Buying a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) device can seem like a daunting task. Out of a sea of poorly made devices on the market, only a few stand above the rest as true quality tDCS devices; and being the responsible buyer that you are-- you'll find doing the proper research to find these top devices can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.

To help you narrow down your search, we've compiled an updated list of what we believe to be the best and most worthwhile tDCS devices to buy of 2019. 

*You can skip to any product review by clicking on the product name under "Quick Summary"*

Quick Summary

1. Activadose tDCS Starter Kit

A medical grade starter kit used for tDCS in both home and research settings! Its precision and flexibility continues to make this device a popular choice amongst consumer tDCS users, clinics and researchers alike. The Activadose remains in first place from last year, although the recent boom in popularity of the Activadose Starter Kit means it's only reasonable to update this first place product to the starter kit variant. The Activadose along with the top of the line accessories that come conveniently with the starter kit makes this first place decision a no-brainer.

Activadose II

Price: 8/10
At a price of $349.99, the Activadose tDCS Starter Kit is reasonable considering the tDCS device itself is of a medical grade standard and comes with arguably the highest quality accessories in the consumer tDCS market.

Reliability: 10/10
As a medical grade device, the Activadose II provides characteristically consistent stimulation sessions and has proven to be one of the most reliable tDCS devices on the market. Because this device also carries an FDA clearance it is subject to strict quality control during manufacturing in an ISO certified facility.

Build quality: 9/10
The Activadose II has an excellent build quality; components feel solid and durable, yet it is among the lightest devices currently on the market, the device also comes with a custom carrying case—making this system ideal in terms of portability/travel. The sole reason this device is not rated a 10/10 is because there are research devices like the Soterix 1x1 that are built with an even higher level of precision.

Ease of use:  9/10
The Activadose II is remarkably easy to use, with only 2 control knobs, one for current and the other for timer (labeled as dosage on this device), any first time user would find using this device to be a breeze. The Caputron Universal Strap that comes with the starter kit is also very intuitive to use—with markings on the strap to aid in reproducibility. We also found while using this set-up that the electrodes never slipped because of the grip between the rubber on rubber contact of the electrodes and strap.

Other noteworthy features:

  • Device displays dosage, timer and current.

  • Every stimulation session has a ramp up and ramp down feature to ensure comfort for the user.

  • The Activadose II was initially designed for iontophoresis, which uses a steady and direct electric current to help the body absorb salts and/or other drugs through the skin. Because of this function, the device can easily be used to administer tDCS; this means this device is medical grade, but requires no prescription because it is FDA cleared for iontophoresis.

  • This device is frequently used in research labs and clinics for tDCS.

  • In addition to the Activadose tDCS stimulator, the starter kit also comes with a “Caputron Universal Strap”, a twin lead 4 mm banana lead cable, 2 electrodes of your choice in size, and 10 sponge insert replacements for the electrodes. Score: 9/10

Final Verdict: An excellent and overall very well rounded stimulator for tDCS where no expense was spared for quality. Would highly recommend for tDCS in almost any application-- home, clinical or laboratory use.

Product Links:

Activadose II Starter Kit
Amazon: Buy Now
Caputron: $399.99 --> $349.99 --> $328.99 with code "" Buy Now

2. BrainDriver V2.1

A great device for first time users who don’t want to spend a fortune on tDCS! Controls are very simple and stimulation parameters are straightforward and easy to set. While this device does lack a certain level of flexibility due to there only being 4 fixed current settings--most users would find these options more than enough to suit their tDCS needs.

Braindriver tDCS v2.1

Price: 10/10

The original price of the Brain Driver v2.1 is $199 (although it seems to always be on sale for around $140 to $150)—this device has even been found to be sold at some shops for as low as $130! Either way, this device is definitely on the very low end of the market tDCS price range.

Reliability: 8/10

The device is decently reliable and rarely faulty; however there have been on rare occasions reports of uncomfortable current spikes in response to sudden changes in resistance. We also noticed upon testing that the ramp-up and ramp-down feature didn’t seem to work when stimulation is paused in the middle of a session, which may result in a “zapping” sensation.

Build quality: 8/10

The build quality of the Brain Driver v2.1 is relatively good compared to the bulk of tDCS devices that can be found on the market, although the plastic may feel a bit cheap. We also found that the battery is also occasionally hard to remove (at least on the device we tried), however we doubt this would compromise the overall structural integrity of the casing in any meaningful way.

