Review: APEX 5T6 (5 x Cree XM-L T6 | 4 x 18650)

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_the_
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Review: APEX 5T6 (5 x Cree XM-L T6 | 4 x 18650)

 

APEX 5T6 (5 x Cree XM-L T6 | 4 x 18650)

Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★1/2

 

Summary:

Battery: 4 x 18650
Switch: Tail switch, Reverse clicky
Modes: 3: High, Medium, Low (with memory)
LED Type: 5 x XM-L T6 3C (NW)  
Lens: Glass
Tailstands: Yes 
Price Payed: $98 + shipping
From: CNQG
Date Ordered: June 2012

 

Pros:

  • Bright (A bit less than King, but still very bright)
  • A real flooder
  • Available as NW
  • Very good runtime with four cells
  • Runs cooler than King
  • Has also medium mode
  • Well spaced modes
  • Good handle, which enables variety of grips
  • Handle can be taken off if needed
  • Tailstands well (and can be used to illuminate the whole room Cool)
  • Good build quality
  • Nice color (not gold, but still something else than "normal" black / silver)
  • Comes in a fancy box
  • Lanyard included

Cons:

  • PWM on low and medium modes (~125Hz) 
  • Positive pole of the cell needs to be smooth, or it carves the metal from driver board
  • No side switch
  • Threads were dry -> needs silicone grease

 

Features / Value: ★★★★

The light comes in a fancy package, design of which may annoy someone, but I like it.

The box was intact after the air mail abuse and managed to keep the light safe. The green sticker says NW (and the same in Chinese). 

 

..which contains the light itself, a nice lanyard, and one extra O-ring 

 

Features are good: Three well spaced modes (about 2200, 1000 and 300 lumens OTF), tail switch (reverse clicky) and no blinky modes.

UI is pretty normal: High-Medium-Low, with memory. And with reverse clicky, the other modes are always just a half-click away.

If anyone is worried about the light turning on accidentally, I can comfort you by saying that the light can be locked out simply by unscrewing the head about 1/8 - 1/4 turns.

 

Value for money: Good.

 

Design / Build Quality: ★★★

Design is nice. This must be the best form for a multi-cell, multi-emitter light! Short enough, quite thick and with good handle that allows different grips (as demonstrated by kramer5150). However, I miss the side clicky.. (-> minus one star)

The anodization is good overall, glass lens looks nice, and the switch feels reliable.

Color is good. Not plain old black, but nice gray.

 

I thought that I wouldn't like the handle and was pleased to hear that it's removable. But I was terribly wrong: I like the handle very much. It is very well made, solid and allows me to carry the light in multiple ways. The handle doubles also as a hook, with which the light can be hung on something, like your backpack or jeans pocket.

 

Let's see some details..

Cooling fins and the stainless steel handle:

 

Five well centered NW emitters, ready to push out some serious amount of lumens:

 

The threads were smooth, but very dry - requires fair amount of silicone grease. The O-ring is well placed and it keeps in place very well. Note also the scratched metal on the driver board. (I forgot to smoothen the positive poles of my new batteries..)

 

Here are the three main parts disassembled:

 

The tail switch looks beefy enough to handle the high current:

 

A look to the inside. Four cells in a smallest possible formation. Nice! Also longer cells like XTAR 18700 fit fine without any problems.

 

A closer look to the switch and tail cap springs:

 

Here's the outer part of the tail cap:

 

Here's the light mostly disassembled. Note especially the separate reflectors. Need even more flood? Just take off one, two or all of those. Smile

 

The O-ring between lens and bezel is a beefy one. And so is the rubber plate between reflectors and lens.

 

A look inside the head. Driver says: "V2", so this must be the upgraded version manufactured specifically to Ric?

Emitters are placed in a thick plate, which sits on top of wide enough ridge. It's attached with three screws and some fujik. The construction seems to work fine, given that the emitters are located near the edge. Thermal transfer seems to work fine (see thermal graph later in this review).

 

 

Emitters are placed near the edge of the plate for better thermal transfer. They do also have nice plastic centering rings, which make sure that the emitters are perfectly centered in reflectors.

 

Another photo with two reflectors in place:

 

 

Some measurements:

Length: 150mm

Head diameter: 70mm

Body diameter: 50mm

Tail diameter: 65mm

Weight: 628g with 4 cells (= ready to use), 438g without

  

Size compared to Skyray King:

 

And the bottom line in the quality: Absolutely nothing to complain.

 

 

Battery Life: ★★★★

Good! Four batteries will allow long runtimes.

I measured the current at the switch and got results of 7.35A on high, 2.65A on medium, and 0.45A on low.

This would give almost 1.5h runtime on high, almost 4h on med, and over 20h on low!

