With some excellent heating performance and good results in our popcorn tests, the R-530ES is a good value for a low cost. But you should check out the competition before you rush out to buy it.
The Sharp R-530ES excelled in areas of basic cooking performance: popcorn popping, water heating, and reheating. The Popcorn setting took just over two minutes and left only 42 kernels unpopped out of a possible 300. This Sharp also took only 3 minutes to heat a cup of water to 205°F, which puts it in line with most other microwaves.
The default power settings were also pretty much perfect. We heated a portion of macaroni and cheese and measured for any temperature variance between areas of the food. One area was only 5°F hotter than the rest, which is a remarkable result.
Sharp sticks to what works
We've learned to accept certain undeniable truths about microwaves: Defrosting is almost uniformly awful, water heating is almost uniformly excellent, and the default microwave design template isn't going anywhere. Therefore, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Sharp R-530ES sports the standard "stainless steel box" look so common with other microwaves.
In all fairness, the design doesn't do anything wrong, it's just completely unremarkable. It can sit on your counter, or you can buy an optional trim kit and install it in your cabinetry. Also, be aware that Sharp doesn't manufacture ranges or cooktops. Therefore, the R-530ES won't perfectly match your other kitchen appliances.
The Sharp R-530ES was fairly stealthy. We recorded a sound level of 50.5 dB during normal operation. That's far from silent, but it's fairly unobtrusive for a microwave.
Unfortunately, in the areas of sensor cooking and defrosting, the Sharp R-530ES failed to impress. The sensor overcooked our test baked potato by an average of 6°F, but most importantly, we noticed several major temperature irregularities within the potato itself.
The defrost setting was underpowered. After defrosting 1lb of ground beef for 2:30, about a third of the food remained firmly frozen.
A mixed bag of good and bad performance
We often find microwave performance to be great in certain areas and middle-of-the-road in others, and the R-530ES is no exception. The Popcorn setting and default power settings proved excellent, leaving few unpopped kernels behind and providing some excellent temperature uniformity in our test food. Additionally, the microwave is pretty quiet—great news for fans of midnight snacks.
Unfortunately, in our food tests, we found this Sharp's cooking sensor was not up to the challenge. It won't flat-out ruin your meal, but you may want to make sure that your food is cooked all the way through before digging in. Meanwhile, the defrost setting took less than three minutes to turn frozen food into only slightly-less-frozen food.
You could do slightly better, but you could do far worse.
Despite some clunky performance in the areas of sensor cooking and defrosting, the Sharp R-530ES is still a good value for its cost. While the Panasonic NN-SN973S is still our built-in model of choice, this Sharp is a worthy competitor.
Meet the tester
Aside from reviewing ovens and cooktops, James moonlights as an educational theatre practitioner, amateur home chef, and weekend DIY warrior.
Checking our work.
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