SMOK TF-RTA Review

Bill Herbst
April 12, 2016

SMOK TF-RTA Intro

In the “old days” of vaping (good old days? bad old days?) — by which I mean around 2011-2012 — the Chinese company then called SmokTech — was known mainly for its 510 cartomizers. In recent years, the company has reinvented itself. After shortening its name to SMOK and suffering a few false starts with questionable box mods, the vaping hardware manufacturer has upped its game and made a big splash in the marketplace with its Taste Furious (TF) Series of sub-ohm clearomizer tanks. The TFV4 is currently available in four different sizes — Original, Mini, Micro, and now Nano — with a huge selection of factory coil heads for each.

Now SMOK is releasing its first dedicated RTA in the TF series, called (reasonably enough), the TF-RTA. It’s a big honking tank, about the same size as the Original TFV4. This is one monster atomizer, a true beast. Will the TF-RTA have as much impact in the marketplace, causing similar buzz throughout the vaping community, as the TFV4 did? Let’s find out.

SMOK TF-RTA Specs and Features

  • 1 TF-RTA Tank
  • 1 TF-RTA Build Deck (G4 Or G2)
  • 1 Screwdriver
  • 1 Replacement Glass Tube
  • 1 SMOK Vapor Band
  • 1 User Manual
  • Spare Parts
  • Dimensions: 65mm height, 24.5mm diameter
  • Stainless Steel Construction
  • 5mL Glass Tank
  • Spacious 16mm Build Deck
  • Deck Options:
    • TF-RTA G4 Deck (0.14Ω Pre Installed)
    • RF-RTA G2 Deck (0.45Ω Pre Installed)
  • E-liquid Flow Control
  • Swivel Top Cap Design For Top Fill
  • Double Layered Drip Tip
  • Four Cyclops Adjustable Airflow Holes

Notable Remarks

SMOK TF-RTA Taken Apart
SMOK TF-RTA Taken Apart

I was sent a silver G2 TF-RTA for review. The Velocity-style deck on the G2 has twin posts with two oval holes each for coil legs. The tank comes with pre-installed Clapton coils that yield a combined resistance of 0.46 ohms. All the user has to do is wick the coils with whatever material he or she prefers: cotton, rayon, hemp, whatever. Wicks should be trimmed relatively short, just long enough to extend about halfway down the e-liquid channels of the deck (after being saturated with e-liquid). Presto! The TF-RTA is ready to vape.

And what a vape experience that is! The TF-RTA is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart. No, this tank favors the bold, and embraces the extreme. I own many nice RTAs now 1-2 years old, in both single- and dual-coil deck configurations, that provide a lovely vape at 25-40 watts. The TF-RTA is in a different league altogether. It’s like the difference between a Honda Civic and a Hummer H2. The SMOK TF-RTA starts out with a minimum of 40 watts, but it’s much happier at 70 watts. I didn’t go higher than that, but I have no doubt that the dual Claptons and strong wicking capability could handle 80 watts with ease, and probably more.

Running the TF-RTA wide open, with the four cyclops air intake slots around the sides of the base completely uncovered by the adjustment ring, produces thick clouds of vapor and great flavor. Closing off the air flow slot halfway or three-quarters intensifies the flavor. Don’t even think about vaping the TF-RTA mouth-to-lung. It’s strictly a direct-lung-inhale tank.

SMOK TF-RTA G4
SMOK TF-RTA G4

SMOK’s patented top fill method, with the swiveling top cap, works beautifully. No mess, no fuss. If inadvertently over-filled, a quick wipe of the hinge and dovetail closure on the top cap might be necessary, but that’s a minor quibble and not really a flaw of the tank. When the swivel system was first introduced on the TFV4, some reviewers were worried that the hinge might break or the cap bend and become misaligned, but those concerns haven’t materialized. The hinge is strong, swiveling is easy, and the fill slot is large enough. Some top fill methods require removal of a threaded cap, but SMOK’s doesn’t remove anything. Just swivel, fill, then close. Like “Wax on, wax off, Daniel-san.”

