Thursday, April 18, 2024

I needed to buy a new MacBook. Here’s why I bought a power bank instead

Share

Baseus Blade 2 65W power bank for laptops kept on a green couch.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

I rely on a 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2020 for most of my work. Despite its age and being a base variant model, it continues to stack up well against my expectations for all these years.

Contents

  • Replacing the battery makes little sense
  • The $100 life support for my MacBook
  • Smart features to jazz up charging
  • A few more hours of grace
  • A fitting power bank for older laptops

Since MacBooks are known for longevity, the fact that my MacBook Pro still holds up well a few years later shouldn’t sound surprising. However, the first signs of aging recently arrived in the form of a warning about the battery’s plummeting health. I was already dreading the idea of having to replace what was otherwise a perfectly good laptop.

Recommended Videos

Before dropping thousands of dollars on a new laptop, though, I tried out a $100 power bank fit for laptops that could buy be some more time. To my surprise, it totally worked.

Related

  • Apple MacBook Air M3 vs. MacBook Air M2: What’s the difference?

  • The MacBook Air M3 has one change that fixes its biggest flaw

  • Whatever you do, don’t buy a MacBook Air right now

Replacing the battery makes little sense

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

I would dismiss this warning as another form of planned obsolescence for which Apple has a reputation. But the battery backup, which has reduced significantly to only three hours, is too intense to ignore.

Other telling signs include a sharp decline in battery percentage beyond 30% and extreme heating while charging, which kicks the fan inside into action. All these factors combined make my MacBook, in its current state, a highly unreliable computer when working away from my desk or traveling.

One solution is paying Apple $249 (excusing taxes) and replacing my MacBook’s battery. But for a laptop that initially cost about $1,000, this option feels scathing. Getting it repaired for cheaper from an independent technician is also an alternative, but Apple’s choice to glue (literally) the battery pack very close to the trackpad makes me nervous and skeptical of that route, too.

A surefire way to bypass the dying battery’s limitations is to keep the MacBook constantly plugged into a wall socket (unfortunately, that’s also how I ended up wrecking the battery in the first place). But for other situations, especially when you’re out, away from a wall socket, or on the move, that may not be an option. For me, that’s where this power bank comes into the picture.

The $100 life support for my MacBook

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The $250 splurge to fix a four-year-old laptop makes little sense, especially as Apple does not lower your trade-in value based on the device’s battery health. Instead, I opted for a cheaper solution that would serve me until I could save up and upgrade to a newer MacBook.

I recently got the Baseus Blade 2 laptop power bank for $100. With a total claimed capacity of 12,000mAh, it can fast-charge devices compatible with USB-PD (Power Delivery) standards at up to 65W.

The power bank has two USB-C ports, which can charge at 65W when used in isolation. When used simultaneously, it distributes power across the two ports with maximum rates up to 45W and 20W. These limits are set automatically (and are interchangeable) based on the device connected to the power bank.

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Besides its fast charging abilities, what makes this power bank a handy aid for my aging laptop is how compact and lightweight it is. It is about the same size as a petite novel, measures roughly 7mm (0.28 inches), and weighs less than 350 grams (0.77 pounds). These attributes make it easy to carry around with you and use it whenever a power socket is inaccessible.

Smart features to jazz up charging

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Up top, the power bank has a tiny square LCD to display the remaining power — a step up from power banks that traditionally use LEDs to indicate the tentative capacity. It also shows the real-time charging rates for devices plugged into both USB-C ports, along with the tentative time it will last.

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

These details can also be monitored using Baseus’ app on any iPhone or Android device. The app shares all metrics from above and lets you set timers for automatic shutdown or choose background colors for a tiny display. You can also set a screen saver with custom text to prevent the display from draining the battery, but you cannot entirely turn off the screen.

A few more hours of grace

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

When it comes to usage, the Blade 2 charges my 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) from an empty battery to about 75% while the laptop is not being used. Meanwhile, when the MacBook is being used, the power bank charges it to about only 50% before running out of power. These numbers sound unconvincing for a 12,000mAh power bank because a 13-inch MacBook’s battery has less than half of that capacity.

The results are more linear when charging a phone or tablet with this Baseus power bank. For instance, the 11-inch iPad Pro (M1) charges fully with roughly 15% battery still remaining on the power bank. Similarly, it completes nearly two charging cycles (10-100%) on the OnePlus 12, which has a 5,500mAh battery.

The only possible explanation for this laggard performance in the case of the MacBook is the loss of energy in the form of excessive heat that it currently generates while charging. In my case, even when the MacBook is put to Sleep, the fan keeps spinning, which could be another outlet for the energy.

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Despite a non-linear relationship between the power supplied by the Blade 2 and what the MacBook receives, the additional 50-75% charge in the battery extends the backup by roughly two more hours — giving me some leeway before I must reach out to an electrical socket to keep the laptop from dying.

The power bank takes roughly 45 minutes to flush out all the power to charge my MacBook. However, the actual rate of power delivery — and the time taken — can vary with multiple factors. Despite the 65W rating, the highest speeds are primarily archived in the early stages of charging, especially when the laptop is not too hot. Keeping it connected for that duration shouldn’t be an issue if you’re not on the move or have limited space.

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

When recharging, the Blade 2 also receives power at rates up to 60W. It can be charged with any charging brick that supports the USB-PD standard. Using any charging brick rate higher than 60W — for instance, the 61W charger bundled with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, it charges fully in about 90 minutes.

Having two USB-C ports means the power bank can be used while it is being charged itself. That means you can use it as a backup interface between the computer and the power outlet. However, transfer rates will be reduced across the charging ports when they are engaged simultaneously.

A fitting power bank for older laptops

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The Baseus Blade 2 power bank has been beneficial in fending my nervousness about my old MacBook Pro’s faulty battery. It’s admittedly not perfect, and the 12000mAh charging capacity does not directly translate to equitable power, especially on laptops. But it can be a worthwhile backup for critical times, with its portability solidifying its case.

I have especially relied on the Baseus power bank when plugging into a power socket wasn’t an option — in cabs, at cafes, or while attending events and meetings away from home. Even if your laptop’s battery isn’t as degraded as mine, it can be liberating when you want to lounge out in the sun, work remotely, or just sit under a tree in a park.

Secondly, the other compelling reason to buy the power bank is its price. At $100, it is one of the few power banks that also fast-charge devices without adding much bulk to your backpack. The brand is also running a

and its official store, slashing the price to $80 and making this a sweeter deal.

You can also try the

for a longer-lasting battery, but it is slightly less portable and you will miss out on the app controls from Baseus.

Read more

More News