Nitecore TM9K Flashlight Review

Nitecore has long has a “Tiny Monster” line of lights.  I haven’t handled a bunch of them but today I have the new TM9K, which boasts a brief 9500 lumen output, a built in cell, and on-board USB-C charging.  Looks like a pretty neat light!  Read on for some testing!


Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the official product page.

Versions

Just one

Price and Coupon

This one goes for $159.95.  Here’s a referral link to NitecoreStore.com.


Short Review

For brief, floody, high-output needs, this light is great.  I don’t love that the cell is built in, but it is what it is.  The interface is good, too.  I would like to see the price come down a good bit, though.

Long Review

The Big Table

Nitecore TM9K
Emitter: Cree XP-L HD (x9)
Price in USD at publication time: $159.95
Cell: 1×21700 (built in)
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? Switched to low (but almost certainly has LVP)
Switch Type: Both
Quiescent Current (A):
On-Board Charging? Yes
Chargetime (from USB, not USB-C)
Power off Charge Port with no Cell?
Claimed Lumens (lm) 9500
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 2375 (25% of claim)*
Candela per Lumen 1.8
Claimed Throw (m) 268
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 148lux @ 5.738m = 4873cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 139.6 (52.1% of claim)*
All my Nitecore reviews!

* Measurement disclaimer:  I am an amateur flashlight reviewer.  I don’t have $10,000 or even $1,000 worth of testing equipment.  I test output and such in PVC tubes!!  Please consider claims within 10% of what I measure to be perfectly reasonable (accurate, even).
* These are 30 second tests.  Below is startup

Nitecore TM9K
Claimed Lumens (lm) 9500
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 10057 (105.9% of claim)^
Candela per Lumen 1.8
Claimed Throw (m) 268
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 1067lux @ 4.579m = 22372cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 299.1 (111.6% of claim)^

^ These measurements are startup measurements (not FL1).

What’s Included

  • Nitecore TM9K flashlight
  • Nylon pouch
  • Lanyard (with helper)
  • Pocket clip (friction fit)
  • Charge cable (USB to USB-C)
  • Manual etc

Package and Manual

Run the light with this little protector and you’ll discover what “angry blue” is.  🙂

Build Quality and Disassembly

This is a nice little chonk of a light.  It has a very nice weight.  Heavy, in the way that often means things are well mad.

The head has cooling fins.

The body has some knurling but it’s entirely decorative.

The switch is very proud.

I didn’t disassemble this one.  The cell inside is soldered, and my tailcap and other parts were all screwed down tightly enough (or possibly even threadlocked) so that I couldn’t make them budge.

Size and Comps

Officially:
Length 125 mm / 4.92 in
Head Size 40 mm / 1.57 in
Weight 218 g / 7.68 oz

Wish I’d thought to put this beside a Convoy C8 or the like.  It’s around that size.

Retention and Carry

Primary carry will likely be the nylon pouch, which is directional (bezel up).  There’s also a nice metal d-ring – no plastic junk here! The pouch is open at the bottom, allowing access to the switches, but not open at the top.

Also included is a friction fit pocket clip.  It can technically go in two locations, but the only reasonable place is as seen below.  The clip may be removed fairly easily, so while a lanyard could go on here, it’s not ideal.  But generally as a belt clip, it’s pretty good.

The lanyard is very simple.

Despite the little hole in the tailcap looking like a lanyard loop hole, it’s not.  So the only place to put the lanyard is on the pocket clip.

There’s a tiny helper which would make attaching the lanyard here easy enough.

Power and Runtime

I didn’t disassemble this light, so I didn’t see the cell.  Here’s Nitecore’s rendering of the internal 21700:

Complain as you might about this cell being solidly fixed inside the light, it does provide quite the performance.

