April 10, 2018

GOM Ultimate RDA

Category RDA/RSA
Manufacturer Guild of Modders (GOM)
RRP $92
Diameter 22mm
Height 17mm

Introduction

The GOM Ultimate as I received it, with all accessories and wooden packing tube

The GOM Ultimate is an interesting little RDA. It’s designed and made in the Philippines and can be purchased from the Guild of Modders website - which is unusual, way too many small run RDA’s are being sold exclusively through Facebook lists these days so it’s nice to see something that’s obtainable.

There are a couple of different versions of the Ultimate around, and the differences between them aren’t massively obvious. From what I can gather, the 1.0 and the 1.1 are essentially the same thing, they came with flat-topped deck screws and slightly smaller o-rings. The 1.2 was released after the (mostly negative) review feedback this RDA received, which I’ll come on to later, and includes much better deck screws, and better fitting o-rings. You can also buy an upgrade kit, which contains new o-rings and screws, if you have an earlier edition and want to upgrade it to the 1.2.

The 1.2 is the one that you can buy direct from GOM, as well as a variety of different kinds of airflow and top cap options.

One of the major benefits of a design like this, is that it makes the Ultimate really more of an RDA ‘platform’ than a normal RDA. You can change out the airflow options completely independently of the deck to really customise it to be exactly the kind of vape that you like. As this review is written there are lots of different options available to purchase, including stainless steel kits, V-shaped airflow kits, A-shaped kits, and a variety of normal and slammed top caps with different air options in a variety of materials. It’s fantastically customisable.

I’m in the UK, and these are shipped from the Philippines so to actually get one direct to your door will cost anywhere between $117 (£82) and $147 (£103) depending on the shipping method chosed (possibly with customs charges and VAT on top).

In the interest of full disclosure - I picked up mine preowned from a chap on a UK based Facebook group and I paid £40 ($55) delivered. So bear that in mind when you read this review.

I’m not entirely sure which version mine is but I believe that it was purchased as a 1.1 and has since had the 1.2 upgrade applied. It arrived with the new post screws fitted (and the old ones in the spares bag), as well as the new size o-rings also in the spares bag. I have not bothered to use the old post screws so all my building notes will be with the new screws in mind.

I’ll split this review into a few sections based on some topics that are important for me to consider when purchasing a new atomiser. In general order of importance these are Airflow, Overall build quality, design and day to day use, and build deck design, followed by some general thoughts and conclusions.

Please remember that as with most things involving actual humans, these opinions are entirely subjective and based purely on my personal experiences and vaping preferences.

Airflow.

The Airflow rings for the GOM Ultimate RDA

The Ultimate is a dual side airflow RDA. Each air channel is about halfway up the side of the RDA and angles slightly upward. Each side has a 3mm x 1mm airflow and is fully adjustable.

This is a restricted lung hit RDA without a doubt - even wide open there is still some restriction, it’s not a fully open lung hit. It can close down to something approaching an MTL draw, but is still on the verge of what I’d consider to be a restricted lung hit.

This is perfect for me and the way that I use RDA’s. I generally prefer to MTL when I’m using tanks, but RDA’s for me are for a tight restricted lung hit on a squonker.

I’ve heard some people compare the airflow in this to the airflow on a NarDa, but sadly I can’t verify this as I’ve never used a NarDa - but what I can say is that when it’s wide open it is in the same ballpark as a half-open Hadaly.

I love this RDA when the airflow is choked down slightly under half way - the draw is long, slow and restricted, and the vapour dense and flavourful.

Build Quality

The GOM Ultimate with wick and airflow installed

The build quality on this device is interesting. On the one hand, each of the pieces of the atomiser feel well built, well finished and of good quality. The Ultem top cap and the airflow rings are thick, well machined and free of burrs and rough edges. The deck has a lovely polished finish on the base and the outside which I really like as it adds a touch of class to the RDA. The screws are chunky and capture the leads well - everything really feels like it’s built to last.

But, if you’ve watched any of the Youtube reviews of this RDA then you’ll be aware of the O-ring tolerance issues that plagued the earlier units.

Basically, the RDA consists of 3 parts - a build deck, a seperate ultem ring that sits on top of the deck and directs air to your coils, and the ultem top cap that sits over the top of that to provide air flow adjustment and a chamber/drip tip etc.

Each of the three parts rely on O-rings to seal them and ensure they maintain their position and because each of the two ultem pieces can spin freely, the careful balancing of the o-rings tolerances so that you can spin the top cap without moving the position of the underlying airflow channels is absolutely key to the performance of this atomiser.

Out of the box, as this RDA came to me, the o-rings were not balanced correctly, which resulted in the same problems that the reviewers seemed to have. The top cap is too tight and when you attempt to adjust the airflow it was grabbing against the underlying airflow ring causing both parts to spin and ruin my build. It also made the atomiser annoyingly hard to get on and off of a mod.

I changed the the o-ring on the deck for the slightly larger one included in the 1.2 upgrade kit (16x1 instead of 15x1 I believe according to GOM) and this solved the problem for me.

My Ultimate was supplied with a drip tip, but I gather from the website and other reviews that normally you have to pay extra for this which I think is a bit cheap. There’s no way that an atomiser in this price range should be supplied without a drip tip in my opinion - especially when the majority of the atomiser is just made of plastic.

