XTAR MC3 Charger Review

Preface

Another charger from XTAR!  They make great chargers, so I’m happy to have another one in my stable.  This is a 3-bay, 3A max charger, which supports only Li-ion cells, but has the capability to hold 3×26650, or 3×21700.  Very capable charger!


Official Specs

Price

Right at $10!  A 3-bay, 3A (total) charger for $10!!

Short Review

This is an extremely basic charger, but can charge one cell up to 2A, and 3A total across the bays.  It doesn’t offer anything other than Li-Ion charger, and it doesn’t have many exceptional features.  But it’s a performer!

Long Review

Key Features

• Max 2A for single slot, Max 3A in total
• Intelligently Adjust Charging Current
• Easy-to-read LED indicator
• Micro USB powered, charge anywhere
• 0V Activation Function & Soft Start
• TC-CC-CV Three-Stage Charging

Manual and Packaging

Standard XTAR white and blue packaging, with a photo of the item on the front.

What’s Included

  • XTAR MC3 3-Bay charger
  • Charge cable (USB to micro-USB)
  • Manual

Build Quality and Durability

This charger isn’t along the lines of the very best charger I’ve handled as far as hand-feel, but it’s just a very simple charger.  The build quality seems good, and certainly good enough to live on a desk all the time.

The back has the applicable charge items imprinted permanently.  There are four hard plastic feet, too.

The top and bottom are featureless, except for the micro-USB plug in the top

The slides are of normal quality and use.  Not unusually stiff, and with the usual button-ish contact area.  Also the bays have room for many sized cells, from shorter 18350/16340 sized cells, all the way up to (just barely!) 21700 cells.

Here’s a bit of a disassembly.  This does require breaking the seal between the top and bottom half, but a little electrical tape seems to hold it just fine.

Size

Officially
100mm x 87mm x 30mm, and weighing 92g.

For being such a relatively small charger, it fits a surprising range of cells.  From down to 16340 sized cells, all the way up to three 26650 cells.  Or three 21700 cells, too.  Or any mix.

Left is the fitment of a 26650.  Middle, notice the 16340.  And at right, in focus is the 21700 cell.

Power

The MC3 is powered by micro-USB.  A cable is included, and it’s a 2.5A rated (claimed) cable – a very nice cable.  The charger is not QC3 so doesn’t take advantage of that speed, and maxes out at 3A total, in almost any combination across the 3 bays.  2A to one bay, 1.5A to 2 bays, 1A to 3 bays….  The only option that doesn’t happen is 3A to one bay.

Here’s a charge test of all the options.  Charging a single cell.  The charger hits around 1.9A consistently (close enough to 2A).  The CV phase seems unnecessarily long – look at the next graph to see why.

Below is charging two cells at one time (third bay is empty).  The monitored bay sees ~1.5A as expected, but the CV phase is much shorter with this test.  This means that overall, with regard to any single cell, it looks to be faster to charge two cells than it is to charge a single cell.

Charging three cells (and monitoring one) again sees the charger do what it claims:  ~1A charging.  Again interestingly, charging three cells to their stopping points is as fas as charging a single cell to it’s stopping point!!

User Interface and Operation

As with what seems like every charger I’ve tested lately, there’s nothing to interact with on this charger.  Just drop the cell(s) in and the charger will take over.  Note that the manual does not state reverse polarity protection, so put the cells in the correct way (positive end goes on the end with the LEDs).  Also, the bays are labeled with which end goes where.

When a cell is charging, the LED above the bay will be red.  If there’s a problem, the LED will flash red for that bay.  If the bay is empty or charging is done, the LED will be solid green.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Very simple device
  • 2A charging or 3A max

What I don’t like

  • Fairly rudimentary
  • Doesn’t claim to have reverse polarity protection.

Up Next

Not a Fun Fund Friday for tomorrow, but it’s a fun light either way.  One I’m particularly pleased to have and be reviewing!

Notes:

  • This item was provided by XTAR for review.  I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this charger, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons.  Note I’ve upgraded that sheet so that now, you may subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

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