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Measuring USB-C Power : Macbook Pro 15 with a 60 Watt USB-C Dock


hey everybody it’s LA and Simon and I’ve got a bit of a USB type-c science experiment going on on my desk right now and the reason why I am doing this is because I do some consulting work for Kensington you might see me doing videos explaining how some of their products work on Amazon and a few other websites and it’s been a fun project because I have to think about all the things that a customer might run into when they’re using one of these products and one of the things that I was most curious about is how does a MacBook Pro which needs about 85 watts of power from its power adapter perform when it’s plugged into a USB type-c device like this dock here that provides only 60 watts of power we know the Mac won’t break we know that it will get power to some degree but I wanted to see what happens when it really needs more than what the dock can provide does it slow down does it not charge the battery so we’re gonna take a look and see what we can figure out here when using a larger MacBook Pro with one of these devices that only gives you a 60 watts and a lot of the USB type-c power delivery devices I’ve tested typically max out around that level so some of the USB type-c mini docks that have Ethernet and a few other adapters kind of top out there at 60 watts and I just wanted to get to the bottom of all of this so what I’ve got here on the desk is my phone running with my MDI broadcasting thing and we’re going to point it at this little

USB power meter that I got the other day this one cost about eighteen dollars and when you plug it in it will give you a readout as to how many watts are being used and in what direction the power is flowing so we’ll check out a few other things that we can do with this a little bit later in the video now I do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that Kensington is not sponsoring this video nor are they reviewing or approving anything before it gets uploaded so all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own and I’m doing this work to finish up a consulting project on this particular dock just so you’re aware of that and they are paying for that consulting work of course I did buy the USB power meter here with my own funds and the dock here came in from Kensington as part of this project so now that we got all that stuff out of the way let’s get this thing going here and see exactly how much power this MacBook needs all right so my MacBook right now is booted up and just kind of sitting at the desktop here the battery is at 2% so it is really really drained and you can see we’re drawing close to the max of what this adapter can provide because we are charging the battery right now so at idle with a dead battery charging up from pretty much zero here we’re drawing about 55 watts or so now what I want to do is swap in the MacBooks real power adapter so I’ve got that 85 watt power adapter plugged in on my power strip down there so let me switch over here so we can see that switch being made we’re gonna pull

out the little USB adapter here pop in the apple power adapter and plug that in and we’ll see if it draws any more power and want to jump in real quick with a quick correction the power adapter that comes with the MacBook Pro 15 is actually 87 Watts not 85 so you’ll see me referring to this as 85 throughout the video it is in fact 87 all right we can see that it is actually drawing more power because we have more power available on that particular power adapter again we’re using the 85 watt power adapter from Apple here which came with this laptop so certainly we can charge the battery faster here especially when the computer is sitting at idle but I’m very curious about now is what kind of performance impact this might have so I think I’m going to run a few benchmarks here and see if we see any performance degradation or if we just see the battery stopped charging or discharged more slowly clearly here when we had the 60 watt adapter plugged in the battery was charging slightly slower just because it was not able to draw as much power now I’m curious to see if it’s actually going to throttle things as well let’s take a look so we’re gonna run the Geekbench benchmark here in a second we’re going to run both the CPU and GPU tests just to get a feel for what might be impacted here I didn’t want to show you one neat thing before we did that so I have an app here running on the right side of the screen here called battery health – and you’ll notice down here that we’re charging currently with 50.9 watts it’s actually measuring how much power the charger is drawing here inside of the

laptop and what I want to do now is just swap out the cable here again and see what impact this has on charging so we can get a feel for what the doc is actually providing out of that as sixty watts or so we were seeing before so we’re gonna plug that in and I’m going to switch my little screen over here on this thing again so you can see that we’re once again going to probably step up to 50 watts or so as things begin charging here and what we’ll see here on the battery monitor is that we’re probably charging with less wattage as we are using that dock that has a little less available to it so you can see right here we’re drawing at about 29 watts or so to charge the battery while we’re connected up with the dock which is definitely less than what we saw just a second ago with the Apple power adapter so it’s really managing how much power is available to decide what can do what on here based on the power that’s available and what other needs the laptop might have very interesting stuff all right so now what I want to do is go ahead and run this benchmarks we’re going to start with the CPU benchmark first with the dock and then we’ll switch to the Apple power adapter and see what happens all right so we are right now in the middle of a CPU benchmark on the geek bench test we’re still drawing about the

