The Pax 3 (review | buy), even after being on the market since 2016 - is still an iconic and best-selling device. Its sleek look and uber-portable design made it the more appealing choice - especially against the rugged and larger devices at the time. The release of the Pax proved that there was a demand for smaller, more stylish devices, so you could say that the Pax paved the way for the creation of the device we’re pitting it against, the G-Pen Elite 2 (review | buy)
Both the Pax and G-Pen Elite 2 prove that small doesn’t mean basic or fewer features. In fact, these two represent the current best of compact vaping - both are well-performing vaporizers that come with their own suite of unique features - all geared towards making your sessions as customizable and as great as possible.
- Sleek, Minimalist, Compact Portables
- Fast heat-up times
- Internal batteries
- Kit Options and Accessories
- Interface: buttons vs no buttons
- Elite: Full-Color TFT Display & Precise Temperature Control
- Pax 3: Smartphone App & Buttonless Design
- Elite: 3-Part Zirconia Mouthpiece
- Pax 3: Mouthpiece Options
- Heat Dissipation & Airpath Design
- Pax 3: Conduction Heating
- Elite: Dual Heating Technology
G-Pen Elite VS Pax 3 Similarities
Both the G-Pen Elite 2 and the Pax 3 is priced at $199, which places them in the entry-level luxury range for dry herb vaporizers. A difference, however, is that you can opt to get the Pax’s “complete kit” at $50 more, and this kit comes with more accessories and other added tools.
Sleek, Minimalist, Compact Portables
Compact Vaporizers are probably the best-looking vaporizers on the spectrum - they’re usually sleek, minimal, and (often) mysterious. Giving no clue at first glance that it’s a device meant for cannabis consumption.
The Pax 3’s design remains largely similar to the original Pax (released in 2012) and the Pax devices seem to be getting smaller with each release. It still remains to be a sleek columnar vaporizer with its signature lights on the front. The LED indicators light up in various configurations to indicate device temperature, battery life, and whether the device is switched on. Pax has (from the first device till now) also kept its signature button-free interface.
When the Pax was released, it looked like it was from the future- and until now, it still does. Though compact, it’s far from fragile. The anodized aluminum shell is definitely strong and feels slightly dense to the touch.
G-Pen Elite 2
Just like the Pax 3, the G-Pen Elite 2 also keeps the design of the original Elite, but with a lot of modern updates. The Elite 2’s body is constructed out of a zinc alloy and feels durable, dense, and solid in your hands. The mouthpiece sits on top, the tactile buttons are placed on the sides, the USB-C port is located at the base, and there’s a small oven tool that slips right into the body.
One of the best things (design-wise) about the Elite 2 is definitely its ergonomics; all the lines, grooves, and dips on the Elite 2 are more than just attractive. They guide your hand to the most comfortable and ideal grip.
Fast Heat-Up Times
The Pax and the G-Pen Elite 2 both feature relatively quick heat-up times, taking roughly 30 seconds or so to reach any temperature within its range. The time obviously varies depending on how high you go, but they’re both so quick, you might actually miss it. Thankfully both devices also feature haptic feedback to let you know as soon as it's time to draw.
The Pax 3 is powered by a 3500mAh battery which is good for roughly 7-9, 10-minute sessions. That’s an impressive amount of time considering its size and beats the Elite 2 which is powered by a 2100mAh battery and lasts about 60 minutes.
Although, the Pax 3 charges via its magnetic proprietary charger. This means once you’re out of battery and nowhere near your charger - you’re done. So, while the Elite 2 may have less use time, charging via USB-C makes all the difference. Accessibility and convenience win.
G-Pen Elite VS Pax 3 Differences
Kit Options and Accessories
The Pax 3 is available in either of two kits, a “device only” kit and a “complete kit”. Think of the “device only” kit as a basic set- with all that you need to use the Pax 3. The “complete kit” on the other hand, is $50 more and comes with the following accessories so you can really explore the Pax’s full range.
- Concentrate insert: To use the Pax 3 extracts and other solid concentrates
- Extra lid (half oven): This allows you to pack the oven with half the amount of herbs for shorter sessions or microdosing
- Multi-tool: This handy tool is for packing, emptying, and cleaning the oven
The G-Pen Elite 2 has a kit that’s basically like the “device only” kit of the Pax. It’s a relatively lean kit with everything you’ll need to start vaping straightway, and it comes with the brand’s signature Hemp hard case. The case is smell-proof, has a snug mold for your Elite 2, and a small pocket for your extras. The kit comes with:
- G-Pen Elite 2 vaporizer
- USB-C charging cable
- Instruction Manual
- Silicone Sleeve
Full-Color TFT Display & Precise Temperature Control
The G-Pen Elite 2, instead of having a smartphone app, everything you need to know and do - can be done all on the device itself. The buttons on the Elite 2 allow you to toggle and select any temperature within its 200–428°F (93–220°C) range. The buttons are shaped in descending sizes so you won’t ever have to fumble around when you’re setting your temp.
