Review: Ultrafire X1 compact 18650

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
brted
brted's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 6 days ago
Joined: 01/12/2010 - 19:44
Posts: 2371
Location: Atlanta
Review: Ultrafire X1 compact 18650

Ultrafire X1

Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ultrafire X1 3-mode 1x18650 Cree XR-E Q5

 

Summary:

Battery: 18650
Switch: Reverse clicky
Modes: High Med Strobe
LED Type: Cree XR-E Q5
Lens: Glass
Tailstands: Yes
Price Payed: $15
From:Manafont
Date Ordered: 06 March 2011

 

Pros:

  • Compact
  • Bright
  • Nice tint
  • Good runtime

Cons:

  • Horrible "memory"
  • Small reflector
  • No Low
  • Strobe
  • Outdated LED

Features / Value: ★★★☆☆

I bought this light after seeing Shiningbeam's S-mini flashlight, a compact 3-mode 18650-powered light that uses a Cree XP-G LED and comes in either cool or neutral. This is a nice size to fit in your pocket but still give you plenty of runtime from the 18650. An XP-G gives off plenty of light for most uses and the 3 modes were about perfect. Other than the price ($47), the only things I didn't like were the lack of a clip or anti-roll, the timid driving current of 1000mA on High, and the choice of a 3D tint for the neutral version of the light. I really like about a 5B, but KaiDomain has a 4B neutral which seems like a decent compromise. So for $15 for the light, $6.41 for a neutral XP-G R4, and $3 for a driver, I figured I could get a S-mini type of light for about half the price.

I looked at a couple of other hosts including the Trustfire TR-801, but I like the AKOray style of the X1. [Note that some eBay and other sellers have lights they call an Ultrafire X1 that are actually AAA lights, even though they might use a picture of an 18650.]

Supposedly the light has mode memory, but actually it will always switch to the next mode when you turn it back on, unless the light is off for over a minute, in which case it comes back on in High. So there is really no memory to speak of. What's worse is if the light has been off for a minute or so you don't know if it will come on in the next mode or back on High again. This is almost as bad as coming on in a random mode. Also the Low on this light is more of a Medium. It seems about equal to my Fenix L2D Medium mode which is 53 lumens.

I would probably give this light 2 stars for features, but because it is pretty inexpensive at $15, I'll give it 3 stars. Also Manafont let me apply some points, so the price actually came down about 10% from that. They shipped the light the next day and I got it 2 weeks later which is pretty fantastic considering how swamped the mail has been lately.

AKOray K-106 and Ultrafire X1

 

Design / Build Quality: ★★★☆☆

I like the design of the body, basically an oversized AKOray K-106: a simple knurled cylinder with a clip to keep it from rolling.

The threads are not the big square threads of the AKOray, but are flat and thin. That includes the body tube and the pill. This was a bit of a disappointment, but they work just fine. The Quark 123-2 I owned briefly had kind of similar thin square threads like this. The color of the light is a dark gray, defnitely darker than the AKOray. I don't see blemishes in the anodizing, but there are a few marks that came from my dog opening the package for me before I got home. The packaging and bubble wrap were shredded, so I feel like the light must be rugged. There are o-rings at the head and tail, but it looks like there was room for a second o-ring at the head like the AKOray and they left it off. In this picture you can also see the knurling isn't quite as nice as the AKOray either.

Threads of K-106 and X1

One kind of odd thing is that the head is quite thick around the lens. Taking the light apart, the lens measures 18mm in diameter, the same as several of my AA lights. They could have easily used a 20mm lens if such a thing is available. Well, KaiDomain only has 19 and 21 mm coated lenses, so maybe 20mm isn't a standard size. The K-106 has a 20.5mm head and an 18mm lens. The X1 has a 23.4mm head, so maybe a 21mm lens just barely wouldn't fit. So instead there is a big lip that holds the reflector and a large black o-ring in front of the lens. The reflector is also barely over 18mm. To me this is a missed opportunity: when you have a larger diameter because of the bigger battery, it would be beneficial to have a bigger reflector for better throw.

Ultrafire X1 disassembled

Also the LED is a little off center which looks worse than it is due to the black isolator disk under the reflector. There are actually two plastic isolator disks under the reflector. I don't know if this was an oversight or if they were trying to shim the reflector up a little to get a better beam (I suspect the former).

Head of Ultrafire X1

The clicky seems to work fine, but because it is recessed in the tail a little, you need to use the top of your thumb instead of the ball of it which is a little awkard. It's nice that the light tailstands perfectly, so I don't mind that. If you were using gloves, it might be difficult to use the switch though.

 

Battery Life: ★★★★★

The battery life seems decent. The current draw is barely above 1000mA, so a 2400mAh battery should last over 2 hours. The light seems well regulated at first as the current draw increases with decreasing voltage. But around 3.8V the current draw peaks out at 1200mA and I suspect then goes into direct drive as the current draw begins to drop at that point. The light got quite warm just sitting on a table, but if you were holding it, I think it would just barely be warm. The head seems a lot hotter than the body, so I don't think the heat is getting into the rest of the body very well.

