Lately, I’ve had this idea to build separate ready-to-go tech backpacks that make me feel prepared for any gadgety situation. One of those bags would be my lightweight pack containing a laptop and small Nintendo Switch kit, minimal cables, a battery bank, a mini toolkit, and crucially, one charging brick that can power any gadget I throw at it.
Ugreen’s 140-watt Nexode charger is a strong candidate to be that one charging brick. It’s a three-port GaN charger with flip-out prongs and up to 140W charging for a single USB-C device. Its ability to charge one device at that speed is thanks to support for the relatively new Power Delivery 3.1 protocol (or PD 3.1).
The Nexode doesn’t support the super cutting-edge PD 3.2, but Ugreen is kind enough to include a 1.5-meter braided USB-C cable that supports future 240W devices. But the Nexode does support almost every other USB-C protocol you can swing at it, including the largely Samsung fast-charging-friendly PPS, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 Plus (and 3.0 / 2.0), and even Huawei’s SuperCharge (SCP and FCP).
That makes it a good match for my lightweight backpack because it should support almost any device I might run into at the office or elsewhere and be able to charge multiple devices simultaneously. I also need it to support Apple’s newest 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is one of very few devices on the market that supports 140W charging — though you would need to use Apple’s MagSafe 3 to USB-C cable to get that speed.
In terms of portability, Ugreen says the Nexode is “20 percent smaller” than Apple’s 140W charger, and it certainly seems that way, as the Nexode is closer to the dimensions of Apple’s 60 / 61 / 67W bricks. The Nexode is about 3 by 3 by 1.4 inches and weighs about 14 ounces, whereas the 140W Apple charger is bigger but lighter, at about 3.8 by 3 by 1.1 inches and about 9.8 ounces.
I tested out the Nexode at full speed with the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Starting a charge at 33 percent, it estimated a full charge in 1 hour and 20 minutes. After 31 minutes, the MacBook Pro increased to 91 percent and updated its estimate to 29 minutes until a full charge. The Nexode is fast.
But the speed of the Nexode unlocked another form of energy: heat. This brick got almost uncomfortably hot. Even our resident laptop reviewer Monica Chin was surprised at how warm it felt — and she has handled a whole lot of charging bricks. I could smell the Nexode — that’s how warm it got.
On a second 140W charging test, I found the Nexode to get as warm as 124 degrees Fahrenheit using an infrared thermometer — and didn’t smell much that time. I took the temperature of Apple’s 140W charger, too, which is also GaN based, and it only got as warm as 99 degrees.
During general multi-port use, though, the Nexode didn’t feel nearly as warm. The full 140W single-device charging is only possible when plugging in just the MacBook Pro (or any PD 3.1 device). Roger Wan, Ugreen’s PR manager, told me that the Nexode is designed to reduce power to avoid overheating when the temperature reaches 95 degrees Celsius (203 degrees Fahrenheit) — and will resume charging once it returns to below 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit).
With a MacBook Pro plugged into port C1 (the only one that supports 140W), I plugged in a pair of AirPods Max into the USB-A port. The MacBook Pro then reported it was charging at 100W, down from 140W. I then plugged in a USB-C Apple Watch charger (the newer generation) and placed a Series 7 Apple Watch on it — which is when the MacBook Pro reported it was down to 65W charging. I’ve also noticed when plugging / unplugging devices into the charger, that there’s a delay of about five to seven seconds before the Nexode redistributes power.
The ultra power user / video editor would probably need to have a dedicated power brick that doesn’t get interrupted by extra devices like their smartphone. For my needs, the Nexode serves me well. It can even power a Nintendo Switch dock for TV mode while simultaneously charging two pro controllers — though it would make the TV screen go black for up to 10 seconds when plugging / unplugging.
At Ugreen’s list price of $149, the Nexode is on the pricey side. That sum could get you Satechi’s 200W charger that has twice the amount of ports compared to the Nexode and can support 140W charging without any power drop-off, along with a second 20W device attached. (Though we have not tested this yet.) Or you could buy an extra 140W charger from Apple for $99, which leaves you some money to buy a couple more bricks for your other devices.
But as is often the case with these kinds of products, the list price is rarely what you have to pay to get one. At the time of writing, Amazon is selling the Nexode for about $90, a much more appealing price that’s also cheaper than Anker’s single-port 140W charger. And if the goal is to carry light with the big 16-inch MacBook Pro, Ugreen’s got a pretty good option here with the Nexode.
Photography by Umar Shakir / The Verge