Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
This is my first review of Bronte lights – a relatively new manufacturer that claims to have experience manufacturing for other companies. I have chosen to combine the review of two lights I received – the TU10-Ti and X03 - as they seem to share the same circuit with identical performance (despite the slightly discordant specs).
The main difference is in the build material and overall size – the TU10-Ti is a larger light, made of TC4 titanium alloy.
Note: as always, these are only what the manufacturer/dealers report. To see my actual testing results, scroll down the review.
- Cree XM-L U2 LED
- Four levels for dimming
- Low (8Lumens 110H)
- Medium (210Lumens 5H)
- High (500Lumens 1.5H)
- strobe(9.5Hz 5H)
- Battery:1*18650 / 2*16340 / 2*CR123A
- Voltage Range: 3V-9V
- Material: TC4 titanium alloy
- Lens: Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-scratch coating
- Waterproof to IPX-8 standard (2 M underwater)
- Dimensions: 140.7 mm (L) *32.6 mm (D)
- Weight: 136.5 g (excluding the battery)
- Accessories: waterproof rings, lanyard,switch cap,holster
- MSRP: ~$148
- CREE XM-L U2 LED
- Four levels for dimming
- High (450Lumens 1.5H)
- Medium (200Lumens 4.5H)
- Low (8Lumens 110H)
- Strobe (9.5Hz 5H)
- Battery:1*18650 / 2*16340 / 2*CR123A Lithium cell
- Material: aircraft-grade aluminum with premium type Ⅲ hard anodized anti-abrasive finish
- Lens: Double-sided steel lens with anti-scratch coating
- Waterproof to IPX-8 standard (2M underwater)
- Dimensions: 126.7 mm（L）* 23.8 mm（D）
- Weight:67G(excluding the battery)
- Accessories: waterproof rings, lanyard, switch cap,holster
- MSRP: ~$39
Aside from the construction material, the output and runtime specs for these lights appears similar above. As you will see in my detailed testing below, it is in fact identical (i.e., they are using the same circuit).
My TU10-Ti sample came in hard cardboard box with magnetic closing flap. Along with the light, you get a manual, spare o-rings, decent wrist strap, and belt holster (with closing flap). There is no pocket clip with the TU10-Ti.
My X03 came in similar packaging, although plainer with less customized decals on the box. Along with the light, you get a manual, spare o-rings and switch boot cover, very basic wrist strap, belt clip (attached to the light) and belt holster (with closing flap).
With the exception of the more basic wrist strap on the X03, the included extras are not all that different between the models. The manuals have virtually identical instructions (in keeping with seemingly identical circuits).
From left to right: AW Protected 18650; Bronte X03, Tu10-Ti; Thrunite TN12; Luminto ED20; Eagletac G25C2; 4Sevens Quark 123-2-X; Zebralight SC600.
Actual Measured Dimensions
All dimensions are personally measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Bronte TU10-Ti: Weight: 135.8g, Length: 140.6mm, Width (bezel): 30.6mm (32.2mm at widest base of head)
Bronte X03: Weight: 67.7g, Length: 126.9mm, Width (bezel): 23.9mm
4Sevens Quark Q123-2-X (Regular tailcap): Weight: 44.6g, Length: 112.7mm, Width (bezel) 22.0mm
Klarus RS11: Weight 158.0g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel) 34.9mm
Lumintop ED20: Weight 84.4g, Length 121.6mm, Width (bezel) 25.2mm
Thrunite TN10: Weight: 154.7g, Length: 145.5mm, Width (bezel): 35.1mm
Thrunite TN12: Weight: 64.0g, Length: 126.9mm, Width (bezel): 24.1mm
Zebralight SC600: Weight 87.2g, Length: 107.8mm, Width (bezel) 29.7mm
Sunwayman V20C: Weight: 117.4g, Length 133.0mm, Width (bezel) 32.2mm
As you would expect for a titanium light, the TU10-Ti is heavier than most of the competition.
Fundamentally, most flashlights share a similar build (i.e., a head, a body/battery tube, and a tailcap). What distinguishes these two models is the choice of body material, overall size and styling.
Most of this review will focus on the TU10-Ti, but for now, let's start with the simpler X03 build:
Here on the X03, you get a traditional aluminum build, with matte black anodizing (no damage on my sample). Labels are bright white, sharp and clear against the black background. There is a generous amount of knurling, and it quite aggressive compared to most lights I come across.
