Nitecore P20iX

  1. Introduction
  2. Manufacturer Specifications
  3. Package Details
  4. Build
  5. User Interface
  6. Circuit Measures
  7. Emitter Measures
  8. Beamshots
  9. Testing Results
  10. Runtimes
  11. Pros and Cons
  12. Overall Rating
  13. Preliminary Conclusions
  14. Acknowledgement


Nitecore is another maker that I am glad to see is still in business upon my return to reviewing. I have reviewed an extensive range of their offerings over the years, and have generally found the quality to be very good, with some innovative approaches. Although there have been some misses (mainly due to pumping out too many new models too quickly, I suspect), there are still a number of Nitecore lights that I use personally.

This is the first of the two relatively compact 1×21700 lights that Nitecore has sent me for review, the P20iX (I see their naming system has remained rather complex). The P series lights have always been generally robust lights with premium quality features. I gather the “i” indicates their custom battery, designed to work with their built-in charger.

Interestingly, the P20iX uses 4x Cree XP-L2 V6 emitters. I remember these emitters from my old reviewing days, and was a bit surprised to see them still in production after all this time. But as I recall, this emitter type was well suited to multi-emitter setups, given their relative efficiency. Let’s see how the light does in my testing.

Manufacturer Specifications

Note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results.

Emitter4xXP-L2 V6
Max Output (Lumens)4,000
Min Output (Lumens)2
Max Runtime14 days
Max Beam Intensity (cd)12,200 cd
Max Beam Distance (m)221 m
Mode Levels6
Weight (w/o battery)116 g
Weight (with battery)-
Length141.5 mm
Head Diameter31.8 mm
Body Diameter28.5 mm
WaterproofIP68 2m

Package Details

In keeping with its premium status, the P20iX comes in a colourfully printed hard cardboard box loaded with information on the light, and a nice bundle of extras inside. Everything is securely packaged (indeed, packaging reminds me of a modern cell phone box). Inside you will find the following:

  • Nitecore P20iX flashlight
  • Nitecore-branded 5000mAh 21700i battery (NL2150HPi)
  • 1×18650/2xCR123A battery holder
  • Tactical belt holster (NTH20)
  • Wrist lanyard
  • Pocket clip
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Spare O-ring
  • Manual

That’s a nice package, including everything you would need for the light. I particularly like seeing the belt holster, as that is always my preferred mode of carry (and very rare to see nowadays). This hard plastic model seems to hold the light securely, and allows for quick grab and release.


From left to right: LiitoKala 21700 (5000mAh), Fenix ARB-L21-5000U 21700 (5000mAh), Sofirm IF25A, Fenix E35 v3, Convoy S21E, Imalent MS03, Armytek Wizard C2 Pro Max, Acebeam E70, Nitecore P20iX, Nitecore MH12SE, Lumintop D3, Convoy M21F.

The P20iX is a bit longer than most flashlights in this class, likely due to the use of an actual forward clicky switch. But it does have a surprisingly narrow head (I’m impressed they managed to fit 4 emitters in there like that). That said, it fits very comfortably in the hand – I don’t find it too long (although I do have large hands).

I fondly remember this tailcap switch arrangement – Nitecore and a couple of other makers have used it in the past. You have a standard protruding forward physical clicky switch as your main switch for on/off operation and signaling, with a recessed secondary MODE electronic switch to cycles modes. This is a very “tactical” style arrangement, but I find it just generally very functional. With the wide use of single electronic switches in most lights now, it feels delightfully old-school to go back to a primary physical clicky. Call me old-fashioned. 😊 Feel and traverse of the main switch is good, for both momentary (half-press) and clicked-on. The secondary switch is electronic, and may be hard to activate if you are using heavy gloves, given its recessed nature.

Note that since the primary switch protrudes, tailstanding is not possible, and accidental activation is easy. So as always, I strongly recommend you keep the light stored locked out at the tailcap when not in use. A simple twist of the tailcap will do the job, thanks to the anodized screw threads. Incidentally, I don’t see any cut-outs anywhere for the wrist lanyard, so I guess you would need to loop it around the clip if you want to use it (personally, I don’t find these lanyards very useful and almost never attach it). The belt clip fits on securely, and comes off without leaving a mark. I believe the clip is intended primary for bezel down carry, but it could be flipped to carry the light the other way.