 

Light Output: ★★★★

This light is a bit less bright than my Skyray King NW, but I would still classify this as "very bright". Ceiling bounce was measured about 5% less than my King on high (can't be seen with eye).

There is some thermal / battery sag, but less than my TR-J12. It also did run cooler than King or TR-J12 in my tests. The large body with nice fins seems to take the heat quite well!

Here are ceiling bounce and temperature results for a ten minute run indoors, ambient temperature 26 degrees Celsius. There was no cooling and the max temperature at end was nice 48°C (about 10°C less than King & TR-J12).

 

I estimate (ceiling bounce + "known" references) the light output to:

- over 2000 lumens on high (maybe around 2000-2100?)

- about 1000 on medium

- about 300 on low

 

Two white wall beamshots (WB: Daylight)

 

 

Couldn't take outdoor beamshots due the lack of darkness. Sorry about that.

You can refer to kramer5150's thread for some outdoor beamshots.

 

Summary: ★★★★1/2

Very good flashlight with nice finish for anyone who wants to put out massive amount of neutral white lumens. And the color is not gold, which seems to be important thing for some of you.. Wink

If I would need to choose between the King and this, the choice would be very difficult. Output is nearly the same and both are available as NW, so that wouldn't be the differentiating factor. I love the side clicky in King and the handle in this one. This has the medium mode and King is cheaper.. Luckily I don't have to choose one -> I'll take both of them! Smile

 

Verdict: Highly recommended!

 

The End (pun intended):

 

Thanks for reading & watching. Hope you enjoyed the review!

 

=the=

Disclaimer: Above post might contain referral links, but only to items that I myself have bought, tested & approved. Or items that, based on my experience, can be considered as good deals & worth sharing.

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:20
jacktheclipper
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Nice . Cool

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Imagine pulling your new car apart like _the _ has just done and then asking for warranty. Thanks.

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unknowingly paid for by a hard working wife. 

djozz said "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

AlexGT
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Very nice review and very detailed pictures of the internals, the finish of the light looks awesome, I wonder if it is HA II or III, Also wonder if one could find a very narrow optic that would be a direct fit so you could have flood and throw at the same time, Have you done any water resistance test to it?

Thanks for the review

Edit, Is there a slight mismatch on the anodize color of the bezel from the body or the tailcap?

kramer5150
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SOLID review!!! thanks so much for posting this.
How did you get the front strike bezel off? Mines on there SUPER tight.
I’ll take some better beam shots tonight.

_the_
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AlexGT wrote:
Have you done any water resistance test to it?

Edit, Is there a slight mismatch on the anodize color of the bezel from the body or the tailcap?

No I haven't. I don't usually test the water resistance. Sad

But judging by the O-rings and the quality of threads, I'd bet this is fairly well water resistant.

 

About the tailcap color: Lightning conditions in some of these photos might make it look different, but it isn't.

=the=

Disclaimer: Above post might contain referral links, but only to items that I myself have bought, tested & approved. Or items that, based on my experience, can be considered as good deals & worth sharing.

kramer5150
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Oh one more thing… it should also be noted that this light has a 120 Hz PWM for its MED and LO modes. It can be very bothersome for some folks. I find it most irritating with close-range tasks. Out in the field at farther distances (path-lighting…etc) its much less of a problem.

_the_
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kramer5150 wrote:
How did you get the front strike bezel off? Mines on there SUPER tight.

Mine was very tight as well. I had to use leather gloves and twist hard.

=the=

Disclaimer: Above post might contain referral links, but only to items that I myself have bought, tested & approved. Or items that, based on my experience, can be considered as good deals & worth sharing.

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This is the review I've been waiting for, the bonus was the side by side pictures of the King and the Apex 5T6, thank you _the_.

You're never too old to learn something stupid.


_the_
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kramer5150 wrote:
Oh one more thing... it should also be noted that this light has a 120 Hz PWM for its MED and LO modes.

I did already mention it in cons.

Did you measure the frequency? I estimated it to be about the same as in King, which should be about 200Hz.

I tried now to estimate it with my camera and figured out that it's about 125Hz. Thanks for pointing this out! I stand corrected.

=the=

Disclaimer: Above post might contain referral links, but only to items that I myself have bought, tested & approved. Or items that, based on my experience, can be considered as good deals & worth sharing.

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Ugh... 120Hz... they actually go downhill more and more. You would wonder why those cheap drivers can do so much better PWM than a $100 light. 

Seriously, PWM frequency is just how you program it, one time job. You pick high frequency and you're done forever, and thousands of that flashlight owners will be happier. But... *sigh* gotta save that few minutes of programming time huh...

pounder
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Pulsar13 wrote:

Ugh… 120Hz… they actually go downhill more and more. You would wonder why those cheap drivers can do so much better PWM than a $100 light. 