The E-liquid Flow Control works equally well. The glass section of the tank rotates smoothly to open (uncover) or close (cover) the intake slots that allow e-liquid to flow to the wicks and coils. The wicks are amply fed with e-liquid that keeps up with even very high wattage vaping.

The double-layered drip trip is a terrific feature that first appeared in SMOK’s TFV4 tanks. A wide-bore drip tip is enclosed inside a larger drip tip, with an air space between the two. Especially with a high-power RTA, burning the vaper’s lips becomes a real possibility. The dual-wall drip tip prevents that, since the outer tube wall remains much cooler. At 70 watts, the vapor itself was warm, but very enjoyable, especially because of the drip tip’s cooling effect. The tank body does get warm at that power level, but not hot. SMOK is mastering the art and engineering of high-power vaping.

SMOK TF-RTA G4 Deck
SMOK TF-RTA G4 Deck

I’d be willing to bet that SMOK follows up the TF-RTA with a TF-RTA Mini, cutting down the circumference from 25.4mm to 22mm. Since SMOK already did that spin-off with various versions of the TFV4, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t use the same strategy with the TF-RTA. I’m not sure a smaller tank could easily accommodate a quad-coil deck, but a dual-coil setup would be a snap.

Build quality is solid and sturdy, with buttery threading and smooth adjustments. Coil setup is easy, filling is flawless, and the vaping experience is superb. Even e-liquid consumption is reasonable, and that’s often not the case with sub-ohm tanks that drink e-liquid like there’s no tomorrow. With the dual-Clapton setup, the TF-RTA was thirsty, but not ravenous. I did top up the tank after three hours of steady vaping, but I could have gone another couple of hours before completely emptying the reservoir. The 4.5ml capacity is adequate for me.

I did get occasional and minor leaking of e-liquid out of the air intake slots, most notably right after I topped up the tank, but that was probably my fault for filling too full. Leaving a little air space when filling a tank to allow the internal pressure to equalize is always a good idea. The reality, however, is that almost no atomizers are 100% leak-proof, whether tanks or RDAs. E-liquid leaks and spills are an inevitable part of vaping. Every vaper learns to keep tissues or paper towels close by. Happily, the TF-RTA tank passes muster with only minimal leaking.

I need not list Pros and Cons, because minor leaking is the sole criticism that came up. Admittedly, the TF-RTA may be larger than some PVs can accommodate aesthetically, but that’s not really a Con. I tested the tank on a Wismec RX-200, and the proportions appeared balanced, but I wouldn’t pair it with smaller, single-18650 tube or box mods. The husky TF-RTA would look ridiculous atop a Joyetech VTC Mini or any other diminutive mod.

Verdict

Short and sweet: It’s almost all good news with the SMOK TF-RTA. Other than occasional minor leaking, I have no other negatives to report. This is, quite simply, a wonderful tank that earns a decision on my scorecard as the new Heavyweight Champion of the RTA World.

My name is Bill. I’ve been a dedicated vaper for five and a half years, having ended a 35-year addiction to tobacco cold-turkey on my first day of vaping. I live on the Oregon coast, in the tiny town of Florence, one huge sand dune away from the Pacific Ocean.

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Dave Almighty
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Dave Almighty

My TF-RTA G2 just leaks constantly through the bottom airflow holes unfortunately. I’m consistently losing half a tank of liquid on each fill, doesn’t matter what kind of wick I use, or what coils I use, or whether I only fill it halfway, it’s unusable for me in this state.

Back to the Griffin which doesn’t leak!

Wendy Weeks
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Wendy Weeks

Hi, I have just purchased the TF-RTA which was leaking terribly through the air holes, tanks of juice wasted. I eventually discovered that I was completely missing a seal from the bottom of of the RTA. From the pictures I have seen there is no seal there, but one is supplied (mid sized seal) and after reading quite a few forums/threads regarding leaks and seals I put it on. If you unscrew the deck from the base of the tank, the seal sits in the gap just above the thread & just under the lip at the bottom of the… Read more »

Dave Almighty
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Dave Almighty

Hi Wendy, I had the seal on mine but it would still leak anyway. In the end I ordered the G4 deck from China, and since fitting it, absolutely no leaks 🙂 It’s more fiddly to coil and wick, but I’d rather that than the leaks I was getting before!

