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Thread: Kangxin Mini VF 50W and eLeaf iStick 40W (Wall of text warning!)

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    Kangxin Mini VF 50W and eLeaf iStick 40W (Wall of text warning!)

    I do need to give a big shout out to Heaven Gifts for running the "Win what you want" competition right here on our forums. It's thanks to their competition that I got my hands on the Kangxin Mini VF 50W. So thanks HG . Pretty cool to see a vendor that's been around such a long time still doing give-aways and such.

    The iStick 40W I purchased with my own cash from a different vendor.


    Warning : I am normally quite verbose. This is over the top. Sorry.




    Unless you've been living under a very large rock somewhere off the continental shelf, you already know temperature control is the new "in thing". TC has been around for a while, but the tech is popping up in more and more affordable mods.

    Two of those affordable mods right now are the Kangxin Mini VF 50W and the eLeaf iStick 40W. I've had both of these mods for while, and have had a chance to get a feel for both. Here's a wall of text about that. The summary is towards the end of the second post .



    The attys I have used with both of these mods have been the Kanger Subtank Mini (with 0.15 ohm Ni200 head), the eLeaf GS Tank with 0.15 ohm Ni200 coils, and my current "insulator wrecking anise juice" throw-away dripper - a clone Derringer I call "The Derro" (with a 0.1 ohm single coil Ni200 build). I have also run my Quasar with 0.06 ohm dual coil Ni200 builds on the iStick, however the Kangxin is unable to fire a build that low (the lower limit on that device is 0.09 ohm).



    Cutting straight to the chase - both mods have a working TC implementation. Both mods accurately detect coil resistances (and detect the same resistance on the same coils at the same temperatures), cut the power when the coil is at the temperature limit, and fire at a lesser wattage (or intermittently) to maintain coil temperature.

    It is possible on both devices to insert a dry cotton wick and fire the device until cut-off without the wick discolouring or burning - provided the temperature limit is set below the "burn point" of cotton. On both of these devices, that point appeared to be around 200 - 210 degrees C (or around 390 - 410 F) with Muji sheets.

    Setting both devices to the same wattage (40W, as the wattage on the iStick is not changeable in TC mode) and the same temperature (400F), with the same atty and coil (0.14 Subtank Mini) will result in - as can be expected - a similar vape (provided the coil resistance allows the iStick to get near 40W while staying under it's lower amp limit).

    I say "similar" because there are some differences in how the different mods behave when bouncing off the temperature limit (which can be seen on a scope on pbusardo's reviews of the iStick 40W, and the Heatvape Invader Mini - which is based on the same KX-50D chip as the Kangxin Mini VF 50W), and a slight disadvantage to the iStick with it's lower amp limit.

    The iStick (proprietary chip) handles the temperature limit in a smoother, less aggressive manner. The vape feels as though the device is continually firing (that is, without momentary cuts of power to limit coil temperature), however the amount of vapour and the temperature of the vapour rapidly decline as the wick dries out. One minute everything will be vaping as expected, the next you'll be left wondering "Hey! Who turned my settings down?". It's much like vaping a mech with the battery running down - flat output, but less output.

    The Kangxin (KX-50D chip) behaves a little differently. Instead of a flat cold vape when the wicks dry out, the device will output hot little "puffs" of vapour much like an exaggerated PWM. It's more of a "spikey" or "wavy" output, and it's more noticeable at higher wattages (over about 35W). What I believe may be happening here, is that the device "warms" the coil at a higher wattage than the iStick does, before re-measuring the resistance and recalculating what wattage it needs to fire at (or if it needs to fire at all). Under normal conditions (approprite wattage, saturated wicks) it fires smoothly (as expected).

    So what this all means in general real-world usage, is that when the wicks run dry, the iStick will just feel cold like a mech running out of battery, and the Kangxin will be giving you a good vape - just in tiny little spluttering puffs. It's really personal preference as to which is the better behaviour.



    Both chips have their good and bad points. Neither chip has support for Ti wire, and neither chip is firmware upgradeable. That's expected at their relative price points.

