Most of us have a good number of chargers at home for our various gadgets, but we don’t often realize that not all chargers are created equal. There are various wattage ratings from 5W, 12W, 18W, 20W, and higher. There are all kinds of protocols, PD, QC, AFC, FCP, etc. Usually the charger included with a device is designed to optimally charge that device with the specific wattage and protocol. This is not to say this charger cannot charge other devices. But when a charger does not have the specific protocol or minimum wattage required for a certain device, it will either charge at a slower rate or in other cases it won’t charge at all. In search for the one charger to rule them all, let’s check out the Ugreen 65W GaN 3C1A (3x USB-C + 1x USB-A) wall charger.
Searching for USB wall chargers on Amazon, you will find chargers with 1x or 2x USB-A ports, and ones with 1x or 2x USB-C port, there are also chargers that include both. However, the Ugreen charger is a rare breed sporting 3x USB-C ports and 1x USB-A port. With the rise of USB-C devices, you want a charger with multiple USB-C ports as well as an USB-A port for legacy devices.
Here’s what you’re going to get out of the box.
GaN, or Gallium Nitride, is the semiconductor material that is gradually replacing silicon due to its higher efficiency at conducting electrons and ability to conduct higher voltage over time. Being efficient means there’s less loss to heat and that more input power can be delivered to the receiving device. As well, being able to conduct higher voltage means GaN-based chargers have lower component count than the Silicon alternatives, which translates to a smaller physical size. The term started to appear in many of the chargers in the market today. This is why Ugreen is able to shrink down the 65W charger to the size shown here. How-To-Geek has an excellent article on this topic.
This charger is rated at 65W total output. The internal chip will intelligently distribute power across all 4 ports to allow for optimal charging. The fact that you can power up to 4 devices at once is impressive. Even better, the USB-C1 and C2 ports support the 20V/3.25A profile, which means it can provide up to 65W of power to even the most demanding laptop. The following lists the charging profiles available on this charger:
- USB-C1: 5V/3A, 9V/3A, 12V/3A, 15V/3A, 20V/3.25A (65W Max)
- USB-C2: 5V/3A, 9V/3A, 12V/3A, 15V/3A, 20V/3.25A (65W Max)
- USB-C3: 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A (18W Max)
- USB-A: 4.5V/5.0A, 5V/4.5A, 5V/3.0A, 9V/2.0A, 12V/1.5A (22.5W max)
If you connect a single 65W load to the charger, it will charge at 65W. But when you introduce additional devices, the power through each port will decrease such that the total does not exceed 65W. Note that the current rating is the maximum amps for that specific voltage. For example, when UCB-C1 is charging at 9V, the current can be “up to” 3A. The device being charged will decide the amount of current to draw. A lot of people misunderstand this concept thinking that a 65W charger will push the full 65W to the receiving device. This is not the case. The 65W rating represents the peak power available when requested. The actual current draw depends on the demand from the device being charged.
Most chargers default to the 5V profile. Once a device is connected, it will “negotiate” for the required charging profile with the charger, and the charger may step up its voltage to meet the demand. This is why when you plug in a USB-C phone, you often hear the charging “BEEP” twice, just seconds apart. The first beep is for the initial connection where the charger is by default at 5V. After a few seconds, it may beep again because the charger is now stepping up to the 9V profile requested by the phone.
The Ugreen 65W GaN charger supports the following fast charging protocols:
- PPS/PD3.0/PD2.0, QC4+/QC4.0/Qc3.0/QC2.0, AFC, FCP/sCP/sFCP/PE2.0/PE1.1, BC1.2
Suffice to say, this is a comprehensive list that covers a wide array of different devices. The most popular protocols are PD (Power Delivery) and QC (Qualcomm Quick Charge). The fast charging protocol allows the device to be charged at a faster rate, usually by increasing the input voltage. Power = Current x Voltage. Higher the voltage, higher the power. Or, higher the voltage, lower the required current to maintain the same power output. If the fast charge protocol requested by the device is not available, the device may be charged at the standard rate at 5V, the default charging profile for most chargers.
This charger provides the usual temperature, short-circuit, over-voltage, electrostatic, over-power, and over-current protections. I don’t want to over-emphasize this section because of chargers include these basic protection features so in general you don’t need to worry it. However, the above assumption is based on purchasing the charger from a reputable brand such as Anker, RavPower, Ugreen, among others. There are too many accessories makers out there, mostly based in China. Made-in-China does not equate to bad quality. However, a lot of cheap, unfamiliar brands from China are of bad quality. So choose wisely, read reviews, research the brand! Interesting note about this particular charger, it has no UL label on it, which is surprising in that we can get this in North America. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal.
I connected iPad Air 3 (USB-C1), Magsafe Charger (USB-C2), iPhone X (USB-C3), and Airpod Pro case (USB-A) to the charger. All 4 devices charged simultaneously.
How do we know the devices are fast charging? With the Power-Z USB-Power Meter, I did some quick readings.
USB-C1 is electrically linked to USB-C2. But both ports are able to charge the devices at their respective fast charge voltages. The pictures here show that the iPad Air 3 is being charged at 15V, close to 18W.
USB-C2 is connected to the Magsafe charger. It charges at 9V. When the iPhone 12 is connected to the Magsafe charger, it’s showing 7.7W right now because my iPhone is already at 86%, so the charging rate has slowed down.
The Ugreen adapter charges all 4 devices simultaneously.
The unexpected issue came when I connected my Dell laptop to USB-C1. I got a warning from Windows saying that the cable is connected but the laptop wasn’t charging. In order to diagnose, I unplugged all other devices except for the Dell laptop. It charged at 20V as expected and without issue when this is the only device plugged in. However, when a laptop is plugged in, you can have a maximum of 2 devices plugged in to the charger otherwise the laptop would not charge. Other than the laptop itself, it doesn’t matter if you plug in to USB-C2, USB-C3, or USB-A, as long as you have a total of 2 devices, the charger will fast charge both devices. But if you introduce one more, the laptop stops charging. I considered this a charger limitation.
Among my trove of chargers, my favorites are the Anker PowerPort Atom III (45W USB-C, 15W USB-A, 60W total), RavPower PD Pioneer (90W distributed to 2x USB-C), and this Ugreen charger. I love the Ugreen because it has (3) USB-C ports on top of the USB-A. It can provide power to 3 USB-C devices and 1 USB-A device simultaneous – fast charging! HOWEVER, as pointed out above, when a high-power/voltage device (i.e. laptop) is involved, only 2 devices can be charged simultaneously. It’s a bit of mixed feelings. If you need to charge a laptop with it, consider this a 2-port charger just like many available chargers in the market (not all chargers can charge laptops at 20V by the way). If a laptop is not involved, this is where the charger truely shines by being able to fast charge 4 devices simultaneously. As such, I would recommend this charger because it beats the competition in terms of number of port and the wide array of supported fast charge protocols. If you’d like to buy one, you can visit Amazon, eBay, or ESR’s official website. Is this the one charger to rule them all? Not quite, but it’s nearly perfect – 4 out of 5 stars.
After further testing with the power meter, I found that when you plug in more than 2 devices, no matter what they are, the charger no longer supports the 20V profile. This is the reason why charging a laptop will limit the number of connected device to just (2). With all 4 ports connected, the highest charging profile supported is 15V.