Some laptops, like the Apple MacBook and the Google Chromebook Pixel 2, come with USB Type-C chargers. And other notebooks, such as the Dell XPS 13 and the Lenovo ThinkPad 13, can charge over Type-C but come with proprietary power bricks that plug into the same old circular connectors. Enter Innergie's 45-watt PowerGear USB-C 45, the first third-party USB Type-C charger capable of juicing a laptop. At $59.99, the USB-C 45 is more expensive than a replacement proprietary charger, but it is one power brick you can use across multiple devices, including phones.
The PowerGear charger isn't much to look at -- it's a white block with gray cables emerging from its top and bottom. The only semblance of color is a faint blue dot that glows when the adapter is sending power to your laptop or phone. The USB Type-C connector cable is attached directly to the brick, so if you break it or tear the wire, you'll need to buy a whole new charger. However, like most power bricks, the USB-C 45 has a removable power cable. That means that, if you bend the two-pronged plug, you can replace it.
The 3.4 x 2.2 x 0.9-inch brick has rounded edges, which is great for wrapping the 1.5-meter (5 feet) USB Type-C cable. The whole thing weighs just 0.55 pounds, which is light enough to take with you anywhere. In comparison, although the Zolt Laptop Charger Plus is lighter, at just 0.2 pounds, that charger doesn't yet support USB Type-C.
Compatibility and Performance
If your laptop, tablet or phone supports charging over USB Type-C, it should work with the PowerGear USB-C 45. Asus specifically calls out the 12-inch Apple MacBook, as well as models by Acer, Asus, Dell and HP. We tested the PowerGear USB-C 45 charger with the Dell XPS 13, which has one USB Type-C port, and found that it charged just as quickly as it would have through its proprietary plug. If you have a number of devices that charge via USB Type-C, this could mean you'd need to carry only one charger.
It's important to note, however, that not all phones, laptops or tablets that feature USB Type-C ports support charging over the new standard. More devices will charge via USB Type-C in the future, but for now, you'll want to make sure your gadget can use the PowerGear before you consider buying one. Although Innergie mentions HP on the side of the box, the company's USB Type-C laptops and tablets deliberately block third-party chargers when they are powered on.
We encountered one problem: The brick gets toasty under pressure. As we charged the Dell XPS 13, the charger became hot to the touch and struck 115 degrees Fahrenheit on our thermometer. You may not notice this if it's under your desk, but if it's near your laptop, you might end up playing hot potato with the brick.
The Innergie PowerGear USB-C 45 charger costs $60, which is a good deal considering it charges multiple devices. However, it's a bit more expensive than some proprietary options. For example, a 45-watt power cord from Dell for the XPS 13 costs $50, so if that's your only device with USB Type-C, you're better off buying the proprietary plug.
At first glance, Apple's 29W USB Type-C adapter appears cheaper because it costs $50 compared to the PowerGear's $60 price tag. However, with Apple's device, you have to buy a separate USB Type-C to Type-C cable, which Apple sells for an additional $29 (although you may find it cheaper elsewhere). And with only 29 watts of power, Apple's brick isn't powerful enough to juice a PC laptop.
If you have two or more devices, the Innergie is a good value. If you own an XPS 13 laptop and a Google Pixel C tablet, you can charge both devices with the PowerGear (that is, as long as you want to refuel only one gadget at a time).
The Innergie PowerGear USB-C 45 Charger does exactly what it promises: It powers USB Type-C laptops, tablets and phones. If you have multiple devices that use the new charging standard -- particularly multiple laptops -- this is a great accessory to have around. With more devices and accessories with this standard entering the market, it won't be long before Innergie has a lot of competition. But for the moment, this is the third-party USB Type-C laptop charger to get. We just wish it ran cooler.