Portable vs Desktop Vaporizers for weed, Which One You Should Get?

January 09, 2019

By E.L.

Besides getting high, what do you wish to get out of your vaporizer? Since different vaporizers suit different lifestyles, narrowing down your chosen vaporizer style further to match your needs  is key. Based on how you like to consume, what you like to consume (wax, dry herb, etc.), where and when all matter. 

Related article: What Are the Benefits Of Vaping Weed? 7 Reasons To Vape Weed Instead Of Smoking It.

Keep in mind, the most important thing in any vaporizers is the process of extracting the major Cannabinoid components (THC and CBD). This process is directly related to multiple factors: the heating design, how the airflow is constructed in the vaporizer bowl, and heat distribution. With that said, don't rely on the vaporizer specifications, try to look more into people's reviews and what they think. 

Portable Vaporizers vs. Desktop Vaporizers


Portable Vaporizers


If you're interested in a portable vaporizer, there are few features that you'd want to consider. Keep in mind, though, the level of importance of every feature may vary from person-to-person based on their needs. Personally, I started with just wanting something portable and discrete, and at the same time powerful. There are literally hundreds of different devices that are called "portable" and are quite "discrete," but not necessarily powerful.

Here is what you need to consider in a portable vaporizer:

  • Small enough to fit in your pocket, but remember, portability is a relative term
  • Good battery life, and that depends on how many times you can hit the vaporizer before you need to recharge
  • Removable/replaceable battery, which is important to some people. It allows you to get an extra battery, just in case your vaporizers die on you.
  • Quick Charge time, this has never been a problem for me. I'm a pretty organized guy, and I have a good sense of when my vaporizer is running out of juice (no pun intended). I also don't use my vaporizer as often as some other people do. So I always sure to charge my vaporizer overnight, then I'm good to go the rest of the day.
  • Passthrough charging (using the vaporizer while charging). This point is more important for convection vaporizers because they need more power compared to conduction vaporizers. Check our post about the difference between conduction and convection vaporizers here.
  • A large internal bowl can also be very useful, especially on the go. This feature can be nice so I won't need to pack it every 30 minutes. Again, it depends on how much you smoke and how often you need to take a hit.
  • The maximum temperature that the vaporizer can provide. Check Leafly’s article about How to Customize Your Cannabis High With Temperature


    Other considerations you may want to look at:

    • Is the mouthpiece made of rubber, plastic, metal or glass? Metal and glass would be the best choices. The rubber and plastic, on the other hand, can produce undesirable flavor.
    • Heating time.Some devices take as little 10 seconds and some take a minute or two.
    • What about vapor quality and taste?? Generally speaking, desktop vaporizers will produce a more accurate vape taste and provide, what so called, a “true vaping” experience.
    • Do you want a device to be used with only cannabis dry herbs, oils, or concentrates? Or do you want a device that can handle all types?
    • Conduction or convection? Again, check our post about the difference between conduction and convection vaporizers here

      Here is a list of the most discreet portable dry herb vaporizers and vape pens in the market currently. They provide a quick and easy hit without attracting the stares of passersby, so you can consume your cannabis products in peace. BUT still look over your shoulders before you take a hit. We don't condone illegal activities, but smoking weed in public is still illegal even in those states where it's recreationally legal. 

      Desktop Vaporizers


      Honestly, the bigger the vaporizer is, the harder it hits. So if discretion and portability are not a concern, or you’re looking for a device for home use that has more power for a better quality vape to be your primary consumption tool, a desktop vaporizer would be a better choice. Almost all of the desktop vaporizers need to be plugged into the wall, which to their portable cousins, powerful and consistent when it comes to vapor quality and performance. It is also  a lot more suitable for longer sessions and to be shared with a group of people, hookah-style..

      Because of the big size, desktop vaporizer manufacturers were able to pack them with a variety of complex features that is hard to fit in a portable vape, therefore, desktop vaporizers are irresistible for stoners who're looking for a stationary device for smoking weed.

      When it comes to cost, desktop vaporizers are usually more expensive than their portable counterparts.

