When choosing a dry herb vaporizer, and depending on your preferences - discretion is definitely an important factor to consider. It’s extremely advantageous for a device to look completely nonchalant in public. A device that does not look at all like what it does, but looks rather ambiguous.
This is where both the Pax 3 (review | buy) and the Zeus Arc GT (review | buy) come in. They represent a class of vaping that is compact and stealthy. While some devices have mouthpieces that stick out or have rugged designs. These two devices are columnar in design and have recessed mouthpieces that give nothing away. But under the hood — they both boast excellent functionality, unique features, and advancements in vaping technology.
The Pax was one of the forerunners when it came to using technology to deliver a premium vaping experience. Its single button interface and overall functionality were greatly more customizable with its accompanying smartphone app. The Pax also includes advanced features like haptic feedback and a lip sensor. Design-wise- the Pax has a signature sleek and compact columnar shape that stands out from the rest of the devices on the market (which are usually rugged in design).
Canada-based brand Zeus Arsenal reportedly spent a couple of years designing and perfecting their performance vaporizers- the Zeus Arc and the Zeus Arc GT. The two are nearly similar, with the GT defining what the brand calls “solid-gold vaping”. They mean this quite literally — the 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, an accelerometer, and has a hidden multi-tool.
Both the Pax 3 and the Zeus Arc GT are compatible with dry herb, while the Pax 3 may also be used with dry herb. I tested these devices with Cherry Ultra CBD Hemp flower from In-Hemp (visit store) and tested the Pax 3’s concentrate capability with CBG wax from Steve’s Good’s (visit store).
Kit and Accessories
Between the Pax 3 and the Zeus Arc GT — the Pax’s kit is definitely more extensive. Especially since users have the option to choose between either of two kits, a “device only” kit and a “complete kit”. The device-only kit contains just the base level of accessories, but it’s definitely all you need to use your device. The complete kit includes a concentrate insert (for use with extracts), a multi-tool, 3 replacement screens, and a half-oven lid.
The Zeus Arc GT comes with some pretty basic inclusions (much like the “device only” kit of the Pax). The kit contains the Zeus Arc GT Vaporiser, pipe cleaners + Q-tips, alcohol wipes, and a USB charging cable.
There’s also a range of accessories that are made for the Zeus Arc GT, including the Zeus Bolt grinder and a water pipe adapter, so you can use the device with a 14 mm rig. Use our exclusive coupon code: TVG10 for 10% off your total purchase.
Design and Features
As mentioned earlier, the Pax 3 and the Zeus Arc GT are both compact devices that are pretty much nondescript. At first glance, the Zeus Arc looks a bit like a power bank, while the Pax resembles a new-age remote control. Both are small and are easily concealable in your palm, and the fact that they both have recessed mouthpieces just adds to the overall discretion of both devices. Sneaky vaporizing anytime.
The Arc is 3.5 inches (ca. 9 cm) in height, 2 inches (ca. 5 cm) wide, is about less than an inch deep and the device’s exterior is made with durable anodized aluminum. It definitely feels dense and hefty in your hand, which is quite the contrast to the Pax, which feels quite dainty. Its matte black finish is contrasted by the gold “GT” lettering on the side, making it look incredibly premium in the simplest of ways.
There are also three LED lights on the same side 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 provide a simple to understand visual cue, but you don’t always need them because the Arc features haptic feedback, so it vibrates whenever heating is complete.
While most vaporizer brands jump at the opportunity to redesign at each release — making devices more ergonomic or attractive. The Pax’s design has been largely unchanged since the decade it’s been on the market. The only change to this iconic design is that it’s become much smaller, adding to its overall discretion.
While it’s also made with the same anodized aluminum as the Zeus - it’s the more flashy one of the two and is slimmer, sleeker, and taller. The first thing anyone will notice is Pax’s shiny or matte exterior and the signature LED 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.
The Pax 3’s added features are definitely worth noting. Lip-sensing technology and knows whether you take back-to-back draws or you’re spacing them out. The device then adjusts to efficiently fit your vaping style while Haptic feedback indicates the status of your device by vibrating.
The Pax 3 has a built-in 3500mAH battery which lasts roughly 8-9 sessions or 90 minutes on a single charge. Of course, the battery life is dependent on the temperatures you choose and how often you use the device. Instead of the usual USB charging port, the Pax 3 charges via a proprietary magnetic charger that snaps onto the back of the device. This connection isn’t exactly the strongest, and easily gets dislodged, so it’ll be wise to find a sturdy surface to leave your Pax for the 2 hours that it’s charging.
