RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN Review

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

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN

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


Deal Alert: Save $20 on this charger through June 3. Click the $10 off coupon under the price listing. Then during checkout enter promo code VERGE45W. Discounts will appear during checkout.


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
  • Travel charger
  • Fast charging:
    • iPhone 8/X/XR/XS
    • Samsung Galaxy
    • Google Pixel
    • LG phones
    • Xiaomi phones
    • iPad Pro
  • Power banks
  • Nintendo Switch (handheld & docked)
  • 12-inch laptop
  • 13-inch/14-inch laptop
RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN in Switch carrying case

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN in Switch carrying case

Pros

  • Charges Switch at the fastest rate in handheld mode
  • Powers the Nintendo Switch dock
  • Fits in most Switch carrying cases
  • Uses GaN (gallium nitride), higher efficiency at 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

  • Pricy for a 45W USB-C PD charger
  • Offers Quick Charge 3.0 over USB-C, which is against USB-C specs
  • Doesn’t included a USB-C to USB-C cable
Top: RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN. Bottom: ZMI PowerPlug Turbo.

Top: RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN. Bottom: ZMI PowerPlug Turbo.

Good For

  • Additional charger for home or work
  • Travel charger
  • Fast charging:
    • iPhone 8/X
    • USB-C PD Android phones
    • Quick Charge Android phones
    • iPad Pro
  • Power banks
  • Nintendo Switch (handheld & docked)
  • 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.

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 series
  • Razer
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
  • Xiaomi Mi 8/9
iPhone 8 power meter

iPhone 8 power meter

iPhone 8 power negotiation

iPhone 8 power negotiation

Using an iPhone 8 for testing we find USB PD phones will fast charge. The iPhone 8 fast charges when using a USB-C to Lightning cable. We see the usual power negotiations. Connection starts at 5V, then moves up to 9V.

Quick Charge 3.0 Phones
  • HTC
  • LG
  • Motorola (TurboPower mimics QC 3.0)
  • Nokia
  • Samsung (AFC mimics QC 3.0)
  • Sony
  • Xiaomi Mi 5/6
Moto G6 power meter

Moto G6 power meter

Moto G6 power negotiation

Moto G6 power negotiation

The Moto G6 used for testing does not initiate fast charging. But that is normal, and specific to Motorola phones with QC 3.0 over USB-C. Motorola phones don’t use Quick Charge, their fast charging standard mimics Quick Charge.

Samsung and Android phones with Quick Charge should initiate fast charging. But as Quick Charge 3.0 over USB-C goes against USB-C specs unforeseen issues could occur. Meaning some phones could have a similar issue with fast charging at the Moto G6.

Nintendo Switch
Switch gaming power meter

Switch gaming power meter

Switch sleeping power meter

Switch sleeping power meter

Switch power negotiation

Switch power negotiation

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

The PD protocol negotiation with the Switch is typical. It connects at 5V and moved up to 15V after negotiations. Current steps up once the 15V connection is made.

USB-C Laptops
MacBook Pro 13-inch power meter

MacBook Pro 13-inch power meter

MacBook Pro 13-inch power negotiation

MacBook Pro 13-inch power negotiation

Using a 13-inch MacBook Pro for testing we find the charger lives up to its 45W output claim, after accounting for efficiency loss.

A 45W charger can support 12-inch laptops. As well as 13-inch models running office, Internet, and entertainment apps. If playing video games or using CPU intense apps it may only extend battery life. But either way you get a lot more uptime.

Compared With Similar Chargers

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

Review
Price$49.99~$80$19.99$19.95
Output45W USB-C PD
Quick Charge 3.0
45W USB-C PD45W USB-C PD45W USB-C PD
Quick Charge 3.0
PortsUSB-CUSB-CBuilt-in USB-C cableUSB-C
FeaturesGaN techGaN tech
Includes interchangeable US, UK, and EU plugs
USB-IF certified
CableNo cableNo cableBuilt-inUSB-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 2019-06-20.

You can see more USB-C chargers here.

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN with Moto G6

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN with Moto G6

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN with Nintendo Switch

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN with Nintendo Switch

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN with MacBook Pro 13-inch

RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN with MacBook Pro 13-inch

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.

Top: Anker PowerPort Atom PD 1. Bottom: RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN.

Top: Anker PowerPort Atom PD 1. Bottom: RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN.

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 other than their increased efficiency. 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.

Costs have dropped over the years, but it is still more expensive than silicon. As such GaN chargers are usually priced at the high end of their peers. But the reduction in charger size can be significant. If you want the smallest and lightest charger possible GaN is it.

Fast Charging Standards Over USB-C & USB-IF Specifications

The RAVPower GaN charger’s USB-C port supports more than USB Power Delivery. It also supports Quick Charge 3.0 and Apple 2.4A. The presence of third party fast charging standards is forbidden under USB-C specifications.

USB-C includes communication lines, along with power and data lines. The comm lines allow power negotiation without disrupting data transfers. USB Power Delivery uses these comm lines. As does Quick Charge 4+. But fast charging standards which pre-date USB-C do not. Instead they manipulate the data lines to negotiate power. That go against USB-C specifications, as it disrupts data transfers. But one doesn’t use data transfers with a dedicated charger.

In real world usage this hasn’t presented itself as a problem. Dedicated chargers don’t make data transfers with devices. So disruption of the data lines doesn’t prevent expected function. USB-C charger with Quick Charge 3.0 date back to 2016. USB-C focused engineers warned against this practice and cited USB-IF specifications. But the predicted consequences were vague. The concern was with unforeseen issues as the practice was outside of specifications. As it turned out, nothing bad happened. Since then many chargers have operated this way, against specs. But there have been no reports of real world issues.

I have also not run into any issues with these fast charging standards on this or any other charger. But you should be aware of all the information before buying.

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 well 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.

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 charges the Nintendo Switch under all conditions. Both handheld and while docked. It’ll also 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 spentto 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 safelyhandled 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. Offering 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. If size isn’t as important you may get better value from a larger model.

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