Review of Vapor Shark rDNA 40 with Evolv DNA40 Chip
The Vapor Shark rDNA is a variable wattage device featuring the latest Evolv DNA 40 temperature protected chip, and is made in the USA by Vapor Shark. The Vapor Shark rDNA is the third iteration of the Vapor Shark line of variable wattage box mods, and it is distinguished by its slightly larger size, housing the newest Evolv DNA 40 chip, and a removable LG-HE2 2500mah 18650 battery. Vapor Shark is both an online, and brick/mortar retailer with 7 locations spread out along the East Coast. The Vapor Shark R-DNA retails for $189.99 USD.
The Vapor Shark rDNA is packaged in a hard, clear plastic gift box which includes the rDNA 40 with LG-HE2 18650 battery pre-installed, and micro USB charging cord.
VAPORSHARK rDNA SPECIFICATIONS:
- Brand: Vaporshark
- Material: Cast-Zinc Aluminum alloy
- Type: variable wattage APV
- Connection threading: 510 with spring loaded pin (gold plated)
- Diameter: .95in
- Height: 3.25in
- Width: 1.67in
- Weight: 4.5oz/189grams
New features include:
- LG 2500mah 35A 18650 Battery
- Gold plated, Spring-loaded center pin
- 1.0 ‘ 40W (Evolv DNA 40 temperature protected chip)
- Supports 0.16 ohms and higher
- Integrated wireless charging, with available Micro-USB port
- Matte Black
- Magnetic Battery Door and ejection ribbon
- Reverse polarity protection
The Vapor Shark rDNA 40 brings with it a few upgrades from the DNA 30 version, which includes the obvious Evolv DNA 40 chip, a magnetic back door, and the LG-HE2 2500 mah/35A 18650 battery. The rDNA is available in two colors which are black, and gray. Like the Vapor Shark DNA 30, the newer 40 watt version of this device is made from cast zinc aluminum alloy. The feeling of the box is solid, and sturdy, although if I did not know better I might think that this device was constructed from a sort of heavy duty plastic. Even as the device feels sturdy, and durable, it does not feel like a metal alloy to me.
The fire button is located on the left side of the device, and it is a large dome shaped metal button with a pronounced clicky feeling. The fire button is quite comfortable to use, although for me it has a slightly toy button feel. I would have preferred to see a stainless steel button on a device at this price point. The wattage up/down buttons are placed low on the device, and they protrude by about 2mm from the body.
On the right side of the body there is the Vapor Shark rDNA logo. On the back of the device there is a magnetic battery door, with a raised gripping section to aid removal of the magnetic door. There are also two hex screws which hold the chip board cover in place.
The micro USB charging port is placed neatly on the left lower corner at the front of the device. At the top of the device around the 510 connection there are four wide, and deep air channels cut out. The 510 connection has very clean threads, with a gold plated spring loaded contact pin.
The DNA 40 display is located on the bottom of the device and is protected by a raised lip that surrounds the screen. Depending on your level of awareness when setting the VS down on a table, you may experience some rocking of the device. This device can stand in a stable manner however, you need to be mindful to not set the device down on an angle.
On the bottom side of the magnetic door there two depressed slots that allow the door to slide off when you use the gripping pad on the top of the door. The device is pre-installed with a brand new LG-HE2 2500mah/35A 18650 battery, which sits on top of an ejection ribbon to assist battery removal. Due to the very snug fit of the battery, you will absolutely need to use the ejection ribbon. After shooting these photos, I made the mistake of not installing the battery on top of the ejection ribbon and it was truly a struggle to get the battery back out.
The internals of the VS are very clean, and meticulously assembled. Not a spot of glue, or a wire to be seen when the magnetic door is removed. There are two round magnets which hold the back door in place, and they are very strong magnets. When the back door is installed there isn’t any sliding or shifting of the door, it is held perfectly in place.
As previously mentioned this latest edition of the Vapor Shark rDNA features the new 40W temperature protected chip made by Evolv. It is necessary to distinguish between what has become the common reference for this chip which is temperature controlled, and what it in reality the chip is, which is temperature protected and limited. Before going further into the function and modes of the Evolv DNA 40 chip, let us first look at the chip specifications.