Ease of use: 8 /10

In general, this device is very easy to use, with just 5 intuitive push-buttons which control session duration and current output. A few users have reportedly struggled to follow the electrode montage/placement instructions found online on their website; however there are many tDCS montage guides online—as well as aftermarket tDCS straps and accessories online that easily transfer over to using the Braindriver.

Other noteworthy features:

  • Device comes with 2 options of session durations of 20 minutes and 30 minutes.

  • There are 4 output currents options: 0.5 mA, 1 mA, 1.5 mA and 2mA.

  • Device features ramp-up and ramp-down for maximum user comfort.

  • The device has a very useful automatic shut-off feature when electrodes are not in proper contact with the scalp.

Final Verdict: TheBrainDriver v2.1 is easy to use and has a reasonable build quality. Would recommend for beginners due to its lower learning curve, or for those on a budget. Score: 8.5/10

Product Links:

TheBrainDriver: $199.99 --> $149.99 Buy Now
Amazon: Buy Now
Caputron: $199.99 --> $144.99 -->$136.29 with code "tdcs.comBuy Now

3. Focus V3

A relatively new device with one of the largest ranges of stimulation waveforms on the market! Its range of capabilities makes this device one of the most technically sophisticated devices on the market. V3

Price: 7/10

At $399, the V3 sits on the higher end of the price range for consumer tDCS devices on the market. However with the device boasting an impressive 5 different stimulation waveforms, its price is justifiable. The efficacy of the other 4 waveforms are questionable though, with most research being done with direct current and only some with alternating current-- and fewer still with pulsed current, rippled current or random noise.

Reliability: 8/10

After a couple of months of use, the V3 is still going on strong! Current and waveform outputs are as featured and operation is markedly better on the V3 than its predecessor, the V2, where instances of dead batteries and dead screens were abundant.

Build quality: 8/10

The device seems solid and of good quality. Device is lightweight and very conveniently sized. The rippled quality of the casing design makes the device feel unique and alludes to one of the main features and selling points of the device—the new rippled current waveform (again, the usefulness of this waveform is questionable due to the lack of literature).

Ease of use:  7/10

User interface is sleek and minimalist, with only one control point (the blue joystick); however the product does not seem to arrive with an instruction manual—this may be inconvenient for new users that have not tried the previous V2 device. The device can also be paired with an app, however full functionality is available with just the device itself; in fact, we found the device easier to operate directly from the device itself rather than pairing it with the app due to how straightforward the on-screen menu is.

Other noteworthy features:

  • The V3 has a built-in safety feature/timer that limits each session to a recommended length of 40 minutes, the device will even warn you if you start a new stimulation session too soon after your last one. You can however, choose to override this function if you wish in order to start another session or if you are using the device for research and are running multiple subjects per day.

  • The V3 includes an impressive collection of 5 different waveforms: tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation), tRNS (transcranial random noise stimulation), tPCS (transcranial pulsed current stimulation), tACS (transcranial alternating current stimulation) and the new tRCS (transcranial rippled current stimulation). Again, it's important to note that the usefulness of these additional waveforms are debatable, but simply having these extra waveform to work with is a plus compared to other brain stimulation devices on the market.

  • The device also features a sham setting, which can be used in a research setting to provide information on placebo effects.

  • The V3 is CE certified to Medical Standard 60601:2

Final Verdict: The most feature-packed tDCS device on the market-- with multiple waveforms and stimulation programs to choose from. Highly recommended for those looking for a multi-functional stimulator. Score: 7.5/10

Product Links:

Amazon: Buy Now $329.99 Buy Now
Caputron: $329.99 —> $310.19 with code "tdcs.comBuy Now

4. Halo Sport 2

The successor to the famous Halo Sport. A unique tDCS device for music listeners and athletes alike! This device goes the extra mile and allows the device to also function as a pair of high quality Bluetooth headphones. Halo also claims this device is used by professional athletes on teams like the Golden State Warriors and the US Olympics Ski Team.

Halo Sport

Price: 8/10

One of the biggest improvements over the original Halo Sport is the substantially lower price of the device, dropping from the sizable $749 to a more reasonable $399. However even with the price drop, the Halo Sport 2 still retains its use as a high quality pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Reliability: 6/10

There have been some complaints of poor contact with the primers (electrodes), typically caused by either excessive motion, amount of wetting of the primers, or differences in hair density.

