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Thread: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Duracell

  1. #1

    Wink2 CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Duracell

    UPDATE May 16, 2013: The CR123A testing results in this thread have been superseded by a new 2013 comparison posted here. Please refer to that thread for more up to date info.

    UPDATE SEPT 29, 2012: New results based on a December 2011 comparison have been added to the end of the review.

    Reviewer’s Note: Following up my initial CR123A/AA Battery Shoot-out, here I provide a more detailed comparison of how three of the more popular made-in-China cells (4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, and Tenergy) compare to the top-of-the-line USA cells that I routinely use (Duracell & Surefire).

    For more information on the differences between the various USA brands (including estimated capacity loss over time), please see my earlier review listed above. All USA brands perform well in my testing, but some fall into a second-tier category where overall capacity seems to be ~5% less than these top-tier Surefire/Duracell cells, when matched for age.



    Batteries:

    All batteries were purchased new within the last three months from major distributors. Duracells and Surefires used in this study both have a manufacture date of August 2008, and were purchased from cfrlights and Tetragon (local Surefire distributor), respectively.

    Made-in-China batteries do not have a manufacture date, but all were purchased within the last one month. 4Sevens batteries were from 4sevens.com, Titanium Innovations batteries were from batteryjunction.com, and Tenergy batteries were from 4sevens.ca.

    Flashlights:

    I have chosen four single-cell CR123A lights for comparisons. Each light has a different type of regulation circuitry. All light were run on Max/Turbo settings.
    • 4Sevens Quark Q123 (R2)
    • LiteFlux LF3XT (R2)
    • Olight T10 (Q5)
    • NiteCore EX10 (Q5)


    Testing Method:

    All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different lights - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan.

    In addition to time to 50% output (the standard runtime measure), I have also done an area-under-the curve measure (labelled as AOC – I can’t spell ). This gives you a relative measure of the total capacity for each cell in each light. It is in completely arbitrary units (as it integrates my relative output values over time), but it will allow you roughly compare overall capacity within each flashlight model.

    Runtimes:







    UPDATE JUNE 28, 2009: Added a "Med-Hi" runtime on the NiteCore EX10 (Q5), to see how the batteries fare until a lower current load.



    UPDATE JULY 10, 2009: Added a "Med-Hi" runtime (L4) on the Olight T10 (Q5)



    Preliminary Observations:

    USA Cells (Surefire/Duracell)

    As mentioned in my original CR123A/AA Battery Shoot-out, Duracell and Surefire cells typically have equivalent performance that is among the best I’ve seen for made-in-the-USA cells. These are the standard by which I compare other batteries. Please see my earlier review for how other USA brands compare.

    Titanium Innovations cells:

    On Max, the Titanium cells consistently provided equivalent runtime and overall capacity to the top-tier USA cells. In fact, they were the only China-made cells to do so. But they do have a slightly different runtime pattern – as the cells near depletion, they drop in output more rapidly than the USA cells (which tend to enter a longer “moon mode” of gradually reducing output). So while time to 50% and overall capacity are similar, expect to have a more rapid drop-off as the Titaniums near depletion. Note that I have tested 3 different lots of Titanium cells so far, and the “average” batch (in terms of capacity) is shown above. Performance was generally similar on all three batches when run on Max.

    On the Med output EX10 and T10 runs, the Titanium Innovations cells showed lower capacity and runtime than the Surefire or 4Sevens cells. Although difficult to generalize from the limited testing above, it seems that the Titanium cells are best suited to high drain situations (although are still quite reasonable at these lower drive currents).

    4Sevens cells:

    The new 4Sevens cells do remarkably well in the 4Sevens Quark lights. In fact, they are basically indistinguishable from the top-tier USA cells in terms of time to 50%, overall capacity, and runtime pattern.

    However, when tested on Max in the Olight T10 and LiteFlux LF3XT, their total capacity appears to be ~10% lower than the top-tier USA brands or Titanium cells. I am not sure of the reason for this discrepancy. I have tested several batteries from the same lot, and get identical runtime traces each time in the lights above.

