When I was a just learning to drive, I used to love reading the car comparo articles in the popular magazines like Car and Driver and Motor Trend. The ones where the editors came up with a set of arbitrary tests, assigned point values to each and then had at it. In the spirit of this classic format, the Propwashed guys and I put together this competition article, where the new “Graphene” offerings from these four revered labels are pitted against each other to find out who is best suited to be in your gear bag. The numbers for this comparison will be gathered from the data we measured in my tests in the first part of this series, the Graphene LiPo Battery Performance Tests.
How the batteries are compared
When looking at batteries, the main considerations are power, weight and price. For me, these factors weigh in almost equally. You may argue that you can get more thrust out of a more powerful, heavier battery – but a light miniquad often performs better than a heavier one in ways that increased thrust cannot help.
To compare the power performance of the batteries in this test against each other, we will summed up the average battery voltage across both the 20A and 40A tests. This sum will be measured against a baseline of 27.8 – the combined voltage of our “baseline” pack, the Bonka 1300 75C. The battery with the highest total voltage sum will be awarded 20 points, and the others will be awarded points on a linear scale between 20 and 0 depending on how they compared to the baseline pack. This method is similar to measuring the internal resistance of the battery – except using real-world situations to garnish the results. We also added in some additional points from two of our tests:
- The 40A discharge test was a particularly good indicator of performance, so additional points will be awarded for those batteries which were able to last longer than the Bonka 1300 75C pack. Up to a maximum of 5 points for the best pack.
- The in-flight test measured the maximum power output capability of the batteries on a real quad. The batteries will be graded on a curve between the Bonka 1300 75C pack and the battery with the maximum power output. 5 points will be awarded for this test.
All 3 of the above values will be added together to determine the “performance” score for the battery, to a maximum of 30 points.
As mentioned above, weight is an extremely important aspect of a battery, otherwise we’d all be flying 1800mAh pigs. For this reason, I’m giving a total of 30 points to the batteries in this competition based on weight. We will use the Tattu 1800C battery from the test as the baseline for the heaviest battery. We think this is appropriate since most of the Graphene batteries actually have comparable performance to “normal” batteries with 30% more capacity. Batteries will be awarded points on a linear scale between the Tattu 1800 and the lightest battery, the Dinogy 1300.
Price is also an important factor in looking at batteries. Since most pilots fly with 4 or more batteries, every dollar in cost increases the total cost of buying into a brand by a multiplicative factor. For this reason, the price will also award a full 30 points to these batteries. The most expensive one will be given 0 points and the cheapest one will be given 30, others will fall in their place on a linear scale.
Finally, the remaining 10 points will come from “other factors”. For instance, the fiberglass plates in the Dinogy packs or the Turnigy pack’s ability to discharge at high rates without getting hot.
The data from the batteries was compiled on a spreadsheet first, which can be found here for those interested.
Here’s how the batteries sorted out:
Total Score: 48
Buy it: Here
The Bonka Graphene pack offers decent performance at a subpar weight. They were in the last by far for a long time as they used to be priced at $40 a pack. They recently went on a (what I suspect to be permanent) sale at $32 a pack, which brings them on par with the rest of the Graphene batteries out there. Nevertheless, these batteries just didn’t kick that much ass in the comparison tests and are otherwise a pretty “standard” battery.
(Tied) Last Place: Dinogy Graphene 1500
Total Score: 48
Buy it: Here
We included the Dinogy 1500 pack in this test because it is very close to the same weight as the Turnigy Graphene 1300mAh pack. If nothing else, this should highlight how heavy some of these Graphene batteries are. That being said this pack is fighting out of it’s class, and this is why it probably came in last.
I was surprised by the 1500 pack’s performance. Yes, it has a 200mAh capacity edge on the rest of the batteries in this comparison, but it performed far better than the expected 15% improvement over it’s little brother, the Dinogy 1300, which has some voltage holding problems. It was, in fact, the best performing battery in the lineup. For that matter, it also easily beat out the Tattu 75C 1800mAh battery.
Both of the Dinogy batteries get full points for “Other Factors”. They are clearly made with input from miniquad pilots in mind. The battery is the exact width you want to be able to strap underneath or on top of most 210-sized quads with no overlap. The balancing taps are shorter than normal so they do not get sucked into the props. Finally, the signature Dinogy fiberglass plate is there, protecting you from hard landings – very important considering the new vogue with miniquads is mounting the battery on the bottom.
Total Score: 51
Buy it: Here
I was pleasantly surprised by the Luminier Graphene batteries. I tried one of their older packs last year and was soured by poor performance at a premium price. These Graphene batteries, on the other hand, seem to offer very competitive performance for a great price at a great weight.
Like the Dinogy packs, the Luminier battery has short balance leads that won’t get sucked into the props. We really like that and give the battery 3 extra points for that reason.
Total Score: 58
Buy it: Here
Coming in second place was the Dinogy Graphene 1300s! This pack has the weight category locked down. Despite having the protective fiberglass plates inside, it was the lightest of the bunch by a longshot. The price is pretty good too at $30.99. The thing that held this battery back from first place is it simply doesn’t hold voltage as well as all of the other Graphene packs in this comparison. If you look at the charts in our testing, the 1300 pack always has the most voltage sag of any of the batteries.
I really like this battery. It looks great, fits on all of my quads well, and is likely to outlast most batteries when flown on my bottom-strapped quads like my Bolt 210 and my Krieger. For these reasons, and the ones discussed above in the Dinogy 1500 section, it got 10 points in the “other factors” category.
Total Score: 60
Buy it: Here
The Turnigy pack is the original “Graphene” battery on the market. Because of this, I expected that it might not be up to par with the rest of the batteries. Boy was I mistaken. This thing is a beast. It was practically tied with the Dinogy 1500 pack (which ought to have a serious advantage). It also seems to be the battery most capable of handling high outputs. I have yet to see this battery heat up any significant amount. Some people on RCGroups have reportedly cycled these packs for over 1000 cycles with no appreciable loss in capacity or performance. That’s pretty amazing, but after doing these tests, I believe it. This longetivity and the resistance to heating is why this battery earns 5 points in “other factors”.
Then there’s the price. At $25.38, these packs are the cheapest of all the packs in this comparison.
Unfortunately, the Turnigy Graphene are real pigs when it comes to weight. Not only are they the heaviest of the bunch by far, they are almost as heavy as the Dinogy 1500s. Remember, when thinking of flight batteries – power density is king. If you add a boatload of weight to get increased performance, you start dancing with the line where maybe the prospective buyer would be better off simply buying a pack with more capacity and getting a higher flight time. I think the Turnigy Graphene dances a little too close to this line.
Nevertheless, with great performance and price this pack took first place in this comparison, despite the weight. Nice!
We put together the concept and the equations behind this test well before we plugged in any LiPos. So were the results as I expected? Yep. The Turnigy pack simply offers too much of a value proposition to ignore, despite its piggish weight. When it comes to just cruising around, it’s a fantastic pack at a great price that you’re sure to have a good time with.
That said, my favorite packs were probably a tie between the Dinogy 1300s and the Luminiers. The Luminier offered the best overall combination of performance, weight and price while the Dinogy packs have that great form factor and extremely light weight that goes along with my Bolt 210 so well.
Honestly though, these were all great batteries. If you remove the “other factors” points, the race gets very, very tight. So, if weight isn’t an issue for you, you can’t beat the price on the Turnigys. If you want increased flight time and awesome performance, the Dinogy 1500s are the way to go. Staying lightweight? Dinogy 1300!
If you are interested in learning more about LiPo batteries in general, please check out our LiPo battery buyers guide.