Thank you for your reply and suggestion anyhow 🙂

Seph Barretto
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Seph Barretto

Wow thats quite a lot of juice to lose considering how big the capacity is. Are your juice channels closed off during the refill? If it is and it still leaks after, the wicking is the issue. I cant really relate to yours since yours is the G2 and im using the G4. This is a fairly tricky deck to wick with cotton since coils share juice channels here. What i do is i make sure that i have longer juice wicks by the end and i just stuff them back up at the top part of where the cotton… Read more »

Dave Almighty
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Dave Almighty

Hi Seph, thanks for your suggestions 🙂 But yep, both the juice flow and the airflow are always closed when I refill. What I had been doing is wicking it the same way I would with my Griffin (well, 3 Griffins lol, but none of them leak), but so far it hasn’t mattered what I’ve done with it. More cotton/less cotton, different types of wick like muji, Koh Gen Do, rayon, nothing has completely stopped the leaking unfortunately 🙁 The current wick I have in there is KGD just stuffed in. The leaking isn’t as bad as it was, but… Read more »

Bill Herbst
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Bill Herbst

Leaking atomizers and tanks are the bane of vaping for me. So aggravating. I suppose that exploding batteries might be higher on the list of serious problems, but I’ve had that happen only once, and then the battery was on a dedicated charger, not in a mod. I’ve owned tanks that leaked like sieves, tanks that leaked a little, and tanks that never leaked a drop. No rhyme or reason that I can see. Some of my leakiest tanks have been the same brand and model that others swore never leaked at all, and vice versa. I’ve had leaky tanks… Read more »

Seph Barretto
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Seph Barretto

I own a lot of tanks and every single one of them has done exactly what you have said. But after a while, its just perfect. I’ve been a big fan of Smok since the release of the tfv4 and man, seriously. Getting a tank is like getting into a relationship. You really have to get to know the tank and its needs so it can fill your needs! But there are just some tanks that arent the right match for you. I’ve been waiting for the TF-RTA since i saw it on the smok website and daaaaaamn. Last week… Read more »

Dave Almighty
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Dave Almighty

Very good reply, and very correct on it being a crap shoot! I really wanted to like the TF-RTA, and I may still buy one in black just to see if the silver one I have is problematic or if it’s a common issue for me. I will have another look at the TF-RTA I have already to see if I can figure anything out (maybe replace all the O-rings etc.), and I do have the G4 deck ordered for it too which I’m hoping doesn’t give me issues, but right now I’m just a bit disappointed. I re-coiled and… Read more »

Henrik Ringtved
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Henrik Ringtved

Good review Thanks

Bill Herbst
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Bill Herbst

Thank, Henrik.

I intend to add comments to my original review as I spend more time with the TF-RTA. So far, my experience with the tank continues to be very positive. It’s one heck of an RTA.

Henrik Ringtved
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Henrik Ringtved

It seems that way so far I’ve only heard good things about it.
Good to know your following up on the review 😉

SFS
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SFS

There were a number of reports saying that an RX200 (which I am using) with the TFV4 will be damaged due to the longer thread, to the point that the RX200 will stop recognising atomisers.

Wismec’s position is that those (510) tanks void the warranty.

I assume this SMOK tank will have the same problem…

Bill Herbst
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Bill Herbst

My colleague Ray Padilla wrote an article about that very issue that’s been posted on Vaping360 since March 2nd. http://vaping360.com/wismec-reuleaux-issues/ All I can tell you is that both the SMOK TF-RTA and the SMOK TF-RDTA Tanks I have fit without a problem on both of my Wismec RX200s. I’ve had the TF-RTA I reviewed on one of my RX200s for almost a month now with no damage to the 510 connector threads. As far as I know, the issue was apparently specific to certain RX200 units from a specific production run, and not to the entire number of RX200s that… Read more »

Michael Roberts
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Michael Roberts

Can I use my smok tf rta with a hybrid mod? One with a direct connection to the battery. It has a lot bigger connection than the tfv4.

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