Nitecore TM10K (10,000 Lumens!!) Review

Preface

The TM10K is the latest from Nitecore’s Tiny Monster (TM) series.

This model is now the highest output flashlight from Nitecore, overtaking even the recently released Nitecore Concept 2 and powered by a single 21700 battery only.

That said, let’s check out the merits and demerits of this flashlight.

Packaging & First Impressions

This is what the light will come with as shown below.

  • Packaging looks attractive and has a premium feel to it (same packaging style as the Nitecore Concept 2).
  • The flashlight tailcap is sealed and tightened down with Allen-key bolts from factory – disassembly is not recommended.
  • The non-reversible fairly deep carry pocket clip comes pre-installed from factory.
  • The clip has sufficient tension to ensure that the light will stay clipped to any material to prevent the light from falling out.
  • The 2 side electronic switches have a nice tactile feel that produces a soft click upon activation.
  • The OLED display is legible in almost all lighting conditions and at various angles.
  • Anodizing of the light is uniform without any missing specs.
  • The provided lanyard requires some force with the provided string for installation – it is able to support the full weight of the light and should hold up to the test of time.
  • Holster provided is of decent quality and should withstand day-to-day abuse without issue.
  • There is a bottom opening in the holster for quick activation.
  • Battery is non-user replaceable (welded on) but feature a built-in 3.6V 4800mAh battery (1 x 3.6V 4800mAh 21700 battery) – the same types used in current electric vehicles (e.g. Tesla Model 3).
  • Scanning the QR code with your phone/tablet on the box’s back would bring up the Nitecore TM10K’s product page.

Note:

  • Before using the flashlight for the first time, remove the dust protection film on the lens.

Front:

Back:

Sides:

Box Contents:

Remove Dust Protection Film:

Quick Overview (Manufacturer Specifications)

  • Body Material: Black HAIII Aluminium
  • LED: 6 * XHP35 HD
  • Battery Format: Built-in 3.6V 4800mAh battery (1 x 3.6V 4800mAh 21700 – Samsung SDI INR21700-48G battery)
  • Output & Runtime (with built-in 3.6V 4800mAh battery):
    • Ultra-Low (3 lumen / 200h)
    • Low (100 lumens / 14h)
    • Mid (300 lumens / 7h)
    • High (1000 lumens / 2h) – HIGH mode is configurable from 400 to 2000 lumens (in increments of 100 lumens)
    • Momentary Turbo (10000 lumens) – it is battery & temperature-controlled but each TURBO Burst is limited to 7 sec each time.
  • Max Beam Distance: 288m
  • Beam intensity: 20,000cd
  • Waterproofness: IP68 (2m)
  • Impact Resistance: 1m
  • Dimension: 110mm (length) x 41mm (width) x 31mm (height)
  • Weight: 246.5g (including batteries)
  • Accessories Included:
    • 1*Built-in 4800mAh Li-ion Battery
    • 1*USB-C Cable
    • 1*Clip
    • 1*Lanyard
    • 1*String to help in Lanyard attachment
    • 1*Holster
  • MSRP: ~$300

UI (User Interface)

UI for this light is suitable for a Bug-Out Bag (BOB) or walking/hiking light as it is relatively straightforward to use.

Switching ON and OFF is done by the electronic switches on the side of the flashlight. There is momentary activation using the TAIL switch.

There are 2 electronic switches on the side of the flashlight – MODE button (closer to the head) & POWER button (further from the head). There is also a TAIL switch on the tailcap.

Normal Operation

From OFF:

  • 1 Click (POWER) – Light will switch ON to last used Mode (last mode memory).
  • HOLD (POWER) [~1 sec]  – Direct access to ULTRA-LOW.
  • HOLD (MODE) [~1 sec]  – Direct access to HIGH.
  • 1 Click (MODE) – Display current battery voltage (x.xx V in Standby Mode).
  • HOLD (TAIL) – Direct access to MOMENTARY TURBO, releasing switch will switch OFF the light – progress bar will show remaining seconds left before HIGH will be activated instead.
  • HOLD (POWER & MODE) – BEACON mode is activated (TAIL switch indicator will flash every 2 sec). HOLD (POWER & MODE) again to deactivate BEACON mode.

From ON:

  • 1 Click (POWER) – Light will switch OFF.
  • 1 Click (MODE)  – Mode change (light cycles through ULTRA-LOW, LOW, MID & HIGH -> ULTRA-LOW, LOW, MID & HIGH). TURBO is not part of the mode change cycle.
    • Level 1 is ULTRA-LOW.
    • Level 2 is LOW.
    • Level 3 is MID.
    • Level 4 is HIGH.
  • HOLD (MODE) – Direct access to MOMENTARY TURBO, releasing switch will switch OFF the light – progress bar will show remaining seconds left before HIGH will be activated instead.
  • HOLD (TAIL) – Direct access to MOMENTARY TURBO, releasing switch will switch OFF the light – progress bar will show remaining seconds left before HIGH will be activated instead.

