Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
The X60 is the "big brother" to the SupBeam X40, sporting an extra two emitters and three 18650 cells (i.e., 5xXM-L2, 6x18650). As you might guess, output and throw have also increased.
I previously review the X40 under the L3 Illumination label (which seemed to be basically the same light, only with newer XM-L2 emitters). SupBeam has sent me directly their latest X60 model for testing.
Let's see what the specs say …
Note: as always, these are only what the manufacturer reports. To see my actual testing results, scroll down the review.
- LED: 5-Cree XM-L L2 LED (Reviewer's note: I think that is a misprint - my sample came with XM-L2 emitters)
- Maximum Brightness : 5,000 lumens.
- Level 1: 10lms,
- Level 2: 130lms-5000lms, infinite brightness mode;
- Strobe: 5000lms,
- Working voltage: 18V to 26V
- Max beam distance: 700 meters .
- Peak beam intensity: 38700lux( 2 meters distance).
- Impact resistant: 1.2 meters.
- Waterproof to IPX6 standard
- Size(mm):276(length)x108(head diameter)x49(tube diameter).
- Weight: 850g without batteries.
- Ultra durable Aluminum Alloy 6063.
- Premium type III hard anodized and anti-abrasive finish.
- Ultra-clear tempered glass lens with anti-reflective coating, which achieves a 98.3% light transmittance.
- Strobe mode for tactical and emergency use
- High-polish aluminum alloy reflector
- Highly focused beam for maximum distance.
- Streamlined body design.
- Mechanical reversed polarity protection design for battery carrier
- Intelligent highly efficient circuit board design for max per-formance and long run time;
- Accessories include O ring, USB charging cord, car charger (including
- USB interface), AC/DC adapter (including USB interface), holster, user manual, lanyard, warranty card, cardboard box
- MSRP: ~$300
My X60 came in a display-style presentation case with metal closing clasps and hinges. Note the case arrived slightly damaged - you can see the points in the first pic where the head and tail of the light bulged out the material on top. There was no damage or issue with anything inside.
Along with the light was a shoulder strap, extra o-rings, USB charging cable, 12V DC car adapter, dedicated AC charging cable, warranty card, and manual. SupBeam also supplied 6 of their own-label 2600mAh protected 18650 batteries (with a medium-size raised button top).
From left to right: L3 Illumination X40; SupBeam X60; Spark SP6; Olight SR95; Eagletac MX25L2.
All dimensions are directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
SupBeam X60: Weight: 920.7g (1201g with 6x18650) Length: 277mm, Width (bezel): 108.0mm
L3 Illumination X40: Weight: 517.2g (655g with 4x18650), Length: 182mm, Width (bezel): 68.0mm
Eagletac MX25L2:Weight: 468.7g (with battery pack: 744.2g), Length: 266mm, Width (bezel): 62.0mm
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
Olight SR95: Weight: 1,224g (with battery pack), Length: 323mm, Width (bezel): 87mm
Spark SP6: Weight: 836g (est. 1,138g with 6x18650), Length: 270mm Width (bezel): 871.mm, Width (tailcap): 52.2mm
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
The overall size and weight of the X60 is in keeping with other 6x18650 lights I've tested.
The X60 build is most reminiscent of the X40 – just on a longer body (for the extra set of three 18650 cells), and with a wider head for the extra two emitters. As with the X40, anodizing is a flat black, and seems to be in very good shape on my sample. Labels are sharp and clear, and include a serial number.
Rather than traditional knurling, the handle has a checkered pattern with very fine ridges – similar to a number of recent high-output Fenix lights. While not as grippy as actual knurling, over grip is still pretty good – especially when you consider the control ring flats and heatsink fins and ridges in the head. Note the indentations in the head ridges serve as an effective anti-roll feature.
As with the X40, there are flat indents on the control ring to help with feel. There is a label mark on the control ring that lines up with the labels on the head. Going clockwise, the output modes are min output "10 lms" (first detent), lowest level of the continuously-variable ramp (second detent), output ramp, "max" output (third detent) and "strobe" (fourth detent). The detents are firm at each level, with even resistance across the ramp area – exactly the same as the X40.
Screw threads are traditional triangular cut, but seem of good quality. They are anodized, allowing you to lock out the light by a simple twist of the head.
The shoulder strap is pretty basic, and attaches to points along the head and the tailcap. Note you are likely to scratch the anodizing a bit around the attachment points. Personally, I prefer the more extensive design of the Olight SR-series lights shoulder strap and attachment – but the included strap here should do the job.
