XTAR MX4 Charger Review

vicv

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 22, 2013
Messages
2,908
Location
Southern Ontario
Good afternoon everyone, XTAR reached out to me and asked me to share my thoughts on their newest charger they've brought to market. They sent it to me along with a few cells (for testing) in exchange for sharing my thoughts. This is a link to the product description on their website

TLDR: It's a nice value charger for the money, small, and capable of charging all chemistries.

Let's get into the weeds. It's their newest offering, being very small and simple. In the box you get the charger, USB-A to USB-C cable of 80cm/32" and multi-language manual. It will also work with a C-C cable and proper USB-C PD power supply.


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Since it has no screen, and only indicating LEDs, it takes up a little more than half the space of my other chargers of similar capacity.


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Here is a picture of the back of the box which shows all the cell sizes and chemistries it can do. Lithium ion, LFP, NIMH, and the new 1.5V regulated lithium ion which I'll cover a little later
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The two outside bays will charge at 1A and the two inside bays will charge at 0.5A. But if all 4 bays are used each cell gets 0.5A. So this is not a fast charger, especially for larger cells. More for overnight with set and forget functionality. I was able to charge from small AAA cells all the way to button top 21700 ( they barely fit lengthwise, and I do not believe protected or chargeable 21700s will fit, but XTAR clearly states this).


Here is a picture showing from L to R: XTAR protected 26650, Vapcell button top 21700, Ladda AA, and Liitokala Flat top 21700. They all fit easily.

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There is a small switch on the side that allows it to switch between lithium ion 3.7V charging mode and LFP mode, the other chemistries will charge properly regardless of the switch position


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I have no way of testing the charging, but XTAR has been around a long time and I believe they know what they're doing. All my tests had the lithium ion cells stop charging at 4.16V. LFP were at 3.6V before their quick voltage drop.

The indicating LEDs make it easy to tell what the charger is doing. Solid red is charging, solid green is finished. NIMH can take up to ten minutes to start charging as the charger is analyzing it, but in practice this hasn't taken more than 2 minutes. With LFP cells, charging indication is orange instead of red, so it's easy to distinguish what mode you have it in if you've made a mistake.

Here it is charging some Soshine LFP 16340 cells, an XTAR 1.5V lithium ion, and a NIMH AA. The light looks red for the LFP, but that's the camera. It is a very distinctive amber/yellow (mix of red and green RGB).


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Pros:
- Well built of sturdy plastic
- Spring loaded bays seem to be made of a thick alloy and should last a long time.
- I like the ease of use, you just pop the cells in and let it do the rest.
- It's quite compact for a 4 bay charger, especially with such a full feature set.
- Ability to charge the new 1.5v regulated lithium ion seamlessly.
- Very well priced.

Cons:

- No screen. I'm a battery nerd and I have no idea the current or voltage the cells are charging at.
- Missing some of the advanced features like discharging.
- It's a bit slow. I would've liked if it had the ability to use a USB-C PD and at least support 1A for each bay, with selectable rate.

These cons being "fixed" though would just make it into another charger, which is already available from XTAR and elsewhere, so not true cons.

If you're interested, it's available here at this amazon link https://www.amazon.com/XTAR-MX4-Intelligent-Rechargeable-Batteries/dp/B0CSFGWSMS?ref_=ast_sto_dp

As an extra, they did send me some of their cells to include in the review, but I thought I would add some extra context.

First an 18650. It's protected and rated at 3600MAh. Unfortunately I did not get that much. I used my Miboxer C4 and discharged at 400ma to 3.0V

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Still it is a nice cell and it more than likely has some of that extra capacity down below 3V, as I've found with these high capacity 18650s

Also, a protected 26650 labeled at 5200mah, and this one, at the same discharge settings, measured at labeled capacity. These are both rated 10A CDR.

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Now these were nice, but what I was really excited by were the 1.5V regulated lithium ions. I'm definitely a NIMH guy. I hate alkaline and carbon zinc, think energizer lithiums are pretty great, but I like my LSD NIMHs. Now these come along. What's the point? NIMH work great. They are low self discharge. They have a pretty flat discharge curve. They're affordable and last many cycles. They don't leak. Can handle a healthy amount of amps. What's not to like? Well, in some rare occurrences the voltage on really low drain devices can be a bit low. Usually I use Lithiums for this use, but these could work for that too. XTAR claims they're low self discharge and should last 1200 cycles. Labeled as 2500mah at 1.5V. Now I don't have any proper way to test just the cells and gather all the data on them. What I do have is an incandescent Maglite ML25it with stock bulb, the ceiling bounce app, and an integrating dremel box. Which, btw, is surprisingly accurate and repeatable.

So first, ANSI measurement 30s after turn on


  • NIMH Ladda 1900mah cells: 42 Lumens
  • XTAR 1.5v regulated: 65 Lumens.

So the extra voltage gives 36% brighter output at 30 seconds. Not bad. It's quite a bit whiter too. But let's look at some runtime graphs.

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First, the regulated XTAR cell. Has a pretty flat and steady runtime of 120 minutes where it stayed above 90% output. And that sharp fall off. XTAR claims these cells have a 1.1V "low mode". I wasn't able to measure the voltage, but this shows more than a 1.1v output. There's some current limiting here too. It was far too dim to only be at 1.1V. But it gives a good indication you need to charge without leaving you in the dark.

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Here is the IKEA Ladda 1900 runtime graph. A bigger drop in the beginning and much less output in the second half of the runtime. This is still pretty good, vastly better than an alkaline, but I can't deny, the performance of the XTAR cells is much better. It's brighter for longer, and fully regulated. They didn't ask me to talk about these at all, but I really think they're a good product. And I'm keeping them in that light now and they're just plain better.
Here is the link https://www.xtar.cc/product/XTAR-1.5V-AA-4150mWh-Battery-210.html

There are some dubious claims of NIMH performance in their description and maybe a bit of misleading information, but the product speaks for itself. I think they are a viable alternative if the extra voltage and flat discharge curve will work in your use case. Especially for us incan guys.
 

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KITROBASKIN

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
Messages
5,437
Location
New Mexico, USA
Seems like the XTAR MX4 charger is an inexpensive simple way to charge multiple batteries, especially if the 1.5 AA Li-ion batteries are part of the mix.

Personally I'm glad XTAR did not try to chase 'fast charging' with this unit. It is not necessarily good for batteries. Hopefully folks plan ahead with spares instead of blasting cells to get it done.
 
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