By Nick Guy
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While it used to be difficult and expensive to buy a new laptop charger, computers with USB-C charging have made replacements easier and more affordable than ever. The best charger for almost any modern tablet or laptop is Nekteck's 60W Type-C Wall Charger. This adapter is just as powerful and reliable as a replacement from your laptop's manufacturer. It even comes with a USB-C charging cable, making it a better value.
Whether you need to replace your original charger or just want to have an extra at home or the office, you should get the Nekteck 60W Type-C Wall Charger. It will charge almost any USB-C laptop at full speed, power 2018 iPad Pros faster than the brick that comes in the box, and even fast charge most modern smartphones. The Nekteck is also smaller than any other 60-watt charger we've found and comes with a detachable cable, which is something that'll usually costs $10 to $20 on its own. Despite all these benefits, it costs about a third the price of the equivalent charger and cable from Apple.
Port 1: 60 W USB-C
Dimensions: 2.9 by 2.5 by 1.2 inches
USB-C cable: 6-foot, detachable
Almost all computers that charge via USB-C have a maximum charge speed of 60 watts—the 15-inch MacBook Pro can charge at up to 87 watts, and that's about it. But if you need the extra power, the best options are the near-identical Insignia Type-C Wall Charger, or the Nekteck USB-IF Certified 90W Type-C Wall Charger, whichever is cheaper. Both 90-watt models are perfect for the job. They're just a bit larger than Apple's own charger, but they include built-in USB-C charge cables. Not having a removable cable is a sacrifice, but it's worth it for a charger that's less than half the price of what a full replacement set would cost from Apple. Plus, the Insignia is readily available in Best Buy stores across the country, making it an easy pick if you need to grab something today.
Port 1: 90 W USB-C (permanently attached cable)
Dimensions: 3.3 by 3.3 by 1.2 inches
USB-C cable: Insignia: 5-foot, attached; Nekteck: 6-foot, attached
RAVPower's 61W Type-C PD 3.0 Power Adapter (RP-PC105) charges at the same speeds as the Nekteck 60W charger when you're only using the USB-C port, but it also has a USB-A port. The combination of two powerful ports in a small package makes it a great value for anyone who wants a single, travel-size charger for a laptop and a phone or other device. When using both ports, the USB-C charging speed does drop, but to a still-respectable 45-watt level that will charge most computers, just more slowly. If you're willing to spend a little bit more, have your own cables, and need to charge more than just your computer, this is the one to get.
Port 1: 61 W USB-C (45 W when USB-A is in use)
Port 2: 12 W USB-A
Dimensions: 2.6 by 2.6 by 1.2 inches
USB-C cable: not included
Nekteck's 5-Port 111W USB Wall Charger is a powerhouse if you're handling multiple devices. It not only provides up to 87-watt charging from its USB-C port—suitable even for power-hungry laptops like the 15-inch MacBook Pro—but it also has four USB-A ports for all your other devices and accessories like your phone, headphones, or a power bank. It comes with a USB-C charging cable, which makes it an even better value. But the weight and large size make it best suited for a permanent position on your desk.
Port 1: 87 W USB-C
Port 2: 12 W USB-A
Port 3: 12 W USB-A
Port 4: 12 W USB-A
Port 5: 12 W USB-A
Dimensions: 6.3 by 3 by 1.1 inches
USB-C cable: 3-foot, detachable
Why you should trust us
I've been covering power accessories here at Wirecutter, including several previous iterations of this guide, and earlier versions of our Lightning cable, Micro-USB cable, and power bank guides. Before that, I was the accessories editor at iLounge for a little more than three years. During my tenure, I reviewed more than 1,000 products, including numerous charging solutions.
We relied on professional-level tools in addition to years of experience to make our picks, including Total Phase's USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software. These tools allow us to get more-granular, precise data than we might've otherwise and to be confident in our picks' performance.
Who this is for
This guide covers chargers for laptops that get power via a USB-C connection and specifically use USB Power Delivery (USB PD), a technology that lets USB-C transmit the high power required to charge a laptop. Most modern laptops, including almost all of Apple's current lineup, charge using USB-C; cheap Windows laptops and gaming computers are the major exceptions.
