Powertac X3000 Gen II (3xXM-L2, RGB XP-E) Rechargeable Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS+
Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
This is the first light I've reviewed from Powertac and it's a heavy-duty one. The revised X3000 Gen II sports 3x XM-L2 white emitters, and three dedicated colored XP-E emitters (red, green and blue). It also has a built-in custom battery pack now (rated as 4x2600mAh 18650).
One comment before I get started the original first generation X3000 looked an awful lot like the Thrunite TN30. This new Gen II version has a quite a few distinctive changes.
Let's see how it compares to other high-output lights - and other lights with dedicated colored XP-E emitters
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- Utilizes three CREE XM-L2 U2 latest LED that enables the X3000 to produce an amazing 3000 lumens at the brightest level of the white light.
- LED type: Three Cree XM-L2 U2 LED and XP-E RGB (red / green / royal blue) LED.
- CREE XM-L2 white LED (T6): High (3000 lm / 1.5 hrs) Medium (1000 lm / 4 hrs) Low (500 lm / 7 hrs) Firefly (5 lm / 1000 hrs).
- CREE XP-E red LED (N3): High (105 lm / 15 hrs) Strobe (105 lm / 30 hrs).
- CREE XP-E green LED (Q3): High (170 lm / 15 hrs) Strobe (170 lm / 30 hrs).
- CREE XP-E royal blue LED (15): High (60 lm / 15 hrs) Strobe (60 lm / 30 hrs).
- Functions: 7 steady beam illuminations and 5 Strobe.
- Battery: Use 4 cell 18650 (2600 mAh) high quality rechargeable Li-ion battery pack
engineered to ensures the user more than one month of constant run time on the lowest setting.(The Firefly Mode)
- 481+ meter beam throw with impressive flood light to illuminate objects at both long and close distances.
- Intelligently designed friendly user interface for easy access to general illumination and strobe modes.
- Auto-memorization for all settings.
- Unique digital circuit control technology to maximize battery life and consistent light output performance.
- Maintains its appearance through extreme weather and rugged treatment with a tough, durable Type III anodized finish.
- Machined from aircraft grade aluminum.
- O-ring sealed to IPX 6 water proof standard.
- Tempered glass resists breakage or scratching on impact.
- Double-sided coating maximizes light output.
- Preserves LED and electronic components with a superior heat sink designed for quick & better heat dispersion.
- Defends against physical attack with a crenellated bezel on the head for self-defense.
- Advanced ergonomic design, matte style finish and anti-slip knurling for firm grip.
- Includes a high quality holster designed to fit belts of various sizes.
- Able to stand on tail cap to serve as a lamp.
- Multiple illumination functions while charging.
- Standard 5 V output to charge iPhones, iPads and most other mobile devices.
- Length: 177 mm. Bezel diameter: 63.5 mm. Body diameter: 50 mm. Tailcap diameter: 52 mm.
- Weight: 723 g (with battery).
- Accessories: 1 AC charger, 1 Nylon holster and 1 spare O-ring.
- MSRP: ~$370
Packaging (and build, for that matter) remains similar to a number of higher-end Thrunite, SupBeam and L3 Illumination lights. You get a presentation-style carrying case, with metal hinges and clasps. Inside, included with the light are spare O-rings, AC charging cable, belth holster with velcro closing flap, and manual.
Note that there is currently no specific labelling to indicate this as the quite distinct "Gen II" model.
From left to right: AW protected 18650 2200mAh; Powertac X3000 Gen II; L3 Illumination X40; Thrunite TN30; Niwalker BK-FA02; Fenix TK75.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Powertac X3000: Weight: 715.8g (with built-in battery), Length: 177mm, Width: 62.2mm
L3 Illumination X40: Weight: 517.2g (655g with 4x18650), Length: 182mm, Width (bezel): 68.0mm
Fenix TK75: Weight: 516.0g (700g with 4x18650), Length: 184mm, Width (bezel): 87.5mm
Nitecore TM15: Weight: 450.6g (634g with 4x18650). Length: 158mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Nitecore TM11: Weight: 342.6g (526g with 8xCR123A), Length 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Sunwayman T60CS: Weight: 338.9g (est 477g with 3x18650), Length: 145.0mm, Width (bezel): 60.0mm
Thrunite TN30: Weight: 468.2g (est 620g with 3x18650), Length: 179mm, Width (bezel): 64.3mm, Width (tailcap): 49.0mm
Xtar S1 Production: Weight: 876.0g (est. 1028g with 3x18650 protected), Length: 240mm, Width (bezel): 83.4mm
Olight SR92: Weight: 1.15 kg (with battery pack), Length: 271mm, Width (bezel): 98mm
Again, overall impression is that the light is similar to many SupBeam, L3 and Thrunite models - but with a few unique adaptations here. Weight is consistent with other robust 4x18650-class lights.