And speaking of plastic, yes it’s Ultem. I’ve said it in previous reviews and my opinion hasn’t changed: I still think ultem looks like piss. However it seems to bug me less on RDA’s than on tanks, and GOM do a range of alternative top caps and airflow rings in different materials. So if ultem is really a deal breaker you can change the look easily. They aren’t cheap though especially when you factor in shipping.

General Operation and Design

I’ve covered some of the general operation while talking about the build quality. Other than the o-ring issues it’s a very easy RDA to live with as a squonker. As a dripper (which I’m not because I’m lazy) I imagine it’s a very different beast:

  • The juice well is tiny, the atty is only 17mm high, you can’t fit a lot of juice in it.

  • The airflow channels are quite high, and angled up towards the coil. If you drip it’s going to just funnel down the airflow channels and straight out onto your mod.

  • You don’t get a solid 510 pin included. You can use this in dripping mode, but you have to just block off the squonk hole with the provided screw.

All these points heavily imply that GOM intend this RDA for squonking first and foremost and that the 510 blocking pin was really included as an afterthought. Which is fine by me as I bought this to squonk with, but is something to bear in mind.

The GOM Ultimate RDA deck with the squonk hole visible The GOM Ultimate RDA deck with the squonk pin blocked

As it happens it’s great for squonking: you get a choice of two bottom feeding 510 pins, one short so that the juice is sucked back into the bottle after you squonk, and one longer one that provides a bit more of a well for the juice to fill; The airflow is angled in a way that will make over-squonking a bit harder; and the small juice well isn’t much of a problem when you have a decent sized squonk bottle.

The airflow rings are an interesting proposition. They allow you a much greater flexibility in your build options compared to most RDA’s where the position of the airflow in relation to the build screws/posts is always fixed. I’ve seen this atomiser dual coiled and vertical coiled, I’ve seen people use horizontal and 45 degree single coil builds and I’ve seen people use the NarDa style “bowtie build”. Pretty much everything just works and you can change the airflow position to suit.

There are two seperate airflow rings provided, one with slightly more room between the channels than the other so you can use it for bigger builds. That said, this is a small and predominantly plastic RDA with a small (18mm) build deck: you’re not going to get massive chunky wire in here at all. And even if you can fit a Clapton in you’re probably going to end up with a drip tip a mile long to avoid burning your lips (as in Todd’s review of the V1.1).

My advice is to stick to simple roundwire builds, this RDA shines with them and ramp up will be faster too. I’ve had fantastic results with a spaced 26g Kanthal 2.5mm ID 6 wrap coil coming out to around 0.65Ω.

Overall, and with the massive caveat that it’s an absolute necessity to fix the o-ring issue: I really, really like the day to day operation of this RDA. It’s simple, small and to the point. There’s almost nothing that can go wrong, or will be a pain to fix, with the accessories provided it’s designed to do one thing well and I think it succeeds at that.

Building on the Ultimate

I’ve seen a lot of comments from people who find the build deck complicated, or somehow a throwback to an older style of RDA that is innapropriate at this price point. I think these people are missing the point completely.

Whilst there is a lot of flexibility with the builds you can fit into this RDA the build deck is almost perfectly designed to make building one particular kind of build (with optimal airflow positioning and coil height) a completely simple, pain free, almost pleasurable affair.

All you have to do is wrap your coil so that the legs point in opposite directions and place it across the deck. This way your coil will sit at a 45 degree angle, and the leads will fall neatly under the screws, which are large, flat bottomed and capture the wire easily. There’s no need to jump through hoops positioning or wrapping the wire around the screws, just put it in place and tighten it down, then clip or twist your leads.

The GOM Ultimate RDA deck with the squonk pin blocked

If you build like that you’ll find that the airflow ring butts up nicely against the screw posts, which gives you some leverage when unscrewing or screwing the RDA from your mod, and that the coil is sitting at the correct height so that the air will hit the bottom of the coil on each side, providing a smooth and whistle free draw.

Wicking this is pretty self-explanatory, once the coil is in the 45 degree position, a nice long S-wick works wonders and tucks down neatly underneath the airflow channels, whilst keeping the squonk pin free.

This build has been working perfectly for me, and is simple and satisfying enough that I’ve not bothered to experiment with different builds at all once I’d found this way of building it.

The GOM Ultimate wicked without airflow The GOM Ultimate with wick and airflow installed

Conclusions

As delivered to me, this was a flawed RDA - although I understand that the V1.2 fixes nearly all of these issues. But given the price point, and the fundamental nature of some of the earlier problems I can understand people’s frustration with it.

However, assuming you’ve got one of the newer releases with the new screws and the better o-rings, or have upgraded and fettled your older version then there’s no doubt that this little RDA is absolutely fantastic. The flavour is outstanding, the build is simple, and the airflow is, in my opinion, the perfect restricted lung draw.

If I had paid full price and received the version that I got this may have had some slightly different conclusions, but I can honestly say that this little RDA is one of my absolute favourites and is now the RDA that I go to almost exclusively. I love it and I’d absolutely recommend trying one. I am so in love with this thing that I’m probably going to pick up some of the other airflow options and a couple of spare decks, the stainless steel accessories particularly appeal to me.

I never really understood people who’d find an RDA and declare it to be ‘the one’, however after living with this RDA for a little while I can honestly say that I’d be fairly distraught if it broke and if I lost it I would immediately be on the hunt for another.