The body is fairly smooth overall, but has a good number of rings and cutouts to help with grip. Knurling is not very aggressive, which I find a bit surprising for this kind of light – it could be enhanced. Still, overall grip is reasonable, and I didn’t have any issues in my testing. The light can roll, but the flat cut-outs in the head help with this (as would the clip, if you used it).

Anodizing looks to be very good quality, relatively matte in finish. It is advertised as type III (Hard Anodized), and I see no cause to doubt that. I didn’t notice any flaws on my sample.

As you can see above, there is no tailspring in the tailcap (although there is one in the head). Nitecore uses its proprietary i-series battery in this light. I remember previous versions of this battery in my earlier testing – I’ve never been a fan of custom cells, although I understand why went this way in their dual-switch tailcaps. In particular, use of both positive and negative terminals on each end is concerning, even with the plastic spacer feature. You need to be vigilant not to place the batteries end-down on an irregular conductive surface, to avoid a possible short. And do not try to charge these in a standard stand-alone charger, as you are definitely likely to create a short. Again, I appreciate the combined anode/cathode end-plates simplifies things for their built-in charging setup, but I still don’t like these kinds of custom cells.

There is a rubber plug in the head, to cover the integrated USB-C charging port (which fits securely, but without too much resistance). I expect waterproofness to be reasonable, but wouldn’t recommend dunking the light in water.

As always, I find the physical build and robustness of the P-series lights from Nitecore to be very good, and this light is no exception. I really like the bundled MOLLE-compatible holster. Indeed, due to the standard sizes, there are number of accessories from Nitecore you can buy that fit on this light (e.g., diffuser covers, tactical rings, remote switch, weapon mounts, etc.).

I was surprised to see a multi-well reflector setup – most compact multi-emitter lights today use shallow TIR optics to focus/smooth out the beam. Reflector wells are more prone to produce spillbeam artifacts, and there a few here – but they aren’t too bad. There is also some tint shifting from the corona to mid-spillbeam, but again not too bad. It seems Nitecore did put some effort in designing their reflector, and is not just relying on off-the-shelf parts. The 4 XP-L2 emitters were each well centered. The glass lens has a mild AR coating with minimal colour distortion (which I like).

The aluminum bezel has somewhat typical mild crenelations, and a relatively unusual feature – integrated round beads of some sort of high-strength silicon nitride ceramic on the protruding ends. This allows it to be used as a strike bezel, for example to break glass. At the same time, these beads are rounded, so it won’t rip a hole in your clothing (much appreciated, thanks).

There is a small blue LED at the base of the head, which lights up when the light is in use (or charging).

User Interface

The P20iX features Nitecore’s dual user interface (UI) design, which I also recall from a few lights in my earlier reviewing days. Nitecore refers to these as Daily Mode and Tactical Mode.

Switching between them is easy (but not something you are likely to do by accident). Press and hold the MODE button with the tailcap firmly connected, and then slightly unscrew it a little bit without releasing the button (may take a little practice). The light will blink once, confirming the UI change. Then simply tighten the tailcap again.

Simply defined, Daily Mode has 6 constant output levels plus a single strobe. You cycle through the constant output modes in sequence from low to high, and the light has mode memory (except for Turbo, and not for strobe either). Tactical Mode has 4 constant output levels plus strobe. It cycles in the reverse direction from Turbo to low and does not use memory – the light always comes back on in Turbo (or strobe, via the MODE switch).

Let’s start with Daily Mode, then Tactical Mode. Note that the levels are described as: Ultralow, Low, Mid, High, Higher, Turbo, and Strobe.

Daily Mode, from OFF:

  • Partial depress Main switch: Momentary On
  • Single-click Main switch: Turns On in last memorized mode used
  • Press-and-hold MODE switch: Momentary Strobe

Daily Mode, from ON:

  • Single-click Main switch: Turns Off
  • Press-and-hold MODE switch: Momentary Turbo
  • Single-click MODE switch: Advance up to the next level
  • Double-click: Advance up two levels
  • Triple-click MODE switch: Strobe

Tactical Mode, from OFF:

  • Partial depress Main switch: Momentary On
  • Single-click Main switch: Turbo (no memory)
  • Press-and-hold MODE switch: Momentary Strobe

Tactical Mode, from ON:

  • Single-click Main switch: Turns Off
  • Press-and-hold MODE switch: Strobe (no memory)
  • Single-click MODE switch: Move down to lower level


  • To Turbo: In Tactical Mode only, the Main switch goes right to Turbo
  • To Strobe: In either Daily or Tactical Mode, from Off the Mode switch activates Momentary Strobe

Mode memory:

Yes, but only in Daily Mode, for constant output levels (not Strobe).

