DOVPO Topside Lite & Variant RDA Kit
Supplied by DOVPO for review purposes
The Topside Lite is created by by Brian from The Vapor Chronicles YouTube channel. It's the newest innovation for the Topside Series. The kit includes the Topside Lite Mod and the Variant RDA.
Having already owned the Topside Dual & Single, I already knew what a great concept the Topside series was. It has been one of my favourite Squonk Mods of 2019, though I have to admit I did find them a bit too heavy so rarely took them out. The all new chassis of the Topside Lite is mostly Polycarbonate so should be a lot lighter and pocket friendly.
A very generous bundle is included which is always a pleasure to play with when you get a new mod and RDA. The only ‘Down’side I can see is no spare bottle which was included in the older versions, but there is a reason for that which I will go into that later. Here’s what you get in the kit:
It also features a conversion option to turn it into a single cell normal mod (non squonk), which is probably good for those who don’t have many mods or for new users. Naturally I will try it out, but the Topside’s main strength was its unique filling system and capacity.
21700 battery is a huge pro for me. The battery life was already good, but the 21700 option is exactly what I would have chosen to upgrade the Topside. You can also use an 18650 with the included adaptor.
From the first time you hold the mod, it feels really light. Of course by the time you add your battery and fill the squonk bottle, obviously the weight increases. In fact the battery and juice are heavier than the mod. It is by no means a small mod and I was surprised how large it was, a little larger than the original Topside Solo.
Topside Lite Kit Features
The Variant RDA also looks good, it ticks the boxes for me with top airflow, dual coil, and the build deck looks innovative with its leaning posts.
As mentioned earlier, you have the option of configuring it into a larger squonk mod using the main squonk bottle cassette (for want of a better word) which is already configured by default, you can either use an 18650 battery or a 21700. I recommend the 21700 battery if you want to get the most from this kit. The only part you need to remove or refit when swapping options is the feeder pin (see photo) which is easily removed by unscrewing it by hand.
Time will tell if this part will wear out as you need to pull off and push on the cover every time you change/recharge your battery, fortunately Dovpo provide a spare. You can charge the battery in the mod, but safety habits and for charging accuracy, I always opt and recommend charging your batteries in a dedicated charger.
Fitting the cassette (that’s what I’m going to call it from now on) is very simple, push it into place and the magnets guide it until it’s snapped home.
Filling the squonk bottle has been the Topside series USP, and I'm pleased to say it’s as easy as ever. The filler cap on the top is smaller than its cousins and it is not knurled. Instead, it has grippy notches and is actually less fiddly than the old system. When filling, this cap can be held by a magnet at the base of the mod, though to be honest it’s a gimmick I never used on the Topside series but it is handy if you are out and about and have no surface to put things down on.
Single Cell Mod Option (no squonk)
Converting over to this option is also simple. First thing you need to do is remove the feeder pin (see photo) by unscrewing it, then simply clip the battery cover into place and viola! You have a single cell regular mod.
**If you intend to still use the RDA as a dripper, you will need to screw the juice control pin down to close it off**
Being honest I thought this option was a gimmick I wouldn’t use, but for the purpose of the review I had to give it a go. Despite my scepticism, I actually found this option was brilliant with an RTA or stock coil tank. A single cell 21700 mod with the benefit of the superb superfast Dovpo chipset won me over quite quickly. That said, I will still mostly use mine in squonk mode. This option is perfect for starters that only own the one mod so you can try both options. That is going down as a big pro.
There’s only one niggle regarding the conversion. It would have been better with the feeder pin screwed into the ‘cassette’ and press fitted into the mod, this would have made it far more convenient and faster (without the risk of losing the pin).
No spare bottle?
As mentioned earlier the kit doesn’t include a spare bottle but there is a reason for this. In the older Topsides, the bottle pulled out from underneath once the battery door was opened, whereas in the Lite version the bottle is fixed into the ‘cassette’ so it’s not a simple swap over. This is the price paid for making it convertible, it’s not a deal breaker for me as I never used my spare bottle in the Topside Dual or Solo as its 10ml capacity made up for that.
Menu and Navigation
Thankfully Dovpo have used the same chipset and screen as the previous Topside. I really rate this chipset highly, the speed from sleep to vape is mind blowing, and the performance is also superb. This is also one of my favourite Temp Control mods. For me, TC and squonking are the perfect partnership, and the Topside handles both very well.
Battery performance is really efficient and lasts a lot longer than the majority of my single cell mods, even in 18650 mode. With the 21700 vaping around 55 watts, it lasts me the day and some.
Basic navigation is one of the simplest I have used, no confusing button combos, and it all make sense without trawling through manuals or tutorials, just common sense and intuitive.
To access the simple to use sub menu press the fire button and - button together for a few seconds and you are greeted with the various settings:
- TEMP NI
- TEMP TI
- TEMP SS
- STATS (Puff count & total puff time)
Simply select your option with the fire button and adjust accordingly.
The more I used this mod, the more I loved it. I popped in a couple of SS316L clapton coils and tested TC mode. This was the icing on the cake for me, I frikkin love it in TC mode. It is easy to adjust the temperature and to change the wattage, you simply hold down the fire and + button until the wattage flashes, then adjust to suit your tastes. I upped it and was getting a nice warm vape with zero dry hits.