Seriously, PWM frequency is just how you program it, one time job. You pick high frequency and you’re done forever, and thousands of that flashlight owners will be happier. But… sigh gotta save that few minutes of programming time huh…

really? it’s just a driver program? this makes low PWM that much more unacceptable..

kramer5150
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Yes, PWM frequency is part of the EPROM program.

Since PWM is just rapid ON-OFF-ON-OFF cycles, it appears to my Fluke as an AC square wave. My Fluke 179 measures AC Hz so I just set it to measure tailcap current, but hit the button to read Hz. Its a ball-park estimate I think until someone hooks theirs up to a scope to really get an accurate reading. But it is visibly low though…. bummers.

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Excellent review =the=, and thanks for the detailed photos of your dis-assembly!

Great to see the individual reflectors and fairly accessible driver board. If CN Quality Goods don’t release any optional accessories for these (e.g. narrower long-throw reflectors, or different driver boards) then I’m sure someone will come up with some mods soon.

The reflectors look “p60 sized” … could one find different reflectors or even collimator optics and simply thermal-paste them over the LEDs? I don’t have any ideas or solutions yet (don’t even have my 5T6 yet), but given the amount of space in the body of the flashlight I envision some great mod ideas!

Cheers for now
Andrew

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I’m surprised that you only got 2100ish lumens (i know NW will have less output) but comparing mine to my tm11 (which has a confirmed 2000 OTF) it’s easily brighter by 50% no problem….

I wonder what batteries your using? I’m using pink LG’s, she certainly goes like she’s on steroids Smile

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Glenn7 wrote:
I'm surprised that you only got 2100ish lumens (i know NW will have less output) but comparing mine to my tm11 (which has a confirmed 2000 OTF) it's easily brighter by 50% no problem....

I wonder what batteries your using? I'm using pink LG's, she certainly goes like she's on steroids :)

Well. I don't have a integrating sphere, so I need to estimate based on ceiling bounce figures. It's hard to give accurate values..

I'm using XTAR 18700 2600mAh both in my King and APEX. But in 4P config the cells shouldn't matter that much.

Here's my 10min ceiling bounce comparison of some high lumen lights (indoors, with no cooling)

 

I didn't mean to publish this, as it's not scientific at all. Different cells etc. So please take it with a grain of salt.

=the=

Disclaimer: Above post might contain referral links, but only to items that I myself have bought, tested & approved. Or items that, based on my experience, can be considered as good deals & worth sharing.

Glenn7
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Thanks for posting your findings the
Batteries do have a little to do with output. According to HKJ’S battery test the pink LG’s have low internal resistance and are one of if not the best for high drain demands.
I mostly only go off using my lights on the job (real life) and I live in a cold climate too – maybe I got a harder driven one by accident yahoooooo! Smile

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Very nice review! How big are the reflectors? I’d guess around 20mm and no way 26.5 (p60). Build quality looks really nice but I have to admit your review makes me even happier with my King and $100 richer. Wink

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Thank _The_. Very nicely done! 

I'm with JohnnyMac here on the King. I know this is Apex's thread, but I can't help but awe at the King's steady light regulation. And temp peaks at 58C too with no cooling, not bad at all for something that small. 

I'm so glad I chose this one :bigsmile:

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I seriously don’t like idea of an empty hole at the heatsink. It will be real great to have a solid heatsink instead of a thick board glued to the side, less surface contact area..

Glenn7
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The LEDs on the apex are close to the edge of the disk so heat does transfer – the reason it doesn’t get supper hot is the xml’s are driven closer to spec so they are more efficient also the walls on the head and the cooling fins are thick/deep on the apex, as apposed to the king their 3 LEDs are way over driven and that’s why it gets so hot – how long realistically can the king be run on high without cooking the LEDs?
It’s just physics, they both have the same LEDs – if you drove all the five xml’s in the apex to the same amps as the king then of course it would have to be brighter having 5 Vs 3 leds but it would only be good for 3 maybe 5 min like the king is.

I’m not dissing the king, I dont have one but I know it is a rip off of the TM11 that is better made and not as driven hard and it still stepped its self down after about 8 min to protect the leds.
it’s just funny how the owners stick up for what they have bought without thinking about the math – also to me there is more to a light than just the wow factor, I use mine as a tool for work and can run the apex for half an hour at a time without worry of cooking it.

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Great review, beautiful light. Thanks, _the_.

attitude
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whats cheapest deal for these ? so quality is better then skyray king ?

weird i just get addicted to flashlight like in a blink of an eye.