Strobe/Blinking modes:

Yes, but a single Strobe only.

Low voltage warning:

Yes. There is a power LED indicator at the base of the head that remains lit while the flashlight is in use.

Lock-out mode:

Yes, but only by physically locking out the light at the tailcap.

Temperature regulation control:

Yes. This light features Nitecore’s proprietary “Advanced Temperature Regulation” (ATR) control. It should keep the temperature within a reasonable range.

Reviewer Comments:

This is reasonable dual-mode interface, with a number of options. Personally, I like Daily Mode with its memory feature (although I would prefer to customize the secondary switch for Turbo instead of Strobe). But there is always the Tactical Mode (without the memory). Both are reasonable under the circumstances.

And I do like the physical forward clicky as the main switch – call me old-school.

Circuit Measures

Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM):

There is no sign of PWM on any level, the circuit appears to be fully current-controlled.

It’s actually refreshing to see absolutely no sign of any high-frequency circuit noise (even if it isn’t visible to the eye, it is something that I’m seeing more commonly on modern lights). Glad to see its absence here.

Ultra Lo:
Ultra Lo






Looking good!


Tactical strobe is a fast tactical 13.9 Hz, very disorienting.


The P20iX uses a single-current charging feature, with a very fast-charging 2.0A rate. I normally like to see a two-stage charging implementation, but I trust Nitrecore knows what it is doing here (it is actually hard to full drain the cell, given the automatic step- and shut-down .

Note that due to the proprietary nature of the battery cell, I do NOT recommend you try charging the cell in a standard stand-alone charger. It would be too easy to accidentally short the battery.

Standby / Parasitic Drain:

I measured the standby current as 33.2 uA, which is completely negligible and not a concern (i.e., it would take many years to fully drain the cell). Regardless, I always recommend you lock the light out when not in use to prevent accidental activation (and cut any standby drain). A single twist of the tailcap will lock out this light, thanks to the anodized screw threads.

Emitter Measures

This section is a new feature of my reviews, where I directly measure key emitter characteristics in terms of colour temperature, tint, and colour rendition. Please see my Emitter Measures page to learn more about what these terms mean, and how I am measuring them.

As explained on that page, since I am using an inexpensive uncalibrated device, you can only make relative comparisons across my reviews (i.e., don’t take these numbers as absolutely accurate values, but as relatively consistent across lights in my testing).

The key measures above are the colour temperature of ~5860K, and the slightly positive tint shift (+0.0093 Duv) to yellow-green at this temperature.

For CRI (Ra), I measured a combined score of 70.

These values are very consistent with cool white XP-L2 emitters, and match my visual experience of this light.


All outdoor beamshots are taken on my Canon PowerShot S5 IS at f/2.7, 0.5 secs exposure, ISO 400, daylight white balance. The bend in the road is approximately 40 meters (~45 yards) from the camera. Learn more about my outdoor beamshots here (scroll down for the floody light position used in this review).

Click on any thumbnail image below to open a full size image in a new window. You can then easily compare beams by switching between tabs.

As you can see above, the beam pattern for P20iX is very much on the floody side, without a lot of dedicated throw.

Testing Results

My summary tables are generally reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. In addition to the links above, please see my output measures page for more background.

All my output numbers are based on my home-made lightbox setup. As explained on that methodology page, I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values to estimated lumens. My Peak Intensity/Beam Distance are directly measured with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter.

