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Acebeam K30-GT Review: High Power Flashlight
Acebeam K30-GT specifications
|Beam intensity||262,000 cd / 1024meters|
|Review date||April 2021|
You’ve probably already heard of Acebeam. We’ve reviewed 10 or more of their lights and generally, they perform in line with spec, are well built, and get rated highly.
The K30-GT belongs in the “K” series, which are all multi-cell flashlights with a single emitter. We’ve reviewed the big Acebeam K65 and the even bigger Acebeam K75. You can probably guess that the 30 in K30-GT means it’s the baby brother of these two but don’t let that fool you – this flashlight is rated at over 5000 lumens and over 1000m throw.
The K30-GT is an upgrade of the original K30. The GT version swaps the CREE XHP70.2 LED for the Luminus SBT90.2, which provides much more throw from about the same lumens. Acebeam seems to be undecided and sometimes call it the K30GT, K30 GT or K30-GT, depending on where you look. I’ll stick to K30-GT, as that’s what’s printed on the light itself.
I’d expect any flashlight that retails over $100 to come with quality packaging and the Acebeam doesn’t disappoint. The box is Acebeam orange with a shiny cardboard sleeve. Inside, the K30-GT and accessories are nicely protected by the foam.
The original K30 came with a holster but the K30-GT doesn’t. A carry handle is provided in the box instead though, so I can’t complain.
The box includes
- Acebeam K30-GT
- 3 * 18650 cells
- Carry handle
- 1/4″ D-ring screw
- 2 spare O-rings
- Warranty card
- Cell warning card
You can buy the K30-GT without the cells included too.
Flashlight in use
Triple 18650 flashlights like the K30-GT are just about the right size for carrying. Quad 18650 flashlights take a bit more effort to hold but the 45mm body of the K30-GT is easy to wrap your hand around. The knurling helps too and makes the flashlight easy to grip. It’s a bit longer than my other multi-cell flashlights but not by much and it’s well proportioned.
It just fits in my jacket pocket, whereas my slightly larger Astrolux FT03 doesn’t. I took the K30-GT on a long walk at night to put it through its paces and can confidently say it’s just within the limit of the size and weight that I’d want to carry in a jacket pocket. Bigger lights will fit in a bag but then you have to stop to get them out and use them, making them far less useful.
When attaching the carry handle, the light is easier to carry but obviously won’t fit in so many pockets. The handle keeps the heat away from your hands and is required if you’re using turbo for extended periods without wearing gloves.
There’s a single silver e-switch on the side. The switch is fairly flush but still easy to find due to the shape of the flashlight. The e-switch is opposite the 1/4″ screw and carry handle, so can’t be reached with 1 hand when using the handle.
The carry handle screws in with the provided D-ring screw. You can use the screw without the handle too, though it sticks out a bit. The lanyard loops securely through the D-ring.
The K30-GT will roll, unless the D-ring or carry handle are in place.
Being a soda can shape it will obviously tail stand or head stand. You can also balance it horizontally on the carry handle on a flat surface. The carry handle also has a hole for a 1/4″ screw on the long end, so you could attach it to a tripod vertically if you wanted.
Build Quality, and Warranty
Somehow the Acebeam feels incredibly robust and well built. I’m not sure what it is specifically but it seems like it’s going to last a very long time. The aluminum is matte back anodised, very similar to Convoy’s anodising.
The light has two types of knurling if you look close enough. Almost knurling with its own knurling. This makes the flashlight easy to grip but not too rough. It also has thick fins (that aren’t sharp) for heat dissipation.
The threads are very smooth and well lubed, taking 3 full turns to remove. Bigger lights often need more care to ensure the O-ring doesn’t come dislodged – the Acebeam doesn’t feel susceptible to this due to how well the threads go on.
The one thing that’s not quite perfect is the handle attachment. When screwed in, it kind of locks into place but there’s still a couple of degrees of rotational movement. This is far from a problem but could wear out the anodising after extended use.
Acebeam flashlights come with a 5 year free replacement warranty as standard. Beyond the 5 years Acebeam will fix the light for the cost of the spare parts.
