The NuPower comes with a USB-C–to–USB-C cable for charging, unlike most USB-C power adapters, though the included cable is only about 18 inches long. It even has a USB-A port, so you can charge your phone or another device at the same time as your laptop without taking up one of your computer’s precious few ports.
Anker PowerPort+ 5
Not as portable, but the best stationary solution, and includes four USB-A ports too.
Anker’s PowerPort+ 5 is larger than our pick or the charger that comes with most laptops, so it isn’t ideal for travel, but if you’re looking for something to leave at your desk for full-time charging, it’s the way to go. Its 45-watt USB-C charger isn’t as powerful as our top pick, but it’s enough to keep Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro and other 13-inch laptops charged while you’re using them, and with four USB-A charging ports, it can power all your gadgets at the same time.
If you’re on a budget and your laptop’s included charger is 45 watts or less (which covers most non-Apple laptops and tablets that charge via USB-C), Inateck’s 45W Portable USB-C Wall Charger is an affordable option. It’s not designed as well as our top pick, but it works as well as advertised and doesn’t take up much space in your bag. However, it doesn’t come with a cable, and by the time you add one it’s about the same price as our top pick. If you already have a cable, and don’t need a 60-watt charger, it’s a better buy.
(If you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro, you currently have only one option for full-speed charging, which we talk about below.)
Table of contents
Why you should trust me
Along with a dedicated core of Wirecutter writers and editors, I’ve been neck-deep in trying to make sense of the surprisingly confusing USB-C standard since early 2015. In addition to this guide on chargers, I wrote our comprehensive guide to USB-C adapters, cables, and hubs, as well as our guide to Thunderbolt 3 docks.
Who should get this
Every computer comes with a charger, but there are times when you might need or want an extra: Some people like to have one charger they leave on their desk and another to toss in their bag; others like to have a charger in every place they work. And, of course, sometimes chargers get lost or broken, so you need a replacement.
This guide covers chargers for laptops that get power via a USB-C connection, and specifically use USB-C Power Delivery (USB-C PD), a technology that lets USB-C transmit the high power required to charge a laptop. Most laptops still use traditional power adapters, but USB-C PD is slowly becoming more common. Popular laptops that charge via USB-C PD include Apple’s 12-inch MacBook and 2016 (and later) MacbBook Pro models, Lenovo’s X1 Carbon, HP’s Spectre x360, recent Dell XPS 13 models, and the Asus Chromebook Flip C302SA.
You can also charge any USB-C tablet or smartphone with one of these chargers, though few will benefit from USB-C PD—if you aren’t charging a laptop, you can save a good amount of money by getting a lower-powered charger made for phones and tablets. We’ll test these soon.
How we picked
In the early days of USB-C, there wasn’t a single charger that worked with every computer. PCWorld tested a pile of chargers in December 2015 and found plenty of issues when crossing brands. Thankfully, things are getting a little easier as the USB-C standard matures: In a March 2017 rematch, PCWorld found that with just a few exceptions, most current USB-C chargers will charge most current USB-C computers at this point.
We limited our search to chargers that support at least 45-watt charging. Most USB-C–based computers can draw at least this much power, and lower-powered chargers don’t cost significantly less. (Computers that can draw more than 45 watts will still charge from a 45-watt charger, just not as fast.)
Despite USB-C’s promise of being an open, universal standard, very few third-party manufacturers are currently making laptop chargers using the connector. We found a few from companies we consider reputable, but skipped over brands with no established history.
We also included as many first-party chargers—the ones companies bundle with their own computers—as we could. Unfortunately, many computer makers either don’t sell their chargers separately, or make buying them difficult. If buying a particular manufacturer’s charger wasn’t practical, we skipped it.
How we tested
We first plugged each charger into a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, two Thunderbolt 3 ports), then opened the System Information app. The Power listing under the Hardware heading shows information about the computer’s battery, the system’s power settings, and the connected charger, including the wattage the charger is providing to the computer. With one exception, the wattage being read by the computer matched up with what each charger claimed (or, in the case of Apple’s 61-watt adapter, which measured at 60 watts, close enough that the difference could be due to measurement inefficiency).
