From left to right: Apple 5W USB Charger, Anker PowerPort Atom PD 1 30W USB-C Charger, Apple 30W USB-C Charger
Photo: Shep McAllister
Best Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.   

RAVPower may have fired the first shot in the GaN charging wars, but Anker’s $30 PowerPort Atom PD 1 is probably the most buzzed about charger in recent memory.

The elevator pitch for the Atom PD 1 couldn’t be simpler: A wall charger reminiscent of (though a fair bit larger than) Apple’s 5W iPhone charging brick, but with a 30W USB-C port. It’s easily the smallest USB-C charger we’ve seen to date with that wattage, which is enough to juice up an iPhone (with a USB-C to Lightning cable), MacBook, MacBook Air, or iPad Pro at full speed, and any number of other devices like the Nintendo Switch, MacBook Pro, and other USB-C powered laptops at a slightly reduced speed.

These chargers put out the same amount of power
Photo: Shep McAllister

Anker can pull this off because instead of using silicon chips inside, the Atom PD 1 opts for gallium nitride, which produces less waste heat, and thus can deliver more power in a smaller package. It’s the same technology you’ll find inside Anker’s larger Atom PD 4 charger, or RAVPower’s aforementioned 45W thin wall charger, and its usage will surely continue to spread through the charging world over the next few years. While using the Atom to charge a 13" MacBook Pro, I did notice the charger getting warm, but never alarmingly hot even under a sustained, full load.

My only real complaint about the Atom is that its AC prongs aren’t foldable. Even if that would have slightly increased the charger’s overall size, I think it would have been a worthwhile trade-off for people who want to throw this thing in a bag. But it’s so tiny overall that it hardly matters. For anyone who wants an extra MacBook charger, there’s really no reason to give Apple $49 when this is so much smaller, cheaper, and cooler.