Note: The TAIL switch indicator will be switched ON (Blue) in all modes except ULTRA-LOW and MOMENTARY TURBO. In ULTRA-LOW mode, the indicator is switched OFF and in MOMENTARY TURBO, the indicator will flash rapidly.

HIGH Mode Customization

The HIGH mode can be configured from 400 to 2,000 lumens in 100 lumens increments.

When in HIGH mode:

  1. HOLD (POWER & MODE) [~3 sec]: Screen will flash and show current brightness level and lumens.
  2. You are now in Setting mode.
    1. 1 Click (POWER): Increases the brightness output by 100 lumens (max. is 2,000 lumens).
    2. 1 Click (MODE): Decreases the brightness output by 100 lumens (min. is 400 lumens).
    3. 1 Click (TAIL): Reset HIGH mode to default 1,000 lumens setting.
    4. If no action is selected within 10 sec, the Setting mode will exit without saving any settings.
  3. HOLD (POWER & MODE) [till light is switched OFF]: Above Setting is saved and is the new HIGH mode level.

Electronic Lockout

There are 2 Electronic Lockout mode options:

  1. Half Lockout (Lockout 1): Both MODE and POWER switches are locked out. TAIL switch can still be used to activate MOMENTARY TURBO.
  2. Full Lockout (Lockout 2): All switches (MODE, POWER & TAIL) are locked out.

From ON:

  • HOLD (POWER) till light flash 1 time – Lockout 1 is activated, release POWER switch for Half Lockout mode only. The OLED will display “LOCKING…” followed by “Lockout 1” & “x.xx V”.
  • Continue HOLD (POWER) till light flash 1 time – Lockout 2 is activated, release POWER switch for Full Lockout mode only. The OLED will display “LOCKING…” followed by “Lockout 2” & “x.xx V”.
  • 1 Click & HOLD (POWER) – Lockout is disabled (this works for Lockout 1 or 2) and light will switch ON in last used Mode. The OLED screen will display “UNLOCK…”.

Half Lockout (Lockout 1):

Full Lockout (Lockout 2):

OLED Display

When the flashlight is ON, the OLED will display 5 types of information in the following sequence:

  1. Brightness Level & Lumens
  2. Battery Voltage
  3. Power Remaining
  4. Runtime Remaining
  5. Temperature

It will also display the MOMENTARY TURBO period (seconds) in the form of a progress bar and will display “OVER HEAT” when the temperature is too hot to activate TURBO and HIGH will be activated instead.

When the flashlight is switched OFF, the OLED will display that the flashlight is in “Standby” and the current battery voltage “x.xx V”.

Brightness Level & Lumens:

Battery Voltage:

Power Remaining:

Runtime Remaining:

Temperature:

TURBO:

Standby:

Form Factor

For flashlights that are intended to use for a BOB or walking/hiking usages and for possibly an extended period of time, form factor is extremely important.

It is rather refreshing to see Nitecore using a less conventional “boxy” style for the TM10K, with the added fairly deep carry pocket clip.

This light feels extremely well balanced and rather compact in a medium sized hand (not head/tail-heavy). Switching between overhand and underhand holding method is easy with its form factor. With some knurling on the light, the less conventional shape and pocket clip enables the light to be sufficiently “grippy”, even with wet hands/gloves.

It fits in the holster snugly and is able to tail-stand perfectly (even with the lanyard attached) without the slightest wobble.

For those preferring to carry this beast in the pocket (cargo, jeans and etc.), you would be quite happy to know that its shape and size is rather inconspicuous even when riding in the front pocket of a slim fit jeans. Honestly, it is quite surprising how Nitecore managed to squeeze so much output from this small-ish form factor –  even if it is a burst mode TURBO style.

Charging Process

With the provided USB-C Cable, the battery was charging at ~1.31A.
As this flashlight is QC 2.0-enabled, using a QC 2.0 or 3.0 charger will enable much faster charging (up to 18W only) and the OLED will display “Q.charge” as well.

The light cannot be operated when charging.

The Flashing BLUE indicator on the TAIL switch with the OLED display “Charging…” & “x.xxV” depicts charging in progress.
Solid BLUE indicator with the OLED display “Chg. Finished” & “4.20V” depicts charging has completed.

Note: Charging will not disable any of the Lockout modes.

Beam Style/Beamshots

For this light, the spill, corona and hotspot is rather interesting due to the 6 shallow overlapping Smooth Reflectors. With the LEDs used, the beam is still sufficiently “throwy” for recognising items in the near to mid-range distance.

The above beam profile is a rough interpretation of what is seen when white wall hunting.

The beam has a rather distinct hotspot with some slight corona and a fairly wide usable (rectangular style) spill. It also helps that the XHP35 HD LEDs are perfectly centred in this sample. There are some rings in the beam when white wall hunting but not visible in real world usage.

