I have only used Traeger because I haven't looked for something better. I should! Living in Omak Washington my options a limited.
On my RecTec Mini, there is a heavy smoke setting which comes on automatically between 180 and 250 degrees. I find that to be excellent in imparting smoke flavor (and yes, my smoker before the Rectec was a stick burner). I think (my opinion only) the reason why people don't get a lot of smoke flavor is that they crank the temp above 250. What I do is depending on what I am smoking, I set the initial temp to 225 and then turn it up (like for crispy skin on chicken) to a hotter temp like 375 or more for the last part of the cooking process. On the fullsize RecTec, you have to push the button on the front for the extra smoke setting. Doing this, I get beautiful smoke rings on the meat and a great flavor. Also, I use good pellets (not Traeger) -- Lumberjack and Pacific Pellets (which I can get for 9.95/20# at Sportsmans Warehouse). And I don't use an additional tube.
Most Pellet Grills produce smoke but not enough to give meat that smoke saturated flavor. When I purchased a Camp Chef pellet grill it had a lot of places where the smoke escaped. Especially the lid. I bought a gasket to place a seal on the lid. Also I bought a 12 inch Amazen cold smoke tube. You can find them on Amazon. I am cooking this Sunday so I will find out if all my efforts to produce smoked meat will work. I will say that I get better results with a pellet grill, with tender juicy meat. Lots better than my stick burner.
I can tell you how the pellets have worked for us, we started with the "chunk" wood and did not like it because the pieces were to big. We tried the pellets and liked them the first time. The smoke flavor is just great. And with the pellets, it is easy to mix and match for lack of a better way to say it. If we want some apple and sone hickory we can have it. IF we want 1/3 apple and 2/3's hickory we can do that. I would say pellets are the way to go
mr. Martin in north east Iowa Spring is on the way
I agree with much of what Bluto says above. Also a little late .
Type of pellets make a big difference, I have read posts on here of people buying "heating" pellets because the bulk price was better.. DO NOT DO THAT - I Can't tell you how wrong that is in so many ways ! With out a lengthy discussion, they are not food safe or recommended in any way other than their "boiler/furnace" intended purpose !
I am using a Memphis Wood Fire Grill and a MES 40" (with and without the mailbox adapter) I don't even break out the Cast Iron Barrel smoker, never. Even the MES use has slowed to a trickle since getting the Memphis.
I have tried various pellets, the Natures way I get from the dealer are a buck or 2 more, but seem to have better flavor, especially the mesquite. I tried some others, and I could not get the flavor blast in a shorter term smoke. I cant speak to the traeger pellets, but enough people here have.
I get the difference in wood stricks/chuncks vs pellets, but hovering over a side box for hours is not my deal. I obtain just as must or little smoke now on the Memphis without the babysitting. Even on the MES, I am adding chips and pellets every few hours on briskets and butts.
I will say the mail box adapter (search the forum, lots of info on how to make one) on the MES with the Amaze N tray smoker has made cold smoking pretty easy, especially the cheese.