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Ugreen's GaN chargers are smaller, mightier, and cooler than yours

A key advantage of chargers with gallium nitride (GaN) components is faster, cooler, and more compact hardware for topping up your phone, tablet, or laptop. Ugreen makes one of the most comprehensive lineups of GaN chargers available.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer on
Ugreen's full lineup of GaN chargers and an iPhone

The iPhone included in this shot gives you a good idea of the tiny scale some of the chargers in this line are working on.

Ugreen

Don't worry, I'm not about to give you a chemistry lesson. Neither of us would enjoy that. But, it's important to explain what GaN chargers are all about

GaN is an abbreviation for gallium nitride, a material used in some tiny electronic components within chargers and other devices. GaN is used as a semi-conductor in these parts, replacing the more traditional silicon.

Essentially, it does a faster, more efficient job than silicon, allowing chargers to output the same power output while being smaller, less wasteful, and cooler. The resulting charger is both easier to carry and safer. 

These benefits can apply to everything from power bricks for ultra-premium laptops to tiny mobile device chargers. Ugreen has released a line of GaN-based chargers that attempts to fulfill both ends of this spectrum and everything in between, and I tested all of them for you. 

Also: Anker's latest GaNPrime power products: A roundup of safe, fast, and sustainable charging

I've split the six chargers we're looking at today into three classes: Small, medium, and desktop.

Small

Ugreen's 45W and 65W GaN chargers

The GaN charger line begins at 45W (left), enough for multiple mobile devices, or even a Chromebook or lower-powered laptop.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

The "small" class includes the Ugreen Nexode 45W charger and the Ugreen Nexode 65W charger. These are small enough that you wouldn't have been surprised to see the 45W model bundled with your smartphone (if smartphones still included chargers) or the 65W model included with a tablet. The 45W model is less than 2 inches in every dimension and the 65W still comes in at barely over 2.5 inches long. Yet, either one could charge a laptop. In fact, the much larger power brick that came with the laptop I'm writing this on is also 65W. 

The ports on the 45W and 65W models in Ugreen's GaN charger line

The 45W unit is limited to USB-C, but the 65W model includes a single USB-A port.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

In my testing, the 65W model charged said laptop just as quickly as its default charger, taking under two hours for a full top-up. Meanwhile, the 45W model could provide a slower-than-normal charging rate for the same laptop, or could easily fast-charge two iPhones at once. 

A note about heat

An infrared thermometer on a blue background

My trusty, well-worn infrared thermometer. 

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

I tested every one of these units with an infrared thermometer. This handheld device provides accurate readings of almost any surface it's pointed at, even from several feet away. I did this because whenever you try to squeeze electronics into tighter spaces, the worry is usually that they'll produce a dangerous amount of heat. I won't hold you in suspense. None of these units got dangerously, or even uncomfortably hot, but some did warm more than others. 

The 45W model, for example, hit a maximum surface temperature of just 85 degrees Fahrenheit when being pushed to its maximum output. The 65W model was the warmest of the lot, maxing out at 115F. This might sound hot, but it was still entirely comfortable to hold even then. 

Also: This tiny USB-C charger packs a lot of power

Medium

Ugreen's 100W and 140W GaN chargers

These larger units could charge a lightweight laptop and a mobile device, or one beefier portable PC with ease.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Moving into the next class of size and power we've got the Ugreen Nexode 100W charger and Ugreen Nexode 140W charger, which includes a USB-C to USB-C cable with it. 100W is enough to charge most mid-range laptops with room to spare for other devices, and 140W is powerful enough to charge almost any portable PC, including the latest MacBooks, or the ultra-premium Lenovo ThinkPad Z16. Speaking of which...

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z16's charger

The power brick included with the laptop is about the height and width of a large, but twice as thick.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

This is the charger included with the ThinkPad Z16. As you can see, it outputs 135W, or just under the 140W available via the USB-C PD 3.1 port you can see on the 140W model below. It's also almost twice the size (cords not included) of the 140W charger from Ugreen.

The ports of Ugreen's 100W and 140W GaN chargers

As powerful as a high-end laptop's power brick, but it fits in the palm of your hand. 

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Either one of these models should be able to drive an entire desk setup's worth of portable electronics from a single unit. Despite that level of power delivery, the 100W unit only reached a maximum temperature of 95F, while the 140W model, while charging two 65W laptops at once, only hit 101F. 

To be fair, both are quite a bit pricier than a generic replacement charger for your laptop, or a silicon-based USB charger. But, if the reduced size and heat are important to you, they could be well worth the cost. 

Also: This USB-C charger can power four devices at once and look good doing it

Desktop

Ugreen's DigiNest pro charging station

The DigiNest Pro is by far the largest member of the line, but offers a single two-prong and two three-prong power outlets, making it a hybrid USB charger and power strip.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

You could theoretically toss the Ugreen Nexode 200W charger (seen below) into a bag if you really needed to, but the larger 100W DigiNest Pro (above) is clearly designed to live on your desk full time. 

Ugreen's 200W GaN charger and cord

The 200W model includes a discrete, detachable power cable, making it easier to use on your desktop, if you so choose.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

The 200W of juice provided by the unit above should be more than enough to power, well, just about anything. In fact, I connected two laptops, a monitor, a lamp, and a mouse charger to it, and it didn't so much as flinch. In fact, the slightly larger size meant it didn't even warm up. The only readings I took from it were, remarkably enough, at room temperature. 

The ports of the Ugreen Nexode 200W charger

There were also enough ports that, even with everything I mentioned above connected to it, there was still room for more. 

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Honestly, this unit is probably overkill for almost any portable setup, and even many full-time desktop setups. That said, if you want to future proof against adding more power-hungry devices down the road, it's a great option. Just be aware that level of flexibility and power delivery is going to run you about $1 per watt.

The 3-prong plugs on Ugreen's DigiNest Pro power supply

The back of the DigiNest pro offers two full-sized, three-prong outlets for your other chargers or devices.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

If you want a desktop charger, but don't need more than 100W per device, the relatively less expensive ($130 at the time of writing) DigiNest Pro offers the trio of USB-C and single USB-A port seen above, as well as two three-prong outlets and a single two-prong outlet for quick access to wall-power for your other devices. It's a great hybrid of a power strip and USB charger, especially for those of us whose desk setups are in constant flux. 

Closeup of two-prong outlet of the Ugreen DigiNest Pro

The two-prong outlet is located on top of the device.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Like the Nexode 200W charger, this one refused to rise above room temperature, no matter how hard I pushed it. 

Also: This powerful 140 USB-C charger is smaller than Apple's and has three ports 

Bottom line

None of Ugreen's GaN-based Nexode chargers are likely to be something you need. However, for anyone that's ended the day with a sore back lugging around multiple power bricks, or spent 10 minutes during every setup and breakdown unravelling or wrapping permanent power cords, ask yourself if never having to deal with those things again is worth the cost of whichever member of this line would best suit your needs. 

Prices will fluctuate in the future, but even if GaN chargers continue to sit at a notable premium over their silicon-based counterparts, their massively improved convenience and reduced size will ensure they'll still sell like hot (but never too hot) cakes.

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