These top of the line brands offer powerful amps, serious cutting and sever capabilities, high duty cycles and can stand up to heavy use.
If you are looking for lower priced models, we have reviewed them too! While these aren’t cutters that we would recommend for your business, they do work quite well for DIY jobs or infrequent use. So make sure to check out our Cheap Plasma Cutter Reviews.
Now, we know that finding the best plasma cutter is not an easy task with all the options out there and it seems to be growing weekly. So our goal here is to help you by narrowing down the large number of quality plasma cutters to those that work almost anywhere and in any capacity and can get the job done for you without much hassle.
In doing so, we will take a look at several high end models and also a couple of the better budget models. So let’s get started! Here is a quick comparison of the top rated plasma cutters that we have reviewed.
Best Plasma Cutter Quick View Comparison
Hobart Airforce 27i
|3/8" @ 14ipm
5/8" @ ~5ipm
|1/2" @ 10ipm
3/4" @ 3ipm
Hypertherm Powermax 30 XP
|1/2" @ 10ipm
5/8" @ 5ipm
Hypertherm Powermax 45
|1/2" @ 20ipm
1" @ 5ipm
Everlast PowerPlasma 50S
|3/4" @ 10-12ipm
7/8" @ 3-5ipm
Forney 317 250 P+ Plasma Cutter
|1/8" @ 20ipm
1/4" @ 3-5ipm
Ramsond CUT 50DX
1" @ 4ipm
Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme
|5/16" @ 13ipm
7/8" @ 5ipm
Lincoln Electric 20
|1/8" @ 10ipm
1/4" @ 3-5ipm
Plasma Cutter Reviews
Hobart Airforce 27i – TOP PICK
The Hobart Airforce 27i is our pick for the best plasma cutter yet again. This one is just hard to beat and is our go to plasma cutter year in and year out. It’s a great tool with a multi-voltage plug designed for cutting all conductive metals and comes in a portable design.
The Airforce 27i features an inverter-based design with a power source which operates with 120 or 240 VAC to adapt and suit every work site. It has a multi-voltage plug which plugs into a standard outlet.
This plasma cutter does not require any special knowledge or skills to be set up–just about any person can do it and be cutting in a short time.
Another feature of this tool that gives it an edge over other products is its ability to cut any conductive metal very quickly and efficiently. It gives a clean and precise cut.
Cutting with this tool does not require you to preheat the metal material before you will be able to cut it. If you desire a quick and precise cutting, you should consider buying this model.
Lotos LTP5000D – BEST PRICE
The Lotos LTP5000D is an affordable compact and portable cutter. This has been a workhorse for us at the shop. This design allows it to cut different kinds of metals including alloy steel, copper, mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum using a non-hazardous compressed air.
This cutting tool is capable of using a pigtail to run on 110V 50/60 Hz or 220V 50/60 Hz power thanks to its dual voltage capability. It delivers efficient and quick cut.
The LTP5000D features a pilot arc torch which is capable of cutting through painted, rough and rusty surface without generating any remarkable slag. This cutting tool can cut both thin and thick metal. It comes with MOSFET transistor which makes the cutting of thin and thick materials possible.
The package comes with a plasma torch, air regulator, air hose and its connection, ground clamp, and cable. This product has a very affordable price point. Don’t let that fool you though, the quality and features are still very good.
The Hypertherm Powermax 30xp is the embodiment of performance, portability, efficiency and functionality. It has dual voltage and is capable of switching from 110v to 240v input power automatically.
This item is very easy to use thanks to the Duramax LT torch design that it comes standard. The first factor that designers of the product have taken into consideration creating it is portability as it is available in a lightweight design of 9.8kg (about 23 lbs) only.
The shoulder strap makes it possible for users to take it from one point to another during work.
Finally, this unit is about 170% more efficient than other models on consumables usage. That translates into more work and less expense. A double win!
Hypertherm Powermax 45
If you are looking for a portable and compact plasma cutter with impressive performance, the Hypertherm Powermax 45 should be an option for you.
This product offers superior cutting and high quality gouge. Thus, you only require a small amount of grinding and edge preparation to complete the job.
The Hypertherm Powermax 45 features a single phase input voltage of 200-240 and 34/28A. It utilizes Hypertherm’s patented drag cutting technology. This makes usage very simple. Even a newbie can cut with this tool.
It has severance capacity of 1 inch (25mm) and can cut any metal of 1/2 inches (12mm) thick. The system features 20 inches work lead and 20 inches hand torch.
