These days, the word ‘desktop’ conjures up images of obsolete turn-of-the-millennium tech. Here in 2020, we don’t ‘do’ desks – we do portable. But there was a time when the desktop was king of both, computer tech and marijuana vaporizers. And there are still a few milestones where kicking back at your desktop is where it’s at.
The desktop vaporizer, with cylinder standing shape and Caterpillar-esqe whip is a practical appliance for the home vaporist, and who isn’t at home more with Covid in our lives ? Desktop Vaporizers provide the tactile engagement of a bong without the water hazard and pesky lighters. They also sit nicely in one place, making them immune to being left in the other room, jumping to a different pocket, or teleporting out to the car – hard to break and harder to lose. Factor in the need to not worry about battery life and you can see the desktop vaporizer has qualities that are still in demand today.
However it’s not all dimensions and set up keeping many from purchasing a desktop vaporizer instead of a portable. An added factor steering buyers away from desktop vaporizers is the price. Most are in the higher priced range relative to portables – take the newest Storz & Bickel Volcano Vaporizer, the Volcano Hybrid going for $699 with even the Classic Volcano is still a cool $479.
I spent some nice sessions with two of the best desktop vapes you can find under $200: The Arizer Extreme Q and Da Buddha Vape (AEQ and DBV respectively). Both more than did the trick with high-quality builds, attention to design and good vapor quality. And both are a steal for under $200.
Da Buddha Vaporizer by 7th Floor/Elev8
The Da Buddha Vaporizer comes in a pillowy storage sack. This is a well-crafted bag that has a soft burlap pattern. It has both a cinch-closure at the top and a zipper along one side. Unzipping the bag reveals a smart pocketing system which displays the contents like baubles on a jeweler’s velvet. Screens, endpiece, and mouthpiece have their own pockets, and a fabric scabbard smartly secures the poker. The bag is quite nifty and can be used in other applications such as taking your glass you across town.
The Da Buddha Vaporizer weighs in at 1.5 pounds (lb) and is both light and sturdy. Its alloy body has a finish like brushed steel, with an iridescent sparkle to greet you upon closer inspection. The base is a textured, plastic resting on four rubber feet. The round base is double-beveled, eliminating an edged underside, and it is heavy enough to ensure a good balance.
The cord features a gentle self-coiling tension, which greatly aids in avoiding tangles and knots. The glass housing around the heating element is clear and well-formed. I liked that it is well-protected by the metal cylinder, but not so deep that it would be difficult to spot-check the ceramic heating element.
Oddly, I found the whip to be slightly oversized. It was perhaps the difference of a half millimeter in diameter, but I found fitting it into the end of the heating tube threatened to harsh my chill, but alas it fits right in with a gentle push.
As per the instruction booklet, I heated it up and let the vaporizer be for an hour in order to burn off any remaining factory oils. I smelled none. I then heated it up again and began to grind some flower. The DBV was ready to go by the time I packed the bowl with my favorite strain.
Packing the Da Buddha is easy and self explanatory. You pack the herb into the glass and place that in the heat cover. The ideal pack is going to be .3 – .4 grams and from this you can expect about 20 good hits in the medium to high temperature range. While you can get more from stirring and repacking the flavor will fade. For optimal performance it is best to let the Da Buddha heat up for 1 minute before attaching your filled glass wand into the heating element cover.
I dialed back the heat to about 1 o’clock, and tried my first few puffs. Easy draw, No foreign tastes. Whip feels secure, the mouthpiece is comfortable. Let me turn it up a bit, I thought. I sat the dial at the 2 o’clock position and settled in for a dedicated session. Holy flavonoids, Batman. The Da Buddha utilizes a ceramic heater and a glass on glass vapor path. Combine that with pure convection heating and you’ll see why Da Buddha Vaporizer provides tasty vapor.
The Da Buddha’s draw was voluminous – never felt pinched or narrow, and I never felt I was working to ‘suck’ air up the tube. A simple relaxed inhalation delivered ample vapor. The heating element is smartly angled, and you can rotate your glass wand (herb) to give exposure to all angles of your herb. This design made it easy to stand, sit, snack and share without putting torque on the vape’s connecting points. The body stayed cool, even after being left at 75% power for a full hour.