Flashlight anodizing is a matte black, and seems to be good quality on my sample. Labels are bright white, clearly legible against the dark background. There is a very generous amount of knurling, and it is fairly aggressive. I would say grip is very good.
The light is controlled by an electronic control switch in the head, along with a rotary mode-setting dial. Simply turn the dial to the setting you want, and click (press-release) the white button to activate the light. Scroll down to my User Interface section for more info.
The X3000 features a built-in battery pack, which is not user accessible. According to the specs, it is a custom pack with 4x2600mAh 18650 cells (presumably in parallel). There is a barrel plug connector in the base, for charging the pack (from the included AC charger). There is also a neat feature: a USB-out connector, thus allowing you to charge other USB devices from this battery pack. I'm only aware of a couple of other lights that have attempted this. It's a smart feature, should you be away from an electrical outlet and decide that charging your cell phone is more important than extended flashlight runtime. Finally, there is a charge status indicator on the tailcap as well. Scroll down to my User Interface section for more info.
There are anodized screw threads between the handle/battery pack and the head. This means you can lock-out the light by a simple loosening twist of the head.
Light can tailstand stably.
Let's take a look at the head and emitters
The head of the X3000 is pretty distinctive. You get the standard three white XM-L2 emitters in overlapping reflector wells but you also get three individual XP-E colored emitters, arranged around the periphery of the head.
Each XP-E emitter is in a small reflector well, suggesting these will be mainly flood-style beam profiles. The main white XM-L2 wells are fairly deep, so the X3000 should have reasonably good throw for the class (albeit with some concomitant beam artifacts).
Let's take a closer look:
White XM-L2 emitter:
Blue/Green XP-E emitter:
Red XP-E emitter:
The blue and green XP-Es don't look visibly different when the power is off, but the red XP-E has a noticeable red dome and reflection.
You may be wondering what the specific wavelengths are for the dedicated XP-E colored emitters. Powertac doesn't provide tint codes with their specs, only output bins (i.e., Red N3, Green Q3, and Blue I5). According to the Cree data product sheet for the XP-E, these are all mid-range output bins, and commonly available. Associated tint ranges for these XP-E emitters are between 620nm and 630nm for red, 520mm and 535nm for green, and 450nm and 465nm for "royal blue".
Scroll down for some standardized beamshots showing the beam patterns of all these emitters.
Turn the light on or off by clicking (rapid press-release) the electronic switch in the head.
Emitter choice and mode are controlled by the rotary dial around the switch. The indicator dot at the bottom of the head indicates the currently selected mode. Going in a clockwise orientation, the mode options are: White > Red > Green > Blue > Strobe. You can adjust the dial while the light is on or off.
In each mode position, there are potential secondary levels. You access these by pressing and holding the switch. For the White mode ("W" on the dial), you have the choice of four output levels: Hi > Med > Lo > Firefly, in repeating sequence. Strobe modes are available at the "S" position on the dial. There are a few surprises here, though, as I describe below.
The Hi mode is all three emitters on their max output, as you would expect. But there is an unusual feature that I have not seen before The Med mode is simply one of the three emitters running at max. Typically, you would want to run all emitters at a lower drive level, to capitalize on efficiency gains. But as you will see in my circuit testing below, there is one potential advantage to this setup. Med and Lo and similarly produced on one emitter.
Another interesting feature - the X3000 rotates between the 3 emitters on subsequent re-entry to the Med level. This is presumably to help prevent accelerated aging of any one emitter. See my video overview for a description of this.
For the colored XP-E modes ("R", "G", "B"), the default option is single-stage max output. Pressing and holding the switch brings up a rapid strobe. Press and hold again to return to the single constant output level.
