I’m going to do something a little different in this review of the new X-Baby . I’m going to give my verdict at the top of the piece, and let you – our loyal readers – decide for yourselves if you want to see why the score might be justified.
Why am I doing it this way? Because, SMOK has released so many tanks in the TFV-8 line, that they’re starting to become interchangeable. Each edition offers little more than incremental updates that – while improvements to a proven design – are largely superfluous.
In that spirit, the SMOK TFV-8 X-Baby falls right in line with the veteran vape company’s approach to business. So, here goes. The SMOK X-Baby tank earns a grade of B+. I imagine many of you don’t need to go any further, since the grade might be enough to make a purchase decision.
More discerning buyers who aren’t sure they need another SMOK TFV-8 product might have to read a little further. Because this could have been an A- or even an A, if not for one glaring factor.
Another beloved family member, with a mild case of middle child syndrome...
X-Baby - You might need to look twice…
You have to hand it to SMOK’s design team – they certainly didn’t want to stray too far from the brand aesthetic with the X-Baby. It’s packaging is identical to the TFV8 Cloud Beast, TFV12 Cloud Beast King, TFV8 Baby Beast, TFV8 Big Baby Beast, and probably the next three tanks SMOK plans to release this month.
But we just have to laugh at the naming scheme. Whereas “X-Baby” is clearly this tank’s street name, SMOK’s newest sub-ohm-er actually goes by “Baby Beast Brother.” This family is becoming more confusing than the Kardashians.
They say; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Inside and out, the packaging is professional, well-organized, and adequately supported by snug-fitting foam. In the box, you’ll find the usual cast of characters – tank, two coils (the proprietary Q2 and M2 dual-coils – more on them in a bit), replacement glass, spare parts and expected documentation.
Removing the SMOK X-Baby from the package, you’ll likely do a double-take trying to figure out how this tank is any different than the Big Baby. The exact same, well-polished and machined look is present here, just as it appears on the rest of the TFV-8 family. The standard hinged top cap returns here, as well.
Even with the 4mL capacity, you’d have to do a side-by-side comparison to differentiate the X-Baby from its slightly more diminutive brother, the Big Baby. Just a tad taller, but with less capacity (even with the same 24.5mm diameter) it appears the X-Baby is the “middle child” in this growing household.
But the one thing that stands out on the X-Baby tank is the inclusion of top airflow control, which should eliminate the occasional leaking and sweating problems experienced by other editions of the series.
Right out of the box, the airflow control is snug but it is buttery smooth, with no unwanted friction or excessive resistance. Again, SMOK is nothing if not consistent, and they certainly delivered another beautifully machined product here.
ANOTHER set of proprietary coils?
Included in the box are two new SMOK coils, designed exclusively for the X-Baby sub-ohm tank. First, we have the pre-installed V8 X-Baby Q2 Dual Core, which rates at 0.4ohm, with an expected range of 30-80 watts, though SMOK recommends 45-60 watts for the best balance of flavor and vapor.
Well, SMOK is a little off here. Not only did the Q2 far exceed the recommended range during my “stress testing,” but it did it in style.
Starting at 40 watts, the vapor was predictably thin and wispy. Moving higher in 10-watt increments, I noticed the flavor and vapor only showed a marked improvement around 70-80 watts, which encouraged me to drive it a little further.
Okay, I meant “much further.” Using max VG liquids, I pushed the Q2 coil to nearly 110 watts before things started to get a little dry and funky. But that only happened after chain vaping for nearly 10 minutes. And, after letting it sit for a little while, it got right back to work at that wattage, with nary a whimper.
That said, I imagine using any coil above its recommended range will shorten its lifespan, so I’ve kept the Q2 around 75-90 watts since the test concluded, and it’s still going strong, with the same flavor and vapor I’ve enjoyed from day one. The performance is on par with the rest of the TFV-8 coil line, which is to say, pretty darn impressive.
However, the other included coil – the V8 X-Baby M2 Dual Core – confuses me. Made for use with direct battery mods (such as SMOK’s own Stick V8), or regulated mods in bypass mode, these coils are designed to take advantage of direct power. Rated at 0.25ohm, and compatible with 3.7V mechs, SMOK claims the M2 is also fine for use as a standard sub-ohm coil. Hmmmm.
I have to say – this made me nervous. I do not vape mechanical mods, and was a little hesitant to put the M2 into action as intended. More importantly, I was VERY hesitant to use it as it WASN’T intended, even if SMOK told me it was okay.
