Want more battery life on the go? You can get a portable charger for nearly any laptop—whether it has USB-or not. Portable battery chargers aren’t just for smartphones. Throw one in your bag and you’ll always have some backup power.
USB-C Chargers (for Laptops That Charge Over USB-C)
Many modern laptops come with USB-C Power Delivery for charging. For example, Apple’s newer MacBook computers charge via a USB-C cable. This is becoming common on new PC laptops, too—especially thin-and-light models.
If your laptop can charge via USB-C PD, you can plug in a portable charger that supports USB-C and charge from it. But you can’t use just any battery: You’ll want a battery that offers enough charging speed (watts) to charge your laptop and enough capacity (mAh) to fill it up. Smaller portable batteries intended for charging smartphones often don’t offer enough of either for a laptop.
A battery designed to charge a laptop may be a bit heavier, but it can still fit nicely in a laptop bag or backpack. We’ve got good USB-C battery picks for laptops and larger devices. Our best overall pick is imuto’s 45 W power bank at $60.
Unfortunately, while USB-C Power Delivery is supposed to be a standard that lets you charge any laptop with any standard USB-C charger, it doesn’t always work this way in the real world. Back in 2015, PCWorld found that not every laptop could charge with every charger. The only way to know for sure whether it will work is to try a charger with your laptop. You might want to find reviews that say whether a charger you’re interested in works with your laptop—or just purchase one from a store with a good return policy.
AC Chargers (for Laptops Without USB-C Charging)
If you’re got a laptop without USB-C charging—and let’s be honest, that’s most laptops people are using these days—you’ll need a portable AC charger.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Picture a big battery complete with an AC outlet. You plug your laptop’s charging cable into it just like you’d plug your laptop into a standard AC power outlet.
We say these work for “most laptops” because they can only deliver so much wattage. They may not be able to charge extremely power-hungry gaming laptops, for example. Check your laptop to see what it needs.
These chargers are more expensive and heavier-duty than your average USB-C charger. However, they’re also more flexible—you can plug nearly any device with a standard AC power connection into one. It’s a power bank that can function for a wide variety of devices in a wide variety of situations.
Wirecutter recommends the Mophie Powerstation AC, which can deliver 100 W of power output and is still slim enough to slip into a bag. It costs $200. For a more inexpensive option, Wirecutter also liked the RAVPower 27000, which offers 700 W of power for $130 but has an “unwieldy charging cord and power brick.”
These are far from the only options, and you’ll find many portable laptop chargers and power banks that can provide AC power both in online stores and brick-and-mortar electronics stores.
New Batteries (for Laptops With Removable Batteries)
Of course, if your laptop has a user-removable battery—these aren’t too common anymore, but they still exist—you can also just purchase a second battery for it and swap it in when you run out of power.
However, you’ll have to power off your laptop to swap the battery. Swapping the battery is often pretty inconvenient, too. It’s still worth considering if you have a laptop where the battery is easily swappable, as rare as those are becoming.