Modafinil Vs Other Stimulants: Caffeine, Ephedrine, and Ritalin

Today we’re tackling another common question asked by many curious customers. How does Modafinil compare to other common stimulants on the market? First of all we chose stimulants that are legally available, ruling out narcotics. Secondly, we chose products that focus on alertness, energy, and cognitive ability as well.


The obvious first choice, caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed drug. 90% of American use caffeine every single day. It’s found in soft drinks, coffee, some teas, pills, even bars of soap! One of the reasons caffeine is so common is that it’s cheap and available. Caffeine is commonly taken throughout the day to help people have the energy to perform their usual tasks. Usually at night it is avoided so as not to disrupt sleep. Caffeine is also popular because it doesn’t interfere much with regular activities. Consumers can still eat, focus, and interact much as they usually do. A common complaint is the crash after caffeine wears off.


The Chinese manufacturer and sell billions of dollars worth of Ephedrine products every year. Ephedrine is derived from a plant local to the region and it has been marketed in a variety of weight-loss supplements for its appetite-reducing effects. Many stimulants have this effect, but Ephedrine has increased weight loss properties that make it popular for fat loss and weight reduction. Athletes especially became fond of it in the 1990s, which led to major sports leagues banning the product. In recent years, Ephedrine has been banned by several countries due to long term health implications. Pseudoephedrine is available but is also highly regulated because it can serve as a precursor to methamphetamine production, and many pharmacies require registration before supplying Pseudoephedrine to users.


A more controversial case. Ritalin is available only via prescription, but is commonly taken by high school and university students around the world for its ability to increase focus and concentration. It is commonly used as a study-drug and occasionally for its stimulant properties, allowing users to stay up late and have fun, or get work done. Typically it is prescribed for children with ADHD, a trend that continues to rise. Ritalin is not available over the counter and prices are considerably high, prohibiting widespread use.


The topic of this blog, Modafinil, is a long lasting stimulant with positive effects on concentration, focus, and energy. Modafinil is currently available without a prescription in many countries and does not require registration or permission as Ephedrine does. It is the only stimulant that provides an entire day’s worth of energy in one dose.

Comparing duration:

To better compare these four chemicals, we looked at the average duration for a standard dose. This is based off of the medical half-life for each compound. Generally speaking, after the half-life the effects wear off rather quickly. Therefore it’s the best unit of measurement. All data was obtained from

Modafinil Duration Chart

As you can see, Modafinil leads the pack with a 15 hour half-life. Logically it wouldn’t be a great idea to take it in the middle of the day, unless you plan on staying up quite late. Ritalin has the lowest efficacy, which is part of the reason why most of their pills are marketed as “extended release” in order to extend the dosage time to about 8 hours. Caffeine wears off in about 4-5 hours, which explains our typical morning caffeine buzz wearing off around lunch time.

Cost per dose

To further our comparison we looked at the average price of a standard dose of each product. For coffee, we considered the most widely available and affordable alternative, an 8oz cup of coffee can be easily obtained for about $1. Ephedrine pills are typically marketed at a low price of about 50 cents per pill but are usually taken in pairs. Shipping and handling costs were also factored in. For Ritalin, we took the average of several major pharmacies in the United States. And for Modafinil, we used the prices at a major distributor:

Modafinil cost per dose chart

Ritalin and Modafinil are more expensive than Caffeine or Ephedrine. However to best compare the two sets of data we created a chart comparing the “Cost per Hour” of each item. This gives us a better idea of which product gives you the best value.

 modafinil cost per hour chart

Here it’s very clear who the winners and losers are. Ritalin is prohibitively expensive to use as a daily stimulant. Caffeine is fairly cheap if you stick to affordable coffee. But the Starbucks lovers out there would find this number to be unrealistic. Also the repetitive dosing of caffeine makes it a bit impractical. Modafinil, being the longest lasting, gives you the best bang for your buck, at less than $0.15 per hour of effect. And all that is achieved by just taking one pill. As far as convenience goes, you can’t really beat Modafinil.

So if you’re a daily coffee drinker, or you’ve been using another type of stimulant and are looking for something better, perhaps Modafinil should be on your list. It’s got a better value, a longer duration, and less side effects and legal difficulties to boot.

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