You know that you want a vaporizer, but you’re still trying to decide between a desktop or a portable? This is the guide for you. In it, we’re going to explore the benefits and drawbacks — the pros and cons, if you will — of both desktop as well as portable vaporizers. So if you’re still trying to decide between the two, this should help you make that final decision so that you can move onto the next stage in your quest to find the right vape: deciding which one is the best. But for now, we’ll just stick to the topic at hand – the differences between desktops and portables.

The Main Difference

Let’s just get right down to business. The main difference between desktops and portables is the cord. That little, possibly annoying physical connection to an electrical outlet that provides the energy needed to power the device. In the case of desktop vapes, this annoying little cord is your reality. A constant reminder of your lack of freedom. This oppressive tether to civilization too much for you? Disconnect with a portable and free yourself from the confines of the cord.

The Easy Answer

If you’re still trying to decide, simply ask yourself this: do you want to use your vape while you’re out and about? If so, buy a portable. That’s all there is to it. But for the sake of explanation, the reality is that the best portables actually rival and surpass many of their desktop counterparts in regards to vapor production. Just about the only thing they don’t do at this point is fill balloons with vapor like some of the forced air desktop vaporizers that are on the market, perhaps most notably the Volcano vaporizers by Storz & Bickel. So in the end, all you really need to ask yourself is whether you see yourself getting more use out of a portable or a desktop? If you spend a lot of time out and about, a portable may very well make more sense for you. But if you’re a homebody who is rarely away from a flat surface and an electrical outlet, a nice high-end desktop unit might make more sense.

The More Complicated Answer

Before you can really ask yourself this question and come to a logical conclusion, you need to be aware of the possibilities that each entails.

  • Portables

With portables, you obviously benefit from the lack of a cord, but portables are not without their own limitations as their small stature provides its own constraints. Which is in part why desktop vaporizers are widely thought of as superior in terms of vapor production in comparison to portables. While this belief is mostly accurate from what we’ve gathered, there are definitely some portables that bring its legitimacy into question as their vapor production is as good as, if not better than, a number of high-end desktops. In particular, portables like Storz & Bickel’s Mighty, Crafty, and DaVinci’s IQ. But with all of these vaporizers, there are still some things they simply don’t do. Perhaps most importantly, none of them have the ability to deliver vapor through a balloon – a technique that we ourselves as well as many others have grown quite fond of over the years. It’s really an enjoyable way to vape and one of the main reasons why we continue to maintain an appreciation for desktop vaporizers in general – thanks largely in part to the Volcano. If we had to choose an ideal delivery method, it would likely be it. As a result, we can’t help but maintain a soft spot for desktops that we’re not sure a portable will ever manage to fill, no matter the vapor quality.

  • Desktops

While desktops do often have better vapor production than portables and more delivery options, such as whips and bags, they have some obvious drawbacks. For starters, they’re generally too big for a pocket, making them more difficult to transport. They also, with little exception, require a nearby electrical outlet in order to work. Otherwise, they’re nothing more than fancy paperweights. An exception to this general rule of thumb regarding the necessity of an outlet to plug into comes in the form of the Arizer Extreme Q’s battery pack accessory which turns the somewhat large, tower-shaped vape into a “portable” of sorts – only it’s still far too big to carry around in your pocket. Anyways, if you can get passed this major drawback, a lack of true portability amongst desktop vaporizers, they are not without their appeal. In fact, with all of the incredible (and not so incredible) vaporizers that we’ve tested over the years, we’re still huge fans of the Volcano. This desktop balloon vaporizer, in both its flavors, is one of the best vaporizers ever made. To really put the balloon style of desktop vape into perspective as it pertains to the Volcano so that you can get a good idea of how enjoyable it can be, imagine this. You’re sitting back, you’re relaxing, and while you relax, there’s a bag attached to the top of your Volcano quickly filling with vapor. As it expands, you hear the crinkle of the bag, but you know it’s not quite ready because you put an extra large bag on there, or what you consider to be an extra large because after all, you are the one that cut the bag to length. Once it’s ready, you pull it off, disconnect the filling chamber and pop the mouthpiece on in its place. Now it’s ready for you to use it. Casually, you bring it to your mouth and as press the mouthpiece against your lips, the valve that is the mouthpiece opens with the light pressure of your lips against it and the vapor wisps into your mouth. You want more and you want it now so you squeeze the bag as you inhale and take in a full serving of delicious vapor before you exhale. This is what it’s like to use the Volcano so if you were planning on writing desktops off without a second thought – don’t, some of them are awesome.


Having to choose between a desktop and a portable is no easy decision. In an ideal world, the portable would work better than the desktop, but generally speaking, that’s just not the case. With the need to constantly recharge portables or swap their batteries for fresh ones, you run the risk of not having enough juice to vape when you want to. But offsetting that possibility is the benefit of having the freedom to ditch the cord and vape where you want.