Icom IC-7851 Review

The Icom IC-7851 is top-of-the-line in every way. If money really is no object for you, you won’t find a better base station for HF and 2-meter ham radio. It’s packed with more features and incredible components than we could talk about in a novel-length review, but we’ll do our best to hit the highlights in this quick overview of the Icom IC-7851 base station transceiver.

Good

  • 200w transmission power – With the right antenna and a few nearby repeaters, you’ll be making worldwide QSOs. 200 watts of pure power mean that nowhere is out of reach. And with the advanced receiver and filters of the IC-7851, you’ll be able to make clear connections and get great audio reports.
  • Built-in power supply – We hesitate to say that this makes the IC-7851 “portable,” since it tips the scales at more than 50 pounds. But it’s nice that it has the power supply built-in. That’ll help clear some space on your desk, which you’ll need for this hefty beast.
  • Dual-receive capabilities – As a true dual-receiver radio, you can easily monitor two bands at once, and see them both on the large, color screen of the Icom IC-7851. You can also switch the secondary receiver on and off whenever you like.
  • Gigantic color screen with waterfall display – The screen is huge, beautiful, and allows you to monitor two frequencies at once, and it’s got a waterfall display to help you narrow down your connections quickly and easily.
  • Ridiculous expansion possibilities – The IC-7851 is complete with six antenna connectors, a DVI display port, two USB-A connectors and one USB-B connector, a fiber-optic connector, a LAN ethernet port, and several accessory ports. And that’s just the beginning. In total, you’ll find nearly three dozen different ports and connectors on the back of this unit.
  • Great ventilation – Serious contesters and DXers will be able to use the IC-7851 at high power mode for hours at a time, thanks to its large and heavy chassis, multiple vents, and powerful fans.

Bad

  • Built-in speaker is only decent – The speaker is more than adequate, but it’s perhaps a bit less impressive than you’d expect from a radio at this price point. Still, the ability to connect external speakers or headphones means this isn’t too much of an issue.
  • It’s just not worth it for most people – This is easily the biggest caveat. If you have the money to spend and you really will use it to its full capabilities, the IC-7851 is worth it. But most hams could buy a radio like the Kenwood TS-890s for about a quarter of the price and still have nearly the same performance.

Bottom line

Most people don’t have enough money for an Icom IC-7851. For the price, you could buy a used car, or enough other base stations, HTs, and mobile radios to outfit every room in your house, plus a few vacation homes.

But it’s the best of the best. The Icom IC-7851 is unbeatable on the HF and 2-meter bands. If you’ve got the budget for it, you’ll truly use it to its potential, and you’re willing to invest such a large amount of money in a radio, it won’t let you down. For the general public, it’s out of reach. But if you’re lucky enough to buy one, the IC-7851 is sure to serve you well.

Product Specs

Frequency coverage
U.S.A. Version
RX
TX
0.030– 60.000 MHz*2
1.800– 1.999 MHz
3.500 – 3.999 MHz
5.255 – 5.405 MHz*2
7.000 – 7.300 MHz
10.100–10.150 MHz
14.000– 14.350 MHz
18.068–18.168 MHz
21.000– 21.450 MHz
24.890–24.990 MHz
28.000– 29.700 MHz
50.000–54.000 MHz
 
