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C-Force CF016xT USB-C 144 Hz Portable Monitor Review: Convenient when it Works

Allen Ngo 👁, 12/31/2019

No power cable required... sometimes. It's awesome when it works, but some iffy flickering behavior and power issues make it unreliable for specific scenarios. Why an AC adapter for power is not included in the box is particularly bewildering.

The C-Force CF016xT is a portable 16.1-inch 144 Hz touchscreen monitor powered by USB Type-C. If your laptop supports it, the monitor can run on just a single USB Type-C cable for both power and data. This page will be an overview of the display and what users can expect from it in terms of quality and colors.

The monitor is now shipping on Amazon for $290 USD. More information on the C-Force CF016xT can be found on its official product page here. Keep in mind that two sizes are available: 15.6-inch and 16.1-inch.

(Source: C-Force)
(Source: C-Force)

Case

The case leaves a solid first impression largely due to the glass front and narrow bezel design. In contrast, the Odake Blade lacks any glass reinforcement to be much more fragile than our C-Force monitor. The plastic back, however, feels cheap and you can also expect fingerprints to accumulate very quickly on both sides of the monitor. The protective magnetic case alleviates this issue, but its hinge is weak and unreliable for angle adjustment.

Glass front and plastic back are decent in quality
Glass front and plastic back are decent in quality
Getting the exact angle you want can be difficult since the case hinge is weak
Getting the exact angle you want can be difficult since the case hinge is weak
Textured protective folio case hides fingerprints well
Textured protective folio case hides fingerprints well
Bottom is slightly thicker in order to accommodate the PCB
Bottom is slightly thicker in order to accommodate the PCB
Side controls for the OSD are small and difficult to use
Side controls for the OSD are small and difficult to use
Audio and power ports are all along the right edge
Audio and power ports are all along the right edge

Size Comparison

373 mm / 14.7 inch 219 mm / 8.62 inch 9.5 mm / 0.374 inch 990 g2.18 lbs368 mm / 14.5 inch 225 mm / 8.86 inch 8.8 mm / 0.3465 inch 770 g1.698 lbs360 mm / 14.2 inch 226 mm / 8.9 inch 8 mm / 0.315 inch 780 g1.72 lbs357 mm / 14.1 inch 226 mm / 8.9 inch 8.7 mm / 0.3425 inch 1 kg2.22 lbs356 mm / 14 inch 226 mm / 8.9 inch 6 mm / 0.2362 inch 700 g1.543 lbs350 mm / 13.8 inch 224 mm / 8.82 inch 10 mm / 0.3937 inch 853 g1.881 lbs

Connectivity

Top: No connectivity
Top: No connectivity
Right: 2x USB Type-C with Power Delivery and DisplayPort, mini-HDMI
Right: 2x USB Type-C with Power Delivery and DisplayPort, mini-HDMI
Bottom: Stereo speaker grilles, rubber feet
Bottom: Stereo speaker grilles, rubber feet
Left: OSD button, volume rocker and OSD control, 3.5 mm audio-out
Left: OSD button, volume rocker and OSD control, 3.5 mm audio-out

Accessories

The following extras are included in the box. Note that there is no AC adapter meaning you must provide your own power source be it from a laptop USB port or a USB Type-C AC adapter. Admittedly, the ability to power this large of a monitor from just a USB 3.0 port can be quite handy for gaming.

  • Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable
  • USB Type-C Power and Data cable
  • Protective cover case
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Manual

Display

We tried two different laptops during our testing: the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 via USB Type-C and the MSI GE65 via HDMI. The Microsoft laptop would work flawlessly even at the full 144 Hz setting with nothing but the included USB Type-C cable. The touchscreen function would work as well to be as easy as we had hoped.

On the other hand, connecting to our MSI GE65 via HDMI was more of a hassle. A second cable for power would be required since HDMI carries data only. Furthermore, 144 Hz mode and the touchscreen would not work on our setup, either. 

Connecting our Huawei Mate 10 Pro smartphone via USB-C would work automatically without any additional cables. Brightness, however, would be very limited at less than 50 percent of the maximum. If you move the brightness leveler above 50 percent, then the monitor will automatically shut off. Attempting to connect a second USB-C cable for power will not work as the screen would just flicker uncontrollably despite the official manual stating otherwise.