The light can tailstand (although is a somewhat top-heavy, given the design). Tailcap looks the same as the X40, with cut-outs facilitate access to the switch. Switch is a forward clicky switch (i.e., press for momentary, click for locked-on). Switch feel is identical to the X40, and has a slightly longer traverse than typical, but with a definite click. There is a charging dock in the tail that connects to the supplied USB or AC charging cable. See below for a discussion.
There is also a small LED indicator next to the charging dock. It is green when the light is on and the batteries are well charged (or, when charging, if the batteries are fully charged). It is orange when on and the batteries are partially discharged. It is red when on and the batteries are running low (or when batteries are being charged), and flashing red when the on and the batteries are <10% (or if there is a fault when charging and the charger has shut-off).
Let's take a closer look at the battery carrier:
There is a metal battery carrier that holds 6x18650 cells, in two sets of 3 cells each. The positive contact points inside the carrier are slightly raised, so all types of 18650 cells should work fine (i.e., true flat-tops, wide and small button-tops). There seems to be plenty of room in the carrier for length, so longer cells should fit fine. All the cells point the same way here (i.e., negative terminals at the base, positive terminals toward the head).
Basically, the carrier looks like a double-decker version of the X40's 3-cell carrier – but it's a lot more complicated than that. You'll note there are a lot of circuit traces on the various contact boards inside the carrier, linking the individual cells (and struts) in unusual ways. Also, despite how the carrier looks, the cells are actually arrange in a 6s1p arrangement when running the light (i.e., all cells in series, none parallel). The negative current path is carried by the body of the light, and the positive path connects through the spring in the head unit – when running the light. The situation is a lot more complex when charging, as I'll explain below.
There is a triple set of springs in the base of the battery tube that make contact with the carrier. This should tell you that more is going on here than typical (i.e., a single spring would be needed for simple operation, two springs for in-series charging). The addition of a third spring suggests there is likely some parallel charging going on inside the carrier (which would be a good thing).
My additional carrier testing (scroll down to my User Interface and Standby current sections) confirms that the llight actually charges the cells in parallel, not series (even though the light actually runs with the cells in series). See my additional comments later in this review.
The contact boards in the carrier and tail have X60 and SupBeam labels.
The external charging dock is unchanged from the X40. Similar to Klarus RS11, these charging docks are magnetic and there is no open voltage at the tail (i.e., no risk of shorting when cells are loaded). What you see at the exterior base are two metal circular contacts – these are connected to the terminals of the carrier through the springs. The charging cable directly attaches to the external contacts through a strong magnetic connection.
Both a dedicated AC charger (with higher current) and a regular USB charger (with 12V DC adapter) were provided on my X60 sample.
Because of the strong magnetic pull of the charging cable head (i.e., it will attach itself to anything made of metal), I recommend you connect the head to the flashlight before you connect the USB end to your computer, or an AC end to household power. The risk of shorting the cable is quite low, as there is a raised plastic divider separating the inner and outer contacts on the head to prevent this from happening (see the paper clip pic above). But given that the magnet is fairly strong, I wouldn't want to trust that tiny bit of plastic to rule out the potential for even a momentary short.
Charging time on the 3000mA AC charger was about 6 hours for the supplied 2600mAh SupBeam cells. This is reasonable, given the parallel charging arrangement (i.e., each cell gets a max 500mA current). I would expect the USB charger to take quite a bit a lot longer, but haven't measured it.
SupBeam supplied a set of six 18650 batteries with the light. The cells are rated as 2600mAh, and a medium-size raised contact button at the positive terminal.
As an aside, I am glad they did - it always a good idea to use a well-balanced set of batteries in any multi-cell light. You want to use batteries of the same capacity, same manufacture, and same age. Ideally, batteries from the same batch are best.
The head of the X60 is very impressive looking. Four of the emitters are arranged in a square-grid pattern, in relatively deep emitter wells. These wells overlap somewhat at the edges – and considerably in the middle. There is a fifth emitter located right in the middle, in a center well. Although there is no such thing as a "typical" multi-emitter head, this one looks pretty distinct to me. The reflector appears to be in excellent shape on my sample, very smooth. Centering of the individual emitters seems to be fairly good, although there was some variation (which I am sure this will not affect the beam). Note that despite that the specs say, my sample definitely has newer XM-L2 emitters.