Build quality: 8/10

Similar to the original Halo Sport, the build quality is still top notch. The device itself is lightweight, yet maintains its durability through a clever usage of flexible metal and plastic. The sound quality in this device is impressive as well—as one of the updates from the original was improved sound quality to better match high-end headphones. Although the sound quality still inevitably falls short of other high end headphones, the Halo Sport 2 still remains a pair of headphones with a formidable sound quality. The case that stores the headphone also feels durable, with an added bonus of its ability to quick dry.

Ease of use:  8/10

The Halo Sport also scores high on ease of use, their website even features a video tutorial on setting up the device. The device also interfaces with a brand new, updated Halo Sport app that includes tracking, reminders and brain training tips. The neuro-primers were also updated to provide a faster and easier setup experience; the formerly three separate primers are now combined into a single primer band, and the individual foam tips of the primers were also updated to require less maintenance. Lastly, the headphone functionality now has built-in Bluetooth audio for seamless wireless use.

Other noteworthy features: 

  • A “neuropriming” session takes 20 minutes, at the end of each session, the app will indicate the session has ended, an auditory cue can also be heard from the headset.

  • You can also adjust stimulation intensity to your choosing by using the app.

  • Although the device is limited to only one montage-- which targets the primary motor cortex-- Halo implements this one montage very well. Targeting of the primary motor cortex is very accurate, and the clever electrode design overcomes the limitations of tDCS applied through areas of dense hair.

  • It’s important to note that the Halo Sport is currently ruled by the FDA as a “health and wellness” device and has not yet been approved for medical use, and therefore is not intended to treat or prevent any medical issues.

Final Verdict: An updated, one-of-a-kind, unique tDCS device that also opts as a great pair of quality Bluetooth headphones. Clever updates to the electrode design makes “neuropriming” an even smoother and seamless experience than the original Halo Sport. Highly recommended for athletes or for those that are constantly on the move. Score: 7.5/10

Product Links:

Halo:  $399.00 Buy Now

5. Apex Type A

One of the few tDCS devices with a precision analog ammeter! This allows for organic real time accurate feedback of current output and connection conditions.

Apex Type A

Price: 10/10

The original price of the Apex Type A is $169.99 (although it seems to always be on sale for $159.99). The relatively low price (along with the simple design) makes this device a favorite amongst tDCS users.

Reliability: 7/10

The Apex Type A has a great track record of keeping largely malfunction free. This device also runs on two 9 volt batteries, the total 18 volts available for current delivery is on the lower end of what would be acceptable in a tDCS device (typical tDCS compliance voltage is around 20V) but still allows the device to adapt to poor contact quality, changes in resistance, or just simply manual increases in stimulation intensity.

Build quality: 4/10

Perhaps the largest issue of this device is the cheap construction and build quality. This device is built inside a typical project box easily found online and looks like a DIY type of project; although this does give the device its lightweight and portable properties. There have also been reports of devices having poor contact at the terminal and banana plug connector interface, leading to poor current flow.

Ease of use:  7/10

The Apex Type A really only has 2 components to the user interface, the on/off switch and intensity dial. The fact that the dial itself is analog also means you can organically control the rate of ramp-up or ramp-down however you desire, however this may not be the best idea given you can generally obtain more consistent ramp-up times with a digital pre-programmed ramp-up; and with the digital ramp-up, the user wouldn’t have to worry about manually ramping the current. One big downside of this device is the lack of a timer integrated into the stimulation sessions, this adds another extra (unnecessary) step for the user in terms of keeping track of how long the tDCS session has been.

Other noteworthy features:

  • The fact that the device is analog does bring benefits including as mentioned before—the ability to manually control the ramp-up and ramp-down rates. Analog also means that unlike digital, there are no unnatural “steps” in stimulation waveform that occur when you change stimulation intensity.

  • The device features a built in precision analog ammeter, this allows an organic view of the real-time current being driven during stimulation, as well as gives the user the ability to determine whether a good connection exists by closing the circuit by touching the two ends of the electrodes terminals and checking the ammeter reading.

Final Verdict: Recommended for those on a budget and who don't mind not having an integrated timer. Overall one of the best analog tDCS devices on the market, however analog devices in general are beginning to become obsolete as more robust digital stimulators are coming to market. Score: 7/10

Product Links:

Apex: $189.99 --> $149.99 Buy Now
Amazon: Buy Now
Caputron: $189.99 --> $149.99 --> $140.99 with code "tdcs.comBuy Now

The prices listed here reflect the prices at the last updated date: 09/05/19

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