I attempted to remove the bezel to take a peek inside but unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to budge. More adept modders may have better success. There’s not much to mod though, other than perhaps de-lenseing the LED for a bit more throw
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
As mentioned, Acebeam have switched the XHP70.2 in the original K30 for the Luminus SBT90.2. The Luminus is much higher intensity without sacrificing lumens, so is becoming a favourite for high power thrower flashlights. Acebeam also sells the K30-GT with a red SBT90 LED option. The white SBT90.2 is warmer than I expected and slightly yellowy, moreso in the centre and at lower modes. It looks to be around 5500K.
The bezel is crenelated and appears to be stainless steel. Under the glass lens is the deep and very smooth reflector. I didn’t manage to remove the bezel but by eye, the reflector is about 45mm.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 15.54cm / 6.08 inches
- Head diameter: 5.7 cm / 2.24 inches
- Body diameter: 4.46 cm / 1.75 inches
- With cells: 459g / 16.2 oz
- Without cells: 313g / 11.0 oz
Flashlight Size comparison
Driver & User Interface:
Modes: Ultra-low, Low, Medium 1, Medium 2, High, Turbo (Eco), Turbo (Power)
- Press and Hold: On ultra-low (after 1 second)
- Single click: On, last used mode (except ultra-low or turbo)
- Double click: Turbo
- Triple click: Strobe
- Hold (5 seconds): Lock out
- Press and Hold: Advance modes (L, M1, M2, H)
- Single click: Off
- Double click: Turbo
- Triple click: Strobe
- Single click: Off
- Double click: Turbo
From Lock-out mode:
- Hold for 5 seconds: Ultra-low (after a double blink)
- 10 clicks: Switch between Eco and Power modes. (Blinking UL-L means Power, blinking L-UL means Eco)
- Yes (except ultra-low or turbo)
Low voltage warning:
- Yes, indicator light. The K30-GT will turn off around 3.09V.
- None detected
The K30-GT has 6 brightness levels. 2 of these – ultra-low and turbo – are only accessible with special button presses. That leaves a more reasonable 4 modes to cycle between in normal usage.
As with a few other Acebeam models, they’ve provided 2 modes: Eco and Power. The only difference here is turbo, which jumps from 3700lm to 5500lm in the Power mode. To be honest there doesn’t seem much point in the Eco mode, as turbo will still step down quickly.
The non-GT version reportedly had a bug, where holding from ultra-low jumped to the mode after the mode memory. The GT seems to have fixed this, with low always being the next mode after ultra-low.
The flashlight has a green/red indicator light that’s always on when the light is on and off when it’s off. Green means 9.6V or above (3.2V per cell). Red means 9-9.6V (3-3.2V) and flashing red means under 8.4V (2.8V). When I did runtime tests, the LVP turned the light off at 3.09V, which is still in the red range. Green covers a big range here: from 3.2V to 4.2V. I’d have liked to see more granularity here so it’s clearer when the cells are starting to get empty, potentially flashing the indicator light 1-5 times.
Holding to lock and unlock is slooooow at almost 5 seconds. This would be a deal-breaker for an EDC light but isn’t so bad on the K30-GT. The indicator light stays off when the light is locked too. I would have made it 4 clicks to lock/unlock if I was Acebeam.
Batteries & Charging
The K30-GT doesn’t include USB charging, so you need to take the 3 cells out of the carrier and use a standard cell charger.
Acebeam’s 18350 cells are rated 3100mAh. My charger only put 2950mAh in them but then I realised that was because the Acebeam turns off turbo and high when the cell get to about 3.09V. I’d expect there’s another 150mAh in them at the lower voltage. The cells at 68.7mm long.
I tried a few cells in the battery carrier. I found that it won’t take 65.0mm flat tops but will work with a 66.8mm button top. It also just fits a 70.0mm cell (with micro-usb). Make sure to get button tops for the K30-GT. Acebeam states that the Eco Turbo mode requires 6A and the Power Turbo mode requires 12A. The cells are in series too, so make sure the cells you use are matches.
The battery carrier itself is 84.5mm long and adds some length to the flashlight. The carrier can go in the K30-GT either way up.
Amp and lumen measurements
I used Acebeam’s provided 3100mAh 18650 cells for all measurements. Current readings were taken with a Precision Gold PG10B DMM, all with the cell charged to 4.20V.
