The Garmin GA25MCX

Review by Allory Deiss, December 5, 2005

Somewhat surprisingly, the latest entry in low-cost GPS antennas is from Garmin. Built in the same facility in Taiwan which produces the GA26/27, the GA25MCX was designed from the ground up to take advantage of cost saving technologies which have become available.

So what do you get and for how much?

The Details

The GA25MCX measures 1.75 x 1.75 x .3 inches (45 x 45 x 8 mm) and has a 9.5 ft (3 m) cable ending in a right-angle MCX fitting. There is a built-in magnetic mount for attaching to a car roof or other suitable location. There are no instructions, but none are needed, operation is strictly plug-and-play. The listed electrical specifications are: Working voltage 2.5 - 6.5 volt; Current draw at 2.5v, 6 mA +/- 2 mA; Gain, 23 dB +/- 3 dB. Warranty is one year. Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $31.49. Street price is around $25 from a variety of vendors.

Garmin also offers the otherwise identical GA25BNC which has an in-line BNC connector.

Using the GA25MCX

In use, one obvious comparison will be with the Gilsson antenna. Since I have one of each, I did compare the two. I connected each to a Garmin GPSMAP76S for the purpose of checking reception and battery life. Using the same set of 2100 mAh NIMH batteries (freshly charged) the GPS76S was run until it shut down. For the reception tests the receiver was sitting on the dashboard with a clear view of the sky, the external antennas were mounted on the roof. The test was repeated several times without any significant difference in results. While not overly scientific, the tests do show that they are quite similar in operation.

Internal Antenna Garmin GA25MCX Gilsson MCX
13 hours 53 min 42 sec 12 hours 12 min 29 sec 12 hours 00 min 45 sec

General Impressions/Conclusions

While in operation there is no compelling reason to use the GA25MCX instead of the Gilsson which I have been using for the last year, there are a few points which make it the clear choice if I were in the market for a new antenna.

1) In the current market the GA25MCX is somewhat less expensive.

2) The warranty is one year, while Gilsson MCX antennas are only warranted for three months.

3) If I have a warranty problem with a Garmin GPS receiver which involves using the external antenna there is no need to debate with technical support staff about whether a third party antenna is causing the problem.

Over the course of several multi-day road trips I have had a StreetPilot 2610 and an iQue 3600 next to eachother on the dashboard and the GA25MCX and a Gilsson next to eachother on the roof. During numerous switches between the antennas with each unit there was no pattern indicating that either worked better than the other.

To discuss any of the points brought up in this review please go to the GPSInformation forums.


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Comments, complaints, etc.... Allory Deiss.

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