The best laptop power banks for 2024

RMAG news

Taking care of business doesn’t always happen within range of an outlet. Traveling, working off-site and decamping to a coffee shop are all situations where a laptop power bank could come in handy. These high-capacity batteries can recharge your devices — from tiny earbuds to power-hungry laptops — and can even top off more than one at a time. There aren’t quite as many laptop power banks on the market as there are standard portable chargers, but you’ll still find a fair number to consider. I tested out a handful and can recommend three that cover different needs when you’re far from an outlet but still need extra power.

What to look for in a laptop power bank

Capacity

If you just need to keep a smartphone from dying before you can make it home, just about any power bank will do. But if you need to revive multiple devices or the substantial battery of a laptop, you’ll want something with a high milliamp-hour​​ (mAh) capacity. A power bank capable of delivering a meaningful charge to a laptop will have a capacity between 20,000 and 27,000 mAh.

Go higher than 27K mAh and you won’t be able to take it on an airplane, which is why most portable chargers top out around that number. Since the voltage for most portable power banks is around 3.7 volts, a 27,000mAh battery translates to 99.9 watt hours — which is the maximum capacity the TSA will allow for carry-on luggage. (And note that these batteries can’t be checked, regardless of size).

If you want something even bigger than a laptop power bank, and don’t need to fly with it, you’ll likely want to look into portable power stations. These can be the size of a car battery or larger and can potentially fuel an entire weekend away.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the capacity listed on a power bank is not what will be delivered to your devices. As I mentioned, the voltage of most of these batteries is 3.7 volts. Most devices prefer their juice in a 5-volt flavor, so internal mechanisms convert the charge. That conversion lowers the deliverable capacity (it also dissipates some energy, as all conversions do). You can think about it like water in a bucket: water will stream out of a small (3.7 volt) hose for an hour, but that same amount of water will only pour out of a larger (5 volt) hose for 45 minutes. Just looking at conversion rates, a 20,000mAh battery should deliver around 14,000mAh to your various devices, but other factors like energy dissipation bring it down further. In my tests, I’ve averaged about a 60-percent efficiency rate between listed mAh capacity and actual charge delivered.

Ports

Every large power bank I’ve tested has at least three USB ports, with a mix of USB-C and USB-A, which should cover nearly any portable device you need to recharge — earbuds, phones, tablets, laptops, you name it. In addition to the different plug formats, some ports supply power at different wattages. For example, one USB-C port might be rated for 60 watts, while the one next to it is rated for 100 watts. So if you’ve got a device that’s capable of 70W fast charging, such as the new MacBook Air, you’d want to opt for the 100W port to get the best charging speeds possible. Note that devices with a smaller wattage draw won’t be negatively affected by connecting to ports with high ratings. For example, a Galaxy S24 Ultra, capable of 45W super fast charging, can happily plug into the 100W port. A device will only draw what it can take, regardless of what a port can supply. Just remember that the port, device and cable need to be at or above the desired wattage rating to achieve maximum charging rates.

Some of these larger batteries also have AC ports. It might seem like a natural fit to plug in your laptop’s power adapter for a recharge. But really, the AC port should only be for devices that can’t use USB — such as a lamp or a printer. Plugging a power adapter into the AC port only wastes energy through conversion. First, the battery converts its DC power to supply the port with AC power, then the power adapter converts that AC power back to DC so your laptop can take it in. And as you’ll remember from physics class, each time energy is converted, some is lost to heat and other dissipations. Better to cut out the middleman and just send that DC power straight from the battery to the device.

Also, you can use more than one port at a time with these devices; just remember that the speed of whatever you’re charging will likely go down, and of course, the battery is going to drain proportionally to what you’re refilling.

Wireless charging

Just in the last year and a half that I’ve been testing portable power banks, wireless charging capabilities have noticeably improved. The first few I tried were painfully slow and not worth recommending. Now the wireless pads built into power banks are impressively fast — particularly, in my experience, when charging Samsung Galaxy phones (though the lack of a stabilizing magnetic connection like Apple’s MagSafe means they only work when rested flat on a pad). Most wireless charging connections can be used while other ports are also being employed, making them convenient for some mobile battlestation setups.

Of course, wireless charging is always less efficient than wired, and recharging from a portable battery is less efficient in general. If you want to waste as little energy as possible, you’re better off sticking to wired connections.

Design

All power banks are designed to be portable, but there’s a big difference between a pocket-friendly 5,000mAh battery and one of these laptop-compatible bruisers. Most of the latter weigh between a pound and a half to two pounds, which is a considerable addition to a backpack. Many of the options listed here have a display to tell you how much charge remains in the battery, which is helpful when you’re trying to judiciously meet out charges to your devices. If a bank has a wireless connection, the pad is usually on the flat top and any available AC connection is usually at one end. Both may require you to engage those charging methods. Don’t be like me and grumble loudly that you got a bum unit without pressing (and sometimes double pressing) all the buttons first.

How we test portable laptop chargers

For the past year and a half, I’ve been testing and using dozens of portable batteries for our other battery guide. Some of those batteries include the higher-capacity laptop power banks you see here. I also got a hold of a few extra banks just for this guide to make sure we covered what’s available. I went for brands I’m already familiar with, as well as battery packs from well-received manufacturers I hadn’t tried before (like UGREEN and Lion Energy). I only considered banks with at least a 20,000mAh capacity and mostly stuck with those that rated 25,000mAh and higher.

Here’s everything we tested:

Zendure Supertank Pro

Mophie Powerstation Pro XL

Mophie Powerstation Pro AC

Lion Energy Eclipse Mag

Lion Energy Trek

Baseus Blade Laptop

Anker Prime 27,650mAh

Goal Zero Sherpa 100 AC

Due to shipping and travel issues, I wasn’t able to test two of the batteries I had slated: the HyperJuice 245W and the UGREEN Power Bank 25,000mAh. Once I’ve had a chance to see how these two perform — as well as any new worthy contenders that hit the market — I’ll update this guide accordingly.

I tested each power bank with an iPhone 15, a Galaxy S23 Ultra, an iPad Air (M1) and a 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip. Even though these banks can charge multiple devices at once, I refilled one at a time, to make side-by-side comparisons more straightforward. I drained the batteries of the phones and tablets to between zero and five percent and then didn’t use any device as it refilled.

For the MacBook, I let it run down to 10 percent (which is when it gives you the “connect to power” warning) before plugging in the power bank. I then used it as one might in a mobile office, with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, while connected to Wi-Fi and a VPN.

For each test, I noted how long a completely charged battery took to get a device back to full and how much of the battery’s capacity was used up in one charge. I also noted things like portability, apparent durability, helpful features and overall design.

For reference, here are the battery capacities of the devices I used:

iPhone 15: 3,349mAh

Galaxy S23 Ultra: 4,855mAh

iPad Air (5th gen): 7,729mAh

16-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro: 27,027mAh

Best laptop power banks for 2024

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-laptop-power-bank-120040388.html?src=rss