Below is a runtime on Turbo.  Turbo isn’t allowed as a steady state, so I continually pressed the button over and over to see how heat responded and how the output fared.  Surprisingly, quite well.  In fact (and strangely) the output rises a little on successive repeats!  The max I saw was 10057 lumens, which is approximately the claim made by Nitecore.  But that’s not an FL1 rating.  I also hit Turbo again at the 65ish minute mark, twice, and note that the light hits the high mark, but also steps down to the High output, and will stay there for a while, if the Turbo Ready button is continually depressed.

Thought I’d blow up that first few minutes (better than the 2 minute inset above), to display the output creeping up on successive turbo resets.  Also see how the temperature creeps up, too.  I do believe I reached a point after these 7 resets that the light no longer was hitting the 9K output.

Below is a test of high.  The light does stepdown; most likely a temperature based stepdown.

The light also has a built in power indicator.  It looks to be only accessed when entering lockout, but that’s a fairly simple proposition.  The indicator is beside the switches, and lights blue only.  When lockout is entered, the indicator will blink out the voltage exactly.  Four blinks with a 1.5s pause then one blink, is a cell voltage of 4.1V.  This also happens during runtimes – when the light reaches ~50% power, the indicator will blink every 2s.  When the cell is “near to depletion” the indicator will blink continuously, and quickly.

Also included of course since there’s a built in cell, is on-board charging.  An appropriate cable is included – USB to USB-C.

The charge port is in the head, with a press in cover.

It’s an unusual cover, because it fits into the charge port.  It’s quite secure.

I tested with just the cable included, and not USB-C to USB-C.  I don’t have a working tester for that setup now anyway (nor does it seem to be the way Nitecore intended to be charged).   Charging is at around 1.3A, which is respectable, and takes around 4 hours to fully charge.  You’ll note at the start of the charge, the current is low, around 0.2A.  I imagine this to be a soft start on a depleted cell.  So Nitecore’s charge circuit seems to take into account how depleted a cell is.

Modes and Currents

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps
Turbo 9500 2735
High 1900 3h 2350
Mid 460 4h30m 531
Low 130 14h 152
Ultralow 30 60h 47

PWM

The light exhibits PWM on the lower three modes, but I didn’t notice it during use.

For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor.  And here’s the worst PWM light I have ever owned.  Also one of the very first lights I ordered directly from China!

User Interface and Operation

There are two switches on the TM9K.  The Power button is the big proud mechanical switch.  The mode button is a paddle (ish) switch that doesn’t rise over the edge of the tailcap at all.

Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Off Click Power Switch (PS) On (last used mode)
Off Half press PS Momentary (last used mode)
On Click PS Off
On Click Mode Switch (MS) Mode advance (Ultralow>L>M>H)
Any Hold MS Turbo Ready Turbo
Any Double click MS Strobe
Strobe Click MS Previous Mode
Off Click PS while holding MS Lockout (with battery level indication)
Lockout Triple click MS Unlock

LED and Beam

The TM9K has 9 Cree XP-L HD emitters, and is basically a mule.  Each of those has a tiny reflector, but really, this is a mule.  Up close, the beam shape can be seen, but past about 3 feet it just becomes entirely flood.

Not that it’s bad.  Mules are great, and have good uses.  I don’t think it’s stated anywhere, but these lean toward the CW temperature.

These beamshots are always with the following settings:  f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.

Tint vs BLF-348 (Killzone 219b version)

Test light is on the left.

I compare everything to the Killzone 219b BLF-348, because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

Here’s a link to a relevantly filtered page on parametrek.com.  I use that site a lot!

Conclusion

What I like

  • Solid little chunk of a light
  • Incredible (brief) output
  • Able to USB-C charge (properly)
  • 1.3A charging from regular USB isn’t bad at all anyway

What I don’t like

  • Integrated cell, and not user replaceable
  • No good lanyard attachment point

Notes

  • This light was provided by Nitecore for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • For flashlight related patches, stickers, and gear, head over to PhotonPhreaks, another site where I write!
  • Shop my amazon.com store for the best lights!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for BangGood and GearBest coupons. Please subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

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