    Interestingly, in the Med output EX10 and T10 runs, the 4Sevens cells performed better - fairly close to to the top-tier USA, in fact. This suggests that the 4Sevens cells perform best at less-than-maximal drive currents, except in some lights (like the Quarks), where their performance is consistently top-level at all outputs. Note that the runtime pattern of the 4Sevens cells remains similar to the USA brands in all lights (i.e. good long moon mode).

    Tenergy cells:

    Tenergy cells consistently under-performed in all 4 lights. Total capacity of the Tenergy cells appears to be consistently ~25-30% less than the top-tier USA cells. They also tend to drain much faster than the other batteries once the circuits drop out of regulation.

    Bottom line: I think you could do well with either the Titanium Innovations or 4Sevens cells. The 4Sevens cells have a pattern very reminiscent of the USA brands, but with slightly lower overall capacity on Max in some lights. The Titanium cells were consistently in line with the top USA brands in all lights on Max, but performed a little below on the lower outputs.

    ------------------------------

    UPDATE:

    Back in December 2011, I did some additional comparison tests of these cells in a few newer lights. Sorry I never got around to posting the results here, but here they are:







    As you'll see, modern made-in-the-USA cells continue to consistently match each other's performance. The older Energizer cells fall behind in the max current draw example above (which may be due to age effects, or more likely improvements in the more recently manufactured cells).

    The Titanium Innovation cells continue to do at least as well as the name-brands on Hi current draws. The issue I noted in my original review was slightly lower performance on the mid-level current draws. At least in the case of the Foursevens Quark 123-X above, you'll see the more recent Titanium Innovation cells are doing quite well now.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 05-16-2013 at 08:21 PM. Reason: new results
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Olight M18 Striker.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    As usual, nice work

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* nanotech17's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    la magnifique battery diagnose selfbuilt
    the titanium seems to be more consistent through out all the testing.



  4. #4
    Flashaholic* gswitter's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Good test.

    Wish you could do the same tests after letting the cells sit for two or three years.



  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac



    _

  6. #6
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Thanks selfbuilt. Great work as always.
    Keep it simple.

  7. #7

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post

    4Sevens cells:

    The new 4Sevens cells do remarkably well in the 4Sevens Quark lights. In fact, they are basically indistinguishable from the top-tier USA cells in terms of time to 50%, overall capacity, and runtime pattern.

    However, when tested in the T10 and LF3XT, their total capacity appears to be ~10% lower than the top-tier USA brands or Titanium cells. I am not sure of the reason for this discrepancy. I have tested several batteries from the same lot, and get identical runtime traces each time in the lights above.
    Just my initial thoughts but maybe the 4Sevens cells are better suited for high current applications but are lower capacity when the current is lower? I remember from HKJ's review that the current draw at the beginning of the Q123 runtime is 2A - quite demanding for such a small battery. This could be some explanation for the difference between Q123 and LF3XT, I don't know why it happens for Olight, though.

  8. #8

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by gswitter View Post
    Wish you could do the same tests after letting the cells sit for two or three years.
    I've done that for several of the USA brands (especially Duracell and Energizer), as shown in my earlier battery round-up review.

    Because a light's performance could change over time, I kept samples of certain older lots of cells where a manufacture date is given (hence why only USA cells tested). These were all re-tested in my Olight T10 within a few weeks of each other (range was from 9-30 months old at time of testing). As you will see, there is a fairly consistent loss over time, ~3% per year, based on my very limited sample size.

    Quote Originally Posted by wapkil View Post
    Just my initial thoughts but maybe the 4Sevens cells are better suited for high current applications but are lower capacity when the current is lower? I remember from HKJ's review that the current draw at the beginning of the Q123 runtime is 2A - quite demanding for such a small battery. This could be some explanation for the difference between Q123 and LF3XT, I don't know why it happens for Olight, though.
    Yes, it occurs to me that may be an issue. Testing at lower outputs (and hence lower currents) should help reveal a bit more. Unfortunately, I'm running out of a number of the brands, so I will have to give this some "strategic" thought when the lightbox is free again (busy testing new lights right now).
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  9. #9

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Great source of information on cells!!!