Light comes with a basic stainless steel pocket clip (clip-on style, but seems to hold firmly).
There is a spring on the positive contact board in the head, so flat-top cells should work fine.
Screw threads are square cut in the tail region of light, but are not anodized. However anodized threads are provided in the head region, so you can lock out the light by a head-twist. Note that the head threads are standard triangular cut (and rather fine at that). I would have preferred more substantial threads in the head region.
Light uses forward clicky tail switch. Light can tailstand, but is a bit wobbly.
Light has a flat stainless steel bezel ring in the head. The reflector is a reasonable depth for this size diameter light, with a well centered XM-L emitter on my sample. Reflector is textured (i.e., medium orange peel) to smooth out the beam.
All-in-all, the X03 reminds me of a high-end budget build, or an entry-to-mid level brand-name build for this class light.
Let's check out the TU10-Ti ...
The TU10-Ti is another beast all together. Featuring TC4 titanium alloy, the TU10-Ti has a distinctive look and feel.
Weight has obviously increased, and the light has a substantial feel. There is relatively limited ridge detail, and body feel is fairly smooth (i.e., grip is reduced). I find fingerprints show up easily on the shiny finish (but are easily wiped off). Labels are subtle, in a darker finish.
As before, there is a spring on the positive contact board in the head, so flat-top cells should work fine.
Unlike the X03, I am happy to report screw threads are square cut at both ends of the battery tube. Threads seem of particularly good quality, with only a very limited amount of galling on my sample (common to titanium lights). Lockout has also been maintained at the head of the light (presumably by insulating the circuit board contact ring from the body, requiring a tight connection to the battery tube).
Light uses a protruding forward clicky tail switch. As the switch cover is flat, the light can tailstand – but is very wobbly.
One comment here – switch feel is surprisingly good. I've tested a number of lights with metal boot covers, and have always found them rather frustrating in use. You typically need to press them dead-center (or the light won't activate), and they often stick upon release (especially titanium ones – likely related to the galling issue). In contrast, my TU10-Ti sample works perfectly – a light press (even off-centered) is able to activate the light, and switch action is smooth.
Light uses a crenelated bezel, also of apparent titanium construction.
The head is larger than the X03, with a wider and deeper reflector (textured MOP as before). Emitter is again well centered on my sample, and I would expect better throw than the X03. Scroll down for beamshots.
This is my first all-titanium 1x18650-class light, but it appears to be of quality construction.
The user interface is identical for the two lights.
Turn the light on at the tailcap switch. Press for momentary, click for locked on.
Change modes my clicking the switch off-on rapidly (when on), or soft-press (from off). Mode sequence is Lo > Med > Hi > Strobe, in repeating sequence.
Lights have mode memory, but it takes ~4 secs for the light to memorize the level. If you turn it off/on (or flash) within that time, the light simply advances to next level.
This is definitely a "budget light" interface – as strobe is included in the main sequence, there is no way to avoid it.
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my new video overview:
Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.
The Tu10-Ti uses PWM of ~960 Hz. PWM signal is detectable on all levels, including Hi. However, just like my Klarus RS11, there is no obvious visual evidence of flicker on the Hi mode. This spike on the Hi mode oscilloscope trace may thus be some sort of circuit filtering.
The X03 uses a similar PWM at all levels, of ~970 Hz on my sample (representative Lo mode shown above). Otherwise, it appears identical to the TU10-Ti – including the spike on the Hi level. But as before, I am unable to see any visual evidence of PWM at this level (even when shinning on a fan).
This is an interesting parallel to the Klarus RS11, and one I will come back to later in the review.
Strobe is a fairly typical 8.9 Hz on both my TU10-Ti and X03.
Time for the white-wall beamshots. All lights are on Max output on an 1x 18650 AW protected cell. Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.
The beam pattern is very much what you would expect for heads/reflectors this size. The TU10-Ti is a bit throwier than the X03.
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 reviews - 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, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.
I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).
First point to note is that overall output is virtually identical between my TU10-Ti and X03 samples, at all levels tested, on all battery types. The specs refer to the TU10-Ti as "500 lumens" (vs the X03's "450 lumens"), but it seems to me that both lights are properly ~450 estimated lumens.
Throw is increased on the TU10-Ti, as you would expect for the larger head and reflector.
Overall, output and throw are quite consistent for other lights this size.
