Is it possible to have the advanced features of mods with DNA and YiHi chips on much cheaper devices? Can you have more than acceptable Temperature Control on a device that cost you less than fifty bucks? Can a tiny – and ancient by vaping standards – iStick Pico still be relevant?
Thanks to NFE Team’s efforts, and their stellar ArcticFox firmware, you can turn dozens of ultra-affordable mods from eLeaf, Joyetech, and Wismec, into an el-cheapo DNA alternative.
We dove deep into ArcticFox and saw how you can flash and configure it on such a device in another mega-guide of ours. However, if you don’t already have an ArcticFox-compatible mod but like the idea of having one (or ten), which should you choose?
Ah, young Padawan, that’s why we’ve created this guide of ours. Read on to find the best devices on which you can flash ArcticFox (or its sibling, Red Panda).
But we want to believe we found them.
How To Choose An AF-Compatible Mod
ArcticFox’s creators realized that eLeaf, Joyetech, and Wismec were different sub-brands of the same company, sharing the same tech in their devices. At its center was a programmable Nuvoton micro-controller that acted as what most vapers know as “their mod’s chip.” By creating a “global” firmware that could work on this Nuvoton chip, the NFE Team practically gave us an unofficial upgrade for almost all devices released by those three companies within the last three years.
Still, there are exceptions to this, and some devices are unsupported. They might be using somewhat different hardware, like the relatively newer iStick Mix by eLeaf, or have other limitations. So, you can’t pick any mod made by eLeaf, Joyetech, or Wismec and expect it to work with ArcticFox.
Thankfully, despite what marketing materials say, vaping hardware doesn’t evolve as quickly as vape companies would like us to believe. As proof of that, different generations of mods from the same manufacturers use the same chip.
This means that instead of going for the latest and greatest to use with ArcticFox, it’s better to go for a tried and tested device. Since they’d share the same technology anyway, your priorities should shift to their build quality and trustworthiness (as documented by existing owners). It’s also one of the rare opportunities to give more points to looks since the devices will work in precisely the same way after flashing anyway.
We didn’t take into account only our own experience with our selection of devices. We also checked what other people have to say about them after years of use and researched hundreds of blog and Reddit posts. This way, we’ve “weeded out” mods that were known to perform worse than the one in our list or which had reports about QC/manufacturing problems.
On top of that, most of the devices we see have been in the market long enough for people to have real-world experiences with them. Thus, their weak points have been identified. We made sure to mention their known shortcomings, so you’ll know what to expect from each device.
Keep in mind that mods are electronic equipment. Even if a device is relatively unproblematic, that doesn’t mean it’s fail-proof. Electronic equipment doesn’t like being drenched in juice or banged around. Although you’re using it to vape instead of smoke, you shouldn’t treat your mod like a pack of cigarettes but like a gadget.
We didn’t include every mod supported by ArcticFox in our list for the reasons we’ve explained. For that reason, you shouldn’t rush to buy a new device. You might already have an older mod supported by ArcticFox that didn’t make it in our list.
Check out NFE Team’s official site, and at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a list of supported devices. If yours is among them, feel free to skip this guide about ArcticFox-supporting-devices and check out our mega guide on how to flash and configure ArcticFox on your mod.
With that out of the way, let’s see the devices we consider the best for use with ArcticFox.
The Best Mods for Artic Fox Firmware: Editor’s Choice
eLeaf iStick Pico 75W / 25 / 21700 – Best Artic Fox Compatible Mods
eLeaf made proper mods accessible to the masses with the iStick family of devices. The iSticks have been catering more to the entry-level and not-too-demanding vaper. They’ve long been favorites among those who vape Mouth To Lung with pre-made coils on something like a Nautilus.
The Pico sub-family of iSticks has been going strong for over three years now. The first, “plain” Pico, which you might also meet as iStick Pico 75W, remains a cult favorite. It’s a trustworthy little banger, too, with many people swearing theirs still works after years of serving them flavorful vapor.
There are many mods in the Pico sub-family. However, our choice would have to be the very first Pico 75W that you can still find almost everywhere. We’d pick it over the alternatives purely because we’ve never heard or read a single negative comment about its trustworthiness and sturdiness.
Not everything’s rosy, though. Being tiny and cute doesn’t only make it a lousy option for image-conscious Death Metal fans, but also for using atomizers larger than 22mm. That’s the max you can use on it, and even that’s pushing it, for their airflow might be semi-obstructed by its battery cap.