Styling and Ergonomics
Rather than a simple plastic copy of the original topside, this has been designed from the ground up and looks great for it. The plastic construction doesn’t look or feel cheap at all. The painted portion has a gradient and has a grippy texture to it so it feels really nice in the hand. I would say it’s more comfortable than the original Topside Solo. The weight balance is also very good, even with the 21700 battery and full juice bottle, it feels so light and far better in the pocket.
I found multiple ways you can hold it to fire and squonk, there’s no annoying edges that dig into your skin. Overall the size, weight and form factor make this a really comfortable mod to use.
The navigation and fire buttons are domed and tactile, with good resistance. Also I have had zero issues with accidentally firing or adjusting while in my bag or pockets.
There is a vent under the screen which can only be for the board which is a great feature to keep the internal temperature down. Oddly, there are no battery vents.
The screen is the same as the previous Topside’s and it is near perfect, very bright and easy to see in all conditions. Even with my older eyes, I could read all the information easily (unlike a lot of mods where I need reading glasses). I am glad they went with the same screen and chipset, it’s one of the fastest and easiest I have experienced.
The VARIANT RDA
The included RDA is above average. On first impressions, it looks innovative with its angled posts and juice control screw, but the end results make little difference to the airflow and flavour. Also the airflow control seems limited. It is very similar to the DROP & Dead Rabbit RDAs, but ‘tweaked’ rather than a solid new innovation. It offers nothing new, but still delivers decent flavour. I have tried several builds on it and played around with coil positions with little difference.
The one innovation I did like was the juice control screw. This means you can either use it as a squonk or a dripper by simply opening or closing the screw without needing to remove the RDA (normally you would have to swap the 510 pin).
Coiling and wicking the RDA is as easy as it gets. As there were no included coil and I chose a SS316L build for temp control, I won’t include a build guide. For a wattage only build, a couple of Ni80 Fused Claptons around 3Ω worked a charm for a single battery device.
Fitting the coils and trimming the legs was easier than I expected as I thought the angle would make it tricky getting my wire clippers in, but it was not the case. There is plenty of room, and the angled posts are perfectly positioned to tweak your coil position. Wicking was straight forward using the base of the RDA as a length guide.
**Before you pop the top cap on, you will need to adjust the juice flow screw located dead centre. By default, it is closed off for dripper mode, so unscrew it and squonk a little juice in until the resistance is how you like it**
Prime your coil up and it’s ready to go, pop on the top cap and you’re ready to vape. The top cap is very easy to remove and fit, perhaps a little loose but I’ve had few issues with it coming off.
The 810 goon style drip tip is colour matched to your mod gradient and is very comfortable with its conical shape.
Airflow control is achieve by rotating the top portion. This is a little tricky to see in low light, but once you find your desired airflow, you’re unlikely to adjust it again.
There’s no need to bloat this section out, this kit delivers close to perfection. The RDA, though not the best, still gives a decent flavour, but it’s the mod where this kit excels with Dovpo’s superb chipset that not only delivers solid power but is also super fast and efficient.
Filling the squonk bottle is even easier than the already easy older system, unscrew and squirt in 10ml without any airlock issues, screw the top back on. It is fast and mess free with high capacity – what’s not to like?
Squonking caught me out at first as I forgot to open the juice flow screw in the RDA. After slapping myself, I opened it up with a small screwdriver that fitted between the coils and unscrewed it to the resistance I preferred (mostly open). Once that was done, squonking was very easy with a nice large squonk window.
Juice visibility has been improved due to the polycarbonate being transparent, which takes the final guesswork out that the old versions had.
As a big fan of the Topside series, it comes as no surprise that I really rate this addition to the family. It’s not an upgrade as such, but more of an option or alternative, though it is different enough to be its own device, especially with its ‘transformer’ option and 21700 battery capability.
Dovpo have done an excellent job with the mod. The RDA has a couple of nice features but it doesn’t stand out from the crowd flavour wise. The one feature I really liked is the juice flow pin which is the first time I have seen this handy option used – no more swapping 510 pins.
This kit will appeal to new and experienced users, and is one of the best squonk mods out there and a welcome addition to the Topside family
- Easy top fill system
- 2 in 1 squonk to regular mod conversion
- 10ml large capacity bottle
- Excellent bright screen and great for old eyes
- 21700 Battery compatible
- Easy peasy menu, one of the best menu's I've used
- Exceptional long battery life
- Very fast startup and wake up speed
- Large squonk window
- Lightweight with sturdy build quality
- Ergonomic with intuitive grip
- Innovative juice screw in the RDA
- Well positioned buttons
- TC Mode is spot on and easy to customise
- Updated Chipset Firmware (upgradeable also)
- Variant RDA is nothing special
- Might be too large for some people’s tastes
- No battery vents
I’ve been sat here for five minutes racking my brain for cons and I am stuck. I can’t even nit pick which is saying something.
Final Thoughts and Score
I’m really impressed with this kit. Being mostly plastic construction might not appeal to some, but I applaud Dovpo for coming out with this brand new design and taking the risk. I’m a plastic convert as the mod feels and looks so good, plus it’s far more pocket friendly. There are no cons that are deal breakers for me and despite owning far too many mods, this is firmly in my rotation and I have already used it more than my Topside Solo.
(9 if the RDA was better)
Thanks go to Dovpo for kindly providing this review sample.
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