Located on the rear bottom of the device is a full-color TFT display that shows the current device status, operating temperature, and battery level. There’s also a settings menu that shows session durations, turn off/on convection boost, haptic feedback, toggle between C/F, and adjust the brightness. To make it even more discreet, the screen is complete
Since the screen is on the backside, there’s a small LED light in the front that blinks during heating and becomes solid when it’s good to go. The light sits at an angle so it's only visible when you’re looking down on it, but not from any other direction.
Smartphone App & Buttonless Design
The Pax 3 is one of the few buttonless vaporizers available, and it leans heavily on its smartphone app for full control. To communicate its current status, the LED petals on the logo light up accordingly. It also features haptic feedback and vibrates once it reaches temperature and is ready to go.
On the smartphone app you can pick between the following use modes:
- Standard Mode: A balanced mode for first-time vapers.
- Boost Mode: The temperature rises quickly and comes down just as fast, this is for quick and easy sessions.
- Flavor Mode: Quick to heat and quick to cool to better preserve flavor.
- Stealth Mode: Made for low profile vaping and speeds up cool down time, and dims the LED lights.
- Efficiency Mode: The oven temperature increases by 1° over the length of each session. Great for saving battery life.
Another one of the Pax 3’s tech features is its use of lip-sensing technology. Essentially, your vape knows whether you’re taking back-to-back draws or spacing them out. The Pax 3 then adjusts to efficiently fit your vaping style.
Note: Apple has currently banned all vaping-related applications on the App Store. If you’re an iPhone user and want to use your devices, please see the full set of instructions on connecting your Pax 3 to the Pax web application
Whether you pick the Pax 3’s Device or Complete kit, you’ll get the following mouthpieces:
- The Flat Mouthpiece sits flush with the top of the device and preserves the sleek and simple shape of the Pax 3. But I found that it feels a little awkward to use. Your lip is around the mouthpiece and the side of the device, which sometimes gets dirty or warm.
- The Raised Mouthpiece feels a little better, as your lips only touch the silicone mouthpiece. The draw and mouthfeel are also more natural this way and there’s no heat to worry about.
3- Part Zirconia Mouthpiece
The G-Pen Elite 2 only comes with one mouthpiece, but it’s really the only one you’ll need. The mouthpiece assembly is made of three parts:
- The Outer Zirconia Shell: Zirconia is a strong material with low thermal conductivity – which simply means it’s not going to get uncomfortably warm, nor is it fragile.
- Inner silicone sleeve: This sleeve has a screen to filter particles, protects the helix encased inside, and keeps heat from dissipating outwards onto the mouthpiece.
- Zirconia helix: The helix is designed to effectively lengthen the vapor path, ensuring that you get only the coolest and purest results.
Heat Dissipation & Airpath Design
The Pax 3 and Elite 2 share a very common issue - due to their compact sizes, there isn’t much room for the heat to dissipate and it definitely can get uncomfortable, especially during high-temperature sessions. Where the oven and the air path are located also matter since these are “hotspots” on the device.
Since the Pax 3 is a bottom-loading device, the airpath travels through the entire length of the device, towards the mouthpiece on top. While the G-Pen Elite 2 on the other hand, has all of its hot components up top. The oven is located directly under the mouthpiece, and the airpath is effectively lengthened by the Zirconia helix inside the mouthpiece assembly. So it’s the entire body of the Pax that gets hot, while all the heat on the Elite 2 is localized in a single area - making the Elite the winner here.
To keep stay cool to the touch, both devices are compatible with their respective silicone sleeves and the Elite 2 has one included in the kit. Also, since both devices are sleek and shiny, I do highly recommend using a sleeve just to protect them from bumps and nicks.
The Pax 3 is a conduction vaporizer, which means the herb is heated via direct contact with the stainless steel oven. Its performance is astounding for such a small vape - heating up in about 15-20 seconds. Like all conduction compact portables though, the device does get warm towards the end of a session.
Vapor Quality: Other than its fancy design and features, it’s the results that the Pax 3 delivers that made it so popular. The first few draws on the Pax are dense, flavorful, and smooth - before slowly fading in quality as the herb gets perfectly cashed.
Dual Heating Technology
The Elite 2 introduces several features never before seen on a vape, but the dual heating ceramic oven might just take the top spot. Dual heating means using conduction and convection heating independently. This differs from hybrid heating which uses both heating methods at the same time.
It first heats the herb via convection, and then with a draw-activated convection system that generates heat outside the oven and pulls it in with every inhale. If you prefer sticking to just conduction heating, you can turn off the convection boost function via the settings menu.
Vapor Quality: This new dual heating system really produces top-notch vapor. Dense from conduction heating, flavorful from conduction heating + the ceramic oven, and perfectly cooled in the zirconia helix.
The Pax 3 paved the way for the G-Pen Elite 2 to happen and in many respects, the Pax 3 is definitely a formidable device. It’s beautifully designed, delivers great vapor, and is completely discreet. However, it’s due for an update- and since Pax hasn’t stepped up, the G-Pen Elite is the device to get.
It’s everything that the Pax 3 is and so much more. It’s hard to beat a better mouthpiece, new heating technology, onboard controls, and precision. The G-Pen is newer, better, and claims a spot on our list of the best dry herb vaporizers of 2022 – which you should definitely check out if you’d like to see more devices and in-depth reviews on each one.