Ultrafire 504B, Ultrafire X1, BLF Y4-E, and AKOray K-106

The following measurement were made using a Trustfire "flames" protected 18650 rated for 2400 mAh. The battery voltage is measured at rest and the current readings are taken at the tail of the light (well, sort of, that doesn't work as well with this kind of light). The light stays pretty bright for 2 hours and then starts to tail off as the battery approaches 3.6V.

Time (hr:min)Voltage (V)Current High (mA)Current Low (mA)
0:004.211020260
0:154.081030270
0:303.991080290
0:453.901200270
1:003.821070240
1:153.771030230
1:303.751000220
1:453.72980220
2:003.67910200
2:153.59780180

Light Output: ★★★☆☆

The light output is impressive for a Cree XR-E Q5, though it is nothing like a XP-G or XM-L. The tint is a nice white, just barely cool white. It certainly isn't as cool white as some other lights I have, though it isn't as neutral as my Fenix L2D's Q5. I'll compare the light againt 3 other XR-E lights: a 2xAA Fenix L2D, my Uniquefire S10 R2 in direct drive off a 14500, and a 1x18650 P60 host with a R2 drop-in.

Indoor shots first. Here it is against the Uniquefire AA-S1 which a lot of people have, running on a 14500. These pictures are taken 0.5 meter from a wall with the first picture at 1/25th second, then 1/200th second and then 1/1600th second. The X1 is always on the left.

X1 vs. AA-S1 1/25th sec

X1 vs. AA-S1 1/200th sec

X1 vs. AA-S1 1/1600th sec

 

Now against the Fenix L2D on two AA Eneloops. This light is supposed to be 180 lumens and has a slightly yellowish tint to the XR-E Q5. It has a smooth reflector and although the barrel of the light is thinner, it is focusing the light better than the X1 does with its OP reflector of about the same diameter.

X1 vs. L2D 1/25th sec

X1 vs. L2D 1/200th sec

X1 vs. L2D 1/1600th sec

 

Okay, last set of indoor shots is vs. a Ultrafire WF-501B P60 host with a XR-E R2 and a smooth reflector. The P60 has a very tight intense hotspot, but is also quite ringy:

X1 vs. P60 1/25th sec

X1 vs. P60 1/200th sec

X1 vs. P60 1/1600th sec

 

Okay, now outdoors. These pictures are taken with a 4-second exposure to get something that looks like it does in person. The light is aimed at the fence posts in the distance which are about 100 feet away. The house plant is about 25 feet away.

First, here is the Uniquefire AA-S1 with Osram LED. Not real throwy, but this cranks out a lot of light. However the light gets very hot quickly so this isn't really sustainable:

Uniquefire AA-S1

Now here is the Fenix on turbo at 180 lumens:

Fenix L2D Turbo

Now here is the Ultrafire X1 on High. I think this edges out the Fenix and shows the fence posts better than the AA-S1, but all of the XR-E lights have the ring of darkness around the hotspot:

Ultrafire X1 High

Now here is the P60 host with the smooth reflector and XR-E R2. This light is a real thrower, so it does a great job of putting a small beam of light on the fence posts:

P60 XR-E R2

Now just for comparison sake, here is a XP-G R4 driven at 1.4A by 3xAAA Eneloops in a Solarforce L2i:

XP-G R4 in a 3xAAA L2i

And just for fun, here is my Manafont Ultrafire 3-mode XM-L on High in a Solarforce L2p:

XM-L in Solarforce L2p

 

There is some PWM on the lower mode of the X1, but it is barely noticable and won't bother most people.

Summary: ★★★☆☆

This isn't a bad light. I wish it had a bigger reflector and lens. And the awful memory makes it just about useless. They would have been better off making it 1 mode than this system. Also the Low should be significantly lower, though with a draw of only 270 mA it should run for 8 hours at what is really more of a Medium. And the Strobe of course is completely useless. For me that doesn't matter because I will replace the driver and LED anyway.

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:22
FlashPilot
FlashPilot's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 57 min ago
Joined: 05/10/2010 - 16:07
Posts: 4771
Location: USA

Thanks for the nice review brted. I like the compact size. What mods do you have planned for this light. XML, XPG?

brted
brted's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 6 days ago
Joined: 01/12/2010 - 19:44
Posts: 2371
Location: Atlanta

Neutral XP-G and a 1.4A 3-mode driver (maybe 1.05A 3-mode if my 1.4A drivers don't pan out). I wouldn't want to drive anything any harder than that because this light is pretty lightweight and the heat is all staying in the head of the light. A 2.8A XM-L would be too much I think and I don't want to use a XM-L if I'm not going to drive it pretty hard.

sb56637
sb56637's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 49 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2010 - 09:29
Posts: 7017
Location: The Light

Thanks for the detailed review and the great comparison beamshots! Well done. Frontpage'd and Sticky'd.