    Both mods have very clear, easily readable and understood screens - though the Kangxin is more readable outdoors in direct sunlight (very similar to a DNA screen). Unfortunately I cannot photograph the Kangxin screen, as the first day out of the house it had a "workplace accident" (also involving the corner of my VS rDNA30... big heavy unforgiving beast it is) and the screen got cracked. Luckily I had already gotten acquainted with the menus (and done the direct comparisons between the mods with resistance detection and "same settings"). I've just carried on using the Kangxin sans-screen without problem (it still vapes just as well, I just have to set it "by feel". No biggie).

    The Kangxin's KX-50D chip does NOT support limiting temperature in Celsius - it's crazy obsolete moon measurements only. However, it is a more flexible chip, as it allows for changing both the temperature limit, and the maximum firing wattage. It is also capable of firing a higher wattage - and with 9.9v and 22A output limits, actually hitting the wattage displayed on the screen for a wider range of resistances. Due to the additional configuration options, the menu system is a little more convoluted than the iStick - UP and DOWN adjust wattage, but changing temperature is a little less convenient (similar to a DNA). Though given how TC is supposed to be used (set temperature just below wick scorching point, then adjust wattage to taste), it's not a huge deal.

    A slightly bigger deal is the minimum resistance of 0.09 ohms (EDIT : I originally typoed this as 0.9. It IS 0.09 as I mentioned further up the page... thanks to Noe for pointing that out). No problem for most pre-built Ni200 heads and single coil dripper builds, however it can get in the way when doing dual coil Ni200 builds (particularly on older style decks made for shorter Kanthal coils).

    The iSticks proprietary chip is simple - temp up, temp down, button to change modes - but it is not very flexible. In TC mode, the device is locked to 40W. If your build can't keep up with 40W (or whatever the mod is outputting at that resistance), you're going to find yourself butting up against the temperature limit and getting an anaemic vape. It is easy to adjust the temperature limit up to compensate, however once you go above the scorch point of your wick, you've pretty much just negated the biggest advantage of using TC (you run the risk of dry hits and burning wicks). One major disadvantage of the iStick is the 14.5A limit. This means that for the most part, you won't be getting anywhere near 40W for most TC resistances (you're going to want around 0.15 - 0.2 to get the most out of it).

    Both chips will prompt "New coil UP, Same coil DOWN". Most of the time the iStick will just re-detect for a slight resistance change and adjust without prompting. The Kangxin will prompt more often - pretty much any time an atty is screwed in. There is also sometimes a half second firing delay for the device to "wake up" if it has not been used for some time. It's not that bad - nowhere near as bad as the old DNA clones that were going around ages ago.

    I haven't run either mod in VW mode (I have other mods for that!), so I can't give a comparison on juice or battery consumption between VW and TC.

    The Kangxin is better on battery. The iStick's 2600 mAh internal LiPo doesn't seem to hold out as well as a 2600 mAh VTC5 in the Kangxin. I suspect that the iStick battery may not actually be 2600 mAh (at least, not when used in this application) - but I'm not pulling mine apart to confirm (though others have, and it says 1800 mAh on it, apparently).
    Last edited by Fractal; 14-09-15 at 04:33 PM.
    These things.

    I have some things.
    I vape them.

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    Speaking of batteries - the Kangxin cuts off and refuses to fire once the battery hits about 3.3v (resting, not under load. I say "about" because the multimeter I used is normally +0.1V-ish... give or take #DealExtreme ). That's fine. I have not used the on-board charger, instead opting to battery swap. The battery cover is screwed with a coin or other similar edge. The threads were quite rough and crunchy at first, however repeated uses, some "electrical clean and lube" have improved them somewhat (that stuff is great, btw). The battery cover can be slightly annoying to make catch the threads - a bit of wiggling the coin is usually required to make it happen. I don't feel there's any danger of accidental cross threading though. There is no spring, but enough threading to allow for some size differences between battery brands. I have used VTC{4|5} and MNKE 18650s without problems (though given the mod has an amp limit of 22A, and MNKEs are rated 20A, it's better to stick to 30A rated batteries in this one).

    Fit and finish on both the Kangxin and the iStick are good (the iStick is particularly impressive for the price. The iStick 40W actually feels a little nicer than the old 30W). The silver "paint" finishes on both of these mods feel (and look) almost identical. The iStick does have a number of light scratches from being thrown around against metal things without a cover, but as you can see in the photos, they are difficult to spot on the silver colour.