      There are two main styles for a desktop vaporizer, a Whip Style vaporizer and Forced Air style. What’s the difference you ask? Well…

        • A whip style vaporizer uses a piece of tubing called a “whip” for the consumer to inhale vapors from.
        • A forced air vaporizer is a bit more advanced and utilizes a fan and hot air that is blown into a balloon bag or whip attachment. The vapor is then consumed from the bag or attachment.
        • In addition to the whip and forced air, there are products that are multi-functional/hybridand some new types that even go outside of these versions; though the whip, forced air, and multi-functional are the most common.


      Like the portable vaporizers, the desktop versions come in many shapes and sizes to meet all consumers’ needs.

      Here is what you need to consider for a desktop vaporizer:

      • Are you homebound most of the time? Staying in one place?
      • Do you have big groups of friends? (4+)
      • Do you like to partake often/a lot at a time?
      • Are you coming from smoking and miss big cloud production?

      These are my top picks for best desktop vaporizer:  

      Now, another thing to consider when purchasing either a desktop or a portable vaporizer: Conduction or Convection - Two Main Types of Vaporizers



      So if you were trying to purchase a long-lasting vape, one of the things you may have thought of is the parts of the vape, which have a short life span that will render the vape obsolete after awhile. It is important to consider the upkeep of a vaporizer, whether that is replaceable batteries for your portable, or bags for your desktop vape.

      Portable replacements: Most of the portables vaporizers fail to some electronic problem, which is something to predict, replace and plan for. Then, there are the broken plastic components (cases, covers,etc). Generally speaking, they're hard to find and most manufacturers mostly don't sell them.

      That being said, if you maintain/clean your vaporizers well and regularly, the only thing that you may need to replace over time is the battery. Some vaporizers' batteries can be replaced easily, like the focusvape or Boundless. A 18650 LG generic battery can work just fine and easily switched. However, some vaporizers manufacturers, especially the better known brands, have followed Apple's business model. They decided to seal the vaporizer and won't give the consumer access to exchange the battery. In that case, you will need to contact the manufacturer and ship the device to them, like The Mighty, The Crafty and The Pax.

      If you don't want the headache of running your vaporizer off of a battery, which may die on you in the middle of the evening while hanging out with your buddies because you forgot to charge it, you could eliminate the battery all together and get a DynaVap vaporizer. Very budget friendly and will last you practically forever. The only downside is that you have to carry a small torch lighter with it, but you can always have one of these pouches.

      For some other portables like the Davinci IQ, you’ll have options to switch the mouthpieces, or the IQ’s rather unique “flavor chamber”. These mouthpieces can be used as a bubbler, stealth, or an elongated mouthpiece that also acts as a water pipe adapter. Each vape may come with its own unique replaceable parts, so it is important to do your research on specific vapes once you decide if a portable or desktop is right for you. But it is important to understand what is available after purchase, and what can be replaced.

      Related article: Wax vs. Dry Herb Vaporizers: What’s better?

      Desktop replacements: Most desktops vaporizers also come with replaceable parts as well. For example, for the Volcano, you will need to change out your bags or else the flavor stales and you’ll start having a less pleasant experience the older a bag gets. The Arizer EQ has attachable glass-on-glass components, like the cyclone bowl and “elbow” that can break. Whip tubings will also need a replacement as just like the bags, the flavor will stale and the resin will build up.

      Desktops may not have as much options of replaceable parts like their portable counterparts (especially internal plug-in battery vs a 18650 battery), but that does not mean they are short on customizable options as well. For example, the Da Buddha/Silver Surfer vaporizers have customizable glass parts that can be purchased in the aftermarket. The DDave mod for the Arizer EQ is an aftermarket mod that comes with its own bowl, and ability to attach to a water pipe which replaces the main cyclone bowl.

      Just like with portables, it is important to research the specific vaporizer you are interested in once you decide if a desktop or portable is right for you, as they will have different availabilities regarding what can be replaced and what cannot.



      For my personal use, I personally prefer a desktop over a portable vaporizer. I am the type of person who is a homebody, and someone who wants to have a session often. Portable vaporizers can degrade overtime in their performance when you use it as much as you would a desktop.

      Desktops have longer lifespans, hit harder, and can be always on (such as the Underdog) or on for long periods of time (such as the Arizer EQ). However, that does not mean I don’t love and use my portables as much. Desktops aren’t perfect, and there are just some conveniences about a portable that the desktop cannot match.

