This ridiculous-looking charger is one of my favorite gadgets of 2024

Acefast Z4 218W fast charger with display and transparent front panel kept on a wooden surface.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Apple’s motion to remove the charger from the box has led to at least one good thing: It has given rise to a whole new competitive industry focussed on super-fast chargers. While that has also opened the floodgates for an overwhelming number of options, companies are now going beyond basics like charging speeds and number of ports to stand out.

A great example of that phenomenon is the Acefast Z4 — a GaN charger that outshines the bulk of chargers with features beyond fast charging. It houses four ports and a total output of over 200W, which means you can charge nearly every phone, accessory, or even laptop with this charger. But its biggest advantage lies in its charming appearance, and I think it might just be the most good-looking — yet affordable — charger I have ever used.

Have you ever seen a charger like this?

Acefast Z4 218W fast charger with display and transparent front panel kept on a wooden surface.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Looks are a major part of this Acefast Z4 charger’s appeal, so the first thing you notice is its winning design. Its outer body is made of rigid plastic, but its titanium-colored finish makes it look like a brushed metal surface. Although appealing, this titanium-inspired surface is not the design’s main highlight. Instead, three elements scout the charger’s aesthetics.

The first of them is the transparent panel on the front. Acefast goes all-in, exposing the circuit board inside, and to a gadget geek like me, it looks terrific. For those who are more than interested in just glancing at good-looking pieces of tech and can comprehend what’s inside, the resistors, capacitors, and what have you would certainly be more insightful. But to me (and, I’m sure, many others like me), it’s as cryptic as inscriptions in Aurebesh. Still, it’s an endearing and remarkable sight that seizes your attention every time you look at it, no matter how many times you previously have eyed it.

Four USB ports — three Type-C and one Type-A — emerge from the charger’s circuit board through the transparent panel. Although I think adding lighting around the ports would make it extra dandy, the current aesthetic is better than most chargers I have had on my desk.

A display that keeps you coming back

1.4-inch LCD TFT display on the Acefast Z4 218W fast charger with display and transparent front panel kept on a wooden surface.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The second visually intriguing characteristic is the color display on the front. Displays are increasingly common on chargers and power banks, as they help indicate the remaining power or the charging rate. But these are mostly limited to monochrome windows with uninspiring calculator-like text. Unlike those eyesores, Acefast Z4 has a colored TFT panel, which, although it measures just about the size of an Apple Watch’s display, is a bonus to have on a charger. It’s not supremely vibrant or sharp, but just good enough to catch anyone’s attention or be readable from a reasonable distance.

The display’s contents are segmented into six smaller rectangular areas. The top is reserved for branding, and the bottom displays the mode, which changes the maximum speeds at each port (I’ll discuss this below). The other four are color-coded and mapped to each of the four USB ports. Each of these colored boxes shows the real-time charging and the maximum supported rates across the ports. Apart from changes in charging speeds, the contents primarily remain unchanged.

Additionally, the display has a self-adjusting brightness suiting to the ambient lighting. This inarguably helps when the charger is used in a dark setting, such as on a bedside table at night, and prevents the backlight from being repulsive.

I still wish there were options to customize the display or set a screensaver like this power bank. But given that existing functionality is markedly more than what we get on other chargers, I can’t complain.

One-button control

Acefast Z4 218W fast charger with display and transparent front panel kept on a blue fabric surface.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The third aspect of the charger’s aesthetics is a large square-shaped button positioned between the screen and the USB ports. The button serves two purposes: a single press toggles between the different modes (changes the speeds on each port), and a double press puts the screen to sleep — just in case you find it distracting (pressing it again reactivates the display).

While the button itself has little significance to the charger’s aesthetics, it is a useful element — and one that many other chargers lack. Most other multi-port chargers work only at default rates based on the number of ports engaged. This might often mean the high-speed ports are not utilized to their full capacity, while the low-speed ones are limited to lower rates than desired. Having manual control, therefore, allows better utility and optimal performance across different ports.

