Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
Thrunite has updated their original compact, high-output 1x18650/2xCR123A light – the TN12, first released in 2011 - with a new model for 2014.
This updated build features a dual-switch interface, and the latest XM-L2 emitter. Based on the specs, it promises to be a real scorcher for this class – let's see how it does compared to the competition under objective testing conditions.
For additional general comments on how several of the current dual-switch lights in this battery class compare, please see my post #2.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- LED: Cree XM-L2 U2
- Max Lumen: 1050
- Uses one 18650 rechargeable battery or two CR123A batteries.
- Output/Runtime: Turbo 1050lumens / 90 min – Hi 800lumens / 1hr 30min – Med 280lumens / 5hr – Lo 20lumens / 74hr – Firefly 0.3lumens / 1585hr (Reviewer's note: if you are wondering why the runtime specs on Hi and Turbo are the same, please see my testing later in this review)
- Working voltage: 2.7V-9V
- Beam Intensity: 11,866cd
- Impact Resistant: 1.5m
- Waterproof: IPX-8, 2m
- Body specifically designed for better single hand operation and a new emitter (XM-L2 U2) to supply more beam with throw and flood.
- Reverse polarity protection design to protect from improper battery installation
- Aircraft-grade aluminum body
- Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
- Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
- Smooth reflector gives perfect beam and throw.
- Dimensions: 143mm (Length)*25.4mm (Diameter)
- Weight: 82g weight (without batteries)
- MSRP: ~$46
Packaging is a hard cardboard box with packing foam. Inside, included with the light are spare O-rings, basic wrist lanyard, holster with Velcro closing flap, pocket clip (attached), and manual.
From left to right: AW Protected 18650 2200mAh; Thrunite TN12-2014; Nitecore P12; Fenix PD35; Thrunite TN12 2011; Olight S20 2014; Sunwayman C21C; Foursevens; Zebralight SC600-II; Eagletac D25LC2.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Thrunite TN12-2014: Weight: 80.0g, Length: 140.5mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
Thrunite TN12-2011: Weight: 64.0g, Length: 126.9mm, Width (bezel): 24.1mm
Eagletac D25LC2: Weight: 50.0g, Length: 116.3mm, Width (bezel): 22.5mm
Eagletac TX25C2: Weight 93.6g, Length: 120.4mm, Width (bezel): 31.6mm
Fenix PD35: Weight: 82.7g, Length: 138.1mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
Foursevens MMR-X: Weight 90.8g, Weight (with 18650): 138.5g, Length: 138.6mm, Width (bezel): 31.5mm
Foursevens MMX Burst: Weight 145.8g, Length: 153.3mm, Width (bezel): 38.7mm
Nitecore P12: Weight: 89.7g, Length: 139.4mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
Olight M20S-X: Weight: 124.1g, Length: 145.4mm, Width: 35.5mm (head)
Zebralight SC600 II: Weight 79.3g, Length: 101.8mm, Width (bezel) 29.7mm
The TN12-2014 is longer than its predecessor model, likely due to the revised electronics and secondary switch in the head. It is still within the same range of other recent dual-switch lights in this class.
Anodizing is a glossy black finish, hard anodized, with no chips or damage on my sample. Body labels are minimal and subtle against the black background (i.e., sort of a light gray). Knurling is of mild aggressiveness on the body tube and tailcap, and the head is smooth as well. This overall smoothness gives an impression of lower hand feel, when comparing to some other recent lights in this class. But when combined all the other grip elements (e.g., side switch cover, pocket clip, etc.), I would describe overall grip as ok The clip is helpful as an anti-roll feature, as the light rolls fairly easily otherwise.
Tailcap screw threads are now square-cut and anodized for lock-out at either end of the body tube. Although there are a good number of screw threads at the head-end of the battery tube, there are fewer at the tailcap end (although still more than sufficient).
The TN12-2014 uses a forward clicky switch as before, but I find tailstanding has improved (i.e., was pretty wobbly on my original 2011 sample).
On/off is still controlled by the physical tailcap clicky switch, but all mode switching is now done by the electronic side switch in the head (instead of the old twisty interface). The new mode-changing switch in the head has a bit of "squishy" feel for my tastes (i.e., not as much of a defined click as some others). But it is relatively easy to locate by feel. Please see my User Interface section for a discussion.