I experimented with the heating and found the dial to be sensitive — a turn of 30 degrees makes a notable difference. It was also plenty powerful – in fact, at 75% (3 o’clock) the heat began to combust the herb, something which you must watch out for on Da Buddha.
Over the course of a few sessions, I found that I had run through the expected amount of herb; the DBV won’t conserve your stash, but it won’t scorch through it either. The DBV is not the vaporizer to use if you want to micro-dose, but you can fill it up , hit it and then remove your glass wand should you not want to have a complete session.
Another downfall of the Da Buddha Vaporizer is the vertical manner in which your herb is vaporized. You will need to stir mid session to get the most out of all the herb you have packed, but they give you a little poker tool for this task.
The DBV is a wonderful vaporizer to have on your desk in these stay-at-home-times. In between sessions I would turn the dial to its lowest setting without clicking it off – thereby putting it in an unofficial stand-by. It reheated quickly, delivered consistent hits, and both the whip and the cord coiled nicely when not in use and went back into the Da Buddha Case with ease. The time I spent with my new DBV was a pleasure. I found its weight reassuring, and it made me feel grounded throughout my sessions. I appreciated that it’s subtle coloring made it easy to have on the coffee table without bright colors calling for attention. When it came to delivering, the Buddha was my friend. And when I dialed in to that 2:15 sweet spot, the DBV renewed my enthusiasm for the myriad of flavors in my plants. At under $200, this is an easy addition to your vaporizer collection and should be a desktop vaporizer to consider if you want one on the cheap. Sometimes old school got it right.
The Arizer Extreme Q Vaporizer
In between the Da Buddha Vaporizer and Arizer Extreme Q, The Extreme Q feels as if it hails from the future, despite being released many years ago. The 18-button remote control makes your session easier, but you would think in 2020 Arizer wants to hop on board the vaporizer smart phone app train. Then again that would probably only add costs and make this vaporizer then above $200 and what makes the Da Buddha Vaporizer and Arizer Extreme Q so great is how they nail the basics.
The kit that comes with the Arizer Extreme Q Vaporizer is a cornucopia of cannabis vaporizer accoutrements: whip, mini-whip, mouthpieces (3), bags (2), glass stirring tool, two different screens, a potpourri/essential oil vaporizer – and let’s not forget that 18-button remote: sound, light, multiple fan settings, preset and customizable temperature settings. The cherry bud on top for me is the auto-off feature. Set it for a 2 or 4-hour shutoff, and drift off worry free.
I took a deep breath and began to assemble the vape. The weight of the body surprised me. After handling the DBV’s sturdy metal cylinder, the Extreme Q’s plastic housing felt underwhelming. It still felt solid; sturdy, well-constructed housings connect the base, user interface panel, socket, and body. But its lack of mass is notable. The Arizer Extreme Q’s main body (without parts) is a tad under 1 pound (lb), making both the Da Buddha Vaporizer and Arizer Extreme Q incredibly lightweight for Desktop Vaporizers.
I plugged it in, pressed the remote, and let it heat up. The newer model 2021 Extreme Q is heating up much faster than earlier models but still takes about 2 -3 minutes to reach the sweet spot where you are ready to vape. It should also be noted the Extreme Q has quite the temperature range, 122°F to 500°F.
Meanwhile, I surveyed the dozen or so glass fittings before me. Great care has been put into every glass accessory. The Cyclone Bowls™ are smartly coated in a heat-insulating material that both indicates which end to attach and minimizes the chance of a burn. The mouthpiece is slender, yet substantial, and it has raised rings along its length for a sturdy grip. The glass poker has a top that reminds me of the head of a chess piece, and its rounded point performs well without being a puncturing hazard.
What followed was an hours-long exploration of the seemingly endless combinations of accessories and settings. For my first round, a medium grind of about .4 grams were funneled into the cyclone. The Cyclone has a wide radius and generous lip, so the pour was clean. I capped the Cyclone with the elbow. Their frosted surfaces gripped nicely.
I found that if you seat the Cyclone with just the right amount of friction, it will pivot smoothly. This is also true of the connection between the other end of the bowl and the elbow to the whip.