We then double-checked the results using Satechi’s USB-C Power Meter. This tool, which you insert between the charging cable and the computer’s USB-C port, displays the voltage and amperage (which, multiplied together, give you the wattage) when charging. We performed this test four times, using the MacBook Pro, a fifth-generation Lenovo X1 Carbon, a fifth-generation Dell XPS 13, and an Asus Chromebook Flip C302SA. Though the chargers we tested provided the right amount of power with each of these computers, your mileage may vary with other laptops—some computers may not work with some chargers, and saying which combinations won’t work without trying them all is impossible. We can say, however, that HP computers tend to work with only HP chargers.
HP computers tend to work with only HP chargers.
Then we compared the size, price, and extra features of each charger we tested. We favored chargers with smaller footprints, but we also looked for thoughtful features such as folding wall prongs. Though some chargers had extra USB-A ports, we considered that a benefit, not a determining factor.
Our pick: NewerTech NuPower 60W USB-C Power Adapter
Unless you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro, NewerTech’s NuPower 60W USB-C Power Adapter is the best choice for replacing a USB-C laptop charger or adding a new one to your collection. It’s small, powerful, and affordable, and has the added bonus of a 2.1-amp USB-A charging port that’s particularly handy on laptops with limited inputs, such as Apple’s single-port 12-inch MacBook. The 60-watt charging capability means it will charge almost any current USB-C computer at full speed.
Like almost all the chargers we tested, the NuPower allowed for the proper power draw on all four of our test laptops: a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, two Thunderbolt 3 ports), a fifth-generation Lenovo X1 Carbon, a fifth-generation Dell XPS 13, and an Asus Chromebook Flip C302SA. We measured approximately 20 volts at 3 amps on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 20 volts at 2.25 amps on the 45-watt machines (these numbers aren’t precise, because the charger and computer negotiate the current based on a number of factors, including the battery’s current charge level). The USB-A port supported 2.1-amp charging with the 2017 iPad (5th generation).
The NuPower is one of the smallest chargers we tested. It’s a rectangle measuring 4.2 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 0.8 inches tall. This shape is pretty great for travel, especially if you unplug the power cord and USB-C cable first. And at only 4.5 ounces, it weighs 2.3 ounces less than Apple’s 61-watt charger. Rubber feet on the bottom do a very good job of holding the charger in place, providing enough grip so that it won’t slide around but without any of the hassle that comes with an adhesive pad. It’s quite a bit less expensive than most first-party chargers, especially when you take into account the cost of the USB-C cable, which most don’t include.
NewerTech includes two cables with the charger: an 18-inch USB-C–to–USB-C charging cable, and a 6-foot power cord. The USB-C and USB-A ports are on the same small face, with the power cord on the opposite end.
In his review at Macworld, former Wirecutter contributor Glenn Fleishman calls the NuPower an “ideal replacement or travel adapter for a 12-inch MacBook, and a reasonable choice for a 13-inch MacBook Pro.” Mitchel Broussard at MacRumors is a little more reserved, calling the charger “functional and reliable.” He takes issue with the clutter the three-cable solution can cause.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Although the NuPower’s body is small, the included cables can be a bit cumbersome. We wish NewerTech included a way to wrap or bundle the cables. Simple Velcro ties will do the trick if you have them handy.
We had issues with the USB-A port on our first NuPower test unit. Instead of 2.1 amps, we measured 0.08 amps, meaning 0.40 watts instead of 10.5 watts. NewerTech was quick to swap out the charger with one that worked properly, and based on our history with the company, we believe they’d do the same for customers.
Great at your desk: Anker PowerPort+ 5
Anker PowerPort+ 5
Not as portable, but the best stationary solution, and includes four USB-A ports too.
Anker’s PowerPort+ 5 is actually our favorite USB-C charger overall, but it’s not suited to every use. At 3.1 by 4.1 by 1.1 inches the PowerPort+ 5 is physically larger than the rest of the chargers we tested, so it’s not ideal for carrying around with you. But in addition to a 45-watt USB-C port, it includes four 2.4-amp USB-A ports in a vertical line. With this combination of ports, you can charge a computer, plus a phone, a tablet, wireless headphones, and a camera—or some other combination of devices and accessories—at once, and take up only one power outlet. We recommend it for your desk or anywhere else where you want computer charging plus USB-A charging.