The manufacturer advertises 300 nits of brightness while our own measurements show just 214 nits when on the maximum brightness setting. Black-white and gray-gray response times are also decent at about 11 ms even though they are not as fast as most gaming laptops where 3 ms or 5 ms have become the norm. In other words, ghosting is noticeable but manageable.

HWiNFO shows a monitor ID of SGT0161 with no monitor name.

Edge-to-edge glass touchscreen. Glare can be an issue in brightly lit rooms
Edge-to-edge glass touchscreen. Glare can be an issue in brightly lit rooms
Very narrow bezels for increased portability
Very narrow bezels for increased portability
RGB subpixel array. Content is slightly grainy because of the thick touchscreen layer
RGB subpixel array. Content is slightly grainy because of the thick touchscreen layer
Moderate uneven backlight bleeding along the bottom edge
Moderate uneven backlight bleeding along the bottom edge
211.2
cd/m²
209.3
cd/m²
202.5
cd/m²
206.8
cd/m²
214.3
cd/m²
203.7
cd/m²
210.2
cd/m²
203.7
cd/m²
193.3
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 214.3 cd/m² Average: 206.1 cd/m² Minimum: 4.47 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Contrast: 932:1 (Black: 0.23 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.34 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6, calibrated: 1.12
ΔE Greyscale 5.5 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
96.2% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 60.6% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.51
C-Force CF016xT
1920x1080, 16.1
C-Force CF015C
3840x2160, 15.6
MageDok Atlas Gaming Monitor
1920x1080, 15.6
Lepow Type-C Portable Monitor X0025I0D4P
1920x1080, 15.6
Odake BladeX 4K UHD
3840x2160, 15.6
Asus MB16AC
1920x1080, 15.6
Response Times
-63%
0%
-64%
-73%
-22%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
20.4 (12, 8.4)
32.4 (19.2, 13.2)
-59%
10.4 (6.4, 4)
49%
30.8 (16.8, 14)
-51%
40 (20.4, 19.6)
-96%
19 (9, 10)
7%
Response Time Black / White *
16.4 (10.8, 5.6)
27.2 (17.2, 10)
-66%
11 (7.6, 3.4)
33%
23.6 (12.4, 11.2)
-44%
24.4 (12.8, 11.6)
-49%
28 (15, 13)
-71%
PWM Frequency
25770 (42)
4950 (99)
-81%
1000 (23)
-96%
25000 (25)
-3%
Screen
-8%
-51%
-83%
-27%
77%
Brightness middle
214.3
205.7
-4%
144.9
-32%
193.9
-10%
371.9
74%
166
-23%
Brightness
206
201
-2%
146
-29%
192
-7%
366
78%
154
-25%
Brightness Distribution
90
81
-10%
91
1%
88
-2%
88
-2%
82
-9%
Black Level *
0.23
0.27
-17%
0.78
-239%
0.75
-226%
0.31
-35%
0.02
91%
Contrast
932
762
-18%
186
-80%
259
-72%
1200
29%
8300
791%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.34
5.61
-29%
5.79
-33%
6.66
-53%
6.36
-47%
3.51
19%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
6.45
10.87
-69%
8.43
-31%
18.75
-191%
10.34
-60%
10.49
-63%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
1.12
2.12
-89%
3.83
-242%
5.89
-426%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
5.5
4.1
25%
6.7
-22%
7.6
-38%
3.7
33%
2.49
55%
Gamma
2.51 88%
2.22 99%
1.96 112%
2.04 108%
2.19 100%
2.38 92%
CCT
7115 91%
5904 110%
6295 103%
8567 76%
6474 100%
6346 102%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
60.6
88
45%
58.2
-4%
39.3
-35%
91.7
51%
41
-32%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
96.2
100
4%
90.7
-6%
61.8
-36%
100
4%
64
-33%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-36% / -17%
-26% / -40%
-74% / -79%
-50% / -34%
28% / 54%

* ... smaller is better

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
16.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 10.8 ms rise
↘ 5.6 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 19 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (24.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
20.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 12 ms rise
↘ 8.4 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 13 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (39.6 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 25770 Hz ≤ 42 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 25770 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 42 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 25770 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 13646 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 2500000) Hz was measured.