This very battery cap is also a weak point for some users, but the problem’s even more pronounced with the Pico 25. Many swear theirs remains in pristine condition, but we’ve read stories of failed threads. One out of two units I’m personally using (both Pico 25s) also started displaying the problem. Still, some of the most popular atomizers released within the last two years were over 22mm in diameter. This makes the Pico 25 the only viable choice among its siblings for use with most modern tanks. That is, except if you go for the similarly sized 21700.
Although you probably won’t find it on store shelves, you might locate a Pico 21700 at clearance sales. There’s not much to say about the specific model. You can think of it as a hybrid between the Pico and Pico 25. It’s built with the same unibody approach as the first Pico, with fewer plastics than the Pico 25. But it’s also larger, like the Pico 25, to accommodate 21700 cells for longer uptimes. The increased size also means it can take larger atomizers than the smallest member of the family.
If there’s one other negative, apart from the battery cap that’s more prone to failure on the Pico 25 model, it’s the placement of the up and down buttons on the underside. We’re nitpicking, but we find them hard to press.
What we like:
- One of the tiniest mods ever released
- Fits in your palm with only half the atomizer protruding, making it an optimal stealth vape
- Great TC performance (for its price) from the get-go. Gets vastly better – almost top-tier – with ArcticFox
- If a mod could ever be “cute”, this is it
What we don’t like:
- Annoyind battery cap gets in the way of the atomizer. Plain Pico 75W can’t host atomizers over 22mm because of that. The Pico 25 ups the ante to 25mm (hence the name).
- That very battery cap can also fail in the long run, preventing the mod from reading the cell correctly. Said to happen more with the Pico 25.
- Annoying up/down button placement, helps them stay away from leaks but renders them hard to use.
- Tiny – but bright and relatively readable – screen.
- “Cute” can also be a con, depending on your stylistic choices.
Joyetech Evic Primo / Primo 2.0 / Primo SE
Lovers of the VTC Mini who’d love a version with two cells for extra battery life, the fine folks at Joyetech have listened. That’s why they’ve created the VTC Dual…
No, wait, that’s not right.
“That’s not right” is what fans of the VTC Mini said when they saw the VTC Dual, a version of the popular single-cell mod with double the battery life. It achieved this by extending the mod’s frame in a more boxy shape. And nobody rejoiced.
Joyetech went back to the drawing board and came up with the Primo, which for all intents and purposes, is what the VTC Dual should have been. Although the Primo keeps the VTC Mini’s aesthetics, it also feels different and new, with a more ergonomic curved shape. Apart from that, it performs as you’d expect from a VTC Mini with two cells.
The Primo’s specs are almost identical to the VTC Mini. The only difference between them is that the dual-cell sibling can output 200W of power. Although somewhat heavy due to its all-metal body, the Primo is small and a joy to hold. We prefer a c-shell approach instead of a bottom door, but as far as those types of latches go, it’s one of the least problematic we’ve met. To note personal experience, both my Evic Primo’s work perfectly with over one year of use, each.
If there’s a weak point, that’s the mod’s 510 connector. It can fail in the long run if you’re swapping too many atomizers. However, there’s a second problem: Joyetech decided to “ground” the connector directly to the mod’s body instead of connecting it to the chip. In the long run, if the connection between the 510 connector and the mod’s body gets loose, you may see inconsistent resistance readings. Thankfully, the problem’s easily fixable if you’ve got soldering skills or have a technician apply the cheap fix to it. You only have to connect a wire from the 510 connector to the mod’s board. We must stress this, that’s if you meet this problem.
Apart from that, the Evic Primo’s considered one of the best mods for running ArcticFox, as suggested by one of the firmware’s primary developers who was using it himself.
What we like:
- Another “adult-looking” device from Joyetech, doesn’t look like a toy – even the bright red variant
- Easy-to-use default menu. For when you’re postponing flashing ArcticFox
- Large and ultra-readable screen
- Excellent battery door – easy to open, but also keeping the cells secure inside the mod.
- Acceptable TC performance by default – although that doesn’t also mean “good”
What we don’t like:
- The fire button feels weak and can be easily pressed. Some say theirs could also get stuck, especially on the full-black (and rarest) variant.