same amount of power about 55 watts or so my battery testing application here is indicating that we’re still drawing about the same amount of power even though the CPU is being taxed although I’m not hearing my fans come on on the laptop just yet which indicates it’s not maybe getting taxed all that much here with this test so we’ll have to try one of the GPU tests in a second but I’m most interested in though is seeing what score we get here with the dock plugged in versus what score we might get with the Apple power adapter in use so let’s let this finish up here we’ll see what the score is and then we will go ahead and run it again with the Apple power adapter all right so the results here using the dock are in we got a score of four thousand three hundred and thirty eight on the single core test and fourteen thousand 756 on the multi-core test so now let’s go ahead and plug in that Apple power adapter which delivers more power and then we’re going to go back to the test here and run it again and see what we end up with here so we’re just going to go back to the Mac and we’ll just go ahead and click on that run CPU benchmark again we’ll let that run out and see what score we get after it’s done so I’m about halfway the test right now using the Apple adapter you can see we’re drawing a lot more power about 80 watt just because we have that available on that particular power adapter we’re charging with close to 50 watts right now so we’ll see what happens when the test comes back but my theory here is that it’s

using more power to charge the battery while still giving the CPU everything it needs but we’ll know for sure when this test wraps up in just a second and we get the results okay so the results are in using the Apple 85 watt adapter and as you can see here at least with the CPU there’s no noticeable performance difference this is the score with the Apple power adapter in that pretty much dead battery here is the score from the dock it is pretty much within the margin of error here just a very slight difference between the two tests here at least using the CPU so for CPU intensive applications it appears as though using a lower powered power adapter with your USB C MacBook Pro 15 will likely charge the battery slower or perhaps it’ll stop charging altogether but it looks like it can get the power it needs with that 60 watt adapter so now that that test is done let’s run a GPU test now and see what happens with that all right so we’ve got the dock now plugged back in we’re sitting at idle drawing about 53 watts or so likely charging that battery up again and we’re going to go back to geek bench now and activate my onboard GPU here on this macbook and we’ll begin that process and we should see some power draw from that here again the ammeter here isn’t changing at all but I suspect that we’re going to be seeing less of the battery being charged here while we’re running through some of these tests so if we jump back now to the little battery application we’re running here you can see that it is only charging with 2.3 watts right now as it’s running some of these graphical benchmarks there

so I’m guessing here that it is just directing that power over to the GPU at the expense of battery charging so we’re gonna let this finish up we’ll get a result here right now and then we’ll try it now with the Apple power adapter so we got here a score of 51 386 and I suspect we might see yep there it goes the battery charging jumped back up after that test was completed so now let’s jump over to the Apple power adapter and see what kind of score we get now all right sitting here at idle we’re drawing about 81 watts charging the battery and now I’m going to begin the test and let’s switch back over to my Mac screen here to see what we get for charging so we are charging with about 50 watts right here I haven’t seen it drop yet the GPU test is running on this one so I suspect that we’re you know getting what we need out of that power adapter and still being able to charge the battery at pretty much a full clip here I’m not seeing any real reduction in charging as this test runs and I did run a test a little bit earlier just to see if anything happens here we did drop down to 49 Watts here and the results are now in and we’re getting pretty much the same score again pretty close within the margin of error here between the power adapter and the dock so it looks like the Mac is basically trading off the charging speed for whatever performance the computer needs but let’s take a look now at a test that uses both the CPU and the GPU to see if we end up with any throttling at

all let’s load up the Cinebench test okay so we’re powering the computer with the dock once more we’ve got the Cinebench benchmark loading up here as you can see we’re drawing about 55 watts or so which is pretty much the max of what the dock can deliver and again we’re taxing both the CPU and GPU with this test and right now we’re charging with about 7.7 watts and running the full benchmark here again that’s taking advantage of both the CPU and GPU as it’s doing its thing here so this is not a very long benchmark so this should end pretty quickly here and we’ll get an idea of its score I was seeing now that the charging has dropped to 5.7 watts and then we’ll let that finish up and we’ll see what kind of framerate we get as a result of the test here again using the dock and it looks like we came in at around 81 frames per second so now we’re going to switch out the power adapter one more time and see what we get on this test with the larger power adapter okay so we got the Cinebench benchmark here running once again the computer is drawing about 80 watts of we’re here or so at the moment and if we switch over to my screen here we can see exactly what we’re getting for charging performance so we certainly are charging with a lot more wattage here as the test is running so we’re getting 33 watts out of the internal charger now with this test running here pretty much full blast at the moment so it looks like I think we’ll probably see around the same score when the test concludes here in just a second so let’s let this