P20iX Testing Results

ModeSpec LumensEstimated Lumens @0secEstimated Lumens @30 secsBeam Intensity @0secBeam Intensity @30secsBeam Distance @30secsPWM/Strobe FreqNoise FreqCharging Current <3VCharging Current >3VParasitic DrainWeight w/o BatteryWeight with Battery
Ultralow21.71.7---NoNo2.0 A2.0 A33.2 uA115 g191 g
Low508080---NoNo2.0 A2.0 A33.2 uA115 g191 g
Mid300390380---NoNo2.0 A2.0 A33.2 uA115 g191 g
High8501,1501,100---NoNo2.0 A2.0 A33.2 uA115 g191 g
Higher1,7002,3002,250---NoNo2.0 A2.0 A33.2 uA115 g191 g
Turbo4,0005,1001,05016,440 cd15,510/3,270 cd249/114 mNoNo2.0 A2.0 A33.2 uA115 g191 g
Strobe4,000-----13.9 HzNo2.0 A2.0 A33.2 uA115 g191 g

I think it would be too much of a stretch to consider ~1.7 lumens as Moonlight, but it is quite low, and reasonable enough in the dark. I am glad to see the P20iX perform close to spec, and to include this “Ultralow” level.

To see full testing results for all modern lights in my testing, check out my Database page.


As always, my runtimes are done under a small cooling fan, for safety and consistency. To learn more about how to interpret runtime graphs, see my runtimes methodology page.




Those XP-L2 V6 emitters are clearly very efficient – output/runtime efficiency is right on par with the best-in-class I’ve tested to date. That’s an impressive finding for a multi-emitter setup.

The P20iX also has excellent regulation, with flat and table runtimes. It is only on the Higher level that there is a gradual and slight uptick in output before the light steps down.

Let’s take a closer look at the first few minutes of the High, Higher, and Turbo runs, since this reveals what really differentiates these levels:


Basically, Turbo starts at ~5100 lumens and rapidly steps down to the ~1000 lumen Hi level by ~30 secs, whereas Higher starts at ~2300 lumens and gets to ~1100 lumens slowly (i.e., starts to ramp down after 1 min, reaching that lower level by ~3.5 mins). Basically, Turbo and Hi are indistinguishable outside of those first 30 secs, and Higher is just marginally brighter after its step-down.

Pros and Cons

Light has excellent output/runtime efficiency, at all levelsTurbo and Higher modes both step down to the Hi level fairly quickly, due to heat.
Circuit shows good regulation, with thermally-mediated step-downs on Turbo/HigherLight uses a proprietary Nitecore battery
Uses a dual switch design, with the option of two Mode setsLacks a true Moonlight mode, but has a very good "Ultra-low" level
Very good build quality and hand feel.

A neutral comment would be that the four emitters in such a small head produce a relatively floody beam. The reflectors are surprisingly good at minimizing artifacts (but there are some).

Overall Rating

Preliminary Conclusions

This light has helped changed my mind about multi-emitter setups with reflectors instead of optics. In my previous reviewing life, these reflectors typically produced way too many spillbeam artifacts for my taste. So I’m surprised to see how well they function in such a small head here.

But that brings up another point – I was also surprised to see such a tiny head for a multi-emitter light, since I know that means significant step-downs due to thermal management are inevitable. And that is exactly what you see here. Effectively, Turbo, Higher and High are all basically the same ~1000 lumen level over the course of their runs, after the initial thermal step-downs.

Mind you that is not a problem per se – it is just basic thermodynamics, and Nitecore has clearly done a good job with their thermal regulation control. But it does mean that mode spacing is not quite as diverse as it appears from the specs (or my ANSI FL-1 testing results). It’s possible that people may be disappointed if they buy the light based on specs alone. For this reason, I’m inclined to knock off half a star.

That said, it is certainly an excellent performer, as you can see from the runtime graphs above. Nitecore has done a very good job with the circuit, and I have no complaints with performance.

User interface is always a very personal affair, and I think Nitecore has struck a good balance here with the dual Mode sets. I don’t find either set to be “perfect” for my preferences, but both are very reasonable. There is no way to please everyone – it all comes down to what you like. And as I’ve said multiple times above, I realize just how much I like a physical forward clicky as the main switch.

The in-light charging feature worked well, and charges the battery rapidly. I’m not crazy about Nitecore’s proprietary 21700 cell however. While I can understand why they went this way given the tailcap secondary switch, it seems a bit out-of-step with the norm today (i.e., the ability to use standard batteries for lights with the electronics in the head). I’d knock another half-star off on this front – although again, this is the price you pay for the dual tailcap.

All that said, this is an excellent performer, and one with great build quality. A strong contender in the class, and one well worth looking at.


The P20iX was provided for review by Nitecore. All opinions are my own however, and the light received the same rigourous and objective testing as all other lights that I have reviewed. At the time of review, this light retails for ~$120 USD (~$170 CDN).

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