The temperature protection feature of the DNA 40 is not the only upgrade available with this chip. The Evolv DNA 40 chip now has a buck and boost converter with a minimum voltage output of 1 volt, and a maximum of 9 volts. The minimum firing resistance for standard Kanthal wire is now .16ohm, and the wattage output range is 1-40W. The maximum firing resistance for Kanthal wire is 2.00 ohms. The minimum firing resistance for NI200 wire (the wire required to use the temperature feature) is .10, and its maximum is 1.00 ohm.
We also see an increase in the maximum current output of 16A, with an instantaneous peak or burst current output of 23A.
The new DNA 40 temperature protected chip is intelligent and it will automatically detect when either Nickel or A-1 Kanthal wire is installed to the Vaporshark rDNA. To use the temperature feature you have to be using NI200 Nickle wire in your atomizer. When the chip detects Kanthal wire, the screen display will appear just like the older DNA 30 display with battery indicator, resistance, voltage, and wattage setting. Likewise, when the chip detects NI200 wire the display will change to battery indicator, resistance, temperature, and wattage setting. The intelligent chip will also display a message on screen to acknowledge the change in atomizer detected when switching from a Kanthal to a NI200 build, and vice versa.
Most of the Mode settings (locked, stealth, left/right) are accessed/changed in the same manner as the DNA 30 chip. The one exception is the wattage lock mode which is now set from the unlocked position by holding down the wattage up/down buttons simultaneously. The temperature protection setting is accessed from the locked position by holding down the wattage up/down buttons. The default temperature setting of the DNA 40 is 450F, but you are able to set the temperature protection from 200-600F using the wattage up/down buttons once you enter that menu option.
The possible error messages that can appear on the display screen for the DNA 40 chip are as follows:
- – Check atomizer
- – Shorted
- – Weak battery
- – Temperature protected (means the coil has reached the max temperature protected setting during a single puff)
- – Ohms too high
- – Ohms too low
- – Too hot
As previously mentioned you have the option to use standard A-1 Kanthal, or NI200 wire builds with the Evolv DNA 40 chip. What I like about the DNA 40 chip is that the temperature protected feature is an option, not a must use feature of this device. So for those who are not interested in temperature protection, you can still use this device without ever utilizes Nickel wire and the temperature protection. Kanthal wire users will still have the benefit of several chip upgrades including the higher wattage output, the lower firing resistance, and the new buck/boost circuitry with voltage output as low as 1 volt, and as high as 9 volts.
One thing to keep in mind while using this device in temperature protected mode is that wattage output is manipulated in order to stay within the temperature protected setting. For example, if you have your device set to 400F, firing .10 ohm (NI200) at 30W, once the device detects that you have reached the 400F (which could happen within seconds of hitting fire button), the device will self-adjust the wattage output down in order to stay within the 400F limit set for the device. On the display screen you will see the wattage output rolling down and up in a pattern that is reminiscent of a pulse width modulated frequency.
Working with pure Nickel non-resistance wire was very interesting indeed. The wire itself (30 gauge) was very thin and exceedingly pliable, and it doesn’t stiffen up like Kanthal wire does when torched. Nickel wire takes shape easily, and loses its shape just as easily, so you don’t want to be too rough with it after your coils are wrapped. For my first Nickel build I used 30 gauge NI200, with a 6/7 wrap (dual coils) on a 3mm steel tool bar. I had to laugh as I was installing the thin leads into the ginormous 3mm post holes of my Mephisto RDA ‘ it reminded me of the punchline to an off-color joke it was like trying to feed a whale a tic tac, lol.
Once installed the dual coil build metered out to .10 ohms, and I began my trial with the temperature protected settings at 200F, and 16W .. which got me absolutely nowhere as the temperature protection kicked in within 1 second of hitting the firing button. I continued to play with the temperature settings until I finally landed back the 450F default setting, and 25W, which seemed to work for me. At temperatures below 450F the vape was cool to the point that I could not even feel it, even as there was plenty of vapor being produced, which I could only see on the exhale.
