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Power bank for 12″ Macbook, Anker PowerCore+ 20100 casual review

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Apple make a bold move when they introduced the new 12″ Macbook last year, that it features only one USB-C port which doubles as both data and charging port. It became the main critics in the tech community, though Apple keep going with their decision when they updated the Macbook this year, still features the single USB-C port.

However, one good thing about the USB-C port is that it is universal. Apple sell expensive adapteralong with the new Macbook, but other companies also has the freedom to offer cheaper alternatives, like this adapter from Juiced Systems. Another advantage of USB-C, together with low-power Core M processor of Macbook is that it has low power consumption and in turns, allow it to be charged from a portable battery. Enter Anker PowerCore+ 20100, one of the portable battery that tries to sell on this capability and I put it into my own test.

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Anker PowerCore+ 20100 is definitely not a small battery, measuring at 183.9 mm by 62 mm by 23.9 mm, it is more of a transportable battery that lives in your backpack and not a portable one you can take in your pocket. It weights in 0.9 kg, almost as much as the 12″ Macbook itself.

As it name suggests, this battery packed a huge 20100 mAh of juice and Anker claimed it can fully charge a Macbook, an iPhone and an iPad Air 2 in a single charge. Anker used Panasonic battery cells here.

Included with the package is one 60 cm USB to micro-USB cable, one 90 cm USB to USB-C cable, a pouch and some user guides. The build quality is really good, with aluminum shell covering the whole body, this is one sturdy portable battery.

There is only one button, when clicked, it shows the remaining available battery with 10 LEDs that positioned in circle within the button. Each light represent 10% of juices, and it looks pretty cool to me. The button also activate the USB-C output, but there is no need to click the button when connecting to the USB port.

With two USB port and one USB-C, this battery could charge 3 devices simultaneously. The USB port offer maximum of 2.4A output per port, while the USB-C port can output up to 3A.

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Charging

Charging my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is fine, no fast charger detected unfortunately, but it charges quite fast in just about 2 hours to bring my low battery Note 4 back to 100%. This is on par when charging my Note 4 using wall charger without fast charging feature turned on.

When a device is charged to full, PowerCore+ will stop supplying power and turned off itself shortly afterward. This prevents overcharging your device and at the same time, protecting the battery in PowerCore+ itself. Pretty cool.

Charging the 12″ Macbook tells a different story. While it’s possible to charge the Macbook, doing so when turned on and running, it’ll charge very slowly. Charging to Macbook can be done in one of two ways. First is by using the included USB to USB-C cable and plugged into one of the USB port, this allows up to 12W of output and nowhere near enough to charge the Macbook properly. For reference, Macbook came with 30W wall charger.

Another way to charge the Macbook is by using USB-C to USB-C cable, such as one that comes from the Macbook. Plugged into the USB-C port of the PowerCore+, this fare a bit better with total maximum output of 15W. It is half of the included wall charger of the Macbook, still not enough but better. We need to make sure to turn on the PowerCore+ before plug it into the Macbook though, as otherwise, PowerCore+ will try to charge itself and take power from Macbook instead (although Macbook will refuse this when battery is low).

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Conclusion

So is Anker PowerCore+ 20100 able to charge Macbook? The answer is yes, but with caveat. With maximum output of 15W, it could only charge half as fast as the wall charger. And if you are charging it while using the machine, the battery percentage will move very slowly.

I don’t think I’ll recommend this for charging the Macbook regularly, however, it works great as a backup battery. Say when you are far away from the outlet, with PowerCore+, you can prolong your Macbook battery to twice as long, and at the same time, allow you to charge your other devices.

Build quality is also top notch and this could charge your smartphone and tablet several times in a single charge. It’s a bit of the big side, but if you don’t mind the size and weight, this is a great backup battery when travelling. Or in the case of third-world country, when blackout happened, you can survive one or two days with this. 🙂

Anker PowerCore+ 20100 has MSRP of $119.99, but you can often find it under $60 in Amazon. You can find it here.

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