I also favor the simple, clean design of the Akoray. But I have another light with that style of mode memory (I call it mode reset memory), and yes it's worse than nothing.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

FlashPilot
FlashPilot's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 57 min ago
Joined: 05/10/2010 - 16:07
Posts: 4771
Location: USA

A few thoughts:  You could run it with a XML and get better efficiency (and more lumens) at lower levels than a XPG. Use a 3 mode 2800 mah driver with memory and use it mostly in med or low mode. If you need to blast something in high mode for less than a minute, then its only a half-click away. Talk about a "pocket-rocket"! Cool

Budgeteer
Budgeteer's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 years 8 months ago
Joined: 08/24/2010 - 02:19
Posts: 3087
Location: Slovenia (EU)

Great review! Thanks.

kragmutt wrote:

They're gonna send you a green redcat with a black LED.

Foy
Foy's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 2 months ago
Joined: 01/02/2011 - 17:56
Posts: 3009
Location: Las Vegas

This is a great review.  Clearly I need to find some more expertise if I'm going to do this right.  Good job, brted.

Foy

No referral links and nothing embedded . . . ever.

                      &nbsp

fishinfool
fishinfool's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: 03/09/2010 - 00:30
Posts: 4342
Location: Hilo, Hawaii

Great review brted! 

 

Don wrote:

"But as I said long ago, you are more likely to be killed by a dead fish dropped by a seagull in the Sahara Desert than by a lithium ion

Aleister
Aleister's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 days ago
Joined: 10/23/2010 - 15:27
Posts: 726
Location: Greece

Great review, thanks brted Beer

Let a flooder be my wife and a thrower be my mistress

brted
brted's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 6 days ago
Joined: 01/12/2010 - 19:44
Posts: 2371
Location: Atlanta

I finished my mod last night. I put the neutral XP-G R4 from KD (this one seems a little less neutral than some of my others, including one I got from KD) and the NANJG AK-101-A1 driver modified for 3 modes. Because of the smaller reflector and a bigger hole for the XR-E, this light is mostly floody and the throw is now less than my Fenix L2D (before they were about the same). But there is a lot of floody neutral light. No noticeable PWM with the new driver. The head gets warm fairly quickly now that it's driven at 1.4A instead of 1.0.

The old driver has an inductor in it and seems pretty complicated. I'll post a picture and some beam comparisons with the Fenix later.

brted
brted's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 6 days ago
Joined: 01/12/2010 - 19:44
Posts: 2371
Location: Atlanta

Here are some pictures. The Fenix L2D was about the same as the original Ultrafire X1, so I am using that as a comparison. First here (left to right) is the Fenix L2D, modded Ultrafire X1, and an Aurora SH-035 that I had previously modded with a neutral XP-G R4 5B1 and the NANJG 112A 1000mA driver on a 14500. These pictures show the two lights on the left as bluish and while they are not as yellow or brown as the 5B1, they are not blue either, I just think the white balancing is making them that way. The SH-035 has a reflector with a smaller hole for an XP-E that I drilled out a little, but both XP-G lights have the bigger hotspot of a XP-G.

L2D, X1, SH-035 at 1/25th second

And at 1/200th second:

L2D, X1, SH-035 at 1/200th second

And at 1/1600th second, about the same intensity, but the first light (L2D with XR-E) has a smaller hotspot and less spill:

L2D, X1, SH-035 at 1/1600th second

Now outside. First the L2D:

Fenix L2D Turbo

Now the modified Ultrafire X1. Lots more light, but the throw really isn't any better than the L2D judging by how the fence posts look:

Modified Ultrafire X1 with XP-G R4

And here is the modified Aurora SH-035 with a similar LED, though driven at 1000mA instead of 1400mA and using a 14500 instead of 18650:

Modified Aurora SH-035 with XP-G R4

 

I'm happy with the mod. I'd like a little more throw but using an XR-E reflector with an XP-G and using the smaller diameter reflector isn't going to do it. Still, lots of light and the modes using the NANJG 101-AK-A1 are just about perfect with no PWM that I can see. The LED should be a little more neutral than the Shiningbeam S Mini that I was trying to emulate and also a little brighter being driven at 1400mA instead of 1050mA. Plus the X1 body has a clip that, while kind of flimsy, works just fine clipping to a pocket or shirt. Overall dimensions of the X1 are just a smidge bigger than the S Mini and I'm sure the S Mini is better constructed, but this was half the price.

Fritz t. Cat
Fritz t. Cat's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 05/07/2013 - 00:33
Posts: 2535
Location: Si Valley

I got an “Akoray AK-12 CREE Q3 LED Aluminum Flashlight” from http://www.easylightbuy.com/akoray-ak12-cree-q3-led-aluminum-flashlight_... .

Shallow and effective knurling and square threads to hold the tail cap with minimal thickness. Not sure how hard it would be to take out the pill by pushing on the lens. It could use multi-mode driver with memory.
It is 111 mm. x 21 mm in the wide parts and a hair over 20 mm across the head. Wall thickness similar to that of a MagLight Solitaire!

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。