For "S" Strobe modes, the default option is a rapid "tactical" strobe mode. Note that all 6 emitters actually light up for this strobe mode, with alternation of the colored emitters. In practice, this doesn't matter too much, but it does add some extra color to the predominantly white full-power strobe. Press and hold to activate "police strobe" (which is a rapid alternate flashing of just the red and blue emitters). Note that is may not be permissible for you to publicly use this sort of strobe mode in your local area (i.e., a lot of municipalities have restrictions on the use of emergency signals, and may not have much of a sense of humor about attempts to imitate police officers).
At any time, you can press the charge indicator button to see an estimate of charge remaining (this will likely be more accurate if the light is off). To charge the battery pack, simply plug the supplied AC power cable into the center "IN" port. The indicators also light up to indicate relative charging status during charging. Charging time using the bundled AC charger was around 4 hours, which is impressive for a battery pack of this size.
The X3000 Gen II also features an innovative USB "OUT" port, suitable for recharging small hand-held devices. To activate, press-and-hold the battery read-out button for a few seconds. The charge status indicator LEDs will turn on. If you now plug a USB-chargeable device into the USB port on the handle, the device should charge from the battery pack.
Powertac reports that the charging characteristics are suitable for both the Apple iPod and iPad (which I can confirm). It also worked fine on my Android phone, but not on my previous generation Blackberry Bold (which is not uncommon Blackberry uses different voltage characteristics than most other makers).
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my 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.
As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.
The X3000 uses pulse-width-modulation (PWM) for its low modes. However, due to the unusual quirk I described in the UI overview (i.e., the Med mode is simply one emitter on max, compared to three in Hi), this means that the X3000 is constant current on Hi and Med, and only using PWM for the Lo and Firefly levels.
As someone who is sensitive to low frequency PWM flicker, I am disappointed to see a very noticeable 200 Hz PWM signal on these lower levels. Of course, it's unlikely that you buy a high-output light to run predominantly on Firefly or Lo, so this may not practically be an issue for you.
Main strobe is a standard tactical strobe, of 12.3 Hz in this case. I haven't measured the oscillating red/blue "police strobe", but it looks to be a pretty close match to the frequency used by police squad cars in my neck of the woods.
Due to the electronic nature of the switch in the head, there is a necessary standby drain when connected to the battery pack. I have measured this drain as 60uA. Assuming my presumption of parallel cell arrangement is correct (i.e., 4x2600mAh), that would translate into almost 20 years before the pack would be drained. Not a concern.
As for accidental activation, fortunately there are anodized screw threads. So you can break this contact by twisting the head a quarter turn from the body/handle.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective max rechargeable battery sources (i.e., 18650s), 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.
Let's start with the main white XM-L2 emitters, relative to the competition:
The X3000 has about the beam profile you would expect for the 3xXM-L/XM-L2 class with tri-head reflector design with overlapping wells: you get reasonable throw, with some artifacts in the spillbeam. Actually, X3000 is not as bad in terms of artifacts, compared to some of the other lights I've tested. Overall output is similarly quite consistent with other recent lights in this class.
Unfortunately, we are still in a middle of a deep freeze here in my part of Canada, with several feet of snow on the ground. As such, outdoor shots would be meaningless (think of snow as equal parts ground-level diffuser and a massive reflector to get the general idea of why outdoor beamshots won't work).
So for now, you will have to make do with some indoor shots in my basement. For your reference, the back of the couch is about 7 feet away (~2.3m) from the opening of the light, and the far wall is about 18 feet away (~5.9m). Below I am showing a couple of exposures, to allow you to better compare hotspot and spill. Comparison lights are the Nitecore TM15 and L3 Illumination X40.
The X3000 is certainly in the same output range as my other 3xXM-L/XM-L2 lights. Scroll down to actual output and throw direct measures in my Summary table.
XP-E R/G/B emitters:
Note: At this close-range, my camera is over-saturated at long exposures. In real life, the beams are a consistently solid color. Also, the beam tints are somewhat off here, due to the automatic white balance and saturation settings of my camera. Please don't rely on them for tint estimation.
There are some beam artifacts with each of the emitters, which seem to be a result of the specific location of the reflectors near the periphery of the head (i.e., bezel gets in the way). These diminish with distance though, and are not an issue in actual use it is just the close-up nature of these beamshots makes things look worse than they are.
Powertac's output specs for these emitters are generally consistent with the Cree product information. But an interesting point to note above: while the blue XP-E beam looks brighter than the other two colors with the camera, all light meters (and the Cree/Powertac specs) report much lower lumen values for the blue XP-E.
