USB-C has made it easier to plug and connect things. recharge, but? Charging is still complicated. You’ll get a different amount of power depending on your device, port, battery level, and anything else that uses power. It can make you wish you had a few ports that will power whatever you plug in, no matter the size.
You used to need a big surge protector packed with charging bricks crowding each other to get that kind of juice. But these days, gallium nitride-based chargers can pack serious punches in small spaces. We’ve searched the market, tried a few of them, and have a few recommendations for different performance needs.
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What We Were Looking For (And How We Verified)
It’s not too hard to find a small cube these days that can deliver a good charge even for a 15 or 16 inch laptop. And there are multi-port chargers that can do that too, although they usually plug directly in, require long and expensive cables, and reduce their power output when multiple devices are connected.
We were looking for the best mix of size, maximum power, performance across all ports, and (to a lesser extent) port variety, like USB-A or standard A/C plugs. In general, we’ve been looking for devices that can simultaneously power a laptop and simultaneously charge a phone, laptop, and in some cases some other small devices.
Gallium nitride (GaN) chargers use newer, more efficient technology that allows for smaller charging circuits but generates less heat than traditional silicon models. We monitored the temperatures of our tested chargers both with our hands and with an infrared thermometer. We also paid close attention to coil whine while our chargers were heavily loaded.
We’ll spare you the suspense: none of our reviewed models felt particularly warm, even near their peak performance for a drained device. And we haven’t noticed coil whine in any charger, although that’s an issue that could develop over time.
The Ars selection
Hyperjuice 245W GaN Desktop Charger
Buy: $150 at Hyper, B&H, eBay (ships from Japan)
|Specifications at a glance: Hyperjuice 245W GaN Desktop Charger|
|ports||Four USB-C (PD 3.0)|
|Maximum single port output||100W (two at the same time)|
|Dimensions||4.13 × 3.93 × 1.28 in (105 × 100 × 32mm)|
|weight||1.28 pounds (582 grams)|
Hyper’s 245W GaN Desktop Charger takes the guesswork out of charging. It’s just four USB-C ports, each capable of a maximum of 100W (via Power Delivery 3.0) and sharing a total of 245W. That’s enough for almost any load with a laptop, phone, and other gear, all fitting into an unassuming box not much larger than most battery packs—all at a price point that’s reasonable for this category.
If you have multiple battery-less devices that draw more than 245W across the ports (what a day you’ve had!), you’ll get proportionately less power across them. That means you can charge and power a 100W laptop and a 60W laptop and still have room to charge a full-size professional tablet and phone at or near their maximum charging capacity. Few people will take full advantage of this powerhouse.
The front of the Hyperjuice has no branding except on the bottom, just a small power indicator and four ports marked with faint 100W markings. You are a little too weak. So if you’re working in a dark room, you might need to label the device yourself. The shell is a smooth, slightly ridged plastic that can slide a bit on a smoother desk structure. The power cord is a basic two-prong C7 cord, so you can swap it out for something longer, or buy a second one for your bag if you want to take your charging station with you.
Hyper’s charger does not come with a USB-C cable, so you can create a set that works best for you and your gear. Note that Hyper recently issued voluntary recalls on two of its Power products, both due to overheating issues. We experienced no heat issues during a few weeks of taking the Hyper desktop charger on and off our desktop.
- Simple, powerful charging scheme
- No branding on the front or sides, fits most desks
- Standard, easily replaceable or duplicated power cord
- No grip points (unless you add them)
- USB-C only (if that matters to you)