      The ability to have a vaporizer in your palm, and not tethered to a wall, is a substantial amount of freedom. When I go to my friends’ houses, if we plan to have multiple people and a big session, I will bring my desktops with me. However, when out and about on a hike, or having smaller sessions with a smaller group of people, I definitely opt for my portables. Sometimes I just want a quick session and don't feel like waiting for my desktop to kick on, or be tethered to a wall inside my home.

      There’s pros and cons to both, and I will reflect on them in this section.

      Desktops: For desktops, my three go-tos are my Underdog, Arizer EQ, and Volcano. If I had to choose one I use the most, it would be the EQ. I use the Underdog for microdosing, large water pipe hits, or an always-ready quick session with myself and one other person.

      The Arizer EQ is on my computer desk, ready to go in 2.5 minutes. The fan assist is nice, and although I never use the bags (that’s what the Volcano is for), the whip function works perfectly for my purposes. I have the Volcano when I want a session on-tap, or when a gathering of friends come by. The Volcano is a personal favorite of all my friends, since it is effortless to pass a bag around that is ready in 30 seconds.


      • Long, hard-hitting sessions
      • (If bags) Better to pass around for large sessions
      • Large vapor production, with less harsh, flavorful hits (whip or bag)


      • Tethered to an electrical outlet, if the power is out, so is the vape
      • Electrical and battery components are mostly irreplaceable and can fail after long-term use
      • Longer heat up times (for most vapes)

      Portables: My go-to portables at the moment are the Arizer Solo II, Magic Flight Launch Box (MFLB), and the Davinci IQ. If I had a choose a favorite of the three, it would be the Solo II. However, when going out and about, I tend to bring my MFLB or Davinci IQ for quick, stealthy sessions.

      Since I have the option of a desktop when I am home, I don’t tend to decrease the lifespan of my portables versus if I’m solely using portables for my all-day purposes. They hit hard, they are reliable, and they are handy when you need them.

      For a while, I had to rely solely on the Boundless CFX while I was without a desktop for awhile. It got the job done. If it was the Solo II, I feel I would’ve been happier with the results. Again, this goes back to the specific vape. I did notice that the auto shutoff timers and restrictive airflows irked me a bit, but keep in mind that portables are meant for quick sessions on-the-go, not as a heavy hitter all day.


      • Portable, not tethered to a wall and on-the-go ready
      • Discreet, easier to hide
      • Decent flavor (better with glass options)
      • Easy to pass around to friends
      • (If applicable) Replaceable batteries
      • Faster heat up times (for some vaporizers)


      • Restricted airflow, sometimes harsher hits
      • Shorter sessions/auto shutoff timer
      • Shorter lifespan (especially true for non-replaceable battery vapes)
      • For some vaporizers (such as the MFLB), have a higher learning curve
      • (If no passthrough charging) Waiting for the vaporizer to charge



      So it all comes down to preference. Are you an active person who always finds themselves outside than inside? Do you like large sessions while you’re home? Do you usually partake by yourself or with friends? These are questions to consider when deciding if a portable or a desktop is right for you. I would recommend a Desktop vaporizer to homebound users who partake often with large hits and less concerns about sesh timers and restrictive airflow. I would recommend a Portable vaporizer to users who are active, always out to a friend’s house without the hassle of setting up. Users who do not mind having a session timer to pace themselves, and a little sacrifice on airflow.

      I would recommend the Arizer EQ, Da Buddha, and the Underdog as beginner vaporizers. You can check out the individual review links here for the EQ, here for the Da Buddha, and here for the Underdog. They’re all in a similar price range that is great for beginners, the Underdog may take some getting used to but its very discreet and can be on all the time.

      For portables, I would recommend the ArGo, Solo II, Davinci IQ, and the Magic Flight Launch Box. All are pretty great for beginners, except the Magic Flight Launch Box might be better for a little more advanced users who would not mind learning a learning curve to get consistent hits. However, it is the smallest of the rest, and you will be rewarded for putting in time.

      Whatever you pick, I hope it is an enjoyable experience for you. Happy vaping!

      The best place you can find very informative vaporizer enthusiasts is this subreddit. Or you can reach out to me here, and I will answer any questions.

      Go back to the main article: The Ultimate Guide To Buying Your First Marijuana Vaporizer.


      Co-written by E.L., a cannabis vaporizer enthusiast excited to share his passion among beginner and passionate consumers alike.