USB-C democratizes charging. You no longer have to rely on your device's manufacturer to be the only source of a safe charger. Every computer comes with a charger, but at times you might need or want an extra: Some people like to have one charger that they leave on their desk and another to toss in their bag; others like to have a charger in every place they work. And, of course, sometimes chargers get lost or broken, so you need a replacement.
Charger speeds of popular notebook computers
MacBook Pro (13-inch)
MacBook Pro (15-inch)
MacBook Air (2018)
Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA
Samsung Chromebook Pro
Dell XPS (9380)
iPad Pro (2018)
Some tablets, most notably the 2018 iPad Pro lineup, also charge over USB-C, and our picks will allow you to charge them much faster than you can with the power brick that comes in the box. The 18-watt charger Apple includes with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will get it to 18 percent after 30 minutes and 35 percent in an hour. A 45-watt charger almost doubles that, providing 33 percent charge in half an hour and 65 percent in one hour.
Thankfully, USB-C charging is starting to become cheaper and more accessible. You can also charge any USB-C tablet or smartphone with one of these chargers, though most phones won't benefit from higher USB PD rates—if you aren't regularly charging a laptop, you can save a good amount of money by getting a lower-powered USB-C charger made for phones.
How we picked and tested
The fact that so many companies can make similar USB-C laptop chargers—as opposed to the old days when you mostly just bought a charger from the company that made your computer—means it can be difficult to find the best solutions among hundreds of options. Chargers are something of a commodity (you can get a great one for a low price) so there's not a good reason to go with an unproven brand. To that end, we pored through the USB charging catalogs of Amazon, Anker, Apple, Aukey, Google, iClever, Nekteck, RAVPower, Satechi, Scosche, and ZMI.
From there, we whittled the list down based on a number of criteria:
- USB-C ports with 45-watt or higher output: While a few of the smallest Chromebooks and Apple laptops come with 30-watt chargers, many more—including the iPad Pro—charge at 45 watts, so that's the minimum figure we considered for the chargers we tested. Anything lower than that will still charge your device but won't do so at the maximum rate. We also tested faster 60-watt and 87-to-90-watt chargers, which are capable of charging more powerful computers faster.
- USB-A ports with 12-watt or QuickCharge 3.0 output (if applicable): USB-A charging maxes out at 12 watts (5 volts, 2.4 amps) for Apple devices and many Android phones, while some of the latter can charge faster with Qualcomm's QuickCharge 3.0 standard. For our picks with both USB-C and USB-A ports, we only considered chargers capable of this output. With the generally low prices of these chargers, you won't find significant savings by choosing a slower charger.
- Power-to-dollar value: Simply put, we considered how good of a value the charger is for the total power it can put out across its ports. We used this as a comparative figure, allowing us to rule out models that were more expensive but didn't otherwise offer anything more.
- USB-IF certification: While not required for our picks, certification by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) means an independent third party has tested the charger to make sure it adheres to specifications and is safe. While we test every charger we recommend, certification helps bolster the credentials of a charger, signaling that it's well-made and that the company behind it has invested in its reputation. Given two identical chargers, we'd choose the one with the certification.
We were left with 14 models to test, including some with just USB-C ports and some with both USB-A and USB-C. To find the top options in each category, we put the finalists through a number of tests.
- USB-C ports: USB-C uses digital communication between devices to verify charging speeds in a way that USB-A doesn't; with the right tools, you can observe and record what's going on in the communication between the charger and the device you've plugged in. We used Total Phase's USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software to measure and record this data, including the power rates the chargers make available to connected devices, the actual power output observed when connected, and if there were any errors in charging.
- USB-A ports: We tested the maximum power draw from each port by mimicking what happens when a phone is plugged in and determining whether or not it matched the advertised rate. To do this, we plugged in a variable power load and an ammeter, which allowed us to finely control the power flow. We started with the power load set to zero amps, and then turned it up until it matched the promised amperage, ensuring the voltage stayed within 4.75 volts to 5.25 volts. Then we repeated that test on each charger's other ports, ensuring every port behaved as expected and that combined, they matched the right output.
- Combined power output: After testing each port, we tested the combined output when all of them were pushed to the maximum. The best chargers will support full-speed charging to your phone on the first port even as you plug your headphones to the second port, a power bank to the third, and so on down the line.