The manufacturer promises full sRGB coverage and our own independent measurements more or less confirm this claim at approximately 96 percent of sRGB. However, the panel is not very well calibrated out of the box meaning that the full potential of the display cannot be properly exploited without an end-user calibration. Average grayscale and color DeltaE values improve from 5.5 and 4.34, respectively, to just 1.6 and 1.12 after calibrating the display ourselves.

vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
Grayscale before calibration
Grayscale before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration
Typical IPS viewing angles
Typical IPS viewing angles
OSD HDR and language menu
OSD HDR and language menu
OSD volume, brightness, contrast, blue eye, FreeSync, and input menu
OSD volume, brightness, contrast, blue eye, FreeSync, and input menu
Color and color temperature settings
Color and color temperature settings

Temperature

Surface temperatures are warmest on the bottom quadrants of the display since this is where the PCB is positioned. We're able to record hot spots of 31 C and 36 C after running for half an hour.

Temperature map (front)
Temperature map (front)
Temperature map (back)
Temperature map (back)

Speakers

Unsurprisingly, the integrated speakers are weak at just 40.78 dB compared to over 70 dB on most other laptops. Roll-off begins at approximately 800 Hz to represent poor bass reproduction. We recommend external speakers or earphones for a better audio experience.

Pink noise at maximum volume
Pink noise at maximum volume
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2042.846.342.82543.647.343.63142.446.642.44041.84341.85043.942.743.96337.437.837.48036.138.536.110036.53836.512538.641.338.616034.539.434.52003444.23425033.348.133.331532.653.932.640032.158.132.150029.658.229.663029.464.829.480028.968.728.9100028.76928.7125028.567.228.5160028.466.828.4200028.366.428.3250028.165.828.1315027.964.927.9400027.869.227.8500027.866.927.8630027.860.327.8800027.758.927.71000027.761.527.71250027.657.827.61600027.451.727.4SPL40.878.140.8N4.141.64.1median 28.5median 60.3median 28.5Delta2.28.42.235.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6median 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseC-Force CF016xTApple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
C-Force CF016xT audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (78.1 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 16.2% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (10.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 5.7% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (7% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 4% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (8.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (24.8% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 71% of all tested devices in this class were better, 6% similar, 23% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%
Compared to all devices tested
» 71% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 23% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 1% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 20%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 1% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Power Consumption

The monitor consumes just over 4 W when at the minimum brightness setting at 60 Hz and just over 9 W when set to the maximum brightness. Your USB power supply must be able to provide at least 10 W (or 5 V, 2 A) in order for the monitor to work. Increasing the native refresh rate to 144 Hz will demand even more power than what most laptop USB ports can output. In this case, a USB-C Quick Charge charger is recommended.

Minimum brightness from 0s to 10s and maximum brightness from 10s to 40s. Power consumption increases by about 5 W
Minimum brightness from 0s to 10s and maximum brightness from 10s to 40s. Power consumption increases by about 5 W

Pros

+ decent black-white and gray-gray response times
+ fully functional with just one USB Type-C cable
+ full sRGB coverage; capable of accurate colors
+ narrow bezel design; portable
+ integrated stereo speakers
+ good contrast ratio

Cons

- 144 Hz mode only guaranteed for USB Type-C and not HDMI
- unstable hinge; difficult to adjust angle
- poorly calibrated display out of the box
- display could be brighter; expect glare
- weak hinge for poor angle adjustment
- PWM present on low brightness levels
- no AC power adapter included in box
- buggy power consumption behavior
- no internal battery
- weak audio

Verdict

In review: C-Force CF016xT. Test unit provided by C-Force
In review: C-Force CF016xT. Test unit provided by C-Force

Can you really power a 16.1-inch 1080p touchscreen at 300 nits and 144 Hz with just one USB Type-C cable? The best we could achieve was 200 nits at 144 Hz when connected to our Surface laptop 3 or just 60 Hz via HDMI. No matter what power source we used, brightness would never go beyond 214 nits. At worst, the screen would flicker uncontrollably even when there are two USB Type-C cables connected for data and sufficient power, respectively.

The good news is that the display works like a charm when everything clicks. Colors are surprisingly accurate after a proper calibration and the smooth 144 Hz refresh rate and touchscreen controls make for a painless experience in this particular scenario. However, there is no denying that the monitor could use some more TLC in regard to how it handles power consumption and how it should behave when two USB Type-C cables are connected simultaneously. An improved folio stand would also go a long way to increasing the usability of the external monitor.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > C-Force CF016xT USB-C 144 Hz Portable Monitor Review: Convenient when it Works
Allen Ngo, 2019-12-31 (Update: 2020-01- 1)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.