Review: Nitecore TM9K [21700, Type-C, 9x XPL-HD, 9000 lumens)

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Narmattaru
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Review: Nitecore TM9K [21700, Type-C, 9x XPL-HD, 9000 lumens)

One of the main trends of 2019 was the more and more 21700 powered flashlight. That battery add almost 50% to capacity of 18650 with virtually the same dimensions. And that allowed Nitecore to release a pair of really bright and compact lights, which turned out to be surprisingly useful for their unusual format. Who cares, see my reviews of Nitecore Concept 2 and Nitecore TM10k

And couple of months ago they released pair of multi-LEDs stuff: TM9K and I4000R. Lets check 1st one

official website
manual

you can buy Nitecore TM9K at aliexpress

Utilizes 9 x CREE XP-L HD V6 LEDs with a max output of 9,500 lumens
Maximum beam intensity of 18,000cd and maximum throw of 268 meters
An optical system combined with crystal coating and “Precision Digital Optics Technology” (PDOT)
Lightweight and rigid CNC machined unibody design provides superior heat dissipation capability
Built-in 5,000mAh 21700 rechargeable Li-ion battery
Intelligent Li-ion battery charging circuit with a USB-C port
Highly efficient constant current circuit provides a stable output for up to 60 hours
Dual tail switches enable intuitive operations for tactical applications
TurboReady’ Technology (9,500 Lumens)
The power indicator beside the dual switches indicates the remaining battery power
The power indicator can display the battery voltage (±0.1V)
Optical lenses with double-sided scratch resistant coating
Constructed from aero grade aluminum alloy
HA III military grade hard-anodized finish
Rating in accordance with IP68 (2 meters submersible)
Impact resistant to 1 meter

Specifications:

Length: 125mm (4.92”) / Head Diameter: 40mm (1.57”) / Tube Diameter: 26mm (1.02”) / Tail Diameter: 28mm (1.1”) / Weight: 218g (7.69oz)

Accessories:

Clip, Lanyard, USB-C Charging Cable, Holster

Package

Like the rest of the top Nitecore models, TM9K is packaged in an exceptionally presentable thick black box with excellent printing. It bluntly says “there is an expensive thing inside.” Actually, it is so. The price tag of this flashlight is about 150 bucks, which is quite at the level of all other bright flashlights in the same black packaging, the same two mentioned just above, for example. So, from position of gift – everything is good.

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Inside, in black foam there is a flashlight and a separate velvety box with the rest of kit. The latter is standard: holster , lanyard, Type-C charging cable and manual.

If you don’t look TM9K at the face, then TM9K itself is tailored to the compact single-battery long-thrower standard and looks like a close relative of P30, for example. And it is worth taking a closer look and looking at it from all sides, how the difference becomes visible: a bunch of LEDs are carefully covered by protective film, much more numerous and smaller cooling fins, a charging connector instead of a button.

I’ll clarify right away – body is not separable. You cannot unscrew not tailcap, neither head. 21700 battery is built-in




Flashlight is compact, especially regarding declared brightness. At the same time, when you hold it, it feels not as lightweight toy – 218 grams is far from this.
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As far as I understand, TM9K and I400R, which I will review later, are first models with such recessed mode button. Usually, in all the tactic flashlights it looks like this.
!{width:100%}

Nitecore lowered it to the same level with the end of the body . In promotional materials, this is presented as an innovative way to deal with occasional activations.

There is also a charging indicator. Blinking in the process of charging and glowing blue after it is finished. By the way, flashlight supports fast charging.


Since only 6cm of body remains for the grip, you will have to grab the entire flashlight – including cooling fins that in most of case will have already become too hot after some minutes of work in high mode to touch them. So, with no gloves, in any situation when you have to change modes often and momentarily, you will touch these fins. or you have to hold TM9K with two fingers which is not sort of tactical grip )


Look at the promotional photo, there is a huge distance between the thumb and the button, there is no physical opportunity to press the button without lowering the grip to the level of the cooling fins.
What about mode button itself, well. You feel it even with gloves on, to my surprise. But usual height mode button will be undisputable more comfortably

A narrow knurling ring is sandwiched between two seats for the clip. Last one can be placed in both directions.



Type-C charge port plug is relatively thin, but it sits tightly without the risk of accidentally opening. And here I have no reason to expect any problems.


The head, in general, is medium in size. It looks large only comparing to small diameter handle. Design is nice and you can immediately see that TM9K is a brand thing.

Since there is no deep reflector inside, I think that the cooling fins could be deeper. Although, with such a total power of flashlight, this, with a high probability, would not have made an obvious difference.

Thin teeth of a bezel are medium deep, I do not see any real “tacticalness” in them. Bezel, of course, is glued, like everything else in the flashlight – it is absolutely inseparable.

9 XPL-HD LEDs are densely packed behind the honeycombs of TIR optics,. It looks beautiful, if you are not subject to tripophobia, of course.


On the left is the hero of the next review, Nitecore I400R, which, for the convenience of access to the button, is much more suitable for the role of a bright tactic with the same control as the TM9K.


UI

In general, I like the UI. Separately, I note that instant access to turbo and strobe from both OFF and ON.

It happens in some models, that in one state you have access to turbo, in another – to strobe or vice versa. Not in TM9K, luckily. If there was also instant access to the ultralow, it would be super. Now you have to get to it only from mode memory.