An interesting thing to note is that in ULTRA-LOW mode, only the centre 2 LEDs are used.

All of the beamshots taken below are done so with the following camera settings (ULTRA-LOW: 2 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, LOW: 1/4 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, MID: 1/5 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, HIGH: 1/8 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, and TURBO: 1/25 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB).
Some pictures have been adjusted slightly to depict as close as to what is seen in real life. The distance of the light from the door is 4.6m.

Control shot:

ULTRA-LOW (3 lumen):

LOW (100 lumens):

MID (300 lumens):

HIGH (1000 lumens) – Default:

HIGH (1500 lumens) – Configurable:

HIGH (2000 lumens) – Configurable:

MOMENTARY TURBO (10000 lumens):

Mode (Output) Spacing

Mode spacing appears to be progressively brighter to the eye and the modes are well spaced enough to be able to know which mode one is currently in. With that in mind, TLR tend to view mode spacing as battery life indicators (amount of runtime left) rather than the specific output (lumens).

Nitecore flashlights usually have an ULTRA-LOW mode of 1 lumen and it is quite surprising that it is 3 lumens for this flashlight model. It could be a potential limit due to the boost driver used in this flashlight – considering that it is 1 x 21700 battery-operated only, with a whooping 10,000 lumens maximum burst output!

Probably one of the best part of this light is the configurable HIGH mode which can be adjusted anywhere from 400 to 2,000 lumens in increments of 100 lumens.

Note: We do not recommend operating this flashlight on the HIGH (above 1000 lumens) & TURBO modes for extended periods of time as they produce a fair amount of heat due to their high outputs.

Tint & CRI

Nitecore did not disclose the tint (color temperature) and/or the CRI (Color Rendering Index) for the LEDs used in their light. For this light, a guesstimate would be in the 6500K and 70CRI ballpark.

There are tint shifts throughout the beam profile. The hotspot is cool white whilst the corona possess a slight yellowish-green tint; and most of the spill having a slight purple tint (the furthest end of the spill portion has a slight yellowish-green tint).
This is however, not as noticeable in real life.

This could have been avoided if “throwier” LEDs like the XHP35 HI were used instead (at the expense of a lower output) and would have made better use of the smooth reflector.

Waterproofness

The light was subjected to warm water submersion, followed by cold water submersion and left under room temperature running water tap whilst running on HIGH.

No signs of water intrusion in the head, switch or tailcap was seen.

Note:

  1. Do not attempt the above in HIGH & TURBO modes when the flashlight is already hot/warm as the air pressure & temperature difference would force water through the seals.
  2. Avoid activating MOMENTARY TURBO mode when the flashlight is submerged.

Lockout Capability

No mechanical lockout but electronic lockout is possible when needed, like during transportation in a bag.

See above “UI (User Interface)“, on how to activate and deactivate electronic LOCKOUT.
When LOCKOUT mode is activated, any button presses will cause the OLED display to show “Lockout 1” or “Lockout 2” and the current battery voltage “x.xxV”.

Note:

  1. It is recommended to switch the light to ULTRA-LOW mode before Electronic LOCKOUT as it will resume to that mode after LOCKOUT has been disabled.
  2. Charging the flashlight will not disable Electronic LOCKOUT.

Scale Comparison (Ruler)

Summary

To sum up, we believe that the most important part of any review is if given the chance to purchase the same light for our own EDC/usage or to gift to our loved ones out from one’s pocket (wallet), would we still do it?
For this light, it is a definite YES, if the tint shift and beam profile are not an issue for your usage.

The small palm sized form factor, high MOMENTARY TURBO burst output, configurable HIGH mode, informative OLED display, fast USB-C QC 2.0 charging, relatively deep carry pocket clip and direct access to MOMENTARY TURBO and ULTRA-LOW are all plus points for this flashlight. The built-in battery might seem as a major disadvantage to some but it drastically decreases the overall size of the flashlight, and having a full flashlight package (flashlight + battery + charger) is always a good option for gifting purposes and such.

That said, aesthetic-wise, having the 2 exclamation mark next to the 10,000 lumens on the flashlight body is rather uncalled for and could be a deterrent for those intending to purchase this flashlight.

As mentioned earlier, we look forward to the day that Nitecore uses “throwier” LEDs instead (at the expense of lumens output) to make full use of the smooth reflectors and would help get rid of most of the tint shifts as well.

Here is a bonus size comparison picture with other Nitecore flashlights/headlamps.
From Left to Right: Nitecore 18650 battery, Nitecore TM10K, Nitecore Concept 2Nitecore LR12, Nitecore MT21C.

As with all gears, two is one and one is none.

Stay safe,
The Lite Review


Disclaimer: Light was provided for by Nitecore (manufacturer) for this review. No other compensation was provided.


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