There is a spring on the contact board in the head, so flat-top cells can be used. The reverse polarity protection system must be circuit based, not physical. The body tube is wide enough to accommodate all size 18650 cells, but you may find really long cells under tight pressure with the dual springs.
The overall head is typical for this class. Reflector is smooth, and fairly deep given this size head. Coupled with the XM-L2 cool white emitter (which was well centered on my sample), I would expect a fairly typical beam pattern. Scroll down for beamshots.
The TN12-2014 comes with a flat black aluminum bezel, as before.
The original TN12 -2011 used a clicky switch for on/off, and head-twists to control output levels. The new TN12 for 2014 uses a dual-switch interface, similar to the Fenix PD35 and Nitecore P12.
As before, turn the light on/off by the forward tailcap switch. Lightly press and hold for momentary, click (press and release) for constant on. Click again to turn off.
To change modes, click the electronic switch in the head, while the light on. Mode sequence is Firefly > Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in repeating sequence. The light has mode memory, and returns the last level set after turning the tail switch off/on.
Press and hold the electronic switch to access a tactical Strobe mode. A single click exits you from Strobe back into constant output.
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.
Like the earlier TN12, the new TN12-2014 is fully current-controlled. There is no PWM, on any level. I detect some very faint low frequency noise on the Med and Hi modes of my TN12-2014 sample, but this was completely invisible in actual use.
Again, consistent with my standard review policy, I report on any oscilloscope signals I can detect in the output of a light. But I can assure you that the above pattern produces no visible effect – even when shining on a fan. The TN12-2014 is fully "flicker-free" at all levels.
The strobe was a fast "tactical" strobe, of 12.8Hz frequency.
There are no additional blinky modes on the TN12-2014.
For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an AW protected 18650 battery. 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.
Beam pattern is what you would expect for a light this size – a wide spillbeam, but with reasonably good throw. Initial max output on turbo is incredibly bright, as indicated by the specs – scroll down for detailed output and throw measures.
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).
The TN12-2014 is indeed driven very hard on Turbo, as demonstrated by the specs. In fact, it tops my charts just slightly above the Zebrealight SC600-II and Fenix PD35. The original TN12-2011 was heavily driven for its class and time as well, but this new TN12-2014 is impressively bright. Note as well that it is even brighter on max on 2x battery sources than 1x18650.
Throw is quite reasonable for the class, given the size of the head and reflector.
Let's see how all the levels compare to the official specs, on 1x18650 in my lightbox:
There is a generally good concordance between my estimated lumens and Thrunite published specs. And as always, you have to consider my estimated lumens as a of source relative measures between lights (i.e., not to be taken as absolute values).
One thing I am happy to see here is the true "firefly" Lo mode (i.e., I'm a fan of ultra-low output levels, for when you have dark-adapted eyes). Nice to see such a wide range outputs in a general purpose flashlight.
To start, here is a comparison of four of my highest output recent lights in this class; the Zebralight SC600-II, Fenix PD35, Nitecore P12, and Thrunite TN12-2014:
Given the incredibly high drive level of the TN12-2014, it is not surprising that it has a direct-drive-like pattern on Max. The alternative approach - taken by the other makers shown above - is to have a defined step-down on Turbo/Max. You can see this in the initial timed step-down on the Fenix PD35 and Nitecore P12, and the full thermal-controlled step-down on the Zebralight SC600-II. Either way, it just isn't possible for these small lights to maintain that sort of output (and heat) on a single 18650 in a fully regulated fashion.
The TN12-2014 has a defined Hi mode that is just a bit lower than Turbo. You can see a period of flat regulation before dropping into a direct-drive-like pattern. As a result, runtime is not that different (i.e., the common 90 min ANSI-FL1 spec for time to 10% output seems quite reasonable). Note that the TN12-2014 is fully flat regulated at Med and all lover levels.
Let's see how it does on 1x18650 against a wider range of lights (omitting the comparisons already shown above):
The TN12-2014 is clearly a very efficient model on Max/Hi compared to the competition (as you would expect, given the largely direct-drive pattern).
Its performance on Med is pretty much unchanged from the original TN12. That puts the TN12-2014 at the lower end of recent current-controlled lights in this category, but still quite reasonable.
Here are a couple of comparisons on 2x battery sources:
I have only done max output runtimes on 2x sources, but you can see that the TN12-2014 runs with far more flat output (thanks to the higher voltage of the two cells). It is also slightly brighter than 1x18650 initially.
