4Sevens Quark AA-2 X and 123-2 X Review (XM-L): RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :cool:

QAA2X001.jpg

QAA2X002.jpg


4Sevens has just released an update to their core Quark line of lights, now featuring the Cree XM-L emitter (in the AA-2 and 123-3 builds). The original Quark series contained XP-E R2 emitters (which I reviewed here). These were subsequently upgraded to XP-G R5 (with a limited run of S2 emitters). The new “X” series of Quark lights contain the higher-output XM-L emitter.

Manufacturer Specifications:

Common Specs
  • LED: Premium Cree XM-L
  • 5 Current Regulated Output Levels
  • 3 Flash modes: Strobe, SOS, Beacon
  • Available in Regular or Tactical configurations (different tailcaps and interfaces)
  • Square threads for lifetime smooth operation
  • Type III Hard Anodized finish
  • Fully knurled
  • Reversable/Removable Clip
  • Flexible & secure hand grip accessory
  • IPX-8 Waterproofing
  • Impact-resistant glass lens with Dual-coating - sapphire coating on the outside and anti-reflective coating on the inside for optimal efficiency and durability.
  • T-6061 Aircraft-grade Aluminum Body
  • Reverse-polarity protection
  • Stands on Tail (candle mode) – only on Regular version
  • Momentary Activation – only on Tactical version
  • Level Memorization – only on Tactical version
  • Included accessories: Two batteries, lanyard, holster, hand-grip, spare o-rings, instruction manual.
  • MSRP: ~$69 before discounts
123-2 X Specs
  • Powered by: 2 CR123A batteries (included)
  • LED Emitter: 3.0V ~ 9.0V
  • Dimensions: Length: 4.5 inches, Diameter: 0.86 inches, Weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Typical Output Levels and Runtimes
  • Moonlight: 0.3 OTF lumens for 25 days
  • Low: 3 OTF lumens for 5 days
  • Medium: 65 OTF lumens for 11 hours
  • High: 160 OTF lumens for 4 hours
  • Max: 360 OTF lumens for 1.7 hours (990ma)
  • Strobe: 360 OTF lumens for 3.4 hours
  • Beacon:0-360 OTF lumens pulse for 16 hours
AA-2 X Specs
  • Powered by: 2 AA batteries (included)
  • LED Emitter: Voltage range: 0.9V ~ 4.2V
  • Dimensions: Length: 5.8 inches, Diameter: 0.86 inches, Weight: 2.2 ounces
  • Typical Output Levels and Runtimes
  • Moonlight: 0.3 OTF lumens for 15 days
  • Low: 2.7 OTF lumens for 3 days
  • Medium: 24 OTF lumens for 20 hours
  • High: 115 OTF lumens for 2.5 hours
  • Max: 280 OTF lumens for 0.8 hours
  • Strobe: 280 OTF lumens for 1.6 hours
  • SOS: 280 OTF lumens for 3 hours
  • Beacon: 0-280 OTF lumens pulse for 8 hours
I received only the bare lights to review, so I don’t know what final packaging will look like. I expect it will be comparable to other 4Sevens products.

QAA2X012.jpg

QAA2X018.jpg
QAA2X006.jpg

From left to right: Surefire CR123A, Duracell AA, 4Sevens Quark 123-2 X, Thrunite Neutron 2C, Nitecore IFE2, Zebralight SC600, Lumintop ED20, 4Sevens Quark AA-2 X, Fenix LD20-R4, Jetbeam BC20.

All weights with no batteries.

Q123-2 X (Regular tailcap): Weight: 44.6g, Length: 112.7mm, Width (bezel) 22.0mm
QAA-2 X (Tactical tailcap): Weight: 60.1g, Length: 149.1mm, Width (bezel) 22.0mm

The Quark series remains quite petite for their respective classes. You can see the Q123-2 X is slightly smaller than even the Thrunite Neutron 2C or Lumintop ED20. The QAA-2 X is slightly shorter than most of the competition.

QAA2X023.jpg

QAA2X003.jpg

QAA2X004.jpg


First off, note that build is unchanged with these new “X” versions of the Quark line. You can still lego (mix-and-match) heads, tailcaps and bodies across the whole line. :) That said, note that the Q123-2 uses a different head from the other models (i.e. QAA, QAA-2 and Q123 share a common head).

