Power adapters have gotten smaller over the years thanks to gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology, but Ugreen’s $179.99 Nexode 200W Charger uses the technology for great power. This hefty four-by-four inch square brick can be placed on your desk and can power three, maybe even four laptops at once, or a combination of up to six mobile devices.
If you’re like me, you’re part of the remote workforce and got a work laptop, but at the same time, you also like to use your personal laptop. My desk has two MacBook Airs, a docking station, headphones, a Bluetooth speaker, a game controller, and an iPhone MagSafe stand, each requiring its own power supply and leaving a cluttered workspace. The Nexode replaced all of them with a single rock and a six-foot power cable.
Ugreen’s powerful charger isn’t cheap. For the price of $180 you can multiple 100W USB-C chargers† But it may be worth it if you’re considering buying extra power adapters that stay on your desk so you can keep the originals in your travel bag. The Ugreen doesn’t feel cheap either: the plastic housing is very sturdy, and the charger comes with a one-meter braided USB-C cable that supports 100W charging. It doesn’t come with a cute vertical desktop stand like Satechi’s 165W charger, but it does have four grippy rubber feet to keep it in place — not to mention it has two more ports than the Satechi.
But at that price, it may be better able to charge 200W of electronics. After some testing, I found this to be largely true, but charging can slow down or stop if you don’t pay attention to the connections and capabilities of the four USB-C Power Delivery ports and the two USB-A ports. The ports aren’t labeled with its capabilities like Anker’s 120W charger, so you might want to keep a cheat sheet handy or you might be playing plug-in roulette.
There is an overwhelmingly complicated chart from Ugreen explaining all possible flow scenarios, which you can see below. While the Nexode has a maximum capacity of 200W, the maximum output from a single port is 100W – this does not support the newer USB-C Release 2.1 specification.
While testing, I was interested in two things: how can this handle six devices at once, and how can I run this thing up to 200W? For a six-device configuration, the USB-C ports from ports one through four can handle 65W / 45W / 45W / 20W respectively, and the USB-A ports share 20W of power for a total of 195 w.
I plugged three MacBooks (two M1 Airs and a 12-inch MacBook from 2016) and an iPad Air 4 into the USB-C ports and two iPhones into the USB-A ports and noticed that the three MacBooks were 65 W, 45 W and 45 W reported with macOS built-in power reporting. For the iOS devices, I used the free ChargerMaster app and it reported that the iPad Air 4 was charging in port four at 15.37W while the battery had 20 percent SoC — close enough to the 20W headroom that the port is capable. The first USB-A port had an iPhone 13 Mini charging at a slow 4.61W, but it was already 79 percent charged by then, so I didn’t expect it to run faster. Finally, the last USB-A port had a first-generation iPhone SE plugged in at a 20 percent charge and charged at 5.98W. This brings our total to 181W (rounded up), which isn’t far from the 195W max that the chart claims.
So, how do we get 200W? The chart claims that Ugreen’s charger can deliver 100W from both USB-C ports one and two, and I’ve been able to confirm this. I plugged in a 14-inch MacBook Pro and an MSI GS77 Stealth gaming laptop (which supports PD charging despite the 240W charging brick it comes with) and got a 100W rating from the MacBook. And if you’re more into charging two MacBooks at 100W, I’ve also confirmed the 100W charger measurements from each of the two MacBooks connected.
While you can get up to 100W from each of the first two ports, it will slow down the charging speed of both laptops if you want to plug in something else, like your smartphone. Even if you only need one 100W laptop, you can still only plug in one device and maintain that speed – any third device, regardless of consumption, will cut both 100W devices down to 65W.
The limitations on how the ports distribute power don’t make the Ugreen Nexode the ideal travel charger. If you’re carrying a high-end laptop, say a 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro, the 18.4-ounce Nexode is about 74 percent heavier than the 10.6-ounce Apple 96W power adapter. Apple’s new GaN-based 140W charger is even lighter at 8.01 ounces† The Ugreen’s power cord is a three-prong grounded type, eliminating some of the travel charging options in case you need to plug in somewhere that isn’t grounded.
Still, I went on a trip with this charger and when I arrived at my hotel I was able to connect all my stuff at once: my MacBook Air, Nintendo Switch, Apple Watch (USB-C), a 10,000mAh power brick, and two iPhones. With full load, the notoriously fickle switch started flickering on and off until I reseated it. When I swapped the Switch for an official MagSafe charger, another device stopped charging. This finicky behavior happened often enough for me to notice, but when I repositioned the tangled ports, the Ugreen started behaving normally.
I’ve found a way to use my Switch in dock mode as well, but only with an aftermarket HDMI hub and not the official dock. The Nintendo Switch is notorious for its odd power draw (the dock wants 15V 2.6A for TV mode), but Ugreen’s USB-C ports have rails for 15V 3.0A. If you’ve been wanting to stream your Switch from your computer desk and hoped Ugreen would save you an AC port, you’ll be disappointed.
Ugreen advertises that the Nexode’s GaN and SiC chips improve heat dissipation, and I believe it. I charged two 100W compatible laptops and also charged a full charge of six devices, and it was never more than just hot to touch. Apple’s 96W non-GaN charger, on the other hand, feels very hot while only charging one laptop.
The appeal of the Ugreen Nexode 200W charger isn’t meant to replace the power supply of your high-end laptop; it is to share a lot of power with more devices at once without extra bricks. It works best as a central desktop charger (as advertised). It could also be good for a small business that uses floater iPads or other mobile devices and could use a charging station.
Its size and weight make it less than ideal for travel, and the confusing power graph isn’t much fun for troubleshooting when you’re on the go. Maybe Ugreen can add labels to the ports to simplify this in the next version.
Despite its price and size, the Ugreen Nexode is one of the first USB-C chargers to hit 200W, and hopefully we’ll see more on the market in the near future.
Photography by Umar Shakir / The Verge