The Zeus Arc also has a 3500mAH battery that’ll last for right around the same amount of time. It charges via a micro-USB port that’s located beneath the magnetically attached stirring tool at the bottom of the device. For a device this premium, it would’ve been better if it had a USB-C charger instead (which is more stable and charges devices faster). But in comparison to the Pax, micro-USB takes the win. Losing the Pax charger means having to purchase another one from Pax Labs, while we all definitely have a drawer full of micro-USB cables at the ready.
Since the Pax 3 doesn’t exactly have a traditional button interface, the Pax 3’s temperature settings and dynamic modes are fully controllable and customizable via the accompanying smartphone app. It’s worth noting that Apple has currently banned all vaping-related applications on the App Store. If you’re an iPhone user and want to use the Pax App, please see this full set of instructions on connecting your Pax 3 to the Pax web application.
- Standard Mode — increases oven temperature when your lips are detected on the mouthpiece and auto-cools when the device hasn’t been used for 20 seconds.
- Boost Mode — the temperature rises quickly and comes down just as fast, this is for quick and easy sessions
- Flavor Mode — heats and cools down quickly to maximize flavor and produce more vapor on demand
- Stealth Mode - made for low-profile vaping and speeds up cool-down time. This mode also dims the LED petals and puts the PAX 3 into standby mode within 15 seconds of non-use.
- Efficiency Mode — the oven temperature increases by 1° every two seconds. Great for saving battery life.
The Zeus Arc 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. However, this update is only available to download on Windows OS7 or higher- so if you have a Mac, you might need to borrow a PC to update.
- Performance mode: 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 Vapor Cooling System or water-pipes, this setting disables the cool-down and motion sensor shut-off times. It also 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 more dramatic 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.
The Pax 3 comes with two mouthpiece options straight out of the box. The built-in flat mouthpiece sits atop the device and doesn’t ruin the sleek aesthetic of the Pax 3. It feels slightly awkward and takes some getting used to, and since your lip touches the side of the device - you’ll feel the slight warmth of your PAX while in use. The raised mouthpiece feels a lot more natural to use since your lips only come in contact with the silicone mouthpiece.
Zeus ARC also has a recessed mouthpiece, which takes the same amount of getting used to as the Pax. The mouthpiece is a small and narrow slit that sits flush on top of the devices- while it does feel a little weird to draw from, especially when compared to the usually extended mouthpieces. The raised lip surrounding the herb chamber makes loading effortless since you can use it to scoop up your herb, keeping your fingers free of herb.
How a vaporizer looks is only one factor in a long list of considerations when purchasing - with performance being at the top of said list. While Pax Labs and Zeus Arsenal spared no expense when it came to designing and loading the device with features- how both devices perform in comparison to each other is an entirely different story.
Zeus Arc GT: At first, the thought of the pure gold conduction heating chamber and gold vapor path seemed quite gimmicky and just made the device more expensive. But after using it, the gold really does contribute to the overall vapor quality. The use of this metal is actually pretty smart of Zeus Arsenal- gold allows for the rapid heating of your material, but a near-instant cooldown of the vapor. The resulting vapor is cool, flavor-forward, and dense. This is quite impressive for a conduction vaporizer with a flat mouthpiece, these two things typically contribute to hot, harsh vapor.
The temperature cycles of the Zeus Arc are an interesting change from the usual temperature settings. Basically, these cycles allow you to use a single load/chamber of herb over multiple sessions at different times of the day, or you can enjoy a long session in a single sitting.
Pax 3: The Pax takes about 5-10 seconds longer to heat up, and it will feel a little warm in your hands as it does- especially on the tail end of the device where the heating chamber is located. Though it doesn’t get searingly hot, it does get slightly uncomfortable, especially at the higher temperature ranges. This warmth is also one of the reasons why the raised mouthpiece is better on the Pax- no one wants to place their lip on a warm device, obviously.
Vapor production on the Pax 3 is pretty decent and is surprisingly good for a device of its size, especially at around the 30-second mark. Where flavor and density become more balanced. Deeper into the session, however, the smallness of the Pax becomes a disadvantage and the device just gets too warm to comfortably hold. You can remedy this by holding the Pax around the middle of its body, but it’s not that cool there either. The vapor is smooth, weighty, and flavorful- but only for the first 2-3 hits. Thereafter, the vapor quality dwindles more towards the average end, with more warmth and less flavor.
The Pax 3 and Zeus Arc GT’s similarities end in design and looks. Performance-wise, these two devices are pretty different. The clear winner and the better investment between these two devices is the Zeus Arc GT. Though it is slightly more expensive than the Pax 3, the better vapor and the lack of hotspots make the extra $$ worth it.
Initially, using gold in a vaporizer may seem strange, but after extensive use of the Arc GT, it really does deliver better results. Compared to the Arc, the Pax just looks good — but their performances differ greatly. If compact vaping isn’t your thing, and you’d want something more powerful, there’s definitely something that’ll fit the bill on our list of the best dry herb vaporizers of this year.