Overall build quality remains high. Anodizing is type III (hard anodized), and lettering is fairly sharp and clear. Overall fit and finish is very good on both samples. There is a generous amount of knurling to help with grip (reasonably aggressive). Screw threads are square-cut, as before.

Also as before, there is a removable single-direction clip, attached by default to either the "tail" region of the battery tube. However, since the head and tailcaps are reversible on the battery tube, you can "switch" the direction of the clip by simply exchanging the head and tail regions. :thumbsup: The clip is secured in place by its own removable cover/grip ring.

Note there is anodizing on the tailcap threads, allowing you to lock-out the light. Most lights use a double-coating of anodizing (i.e. on both the tailcap and body portions of the threads), but that would prevent you from switching around the body tube in this case. I recommend you be careful not to damage the single coat of anodizing on the tailcap threads.

Battery tubes are wide enough to accommodate protected cells, although the Q123-2 X may not be able to take all protected AW 17670 cells (18650 certainly won’t fit).

Regular versions use a standard reverse clicky, with a fairly typical feel (maybe a bit stiffer than some). The lights can tailstand on these Regular series Quarks. The Tactical versions use a protruding forward clicky switch, and are capable of momentary action (but of course, cannot tailstand).

Video Overview

NEW: Normally at this point in the review, I like to show the beamshots. But I’m trying something new - video reviews showing both the basic build and user interface. Beamshots will follow after the user interface and circuit discussion.



Video was recorded in 480p, but YouTube defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the 360p icon in the lower right-hand corner, and select the higher 480p option. :)

User Interface

The Quark interface on the Regular series lights will seem very familiar to users of Fenix or Klarus lights. With the bezel slightly loosened, click on to activate Moonlight mode. Soft-press to advance to Lo, followed by Med, Hi, SOS, and Beacon mode in sequence. With the bezel fully tightened, activation yields Turbo. Soft-press to advance to rapid Strobe.

If you turn the light off-on within ~2-3 secs, you will advance to the next mode (i.e. acts as a soft-press). Otherwise, if you leave off longer, you will return to the first output state (i.e. Moonlight or Turbo, depending on the bezel state). There is no long-term mode memory.

For the Tactical interface, you can configure the bezel loose/tight states to have one memorized level from the above sets. Default setting is loose bezel set to Moonlight and tight bezel set to Max. Soft press the switch for momentary on, click for locked on.

To reprogram the each bezel state, you need to loosen-tighten the head 4 times quickly, ending in the state you want to re-program. After 3 secs, the light will flash 3 times, and you can now advance through all the possible modes by clicking off-on. To select the mode you want memorized, wait 10 secs with the light on in that mode. When you turn off the light, that mode will become the memorized set mode for that bezel state.

See the video above for a visual illustration of the Regular and Tactical interfaces.

PWM/Strobe

Q123-2 X
Q1232X-Strobe.gif


QAA-2 X
QAA2X-Strobe.gif


Strobe was a rapid ~9.5 Hz on both lights.

There was no evidence of PWM on any output level . As before, I believe the Quark X series lights are current-controlled. :)

Beamshots:

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for. ;)

QAA2X024.jpg

QAA2X009.jpg


As before, the Quark reflector has a light-to-medium orange peel (textured) reflector, to help smooth out the beam. The reflector is fairly small, suggesting these lights will not be great throwers. The opening of the base of the reflector is larger than before, to accommodate the larger XM-L die. Emitters were well centered on my samples.

For white-wall beamshots, all lights are on 1x3.7V Li-ion (18650 or 17670) for Q123-2 X comparisons, 2xSanyo Eneloop for the QAA-2 X comparisons. Lights are about ~0.75 meter from the wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences. All beamshots taken immediately upon activation.

