Should I Buy a RDA, RTA, RDTA or Sub-Ohm Tank?

If you've spent time browsing e-cigarette products online, you may have gotten the impression that the mod is the most important part of the vaping experience. That's what some e-cigarette manufacturers would have you believe because there's plenty of profit in convincing the vaping public to buy the latest and greatest mod each year. The truth is, though, that changing your attachment can affect your vaping experience just as dramatically as changing your mod. The mod delivers power and allows you to adjust various settings, but it's the attachment that actually generates the vapor. Is it time for you to buy a new box mod? Maybe not. If you purchased your box mod recently and aren't as satisfied with the vaping experience as you once were, it might be time for a new tank or atomizer. The four major types of e-cigarette attachments are RDAs, RTAs, RDTAs and sub-ohm tanks. In this article, we'll break down the pros and cons of each of these attachment types. We hope that this overview will make your buying decision easier.


RDA is short for Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer. An RDA is little more than a couple of posts to hold your wire leads and a shallow well for holding excess e-liquid. To prepare an RDA, you'll wrap your own coils with resistance wire and attach the coils to the posts. You'll thread cotton through the coils and wet the cotton thoroughly before vaping. Periodically during vaping, you'll need to drip e-liquid down the mouthpiece of the RDA to keep the cotton wet. An RDA is the best e-cigarette attachment for you if you want the richest possible flavor and the biggest possible vapor clouds. Since an RDA also provides a large, open building platform, it's a great choice if you're new to coil building and aren't entirely certain of what you're doing. An RDA can be messy, though, so it isn't the best choice if you want your vaping experience to remain as convenient as possible. Pros of RDAs:

  • Very open airflow for deep inhales and large vapor clouds
  • Greatest flexibility for large-coil and multi-coil builds
  • Plenty of building room for those without deft hands

Cons of RDAs:

  • Dry hits are common since you can't see how much e-liquid is in the drip well without removing the cover
  • May leak if not kept upright
  • Dripping is inconvenient in general and impossible when driving


RTA is short for Rebuildable Tank Atomizer. For many people, the biggest shortcomings of RDAs are that they don't hold much e-liquid and often leak. An RTA solves those problems by enclosing the build deck in a tank. You'll still build your own coils as you would with an RDA. After you build a coil, though, you'll place a glass tank over it and fill the tank. The coil's wicks draw e-liquid from the tank and stay wet without requiring you to add e-liquid by dripping. Because an RTA gives you some freedom with coil design, you can expect to get better vapor production with one than you would get with most sub-ohm tanks. An RTA, however, typically has a smaller build deck than an RDA. Since the smaller deck requires you to build smaller coils with less surface area, an RTA usually produces less vapor than an RDA. Pros of RTAs:

  • Usually produces more vapor than a sub-ohm tank with pre-built coils
  • Holds plenty of e-liquid and doesn't require dripping
  • Resists leaking

Cons of RTAs:

  • Some may find the small build deck difficult to work with
  • Doesn't generate as much vapor as an RDA
  • Somewhat lower airflow compared to an RDA since the coil is encased in a glass tank


RTA is short for Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer. Out of all the e-cigarette attachments described in this article, the RDTA is the only one without a single widely accepted definition. We consider the RDTA a more modern sort of RTA -- one that attempts to combine the best features of an RDA and RTA in a single unit. The primary defining feature of an RDTA is a build deck that's much larger than that of an RTA -- almost as big, in fact, as that of an RDA. Since the build deck of an RDTA supports large coils with lots of surface area, an RDTA can produce nearly as much vapor as an RDA. Since an RDTA is also a tank system, though, it holds plenty of e-liquid and isn't susceptible to leaks. Pros of RDTAs:

  • Produces nearly as much vapor as an RDA
  • Holds nearly as much e-liquid as an RTA

Cons of RDTAs:

  • Lags slightly behind RDAs in vapor production due to smaller build decks and restricted airflow
  • Configuring the wicks for optimal e-liquid flow is sometimes difficult

Sub-Ohm Tanks

Sub-ohm tanks are different from other e-cigarette attachments in that they don't require you to build your own coils. Instead, you'll use pre-made coil heads that you'll buy in packs. When a coil stops working or produces off flavors, you'll simply remove the coil from the base of the tank and screw in a new one. Sub-ohm tanks are the most convenient of all e-cigarette attachments. There's almost no work involved in replacing a coil head -- and with machine precision, there's little chance of encountering a coil with a potentially dangerous short. If you want to vape without thinking about it -- and you don't want to take several minutes out of each day or two to build new coils, you want a sub-ohm tank. The only real drawback of sub-ohm tanks is that they tend to produce less vapor than rebuildable attachments. Note that a sub-ohm tank may include a build deck that you can use in place of a pre-built coil head. Using the build deck essentially turns a sub-ohm tank into an RTA. Pros of Sub-Ohm Tanks:

  • Very convenient and easy to use; changing coils takes seconds rather than minutes
  • Usually very resistant to leaking

Cons of Sub-Ohm Tanks:

  • Pre-built coil heads are much more expensive than DIY coils
  • Vapor production is typically lower than that of rebuildable devices