Note that I do NOT recommend you run the TN12-2014 on Max on 2xCR123A/RCR for any sustained period of time. You are likely to trip the PTC protection features of primary CR123A (due to heat build up), and it is not healthy for small capacity protected RCRs to be drained this quickly (i.e., likely exceeds the 3C discharge current for ICR chemistry Li-ion).
To explain a bit further, here is a comparison runtime using quality made-in-China and made-in-the-USA brand CR123As in the TN12-2014, on Turbo
What you are looking at on the USA brand run is engagement of the PTC circuit approximately 6 mins into the runtime. I started a thread on this behavior (in another light) some time ago, and discussed it further in my last CR123A battery shoot-out review. Basically, the point is that once the battery temperature reaches a certain threshold (which varies according to the battery manufacturer), the PTC resistance rises and current limitation kicks in, causing a rapid drop in output. Over time, the temperature drops and the cells recover, showing an uptick in output.
Based on my continued battery testing, I have found that the PTCs of made-in-the-USA cells are more likely to trip earlier than made-in-China cells (even quality ones). Keep in mind all my runtimes are done under a cooling fan for safety and consistency reasons – if I had run the China cells without fan cooling, I am confident they would have tripped as well. As a result, in the real world, I suspect all quality CR123A with PTCs will engage eventually on sustained Turbo runs on the TN12-2014.
Consistent with the high drive level and incredibly bright max output, the TN12-2014 shows a direct-drive-like pattern on Max. This is an alternative to having a defined step-down, as some sort of output reduction is required given the high heat produced at these drive levels. The light is partially-regulated in the Hi mode (but with equivalent runtime to Turbo), and is fully regulated at lower levels.
Output is well regulated on Max on 2x battery sources, but I don't recommend you subject CR123A or RCR cells to such excessively high discharge currents - certainly not for any sustained period. You don't want to be pushing cells to the point where their built-in safety circuits have to engage.
The light has a relatively smooth finish for this class (thus reducing grip), and rolls easily in bare form. Grip is acceptable with the pocket clip installed.
The new TN12 for 2014 builds on the previous 2011 model, and introduces new features consistent with other lights in this 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR class – like the dual-switch interface. It is also one of the best deals in this class (by MSRP), for the feature set.
Let's start with the build – despite the relative low cost, quality of construction seems good. The new TN12 is a solid light, with the typical features and range of bundled extras in this class. Finish is a bit smooth compared to some of the competing models out there though, leading to a lower subjective build quality "feel". Still, the ergonomics are good (especially with the pocket clip attached), and you have reasonable access to the tailswitch (while maintaining tailstanding).
The user interface very intuitive, with the dual physical tailcap switch and side mode-changing electronic switch. The side switch sticks out more than most others, which is good for locating by touch. That said, I find the switch feel itself to be a bit "squishy" (i.e., less of a defined click), compared to some others.
One thing that distinguishes the TN12-2014 is its range of output modes – it currently has both the lower Min and the highest Max output of any dual-switch light I've tested. It also has good relative spacing of levels in between. Note for those of you who are strobe fans, there is only one hidden "tactical" strobe available (not memorizable).
The circuit also performed admirably in my testing. Unlike some of the competition, the TN12-2014 is not flat-regulated with step-down at the highest level – instead, there is a more gradual drop-off in output. The point is that every light in this class will have to lower output somehow over time on Turbo – these lights are just too small (and too heavily driven) to handle that sort of heat for extended periods.
Beam pattern is good as well, with a nice balance between throw and spill. Given the fairly standard size head, there are lots of beam shaping accessories out there from a range of makers that will fit on the light.
It's mind-boggling to me to see small lights like this that can now put out over 1000 lumens (at least initially) on a single 18650. The original TN12 was a real retina-scorcher for this class when it came out, and the new TN12 picks up the gauntlet for 2014. The TN12-2014 currently tops my charts for initial max output (but the Zebralight SC600-II and PD35 are not far behind).
The TN12-2014 represents very good value in this class of flashlight. I really like the ultra-low Firefly level (very helpful for dark-adapted eyes). Certainly a top contender to consider.
P.S.: I know a lot people are wondering how the Fenix PD35, Nitecore P12 and Thrunite TN12-2014 directly compare to each other. In addition to all the objectives measures included in this review, I've added some general comparison comments in post #2.
TN12-2014 provided by Thrunite for review.