Q123-2 X Comparisons

Q123-2X-Beam001.jpg
Mini123001.jpg

SC600-Beam001.jpg
ED20CW-Beam001.jpg


Q123-2X-Beam002.jpg
Mini123002.jpg

SC600-Beam002.jpg
ED20CW-Beam002.jpg


Q123-2X-Beam003.jpg
Mini123003.jpg

SC600-Beam003.jpg
ED20CW-Beam003.jpg


Q123-2X-Beam004.jpg
Mini123004.jpg

SC600-Beam004.jpg
ED20CW-Beam004.jpg


QAA-2 X Comparisons

QAA-2X-Beam001.jpg
BA20001.jpg

Mini2AA-Beam001.jpg
Neutron2A-Beam001.jpg


QAA-2X-Beam002.jpg
BA20002.jpg

Mini2AA-Beam002.jpg
Neutron2A-Beam002.jpg


QAA-2X-Beam003.jpg
BA20003.jpg

Mini2AA-Beam003.jpg
Neutron2A-Beam003.jpg


QAA-2X-Beam004.jpg
BA20004.jpg

Mini2AA-Beam004.jpg
Neutron2A-Beam004.jpg


As expected, the beam profile is fairly floody on the new X Quarks. Spillbeam width is similar to other Quarks models (and wider than the Thrunite Neutron XM-L models, for example)

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 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 recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.

Q123-2 X Comparisons

Q1232X-FL1-Summary1-1.gif


Q1232X-FL1-Summary2-1.gif


Q1232X-FL1-Summary3.gif


QAA-2 X Comparisons

QAA2X-FL1-Summary.gif


:caution: Note: There is now a step-down feature just after 3 mins runtime on max, designed to help limit thermal issues on extended runs. For the Q123-2 X, output drops from ~520 estimated lumens to ~400 estimated lumens, while the QAA-2 X drops from ~400 estimated lumens to ~300 estimated lumens. I put the higher lumen values in the table, as that is what I measured at exactly 3 mins into the run (i.e. just before the drop).

As you can see, neither light is a great thrower – but initial output is impressive for the class/size light.

Output/Runtime Comparison:

Q123-2 X Comparisons

Q1232X-Hi17670-1.gif


Q1232X-HiRCR.gif


Q1232X-MedRCR.gif


Q1232X-HiCR123A.gif


QAA-2 X Comparisons

QAA2X-HiEne2.gif


QAA2X-MedEne.gif


QAA2X-HiL91.gif


QAA2X-HiAlka.gif


For both lights, initial output is very high for their respective classes. You can see the step-down in output after 3 mins runtime on max.

Runtime efficiency is typically top-of-class.

Note that I do not have XP-G-based Quarks to compare (my Quark samples above are all the earlier XP-E R2 versions).

Potential Issues

The pre-flash effect is still present on some samples (i.e. a bright quick flash before coming on in Moonlight low mode). I observed it on my QAA-2 X Tactical, but not my Q123-2X Regular. As before, I believe presence of the pre-flash effect is highly variable between individual lights.

Tailcap lock-out is possible, but anodizing is only present on the tailcap portion (i.e. may be less robust than dual-anodizing).

Preliminary Observations

The XM-L upgrade is a welcome update to the flagship 4Sevens Quark line-up.

Compared to the earlier XP-G emitters, XM-L emitters are capable of much higher output – with equivalent runtime – when driven at relatively high levels. There has clearly been a lot of interest here for 4Sevens to come out with this option.

That said, my experience with other lights that offer both emitter options is that the output/runtime efficiency of XM-L tends to drop at lower drive levels – becoming equivalent to XP-G by typical Med output levels. I haven’t compared low modes, but based on Cree specs, I doubt there’s any significant runtime difference at lower drive currents.

In this case, the runtime efficiency of the Quark X models seems excellent at the levels tested. I was particularly struck by the runtime advantage on the QAA-2 X model on Hi (i.e. one down from Turbo). :eek:oo: It is also the brightest 2xAA light I’ve seen yet (on Turbo).

These Quark X samples both had smooth beams, with reasonably wide spillbeams (and well-centered emitters). Note also that XM-L emitters produce floodier beams compared to XP-G (when comparable optics are used), due to the larger die size of the XM-L. Subjectively, this will over make XM-L-based lights seem even brighter at close distances or in confined spaces, but will make them appear dimmer at further distances.

The step-down feature after 3 mins on Turbo is a reasonable upgrade to the circuit. This is something I am seeing more and more often among XM-L lights, and it makes good thermal sense (especially in the case of small lights such as these). You can always restore max initial output by simply turning the light off-on or switching the bezel to low/tight, but I don’t recommend you do that on small mass lights.

The Quark X series adds another option to this versatile line. Hopefully the runtime graphs, output/throw tables, and beamshots will help you decide if they are the right models for you. :)

----

Quark X samples provided by 4Sevens for review.
 
