Background

When choosing between dry herb vaporizers, users (and especially new users) have a lot of factors to consider. Devices now come in all shapes, sizes, and offer varying levels of vapor quality. One of the key factors, however, is portability. Thankfully in 2021, small doesn’t exactly mean less powerful - handy portables now deliver top-notch vapor quality coupled with a good number of high-tech features. Two such devices are the Zeus Arc GT (review | buy) and the DaVinci IQC (review |buy).

The Zeus Arc GT was released in 2018 by Canada-based brand Zeus Arsenal and the brand reportedly spent 2 years designing the Zeus Arc and the Zeus Arc GT. They’re the only vaporizers Zeus Arsenal produces, so the amount of R&D time makes a lot of sense. The Zeus Arc GT defines what the brand calls “solid-gold vaping”. Zeus Arsenal means this literally, Zeus Arc GT swaps out standard metal/aluminum parts for gold. The Arc also features easy to access heat cycles, great battery life, haptic feedback, and LED light indicators.

Zeus Arc Vaporizer Design

The DaVinci IQC is the latest release  (July 2021) from the well-known brand: DaVinci. They’ve taken the iconic and road-tested design of the 2016 original IQ (review | buy) and refreshed it to be more functional, improving its ergonomics, applied materials, and overall performance. It still retains several DaVinci signatures such as a lightweight and portable body, LED light display, zirconia pearl, and customizable smart paths. But it stands out from the rest of the brand’s products by having a more rugged look, new hi-temperature silicone replacements for zirconia parts, and USC-C charging.

The Zeus Arc GT is only compatible with dry herb while the DaVinci IQC is compatible with both dry herb and concentrates. To maintain your device and improve its longevity- it’s best to keep your wax pen and dry herb vaporizer separate. For this comparison, I’ll only be testing the IQC with dry herb. To test the Arc GT and IQC, I used them with CBD herb from In-Hemp (visit store) and THC from my local dispensary.

Kit & Accessories

Both devices come with fairly standard kits, with everything you need to start using the device straight away. They both come with their respective charging cables, cleaning tools, and manuals. The only outlier is that the IQC’s kit comes with an extended mouthpiece which can be used as a water pipe adapter - while the Arc GT’s only comes with a single mouthpiece and the water pipe adapter has to be purchased separately. 

An optional (yet highly recommended accessory) for the IQC is the dosage pods which can be pre-loaded with herb and stored in an accompanying holder. The pods can be dropped into the device on the go, so you won’t have to manually load at each turn. Other than the standard water pipe adapter, the Zeus Arc GT’s accessories include the ZEUS Iceborn V2 - which cools down the vapor dramatically by allowing the user to freeze the adapter and draw through rubber whips. (Use our exclusive coupon code: TVG10 for 10% off your total purchase)

Design and Features

Without a doubt, both the Zeus Arc GT and DaVinci IQC are attractive, well-designed devices. While they do share the same minimal and structured design philosophy, it is their design details that really differentiate them. On the Arc GT, it’s the gold lettering on the sides that add a more premium touch, while on the IQC - the silicone lip adds a rugged, tough look to an otherwise sleek device.

Both devices are discreet and give no clue regarding what they are. They’re also roughly the same height and size- the IQC is 3.54in tall and  1.65wide, while the Arc GT is just under 3.5in tall and 1.6in tall. Their size makes their portability a non-issue - either device will fit perfectly in a pocket or purse or be somewhat concealable in your hand.

DaVinci IQC 

The IQC sports a durable and dense-looking sandblasted aluminum body. Sandblasted aluminum was actually the same material used on the original IQ, but changed to brushed aluminum on the IQ2. The IQC comes in several colors and all in a matte finish. The IQC’s design is a refreshed take on the classic IQ - the original, the IQ2, and even the much smaller Miqro (review | buy) all had monochromatic looks and aluminum lids. This change in body material and the blacktop outline definitely adds to the new rugged, rough feel of the IQC.

The black antimicrobial polymer lid houses the mouthpiece and may be opened to expose the airpath and the removable battery. The hinges that attach both the top and bottom lids have been improved and made more durable.  The bottom lid opens to expose the ceramic oven and zirconia pearl. The Zirconia pearl is a DaVinci  device signature, and it serves two functions:

  1. it encloses the oven from the bottom, and it heats up to create a more even heat distribution, therefore creating a more even “burn” of herb. 
  2. It sits on a short thread and can be screwed out slightly, reducing the space in the oven and allowing any user to use less herb in a session. 

Zeus Arc GT 

The exterior body is made with durable anodized aluminum that feels smooth and dense to the touch. As mentioned earlier, the GT has gold black lettering on its side - which other than being a design element, differentiates it from the basic Zeus Arc.

Located on the same side as the gold lettering is three LED lights that indicate which heating cycle you’re on and the current battery level. The battery level is accessed by a simple shake of the device thanks to the built-in accelerometer. The lights are an intuitive enough visual for knowing the battery level and current temperature. The Arc GT also features haptic feedback, so it vibrates whenever heating is complete.

Zeus Arc Vaporizer Bowl and Mouthpiece

The top lid/mouthpiece can be fully removed to expose the gold heatsink and is secured by magnets when placed back on the device. One cool detail is that the Arc GT comes with a multi-tool that’s magnetically attached to the base of the device. It covers the micro-USB charging port, but you have the option to place the tool on the mouthpiece (which is also magnetic) while charging.

Battery

The Zeus Arc GT has a built-in 3500mAH battery which is good for 8-9 sessions or 90 minutes of continuous use. That’s relatively long especially when you consider how small it is. It charges via a micro-USB port that’s located beneath the magnetically attached stirring tool at the base of the device. For a device with gold features and a premium price tag, USB-C would’ve been a better choice.

