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HomeNewsTested: Chargeasap Zeus packs 270W of international power into a tiny charger

Tested: Chargeasap Zeus packs 270W of international power into a tiny charger

I’ve noted before the way that gallium nitride (GaN) chargers are a game-changer in terms of how much power can be delivered from a compact power brick – and the Chargeasap Zeus takes this to a whole new level.

It’s a highly portable charging brick that delivers a massive total power output of 270W – with up to 140W from a single port – and its supplied ultra-compact international plug adapters make it a really convenient travel option …

If you’re traveling with a MacBook Pro, one option is to effectively use that as your travel charger. That’s something I’ve done on a number of trips, though it isn’t always a practical option, so I generally travel with a power brick (actually two, for reasons I’ll get to).

When Chargeasap sent me a prototype of its new Zeus 270W charger, I tried it on two trips – one to the US, the other within Europe – and it impressed me enough to make it my new standard travel charger.

GaN technology

As we’ve mentioned before, conventional power bricks are silicon-based. Gallium nitride, or GaN, is an alternative semiconductor material, which offers three main advantages over silicon.

First, they are much more efficient at conducting current. This means that you can pack more power into the same size unit. Or, to put it the other way around, you can squeeze a lot of power capability into a far smaller brick.

Second, because energy loss is lower, they generate less heat. That’s a good thing generally, given that overheating is one of the easiest ways to kill tech devices, but also means that they don’t need a bulky heatsink like the ones inside silicon chargers. So they can be even more compact.

Third, that significantly improved efficiency is better for the environment, with less power wasted as heat.

Chargeasap Zeus: Look & feel

The first thing you notice about the charger is just how compact it is. It measures a hair over 3.5 inches long by 2 inches wide and 1.7 inches deep. That’s less bulky than Apple’s 140W charger, for almost twice as much power and four times as many ports.

The prototype I received is gloss white in finish, but the company tells me that feedback from Indiegogo investors is that a matte finish is preferred, so it will be making this change for the production run.

The next most visible thing about the Zeus is a color OLED screen, used to indicate the actual voltages and wattages being drawn by your devices.

It does have to be said that the charger is heavy! It weighs a hefty 1.3 pounds, against half a pound for Apple’s 140W charger – but that’s a price worth paying for the ability to simultaneously power all my Apple devices.

Specifications

What stands out most about the specs of the Zeus is not just the impressive total output of 270W, but the way that breaks down. 140W are available from just one of the USB-C sockets, for example, allowing my 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro to be fully powered for even the most demanding tasks.

  • Dimensions: 90 x 42 x 50mm/3.54” x 2.17” x 1.96”
  • Weight: 320g / (0.7 lb.)
  • Power input: 100-240V ~ 50-60Hz 3A
  • Total power output: 270W
  • Ports: 3 x USB-C and 1 x USB-A
  • 140W USB-C1: 5~15V⎓3A / 20~28V⎓5A (PPS: 5~21V⎓5A)
  • 100W USB-C2: 5~15V⎓3A / 20V⎓5A (PPS: 3.3~21V⎓5A)
  • 100W USB-C3: 5~15V⎓3A / 20V⎓5A (PPS: 3.3~21V⎓5A)
  • 36W USB-A: 4.5⎓5A / 5V⎓~4.5A / 5V⎓3A / 9V⎓3A / 12V⎓3A
  • Protection: Over-current, Over-voltage, Over-temperature, Short-circuit Protection

In use

The best thing about the Zeus in use is it really is one charger to do it all – yet in a sufficiently compact unit that it works perfectly for at-seat power as well as at a desk.

I’ve been able to fully power my 16-inch MacBook Pro, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max without the device getting anywhere close to its capacity.

That compactness is a significant benefit to me. I’ve generally traveled with two chargers. A main one, beefy enough to power and charge all my devices, which I use in my hotel room or local apartment. But as this tends to be bulky, I also generally carry a second, smaller one for use during the journey itself – for the at-seat power on a train or plane.

That’s because there’s limited space at my seat, and I only need something with enough power to actively use one device at a time, and keep another one or two topped up. A typical example on a long-haul flight is to power my iPad while also keeping my iPhone and Apple Watch charged.

The Chargeasap Zeus is the first time I’ve had a charger that is powerful enough for local use while also being compact enough for in-flight use. For both trips, I, therefore, used only the one charger.

One thing I love about it is the extremely compact supplied travel adapters. Each one just slides and snaps into place, and between the four of them, they cover almost every country in the world.

I keep four cables plugged into it, so there’s just one thing to pull out of my bag. Here you can see it with my Apple Watch for scale.

Plugged into it is my MacBook Pro MagSafe cable, USB-C cable for iPad, MagSafe charger for iPhone, and Apple Watch charger. I could make the package even more compact by using shorter cables, but as at-seat power is often low to the floor, I find long-ish cables offer the flexibility I need to power devices on my tray table, while also charging devices positioned around me.

There is one potential drawback to the compact size. All my previous travel chargers have had a figure-of-eight power socket, which allows the flexibility to use a shorter or longer power cable. With the Zeus, the power brick itself needs to plug into the socket. This can limit flexibility, and also means that the weight of the brick might potentially result in it pulling itself out of the socket, depending on the angle of it. I haven’t found this an issue so far, however. That includes use one on two aircraft, two trains, four lounges, two hotel rooms, and several different coffee shops.

Chargeasap Zeus: Conclusions

It’s rare to find any power brick with both enough capacity and sufficient ports to keep all my Apple devices fully powered and charged. It’s unheard of to get this much power in a device that is actually more compact than Apple’s 140W MacBook Pro power brick!

As someone who has been fully assimilated by USB-C, I’d ideally have liked to have seen all four ports adopt this, rather than three of the four. That said, it is handy to have a single USB-A port available for any companions who may carry an older cable and need to borrow a bit of power to charge their phone. Indeed, I was able to help out the guy next to me in a coffee shop in just this way.

The display is the icing on the cake here, allowing you to see the live power draw for each of your devices.

Simply put, the combination of power and portability means that I’ve been able to replace two travel chargers with one – and this now lives in my cabin bag.

The Chargeasap Zeus 270W GaN charger is available for pre-order on Indiegogo, with early-bird pricing starting at $129. While we are cautious about covering crowdfunded projects, as not all of them deliver, Chargeasap has an excellent track record, and of course the prototype I tested (one of 50) proves that it works.

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