Due to the overlapping well design, you are bound to get some beam artifacts in the periphery of the spillbeam. See my beamshots later in this review for more info.
Turn the light off/on by the tailcap clicky – press for momentary, press and release (i.e., click) for constant on.
Change output modes by turning the control ring in the head. Arranged from clockwise/left-to-right (looking down at the light, held in traditional flashlight carry), the modes are detent 1 ("10 lmns") > detent 2 (minimum level of the ramp) > continusouly-variable ramp > detent 3 (max level) > detent 4 (strobe).
Note that there is no standby mode – light is always produced when clicked on.
To charge the light, simply attached the magnetic charging dock to the port on the back of the light, and connect the other end of the cable AC power, DC power, or a USB port, as appropriate. The LED indicator will light up red to indicate the cells are being charged, and will go green (and terminate) when fully charged. The individual cells all came out between 4.17~4.18V in my testing, which I consider quite safe and reasonable.
Based on my testing, I have determined that the carrier is using a complicated wiring set up and circuit control to run the light in series, but to do parallel charging within the carrier (see comments above, and under Standby Drain). I have contacted SupBeam, and they have confirmed this. Note that parallel charging is safer than traditional in-series charging, which I don't recommend for multi-cell lights.
One thing I did experience once was a flashing red indicator early on in one attempted charge cycle (indicates a fault, with no charge occurring). When I pulled the cells, I noticed one of the individual batteries had tripped its internal protection circuit. A quick initiation charge on a regular charger got it back to a traditional low voltage. Re-inserted into the carrier, the X60 charging cycle proceeded normally.
I don't know what tripped the one cell, but I am glad to see the in-light X60 charger respond by giving an error warning and aborting the charge attempt. This is another line of evidence to support a sophisticated wiring/circuit control inside the X60 battery carrier. SupBeam confirms that the carrier has an "overheat automatic adjustment function", and will automatically stop the charge is it detects any of the cells are "faulty".
For more 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 X60's "continuously-variable" ramp is actually composed of a series of discrete steps. Technically, all "continuously-variable" ramps actually have discrete steps – it is just a question of how many there are, and can you notice them. It is hard for me to give a precise number, but I would say there are at least >30 discrete levels in this case.
Ramping pattern is actually exactly the same as X40, just with higher output at all levels. The raw data coming out my lightbox (above) doesn't actually give you a good feel for how "visually linear" the X40 and X60 are. For that, I have plotted the results on a cube root scale, based on modern perceptual research that shows we actually perceive non-point sources of light according to this power relationship. See the discussion in this thread for more info.
As you can see, the X60 and X40 have basically parallel ramping curves, when adjusted for relative perception. They are both quite "visually linear".
There is no sign of PWM on any level – I believe the light is current-controlled. Even my moonlight mode was flicker-free.
Note however that I did detect some audible "hum" at the near-Max and Max levels (as well as on Strobe). This decreased quickly as you lowered the output (or as the capacity of the cells drained), but was quite noticeable on Max and Strobe initially.
The X60 uses a fairly fast "tactical" strobe, of 13.1 Hz.
I don't see any evidence of a current drain between the head and carrier when the clicky switch is off.
However, due to the rather complex dual serial and parallel arrangement inside the carrier (controlled by an internal circuit), there is a standby drain internal to the carrier. I measured this current as 1.28mA on six cells.
Note that the carrier charges the six cells in parallel and not series (confirmed by SupBeam). Due to some additional testing, I similarly suspect the internal carrier discharge current is also in parallel. If so, the 1.28mA drain on six parallel cells would give you 1.4 years before 2600mAh cells would be drained. This is not at all unreasonable.
In any case, the key point here is that the X60 has a much safer in-parallel charging system compared to most lights, which use in-series charging.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective max rechargeable battery sources (typically 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.
Obviously, it's hard to tell much at such ridiculously close distances. The most obvious observation is that overall beam pattern and throw look similar to the 5000-lumen rated Olight X6. To tell more, we are going to have to go out to further distances ...
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.
Let's start with the Olight X6, since that seemed to be best comparable.
Sorry, the camera moved a little between the set ups for these two lights, so things look a bit jerky above. And there is something of a tint deference between my samples (which is being accentuated by the auto white balance on the camera). But overall, I find overall output to be similar, with the X6 having a slightly narrower and better defined spillbeam edge. The SupBeam X60 also has smaller and more focused hotspot than the X7 (as you would expect, given the deeper individual reflectors on the X60).