- Mediocre 510 connector. Plus, it has a known problem of not being connected to ground. User-fixable, but only if you’re not afraid of soldering. Otherwise, said to start misreading atomizers after months of use (and after the warranty’s over)
- Discontinued. Still, can be often found on sale at e-shops clearing stock for ultra-cheap
Wismec Reuleaux RX200 / RX300 / RX2/3 / RX GEN3 / RX 21700
If you’re vaping over 40W on a single-cell mod, you’ll probably have to recharge or swap your battery sometime during the day. Dual cell mods are a better option for those who prefer vaping at a high wattage. They might even get you through the day! At least, if your upper power limit’s 80W. Go over that, and it’s the same story again.
Thus, if you like thick and fluffy clouds at a wattage close to or over 100W, you have two options: accept that you’ll have to recharge again during the day (and maybe carry spare cells when out and around), or change the way you vape. That’s why Wismec unleashed the first Reuleaux as the solution to the problem.
Turning the dial to 11, the first Reuleaux was a bulky and heavy mod targeting primarily high-wattage vapers with its three cells. Yes, you’ve read that correctly: three cells. Up until today, Wismec’s RX line of mods remains the best choice for everyone who wants more uptime than two cells can provide.
As for negatives, excluding the Reuleax line’s size and heft, each model had some different drawbacks. They all have a merely good 510 connector that can fail in the (very) long run (if you often swap atomizers). They’re all prone to leaks, with juice finding its way inside (and, eventually, frying their board) through the 510 connector and buttons. It was harder to replace the cells in the first models, and the process could damage their wraps.
However, all those problems also depend on how you’re using the device, and some are mostly preventable. We’d like it to have a better 510 connector on which you could swap tanks all day long, but most people don’t spend their time changing atomizers just for fun. Damage from leaks is preventable as long as you take care of your gear and treat it as an electronic device instead of a sponge. And that’s how many people are still using the very first RX200 they bought years ago. If you accept that and want to vape at a high wattage without needing to recharge or swap cells mid-day, Wismec’s Reuleaux mods are the way to go.
Note that the first RX200 was initially released in two versions, one of which rocked a DNA chip. That one’s rare (and discontinued) by now, but if it happens to be the one you have, it’s incompatible with ArcticFox. Plus, there’d be no reason to use it: you already have something just as good, if not better. Remember, ArcticFox tries to make lesser mods perform like one with a DNA board, not the other way around.
What we like:
- Most members of the Reuleaux family use three cells, and it shows both in their power delivery and uptime
- Ultra-easy default interface – just in case you decide to not flash ArcticFox
- Highly original “trapezoid” design makes the mods feel good in action despite being both large and heavy
What we don’t like:
- The RX 200 can tear battery wraps during (re)placement
- The RX2/3 was said to have a cable behind the fire button that could fail. The problem’s easy to fix, but consumer shouldn’t have to fix themselves design and QC errors
- All mods in the RX family are larger and heavier than many alternatives
Joyetech Cuboid / Cuboid 200
Ah, the good, old, trusty Cuboid. A line of mods that Joyetech never decided how to market, with many devices sharing the same name (and underlying tech), despite looking vastly different.
Out of all of them, the ones we suggest you choose for ArcticFox are the older “plain” Cuboid and Cuboid 200 versions. Which one you’ll go for depends on their availability where you live.
The “plain” Cuboid is a boxy two-cell mod with a large screen. It feels like a mix between Smok‘s Alien and the VTC Mini. The Cuboid 200 is slimmer but wider to accommodate three cells inside. Both look serious, classy, and have excellent build quality.
Both also share the same problems with their relatives in this list of ours: they have a sub-optimal 510 connector, and they’re prone to damage from leaking. That’s even more true for the Cuboid 200, which has its screen directly next to its 510 connector, where it’s easy to get soaked in juice.
As with the rest of the mods, though, we mention those “problems” purely because we want to be factual. Other mods from other companies share the same “problems.” Don’t overdo it swapping atomizers for no reason, don’t let them soak in juice, and they can last you years.
Unfortunately, the newer Cuboids introduce some hardware tweaks, like a different screen, that NFE Team wouldn’t be worth the time to support. The only other officially supported model is the Cuboid Mini, which we wouldn’t suggest you choose because of its internal battery. Not being able to replace the battery means that when it dies, you’ll have to replace the mod itself. If that’s no problem for you, though, by all means, go for it!