How Nitecore TM9K shines

This is Nitecore, so only cool white light with no options (though seems to be little bit warmer than usually), all for maximum brightness. And it is ma-xi-mal for this size and one battery. Without an expensive integrating sphere, I have no way to measure more or less accurate numbers, but it is actually extremely large. Incomparably large relative to the size of the flashlight. And the sophisticated reader already understands which word follows from this. Heat.

In order not to overheat flashlight, runtime at high brightness is limited. And with High it is quite good in terms of brightness 7 minutes before stepdown without cooling. Such brightness is likely to be excessive for indoor use.

Somewhere on the street where there is wind, you can not worry about an unexpected drop in brightness.


But turbo is interesting. Anyone who wanted to buy a bright nitecore flashlight from some of the latest Nitecore compact experimental versions: Tip2, Tup, TM10K, Concept 2 received a quite goof runtime turb, which was far from the blitz.

But TM9K gives you very questionable in terms of using 6 seconds of turbo. Moreover! I didn’t see any obvious thermoregulation here, and turning on the turbo over and over again you will get the same 6 seconds (this is not on the chart – just take it on faith), as if there is a vulgar timed cut-off. What does it mean? You can turn a turbo over and over again which is good for situation of urgent need in light (and IF you understand tha you SHOULDNT repeat it too often). And wildly overheat this expensive flashlight which is bad. For a prudent and understanding user, all this will be a more PRO, and the one who “oh, turbo, cool, right now will check it out” – CON.



50meters


75meter



It is clear that talking about some kind of throw with such optics is pointles. user gets a good, very bright floodlight and for many purposes it will definitely be more convenient than long-range, so it can’t be treated as disadvantage.
250meters


and video-review, of course

Overall impression

It is far from those almost unconditionally positive emotions that I had from other attempts of Nitecore to push as much brightness as possible into the smallest case possible. I will name them again – TIP2, TUP, TM10K, CONCEPT 2

In its promotional materials, Nitecore positions the Nitecore TM9K as a tactical flashlight, de facto the brightest tactical flashlight in the world (they don’t say it directly, but the point is).

That’s just the creation of a flashlight with such a compact size actually killed, in my opinion, any tactical potential. See for yourself: the only functional characteristic that allows you to attribute this model to tactics is control. And if as an interface it is actually OK, then from the position of access to both buttons with a typical reverse tactical grip (the only grip with which you have access to control), situation is quite opposite. But the use of a tactical flashlight implies quick and convenient frequent access to buttons. The situation when the user cannot quickly turn on the strobe turbo can cost him health or life.

A woman (especially a miniature Asian woman like one of the promo pictures) will not feel any inconvenience. Probably in the process of developing the model, these women tested the flashlight … And any man will have to hold the whole flashlight, including cooling fins or hold it with two fingers. And due to the high brightness, they heat up quickly and to a high temperature. It follows that if you take the TM9K on the basis of the main advantage of this model – high brightness, then when using this flashlight with a reverse grip without gloves – it has a very weak tactical potential.

So you can comfortably use your bare hands only in MID mode, occasionally climbing into a HIGH-TURBO.

Is everything so bad? Not. Is the flashlight compact? Yes. Bright? Damn, yes!
And if you do not need instant access to switch modes, but just turn on and light, then you get an EDC flooder with a very serious margin of brightness in High mode. 1900 lumens here will be sufficient for maximum of needs. And on you can use it to the fullest outdoor, without any stepdown as long as there are some wind. But Turbo here, in contrast to past models, exists in homeopathic 6 second doses. And you will have to run this mode at least twice in a row so that it would be of some use.

So, let’s calculate pros

brightness

UI

bright High without stepdown when cooling

Type-C Fast Charging Support

appearance

and cons:

short turbo

control (inconvenient access to buttons in reverse grip)

when working with high modes, user will touch very hot cooling fins

non-replaceable battery

I did not find a full thermoregulation in turbo, it seems like a timer step-down

"How to choose flashlight, Main things in simple words":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/68418

Edited by: Narmattaru on 02/09/2020 - 09:50
richbuff
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Joined: 09/22/2015 - 20:38
Posts: 255
Location: Prescott Az

Thank you for your informative and valuable review. I got excited and eagerly ordered this light as soon as it was announced. Flashlights that only have normal modes for normal runtime and normal heat generation: ok/fine/that's nice. 

Flashlights that have a mode that is capable of delivering the most lumens per size ratio: Exciting! As an added bonus, this light has normal modes for normal runtime and normal heat generation. 

Anyone looking for the nice quality screamer in this size classification, here it is. User interface, etc, etc can not universally be the favorite of everyone, but this light is the high quality screamer in its size class. 

Beam is floody, turbo is designed to be momentary, tint is not as cool as the usual cool, the cell is designed for people who don't want to bother with handling the cell, user interface is targeted toward law enforcement, in-light charging is USB-C, and subjective feel of quality is high. This light is a love it or not item. Some will not, but I am not one of them. This light has added a lot of excitement to my light life, due maximum power to power/size ratio in its size class. 

Thanks again for your review of this exciting item!

 

 

 

Phil 1: 21-24

SKV89
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Joined: 12/10/2017 - 12:46
Posts: 3568
Location: US

Thanks for the review! Looking at Hi mode graph, it sustains 24% of the HI mode output which is 0.25 * 1900 lumens = 456 lumens. That’s very disappointing considering it uses 9 very efficient XP-L2 leds so so it should be running very cool. I was hoping it can do 1900 lumens until the batteries die. Sigh.