This tool, manufactured in the USA, has a dimension of 16.8×6.8×13.7 inches and a weight of 40 pounds.
Everlast PowerPlasma 50S
The Everlast PowerPlasma 50S is suitable for cutting both rusty and painted metal materials of any type with thickness of up to 3/8 inches. It delivers an outstanding smooth and clean cut. It features inexpensive service parts as well as consumables.
The product features over current and air pressure light indicator that provides you with updates on the working condition of your unit. This cutter operates on a dual voltage of 120V/220V and 50 amperage.
Everlast PowerPlasma comes with a front air pressure gauge. It features also an adjustable post flower for controlling about 60 seconds to enhance the torch life and consumable. It is quite easy to adjust the pressure via the front air pressure adjustment.
Forney 317 250 P+ Plasma Cutter with Air Compressor
This is a new addition to our recommendations this year. Here’s why?
The Forney 317 250 P+ with Built-In Air Compressor can easily handle cutting mild steel, stainless steel, brass, copper, and several other conductive metals.
This Forney Plasma Cutter operates on 120V, 20A so it can be plugged in just about anywhere you need. However, this lower voltage and amperages translates to thinner max cut thicknesses.
This machine will cut 1/8″ and will sever up to 1/4″ metal all with a decent cut speed around 20 inches per minute (IPM). The Foreny 317 250 P+ incorporates their drag torch technology, which in our tests, did allow us more precise cuts by allowing to drag the torch directly across the metal surface as compared to needing to hover a bit above the metal.
This drag capability can be beneficial for those new to plasma cutting, but honestly, won’t have much of an impact if you have any previous experience with other types of plasma cutters.
In our testing, the Foreny 317 250 P+ seemed to have a bit slower ignition. At times, it took about 1-2 seconds from pulling the trigger until it ignited. Now depending on your needs, this may or may not be an issue. If you are doing lots of long cuts, then no real biggie, however, if you are doing lots of little cuts with lots of starts and stops, this will probably frustrate you.
Overall, the Forney 317 was a little bit slower in cutting through 1/8″ steel as compared to some of the other units we reviewed in this article. However, this means there is a trade off. The Forney 317 is almost $200-$400 cheaper than other models here but it does include a compressor, so if price is a big deal, this unit could be a good option for your tasks.
Ramsond CUT 50DX 50 Amp
This Ramsond Cut 520DY is another affordable and portable model with a weight of 19 pounds and dimension of 14.2 x 6 x 9 inches. It uses a 110V/220V dual voltage and 50/60 Hz dual frequency and has a rating of 50 Amps.
The Ramsond Cut 520DY is a 4th generation of Ramsond which utilizes inverter technology. It is capable of delivering cleaner and more even cutting using the pulse width modulation and V-MOSFETs made by TOSHIBA. Thanks to it’s easy of use, both professionals and DIY enthusiasts can use this model.
It can cut different types of metal surfaces and materials such as carbon steel, stainless steel, copper, alloy steel, aluminum plate, brass and any other conductive material. It does not require much heat to cut the surfaces.
Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme
Miller is the brand that speaks for itself. The Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme is not an exception and delivers an impressive cutting performance, however the price is high enough. It has a weight of 21 pounds. It comes with a shoulder strap to make it easier for the user to move from one place to another.
The product connects to 120 or 240 volt input with ease without requiring you to remove the cover for re-linking the power source. It works on a 60 Hz frequency and single phase power. It is quite easy to cut with this model.
The Miller Spectrum 625 is portable. It comes with an ergonomic handle to eliminate/minimize hand fatigue. It offers impressive maneuverability thanks to its flexible cable.
For faster troubleshooting, the product has LED indicators for power, cup, temperature and pressure. This will help reduce downtime.
To ensure enhanced reliability, designers of this tool included high-speed fan that functions when the you pull the torch trigger.
Lincoln Electric 20
This product is not cheap and is also manufactured by well-known brand – Lincoln Electric. The Lincoln Electric 20 is able to cut a metal sheet of 1/8 inches thick. It works on 115 volt, 15 amp for 10.15 amperage output or 115V, 20 amp for maximum output. The product is very portable featuring inverter design of 21 lbs.
It is suitable for HVAC, sheet metal fabricator, farm, contractor, auto body and homeowners. The package comes with ground clamp of 9.5 feet, plug, 8 feet cable plug and power cord. It comes with 12 months parts and labor warranty.
How do you choose the best plasma cutter?