finish up here I think it’s pretty much done and we’ll see what frames per second we got on this as it was running through here and the results are in and we’re getting pretty much the same score here so I think what I can conclude from this test I’d love to get any feedback from all of you as I finish up this project for Kensington is that it looks as though at least on the Mac we’re going to see a trade-off between battery charging and performance and that if it’s really taxing it hard the charger is just not going to deliver any power to the battery but will keep everything running what appears to be at full speed I’d imagine that there might be some throttling built into this somewhere along the line that if it really needs as much as possible that it would probably slow things down a bit but at least in all these benchmarks we just ran we didn’t see that at all even with a dead battery so it looks like a lot of that 85 watt power adapter that you get from Apple is designed to give the computer its full amount of power and adequate charging capacity as well and it looks like there’s not a huge penalty here for using a 60 watt dock with a 15-inch MacBook Pro this dock will work fine with all the other Macs in the line because the MacBook Pro 13 uses I think a 16 watt adapter which is just fine for the dock here and the new MacBook Airs use a 30 watt adapter along with the little 12-inch MacBook as well so I think you can probably be okay with this across the

entire line but if you are a power user I think a thunderbolt dock still is always the best solution to get especially with one of these fancy Mac books here now on the windows side especially with larger laptops you might run into some trouble I have a Dell XPS 15 it’s probably about two or three years old now I always get a warning message when I connect a dock to it because it’s power supply is 130 watts so if you have a larger Windows laptop you’ll probably still want to use the power adapter but most of the windows ultrabooks that we’ve looked at here over the last year or two come with a 60 watt USB C power adapter so in that case a dock like this or some other 60 watt USB type-c powered delivery device should be fine I do want to show you one more a cool thing with this little energy meter that I’ve got because it also measures power going out so let’s go get one of my USB C monitors and see what it tells us all right so I’ve got my aces entering here this is a great little external display that I bought a while back I reviewed it on the channel and I’ll put a link down below in the video description I use this upstairs in my kitchen and usually it’s on the other side of my Mac over here which is why the orientation here is reversed but nonetheless you can see how it operates and what’s cool with it is that it works with a single USBC cable for power and DisplayPort video and if you’re curious it is drawing about 5.7 watts or so give or take and what’s

cool about this adapter is that it’s passing through DisplayPort and measuring the outbound power here you can see that little arrow there is going in the opposite direction and if I pull the display out here and then plug in the Apple power adapter you’ll see that the little arrow starts running in the opposite direction here let me reverse the display on there to power the laptop once again this is a cool little device that I think will be getting some use out of in the coming months and again I’ll put a link to it in the video description if you want to pick one up for yourself I found a bunch of them on Amazon but not all of them did the wattage calculation and I like to get a quick look at that without having to run the calculation myself so a lot of them just do the volts and the amps this one does the wattage too so good stuff there so let me know if I missed anything in this test as I was running through things but I think at least with the Mac it looks like it will get enough of what it needs to be at full performance even with a 60 watt dock but your battery may not charge in the process or charge slower than it would if you had a more

powerful adapter hooked up to it typically with these devices the MacBook Pro 15 s and typically for people who are real power users I do suggest getting a Thunderbolt doc you get more performance out of it and most of the thunderbolt docks i’ve test both from Kensington as well as other manufacturers usually start out at around 85 watts of power delivery with some going up to a hundred watts for more of the high powered Windows devices so there are some other choices out there for power delivery on the thunderbolt side again let me know what you thought down in the comments below this was kind of a different video for me as I was walking through some testing that I usually do off-camera so let me know what you think down in the comments below we’ll see you next time this is lion Simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lon TV supporters including gold level supporters Chris Allegretto the four guys with quarters podcast Tom Albrecht gerard Newberg in Kalyan Kumar if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to LAN TV slash support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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