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* swampgator's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post

    Tenergy cells:

    Tenergy cells consistently under-performed in all 3 lights. Total capacity of the Tenergy cells appears to be consistently ~25% less than the top-tier USA cells. They also tend to drain much faster than the other batteries once the circuits dropped out of regulation.
    This matches my experiences with Tenergy cells. Granted I only used 10 cells in a E2E but they under performed all the cells I'd used up to and after that point.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic Sharpy_swe's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Great test, thanks
    I've got more flashlights than I need, but still wants more...and then a few more

  12. #12
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Thank you for the review/shootout selfbuilt. Very useful information.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* rookiedaddy's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    As you will see, there is a fairly consistent loss over time, ~3% per year, based on my very limited sample size.
    Pardon my n00b question, based on this observation, when the battery expire, it still has ~70% of energy left, what properties has change that it is not recommended/safe to use? or is it still useable? or the % loss tend to increase towards the end of the battery life?

  14. #14
    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by rookiedaddy View Post
    Pardon my n00b question, based on this observation, when the battery expire, it still has ~70% of energy left, what properties has change that it is not recommended/safe to use? or is it still useable? or the % loss tend to increase towards the end of the battery life?
    Why do you say it has 70% of energy left?

    On the contrary, when the battery expires it has almost no energy left. The light output decreases to zero and the battery is no longer useful.

  15. #15

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by rookiedaddy View Post
    Pardon my n00b question, based on this observation, when the battery expire, it still has ~70% of energy left, what properties has change that it is not recommended/safe to use? or is it still useable? or the % loss tend to increase towards the end of the battery life?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Happy View Post
    Why do you say it has 70% of energy left?
    I believe rookiedaddy is referring to my estimate of ~3% loss of capacity per year, and the 10-year rated shelf life of USA-made cells (i.e. the "expiry date").

    The cells are still perfectly safe to use at that point, provided they were properly stored during that time (i.e. no huge swings in temperature, etc). You should always check for leaks or damage as well, when they are that old. The expiry date is really a "best before date".

    As to the final capacity of a 10-year old cell, I have not measured this yet - my ~3% estimate is based on 6-30 months decay. It is quite possible that the rate of loss increases with time, so I think ~70% is probably an upper estimate of remaining capacity.
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  16. #16
    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    I believe rookiedaddy is referring to my estimate of ~3% loss of capacity per year, and the 10-year rated shelf life of USA-made cells (i.e. the "expiry date").
    Ah, I missed that. I see now.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* gswitter's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gswitter View Post
    Wish you could do the same tests after letting the cells sit for two or three years.
    I've done that for several of the USA brands (especially Duracell and Energizer), as shown in my earlier battery round-up review.
    I guess what I'm really curious about is if the new Titaniums (and the 4Sevens) hold up better in long term storage than the previous generation. It's great that they perform well when new - and the new Titaniums look impressive - but I tend to buy CR123A's in bulk, and the majority of them will be in storage for quite a while before they're used. My experience with the old, orange-labeled titaniums was not good in this regard.



  18. #18
    Flashaholic* rookiedaddy's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    The cells are still perfectly safe to use at that point, provided they were properly stored during that time (i.e. no huge swings in temperature, etc). You should always check for leaks or damage as well, when they are that old. The expiry date is really a "best before date".
    Thanks. I guess my rate of loss will be higher as I'm living in a country with room temperature of 28-33C (humidity ~80-90%).
    Thread like yours and Silverfox's battery shoutout has got me paying more attention to how I use and what devices I use these batteries in.

  19. #19

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by nanotech17 View Post
    the titanium seems to be more consistent through out all the testing.
    That was certainly true on all the Max output runtimes. But to further round-out the review, I've added results from the NiteCore EX10 on a Med-Hi setting:



    As you can see, the Titanium cell didn't last as long as the Surefire this time.

    Good to see the 4Sevens still holding its own ... it looks like it's not initial current draw that is the issue for the lower capacity in T10 or LF3XT.

    Quote Originally Posted by gswitter View Post
    I guess what I'm really curious about is if the new Titaniums (and the 4Sevens) hold up better in long term storage than the previous generation. It's great that they perform well when new - and the new Titaniums look impressive - but I tend to buy CR123A's in bulk, and the majority of them will be in storage for quite a while before they're used. My experience with the old, orange-labeled titaniums was not good in this regard.
    Good question ... I'm hanging on to a couple of cells from these batches for future testing, but it will literally take years before I know.
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  20. #20
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    How well do they work/compare on a medium draw light?
    Like my Novatac on 60-80% brightness setting.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* Toohotruk's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    I'm curious how well the 4 Sevens batteries do compared with Battery Station (USA) cells...