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RI Chevy

RI Chevy

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Another great review. Thanks. :thumbsup:
 
powernoodle

powernoodle

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I have way too many Quark lights already, but I've still got to add one of these puppies to the arsenal. It just keeps getting better and better.

Back in the day, the Surefire 6P was da bomb. 60 big lumens of yellowish, non-regulated light. And the filament lasted only a few hours and broke when you dropped the light.

Now we have 360 lumens in a smaller and rechargeable package [edit: properly configured], with regulated output and no filament to pop. I hope that you guys who weren't around a few years realize just how good we have it now. :)
 
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M

MichaelW

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I like how we throw around 200,300,400 lumens like we used to throw around 20,30,40
:)

Is there a way to get that 3 minute period of extra brightness to return by switching back/forth from strobe, or head loosened general mode?
 
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WoodMan

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Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :cool:

That said, note that the Q123-2 uses a different head from the other models (i.e. QAA, QAA-2 and Q123 share a common head), and the forward clicky tailcap needs to be used for the tactical interface.

Is this something new and different for the X series? I put a tactical head (XP-G R5) on a regular Quark AA2 (kept the regular switch for tailstand capability) and it works fine.
 
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edpmis02

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How is the tint? From the video and beamshots, the tint looks fairly green.. I notice the green in my XP-G R5 light, and saw a large number of negative comments about green tints in XP-G S2 lights. I am aware of tint lottery, but I usually come out on the losing side..
 
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ganymede

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selfbuilt,

Thanks for the great review and your finger has healed!

I am looking at this photo:

QAA2X009.jpg


I am wondering why flashlight manufacturers don't use an isolation disk that covers the emitter and shows the dome part only. Frankly, I am a bit irked by that.

Here's my olight sr50's sst-50 for comparison. Much neater don't you think?

lCyBq.jpg
 
R

roadkill1109

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selfbuilt,

Thanks for the great review and your finger has healed!

I am looking at this photo:

QAA2X009.jpg


I am wondering why flashlight manufacturers don't use an isolation disk that covers the emitter and shows the dome part only. Frankly, I am a bit irked by that.

Here's my olight sr50's sst-50 for comparison. Much neater don't you think?

lCyBq.jpg

LUMINTOP ED20 also have clean implementation of XML:

ED20020.jpg
 
M

MichaelW

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Much ado about nothing

That shrouding would be just for looks. It makes sense to install as much reflector as possible.
+that allows for some different curvature, (than a straight parabola) which helps to mix the color/light that comes from the edge.
 
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jerrysimons

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Re: Much ado about nothing

Interesting point about the reflectors. That ED20 looks nice.

Selfbuilt, Thank You!
Would you consider adding a high test using CR123a cells? Also maybe energizer lithiums for the 2xAA? Thanks anyway.
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Re: Much ado about nothing

Is there a way to get that 3 minute period of extra brightness to return by switching back/forth from strobe, or head loosened general mode?
Yes, you can also just twist the head loose-tight to restore full initial output. Works on both the Tactical and Regular versions. I didn't try switching back and forth from strobe, but that should also work (on the Regular version, of course).

Is this something new and different for the X series? I put a tactical head (XP-G R5) on a regular Quark AA2 (kept the regular switch for tailstand capability) and it works fine.
No, all the Quarks were like this - the QAA/AA-2/123 use the same head with a lower voltage range (0.9-4.2V), where as the Q123-2 uses a higher range (3-9V) to accommodate 2x 3.7V/3.0V cells.

So you can indeed use your Q123-2 head on the QAA-2 body, and it will light up with 2x 1.5V AA batteries (or the Q123 body for CR123A/RCR). But it won't work on the QAA (unless you plan to use 14500). The QAA/AA-2/123 head is better optimized for runtimes on lower voltage setups, though.

How is the tint? From the video and beamshots, the tint looks fairly green.. I notice the green in my XP-G R5 light, and saw a large number of negative comments about green tints in XP-G S2 lights. I am aware of tint lottery, but I usually come out on the losing side..
I would say there is a slight hint of green on my samples (more noticeable at lower outputs), but only just barely. The camera's white balance seems to be accentuating the effect - it's not as bad as it looks in the pics.

Would you consider adding a high test using CR123a cells? Also maybe energizer lithiums for the 2xAA? Thanks anyway.
I'll try ... just running a little low on L91 lithiums right now. :broke:
 
powernoodle

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Re: Much ado about nothing

Thanks Mr. Built for your obsession with lighty things. Good stuff. Can you elaborate please on the AW 17670 in the 123x2 - is it your view that some may fit and some not? Thanks.
 
