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Thread: REVIEW: Nitecore NB10000 Energy Brick (Power Bank / Power Pack)

  1. #1

    Default REVIEW: Nitecore NB10000 Energy Brick (Power Bank / Power Pack)

    The Nitecore NB10000 is a thin, lightweight, lithium-polymer based power pack containing 10,000 mAh of power at 3.85 V. It utilizes carbon fiber in the design and offers USB-C input and both USB-C and USB-A outputs. The NB10000 is quick charge compatible and includes a low current mode for smaller devices. The NB10000 is Nitecore’s premier power pack offering.


    Disclaimer: This unit was provided at no cost by Nitecore Store, shipping from their warehouse in Texas. Retail price at the time this review was performed (October 2020) is $59.95. No other compensation or consideration was provided. The review was performed through approximately 3 weeks of real-world use and bench testing.



    Unboxing

    The NB10000 arrived packed in bubble wrap inside a bubble mailer. The extra layer of bubble wrap was probably not necessary, but was a good second layer of protection.


    With the bubble wrap removed, we see the NB10000’s retail box. Nitecore advertises the use of carbon fiber on this “Ultra Lightweight Energy Brick” – and the box is printed with a carbon fiber pattern to highlight this feature. It fades from upper left to lower right, giving a nice three-dimensional look.


    The sides of the box are clean with no printing.


    The rear of the box has a continuation of the carbon fiber print as well as the specifications, Sysmax (Nitecore) contact information, UPC, disposal information, CE standard, a QR code, and a scratch-off verification code. The QR code links to the NB10000 product page on nitecore.com.


    Once the adhesive tamper-resistant seal is cut, the tray holding the contents slides out.


    Under the NB10000 in the box is a charging cable, manual, and warranty card. Here are these contents laid out. The USB-A to USB-C cable includes a reusable hook-and-loop strap for cable management.


    As is common for Nitecore, the manual is provided in 10 languages (English, Spanish, German, French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Romanian, and Korean); each language’s section is complete as the text is quite small. There is nothing particularly remarkable in the manual but it does a good job providing the specifications and operating instructions.

    It is online in full here:

    Nitecore backs the NB10000 with a 12-month warranty. Validating/registering the product will extend the warranty to 18 months. Should the device fail after this time, a limited warranty covering labor but not parts applies.



    Design

    Nitecore advertises the NB10000 as “The World’s Most Compact and Lightest 10,000mAh Mobile Power” and that it is “Specifically Designed for Trail Running”. It is the largest capacity power bank offered by Nitecore and features an internal Li-Po battery and the use of carbon fiber to keep the weight low at a claimed 150g (5.29 oz). The NB5000 is a similar design but features a lower price tag and lower capacity.


    First impressions are that the NB10000 is indeed a small, well-built, lightweight power bank (or “energy brick”, to use the official product term). The product is rigid and not susceptible to easy flexing in a pocket. The carbon fiber sides give a nice, purpose-built appearance. (The outer frame has a texture that appears to be plastic rather than carbon fiber, but a destructive test was not performed to confirm.)

    On one end are the two USB ports and the Mode button. The USB-A port and USB-C port can be used simultaneously to power other devices; the USB-C port is also the input port for recharging the NB10000.


    The Mode button is backlit with 4 separate indicators – 1 white and 3 blue. The white LED shows if the NB10000 is in “Low Current Mode.” The 3 blue LEDs display the current state of charge. Unfortunately, these are difficult to see when looking from off-angle as shown here. (There are actually 3 blue LEDs lit in this picture.)


    Looking at the LEDs squarely, the separation between them becomes visible.


    On one side of the NB10000 is basic product branding, country of manufacture, CE label, and disposal information.


    On the other side are the capacity, input, and output specifications.


    On the end opposite of the input/output ports is a three-dimensional label reading “NITECORE ENERGY BRICK NB10000”.


    For many years, larger capacity power banks were built using 18650 Li-ion cells inside. This led to large, heavy power packs. As tablets and thin laptops adopted custom size, flat batteries in recent years, so have power packs. Here is the NB1000 on top of an 8000mAh pack that has 18650 cells inside and another 6000mAh flat-style power pack. The NB1000 is the most compact of the 3 and offers the highest rated mAh.


    Here’s another angle of the same 3 packs. All are comparable length.


    To further illustrate the size, here is the NB10000 next to a Samsung Galaxy S9 mobile phone.


