In the test: The Satechi USB-C multimeter for measuring voltage and current on the USB-C port

The display is easy to read in dark rooms. But that changes quickly when you add lighting for photos, for example. See next photo (below).

For the "normal" USB port I already have various USB multimeters that measure the current and voltage that flows through the USB port. With the acquisition of my new MacBook Pro, however, another new acquisition was necessary: ​​A USB-C multimeter, which also determines this measurement data if you want to measure it on the USB-C port.

When I started my search at the large online department store, I was quite astonished that there was exactly one model there that offered this function. The Satechi USB-C measuring device is the only one with an input and output according to the new USB C 3.1 standard. Meanwhile there is still a identical model from Jokitech and an Model by Plugable came to that, but a few weeks ago Satechi was still alone in the hallway and for that reason my choice for this test.

Not only the packaging looks stylish with the Satechi USB multimeter. The device itself is optically trimmed a bit to "Apple" (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Not only the packaging looks stylish with the Satechi USB multimeter. The device itself is optically trimmed a bit to "Apple" (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Purpose of the USB multimeter

I use the ammeter and voltmeter for the USB port for different purposes. When I test chargers for the MacBook or MacBook Pro, an important consideration is how many watts they charge the MacBook with. I've had devices in the past that managed to get the MacBook to show it was charging, but in practice the charging current was so low that it would have taken two days to charge the 15-inch MacBook Pro. In these cases it is helpful to know exact numbers for the test report.

How much power does the MacBook get? These and other questions can be answered relatively precisely with a USB multimeter.

How much power does the MacBook get? These and other questions can be answered relatively precisely with a USB multimeter.

The current output of power banks is also interesting, as they increasingly have a USB-C output and can potentially charge a MacBook with it.

And last but not least, I can use this measuring device to check how much current an external USB-C device "draws" from my MacBook when it is connected, because the Satechi measuring device works bidirectionally and also shows me this information.

The Satechi measuring device is also interesting for testing USB-C docks, as it can show me how much current is supplied by the adapter for charging the MacBook. For the correct measurement, I would have had to plug the measuring device between the USB-C dock and the MacBook ... but I forgot that while taking the photos. ;-)

The Satechi measuring device is also interesting for testing USB-C docks, as it can show me how much current is supplied by the adapter for charging the MacBook. For the correct measurement, I would have had to plug the measuring device between the USB-C dock and the MacBook ... but I forgot that while taking the photos. ;-)

Specifications

The "specs" of the small USB measuring device are quickly ticked off:

  • Measuring range voltage: 4 to 20 volts (display with one decimal place)
  • Current measuring range: 50 mA to 9,99 amperes (display with two decimal places)
  • Electrical charge measuring range: 0 to 9999 mAh
  • Display: OLED (blue) with approx. 30 x 10 mm
  • Dimensions with connector: 64 x 8 x 22 mm
  • Connections: USB-C male and female
  • bidirectional measurement possible in both directions
  • Model: ST-TCPM

Incidentally, you can get support from Satechi via email support@satechi.com.

Functionality and features of the Satechi USB measuring device

Compared to some other USB measuring devices that I own (which, however, have the "normal" USB connection), the Satechi device is relatively poor in features. However, the functionality is the same for all USB multimeters: The Satechi USB multimeter is plugged between the end device and the charging cable and then displays the Satechi logo for about 1 second before switching to the data view.

The display shows the current voltage in volts, the current in amperes and the electrical charge that has "flowed through" up to now in milliampere hours (mAh). An arrow in the display also shows the direction in which the current is currently flowing. For example, if you attach an external hard drive to the MacBook, the arrow points away from the MacBook to the hard drive.

The measurement also works bidirectionally: If you plug a hard drive into the MacBook, you can see how many volts and amperes are flowing away. Unfortunately, the display always darkens in this "direction".

The measurement works bidirectionally: If you plug a hard drive into the MacBook, you can see how many volts and amperes are flowing away. Unfortunately, the display always darkens in this "direction".

The display of the electrical charge is always zeroed when the device is unplugged. This is in the nature of things, as the USB measuring device also loses its power supply when it is unplugged, but it has a small disadvantage, which I will explain to you in more detail below.

Speaking of precise: Unfortunately, I cannot say anything about the accuracy of the measurement results that the USB-C multimeter displays. The values ​​are definitely plausible. Unfortunately, I don't have a direct comparison with a calibrated measuring device, so I can only assume that they are good enough for "home use".

By the way: The measuring device does not display any data if it is only plugged into a charging cable. As long as there is no current (for example to a connected laptop), the display remains black.

Disadvantages and suggestions for improvement

Basically, Satechi has already delivered a good product here. In most cases, the display of current, voltage and electrical charge is sufficient. When checking chargers, however, a display of the power in watts would have been helpful. This can of course also be calculated by multiplying voltage and amperage, but a direct display is more convenient.

The display is easy to read in dark rooms. But that changes quickly when you add lighting for photos, for example. See next photo (below).

The display is easy to read in dark rooms. But that changes quickly when you bring bright lighting into play for photos, for example. See next photo (below).

 

You can quickly see how strongly the display reflects when you increase the ambient light. For me this is only a small flaw that makes the device a bit uncomfortable, but does not worsen the measurement results.

You can see how strongly the display reflects when you increase the ambient light and look at the display at an angle. For me this is just a small flaw that makes the device a bit uncomfortable, but does not worsen the measurement results.

The second point of criticism on my part is the readability of the ad. This is usually not an issue indoors, but when you're outside in sunlight or in a very bright work environment, it gets really difficult. A bit more contrast and a backlit display would have been great.

Furthermore, I would have found it practical if the manufacturer had equipped the device with a short USB-C cable. The measurements can be carried out just as well, but due to the size of the device it is not possible to use the second USB-C port on the MacBook Pro. If you use the device on the right side of the MacBook Pro for this reason, you have the problem that the display is upside down. Both cases could have been solved easily with a short connecting cable. For this reason, I will get a USB-C extension to compensate for this disadvantage.

The last point of criticism from me is the lack of an external power supply. Although it is easier to supply the device with power directly via the already existing USB-C connection, this has a major disadvantage when measuring the electrical charge of power banks: Do I connect the power bank to a USB consumer or USB load resistor in order to To measure the capacity of the power bank, the USB multimeter records the mAh, but the value is lost immediately when the power bank is empty and no longer supplies power.

A connection to an external power source - such as a micro-USB cable - would be very helpful for a higher measurement accuracy and the retention of the data. But to be honest: most USB multimeters unfortunately do not have this. I only know that PortaPow Premiumthat has its own rechargeable battery so as not to falsify the measurement data. But unfortunately this only runs via USB-A and not USB-C.

Conclusion: a usable USB multimeter for the type C connection

Despite the above criticisms, I can Satechi USB multimeter recommend. The display is legible indoors and the values ​​appear to be correct. There are only minor features of the features that I would have liked to improve. But currently the selection of USB-C voltmeters is so small that one can be satisfied.

Satechi USB multimeter for USB type C
Easy to use, accurate display of volts, amps and mAh and an illuminated display. Satechi does (almost) everything right here. My recommendation if you want to measure current and voltage on the USB-C port.

If you want to save a bit, you can do that too Take a look at the Jokitech USB-C measuring device. It costs a few euros less and looks very, very similar. The indications on the display are almost 1: 1 the same. I haven't tried it, but maybe someone who has tried it can leave a comment here.

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