save you lots of time.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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