The preset temperatures skewed low, and I found myself ticking it upwards often. The low temps are helpful perhaps if you were using the Extreme Q solely as a potpourri diffuser, but they are not a good guideline for vapers of the heavy dank. I went as high as 380 °F before definitively singing the Black Widow. Granted, the widow was only a month old, still damp. With the Extreme Q a good pack and fan assist are going to be your friends in getting the best vapor.
The Cyclone bowl probably got its name for two reasons. The first is the spectacle of ground cannabis through the clear chamber. The fan (or your inhalation) stir up the contents, causing them to lift and swirl. The second, I would gradually find, is that it swallows up my herb rather quickly.
The fan feature is a blast. It sends the vapor up the whip for you, reducing the effort your diaphragm contributes. That may sound like the laziest move in stoner history, but it definitely adds to the experience and for someone who has problems inhaling would help greatly. The air delivers the vapor on a breeze, which added a tactile layer to the experience. The resulting reduction of effort in breathing felt akin to walking in low gravity.
Oddly, I found getting a heavy, opaque pull to be harder on the Extreme Q Vaporizer than on the Da Buddha. I attributed this to the vast space (more surface area) in the herb chamber of the Cyclone Bowl and the fan. I reground my herb and repacked it before I got substantial results.
Another hack I liked with the Extreme Q, was my ability to microdose using the ringed screens. They are shaped vaguely like a top hat, with the brim fitting over the opening of the elbow, and the top and sides of the hat is made of screens. It pops right in and catches small pieces that rise into the whip. You can skip filling the main herb chamber altogether and fill one of these small ring screens with about .15 grams of herb. However you will not get anywhere near the vapor when microdosing with the Extreme Q as you would filling it up per the typical application. I was definitely tasting some of the bud’s subtleties, but was not getting the large clouds of prior.
A short time later, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much the Extreme Q hit me. I had always equated a milky draw with a dense hit, but maybe . . . Unsure, I soldiered on. The draws were flavorful and mild. And yet as time passed, the terpenes crept in. White wisps or no, I was feeling it. The excellence of the Extreme Q was revealed.
The Arizer Extreme Q also has more than one delivery application to go with all it’s control features. For people who like the bag vape, 2 sizeable ones are included. An O-ring slides snugly over the mouthpiece, making a seal while the fan blows hot air over the bowl and into the bag.
My own ineptitude notwithstanding, I wondered if the Extreme Q’s wide array of variables might be a barrier to some users. Or perhaps I am impatient. I can well imagine that for other vape-users, the balancing and fine-tuning of variables is a joy unto itself. The Extreme Q has, well, an extremely high level of customization. The remote control’s array of choices keeps a fiddler happy. To some, the complexities of this vape may represent a quest to define the universal mathematical constant for High. I can see these people and their friends theorizing how to optimize the Q for each new flower.
Alas, quarantined alone with my uninterested chihuaha, I found the initial thrill of switching fans and toggling the temperature grew thin. Don’t get me wrong – I had a good half-dozen episodes of curious experimentation and discovery. I can honestly say that this vape brought me new understandings of vape science. But by the end of the weekend, I just wanted to plug-and-play with my Mighty Vaporizer.
I imagined fighting with Netflix that I am indeed still watching the Gardening Show while telling the (much loved and under-appreciated) delivery person that it’s the other red door. I decided that the Extreme Q would not do quickies.
Maybe when creepy uncle Covid finally leaves, I can discover the excitement of the Extreme Q with my friends all over again, the AEQ is much more of a social vaporizer, while so are most desktop vaporizers, the complexities and accessories strewn about were something of a headache to organize and put away.
Da Buddha Vaporizer and Arizer Extreme Q
Portable Vaporizers are undeniably the most practical and convenient dry herb vaporizers on the market. But woe be to the vapor connoisseur who overlooks the potential of the desktop build. The features that were expensive, fragile, and unreliable a decade ago have evolved into an affordable and high-performing vaporizer. Hard to lose, no battery life worry, sturdy and shareable, the stay-at-home vaporist cannot go wrong with the desktop vape.
The Da Buddha Vaporizer and Extreme Q both provide great vapor. Both utilize convection style heating giving you the tastiest vapor. Both are manufactured by very reputable companies in 7th Floor/ Elev8 and Arizer and both are priced under $200 !!!!