Lumintop TD-15X (XM-L) High Output Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, and more!

Originally posted: February 4, 2011

Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :whistle:


Following on the heels of Lumintop’s popular XP-G thrower (the recently reviewed TD-15), here is a revised model featuring the new Cree high-output XM-L emitter (TD-15X). Let’s see how it compares, shall we? … :whistle:

On the surface, the TD-15X looks much the same – in fact, they don’t seem to have updated the packaging yet (i.e. it still shows the TD-15’s specs)! As before, packaging is fairly typical, with the light, good quality wrist lanyard, decent quality holster, spare o-rings and boot cap, replacement cover for the attached pocket clip. There was no manual with my TD-15X.

Here’s how the TD-15/TD-15X compare to other lights, with or without the battery extender (shown below with 0, 1 or 2 extenders in place).

From left to right: Redilast 18650, Lumintop TD-15, TD-15X, ArmyTek Predator, 4Sevens Maelstrom G5, Ray Tactical X60, Xtar D01

From left to right: Redilast 18650, Lumintop TD-15, TD-15X (1 extender), Olight M31, JetBeam M1X, Fenix TK45, Eagletac M3C4

From left to right: Redilast 18650, Lumintop TD-15, TD-15X (2 extenders), Olight M31 (with extender), Thrunite Catapult V2, JetBeam M1X (with extender), Fenix TK45.

TD-15X (no extender): Weight 150.3g (no batteries), Length 147.3mm x Width 37.8mm (bezel)
TD-15 (no extender): Weight: 139.2g (no batteries), Length 148.7mm x Width 37.8mm (bezel)
Each extender adds 15.2g weight and 34.4mm length

The TD-15X is consistent with the TD-15 in overall build, but is a lot smaller and lighter than other high-output XM-L lights.

The build looks much the same, except for the extra “X” label after the model number. O-rings have changed from orange to black. And the screw threads in the head have been altered on the TD-15X – there is no longer any “wiggle” when loosened.

Build quality remains very high, as before. Screw threads are square-cut, and anodized at the tailcap for lock-out.

Anodizing is again perfect on my sample, no chips in a gloss black (HA = type III). Knurling is acceptable, if a bit smooth, and the light has a lot of features that help with grip. Lettering is sharp and clear, in bright white against the shiny black finish.

Light can tailstand. Note the removable scalloped stainless steel tailcap and bezel rings.

Flat-top 18650s worked on my sample. :)

Clip is similar to Olight lights, and is removable with an included cover to hide the attachment area.

TD-15 (XP-G R5) on the left, TD-15X (XM-L) on the right.

The TD-15 featured Cree XP-G R5, and the new TD-15X has the high-output Cree XM-L emitter. FYI, the reflector seems to be same on both versions - basically smooth, with a very light "feathering" effect, as shown above. As the XM-L has a much larger die, it is clear that this light will not throw as well as the smaller XP-G. However, the XM-L can output a lot more light overall, so will that be enough to compensate? Let us see … :whistle:

All lights are on Hi on AW protected 18650, about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.

Note that I accidentally left my TD-15 on Hi, not Turbo for these shots. :ohgeez: Turbo would be slightly brighter - scroll down to the runtimes for an output comparison.

I've recently updated my 100-Yard Outdoor Beamshot Round-up, including the latest XM-L lights. Check out that round-up thread for more details on the testing method, plus higher quality JPEG images of all lights. For now, here is an animated GIF of relevant Lumintop and XM-L comparisons:

Unfortunately, the snow cover leads to a lot reflections (both of the ambient background city lights and moonlight, as well as from the individual light spillbeams). But hopefully this helps provide a general idea of the difference in output and throw of the TD-15 and TD-15X.

Simply put, the TD-15X has much higher overall output - especially on 2x Li-ion sources, where it is about twice as bright. But it still doesn’t throw quite as far as the original TD-15 (although it is close).

In comparison to other high-output XM-L based lights, the TD15-X (on 2x Li-ion) has similar overall max output, but less throw than typical. This is likely due to smaller head.

Scroll down to my summary table and runtime graphs for more comparisons.

User Interface

The UI of the TD-15X is similar to the TD-15, but slightly simplified.

As before, turn the light on by pressing the tailcap clicky (press for momentary on, click for locked on),

Basic operation on both lights is controlled by loosen-tighten twisting of the head (i.e. similar to the Olight M20 and related lights). On the TD-15, this gave you Lo > Med > Hi, in repeating sequence. On the TD-15X, the sequence is Lo > Med > Hi > Strobe, in repeating sequence.