- USB-C cable testing: For the chargers that came with a USB-C cable, we used Total Phase's Advanced Cable Tester to make sure the cable is safe and works as labeled. The Cable Tester checks the wiring and signal integrity, DC resistance, and compliance with USB-C specifications. Nonstandard cables have been known to cause problems, including destroying the devices they're meant to charge. We won't recommend a charger that comes with a cable that fails our tests.
Our pick: Nekteck 60W Type-C Wall Charger
Nekteck's 60W Type-C Wall Charger is the best charger you can buy if you need a replacement or an extra for almost any modern laptop with a 13-inch or smaller screen that charges via USB-C, or for the iPad Pro. It offers full 60-watt charging in a compact package and passed our Total Phase tests without any issues, which means that it is safe and will correctly match the power level of whatever you plug it into. The charger has been independently certified by the USB-IF to adhere to safety and quality standards. Nekteck includes a 6-foot, 100-watt USB-C cable in the box, and that cable also passed our tests. Based on those factors alone, this is a great charger, but it also costs about a third what the equivalent Apple charger does, and that's before you even factor in the cable.
Charging performance is the single most important factor when it comes to this category, and the Nekteck charger performs exactly as expected in that regard, offering enough power for almost any 13-inch laptop, including the 13-inch MacBook Pro. USB-C charging is standardized into different power levels, and the most common ones to charge computers and tablets are 45 watts (15 volts, 3 amps) and 60 watts (20 volts, 3 amps). This charger supports both those rates or will automatically switch to 15-watt, 27-watt, and 36-watt rates as needed to fast charge phones and other devices. When plugged into a 13-inch MacBook Pro, it properly charged at 60 watts with 20.4 volts.
The Nekteck charger isn't the absolute smallest 60-watt USB model we tested (that would be Anker's PowerPort Speed 1), but it's not large. Measuring 2.9 by 2.5 by 1.2 inches, its volume is about a cubic half inch less than Apple's 61W USB-C Power Adapter, and it's small enough to throw in a computer bag or a jacket pocket. The plain black box isn't going to win any awards for its utilitarian design, although we do like that there's space for you to get your finger underneath the folding prongs to pry them open.
The Nekteck is one of two chargers in this category we tested with USB-IF certification. That means an independent lab has verified that it meets a set of criteria for safety and performance. Since we test all of our recommendations ourselves, we don't rely exclusively on USB-IF certification to make a pick. But that stamp of approval on the company's designs and adherence to USB-C standards gives the Nekteck charger another advantage over the competition.
USB-C charging cables have come down in price alongside USB-C chargers themselves, but they're still normally an extra charge; you can expect to spend about $15 to $20 on a good one. Nekteck includes cables with its chargers, though—and quality ones at that. The 6-foot cable that comes with the 60-watt charger is designed to support up to 100 watts, which we verified with Total Phase's testing suite. If you use the cable for data transfer, like plugging an external hard drive into your computer, it only supports USB 2.0 data speeds, which top out at about 33 megabytes per second, but that's fine for a charging cable. (We have a pick if you need a faster data cable). Of the companies we tested products from, Nekteck is the only one that included a cable with its chargers.
The Nekteck 60W Type-C Wall Charger hasn't cost more than $30 since its introduction and was selling for about $20 at the time of this guide's publication. That's about half of what the next cheapest charger from a reliable company costs (without a cable), and it's a small fraction of what computer manufacturers charge. It's such a strong value that we don't think you should buy a lower-powered charger even if your device powers at only 45 watts; they're no cheaper, and the 60-watt option will potentially be more useful in your future.
Nekteck's standard warranty period is 12 months, with a six-month extension if you sign up for the company's newsletter. We've found the customer support to be helpful, both in terms of response speed and addressing our concerns.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Nekteck 60W Type-C Wall Charger has gone out of stock a couple times while we were testing, but it always reappears. When we've spoken to the company, customer support has made us confident these shortages are temporary, but we'll continue to watch its availability and update this guide if we become more concerned.