Let's see how the X60 compares to a couple of relatively "throwy" 3xXM-L2 lights, the Fenix TK75 and the L3/SupBeam X40.
Again, you can see that the X60 has higher output, and throws further than these two 3xXM-L2 lights.
It is still hard to see much about beam artifacts from these pics, but the overlapping reflector wells do produce additional patterns in the periphery of the spillbeam on the X60.
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).
Max output of the X60 is very consistent with the Olight X6 is my testing - I get pretty much the exact same output. Peak intensity throw is also in the expected range – and is quite impressive for a light this size.
Let's see how the light measures across output modes:
L1 refers to the "10 lms" mode (which came in as 5 estimated lumens in my testing). L2 refers to the ramp, with min and max levels. As you can see, the specs seem very consistent with my testing.
First off, here's a comparison of my standard 2200mAh AW Protected cells, compared to the 2600mAh SupBeam, on Max:
For the rest of comparisons, I will stick with the bundled Supbeam 2600mAh cells.
A bit hard to see above, but the X60 steps down after 3 mins. When I set the continuously-variable ramp to a comparable output as the step-down level, I get typically similar runtime. As you can also see above, overall regulation is very flat on the X60.
It's hard to compare lights with different number of cells, but the X60 seems to be quite efficient, especially on the Med-Hi levels.
Due to the overlapping reflector design (and generally "throwy" beam), there are bound to be some artifacts in the periphery of the spillbeam. The X60 has about what you would expect in this regard.
The magnetic charging cable worked well in my testing, with no open voltage reading at the tailcap (i.e., no apparent risk of shorting your battery inside the light). The X60 also uses an innovative carrier that supports in-series running of the light, but in-parallel charging. This is a positive for charging, as in-series is not recommended for multiple cells (i.e., if one of the cells fails, the other cells could be dangerously over-charged). I am happy to report the in-parallel X60 charger will also detect faults with individual cells, and shut-down the charge cycle.
There is a standby current internal to the carrier, due to the unusual dual series and parallel connections. This discharge current is fairly negligible, however, assuming a parallel arrangement again. Nevertheless, SupBeam recommends you perform periodic discharge/charge cycles every three months or so, for the health of the cells.
The bundled shoulder strap is very basic, and may scratch the anodizing near the attachment points.
There was a high-pitched "hum" audible on my light at the near-max and max levels. This decreased rapidly as you lowered the output (or as the cells drained in capacity remaining). It was most noticeable on the Strobe mode, where the on-off nature produced a "clicking" sound effect. Rest assured, the light is perfectly current-controlled, and there is no PWM.
Like its "baby brother" the X40, the X60 is a top example of a high-output light. Featuring 5xXM-L2 emitters, max output now matches my 6xXM-L Olight X6 – with even greater throw. But you also get incredibly low level output modes as well on the X60, plus a visually-linear continuously-variable ramp.
The X60 is certainly a substantial light, with its 6x18650 cells and a large head. The continuously-variable control ring is a definite bonus on a light this size, allowing you to customize your light levels. The feel of the control ring is good, with clear detents at major points (and an intuitive orientation). The X60 uses the same style magnetic charging dock and physical clicky switch as the X40. Build quality is certainly high, and the light has a very solid feel.
Output/runtime efficiency seemed to be excellent on my sample, with relatively flat regulation at all levels (note that there is a step-down feature from Max).
The battery carrier is one of the most unique features of the light – it has both parallel and series connections between the cells. This allows for efficient high-voltage running of the light in-series, and safer in-parallel charging of the cells. The carrier also has a fault-detection system, to ensure safe charging of the cells. Included are both a high current AC charger, and a slower USB-based charger (with 12V DC car adapter).
The beam is good for a 5xXM-L2 light, although there are some spillbeam artifacts due to the overlapping wells. But peak output and throw are higher than most multi- or single-emitter hihg-output lights, which is what I imagine most people would be looking to this light for.
The X60 is a well-designed and built high-output "thrower-style" search light. Unlike some of the competition in this space, you have the option to use your own 18650s - although SupBeam thoughtfully supplies a good set of 2600mAh cells with my sample. Should you plan to go your own way, I caution you to make sure to use only quality brand-name cells, well-match and balanced for this operation. The X60 is definitely a strong contender in this space.
X60 provided by SupBeam for review.