  22. #22

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by dmonay View Post
    How well do they work/compare on a medium draw light?
    Like my Novatac on 60-80% brightness setting.
    The NiteCore EX10 Med/Hi run is at about the same output as 60-85 lumens on the Novatac, so that should give you a general idea. But the Novatac has a fairly specific step-down pattern, so it would be difficult to say with any certainty without testing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Toohotruk View Post
    I'm curious how well the 4 Sevens batteries do compared with Battery Station (USA) cells...
    Based on my limited testing of one batch of Battery Station cells in my CR123A Round-up thread, their performance appears comparable to Energizer or Rayovac - once adjusted for sample age.

    As you'll see in my testing there, all the USA brands tend to have a similar profile in the Olight T10 - but the Duracell/Panasonic/Surefire seem to have slightly more capacity than the Energizer/Rayovac/BatteryStation.
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  23. #23
    Flashaholic* Toohotruk's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Thanks for the info...I wasn't aware of the other thread.

  24. #24

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Thought I'd show you all my spent battery bucket (old kitty litter container in my garage). Admitedly not the best way to store batteries - it's been about six months since my last trip to the recycling centre.



    Looks a little more colourful now that I've started testing some additional CR123A brands (was pretty boring with all Duracells before ... )
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  25. #25

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Once again nice work on testing the cells out...might get a few of the 4sevens brand.

  26. #26

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Selfbuilt, thank you for the (as always) excellent review.

    In the early days of CPF some members believed that cr123 auto-discharge accelerated significantly after even the briefest use. You could use your light for a minute and store it in the glove compartment, and after a week the battery was dead or near death. The idea was that a new cell had some kind of physical protection against rapid self-depletion but as soon as the cell was used that protection (some called it a kind of "membrane"), was in effect breached.

    Have you ever heard of this phenomenon, and if so is there any truth to it?

    Brightnorm

  27. #27

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by brightnorm View Post
    In the early days of CPF some members believed that cr123 auto-discharge accelerated significantly after even the briefest use. You could use your light for a minute and store it in the glove compartment, and after a week the battery was dead or near death. The idea was that a new cell had some kind of physical protection against rapid self-depletion but as soon as the cell was used that protection (some called it a kind of "membrane"), was in effect breached.

    Have you ever heard of this phenomenon, and if so is there any truth to it?
    Interesting question, I hadn't heard of that before. I think I can dispel it, at least for Energizer CR123A cells (may be different for cheapo foreign cells).

    Below is a comparison of two cells from the same batch (manufactured March 2007). One was left untouched in original packaging for two years ("Unused"), and one has been one of my "tester" cells for the last one year or so ("Lightly Used"). As a tester, I have been using it to quickly test the max output/throw on new lights as they arrive (i.e. click on Max, take a reading, turn off). I would estimate that I have used up the equivalent of ~1.5mins of continuous runtime, scattered over a one year period.



    As you can see, there is no difference in time to 50%, and only a slight reduction in total capacity as measured by area under the curve.

    Looks pretty convincing to me that Energizers don't suffer any ill effects from "breaking the seal".
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  28. #28

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    It might be useful to know, at least at initial turn-on, what the tail current draw is for each of 123A cells for each of the tests.

  29. #29

    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Interesting question, I hadn't heard of that before. I think I can dispel it, at least for Energizer CR123A cells (may be different for cheapo foreign cells)...
    The issue may have originally come up because what seemed to be an inordinate number of Surefire cells were dying after brief use. Whatever the cause, I haven't seen the issue raised in a long time. Thanks for your answer.

    Brightnorm

  30. #30
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    Default Re: CR123A Comparison Review: 4Sevens, Titanium Innovations, Tenergy, Surefire, Durac

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post

    this is obviously a bad case of Rechargophobia

    cool tests, specially when you changed the levels and mixed things up again.
    Me wonders if some of the cells tested are the same exact manufacture, with pretty new labels on them, and different "batches" or freshnesses .
    Last edited by VidPro; 07-09-2009 at 11:55 PM.

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