For the 15-inch MacBook Pro: Insignia Type-C Wall Charger or Nekteck USB-IF Certified 90W Type-C Wall Charger
Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro has the highest power draw of any computer that charges via USB-C (87 watts), and we've found two nearly identical compact, third-party chargers that can provide that much power: the Insignia Type-C Wall Charger and the Nekteck USB-IF Certified 90W Type-C Wall Charger. The two offer the same power for half the price of Apple's 87W USB-C Power Adapter, so you should get one of these if you want to charge your 15-inch MacBook Pro at the fastest speed. Choose whichever brand is cheaper; or, if you need to purchase something from a brick-and-mortar retail store, many Best Buy stores have the Insignia in stock.
These 90-watt chargers have permanently attached USB-C cables, which is their biggest downside. (Insignia's is about 59 inches long, and Nekteck's is a foot longer). If the cable frays, the entire charger must be replaced; you can't just replace the cable. The square power bricks look similar to an Apple charger, and they're only slightly larger: Apple's charger is 3.14 inches square and just under an inch thick, while Insignia and Nekteck's are 3.3 inches square and about 1.2 inch thick. They all have fold-out prongs, but the prongs on these chargers can't be removed and replaced with a longer cord like they can on an Apple charger.
The two brands had nearly identical performance in our testing, which matched what we saw from Apple's 87-watt charger. This means that even though you're paying for less, you're getting the same charging speed.
Nekteck's 12-month warranty applies to its charger; Insignia offers the same length of service, with support in Best Buy stores. In August 2019, Nekteck released an updated model of its charger with a stronger cable to address customer complaints about failing units. It's externally identical, and we verified it works just as well as the original.
Upgrade pick: RAVPower 61W Type-C PD 3.0 Power Adapter (RP-PC105)
RAVPower's 61W Type-C PD 3.0 Power Adapter (RP-PC105) is the best solution for charging both your USB-C computer and a second device (such as a phone or Bluetooth speaker) at the same time. It's a little smaller than the Nekteck 60W charger, but it offers the same output from its USB-C port when a single device is charging. If you plug into the USB-A port, the USB-C speed drops to 45 watts, a rate that is still fast enough to keep most computers charged. You pay for this level of convenience though, as the RP-PC105 is more expensive than the Nekteck charger and doesn't come with a cable.
There are few travel-size chargers that offer both USB-C and USB-A ports, and none that offer the same level of power as this RAVPower charger. The USB-C charger supports a wide range of power profiles—the standardized charging rates that USB-C uses—from 12 watts (15 V, 2.4 A) all the way up to 61 watts (20.3 V, 3 A). It allowed a proper 60-watt draw when charging a 13-inch MacBook Pro in our tests. That speed does drop to 45 watts, however, when you plug a device into the 12-watt USB-A port. While it's somewhat unusual to have the USB-A port's draw effect the USB-C port, this engineering economy allows for the RP-PC105's small size and relatively low price. And 45 watts is still fast enough for full-speed charging on many computers, plus it can still charge power hungrier laptops like the 13-inch MacBook Pro, just more slowly.
At a little over 2.5 inches wide and long, and 1.2 inch thick, the RP-PC105 is about as small as a laptop charger gets. If size is your primary concern, even if you don't care about the second port, it's a great choice. RAVPower offers the charger in both black and white. You will have to provide your own cables though, as it doesn't come with any, unlike the 60-watt Nekteck charger's great 6-foot cable or the attached cables that come with the Nekteck and Insignia 90-watt chargers.
RAVPower offers a standard 18-month warranty on its products, and registering your charger extends the policy for another year. Like RAVPower's other chargers, this one isn't USB-IF certified. But having tested dozens of products from the company and evaluating customer reviews, we're confident in this recommendation.
Also great: Nekteck 5-Port 111W USB Wall Charger
Nekteck's 5-Port 111W USB Wall Charger can handle powering a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed, plus it has four USB-A ports for charging phones, e-readers, Bluetooth headphones, or anything else you keep at your desk. It is USB-IF certified and still costs far less than Apple's standalone 87W USB-C Power Adapter, which offers just a single charging port.
