Vaporshark rDNA 40 Review
*Make sure you watch my video review of the Vaporshark rDNA 40 in my Cold Open video at the end of this review
It has become a bit of a tradition this past year to pick up a memento from each vape event Smokenjoey and I attend. Last weekend in Tampa the memento turned out to be the Vaporshark rDNA 40. It wasn’t so much the box mod itself, I’m happy with an iStick 50w from eLeaf, or the MVP20w from Innokin, and I’m super excited about the upcoming Aspire ESP 30w that’s coming in over the next 2 or 3 weeks. For my vaping preferences the rDNA is somewhat overkill, but overkill I’ve been enjoying nonetheless.
So what was it about the Vaporshark rDNA that made it the right choice for my memento? As corny as it sounds it was the inductive charging plate, a technology I first experienced when I was writing for the tech industry. Inductive charging is sexy, and there should be a lot more of it around by now.
The idea of coming home from a hard day at work and dropping your phone, your tablet, and your vaporizer on a charging plate instead of plugging them into various USB cables appeals to me in a big way. So, since the rDNA fit within my travel budget it made sense…. Kind of.
Specs and Features
Let’s get through the features and specs of the rDNA 40 from Vaporshark before I tell you what its been like for me, using it exclusively since Saturday (or was it Sunday?).
- Price – $189.99 + $25 Inductive Charging plate, and $9.99 skin
- 40 Watts of Power with the newest EVOLV board
- Moves through the power spectrum by .1 increments
- LG 2500mAh 35amp 18650 Battery (removable)
- Magnetic Battery Door
- Firm, well built firing button
- Responsive plus and minus buttons
- Gold plated, spring-loaded center Pin
- Wireless Charging Plate (built in)
- Can fire down to 0.16Ω coils with regular coil wire or coil heads
- Fires down to 0.1Ω using nickel wire
- Regulated power
- ZIP High-Speed Charging System
- Large LED Display
- Reverse Polarity Buzzer
- 4-month warranty
- No printed manual
The Vaporshark rDNA 40 weighs just 6.8oz without the optional skin, and the size is just 3.25” x 1.67” x 0.95”
Claim to Fame
The rDNA offers a few features that are, as of now, standouts; the ZIP high speed charging feature (90 minutes to recharge the 2500mAh battery), and using the newest EVOLV Board, which allows for real temperature control when using nickel coils. Lastly, the reverse polarity buzzer is something every device that features removable batteries should have. Audio feedback is something few people can miss, and featuring it in the rDNA 40 shows Vaporshark’s commitment to safety.
The EVOLV Board
The Board in any device is the heart and soul of that device. In the rDNA 40 it’s the EVOLV 40w board. This board allows for temperature control using nickel coils, the ability to vape down to 0.16 ohms (0.1 with nickel), and other features including the larger easy reading display. It’s powerful, durable, fast, and stable.
NOTE* The first batch of the EVOLV Board seems to have been plagued with a small batch of bad chips on them. Accordingly many people that invested in the DNA 40 or rDNA 40 had to return their devices to have that board replaced or fixed. At this point, I don’t know if the device I have has a first batch board or the new board. From Vaporshark’s Facebook Page:
As you may know, a small percentage of the Evolv boards powering our device have had quality control issues. Specifically, the screen readouts becoming grainy or scrambled. While this issue has been addressed and resolved with Evolv, our level of production was decreased as (a) we were receiving smaller batches of boards from Evolv during this discovery period and (b) our Quality Control Team has been hand checking each device prior to shipping in an effort to catch the devices with faulty boards.
I would like to think that Vaporshark is not the kind of company that would take leftover rDNA’s and DNA’s (if they had any left) that contained a small number of defective boards to events like this in order to empty their inventory, or whether they are the kind of company that would make sure that the devices they bring to the show are the best they can possibly be. We’ve never spoken to anyone at Vaporshark until this weekend, and we’ve never reviewed a Vaporshark product before now, despite our repeated requests and our standing offer to return the product (a standing offer we make f0r every hardware review we do). If you have any experience with Vaporshark please feel free to share those experiences in the comments. I personally invited them to stop by for an interview and they were a ‘no-show’. Could be they were too busy, because they were VERY busy every time I passed their booth, or it could be that they believe Spinfuel doesn’t offer the audience they seek.
Handling the rDNA 40
Although the Vaporshark rDNA 40 is small, it’s not a lightweight device. 6.8 ounces is heavier than you think, especially with a battery inside and a rubbery skin wrapped around it. That said the device feels almost perfect in my hand. I prefer all my electronics to have some heft to it, and the rDNA 40 fits the bill.