On the TD-15, there was a "Tactical mode" that you accessed by doing a loosen-tighten twist twice in under 0.5 secs. This mode had two states - Turbo > Strobe - accessed in repeating sequence. The TD-15’s Turbo mode was slightly brighter than Hi originally, but quickly dropped down the regulated Hi level.

The TD-15X dispenses with this dual setup, and simply has the 4 output modes available in sequence. The advantage is that you no longer need to do the special switching back and forth between Turbo/Strobe and the rest of the modes. The disadvantage is that Strobe is now on the main sequence. :sigh:

As before, the light has a memory mode, and retains the last setting used.

PWM and Strobe

As with the TD-15, the TD-15X has no evidence of PWM on any mode, leading me to believe it is current-controlled. :twothumbs

Strobe is 9.6 Hz.

Testing Method:

All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see for a description of the terms used in these tables.

And from my TD-15 review to compare:

These results confirm that the TD-15X is at least twice as bright overall (on 2x Li-ion), but still doesn't throw quite as far as the TD-15 (although it is close).

Output/Runtime Comparison:

How does the TD-15X compare to the original TD-15?

First off, note that you do not get max possible output on 1x18650 (as expected - that's a lot to ask from a single 3.7V Li-ion source).

On 2x or 3X battery sources (e.g. 2x18650, 3xCR123A/RCR, etc), the TD-15X can produce about twice the max output of the TD-15. Basically, you can think of the TD-15X's Hi mode as having twice the output, but only half the runtime as the TD-15 on Turbo (on the same batteries).

In contrast, the TD-15X's Med mode is almost as bright as the TD-15 on Turbo, but with up to three times the runtime. :ooo: There's the efficiency advantage of running a high-output emitter at lower drive currents.

Here's how the TD-15X compares to other high-output SST-50/XM-L lights:

As you can see, the TD-15X is nicely consistent with this class of high-output lights. In some cases (especially on Med), it seems to outperform. :)

Potential Issues

The output and current drive level is very high 2x or 3x battery sources, so 2xCR123A/RCR should not be used (due to excessive discharge rates). 2xIMR RCR would be acceptable, but I don't recommend using unprotected cells in this light (i.e. no low-voltage cut-off feature).

Given the relatively small build of the TD-15X compared to other lights driven at these levels, I am concerned about the longevity of the emitter and circuit if run on Hi for extended periods (i.e. lower mass and presumed lower heatsinking ability).

Strobe mode is now on the main sequence of the TD-15X (i.e. no longer "hidden").

Preliminary Observations

The TD-15X delivers the same relative performance as the "big gun" high-output XM-L lights. :ooo: But it does so in the much smaller body of the TD-15 (which is itself a top-performing XP-G thrower).

This is an interesting crossing of classes. Although I'm all in favor of reusing successful designs, this one comes with a big caveat - do not run it on Hi with 2xCR123A or 2xRCR (except maybe IMR cells). :caution: It would not be safe for the cells, due to the high discharge rate. I recommend you stick with 1x18650, or use one battery extender for 3xCR123A/3xRCR/2x18650 (or 2 extenders and 2x18650).

However you choose to run the light, I also recommend you limit your use of Hi to short periods of time only, due to the lower mass (and presumed lower heatsinking) of this light compared to other dedicated high output lights.

That being said, runtime performance is excellent, on all battery sources and at all levels tested. The Med mode is particularly impressive - you can certainly see the benefits of taking a high-output emitter and running it at lower drive currents. :thumbsup:

I suspect we will start seeing a lot of XM-L-based lights in this 1x18650 form factor (and smaller), due to the improved efficiency at lower outputs. Max output will likely be lower on most multi-power lights in this size class, but I note that the TD-15X is not as heavily driven on 1x18650. But it still qualifies as the brightest 1x18650 light I've seen to date. :ooo:

In terms of throw, it's interesting to see what happens when you take the much larger die of the XM-L and fit it to a smaller reflector designed for maximum throw with an XP-G. Throw is obviously going to be reduced, for the same relative output level. But even with the doubled max output possible in this case, peak center throw is still not quite up to TD-15's level (although it is close). :shrug:

Build-wise, I'm glad to see they've resolved the "wiggle" issue when the head is loosened. But I personally don't like seeing Strobe on the main sequence.

All in all, this is an interesting (and relatively inexpensive) high-output option for those who like the TD-15's form factor. But I would consider this an "enthusiast" light, as you need to pay careful attention to battery configurations on Hi. :wave:


TD-15X provided by Lumintop for review.

To follow the online discussions for this review, please see the full review thread at CPF.

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