All the products reviewed above are good options. To make an informed decision, there are several factors to consider when looking for the best plasma cutter.
What is your electric output requirement?
When looking for a plasma cutter, the type of electrical service you have in your work shop or job site is an important factor to consider. Do you have 110v or 220v? Each plasma cutter has its electricity requirements and several models can handle both.
So, before you choose any model make sure that electrical service offered in your shop matches the product’s voltage and amperage. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use it in your location.
Do you need portability or will it just be in the shop?
Portability is also an important factor. If you are taking the cutter from one work site to another, then you have to buy a product that is flexible and has features such as a shoulder strap, handles made for easy carriage, and/or long cables. But if you do not plan to carry it from one place to another, then you can disregard these portability features.
What is the duty cycle needed?
The duty cycle of a particular unit is the amount of time in an hour the cutter can safely operate without the torch or unit overheating or shutting down. This is generally expressed as a percentage and determined by how much amperage the unit draws. A lower percentage means the unit can run in short periods while a larger percentage means the unit can run for more time.
What type of materials will you cut and what thickness?
The best plasma cutter can cut particular types of materials and metals of varying thickness. There are some that can cut any conductive metal such as stainless steel, alloy steel, aluminum or copper but the thickness of the metal they can cut also differs. So, you should consider the type of metal and thickness of metal you will be cutting before you make a choice.
What is your budget?
Your budget is another important factor to consider. After all, it is your hard earned money and we all know money doesn’t grow on trees! There is the tendency to think that quality cutting machines are expensive. Yes, a good number of them are expensive, but if you shop around, you will find excellent bargains on quality products. And who doesn’t want a high quality machine at an awesome price?
What are your cutting ability and performance requirements?
As a rule of the thumb, it is important that you choose a product with impressive cutting performance, a product that offers precise, smooth, and no slag or dross cutting. With such a tool, you will be able to obtain a perfect cut which means less clean up of dross and/or top spatter. Because machines have different amperage’s, they can cut differing thicknesses of metal. Some lower amp units can only cut up to 1/4″ while some higher amp cutters can cut up to 1″ or more.
Do you need a compressor or an air filtration system?
Don’t you hate it when your new plasma cutter arrives and then you find out you need one more thing before you can use it? I know I do.
Some units come with built-in compressors, while some don’t. Most don’t have this, so make sure you have an external compressor that is powerful enough. We recommend the Powermate Vx 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor.
You will also need to make sure your air compressor meets or exceeds the recommendation of the manufacturer and this one meets any of the requirements for the plasma cutters we review on this site.
Dust, dirt, oil, and moisture are the mortal enemies in compressed air systems. It is no different with plasma cutters. Often, basic filtration systems come with the cutter, however the quality of your air compressor and filter still play a vital role.
Humidity in the air is another issue since this condenses into moisture when pressurized and further condenses as it releases from the compressor. So you will also need a desiccant filtration system to remove the extra moisture and particulates that are in the compressed air.
We recommend the Sharpe 6760 DryAire Dessicant Air Filter System. While filtration systems are expensive, they can make a difference between an good cut and a bad cut. Make sure to replace the filters periodically, otherwise, your cuts won’t be as clean and you’ll be burning through consumables more quickly.
What about consumables?
Consumables are the cutting parts that will wear down with use and need replacing. Depending on your usage patterns, you will eventually need to replace them. The shield, retaining cap, nozzle, electrode and swirl ring are all considered consumables.
For more information check out this excellent article on consumables. Some of these parts, such as the electrode and nozzle, will need to replacing more often. So make sure to take the cost of consumables into account when purchasing a plasma cutter.
Many shudder at the thought of spending $1500+ to get the best plasma cutter and then spend 3x as much in consumables over the life of their “bargain” machine.
Will you be free-handing or using on a CNC table?
Some units come with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) connections or interfaces while others are only used for free-hand cutting. So ask yourself, are you planning on hooking your new plasma cutter up to your CNC table or not? Those with CNC interfaces may include a free-hand torch and the CNC torch would be an extra cost.
The above factors will determine the product that will meet your requirements. This is because the various products have different specifications to suit different needs. Of course, you should buy a product that will meet your requirements and cutting needs.
A plasma cutter is an important tool for any person working with metal. It is a bewildering prospect to select a piece of equipment that is new to you with so many plasma cutter brands and models to choose from. They come in many models, sizes and amperages. If you answered all the questions above, you will end up with the best plasma cutter that is right for you!