As you will see in my detailed tables below, my calibrated lightbox sensor is reasonably consistent with the Powertac/Cree specs. But my NIST-certified lux meter gives ridiculously low values for throw and ceiling bounce on blue, so I have opted not to present them below. This is a good point to keep in mind light meters are not equally sensitive across the spectrum of colors.
As I mentioned earlier, Powertac doesn't provided specific wavelength information for the dedicated XP-E colored emitters. But according to the Cree data product sheet for the XP-E, tint ranges for these XP-E emitters are between 620nm and 630nm for red, 520mm and 535nm for green, and 450nm and 465nm for "royal blue".
All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. 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).
Consistent with what you saw in the beamshots, the overall output and throw of the X3000 is fairly close to the Nitecore TM15.
As for the colored XP-E modes, it's important to recall that light meters are not equally sensitive across the color spectrum, as previously mentioned. Consistent with Powertac specs, my lightbox sensor gives lower output readings for the blue XP-E, compare to red or green. In real life, I don't find much of an actual output difference between the 3 colored models
but that's hard to quantify, obviously. The wall beamshot photos earlier in this review give you another possible indication of what to expect.
Let's see how all the output levels do, against the Powertac specs:
Generally, I have very good concordance of my estimated lumens to Powertac specs. Note that I don't have a really good way to measure output on these really big lights, so you should take my numbers as a relative comparison between models in my possession. I would rate the X3000's max output as well within the typical range of recent 3xXM-L/XM-L2 lights.
As previously mentioned, the Hi mode is made by running all three emitters at max. In contrast, the Firefly, Lo and Med modes are produced by running a single emitter at full power (Med), or a single emitter at reduced PWM-controlled output (Firefly/Lo). The light alternates between the possible 3 emitters on successive cycles of mode switching. See my oscilloscope traces earlier in this review for more info.
But there is one additional interesting feature here the X3000 steps down on Hi after 5 mins continuous runtime, with all three emitters at reduced output. This reduced Hi is similar to the Med output level of a single emitter on max, but is performed by visible PWM-controlled reductions in the output on all three emitters.
For the colored emitters, I again have pretty good concordance between my calibrated lumen estimates (from my lightbox) and the official Powertac specs.
The colored modes are all constant output (single-stage).
I haven't done a runtime on the blue emitter, but here is a comparison of the main white XM-L2 emitters to the red and green XP-Es:
As you can see, the X3000 steps down on Turbo after about 5 mins of continuous runtime. The step-down is to a similar level as the Med mode, but is controlled differently (i.e., stepped-down Hi is all 3 emitters run at reduced PWM-controlled output, whereas Med is one emitter at max see above for details).
The X3000 shows a direct-drive-like regulation pattern on all white emitter levels.
Runtime on the green XP-E was consistent with Powertac specs of 15 hours (for ANSI FL-1 time to 10%). Runtime on the red XP-E considerably exceeded the comparable Powertac specs.
Regulation patterns were also different for these colored emitters, with both showing a more fully-regulated output overall. That said, the red XP-E drops more abruptly in output than the green XP-E (i.e., rapid termination on red, as opposed to the slow "moonlight" phase on the green emitter).
I haven't done the blue emitter, but I suspect it would look similar to the green XP-E runtime, based on my Nitecore Chameleon series testing (check out the comparison color XP-E runtime graph in that review).
Let's see how the X3000 performs relative to the competition. Keep in mind that the X3000 is using the equivalent of 4x 2600mA cells, compared to my standard lower capacity 2200mAh AW cells in the other runtimes here.
The X3000 steps down to a lower level on Hi than most lights with a step-down feature. As you might expect, the decision on the X3000 to run one emitter at max for Med and to use PWM on all three emitters to produce the step-down Hi level - results in some efficiency loss compared to current-controlled 3xXM-L/XM-L2 lights at comparable output levels. But absolute runtimes at these levels are still perfectly accetpable for this class.
Similarly, the X3000 Lo level (which uses PWM on one emitter) is also a bit less efficient than other lights that reduce the output on all three emitters, in a current-controlled fashion. But the absolute runtime of the X3000 on Lo is again quite acceptable.
The X3000 uses pulse-width-modulation (PWM) for its Lo/Firefly modes, at a visually detectable 200 Hz (i.e., perceptual "flicker", for those who are sensitive to PWM). The Med and Hi modes are constant current, due to the varying number of emitters used to produce these levels (i.e., one emitter on max for Med, all three for Hi). But the Hi mode eventually steps-down to PWM-controlled state.