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i have powered both up. They are both stupid bright, at least to my untrained eye. Reviews aside
unless your looking for a tree limb extra or really studying beam shots its a toss up. One has 5
LEDS moderately driven opposed to 3 LEDS’s for the King/Dry with
a purpose driver. I do own an Apex and always in awe of the King
and Dry but at this amount of output and after a few weeks of
playing with both along with a few other high output lights?
Duty cycle? Both have been run hard the King gets shut
down because the owner doesn’t want to cook the LED’s.
Apex seems gets warm and keeps on at warm for a very long time.

I’ll toss this in only because its fact…Apex with an equally
performance minded driver at la Dry will be something to
watch. I posted the readings and its mild compared to some other lights.
Would i add a DRY to my collection? Hell yes. And the other way
around if owned a DRY. Im not partial to “Celebration Gold”.

attitude wrote:
whats cheapest deal for these ? so quality is better then skyray king ?

 


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Yea, had ric made a full solid heatsink, I’m sure he will have no problems driving it at 2A or even more, given the outer mass and the fins around the heatsink. Now i know why there is no led at the centre … Solution is to stick a large copper/aluminium block at the center with thermal epoxy.
Many thanks to the for the tear down inside.

2100
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Well, if that XM-L disc with 5 emitters is made of copper, then it could have turned things around. Someone needs to do a IR temp readout of that white aluminum emitter disc.

Its probably not so much of the surface area of the host touching that big disc. If you divide that area on the host by 5, it seems to be “ok”. I mean you have XM-L on MCPCBs as small as 10mm (and some are smaller even), 16mm is pretty common.

Issue is that heat HAS to travel to the edge to “bleed it off”. Conventional 16mm MCPCBs do it with 100% contact underneath.

2100
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Of coz i am not saying that this is a bad design, it probably is ok for 1.5A thereabouts…. it probably would hit the ceiling if it were 2.0A and not provide much additional output.

Someone needs to do a IR temp readout.

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Yes it needs to be conducted away to the side that is why leds are only on the side of the board. Ir temp measure will be good to see the hot spot

Glenn7
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FlashPilot wrote:
Glenn7 wrote:
it’s just funny how the owners stick up for what they have bought without thinking about the math – also to me there is more to a light than just the wow factor, I use mine as a tool for work and can run the apex for half an hour at a time without worry of cooking it.

Funny? Even more funny is that you didnt seem to take note of the reply the OP left for you in post 15, explaining that the same cells were used in both lights… with another image of the same graph I re-posted above.


Well I’m not trying to be smart or a wise guy I’m just having an opinion like you are – you say I didn’t read the post above but did you? He also said it wasnt scientific and to take it with a grain of salt.
I didnt say the tm11 was as bright as king/dry/apex, but the tm11 has been measured in a sphere to be 2000 lumens OTF, so holding the apex and the tm11 together I see my apex as 50ish% brighter and after 8 min the tm steps down but apex is the same brightness and isn’t hot to touch like the tm. Darkside said basically the same thing above. So the king is brighter than the tm11 no doubt – they use the same 3 xml’s but king is driven harder but I see no differance in size of the body to the tm and as the tm is driven lower and still gets almost too hot to hold after 8 min surely you can’t tell me the king is doing fine other than for short bursts of a few minutes without doing some damage to it soon. (but I guess that’s whats good about budget lights)
The TM11 came out first and the king was a copy (because i said its a ripoff) you seem touchy about the king because you own one and I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend (I don’t doubt that it may be brighter than the apex/dry as I have never had one) technology changes fast and brighter things will always come out as I have found in this apex.
I look like i am new to this forum, but I have been buying and selling lights for over 20 years (especially led lights in the last 8 years) costing anywhere up to $2000 each for custom lights – this isn’t to boast all I am saying is I’ve had tons of the brightest production and rare custom lights out there made so I can honestly say I know a little, I have just recently got back into the buget lights as I’m finding them more fun of late as they are cheap and the quality has become better and the suppliers are happier to push the boundaries for the sake of a sale, but in all honesty I would trust my life to a custom any day.

One thing I have noticed with the cheaper Chinese lights are they aren’t consistent in manufacturing and output – example: I have bought 3 exact same custom lights they are all the same in tint/output/finish and reliability because they hand made and the LEDs are hand picked, I have bought 10 of the same (what I thought was good value cheaper lights to help coworkers get a half descent light and they still complain is expensive for a light) and there are inconsistencies between almost every light in color/tint/output/bad threads/chips.

Rant over.

indenial
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Great review, but I think this light is a bit of a disappointment – for the price.

IMO, this proves that the Skyray King is still the best value out there by far. I just wish they’d do something about the awful color!

My name is indy, and I've been a flashaholic since 2004.

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Thanks for the review, _ the _ !!!

This thing is dying for a solid copper heatsink, a center emitter, and 2 DRY drivers. J)

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