The Vapor Shark rDNA has a nice size that handles well during use. I was a little concerned about the wattage buttons due to their position, and degree of protrusion from the body on the device however, my concern was for naught. In spite of my ring and pinky fingers sitting near the wattage buttons during use, I never had occasion to accidentally change the wattage setting. The fire button has a ring around it that turns blue when the switch is activated. While the fire button is comfortable to use, the sound, and feel of the buttons material doesn’t read expensive to me. But it is a responsive switch, and I did not experience any misfires while using it.
The vape quality that I experienced with the Vapor Shark rDNA at 450F and 25W is about the same vape that I get with other DNA style devices at around 12-17 watts, which is vaping my norm. I have heard some vapers report that they experience a weird taste with Nickel wire, and I did have a few moments where I thought that I may be experiencing a metallic after taste. I am not firm on whether I did or did not have an aftertaste with Nickel wire because of the e-liquid I was using (fruity dessert type). With this particular e-liquid sometimes I feel as though the e-liquid is messing with the ph balance in my mouth after several days of vaping it even with Kanthal wire.
With the new specs of the DNA 40 chip, specifically the changes in min/max voltage output, I wanted to test the voltage output with an inline 510 meter. Unfortunately, that was not possible. You will see in the photos below that my inline meter could not get any read on voltage output from the Vapor Shark rDNA with both Kanthal and Nickel wire builds. That being said, based on my actual vaping experience, I have no reason to believe that the voltage output of the Evolv DNA 40 chip was in any way inaccurate.
The one thing about the VS that I do not like is the display screen being on the bottom of the device, which I found to be especially aggravating while I was testing out the different setting, and trying to fire the device while monitoring what was happening on the display screen at the same time. I really didn’t like having to turn the device upside down in order to monitor display activity, which is something that I do a lot during normal use as well. Also, with the display screen placement at the bottom of the device, you would not want to pair a Genesis style atomizer with the VS.
I am aware that there have been a significant amount of defective Evolv DNA 40 boards that have gone out with the Hana Modz, Vapor Shark, and Vapor Flask V2 mods. I have also read reports of more than one person going through as many as 3 brand new Evolv DNA 40 boards in a row due to defect. I have not had any performance or display screen issues at all with the Vapor Shark rDNA that I received for review. However, the number of reported defects is large enough that it has to be stated. The good news is that I have heard that all of the companies mentioned above have been nothing less 100% cooperative, and supportive in accepting defective returns, and replacing boards, and devices for anyone who has encountered an issue.
I admit that when I first heard of Evolv ‘s temperature protected DNA 40 chip, that I was not very interested in it, and had initially panned it as a gimmick. Being that I usually vape within the low to mid wattage range, temperature protection is not something that I felt like I needed, or wanted. The same is also true for the higher 40W capacity. However, after I received the VS for review I decided to watch Phil Busardo ‘s video interview with Brandon from Evolv, (see video here) and it did shift my perspective on the usefulness of the temperature protection feature a bit. With new information available about the potentially hazardous effects of extreme temperatures in combination with the e-liquids we use in vaping, it makes a lot of sense to me that temperature protection would be the next step in innovation as it pertains to regulated devices.
Even as I still feel that I do not need temperature protection for the way that I vape at the present moment, this does not mean that my other fellow vapers do not need it, or want it. Temperature protection aside, there are other upgrades offered with the Evolv DNA 40 chip that I know many vapers do want, namely a lower firing resistance, higher wattage output capacity, and the ability to step down voltage output.
With regards to the Vapor Shark rDNA itself, I have to be honest in that while I find the VS to be a solid and sturdy feeling device that has functioned properly according to design, and without issue, that I genuinely find the hype surrounding this device to be very overrated, most especially at its price point. When I handle and use the Vapor Shark rDNA I get $79.99, not $189.99. There is nothing particularly special, interesting, or innovative about the box design of the Vapor Shark itself. I was impressed by the Evolv DNA 40 chip way more so than the box that houses it. I feel that box designs like the Vapor Flask V2 do a better job at commanding their higher price point.
That all being said, I truly believe that value is subjective, and just as it is with beauty, value is also in the eye of the beholder.