Overall efficiency is bit lower than typical current-controlled lights in this class, but the extra capacity of the battery pack helps compensate in terms of absolute runtimes. I would consider runtimes to be reasonable.
Since the X3000 uses an integrated battery back, you can't use your own cells in the light.
Due to the overlapping reflector design, there are bound to be some artifacts in the periphery of the spillbeam. The X3000 is actually pretty good in this regard, and better than "typical" for this class and level of throw.
The colored XP-E modes are single-stage only (plus strobe).
As previously mentioned, the X3000 shares a lot of similar design characteristics with the higher-end Thrunite/Supbeam/L3 lights but with a few new twists as well. The rotary control setting dial and USB-out charging are two examples of things you don't come across very often and both worked well in my testing.
The other truly distinctive feature is the use of three dedicated colored XP-E emitters. We've come a long way from the days of underpowered little 5mm emitters. The X3000 produces a decent flood beam for each of these emitters although I would have liked to have seen a range of output levels beyond single stage max and strobe.
The main white 3xXM-L2 beam is about what you would expect in terms of overall output, beam profile and throw - given the reflector design and size of the light. Powertac has done a good job with the reflector, as beam artifacts have been kept to a relative minimum in this case (although can never be eliminated with this sort of design). Max output is certainly consistent with other recent high-output lights I've tested in this multi-cell 3xXM-L class. It is a good amount of light, with a decent beam.
The use of PWM on the lower modes is disappointing, especially at the visible 200 Hz frequency that produces flicker-like effects for those of us who are susceptible. As an interesting adaptation to help compensate, the X3000 runs one emitter at full output to generate the Med mode (thus relegating PWM to only Lo/Firefly, which are not likely to be used much). They have even thoughtfully designed the light to rotate through single emitters for the Med/Lo/Firefly level, to prevent over-use of any single emitter. That said, the step-down from Hi uses PWM on all three emitters (and produces a level similar to the single emitter Med mode).
Otput/runtime efficiency is acceptable for the light, but it can't of course match similarly equipped current-controlled models. The regulation pattern is also not as flat as some of the competition (although this really isn't an issue, as you will never be able to see such a gradual change in real life).
The custom 4x18650 battery pack and charger worked well in my testing, with fast relative charge times. The useful functionality of being able to charge other USB devices right from the battery pack is thoughtful. When on the road, providing power for a cell phone may be more important than keeping extended flashlight runtimes.
End of the day, the X3000 is a solidly built high-output light with some innovative features and a thoughtful design (i.e., this is more than just a Thrunite/Supbeam "clone"). The only real limitations I've noticed are the visible PWM on the lowest modes, and the limited number of colored output levels. But the mere presence of colored modes is a bonus compared to other lights in this class, and the overall feature set may be compelling for your needs. Hopefully the detailed comparisons here will help you make a decision.
X3000 provided by Powertac for review.
Re: Powertac X3000 Gen II (3xXM-L2, RGB XP-E) Rechargeable Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT
Thanks for the review!
Edit: Your labels for blue/green emitter and red emitter are switched around.
Last edited by Ryp; 02-21-2014 at 12:14 PM.
Re: Powertac X3000 Gen II (3xXM-L2, RGB XP-E) Rechargeable Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT
Once again, thanks for the very informative review. Excellent as always. Looks like a nice light but non user replaceable batteries are not to my liking. I guess for non flashaholics it would be convenient not having to purchase additional hardware and batteries. After a LOT of use the batteries would eventually degrade. The usb out is a nice feature. It does look a lot like my XM-L Thrunite TN 30 and total output is very similar. As SB related to even the case looks the same. My TN30 with 3400 cells weighs 612 g vs 723 g for the X3000. That's a 111 g (~ 1/4 lb) difference. That doesn't sound like much but my TN30 is plenty heavy. Of course with the additional 3 color emitters, circuitry and likely and additional cell, it would make up the difference. Very interesting light but not on my must have list.
Re: Powertac X3000 Gen II (3xXM-L2, RGB XP-E) Rechargeable Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT
A question to SB that I did not put in my above post. Have you taken the 4 screws out of the battery cover? Personally I would have to have a look.
Re: Powertac X3000 Gen II (3xXM-L2, RGB XP-E) Rechargeable Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT