Review: Better Line 100W USB-C PD Multiport (1C3A) PPS Charger
Today we’ll be taking a look at the Better Line BLC-100PD, one of the first USB-C chargers on the market to support not just 100W charging over USB-C Power Delivery, but also multiple USB-A ports (even one featuring Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0), and even Programmable Power Supply (PPS) and Quick Charge 4.0+ support on the USB-C port. All of this comes at a price point of under $55 on Amazon at the time of writing.
USB-C Power Delivery has opened a new world of possibilities, allowing the humble USB port to power not just low-power smartphones but even power-hungry devices like high-end 15″ laptops. Prior to USB-C PD, USB charging was limited to 5V, and in common smartphone charging usage (albeit technically in violation of the USB spec), up to 2.4A, so 12W. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 standard allows for 3.2-20V charging, up to 18W, but that is limited to certain devices using Qualcomm chipsets. The vendor-agnostic USB-C PD standard, by contrast, provides for up to 20V (5/9/12/15/20V), at up to 5A, for a peak rate of 100W.
USB-C PD chargers that deliver close to 100W primarily target high-end laptops like Apple’s 15″ MacBook Pro, which charges exclusively over USB-C. Most options are intended as alternatives to Apple’s own A1719 100W-class (branded “87W”) charger, and as such, include only a single USB-C port and are fairly expensive. Further, Apple’s charger is rated for 5.2V / 2.4A, 9V / 3A, or 20.2V / 4.3A output. Notably missing are 12V and 15V; among other things, this means Apple’s high-end MacBook charger cannot fast-charge even the company’s own iPad Pro, which uses 15V.
Enter the Better Line BLC-100PD, which is available on Amazon for $53.98 at the time of writing. It offers a 100W USB-C PD port, two USB-A (2.4A/12W) ports, and one USB-A port (colored orange) with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 (18W).
We purchased our review unit from Amazon at full retail price and were not compensated in any way for this review.
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- Input: AC100-240V @ 1.5A (50/60Hz)
- 1x USB Type-C Power Delivery: 5V/3A, 9V/3A, 12V/3A, 15V/3A, 20V/5A (100W)
- 1x USB Type-A QC 3.0 port: 3~6V/3A, 6~9V/2A, 9~12V/1.5A5V/3A, 9V/2A 12V/1.5A (18W)
- 2x USB Type-A Smart Charging: 5V/2.4A per port (12W)
- Size: 3.3″ L x 2.24″ W x 1.02″ H
- FCC, CE, RoHS Certified
- 1 year limited warranty
Manufacturer Better E&I‘s website seems to suggest this is their first product on the market – entering with a bang, it seems! ̶N̶o̶t̶e̶,̶ ̶h̶o̶w̶e̶v̶e̶r̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶h̶a̶r̶g̶e̶r̶ ̶d̶o̶e̶s̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶a̶p̶p̶e̶a̶r̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶U̶L̶ ̶c̶e̶r̶t̶i̶f̶i̶e̶d̶.̶
UPDATE (2/2020): Better E&I seems to have updated its Amazon listing to reflect UL certification for the charger.
The BLC-100PD comes in a small white box. Amusingly, there is a silver tape seal around the bottom of the box that reads “Warranty Void” on both sides—making for perhaps the world’s shortest warranty! We assume something was lost in translation.
Inside the box is the charger itself, an AC power cable, and an information sheet housed inside a brown envelope.
We connected the BLC-100PD to a Qway / WITRN-U2 (also known as WEB-U2) USB power tester running the latest v6.9 firmware via an electronically-marked cable. USB-C PD requires the use of an E-Marked cable for 5A charging (indicating to both sides that it is capable of handing 5A); non-marked cables are limited to 3A charging (20V / 3A = 60W).
The WEB-U2 verified that the BLC-100PD supports USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 at every specified voltage (5, 9, 12, 15, and 20V), at up to 5A, for 100W total. The charger also indeed supports Qualcomm QC 2.0 (5/9/12V) and 3.0, in addition to Apple 5V / 2.4A charging.
