Dependable washing machines for $600 or less

Washers that are good at everything except quiet operation

Published: January 27, 2014 04:00 PM

Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW

Spend $1,000 or more on a washing machine and you can choose between a front-loader and high-efficiency (HE) top-loader, with high performance a good possibility and handy features a given. If your budget is $600 or less then a top-loader’s for you—you can even find a large capacity HE model that uses a lot less water than a conventional top-loader yet is impressive at cleaning. We found five that fit the bill. But first a warning. All five are relatively noisy.
In our Ratings of 100-plus HE and conventional top-loaders only one was relatively quiet in the $600 and under price range, and that washer, the Frigidaire Affinity FAHE1011M[W], $600, is near the bottom of the Ratings and takes nearly two hours to do a normal wash load (it sounds really long because it is). So how noisy are the five washers we liked? They earned a good in our noise tests, so they make annoying, sustained sounds, making them better suited for basements. To find out how loud a washer that scored excellent is and how poor is poor, watch the video below. And here’s a glimpse of the five HE top-loaders.

Maytag. The Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW is $600 and a CR Best Buy. It has a large capacity, was impressive at washing, water efficiency, and extracting water, so dryer time is less. Its 45-minute wash time is among the fastest of the recommended models and half the time of some. That’s a normal wash on the heavy-soil setting. But in addition to being relatively noisy, it wasn’t that gentle on fabrics.

Whirlpool. The Whirlpool WTW4900BW and Whirlpool Cabrio WTW5500BW, each $600, are CR Best Buys, have large capacities, and the Whirlpool WTW4900BW performed similarly to the Maytag (Maytag is a Whirlpool brand). We expect the Whirlpool Cabrio to perform similarly to the tested WTW4900BW and the Cabrio has a 40-minute wash time, five minutes faster than the Whirlpool WTW4900BW. But neither is gentle on fabrics.

Kenmore. The Kenmore 27102 didn’t make our recommended list but at $600, this HE top-loader has a large capacity and was impressive at cleaning, water efficiency, and water extraction. Normal wash time on the heavy-soil setting was a brisk 45 minutes and it was gentler on fabrics than the Maytag and both Whirlpools. We expect the $400 Kenmore 25102 to perform similarly to the tested Kenmore 27102.

If your laundry room is near bedrooms or the family room, you’ll want a washer that scored very good or better in our noise and vibration tests. You’ll know the washer is working, but it shouldn’t disturb you. The top scoring top-loaders, the $700 LG WT1101CW, and the $750 Samsung WA422PRHD[WR], scored very good in our noise tests, are HE models, and are CR Best Buys. Our Ratings of top-loaders and front-loaders tell the whole story.

—Kimberly Janeway

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