Mechlyfe are newcomers to the hardware market, debuting last year with the Arcless mech mod and Ratel AIO. The original Ratel was well received by reviewers but with a large and unusual form factor, it didn’t live up to its full potential. Their newest device, the Ratel XS, launched recently and has already become one of the most hyped mods of 2020. Is it deserving of that hype, though?
Construction, fit and finish are exceptional but there is one clear flaw in the removable side panel. Despite a very strong magnet, there was a notable amount of play evident and Mechlyfe say the issue has now been resolved. I was able to alleviate this problem by placing some blu tac on the inside of the door. This was very easy to do, though not something that should have to be done.
That apart, the aluminium chassis is sturdy, with a quality matte finish. The buttons are tactile and overall, the device feels very solid.
Mechlyfe’s proprietary “Mechchip” is simplistic but should offer all of the functionality needed for most vapers. Wattage, voltage, bypass and temperature control (SS, Ni, Ti) are all available. I found power delivery to be spot on, with a quick ramp up, though higher outputs will not be achieved when your 18650 depletes to approximately 25 percent. I tested temperature control with a simple SS316L build and was satisfied with the results, though it was on the conservative side in terms of cutting power.
The massive 5.5ml capacity cartridge clips in and out of the device with relative ease and features a screw in top fill, which I’ve found to be highly convenient during my testing. This is a great quality-of-life feature for day-to-day usage.
Unlike most AIOs coming to market in 2020, the Ratel XS has no stock coil option out of the box. This is a device aimed at enthusiasts and at the time of writing, is rebuildable only. As standard, the XS is supplied with a single coil RBA. The deck features bottom and side airflow. The side airflow can be adjusted internally via a screw, which allows you to really dial in the experience.
Though Mechlyfe market the XS as an MTL and DTL device, I should note that even with the side airflow completely shut off and airflow ring closed down, it’s a loose MTL. This could be remedied by a bottom airflow insert or dedicated MTL deck and I implore Mechlyfe to consider this for the near future, as it would be easily accomplished.
As a result of this, I’ve been using the XS solely for direct lung vaping and have been mightily impressed. With side airflow opened about halfway and the airflow ring fully open, the XS competes with the very best devices on the market in terms of flavour output and has a relatively quiet, smooth draw. I’ve personally enjoyed it most with dual core fused Clapton builds, between 35W-40W but there’s certainly some wiggle room there for smaller or larger builds, depending on how much you open or close the side airflow screw.
I can’t overstate how impressed I am with the vape experience this device provides. The combination of great flavour, a smooth restricted draw, huge capacity, topfill and a sleek form factor is really quite a triumph. If Mechlyfe release a true MTL RBA for this in the future, it will be the complete package.
In summary, I’m highly impressed with the Ratel XS. Wobbly door notwithstanding, I wholeheartedly believe that this is currently the best AIO for enthusiasts who enjoy restricted direct lung vaping. Hype certified.
• Vape quality
• Huge capacity
• Easy to build
• Noticeable door wobble.