All lumen measurements are from my home made integrating sphere, calibrated with a range of factory specced lights. Lux measurements are done with a UNI-T UT383S lux meter and Adafruit TSL2591 connected to a Raspberry Pi (using RuTiTe by bmengineer). Expect them to be within +/-10%. Throw was measured at 5m.
The Acebeam has an Eco and Power mode, which changes the turbo level from 3700lm to 5500lm respectively. All measurements here are with the Power mode.
It was a challenge doing the current measurements with the battery carrier and there may have been more resistance than normal. As the 3 cells are in series, multiply current numbers by 3 to get the equivalent of a 1-cell flashlight.
|Mode||Current (A)||Spec (lm)||Measured (lm)|
- Less than 0.01A
I measured just over 6186 lm at start, falling to 5574 lm in 30 seconds. Another 60 seconds and it’s dropped to 2360 lm, which is close to what you get from high. It’s then incredibly stable at this level, only dropping 100 lm over an hour. The K30-GT managed to drain the 3 cells in just 1 hour 16 minutes. Acebeam give the turbo runtime as 1 hour 15 minutes, which is pretty much dead on.
I measured up to 77℃ on the head. I’d definitely recommend the carry handle if you’re keeping it on for a long time. Though when used outside on medium and high modes with the odd step up to turbo then it didn’t feel too hot.
Beyond the first 90 seconds of turbo, all the runtimes are incredibly flat.
The K30-GT maintained over 2000 lm on the high mode for an hour and a half without stepping down. Medium 2 was 1000 lm for 4 hours and medium 1 is about 400 lm for very close to 10 hours. I didn’t do run times for low and ultra-low but Acebeam say they last for 24 hours and 42 hours respectively.
Less than 1% difference from spec on turbo at 30 seconds is probably down to fluke, rather than anything else, as trying to measure the lux at exactly 30 seconds is near impossible. Remember that turbo drops down to the same level as high after 90 seconds, so the K30-GT will sustain over 650m throw for over an hour.
|Ultra-low||4489 cd / 134m||3000 cd / 110m|
|Low||9216 cd / 192m||8400 cd / 183m|
|Medium 1||20,736 kcd / 288m||21,125 cd / 291m|
|Medium 2||47,306 kcd / 435m||51,450 cd / 454m|
|High||97,344 kcd / 624m||107,375 cd / 655m|
|Turbo (0s)||–||307,250 cd / 1109m|
|Turbo (30s)||262,144 kcd / 1024m||266,250 cd / 1032m|
Disclaimer: I bought this flashlight with my own money with a reviewer’s discount. Nobody paid me to review this flashlight, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
Explanation on star ratings:
- – Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice
- – Poor: significant defect or issues, much better options available at the same price
- – Average: some defects or issues
- – Good: recommended (minor issues)
- – Great: highly recommended
- Maintains over 2000lm and 650m throw for over an hour
- Easy to carry
- Meets specs
- Lovely build quality
- Ultra-low is not very low (over 100m throw!)
- No USB charging
- Slow to lock/unlock
- Gets very hot (but there’s a carry handle)
5 stars: ★★★★★
While our star rating provides a reliable indicator, we encourage you to read the full review to make an informed decision based on your own needs and preferences.
The Acebeam K30-GT is definitely worth the 5 star rating. It just oozes quality and performs exceptionally.
The size and shape are perfect: just big enough to sustain the 2000 lm with 650m throw from the SBT90.2 for well over an hour but still easy to carry. That’s a feat I don’t think any other pocketable light can do. Compare this to other SBT90.2 emitter lights like the Imalent RT90 or Wurkkos TS30S, both of which can’t sustain much more than 1000 lm beyond the 10 minute mark.
If you want more throw and power from a light then I doubt you’ll find it in anything pocketable. The Manker MK37 comes close in numbers, though there don’t seem to be any reviews with runtimes yet. The K30-GT has similar specs to the original Acebeam K65, which is about twice the volume and weight! This is amazing but also kind of sad: I always want more throw and lumens but that would mean either carrying 2 separate lights or 1 massive one.
Regarding the cons above: they’re all things that could be improved in a future version but none of them are actual problems for me.
For me, Acebeam has made the perfect light for taking on night hikes. I don’t think it’s going to be beaten for a while, at least until new LED technology comes along.