The DaVinci IQC is powered by a removable 18650 battery that lasts around 6-8 sessions on a full charge. One of the IQC’s s standout improvements is having USB-C charging, which is more stable than the former micro-USB. But charging the battery in the device takes about 2 hours depending on the output of your wall outlet. This is why I highly recommend considering purchasing a replacement battery (buy on amazon) so you can swap the dead one out for a charged one at every turn.

Mouthpiece

The Zeus Arc GT’s recessed mouthpiece takes the same amount of getting used to as the IQC’s flat one. The mouthpiece is a small and narrow slit that sits flush on top of the device, meaning your lip will be touching the device’s body as you draw. On the flip side, the raised lip surrounding the herb chamber makes loading effortless since you can use it to scoop up your herb and keeping it from your hands.

The IQC comes with two separate mouthpiece options - a recessed mouthpiece that comes pre-installed in the device and an extended mouthpiece that can be used as a 10mm adapter for pipes for added water filtration. Between these two mouthpieces, the flat one is more discreet, but the raised mouthpiece feels a lot more natural in use. It has less draw resistance and slightly increases the airpath - cooling down the vapor even more.

Ease of Use

DaVinci IQC

The IQC features two distinct temperature modes - smart path mode and precision mode. Precision mode is exactly as it sounds, simply click the power button once and use the arrows to set the temperature. The smart path mode gradually increases the oven temperature during your session and lasts 8 minutes. This is great especially when you’re still getting the feel of the device and don’t quite know your ideal heat setting. Once you do get a better grasp on using the IQC, you can opt to customize the smart path settings via the accompanying smartphone app.

by default, the temperature settings are as follows:

  • Mode 1: starts at 350F and increases to 370F
  • Mode 2: starts at 370F and increases to 390F
  • Mode 3- starts at 390 and increases to 410F
  • Mode 4: starts at 410 and increases to 430F

Holding the power button during a session activates “boost mode” which will heat up and maintain max power and reach the max temp of 430F until you release the button. On the front face of the device is another feature that’s consistent across all the IQ devices, the LED panel. The LED panel is made up of 51 individual lights and displays the current temperature setting, smart path, and battery level.

Zeus Arc GT

The Zeus Arc is about as straightforward as any vaporizer gets. It is incredibly intuitive and easy to figure out on the first go. While it does lack a digital display, the LED lights are a good enough visual cue - indicating its three preset temperature settings: 212C, 221C, and 230C.

The Arc GT doesn’t come with an accompanying smartphone app, but there is a firmware update that allows users to select the heating cycle that best matches their vaping styles and habits. (This update is only available to download on Windows OS7 or higher)

  • Performance mode: this is the default setting for the Zeus Arc. It operates on the default temperature settings of 205 C, 215 C°, and 225 C°, default cool down, and motion sensor shutoff time.
  • Performance with Iceborn: This mode is for when using the Zeus Arc with the Iceborn V2 or water-pipes, this setting disables the cool-down and motion sensor shut-off times. It operates on the default heat settings.
  • Flavor Mode: This one is obviously for the flavor fiends, in this setting, the default temperatures are scaled-down by 20C
  • Balanced Mode: This is the best of both worlds, providing a bigger gap in-between temperatures. The starting temp is lower at 185C, while the middle temp is 205C, before cranking it up to the default 225C.

Performance and Vapor Quality

Zeus Arc Vaporizer DaVinci IQ Chamber Comparison

Zeus Arc GT

At first, I initially had the presumption that the pure gold conduction heating chamber and vapor path were a marketing gimmick that didn’t affect the experience. But after using it- the gold does somewhat contribute to the overall vapor quality. Using gold was a pretty bold yet smart move for Zeus Arsenal - gold allows for the rapid heating of your material, but a near-instant cooling of the vapor. The resulting vapor is cool, flavor-forward, and dense. This is quite impressive for a conduction vaporizer with a flat mouthpiece since these two things typically contribute to warmer and harsh vapor.

The temperature cycles of the Zeus Arc are an interesting take on the usual temperature settings, these cycles allow you to use a single load/chamber of herb over several sessions at different times of the day, or you can enjoy a long session in a single sitting. 

DaVinci IQC

The IQC boasts one of the best performances on a portable. The IQC heats to temperature in about 20-30 seconds and produced clean, dense, weighty vapor, and preserved the delicate flavors of the material. The density of the vapor was quite unexpected, especially for a conduction vaporizer - but I’d credit the zirconia pearl for that. It helps to regulate the oven temperature and provides a nice even vape to the herbs. The long airpath helps to cool down the vapor, particularly with the extended mouthpiece.

As the improved version of such a popular device, there were definitely high expectations for the IQC- and it delivered. The vapor quality produced by the IQC is just as good as its predecessor and might just be the most potent vapor out of any vape available right now 

Bottom Line

The Zeus Arc GT and the DaVinci IQC have several things in common, three of which are worth noting. One is that they’re similarly sized portables that can be taken anywhere. Two, they are both efficient conduction vaporizers that produce vapor quality that’s surprising for the heating method. Lastly, they’re priced the same at $230.  

So, when choosing between them, the question then becomes one of value- and the IQC certainly wins here. For the same price, you get a newer device packed with features and customizations and an added mouthpiece to boot. The Zeus Arc GT is still a great straightforward device especially if you prefer something quick, but the DaVinci IQC can do the same and much more for the same price. If you’re still unsure, there are several more devices on our list of the best dry herb vaporizers of this year