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 a list of what we believe to be the best and most worthwhile tDCS devices to buy of 2018. 

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

Quick Summary

1. Activadose II: 9/10
Focus V3: 7.5/10
Apex Type A: 7.5/10
Halo Sport: 7/10
Brain Driver v2.1: 6.5/10

1. Activadose II

A medical grade device used for tDCS in both home and research settings! Its precision and flexibility makes this device a popular choice amongst tDCS users, clinics and researchers alike.

Activadose II

Price: 8/10
At a price of $350, the Activadose II is reasonable for a medical grade tDCS device. An Activadose II starter kit can also be found for around $399.

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 also one of the lightest devices currently on the market, making this ideal in terms of portability/travel. The only reason this is not a 10/10 is because there are research devices like the Soterix that are built with even higher 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.

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. 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 Device
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Alimed: $796.00 Buy Now
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Source Ortho: $375 Buy Now
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Activadose II Starter Kit
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2. Focus V3

A newly released 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 comfortably in the center of the price range for 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

Due the V3’s recent release, it may be too soon to fully evaluate the reliability of this device in the long run; however, early impressions are promising. 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 Score: 7.5/10

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.

Product Link:
Amazon: Buy Now $399.00 Buy Now
Caputron: $399.99 -->$375.99 with code "tdcs.comBuy Now

3. 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 but still allows the device to easily adapt to poor contact quality, changes in resistance, or just simply manual increases in stimulation intensity.

Build quality: 6/10

This device is built inside a typical project box easily found online and looks like a DIY type of project. The device is of sturdy construction, and feels of fair quality while still retaining its lightweight and portable properties. The analog design of the device itself also makes the device feel somewhat more “substantial” than that of some its digital counterparts on the market. There have—on rare occasions—been devices that have had poor contact at the terminal and banana plug connector interface.

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. One big downside of this device is the lack of a timer integrated into the stimulation sessions, this adds an 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 brings a range of 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 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: Highly 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. Score: 7.5/10

Product Links:
Apex: $169.99 --> $159.99 Buy Now
Amazon: Buy Now
Caputron: $169.99 --> $159.99 --> $150.39 with code "tdcs.comBuy Now

4. 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: 3/10

With a hefty price tag of $749 (though occasionally available for cheaper on amazon), the Halo Sport tops our list as the highest costing device; and even with such substantial price, the device is only available for use in one montage. However, do keep in mind that this device still opts in as a high quality pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Reliability: 7/10

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. With this in mind, we here at have yet to experience this.

Build quality: 9/10

Build quality is 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-- although it inevitably falls short compared to that of other high-end headphones from manufacturers such as Bose or Beats. The case that stores the headphone also feels durable, with an added bonus of its ability to quick dry.

Ease of use:  9/10

The Halo Sport also scores high on ease of use, their website even features a video tutorial on setting up the device, and along with the addition of a tips section in the Halo Sport App, provides the user with a very user friendly experience.

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: A one-of-a-kind, unique tDCS device that also opts as a great pair of quality headphones. Clever electrode design makes this device easy to use and set up. Highly recommended for athletes or for those that are constantly on the move. Score: 7/10

Product Link:
Halo:  $599.00 --> $499.00 Buy Now
Amazon: Currently unvailable Buy Now

5. BrainDriver V2.1

A great device for first time users who don’t want to spend a fortune on tDCS! Controls are simple and stimulation parameters are straightforward and easy to set. This device however lacks a level of flexibility, considering parameter settings are limited to only a few preset options (that are typically used in tDCS).

Braindriver tDCS v2.1

Price: 8/10

The original price of the Brain Driver v2.1 is $199 (although it seems to always be on sale for around $140 to $150). Either way, this device is definitely on the low end of the market tDCS price range.

Reliability: 6/10

The device is decently reliable and rarely faulty; however there are reports of large current spikes in response to sudden changes in resistance. We also noticed 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 sudden “zap” sensation.

Build quality: 4/10

The build quality of the Brain Driver v2.1 is not terrible by any means, but at first glance, the plastic did feel cheap; and the battery is notoriously 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 buttons which ultimately controls session duration and current output; however users are limited to choosing only 4 output and 2 duration options. A few users have also reportedly struggled to follow the electrode montage/placement instructions found online on their website.

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 does have a very useful automatic shut-off feature when electrodes are not in proper contact with the scalp.

Final Verdict: TheBrainDriver V2.1 is straight-forward to use and but feels lack-luster in terms of build quality. Would recommend for beginners or for those on a budget. Score: 6.5/10

Product Link:
TheBrainDriver: $199.99 --> $139.99 Buy Now
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The prices listed here reflect the prices at the last updated date: 11/07/18

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