What we like:
- Like the Primos, both the Cuboid and Cuboid 200 look like devices designed for adults, serious and cool
- The classic Cuboid fits in your hand almost like SMOK’s Alien, and feels very comfortable in use
- Despite housing three cells, the Cuboid 200 is ultra-slim, and can fit in any pocket
- Both devices come with big and readable screens
What we don’t like:
- Mediocre 510 connectors
- Said to be prone to leaks, buttons can get “sticky”
- Despite using three cells, the Cuboid 200 doesn’t feel more powerful, nor last much longer than a modern two-cell mod
- The classic Cuboid is hard to find nowadays
eLeaf iKonn 220
One of the newer dual-cell devices you can use with ArcticFox, eLeaf’s iKonn has the same form factor popularized by Smok’s Alien. It’s small, light, fits in your palm, and is a joy to hold. It also has a similar firing side-bar and bottom battery door.
The iKonn 220 can be described as a dual-cell iStick Pico shoved in a Smok Alien-like body. Its screen is a larger version of what every other iStick mod comes with and uses the same menu system by default (until you flash ArcticFox on it).
It’s also an excellent option for fans of large atomizers, supporting up to 28mm width without overhang. Plus, large atomizers usually translate to equally large coils, and the iKonn 220 is more than capable of powering them. As its name implies, it can output up to 220W of power, although even two high-amp cells won’t be able to make it through the day when vaping that high.
Except for the connector and leakage problems it shares with its siblings, there haven’t been any significant problems reported about the iKonn 220. The only criticism some have about it is that it’s too “plasticky” for their liking compared to some fully metal slabs available on the market. Admittedly it is, but unlike them, it can run ArcticFox – and that’s why it’s here instead of them.
What we like:
- Great form factor – as popularized by SMOK’s Alien
- Very comfortable and relatively light
- Nice color combinations, without being too flashy
- Two-cells and enough space around the 510 connector can accommodate up to 25mm atomizers with power-hungry builds
- We like side-buttons
What we don’t like:
- Mid-level build quality
- Finicky battery door
- Battery vents near atomizer, could allow juice get inside the mod in case of excessive leaking
Joyetech Elitar Pipe
OK, yes, this option is discontinued, and you’ll also probably not be able to find it anywhere. Theoretically, there’s no point in us including the Elitar Pipe among our choices. But how could we ignore the only ArcticFox-compatible mod ever released for fans of Lord of the Rings or Sherlock Holmes?!
You see, as its name clearly states, this mod by eLeaf was the closest equivalent to a pipe.
The Elitar Pipe mimics a pipe’s shape, but that’s where all the pros end. It’s not the best single-cell device on the market, it’s not the most well designed, and to top it off, you won’t find it anywhere since it’s ancient by today’s standards. Still, as we said, we’ve included it purely for completion’s sake since it’s the only pipe-shaped mod on the planet that can run ArcticFox. Thus, if you run into a used one, and you’d like to have an e-pipe, it’s your best option.
What we like:
- Very original design (based on pipes)
- Looks cool (if you like pipes)
- Feels familiar (if you’ve transitioned to vaping to quit smoking a pipe)
- It’s the best gadget for a modern Sherlock Holmes
What we don’t like:
- You can’t find it anymore
- Only for pipe-lovers
- Single-cell means it’s only good for low wattages/MtL atomizers
Better Than a DNA or YiHi?
The myth that DNA mods are better-built is just that, a myth, as proven by how many of them are failing – many of which Evolv are repairing themselves. YiHi’s options are somewhat better put together, but only because YiHi themselves make them. It’s rare finding a device made by some other company carrying one of their chips nowadays. In both cases, your options usually start at one hundred bucks.
With all that in mind, an ArcticFox-compatible mod becomes the rational choice.
If we’re to be realists, it won’t be as “good” as a DNA or YiHi mod. The build materials will be worse. It will feel cheaper, have a more generic design, but, more importantly, be less accurate. The Nuvoton chip inside it might be a versatile little wonder in the hands of NFE Team’s members, but there are limits to what it can pull off.
Thus, if you can afford them, yeah, DNA and YiHi mods are the better option, and we suggest you go for them. For the rest of us, an ArcticFox-enabled mod will do. Even if it’s old and we found the last piece at a yard sale. In pink.