The ZMAX exists in an odd world with two different manufacturers producing devices with the same name. Smoktech has a ZMAX which is a variable wattage version of the VMAX I reviewed previously. Sigelei also has a ZMAX that looks nearly identical. Both feature voltage and wattage adjustment as well as single or dual battery operation. I have both versions and opted to focus on the latter model in this ZMAX review primarily because I believe it to have better features and a lower price tag than the Smoktech version.
|Product Name||Sigelei ZMax Mod|
|Available From||Vapor Alley|
|Voltage Range||3.0-6.0v (.1v increments)|
|Wattage Range||3.0-15.0W (.5W increments)|
|Battery Compatibility||Single 18650 or dual 18350|
I have the stainless steel version of this device. The ZMAX gives the impression it was very much inspired by the design of the ProVari on the exterior. It features similar fluting along the body and dimples on both end caps. There is a single button used for both activation of the device and settings adjustment. There is a small OLED screen located directly above the button.
Despite being clear, the button itself is not illuminated when pressed. However, the display activates and shows one of several different user configurable stats such as set voltage, battery voltage or atomizer resistance. The display can also be turned off for an unlighted experience.
Unlike other models, Sigelei’s version features a real OLED display with crisp, easy to read text. The higher resolution of the display allows the menus to fully spell out each menu item. Instead of a letter code, the menu will display “atomizer resistance,” for example.
The menu comes up when the fire button is pressed three times in succession. Additional presses cycle through each menu option. To adjust an option (or view a setting) simply pause for a couple seconds to enter that menu option. The first option turns the unit on or off followed by options to adjust the power and so forth.
Option 7 allows the device to be switched from variable voltage to variable wattage and an 8th option can be used to switch from RMS to mean voltage calculation if you really wanted to for some reason.
Also filed under the “why did they do that” category is the device will remember the current wattage setting when the batteries are removed, but the voltage defaults back to 3.0 volts.
When swapping batteries you have the choice between running a single 18650, or dual 18350 batteries with the included larger end cap. Dual batteries are useful for driving higher amperage loads. We’ll dig further into that in the performance section.
Before the performance part, the last bit of design is the top cap and battery connector. This design is a sort of recessed eGo-style connector. Unlike some other devices I’ve reviewed, this one has a nice amount of clearance between the connector and the outside of the end cap. This allows slightly fatter cartomizers to clear without a problem. Unfortunately, there are no eGo cone threads so anything with eGo threading on it like the Kanger T2 won’t work on the ZMAX without an adapter.
Using the ZMAX
In my mind, the ZMAX is two devices in one. There’s the variable wattage side to simplify vaping by taking away the need to constantly fiddle with voltage. Then there’s the variable voltage side, coupled with dual batteries to deliver a high-power punch to dual coil cartomizers.
Naturally, both modes work in either dual or single battery configurations. I don’t always use variable wattage, but when I do I run things like Vivi Novas. These types of devices and other clearomizers tend to not need a lot of power.
I usually end up running variable wattage at around 8 watts with those devices. Since I don’t need the high amperage punch of two batteries, I prefer to run this mode with the single 18650 battery. The main reason is battery life is better with a single, higher capacity battery than with two lower capacity batteries.
Thanks to the RMS setting, I found variable wattage to be very consistent as I swapped different types of cartos around on the device. I once managed to accidentally managed to switch the Sigelei to mean operation, and the difference was obvious. Low resistance cartomizers pretty much instantly gave me burnt hits bad enough to elicit painful coughing fits. For the life of me I have no idea why there’s even an option to use the average calculations.
I did notice a dip in output as the battery got very close to the end of the charge cycle. This device does have a low voltage error message, but it doesn’t kick in until the battery is pretty much gone. Therefore, the noticeable lack of vapor does serve the purpose as a sign to swap batteries. How’s that for making lemonade?
The power dip happens in both single and dual battery mode. I use dual battery mode combined with variable voltage as the brute force version of the ZMAX. I particularly like this combination with dual coil cartomizer tanks.
There’s two reasons for my preference. First, variable wattage gets confused by dual coils. Those cartomizers are strange birds in their operation and need more power to drive them. In theory, it’s possible to just crank the wattage up to the maximum 15w of the device. I find adjusting the voltage helps fine tune the output since each cartomizer seems to work better at different voltages.
The reason for dual batteries is simple power. Using a single battery, the ZMAX seems to be stuck around 2.5a of capacity much like most other variable voltage devices out there. However, using dual batteries the ZMAX seems capable of handling loads of 4a or more.
That sort of power handling means that I can actually set the voltage a little too high and burn a dual coil cartomizer. Yep, I think that’s enough horsepower.
As far as output and performance goes, it doesn’t differ all that much from my experience using clearomizers. The output is very stable until the end of the battery charge where it starts petering out until the low voltage message appears.
The other gripe I have with this mode isn’t necessarily related to performance. For some reason, when in voltage mode the Sigelei ZMAX defaults back to 3 volts when the batteries are removed. It doesn’t do that with wattage, but for some reason voltage doesn’t seem to rate high enough on the priority list.
In general, I find the ZMAX to be a pretty good multi-purpose device.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
The Sigelei ZMAX is a variable voltage and variable wattage device with a beautiful OLED display. The device is good at both variable wattage with delicate devices like clearomizers and brute force voltage for dual coil devices. Decent construction and a modest price make this device a good contender. You can get one at VaporAlley.
|Variable voltage and wattage|
|Can accommodate larger cartomizers|
|Single or dual battery operation|
|Voltage resets when battery removed|
|Output dips when battery low|
|No eGo cone threads|
|Button is not illuminated|
|Borrows heavily from original ProVari look and feel|
Disclosure: I received this item for review from VaporAlley. I feature affiliate links for VaporAlley.
Errol(01/21/13 - 5:13 pm)
The original VMax would reset to a higher voltage setting when replacing batteries and as you may recall the output voltage was a crap-shoot, never what one may have the unit set for. Many complained about coils being destroyed when they first fired it after a battery change. V2 came out with the voltage reset at 3 due to these complaints. I've always considered the 3v reset a safety feature.
Steve K(01/21/13 - 6:39 pm)
Interesting point, I never really thought it was intentional, but that makes sense why it only does it for voltage.
kelli(02/15/13 - 11:22 am)
I prefer the smok zmax I have both and the quality is much better. Did a co-op got a black one and you have to play around with it to get it going. has a cheap feel too. that one looks more like my smok.