RDAs Vs Tanks: We’re Not So Different, You And I…

Long ago, RDA’s ruled the land. Simple CE5 clearomizers and cartomizers tried to take the crown. To the user that prefered convenience over all else, they were king. However, when it came to power, flavor and experience, nothing came close to a good old RDA. Fast forward to today: Tanks are gaining major ground with the advent of sub-ohm tanks featuring large airflow, top fill and huge capacities. The lines have become blurred. Many of the advantages that users once cited for RDA superiority have become null points. Today, we’ll look at some of the things that still set them apart, and you can decide for yourself which crown you hold allegiance to.


What is an RDA? RDA stands for Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer. Inside, you will find negative and positive connection points where the coil is inserted. You put a wick through your coil, saturate it with juice, then the top cap mounts, and you’re vaping. It’s pretty simple, but the designs are endless. Some people like having deep wells to load with juice, some people like massive airflow, some people need a large deck to mount their coils, which range from simple wraps to unofficial works of art. Most notably, RDA’s require considerable knowledge to maintain and operate. If learning new things about ecigs and a little trial and error don’t sound like fun, then RDAs just aren’t for you. That’s not to say they’re incredibly complicated, but they do require some tinkering and additional tools.

The #1 advantage (that I personally believe still holds true) is increased flavor. The flavor that you get from a freshly-dripped atomizer is out of this world. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend trying it at least once. Another advantage is that they are generally more roomy than a tank. This allows for more complicated coils, and provides adequate airflow around the coil to keep it cool. This allows them to be fired at higher wattages than you would fire a tank. Make sure your wick is well-saturated before vaping at 100 watts (which you can only ASSUME with a tank) is incredibly helpful. You can also try new flavors more readily on a dripper. Whether you just burn your cotton down and put a new flavor on, or change your wick entirely both are infinitely easier on an RDA. Nothing to unscrew or anything fancy. Pull the cap off, yank the wick out, thread a new one through, tuck the ends, and you’re good to go. They are also easier to troubleshoot. If you’re getting a funny taste or something seems off, you can access your build in a fraction of a second, instead of unscrewing it at 3 parts and thoroughly wiping your hands of a juicy mess.


Tanks have evolved a lot since vaping has been around. The main concept is an atomizer inside of a tank filled with liquid that slowly feeds juice to it through the wick. For a long time, my main gripe with tanks is that they didn’t wick well or quickly enough to keep up with my vaping tendencies. This is no longer the case.

There are now many, many tanks that can handle my constant 50w chain vaping of Max VG liquids without getting hot, going dry, or damaging the coil. The most cited advantage to a tank is that you can fill it (once a day for some people) and be done with it. You don’t have to keep your bottle of juice glued to your hand and “tinker” with your atomizer every 10-15 puffs. For some people, this benefit alone is enough. Most tanks also use pre-built stock coils. You just screw them in, and you’re set. For a lot of people, this is the most convenient way to vape, but does cost more than building your own coils. Depending on your vaping habits, you might spend $5-$10 every couple weeks on new stock coils, something that would cost you maybe $1-$2 if you were building yourself.  Major companies are also stepping up their coil game, producing stock versions of the most popular builds originally available only as an RDA user such as Nickel, Titanium and even the new Clapton coils from Aspire for their new Triton 2 Tank. Virtually all of them use Organic Cotton now, rather than the silica wicking tanks were born on.  

The Lines Blur

Many tanks now include what’s called an RBA (rebuildable atomizer) deck. With an RBA, you are able to build your own coils and use your own wicking material. This is where the lines between the two styles blur.

Being able to mount whatever coil you can fit inside opens the options for how you like your vape experience. Without this, a tank is only as good as the stock coil that comes with it. These sometimes have manufacturing errors, or have the cotton packed very tightly, causing wicking issues, airflow issues, leaking, and inconsistency. No stock coil can be as good as one lovingly-crafted, carefully-mounted, and tweaked to glowing perfection. Again, this requires the knowledge to do so, but is, in my opinion, the best of both worlds. Changing your coil becomes less costly, and you still get the benefit of filling up several mLs of juice at one time. Being able to say, “this tastes a little funny, I’m going to rebuild it,” is much better than worrying about the money wasted on a stock coil, which can add up quickly if you’re a picky vaper or try lots of flavors.


The True King?

Unfortunately, there will never be one that is definitively better. People who place convenience above all else will continue to do so. Just as people who don’t mind a little frustration for a better experience will. This is common in many other industries than our own. Think of computers. Most people pay what they know is a premium price to get a complete device that will work when they turn it on. Others will spend the extra resources to hunt down each part and put it together themselves. This will give them a superior experience for less cost but it will take more time and knowledge. The tradeoff is always to be weighed by you the user. Ultimately, if you like the performance of your tank, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But, if you’ve noticed some of the issues pointed out in this article, then it might be time to try something new. Maybe you won’t mind the hassle at all, and find that you greatly enjoy the flavor of an RDA. Maybe you’ll land in the middle like me, preferring RBA heads with the added capacity of a tank. Just remember, no matter what you pick, you’re not wrong. Vape on!

Something to think about:

What do you prefer, RDAs Vs Tanks? Why?

Andrew Figgs

Photography Major from Western Washington University . I joined MBV back in December 2014 and am happy to be working in an industry focused on helping others.

  • Edin says:

    The DarkHorse is the most airy RDA i have ever experienced..

  • Callum says:

    What about rdta?? There like a lovechild of rda and rba

  • Tony Always says:

    Depends what level you are at. But I would always recommend sub-ohm tanks to a beginner. They are easier to handle in my opinion & save time in the beginning. Best would be a sub ohm tank with top fill, so it won’t get messy, like the tfv8 big baby beast by smok.
    But true, RDA’s definitely stand for awesome flavor

  • Maxim says:

    Personally, I favor RDA’s for the fact that they don’t take much time at all to prime, where as a tank requires about 10 minutes of waiting. Both a really great to vape with though. If you’re looking to get into RDA’s then the Druga RDA would be a great choice. Really simple to build and the positive and negative terminals are universal in whichever way you want to put your coil in.

  • good post, i love my rebuilable dripping atomizers. cant beat them

  • Bob says:

    I like butter scotch

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