RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN Review

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN
RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN - A USB-C charger for tight spaces

Summary

The RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN protrudes only 0.6 inches from the wall, with the USB-C port facing down. Perfect for placing behind furniture to charge where you like.

Overall
4.5
  • Performance
    (4.5)
  • Design
    (5)
  • Safety
    (4)
  • Portability
    (4.5)
Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)

Pros

  • Fast charges iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and LG phones
  • Charges Switch in both handheld and TV mode
  • Fits in most Switch carrying cases
  • Charges 12 to 14-inch laptops
  • Uses GaN (gallium nitride), higher efficiency in a smaller size
  • Flat design allows it to work in tight spaces
  • Travel friendly design
  • Works worldwide with 100-240V power input (may need a plug adapter)

Cons

  • Price
  • Won’t fast charge Motorola phones over USB-C
  • Quick Charge 3.0 over USB-C is against USB-C specs
  • Doesn’t included a USB-C to USB-C cable

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I purchased the product in this review.

Model: RP-PC104
RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN specs

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN specs

Tech Specs:
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Output:
    • 45W USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 (5V/3A, 9V/3A, 12V/3A, 15V/3A, 20V/2.25A)
    • Quick Charge 3.0
    • Apple 2.4A
  • Input: 100-240V, 1.25A, 50/60Hz
  • Size: 2.8 x 2.1 x 0.6 inches | 71 x 53 x 15 mm
  • Weight: 2.8 oz | 80 grams
RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN box and contents

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN box and contents

Included In Box:
  • RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN
Good For:
  • Additional charger for home or work
  • Commute
  • Travel
  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Power banks
  • Nintendo Switch (handheld & docked)
  • iPad Pro
  • 12-inch laptop
  • 13-inch/14-inch laptop

First Impression

The RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN is RAVPower’s first GaN USB-C charger. Like other GaN chargers it takes advantage of the new technology to reduce its volume and weight. It does so with a flat design, rather than an general size reduction. At first glance it can appear as large or larger than other 45W USB-C PD chargers. But its total volume is less. And its thinness allows it to fit between a wall outlet and furniture better. The prongs fold and the USB-C port points down (or up) when plugged in. It first released in white only, but there is now a black model available.

 

Compared With Similar Chargers

ChargerRAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaNMu One InternationalNekteck 45W USB-C PDZMI PowerPlug Turbo

Review
Price~$80
Output45W USB-C PD45W USB-C PD45W USB-C PD45W USB-C PD
FeaturesTravel FriendlyInternational plug adapters

Travel Friendly
USB-IF CertifiedTravel Friendly
USB-C CableNo cableNo cableBuilt-in USB-C cableUSB-C to USB-C cable
Dimensions2.8 x 2.1 x 0.6 in
2.8 oz
3.8 x 2.2 x 0.6 in
2.9 oz
2.1 x 2.1 x 1.2 in
6.7 oz
2.4 × 2.2 × 1.1 in
3.6 oz

Prices are from Amazon Product Advertising API, last updated on 2019-12-14.

 

You can see more USB-C chargers here.

Device Testing

Check with your device’s manufacturer to verify which charging standards it supports.

USB Power Delivery & Quick Charge 4+ Phones

  • Apple iPhone 8/X/XR/XS
  • Essential Phone
  • Google Pixel
  • LG ThinQ/V30
  • Razer
  • Samsung Galaxy S8/S9/S10
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8/9
  • Xiaomi Mi 8/9
  • ZTE Axon Pro 9/10

 

Using an iPhone 8 for testing we find USB PD phones will fast charge over the USB-C port. iPhones will need to use a USB-C to Lightning cable, not included. Android phones will need a USB-C to USB-C cable, also not included.

Quick Charge 3.0 Phones

  • HTC
  • LG
  • Motorola
  • Nokia
  • Samsung Galaxy
  • Sony
  • Xiaomi Mi 5/6
  • ZTE

 

Using a Moto G6 for testing we don’t see Quick Charge engage. So charging is at its normal rate. This is normal with Motorola phones when QC is offered over USB-C. Samsung Galaxy, LG, and other QC supporting Android phones would be expected to fast charge.

Nintendo Switch

 

The Nintendo Switch charges at its max rate, up to 18W. It’ll fast charge while you play. Its charge rate while sleeping is also normal. This charger can also power the Switch’s dock. Learn more about charging the Switch.

USB-C Laptops

 

Using a 13-inch MacBook Pro for testing we can draw up to 41W from this charger. That’s expected, after accounting for efficiency loss.

Different model laptops have different power demands. But in general a 45W charger can support 12-inch, 13-inch, and 14-inch laptops. It can power a larger laptop in a pinch. It will charge while sleeping. But may only extend runtime if used while the larger laptop is active.

