Nitecore i8 Charger Review

Preface

I’m gladly still receiving items for review from Nitecore.  This time it’s a charger, the brand spankin’ new Nitecore i8 8 bay charger.  My main squeeze is a Nitecore d4, which I’ve been using for ages now.  I like that one a lot, and I’m interested to see how this i8 fares, too.

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Official Specs

Short Review

Off the top I can say that I love the vertical positioning of the cells when using this charger.  This keeps dust off the cells, and out of the bays, and out of the slides… essentially this keeps the guts of the device cleaner!  I’m satisfied with the charging, and appreciate the multi-cell capability.  It’s not an analyzing charger nor is it billed as one.  But for a workhorse, this is great.

Long Review

Key Features

Input: AC 100-240V 50/60Hz 0.6A (Max) 30W
DC 12V 3A
Output voltage: Battery: 4.2V±1% / 1.48±1%
USB: 5V±5%
Output current: Battery: 1.5A*2, 1A*4, 0.75A*4, 0.5A*8
USB: 5V*2.1A
Compatible with: Li-ion/IMR: 10340, 10350, 10440, 10500, 12340, 12500, 12650, 13450, 13500, 13650, 14350, 14430, 14500, 14650, 16500, 16340 (RCR123), 16650, 17350, 17500, 17650, 17670, 18350, 18490, 18500, 18650, 22500, 22650, 25500, 26500, 26650
Ni-MH (Ni-Cd): AA, AAA, C, D
Size: 117mm x101mm x134.5mm (Length x width x height)
Weight: (488.2g)

Pictures

Here’s a photo album of the Nitecore i8, including some in-use photos.

Manual and Packaging

The package is a simple cardboard box, with all of Nitecore’s usual black and yellow printing.  The box has cardboard inside too, holding the i8 in place.  My cardboard guts were a little beat up, but the charger itself was in fine shape.

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The manual covers the basic but I’d love to some fleshing out of the section on using the USB-outs. Here’s a pdf of the manual.

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What’s included

  • Nitecore i8 charger
  • Cable
  • Manual

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Build Quality and Durability

If you’ve handled any of the Nitecore chargers of this look, the feel won’t be any surprise.  Like the F1, the F2, and probably others, the build quality is great.  In fact these Nitecore chargers set the standard for build quality and feel among all the chargers I’ve handled.  The slides are smooth and plenty tight (without being overly so).  The plastic is very high quality hard plastic, and nothing on the internals feels loose or questionable at all.

Pursuant to the durability of this charger – as mentioned in the short review:  I expect this charger to have quite a good lifetime, since dust is discouraged from entering the exposed area on the slides.  The upright position is really good in this regard.

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The bottom of the unit is surprisingly fairly informative, listing all the cell types that the i8 is suitable for.

20170823-IMG_3480.jpgThe slides are considerably tight, as they really need to be with the vertical cell orientation.  They’re not gold plated, like the F1 and F2, which is a little bit of a surprise.  Still, they make great contact and in all honesty I’ve never had contact related trouble based on whether these are gold plated or not.  So these will do just fine.

Power

The included cable is a wall plug and connects to the yellow port seen below.

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Here’s the cable:20170823-IMG_3482.jpg
You’ll note that beside the yellow connector is a barrel plug connector.  I believe this is meant for connecting a cigarette adapter, so that the i8 can be used from car power.  (The manual does not state this explicitly.)

Nitecore doesn’t claim that all 8 bays can charge at 1.5A, but lists this as a feature called “Active Current Distribution” – When a cell is almost fully charged, the i8 will distribute current among the other bays needing charge.  The i8 charges at a max of 1.5A, but at a max of 2 bays.  It dwindles from there: 1.5A*2, 1A*4, 0.75A*4, 0.5A*8.  Which is to say, if the charger is filled with cells, the max charge rate is 0.5A.

The manual goes on to say that cells with smaller capacity (undefined), are charged at 500mA.  That’s around 1C for NiMH eneloops, so not too high.  Same for good capacity 18350 or 16340 – that’s around 1C.  Not too high, but, but I’d really like a lower option for these cells.

The positive terminal goes UP in this charger.

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Here’s the charge graph on a 18650 cell.  I can only track voltage for now.  (And my setup won’t allow this same graphing of a NiMH [voltage is too low]).  At the top end of the charge curve…. you’ll note that the charger keeps charging.  Final voltage when the i8 turned green was around 4.22V.  That’s a good terminal voltage.  The i8 seemed dedicated to getting the cell to 4.22V, if you will.

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There are also two USB outs, which are capable of 2.1A out.  I’m not able to test if the i8 can output 2.1A as claimed, but here’s a test of the output while charging at a much lower rate.

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User Interface and Operation

There’s not much to interact with on the i8.  Just install the cells, and charging begins.  There are no settings to fiddle with.  No currents to select, no modes to think about.  Simply put the cells in, and let the i8 charge.

There are some considerations when using the i8 as a charge base for USB-out.  The manual isn’t verbose about USB-out.  After fiddling with it some, it seems that the i8 is simply a pass through.  Furthermore, if more than two sets of the bays are being used for charging, the USB-outs are not active.  What’s a “set”?  There are four sets on this charger, and they are ‘back to back’.  So if more than two of these are actively charging, USB-out won’t do anything.  And with regard to this being a pass through:  The cells themselves do not seem to be powering the USB-out.  That’s why I’m carefully not calling this a powerbank….

Here are some in-use shots, which show the red and green operation lights from different angles. The green is a bit faint from the front. Red is very bright and visible from all angles.

 

 

 

Size

This isn’t a small charger but the actual footprint isn’t no bigger (maybe even smaller) than most 4 bay chargers.

The outside 2 bays are sized for 26650 cells, while the inside 2 bays are suited for 18650 diameter cells.  Even the 26650 cells don’t really hang out of the bays much.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Simplicity
  • 1.5A charging on a single bay
  • Smart charging overall

What I don’t like

  • I want a way to hold the cells in place past the springs and contact (much like the rubber bands on the F1).
  • Cells love to jump out! (User issue, really).
  • Could be an awesome powerbank; is not.

Notes:

  • This item was provided by Nitecore for review.  I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.wordpress.com. Have a look 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.

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