Using a mod in bypass mode, with fresh 18650s, I started puffing with caution. The result was just alright. Decent vapor, average flavor, and an overall limp experience, especially when compared to the Q2’s top tier performance. After a half hour of infrequent vaping, I decided this wasn’t going to keep me interested, and pushed the M2 into a wattage scenario, taking it right to 35 watts, which was within recommended range.
What a difference! The M2 absolutely SHONE under these conditions, as if direct battery power was an affront to its actual capabilities. Though it wasn’t quite as flavorful as its companion, the M2 proved to be a perfectly good coil.
I should say that using the M2 as a standard sub-ohm coil might have lowered its life expectancy, since – unlike the Q2 – this coil was toast within two days of moderate use. I wasn’t sad, since the Q2 was so much more enjoyable to vape. But for people who want to buy M2 replacement coils for the mech/bypass versatility, this might be a red flag.
Despite a largely positive experience, the one thing that really irked me was the fact that these coils exist. I’d wager most of you couldn’t tell the difference between the Q2 and the standard Baby coil in a blindfolded test. They’re perfectly fine – just completely unnecessary.
Closing this section, SMOK is supposedly releasing an X-Baby RBA head (also proprietary). Normally, this is where I’d jump for joy, but given the absolute NIGHTMARE experiences I had with the Cloud Beast and Big Baby Beast RBA decks, I’m not all that enthused. Prove me wrong, SMOK… prove me wrong.
Now, for the Star
Getting back to the tank itself, the SMOK X-Baby is a strong performer with a few minor quirks. The advertised top airflow control is the highlight of an otherwise same-y experience. Whether by virtue of the top-seated control, or simply some minor design changes, I found the X-Baby to have an airier draw than either the Baby Beast or Big Baby tanks, and only slightly less airy than the original Cloud Beast.
Because of this, I found myself limiting the AFC more than expected, and at one point, had it all but closed off before the draw became tight. And even then, it was still adequate for restricted lung hits, though it did get a little hot on the lips when shut completely.
Also, SMOK delivered on its promise of a leak-resistant experience. The X-Baby was bone dry on all mods with which I tested it, and in one instance, it even sat on its side for a few minutes without an ounce of unwanted moisture.
Strangely, the only time it showed any leakage is when I took it from an air-conditioned house to a hot, humid car. And that can largely be blamed on physics, not SMOK.
In fact, the only other oddity I noticed when testing is in the hinged top cap, which SMOK has employed on its tanks for several years. On my silver review model, the hinge was stiff and creaky, and took a little extra effort to lock into place. A little e-liquid solved this temporarily, but I see myself having to break in the X-Baby more than previous models.
To bring this full circle, the SMOK TFV-8 X-Baby sub-ohm tank is a B+ device. Meaning, it’s a really good performer, with great vapor and flavor using the Q2 coil, and a versatile M2 coil thrown in, as well.
In turn, the vaunted top-airflow control works well, even if the tank’s draw is a little airier than expected. I really wanted this feature to solve the mild condensation/leaking issues, and it succeeded.
So, why isn’t this an A? Because if you have a Baby Beast or a Big Baby, it’s unnecessary. The top airflow is fine, but not mandatory. It doesn’t look much different than its “siblings.” And the performance and design is all-too-similar to the Big Baby. Minor quibbles, but this is a review, after all.
What’s unforgivable is SMOK’s insistence on creating another set of proprietary coils, when the last thing its loyal customers need is another SKU to clutter their collections. These coils are great, but no better than the original Baby versions. In fact, there is nothing about the X-Baby – in its design or otherwise – that warrants a unique coil system. It just creates confusion and frustrated customers.
If you’re drowning in SMOK TFV-8 tanks and coils, and like what you have already, the airflow control simply isn’t enough reason to effectively buy the same thing again. Even if the RBA deck makes it a better value over time.
But, if the X-Baby is your first TFV-8 tank, and you plan to use it as your primary atomizer, it’s a fine choice that will give you predictably great performance.
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Features & Specs
SMOK X-Baby tank specs:
- 5mm Diameter
- Hinge and Lock Top Fill System
- Swivels Open and Shut Fill Port
- 4ml Max Capacity
- X-Baby M2 Coil Head, 0.25 ohm, 30 to 50W
- X-Baby Q2 Coil Head, 0.4 ohm, 40 to 80W (55 to 65W recommended)
- Dual Adjustable Top Airflow
- 5mm Delrin Drip Tip
- Stainless Steel and Glass Construction
SMOK X-Baby kit Contents:
- One SMOK TFV8 X-Baby Sub-Ohm Tank
- One X-Baby M2 Coil Head
- One X-Baby Q2 Coil Head
- One Replacement Glass Tank Section
- Spare Parts Pack
- User Manual