At only 45 watts, the PowerPort+ 5’s USB-C port can charge a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but it’ll do so more slowly than with our top pick, which supports 60 watts. This is fine if you’re using your computer at a desk where it’s plugged in for long stretches—45-watt charging won’t harm the computer, just charge it more slowly—but it’s not ideal for top-speed charging. For travel or if you have frequent heavy workloads, you’ll want to stick to our top pick. Also consider that though the USB-A ports can each provide up to 2.4 amps, they’re limited to a combined total of 6 amps. So if you have two power-hungry iPads plugged in, you’ll have only 1.2 amps left to share between the other two ports. Finally, the PowerPort 5+ doesn’t come with any cables other than its own power cord, so you’ll have to provide them yourself. We have recommendations for USB-C–to–USB-C cables (important because poorly designed ones can actually damage your computer!), Micro-USB cables, and Lightning cables.
For 45-watt laptops: Inateck 45W Portable USB-C Wall Charger
Inateck’s 45W Portable USB-C Wall Charger is a good alternative to the NuPower if your computer draws only 45 watts or less, or you’re looking to save some money. It’s about half the price of the NuPower, making it the least expensive model that charged at its advertised level across all our test computers, though you lose the convenience of an extra USB-A charging port.
The Inateck charger weighs the same as the NuPower; is a bit shorter though thicker; and instead of using a cable to connect to a power outlet, the block has built-in wall prongs, so it takes up less room in a bag. The prongs don’t fold down, which is a small strike against it, but they do detach. It also doesn’t include a USB-C cable. If you buy our pick for USB-C charging cable, the combined price will be within spitting distance of the NuPower, but if you already have the right cable, the low cost of the Inateck is appealing.
If you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro
Apple’s 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro has the highest power draw of any USB-C–charging computer—87 watts—and we haven’t found any third-party chargers that provide that much. This means the only option for full-speed charging is Apple’s 87W USB-C Power Adapter. It’s the one to get if you want to charge your 15-inch MacBook Pro at the fastest speed—or even to just keep the battery from being drained during processor- and GPU-intensive tasks when plugged in. It is expensive, though, and it doesn’t come with a USB-C cable, so you’ll need our pick for that, too.
What to look forward to
USB-C is a rapidly evolving technology. As more computers that charge via USB-C are released, more companies will offer chargers for those laptops—and prices should come down, as well.
Apple’s 29W and 61W USB-C Power Adapters are more expensive than our picks, especially considering that they don’t come with a cable—that’s $20 extra.
The Finsix Dart-C is by far the smallest USB-C charger we tested, measuring only 2.7 inches long, with a barrel that’s 1.2 inches wide and 1 inch tall. It supports charging up to 65 watts and has an extra 2.1-amp USB-A port on its cord, but its price is double that of our top pick. The Dart-C also uses a proprietary USB-C cable that costs $35 to replace. We really like the size, but at the price, it’s hard to recommend this charger for anyone but the most space-sensitive travelers.
Lenovo’s 65W Standard AC Adapter (USB Type-C) has a big, ugly power brick without any of the benefits of the other 65-watt chargers we tested.
Asus’s Type-C 45W Power Adapter is smaller than Inateck’s, but it uses a permanently attached cable, so if the cord gets frayed, you have to swap the whole unit. Like the Inateck, its prongs don’t fold down.
Targus’s 45W USB Type-C Laptop AC Wall Charger looked promising because of its small footprint and low price. But when we connected it to our MacBook Pro, it registered as only a 37-watt charger instead of the promised 45 watts; we verified this measurement with the Satechi USB-C Power Meter. It’s not that the charger won’t work for many laptops, it’s that we can’t recommend something that doesn’t fulfill its primary function as advertised.
Ventev’s Wallport pd1300 Wall Home Charger with USB Type C Port costs more without a cable than the Inateck 45-watt charger plus a good cable.
Innergie’s PowerGear USB-C 45 works well, but it’s more expensive than other 45-watt chargers we tested, and its USB-C cable is not replaceable—it’s permanently attached.
(Photos by Kimber Streams.)