GaN (gallium nitride)

GaN (gallium nitride) is a replacement for traditional silicon. It can sustain higher voltages than silicon and offers less resistance to current. That makes it more efficient (10-25%) and able to handle more heat. In 2014 GaN performed the same as silicon 3-5 times larger. The most recent leap (2017) reduced the size of GaN transistors to half their previous size.

GaN is not new. It is in the laser diodes of Blu-ray players. And the transistors in various wireless infrastructure. In 2018 we started to see USB-C chargers with GaN hit the market. Since then many brands have released GaN chargers. With more on the way.

There isn’t an output advantage for GaN chargers. A 45W GaN charger charges as fast as a 45W silicon charger. And both heat up to similar temperatures. The difference is the GaN charger is smaller and lighter. While matching the silicon charger’s performance.

Costs continue to drop, but GaN is still more expensive than silicon. As such GaN chargers are usually priced at the high end of their peers. As with many things getting the smallest and lighter version costs a bit more.

Quick Charge 3.0 Over USB-C

The presence of Quick Charge over USB-C is against USB-C specifications. That said such chargers have been around for years without issue.

Under section 4.8.2 of USB-C specifications a proprietary charging method cannot change the voltage of USB-C output (between 4.40V and 5.25V) in a manner not defined by USB methods. Quick Charge operates at higher than default voltages. And so goes against the specifications. USB Power Delivery is an open source charging method. Created alongside USB-C, it is with specs even though it also increases voltage. The big difference is USB PD uses communication lines to negotiate power transfer. While proprietary methods take over the data lines for their negotiation. They do so because legacy USB connections, such as USB-A, don’t have comm lines.

There is no known risk with running proprietary charging standards over USB-C. Manipulating the data lines does disrupt data transfers. But when plugging into a wall charger or power bank there is no data transfer anyway. A few USB-C focused engineers warn against using any USB-C product against specs. Their concern is unforeseen consequences. And we have seen bad USB-C products in the past. But since the first QC over USB-C charger came out in 2016 we haven’t seen any systemic issues emerge.

I have not run into any issues with these fast charging standards on this or any other charger. But as it is a spec violation I want you to be informed. If you’re a stickler for meeting USB-C specifications this isn’t a good charger for you. If you’re more pragmatic it works fine and has no known issues.

Summary

The RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN shows off the new form factors possible using GaN technology. The thin design is ideal for fitting between furniture and the wall. It also slips into your commute or travel bag. Fitting in a small pocket along with a USB-C cable. No more digging to the bottom for your charger.

For the Nintendo Switch it charges in handheld mode as fast as any other option. And can power a docked Switch. Folding prongs make it a good travel charger.

As a 45W USB-C PD charger it’ll support small and mid sized USB-C devices. Having both USB Power Delivery and Quick Charge 3.0 allows it to fast charge many phones. Though the inclusion of Quick Charge 3.0 is against specifications set by the USB-IF. It’ll also charge tablets, including the latest iPad Pro. It’ll power 12-inch and 13-inch models. Even with a 13-inch MacBook Pro that draws up to 60W, the 45W provided is enough for most needs.

GaN does reduce heat, but that savings is spent to make the charger smaller. If you had a GaN charger and silicon charger of the same specs and volume, then the GaN would be cooler. The RAVPower got up to 122.5°F (50.3°C) at its hottest point. By the “R” in the logo. Most of the rest of the charger didn’t get past 100°F (37.8°C). Plastic enclosures can be safely handled at even higher temperatures.

The price is the biggest downside. It is 2.5x more than other 45W USB-C chargers. It is cheaper than the similar Mu One International for USA customers. But doesn’t offer international plugs.

About RAVPower

RAVPower has U.S. based support (web, email, phone) and an 18 month warranty. The warranty can be extended to 30 months if you register the product with RAVPower. They are a respected brand within the USB-C community.

Bottom Line

The RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN is a good example of what GaN tech offers to USB-C chargers. With 45W USB PD and Quick Charge 3.0 it works well with large assortment of devices. If you need a thin charger its design is hard to beat. But if size isn’t as important you’ll get better value from a larger model.

Buy if you:
  • Need a charger that fits behind a couch or desk
  • Have a mix of USB PD and Quick Charge devices
  • Want a Nintendo Switch dock supporting charger that won’t protrude from your carrying case
Don’t buy if you:
  • Care more about price than size
  • Want to fast charge a Moto phone
  • Have concerns with violating USB-C specifications
Buy on Amazon

 

Be sure to check the Deals page to see if this or a similar charger is on sale.


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