The well built firing button is positioned on the side of the device exactly where it should be, as though it had it been custom made for my hands. Whether I have the device’s firing button facing away from me, or turned around facing toward me, my thumb comfortably reached the button every time.
Under the firing button, near the bottom of the device is the plus and minus buttons and they too are built well and positioned exactly where I would want them. They are also responsive, have the perfect amount of space between them, and each press of the button produces a firm and confident ‘click’.
The older rDNA 30 featured a battery door that was sealed with a screw and changing out the battery required unscrewing it and lifting the door off, replacing the battery and screwing the door back on. Now, with the Vaporshark rDNA 40 the battery door is magnetic and it’s a breeze to remove it and replace the battery.
Some have complained that the magnet isn’t strong enough to keep the battery secure. I didn’t find that to be the case when I removed the skin, and if you find yours isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be, the easiest fix is to pick up a $10 skin for it. I picked up a black skin to protect against dropping it so any concern I could have had, but didn’t, about the magnetic door is a non-issue.
The adjustable gold-plated PIN works very well. I’ve used the Delta 2 by Joyetech, the Aspire Atlantis, and the Kanger Subtank and each one fit flush for a secure connection and no gaps. The gold plate provides excellent conductivity as well.
Attaching a tank to the Vaporshark rDNA 40 tells the electronics to seek out the coil resistance and read the information to you via the display. The accuracy has been spot on each time, when compared to my own multi-meter testing.
The last thing I want to talk about before revealing my personal impressions concerns battery life and a nod to the DNA 40.
Keeping in mind that the rDNA 40 features a removable battery, it does come with one that is matched to the EVOLV board perfectly. But, if you use the rDNA 40 for more than a year you can expect to replace the battery. Better to replace just the battery then to send in the DNA for service, or ditch it for a new one.
The only reason you can expect to get reasonable battery life with its 2500mAh battery is because it’s also a 35amp battery. Anything lower than 30amp will not only put your device at risk, it will rip through the battery life in a hurry when vaping in the subohm territory. So, when you replace the battery, when it’s time, do so with a 35amp battery.
The Vaporshark DNA 40 is, virtually the same device as the rDNA save for one thing; the battery is self-contained. That said it is also the same battery, the LG 18650-35amp battery. You just can’t replace it without voiding the warranty or risking the integrity of the device. I chose to pick up the rDNA because I’m not familiar with Vaporshark and had no idea how long the battery would last. This way, with the rDNA, I can replace it any time I want or need to. The DNA 40 can also recharge using the inductive charger, but you’ll need to pick up the wireless plate and attach it to the body of the DNA 40, the rDNA’s plate is built in.
Real World Impressions
Well, here I am on Day 4 with the rDNA, using it exclusively since the hour I purchased it. I’ll tell you right now that had I found any significant, or insignificant issues with it I would not have been able to use it exclusively… I would have been forced to pick it up and set it down multiple times, switching it out with an iStick or an Aspire CF Subohm… but there was no need. Of course, please take into consideration that this review was written after only 4 days of use.
I took a couple of Kanger Subtank Minis with me to the show, and a Delta 2, so after I purchased the rDNA 40 and took it back to our booth I used the same tanks I was using before I bought it. And I continue to use those tanks, without issue.
The first time I switched out my tanks, I pressed the firing button and began to inhale…nothing happened. I was with Smokenjoey at the time and he took a look at the display and noticed right away that the display was asking me if I was using a new coil, or the same one. (I couldn’t see the bottom of the device) I found that to be very cool actually, because what it was really asking me is whether or not “it” needed to recalibrate things.
I told it I did switch tanks, hence new coil, and immediately after clicking the button that meant to say, “yes I did switch coils” the device began working again. Honestly? I was impressed. Recalibrate baby!
Next thing I did was surf over the vaporshark.com while waiting for our next interview to begin. I was hoping they had a downloadable PDF users manual since there wasn’t one in the box. They don’t. Basic instructions are printed on the side of the box, but there was nothing about how to use the temperature controller or anything else for that matter.
That said, while on the Vaporshark site I did notice that Vaporshark sold Kanger Subtank OCC coil head replacements made with nickel coils. Turns out, to my chagrin, the coils need to be nickel in order to have the ability to set and maintain the proper temperature of your vape. If I did have nickel coil OCC’s for the Subtank Mini I had with me I would have been able to set the temperature AND still set the power (wattage). Not one or the other, but both. I still don’t have a complete handle on how that works but when I get some nickel coils ($18.95 for a 5 pack) I’ll do a piece on the rDNA 40 and temperature control. Should be very informative.