    The Kangxin has a little bit of button rattle on the up and down buttons, but nothing that gets in the way of using the mod. All the buttons on both mods have a nice click to them, and are easy and comfortable to actuate. I would have preferred the up and down buttons slightly closer together on the Kangxin, and a little further up the mod, but that's only because it would make it easier to consistently thumb both buttons at once one handed. I do have really small hands though (well, not weirdly small... just proportional to my height, and I'm usually the shortest guy in the room by a decent margin ).

    The Kangxin is very comfortable to trigger with the right hand, or thumb fire with the left - however due to the curvature it is a little awkward to thumb with the right hand or trigger with the left hand. This, along with the torch "lens" glowing blue (from the fire button lighting up) even in stealth mode, are disadvantages to using this mod when doing certain activities like driving (particularly at night).



    The iStick is significantly smaller and lighter than the Kangxin (104g vs 160g with battery), shaped for ambidextrous use, has less button rattle, and does not light up (other than the screen momentarily when changing settings) when in stealth mode.


    (Whoop whoop! Here is where the summary starts!)

    So... which one is better? That depends what you're after. They both have their strong and weak points.

    The Kangxin has the more powerful chip. In spite of not being able to fire as low a resistance coil, the Kangxin can just make more, hotter vapour than the iStick can over a wider range of resistances. It's the higher wattage, and higher amp limit that allows it to hit that wattage. It also gets better battery life, and you have the option of swapping cells on the fly (and upgrading cells when higher capacity ones are released).

    The iStick trumps with portability. It's seriously light and tiny. It's still absolutely possible to get a good satisfying vape off it, just not cloud chasing with any serious oomph. The battery is fine for small outings - however I know I wouldn't get a whole shifts usage out of it if it were my only mod for the day. The istick is also much better for stealthing with. The ability to comfortably use it with any grip and attach a lanyard make it great for "hit and drop" vaping (for example, vaping in traffic or at lights).

    All in all, I am honestly happy with both devices! They're both great little boxes, they just fill different niches.

    I know that's a total cop-out after writing this great wall of text... so here's an old photo of my fish Sed to make up for it .

    Last edited by Fractal; 22-08-15 at 06:35 PM.
    JWH, giruvian, gtadmin and 11 others like this.
    These things.

    I have some things.
    I vape them.

  3. #3
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    Great review mate and some pretty Schmick photography too even of sed

  4. #4
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    Good fish.

  5. #5
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    Excellent review
    Colouring My World with Elegance
    Started Vaping 13th October, 2011

  6. #6
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    Aw, thanks all
    These things.

    I have some things.
    I vape them.

  7. #7
    JWH
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    Wow great in depth review!!! ...


















    Please don't go through my taxes...
    Fatman and Browny like this.

  8. #8
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    Nice, helpful,seemingly unbiased review.
    Glad you won the goodies.
    Fatman and Browny like this.

  9. #9
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    PBusardo is quaking in his boots !!!

    Nice review Fraccas!
    akef38 likes this.
    EPM V2-18490 (X2 ),GP Spheroid V2.5 and GP Piccolo V2.5 ,BBCB, Provari mini's, REO mini V2.1, 18490 REO , Jazz Carto Pipes ( fitted with GA tank and churchwarden stem Totally Evil!!! ), Meerschaum pipe ,e-holly35W,Phideas, AIOS,Taifun atties, PC Pipe mods.PC Squonker, Svapiamo squonker, GP Paps Heron combo.

    Vaping since 2007 totally smoke free since 2011


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JWH View Post
    Please don't go through my taxes...
    Nah, you're safe. I prefer the sort of career where people are genuinely happy when I do my thing (and that thing isn't parting people with their money). I couldn't be a tax auditor, that class is incompatible my alignment .

    Besides, takes me long enough to do my own damn taxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatman View Post
    PBusardo is quaking in his boots !!!
    Well, I did warn y'all it was going to be loooooooong in the thread title.

    Fun fact - the forums software has a 10,000 character per post limit, and a 30 seconds between posts timeout .

    I've got nothin' on pbusardo though. He's got the verbosity and the outgoing extrovert personality to make it entertaining. Dude deserves his popularity - it's obvious he puts a lot of work in to his hobby.

    And he makes those long videos just looking at one device at a time - I looked at two .
    JWH likes this.
    These things.

    I have some things.
    I vape them.

 

 
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