M2 Cube USB-C PD Power Adapter REVIEW

My MacBook Pro is my baby. I only want what’s best for it. With that in mind, I’m very picky about the products I use with it — especially third-party devices. The machine I’m currently using cost me an arm and a leg (nearly $5,000 USD) and it’s not something that I like to use as a guinea pig when it comes to unknown manufacturers. In October this year, I had the opportunity to try out the ProBASE HD Monitor and Laptop Stand by Monitormate. I instantly became a fan of the stand because of its ease of use and sleek design. Since I became a fan of Monitormate through that product, I thought I would give the M2 Cube a shot.

DETAILS

The M2 Cube is a USB-C charging expansion. It connects to the USB-C port on the MacBook Pro’s charging brick and provides the user with a USB-C (PD) port, a USB QC 3.0, and two USB charging ports. This provides you with the option to charge your laptop and several mobile devices at one time. The M2 Cube is designed specifically for use with the 61W or 87W MacBook Pro charging bricks. In addition to the various charging ports provided on the M2 cube, there is also a cable winder, which was a feature that faded away on the Apple charging bricks.

SPECS

  • Model: M2CubeCE
  • Input: USB-C Power Adapter(61W / 87W)
  • USB-C PD Output: 5V 3A, 9V 3A, 12V 3A, 15V 3A, 20V 3A
  • QC3.0 Output: 3.6V-6.5V 3A, 6.5V-9V 2A
  • USB Output x 2: 5V 2.4A Max
  • Dimensions: 80 x 28.5 x 29.8mm
  • Weight: 59g
  • M2 Cube is under 18-month limited warranty

USER EXPERIENCE

The M2 Cube comes in a fairly nondescript box. It’s suitable for retail as it has a clear image of the product on the box. Because it’s a ‘plug-n-play’ device, there are no instructions included with the device. There is also no complicated wrappings to get through. You simply plug the adapter into your power brick and you’re off to the races. I was very excited to get started with the M2 Cube as it looks like a very handy attachment. Unfortunately, I ended up experiencing some fairly severe problems with its operation and because of that, I am leaning away from using it at this time.

The first issue I noticed right away was that the M2 Cube would not stay secure while connected to the Apple power brick. It would stay attached at the USB-C port, but did not stay closely connected at the base. I don’t have a good suggestion for this issue as I believe it would require a connector piece or some other adapter to make the adapter and the power brick stay together as one piece. I’ve actually had experiences with similar products in the technology market. One such product is the PlugBug Duo from Twelve South. The difference between the PlugBug and the M2 Cube is that the PlugBug snaps into the removable power prong on the MacBook Pro’s power adapter. I found when using the M2 Cube that it moves around more than I would like. This is because it only plugs into the USB-C port on the power brick and unfortunately, that does not give you much support when traveling. The PlugBug snaps into place allowing you to move the adapter around without worrying about damage. I can tell you from experience that the USB-C port on the MacBook Pro’s power brick is not as sturdy as we would like. I had one become loose and refuse to charge when having a USB-C cable pressed in. Therefore, I prefer the design of the PlugBug over the M2 Cube.

The next problem I ran into was the M2 Cube’s inability to consistently charge my MacBook Pro. I was using the adapter with my 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro (87W) and while it initially showed that my laptop was getting powered by a wired connection, it eventually showed that its power source was the battery. The power source would intermittently change. One moment, I would see that the battery was the power source and then I would hear the charging ding from the laptop that indicated it had been plugged in. At one point, I unplugged the M2 Cube and plugged it back in. Finally, my laptop’s battery started to get a charge.

The biggest problem I ran into though was the excessive heat that collected on the M2 Cube when I was using it to charge my laptop. It’s honestly dangerously hot. After about 30 minutes of charging my laptop, I was disturbed to feel just how hot the M2 Cube got. When I noticed how hot it was to the touch, I got out my FLIROne thermal camera and took a few photos. One reading I took show 239º F (photos below). I’ve heard from various companies that produce chargers that up to 140º is considered ‘safe’ heat. The readings I got on the M2 Cube were much higher than that. The lowest temperature I saw was 157º.

CONCLUSION

As wonderful as this product is as an idea, I think the execution was done poorly. The combination of the charging connection issue and the excessive heat was enough for me to sideline this charging adapter. I do love that Monitormate gave MacBook Pro users an option for cable storage again with the addition of the cable winder, but it’s not enough for me to continue using the M2 Cube at this time.

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Originally published at macsources.com on November 29, 2018.