Interestingly, we also found that the charger’s USB-C port includes support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ and USB PD Programmable Power Supply (PPS). QC 4+ and PPS allow for chargers to provide a custom voltage level requested by the attached device – specifically, 3.6 – 20V, in 0.02V increments. PPS support is still rare in the USB-C PD world but has recently attracted some attention courtesy of Samsung, which requires PPS support for fast-charging its new Galaxy Note 10+ at up to 45W.
The BLC-100PD does not support manufacturer-specific charging systems from Oppo (VOOC / DASH), Huawei (FCP / SCP), Mediatek (PumpExpress 1.1 / 2.0), or older Samsung devices (5V/2A / AFC). This is not of concern to most American users, given the limited number of devices sold in the U.S. implementing those technologies, but might affect Huawei / Oppo users outside the U.S. That said, our view is that devices under 100W should be using USB-C PD, rather than proprietary charging schemes, in any case.
To test the BLC-100PD, we charged the following devices:
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 15″ (i7-8650U, GTX 1060, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD), via USB-C
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (256 GB flash), via USB-C / USB-A (QC 3.0)
- Microsoft Lumia 950XL (64 GB flash), via USB-C
- Apple iPhone 8 Plus (64 GB flash), via USB-A
The BLC-100PD was plugged into a Kill-A-Watt device in on the AC power side, to monitor total power consumption by the charger.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is typically charged via the magnetic Surface Connect port, which supports up to 100W power, but it also includes a USB-C port that supports 100W PD. We ran Prime95 (CPU stress test) and FurMark (GPU stress test) simultaneously, pegging both the CPU and GPU at 100% load, then plugged in the laptop via USB C-to-C cable to begin charging once the it hit ~60% battery state of charge. The Surface Book 2 15″ is able to pull close to the full 20V/5A (100W) possible over USB-C PD, and the BLC-100PD was able to feed it fully (pulling 102W at the wall). We then switched to the stock Microsoft 102W Surface Connect charger (model 1798), which charges at 15V / 6.33A (95W), and verified that it pulled the same 100-102W at the wall under the same load conditions.
Connecting the Galaxy Note 10+, by itself, to the charger’s QC 3.0 USB-A port via a USB-A to C cable, the phone charged at about 15W (and showed “Fast Charging” on-screen). Over USB-C, the Note 10+ requires PPS support (which allows the device to request custom voltage levels between 5-20V, typically at a fixed current level) for fastest charging, up to 45W. The Better Line charger supports PPS, and once plugged in, the Note 10+ requested 10V and pulled 2-3A (20-30W). That was below the full 45W the phone theoretically supports but did exceed the 25W peak rate of the stock Samsung charger. The gap to 45W may just be down to Samsung’s charging algorithms in the situation (based on state of charge, temperature, etc.).
Next, the Surface Book 2 was connected to the charger via USB-C, the Note 10+ was connected to the QC 3.0 port, and an Apple iPhone 8 Plus was plugged into one of the two other USB-A ports. The charger pulled 127W from the wall while feeding the SB2 86W. The Note 10+ still reported “Fast Charging,” though with only one power meter, we were not able to verify the exact power level delivered to the Note 10+ or the iPhone 8 Plus.
Under peak load, the charger got fairly hot – sufficiently hot that one might not want to handle it for very long, but not dangerously so, and within range of the peak temperature of the Microsoft 1798 102W Surface Connect charger. The Microsoft charger, for what it’s worth, is a bit larger than the Better Line and includes a USB-A charging port, but only 5V/1A. Meanwhile Apple’s 87W USB-C charger offers no extra charging ports at all.
Overall, we were impressed with the Better Line BLC-100PD. It is one of the first multiport chargers with 100W USB-PD support and comes with plenty of extras, like PPS on the USB-C port and QC 3.0 on one of the USB-A ports. The price point is also impressively low, relative to even single-port 100W PD chargers currently on the market.
Long-term performance of course remains a question, especially given the charger is from a seemingly new manufacturer, but as of now, we believe BLC-100PD would make a good travel bag addition for anyone with a high-powered USB-C PD device and multiple USB-A devices to charge.
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