*1 Frequency ranges vary depending on version.
*2 Some frequency ranges are not guaranteed.
ModeUSB, LSB, CW, RTTY, PSK31/63, AM, FM
Number of channels101 (99 regular, 2 scan edges)
Antenna connectorSO-239×4 and BNC×2 (50Ω unbalanced (Tuner off))
Power supply requirement:85–265V AC
Temperature range0°C to +50°C; +32°F to +122°F
Frequency stabilityLess than ±0.05ppm
(0°C to +50°C @ 54MHz, after warm up)
Frequency resolution1Hz (minimum)
Power supply requirement85–265V AC
Power supply requirementTx Max. power: 800VA
Rx Stand-by: 200VA (typ.)
Max. audio: 210VA (typ.)
Dimensions425×149×435 mm; 16.73×5.87×17.13 in
Weight23.5 kg; 51.8 lb
Output power
SSB, CW, RTTY, PSK31, FM
AM
Transverter Connector, CW
(continuously adjustable)
5–200W
5–50W
More than –20dBm
Modulation system
SSB
AM
FM
Digital P.S.N. modulation
Digital low power modulation
Digital phase modulation
Spurious emissionMore than 60dB (HF bands)
More than 70dB (50 MHz band)
Carrier suppressionMore than 63dB
Unwanted sidebandr suppressionMore than 70dB
δTX variable range±9.999 kHz
Microphone impedance600Ω (8-pin connector)
Receive systemDouble conversion super-heterodyne system
Intermediate frequencies
Main receiver:
 
Sub receiver:
64.455MHz/36kHz (1st/2nd)

64.555MHz/36kHz (1st/2nd)
Sensitivity (typical)
SSB, CW, RTTY, PSK31, FM
0.1–1.799 MHz
1.8–29.999 MHz
50.0–54.0 MHz
AM
0.1–1.799 MHz
1.8–29.999 MHz
50.0–54.0 MHz
FM
28–29.999 MHz
50.0–54.0 MHz
(BW: 2.4 kHz at 10dB S/N)
0.5μV
0.16μV
0.13μV
(BW: 6 kHz at 10dB S/N)
6.3μV
2μV
1μV
(BW: 15 kHz at 12dB SINAD)
0.5μV
0.32μV
Squelch sensitivity (Pre-amp: OFF)
SSB, CW, RTTY, PSK
FM
Less than 5.6μV
Less than 1μV
Selectivity (representative value)
SSB (BW: 2.4 kHz, sharp)
 
CW, RTTY, PSK (BW: 500 Hz, sharp)
 
AM (BW=6KHz)
 
FM (BW: 15 kHz)
More than 2.4 kHz/–3dB
Less than 3.6 kHz/–60dB
More than 500 Hz/–3dB
Less than 700 Hz/–60dB
More than 6.0 kHz/–3dB
Less than 15.0 kHz/–60dB
More than 12.0 kHz/–6dB
Less than 20.0 kHz/–60dB
Spurious and image rejection ratioMore than 70dB
Audio output powerMore than 2.6W at 10% distortion with an 8Ω load
RIT variable range±9.999kHz
Matching impedance rangeHF bands: 16.7Ω to 150Ω unbalanced (VSWR better than 3:1)
50MHz: 20Ω to 125Ω unbalanced (VSWR better than 2.5:1)
Minimum operating powerHF bands: 8W
50MHz band: 15W
Tuning accuracyVSWR 1.5:1 or less
Insertion lossLess than 1.0 dB (after tuning)

Expert reviews

  • In a comparison of the Icom IC-7600 vs. the Icom IC-7851, Robert Nagy had a positive overall assessment of the Icom IC-7851. He praised the powerful transmitter, very selective RX performance, improved screen, and the fact that all of the most frequently-used controls are accessible on the front panel of the 7851. He called it “pinnacle of superhet design,” though he did note the extremely high price as a potential downside for most hams.

User reviews

  • DXEngineering users have given the IC-7851 from Icom a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, across a total of 6 reviews. They said that the radio is a “really great performer,” “the best, bar none,” and that it’s the “best radio in ham radio.” Users praised the sensitivity of the receiver, the controls, the noise blanker, the roofing filter, and a plethora of the IC-7851’s other features. One reviewer even mentioned making connections to the North Pole, as well as Indonesia and Hawaii. Another user noted that “it takes knowledge and skill to maximize the full potential” of the IC-7851.
  • On eHam.net, reviewers have given the Icom IC-7851 a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars, across a total of 28 reviews. They were uniformly positive and praised this base station transceiver from Icom, calling it “the most technologically advanced, yet easy to use rig” on the market, praising its “superb… super quiet, sensitive, and selective receiver.” One user said that it was “the best radio I have ever used in my 30 years as a ham.”

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