REVIEW AND VIDEO CONTINUES ON PAGE TWO
Like I said, in order to view the large display on the bottom of the rDNA 40 you’ll need to turn it over to direct the display toward you. Not a big deal, though I’ve heard people complain about it. It doesn’t make any difference to me, and the display is the biggest and brightest I’ve seen on any device, much less a box mod. So Kudos for the large displays Vaporshark!
After a few hours of use I had to recharge the rDNA 40. I could have used a USB cable, which features pass-through vaping, or open up the box containing the new inductive charging plate. Naturally, I ripped open the box. The plate, about 3.25 inch diameter circle with a 12” cable and a 3ft extender cable (making the total length 4ft) I attached it to my MacBook Pro’s USB port. Someone there said I would probably need to remove the skin before I could recharge it. Turned out I did not need to do that. It charges right through the skin.
Using The Inductive Charger
Wireless Charging (inductive charging) is essentially the transmission of an electrical current from a power source to a receiving device without the use of a physical connection.
As an owner of the rDNA 40 you should take a minute or two to fix in your mind the location of the built in wireless plate in your rDNA 40 so you can quickly start the process of recharging. If you don’t, it will take a little practice to set the device on the plate to get it charging. When its placed correctly the light on the plate will be green and the light behind the firing button on the rDNA 40 will be red. When recharged completely the lights turn off.
Battery life of the rDNA doesn’t come close to the iStick 50w battery life. Instead, the battery life is more like the Aspire Subohm, which makes complete sense. The iStick 50 is a 4400mAh battery and the Aspire Subohm is 2200 while the rDNA 40 is 2500mAh. But, it does recharge really fast using the charging plate.
Vaping with the rDNA 40 is a truly pleasant experience. I haven’t gotten down to the 0.16ohm that is possible with the device, but a 0.5ohm is a breeze and I found the sweet spot at 30.1w. It feels like a very well made device and despite the $215 total price I paid I feel no Buyers Remorse at all.
To a mainstream vaper (including myself) I don’t think there will be much of a difference in flavor or vapor between vaping with the rDNA 40 or the iStick 50. In order to get a noticeable difference I imagine you’d have to use the nickel wire coils. As I began to write this review I have been switching between the iStick 50 with a Subtank Mini and .5ohm coil and the rDNA 40 equipped the same way, I couldn’t tell the difference between them when it came to vapor production or flavor.
Mainstream or Advanced?
The rDNA 40 is a device for any vaper looking for an excellent box mod. But is it best used by ‘advanced vapers’ who are willing to spend $200+ for it, or a mainstream vaper that wants a good vape but isn’t ready to shell out $200?
Any vaper I know would love the rDNA 40. There is nothing about it that screams out a negative. Very well built, terrific features, and all the rest…and it delivers a great vape with normal coils.
Being able to wrap that rascal and still use the charging plate makes it very convenient to keep it charged up. That’s a nice selling feature as well. But, is there anything about the rDNA 40 that the mainstream vaper needs that the iStick 50 can’t deliver? In a word? No.
It comes down to two things for the average mainstream vaper when faced with devices that perform equally well… price and durability. Compared to mainstream box mods released over the past few months the rDNA 40 costs considerably more. Mr. Joe Vaper can spend $200 for one rDNA 40 or $200 for four iStick 50’s, or one iStick 50 and three Joyetech Delta 2’s. See where I’m going with this? The mainstream vaper would probably be better off with the iStick 50 and save $15o for further vape gear, tanks, and ejuice… unless of course that mainstream vaper is looking to buy an expensive box mod for brand name.
For advanced vapers things are reversed. Just look at the features that matter to advanced vapers, ZIP charging, 7-40w spread, vape down to 0.16ohm coil compatibility (0.1 with nickel wire), gold plated Pin for a minimum of voltage drop off, removable 35amp 18650 batteries, and more, are features that speak directly to the advanced vaper. Suddenly that $200 price tag is not only worth it, it’s a bargain.
The Vaporshark rDNA is a solid, rugged, and high-tech box mod that any vaper on the planet would welcome into their lives. Because it is a $200+ device its appeal will be limited to vapers that recognize these advanced features and appreciate them, or, as I said, a mainstream vaper looking to buy the brand.
As for me? I want this. I’m very happy I bought it, and I plan on buying some nickel OCC coils for my Subtanks just to experience the vape from it. I’ll report back and let you know what it was like.
Update: After showing this review to Tom I was informed that a friend of his had issues with condensation inside the display. Others have not experienced this. I’ve only been using it since Saturday or Sunday, and it’s been free of any issues whatsoever. If by chance a few months down the road I do suffer some issues I’ll update this review again. But you know, my gut tells me things will be just fine – JM