I tried Razer’s $ 180 GaN charger – and it’s really good
A charger isn’t like a gaming mouse or smartwatch; it’s not easy to see one again. It works or not, and the Razer USB-C GaN charger works. So the question is whether it’s worth its premium price: $ 180. It might seem unthinkable to pay so much money for a wall adapter, especially since every gadget you own probably comes with a pretty good way to charge it.
Razer justifies the premium by offering a fast and durable charging brick that uses a gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor. Two of its ports are USB-C connections, and you can charge up to four devices at a time. There are two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports, and the USB-C ports can indeed provide enough juice to charge a laptop.
Having used the GaN Charger for a few weeks, it is not without its charm. This accessory indeed loads a lot of gadgets at the same time, and very efficiently. It also has the potential to be very useful for frequent travelers, office workers, or people with limited exit space at home.
What is a GaN charger?
First of all: “GaN” means “gallium nitride”, as mentioned above. Gallium nitride is a semiconductor that runs cooler than standard charger components – silicon, for example. As such, GaN chargers can install more ports close to each other and distribute power to them more efficiently.
The Razer USB-C GaN charger indeed integrates many charging ports into a small space: two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports in a charging brick measuring 3.0 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches and weighing 1.2 ounces. The weight may not seem like much, but it has a lot of weight for its height. In fact, when I tried to plug it into an airplane power outlet, it quickly fell out. If you buy this accessory, you will probably want to keep it in a stable outlet, somewhere convenient.
In terms of looks, the USB-C GaN is just a black box with a Razer log on either side and a few green highlights in the USB-A ports. It comes with UK and EU adapters, if the North American style pins don’t work in your area. As Razer gear goes, it’s downright moderate.
Is the Razer USB-C GaN Charger Worth $ 180?
The big question, of course, is whether this simple gadget is really worth its high asking price. One hundred and eighty dollars is a lot for a load brick, more so than you can get comparable equipment on Amazon for about $ 50.
Granted, Razer gear is generally a better investment than a no-name brand, and having 130W of power to distribute can really make a big difference. My first week with the Razer GaN turned out to be a perfect test bed for the device, as I took a weeklong trip and didn’t feel like packing a whole bunch of chargers. One day while I was working remotely, the GaN powered my laptop while charging my Nintendo Switch, my Google Pixel 3a and that of my partner Pixel 3 simultaneously – and the three portable devices all charged very quickly. (The laptop charged slower, compared to a dedicated power brick, but not having to pack said bulky power brick was its own reward.)
It’s worth noting that while the Razer GaN did charge my USB-C gear a bit faster, the difference wasn’t night and day. My Pixel 3a, for example, went from completely dead to fully charged in an hour and a half, using the Razer GaN and the included USB-C cable. This is a great result, but the standard charger took an hour and 45 minutes. That’s enough to make a long-term difference, but likely won’t have much of an impact day to day.
Otherwise, I loaded all kinds of stuff with the Razer GaN – phones, tablets, consoles, e-readers, laptops, and even portable chargers – and only encountered two issues while using it. The first was the plane incident mentioned above. The second was a slight shock when I tried to bend the pins back immediately after taking it out of a socket. However, I tried (as safely as possible) to recreate the problem and failed, so hopefully this was a one-time event.
My other concern is that the Razer GaN might not work well with the Nintendo Switch over time. After shorting a Nintendo Switch due to a faulty charge A few years ago, I was positively paranoid about using third-party chargers for Nintendo’s finnicky portable hybrid. So far, the Switch and GaN have played well together, but with a brick that can deliver up to 130W of power, it wouldn’t take much for something to go wrong.
I contacted Razer regarding the two potential issues. The company is reviewing them and we will update the article when we have a response.
Razer USB-C GaN charger: result
Ultimately, it’s hard to give a broad recommendation for the Razer USB-C GaN Charger. It worked really well on my travels and I could see it becoming my go-to charger. At the same time, I’m not sure if I would spend $ 180 on it – or if my life would be significantly different without it.
If you have a lot of gadgets to charge and limited outlet space to do so, the Razer GaN could be a good addition to your home, office, or travel bag. If you’re happy to charge only one gadget at a time, but still want to invest in some Razer hardware, you can still spend the $ 180 on the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro rather.