    Nitecore lists the NB10000’s dimensions as 121.9mm x 59mm x 10.6mm. (4.8” x 2.32” x 0.42”). I measured the NB10000 at 122.1mm x 59.4 mm x 10.5mm – within margin of error of specifications.

    Weight is advertised as 150g (5.29 oz). I measured 151g – similarly close to advertised specifications. For comparison, note the larger 8000mAh pack shown above weighs a portly 253g.


    Nitecore’s warranty excludes disassembly or misuse. No disassembly was performed during the course of this review.



    Performance

    Capacity - Rated
    Nitecore lists the capacity of the NB10000 as 10,000 mAh at 3.85V, or 38.5 Wh. Separately, the “Rated Energy” is listed as 6400 mAh at 5V and 1A, which is 32.0 Wh. The difference, 6.5 Wh, is either consumed by the internal electronics during the discharge or is held in reserves to protect against wear caused by full discharging.

    It’s important to note that the Watt-hours (Wh) is the usable capacity; the NB10000 has the ability to provide outputs at 5 volts, 9 volts, or 12 volts based on the connected device and so the mAh “capacity” varies. 32 Wh at 3.85 V is 8312 mAh, 32 Wh at 5 V is 6400mAh, and 32 Wh at 12 V is 2666 mAh.

    When considering how many times this power pack would charge your device, either evaluate it based on Watt-hours or verify how your device is rated. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S9 phone above has a 3000 mAh battery at 3.85 V (11.55 Wh) so the NB10000 in theory should charge it nearly 3 times.


    Capacity - Tested
    Testing is not 100% precise as the output voltage and amperage varies through a connected device’s charge cycle. For example, the device might request 2.5 A at 9 V for the bulk of the charge before switching to 0.5 A at 5 V for the final 15 or 20% of charge. The 0.5A might also fluctuate slightly between 0.45 A and 0.51 A, for example.

    Depending on device connected, the total Watt hours output was between 31.5 Wh and 33.6 Wh as measured by an inline USB meter. The NB10000 seemed slightly more efficient at producing power at 9 V compared to 5 V, with the higher Wh outputs coming at 9V compared to 5V. Unfortunately, I did not have any device that would charge at 12V, so tests were performed using devices pulling only 5 V, 9 V, or a combination of both.

    In any case, as the rated capacity is 32Wh – these test results validate Nitecore’s specification.


    Output – Tested
    The NB10000 is rated to provide output of 3 A at 5 V, 2 A at 9 V, or 1.5 A at 12 V. The ability to see these peak numbers will depend on not only the NB10000 but also the connected device as both have to “agree” on the output power.

    12 V was not tested. Using various Samsung mobile phones and tablets, and Apple iPads, up to 2.4A at 5V and 1.4A at 9V were observed. Note: This is not to say that the maximum advertised outputs are not possible, only that at minimum the tested values are possible. With other devices connected, higher output amperages may be possible.

    The NB10000 uses these combination of output voltages to support “Quick Charging” or “Fast Charging” used by many modern devices. Such devices will charge at higher voltages and then step down as charging nears completion.



    Low Current Mode
    Nitecore advertises “Low Current Mode […] is suitable for charging low current devices including wireless headphones, wearables, and more”. To activate Low Current Mode, press and hold the Mode button until a white light appears behind the button.



    In testing, however, I was unable to find any benefit to this mode with modern devices. A Samsung Galaxy S9 pulled 9 V and 1.3 A, whether Low Current Mode was on or off. A set of Bludio wireless headphones pulled 5 V and 0.3 A, whether Low Current Mode was on or off. And, an older Samsung Galaxy Tab E pulled 5V and 1.2 A, whether Lower Current Mode was on or off. Thus, the Low Current mode neither capped voltage at 5 V or amperage at 0.5 A as I expected. But, as the tested devices all got the power they needed and not more, it is not a problem.

    It might be possible that this mode is useful for devices that cannot communicate their power demands, but that is purely speculation.


    Power Level Display
    The three blue indicator lights behind the Mode button provide a visual representation of the output power remaining. They appear whenever a device is connected, the NB10000 is being charged, or when the Mode button has been pressed.

    • 3 lights = approximately 100%
    • 2 lights = approximately 70%
    • 1 light = approximately 30%
    • 1 light, flashing = nearing 0%


    Two lights are illuminated here, indicating around 70% of capacity is remaining.


