You’ve used a portable battery to charge your phone, but have you ever used one with your MacBook Pro, Pixelbook, or Nintendo Switch? With the right power bank, it’s just like charging your device from the wall.
You can thank USB-C for making this possible The USB-C power standard is capable of some seriously high charging speeds, which is why it’s showing up on every kind of device, from laptops to game consoles. But most power banks are made for phones, so you have to find one that’s powerful enough to work with your larger devices (it’ll still work with your phone too—USB-C devices have built-in voltage regulators).
How to Find the Right Power Bank for Your Needs
You can’t use just any battery to charge your larger devices, so you have to find one with a decently high capacity and charging speed. This sounds complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple. There’s no math involved; just look out for milliamp hours and watts:
- Capacity (mAh): A battery’s capacity is measured in milliamp-hours (mAh). All of the batteries listed in this article have a capacity of at least 20,000 mAh, which is enough to charge most laptops two or three times.
- Charging Speed (Watts): We like to measure charging speed in terms of watts (amps multiplied by volts). Try to get a battery that meets or exceeds your device’s maximum charging speed. Or, save some cash and buy a slower battery. Just be ready for slower charging.
Now that you know how to read a power bank’s capacity and charging speed, it’s time to think about your USB-C devices. Do you need a portable battery that can charge a Pixelbook or a battery that can charge a Nintendo Switch? Both?
Here are some popular USB-C devices along with their battery capacity and charging speed. (If you want your devices to charge as quickly as possible, then you should get a battery that meets or exceeds your device’s wattage):
- Surface Pro 7: Its battery capacity isn’t announced yet, but the Surface Pro 7 supports 60-watt USB-C PD charging. Most Windows laptops charge at 60-watts.
- Google Pixelbook: The Pixelbook has a relatively small ~5,500 mAH battery and supports 45-watt USB-C charging. In other words, the Pixelbook is made to work with most portable batteries.
- MacBook Pro: MacBook Pros have a capacity of around 7,300 mAh and support 87-watt charging. As of right now, very few batteries actually support 87-watt charging (and the ones that do are expensive). If you’re trying to spend less than $100, a 45-watt battery will work with a MacBook Pro; it just won’t charge super fast.
- Nintendo Switch: The Switch has a 4,310 mAh battery and supports 39-watt USB-C charging. If you want to play the Switch while it’s charging, then make sure your portable battery meets or exceeds 30-watts.
- Smartphones: If you only plan on charging phones, then consider getting a cheap 18-watt battery. Most smartphones have a battery capacity of around 3,5000 mAh. Phones with USB-C ports tend to charge at either 15 or 18-watts, although some ultra-premium phones, like the Galaxy S10 5G, charge at 25-watts.
Alright, now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to start shopping. Here are the best portable batteries for all of your devices, along with their charging speed and capacity.
Best Overall: imuto 45-Watt 30,000mAh Bank
Looking for a battery that can do it all? The imuto power bank has a massive capacity of 30,000mAh and charges at 45-watts over USB-C. In other words, it has the speed and power to get your laptop through a few days of work. The imuto also has two USB-A outputs (you can charge from all ports at once), and it has a display to show its remaining power.
At 1.25-pounds, the imuto is a heavy battery. But with its 30,000mAh capacity, it’s clearly meant for long trips. Just keep in mind that its capacity actually exceeds the TSA and FAA guidelines for lithium-ion battery size (27,000mAh or 100 watt-hours). You can still take the imuto on a plane, but you’ll have to get approval from your airline first.
Best Budget Option: Miady 30-Watt 26,800mAh Bank
The Miady power bank is a solid, affordable battery that can charge your laptop, phone, or Nintendo Switch. It has a killer 26,800mAh capacity, 30-watt charging (not the best, but still pretty fast), and two additional USB-A ports. And since it weighs just under a pound, the Miady is the perfect companion for a rough road trip, a plane ride, or a weekend alone in the wilderness.
Miady 26800mAh PD Portable Charger Power Bank with 30W USB C Output for Nintendo Switch, Type C Laptops and Smartphones Power Delivery Support (Fully Recharged in 4.5 Hours)
The Miady power bank offers 30-watt charging and has a surprising capacity of 26,800mAh. It's strong enough to charge your laptop, and for the price, that's really all you can ask for.
Best Premium Pick: Zendure 100-Watt 27,000mAh Battery
If you want to charge your Windows laptop or MacBook Pro as fast as possible, then you should consider buying the Zendure SuperTank 27,000mAh power bank. It’s a monster of a battery with a max charging speed of 100-watts via USB-C PD (more than enough speed for the MacBook Pro), and it even has an extra 60-watt USB-C input and two USB-A inputs.
There are just a few things to keep in mind here. The Zendure SuperTank isn’t too heavy (it only weighs a pound), but it’s about the size of a McDonalds Big Mac box. If you’re looking for a portable battery that can comfortably slip in a pocket or thin laptop bag, you’ll have to get one that offers less wattage.
Zendure Power Bank, SuperTank 27,000mAh External Battery with Dual USB-C PD (100W&60W) and USB-A (15W&18W), QC 3.0 Portable Charger for USB-C laptops, MacBook, iPad Pro, Switch, etc.-Black
The Zendure SuperTank is one of the fastest portable chargers on the market. It's a great option for people who need to charge Windows laptops or a MacBook Pro on the go.
Best TSA-Approved: RAVPower 45-Watt 20,100mAh Bank
If you’re looking for a TSA-approved alternative to the imuto portable battery, then we suggest checking out the RAVPower 20,100mAh power bank. It’s a killer 45-watt portable battery with an extra 12-watt USB-A port. Like the imuto battery, this RAVPower bank weighs about 1.2-pounds, which is a bit on the heavy side.
The only significant difference between this battery and the imuto is capacity—but 20k milliamp hours is still a big deal. (That’s enough to charge a Galaxy S10 about seven times.)
Best for Portability: AUKEY 18-Watt 20,000mAh Bank
We’ve covered a good variety of batteries in this article, but they’re all a little chunky. That’s because there aren’t any super-slim 30 or 40-watt power banks (yet). If you want a portable battery that can fit in your pocket, you’re going to have to go down to 18-watt charging.
The AUKEY 20,000mAh power bank is an excellent 18-watt option. It’s slim, it weighs less than a pound, it has a good capacity, it comes with three (!) USB-A inputs, and it’s reasonably priced. And yes, it’s totally capable of charging laptops. It just won’t charge them as fast as the other batteries that we’ve covered today. As for phones, 18-watts is basically all you need (unless you have a 25-watt device like the Galaxy S10 5G).