This five-port charger is the single most powerful USB wall charger we've ever tested, with a combined output of 111 watts. We verified with the Total Phase tests that 87 watts are dedicated to USB-C charging. That's fast enough for maximum charging speed of any laptop that charges via USB-C, including the 15-inch MacBook Pro. The remaining 24 watts supply power to the four USB-A ports, supporting a combined 12 watts per pair. Despite the charger listing each port as capable of 12-watt charging when used individually, the highest we measured was about 10 watts—enough to charge your phone pretty fast but not the absolute fastest rate. Combined, however, each pair supported more than the promised rate.
The Nekteck 5-Port 111W USB Wall Charger's biggest downside is its size. At more than 6 inches long, 3 inches wide and weighing almost a full pound, it's not the kind of accessory most people are going to want to carry around. But those dimensions (and the slightly slow USB-A charging) are a lot more acceptable at a desk, where the charger is likely to stay in one place and you might not need to gobble up power in a short period of time.
Aukey's Focus Duo 63W is one of the first laptop chargers we've come across with two USB-C ports. It's similar to the RavPower RP-PC105, as both can charge a 60-watt computer at full speed, but instead of RavPower's extra 12-watt USB-A port, the Aukey has an added 18-watt USB-C port. (The more powerful port on both models drops to 45 watts when the second port is being used). It's an appealing combo, and one that we think will become more common in the near future, but we think it costs too much right now compared to the very similar RP-PC105.
RAVPower's 61W PD 3.0 GaN Wall Charger is shockingly small at 2 inches by 2 inches and just over an inch thick. That makes its volume around half that of Apple's 61-watt charger, and it's simply the smallest laptop-capable USB-C charger we've ever tested. If you find size to be the most important factor, you should absolutely buy this charger. But we think other chargers, such as the RAVPower RP-PC105, which has an extra port and a lower price, are a better option for most people.
Nekteck's 4-port 72W USB Wall Charger with Type-C 60W Power Delivery is an excellent charger, with 60-watt speed from the USB-C port and three USB-A ports with a combined 12-watt output. But it is larger and more expensive than the USB-C only version, the Nekteck 60W Type-C Wall Charger, and not everyone will need those USB-A ports while charging their computer or tablet.
Anker's PowerPort Atom PD 2 is one of the few dual-USB-C chargers available. Either port can support 60-watt power draw, but they share that wattage, so if you plug into both, you'll get slower charging from each. We like seeing two USB-C ports on one unit, but the limitations are still too great for this to be the right option for most people.
Anker's PowerPort+ Atom III is similar to the RAVPower RP-PC105 in that it has both USB-C and USB-A ports. But the Anker's USB-C port is limited to 45-watt speeds at all times, not just when the USB-A port is also in use, and it's a bit bigger and more expensive.
Anker's PowerPort Atom PD 4 is a beast of a charger, offering a combined 100 watts between its two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports. It's great to have the option of a high-powered, dual-USB-C charger, but we think the high price doesn't make it worth it for the majority of people. Consider it if you need to power two MacBook Pros at the same time.
Satechi's 75W Dual Type-C PD Travel Charger is another rare charger with two USB-C ports, offering 60 watts from one port and 18 watts from the other, plus two USB-A ports with a combined 12-watt output. But it's a very expensive charger, and in our testing neither USB-A port supported that full 12 watts on its own even when nothing else was plugged in.
ZMI's Turbo 45W Wall Charger works as expected and is a good value considering it comes with a USB-C cable. But Nekteck's 60-watt charger isn't much larger and offers more charging power for the same price, so it's a better value.
RAVPower's USB-C PD Charger with GaN Tech (RP-PC104) offers 45-watt output and is smaller than anything else that does so; its volume is about two-thirds that of the Nekteck 60W charger. We don't think the size is worth the high premium that RAVPower charges, though.
RAVPower's 60W 5-Port USB Desktop Charging Station with 45W Power Delivery Port (RP-PC059) is too low-powered to recommend for a charging station that has to live on your desk. We think you shouldn't settle for anything less than 60 watts in this category.
We dismissed Aukey's 46W Power Delivery Wall Charger (PA-Y10) and 3-Port USB Charging Station with 46W Power Delivery and Quick Charge 3.0 because both continuously reset when plugged into the MacBook Pro during our testing, even when being powered by different outlets and without any testing accessories between the charger and the computer.
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