First off, I didn't continue all the runtime testing on the X03 once I realized the performance was identical to the TU10-Ti (e.g., check out the Hi mode 1x18650 and 2xRCR). Again, for all intents and purposes, they appear to the have the exact same circuit.
The runtime graphs may look a little obscured in the 1x18650 Hi mode run, but the similarity of the X03/TU10-Ti to the Klarus RS11 is unmistakable. Although the X03/TU10-Ti do not have a step-down mode, they have exact same pattern of fine oscillations over the initial course of the run, followed by a definite uptick and slow decline before falling out of regulation. You can see this even more clearly in the Med 18650 runtime graph. This "signature" is distinctive, and suggests to me they are using comparable circuitry to the Klarus RS11.
The spacing of output levels is also similar to the RS11 (although not exact). But for all intents and purposes, you would be hard-pressed to notice much of a difference between the performance of these lights.
This result is interesting, in light of the extremely similar oscilloscope traces for the X03/TU10-Ti and Klarus RS11.
Lights use a very simple interface, with Strobe on the main sequence (i.e., unavoidable when changing modes).
Lights feature a memory mode, but delay is fairly lengthy at >4 secs.
Lights can be locked out at the head, although screw threads here are very fine on the X03 (thick square cut on the TU10-Ti).
Lights use PWM on all modes, including Hi. However, there is no visual evidence of flickering on the Hi modes. Circuit pattern is remarkably similar to the Klarus RS11 for the constant output modes (e.g., ~1 kHz PWM).
Build quality is acceptable on both lights, with TU10-Ti being a more substantial light. The TU10-Ti may be somewhat slippery, given the lack of ridge elements/knurling.
The TU10-Ti screw threads seem of excellent quality, with relatively little galling for a titanium light. However, you should still expect some thread "grittiness" due to the titanium construction.
The X03 and TU10-Ti are clearly two lights that share a common circuit. Your choice comes down to build – a streamlined "budget" aluminum build (X03), or the "premium" all-titanium build (TU10-Ti).
The X03 build is comparable to many other lights of this 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR class. It is fairly compact, while retaining sufficient diameter for protected 18650 cells. Overall hand feel is good (with more aggressive knurling than typical), and my sample seems well constructed. The only point here is the triangular screw threads in the head are very fine (i.e., thin and not deep), which could cause cross-threading issues. I suggest Bronte adapt here similar square-threads as used in the tailcap. I would rate overall build quality at the high-end of most "budget" lights, or the low-mid range of more expensive brand-name lights.
The TU10-Ti is very distinctive, given the all-titanium construction. I am particularly impressed with the quality of the square-cut threads (at both ends of the tube), and the retention of a head lock-out feature. I typically experience more galling on titanium threads than I've observed here. Even the tailcap action is smooth – one of the best I've seen in fact for a metal button cover.
Overall, the TU10-Ti is certainly a more substantial light for both size and weight. You may find it somewhat smooth to handle, and fingerprints show up easily on the shiny surface. But that's the price of bling. Thanks to larger head, it also has greater throw than the more compact X03 (although overall output is the same). You don't see a lot of titanium 1x18650-class lights, so the Bronte is definitely one to consider.
My main issue with these lights is the user interface – sadly, they have strobe on the main sequence (i.e., it is unavoidable as you switch through modes). This is just such a classic "budget" UI, and I one that I strongly recommend revising. If you feel you have to have a strobe mode, please hide it somewhere so you don't have to see it every time you want to change to a lower output mode.
Performance-wise, the circuit doesn't do too badly for a PWM-based light (although it is at the lower end of typical PWM efficiency on Med). And this brings up another interesting point – there is clearly some significant commonality with the Klarus RS11 circuit. Although the three constant output levels are not exactly the same, they are close – and the distinctive output/runtime performance pattern is an exact match between the lights. Even the PWM frequency (and its presence on all modes including Hi) is comparable.
I always presumed that the visible PWM in the case of the Klarus lights was due to the dual (and electronic) switch design. That restriction no longer applies to the clickly switch-based Bronte lights, so I would recommend they opt instead to go with a more efficient current-controlled circuit. And get that strobe off the main sequence.
Bronte clearly has some experience in building flashlights. For the price, I find the build quality of the lights is good. Hopefully they will strengthen these offerings with a revised, customized circuit.
Bronte X03 and TU10-Ti provided by Bronte for review.