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jerrysimons

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Re: Much ado about nothing

Cool! I will donate to the general battery fund. Sorry if i was confusing about the "high" 2x123 X test (as you do have a graph titled "High - 2xCR123A"), I meant high mode on the Quark 2x123 X in distinction to turbo/max mode, I am hoping to see the runtimes for both modes.
 
WoodMan

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Re: Much ado about nothing

No, all the Quarks were like this - the QAA/AA-2/123 use the same head with a lower voltage range (0.9-4.2V), where as the Q123-2 uses a higher range (3-9V) to accommodate 2x 3.7V/3.0V cells.

So you can indeed use your Q123-2 head on the QAA-2 body, and it will light up with 2x 1.5V AA batteries (or the Q123 body for CR123A/RCR). But it won't work on the QAA (unless you plan to use 14500). The QAA/AA-2/123 head is better optimized for runtimes on lower voltage setups, though.

I'm afraid I didn't make myself clear. I understand the necessity of using the correct head/battery combinations. My comment had more to do with the statement in the review that "the forward clicky tailcap needs to be used for the tactical interface." As I wrote in post #5, I use the regular tailcap with a tactical head without issues. So, I'm wondering, was the quoted statement in error, am I just reading it wrong, or is this something new in the X series?
 
selfbuilt

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Re: Much ado about nothing

Thanks Mr. Built for your obsession with lighty things. Good stuff. Can you elaborate please on the AW 17670 in the 123x2 - is it your view that some may fit and some not? Thanks.
That's it exactly. Depending on exact tolerances, some Q123-2 tubes may require you to force some cells in (not something I ever recommend, due to risk of damaging the cell).

Cool! I will donate to the general battery fund. Sorry if i was confusing about the "high" 2x123 X test (as you do have a graph titled "High - 2xCR123A"), I meant high mode on the Quark 2x123 X in distinction to turbo/max mode, I am hoping to see the runtimes for both modes.
I'm doing the L91 Turbo mode on the QAA-2 X now, will post later today. But I am not planning on doing the Hi mode CR123A on Q123-2 X, sorry. I don't routinely test sub-max modes on CR123A in multi-power lights (due to the cost of primary cells). So I don't have any comparison data to put the results in context. You should be able to estimate based on the Turbo/Hi RCR results, and I suspect the 4Sevens published specs should be pretty accurate (i.e. they are directly based on their CR123A cells).

I'm afraid I didn't make myself clear. I understand the necessity of using the correct head/battery combinations. My comment had more to do with the statement in the review that "the forward clicky tailcap needs to be used for the tactical interface." As I wrote in post #5, I use the regular tailcap with a tactical head without issues. So, I'm wondering, was the quoted statement in error, am I just reading it wrong, or is this something new in the X series?
Ah sorry, I see what you mean. You are right, you don't need the forward clicky for the tactical interface - the reverse-clicky tailcap will work as well. I'll revise that line in the review.
 
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Lagerregal

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Thanks for the review! Would it be possible to add runtime on 17670 or 14670 for the 123-2? I would like to see the regulation with a single li-ion :)
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Ok, here is the QAA-2 X on L91, on Turbo:

QAA2X-HiL91.gif


Thanks for the review! Would it be possible to add runtime on 17670 or 14670 for the 123-2? I would like to see the regulation with a single li-ion :)
I will try to get to that soon (a little swamped with reviews right now). I don't have much to compare it to on that battery, but show it against typical 18650 lights. Hopefully sometime tomorrow ...
 
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light36

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Excellent review !!!!.
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Thanks for the review! Would it be possible to add runtime on 17670 or 14670 for the 123-2? I would like to see the regulation with a single li-ion :)
Here you go:

Q1232X-Hi17670-1.gif


Note that output is just a touch lower on 17670, compared to 2x sources (i.e. ~490 estimated lumens at 3 min). Runtime seems good, considering the lower capacity of the 17670 cell.
 
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Lagerregal

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Here you go:

Note that output is just a touch lower on 17670, compared to 2x sources (i.e. ~490 estimated lumens at 3 min). Runtime seems good, considering the lower capacity of the 17670 cell.

Thank you! :)
 
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