    Note Nitecore doesn’t specify exactly what power level the final indicator flashing starts at, only that the NB10000 needs to be recharged when the light starts flashing. I observed it to continue providing output power for only a brief time once the flashing began, so I suspect it begins flashing well under 10%.



    Recharging
    As with the output, the NB10000 is able to handle various input voltages and currents. With a proper quick charge-capable AC adapter (not included), the NB10000 is rated to charge at up to 2.0 A at 9 V or 2.4 A at 5 V. As the NB10000 charges, the indicator lights behind the Mode button will illuminate to show the state of charge. In testing, I observed up to 1.2 A at 9 V and 2.3 A at 5 V, though the amperage and voltage does bounce around a bit during the charge cycle and so higher values at times may have been possible.

    Charging was also tested with a low power, 5 V only AC adapter. Even with less than 1 A input, the NB10000 was able to charge. It was of course much slower than with a Quick Charge AC adapter – but the test confirmed that even old adapters will work just fine to recharge the NB10000 in a pinch.

    The Wh required to charge a fully-depleted NB10000 was measured between 40.5 Wh at 9 V and 44.6 Wh at 5 V. The difference between these and the discharge capacities reported above is energy by the internal electronics during charging or lost as heat.

    In a 76F (24C) environment, the device reached a peak temperature of 96F (35C) during testing. The warmest part of the NB10000 was near the ports. The opposite end of the NB10000 reached only 85F (29 C). While this was 20F (11C) warmer than ambient temperature, the NB10000 was never hot to the touch or uncomfortable to hold.


    Impact Resistance
    Nitecore states that “The carbon fiber case makes the NB10000 highly resistant to puncture, abrasion, and impact”, but does not provide any impact resistance ratings. Unintentional tests were performed three times from a drop height of 2.5 to 3.0 ft (1 m) on wood floors. In each case, the NB10000 survived without a mark and functioned fine thereafter.

    While care should be exercised with any lithium ion battery, the NB10000 does hold up to drops better than most similar power packs I’ve handled.



    Water Resistance
    Nitecore lists the NB10000 as IPX5, meaning water spraying it from any direction should not hurt it. However, this is not listed in the product manual and as normal use should not see the NB10000 being sprayed with water, this capability was not tested.


    Safety Protections
    The NB10000 is said to include Overcurrent protection, Short-Circuit Protection, Over-discharge Protection, Overcharge Protection, Overvoltage Protection, and Thermal Protection.

    As noted in the Testing sections above, the NB10000 was observed negotiating and utilizing the correct voltage and current when charging and discharging, and at no point did the device get warm enough to be a thermal concern. Safeguards were not tested with the intent of causing fault (such as short-circuit), though.



    Problems

    No significant problems were experienced with the Nitecore NB10000.

    On two occasions, out of dozens, I noticed that a mobile phone that should have been quick charging was not – indicating the devices had not properly negotiated a quick charge. Simply disconnecting and reconnecting the devices corrected the issue and a quick charge began.



    Commentary

    Battery backups, power packs, energy bricks…whatever you prefer to call them, there’s typically not too much to get excited about. Capacity, output power, and design are the three variables always in play – and little else.

    The NB10000 has a very nice-looking design with the square sides and carbon fiber panels. The size, smaller than most phones today, fits easily into a pocket and is light enough weight to be hardly noticeable. I personally like it. The usable capacity does meet rated specifications, supports quick charging, and could charge a phone multiple times. It does what it is supposed to do, simple as that.

    Overall, I found no real complaints about the NB10000. Sure, I couldn’t see any impact with the Low Power Mode, but I also found it really wasn’t needed as even on regular power mode it didn’t overpower small devices. The indicator lights were a little difficult to view off-angle, and the only other possible nitpick I have is that an AC adapter is not included. Nitecore does offer these for $9.99 and I would strongly suggest getting if not already in possession of a Quick Charge AC adapter as the NB10000 is most efficient with it.

    The NB10000 is a modern power pack that has great capacity for the size – and should make any leftover 18650-based packs obsolete. With the nice design, high capacity, variety of ports, and charge indicator lights, I have no complaints.

    I might be a bit impartial as it just so happens to match the case I have on my phone, but I particularly do like the carbon fiber look.

    Last edited by Bdm82; 10-27-2020 at 10:22 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: REVIEW: Nitecore NB10000 Energy Brick (Power Bank / Power Pack)

    (Posted in Flashlight Electronics as this is a Nitecore product and can be used to recharge flashlights and other electronics. Admins, please move to appropriate forum if needed.)

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