But is it a good charger?

Acefast Z4 218W fast charger with display and transparent front panel kept on a wooden surface.
Charging speeds while charging a 13-inch MacBook Pro, an 11-inch iPad Pro, OnePlus 12, and a pair of wireless earbuds. Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

While aesthetics easily set the Acefast Z4 apart from the rest of the chargers, it doesn’t slack off when it comes to its primary purpose (which, unfortunately, isn’t just about looking good).

Backed by GaN (gallium nitride) technology, the charger supports a combined output of 218 watts distributed across the four ports. There are four configurations or modes for the dispersion of charge, which can be toggled using the button on the front. Here’s what the distribution looks like in different modes:

Mode A

Mode B

Mode C

Mode D

USB-C 1

100W

65W

100W

100W

USB-C 2

65W

65W

100W

100W

USB-C 3

30W

65W

OFF

18W

USB-A

18W

18W

18W

OFF

These power ratings are sufficient to charge most of the portable devices we use regularly. The Acefast Z4 supports popular charging protocols, including USB-PD (Power Delivery) 3.0 and PPS (Programmable Power Supply). With these covered, you can charge the majority of devices — not just mobile devices but also laptops, portable gaming consoles, or even portable monitors.

Over the last couple of months, I have been consistently using it as my desk to charge my 13-inch MacBook Pro, an 11-inch iPad Pro, almost half a dozen phones that I juggle throughout the day, countless earbuds, and practically everything that can be fed using a USB connection. While fewer cables now use ends with USB-A, the port supports up to 18W charging, which means it can still be used to charge iPhones at the highest speeds, accessories such as earbuds, wireless headphones, etc. — or PC peripherals such as wireless keyboards, mice, and monitor lights.

Charges everything, everywhere

5-feet cable with the Acefast Z4 218W fast charger with display and transparent front panel kept on a blue fabric surface.
EU-type plug at the end of the 5-foot-long cord. Also available in U.S.-type. Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

I would say the Acefast charger has been a reliable aid and even more beneficial while traveling. It eliminates the need to carry multiple chargers while leaving no room for anxiety about running out of battery on some devices. Consistent fast-charging across all ports ensures no device is left behind. The unfortunate exception here is Android devices that use proprietary fast-charging technology and need very specific chargers — or my old iPhone 11, which sadly does not have the capability to fast charge. Other than that, if you’re using beefy gaming laptops, the 100W output may barely suffice to keep them afloat.

Overall, you wouldn’t long for another charger, be it while using this in a fixed position or while traveling. One thing to consider is that the Acefast charger isn’t specifically light — it weighs about 650 grams or about 1.4 pounds. Alone, that may seem a lot, but your reservations will instantly dissolve when you consider the combined weight and the space taken by four separate chargers with similarly fast-charging speeds.

The company offers a 5-foot-long cable with options for almost every plug type based on your region, so you can access power outlets in the tightest spaces. An organizer tag on the cord just makes your life easier, be it for keeping your desk neat or traveling compact.

A handsome no-brainer

Acefast Z4 218W fast charger with display and transparent front panel kept on a wooden surface.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The Acefast Z4’s good looks easily distinguish it from the swarm of similarly drab chargers. The informative display is also engaging if you, like me, fret about ensuring your gadgets are charging at the highest possible speeds. Even if that’s not the case, the colorful elements add liveliness to your desk or any flat surface where you place the charger.

The charger’s ability to fast-charge multiple devices at once, with transfer rates up to 100W per port, makes it fairly reliable. More interestingly, the button to toggle different charging speeds across different ports helps you optimize them more efficiently.

But what truly makes this charger an exciting offering is its price. You can get the Acefast Z4 for only $80. In comparison, similarly speedy chargers with triple-digit charging speeds could cost considerably more. You probably wouldn’t find a more efficient and better-looking charger at this price, and that makes the Acefast Z4 one of my favorite accessories I have tested and used recently.

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