Best Plasma Cutters 2020 – Reviews & Guide

Plasma cutting is a highly effective way of cutting through metals. It offers nearly unlimited possibilities for cutting through various materials, ranging from stainless steel to aluminum.

There are different models of plasma cutters on the market right now, and we realize that it can be hard choosing to correct option. Well, we have made this post to help you. In this post, we have reviewed 10 of the best plasma cutters you can buy today.

Aside from the in-depth reviews of each of these plasma cutters, we have also provided a buying guide containing important information, like the factors to consider before making a buying choice.

The Winners Of 2020

ProductPriceEditor's Pick

Hypertherm Powermax30 XP

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Overall Top Pick

4.8/5

PRIMEWELD CUT50

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4.7/5

Miller Spectrum 625 X-TREME

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4.6/5

Lotos LTP5000D

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4.5/5

Hypertherm Powermax45 XP

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4.2/5

Amico CUT-50

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4.3/5

Hobart Airforce 40i

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4.2/5


Forney Easy Weld 251
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4.1/5


Hobart Airforce 12ci

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4.0/5


LOTOS LT5000D

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3.9/5


Reviews of the 10 Best Plasma Cutters

1. Hypertherm Powermax30 Plasma Cutter – Best Overall

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This excellent plasma cutter offers users plenty of benefits due to the plethora of useful features that it has. First of all, it comes in a compact form and weighs just 98.kg, which makes it quite easy to carry around. It delivers impressive power despite the compact form; enough torque to cut through different types of materials with impressive ease. The torch handle is ergonomic and comfortable. Therefore, users can hold it for extended periods without feeling hand fatigue.

The maximum severance of 5/8” and 35% duty cycle ay 240V makes it quite versatile.

It is designed to work on 110V or 240V current. Interestingly, via the Auto-voltage function, this plasma cutter can make the switch to either current on its own. The torch is made of high-quality materials; hence, it holds up well against heat and impact. This unit comes with several accessories like gloves and eye shields which provide safety as you use the cutter.

It can be used by welders that are not very skilled as its controls and knobs are easy to use.

This is our number one choice because it embodies a near-perfect blend of performance, efficiency, functionality, and portability. It is a good choice for both professional and amateur welders. It is also excellent for those on the move.

Pros
  • Easy to set up and use
  • It comes with gloves and shades
  • It is a dual voltage unit
  • Portable and easy to store
  • Excellent cutting results
Cons
  • It cannot be used for heavy-duty applications
  • Requires patience to master

 2. PRIMEWELD CUT50 Portable Plasma Cutter – Best Value  

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Up next is an affordable option that delivers excellent value for money. The Primeweld CUT50 is a highly rated option and one of the best plasma cutters that one of the parameters that should be considered is the quality of the parts. Well, this unit is well made.

This unit has dimensions of 15 x 6 x 12” and weight of 10.2 kg. Therefore, it is fairly portable and compact. It features an ergonomic handle that allows you to carry it around with relative ease.

Aside from the quality of the parts, it comes with a maximum severance thickness of 3/4”. Like our top choice, it is a dual voltage unit that allows the use of either 110V or 220V and 50% duty cycle at 50A. Due to this feature, you will not be required to buy an adapter before you can start using it.

Overall, this plasma cutter offers excellent value for welders on a budget and those that are looking for a simple unit to use in a non-professional capacity.

Pros
  • It is easy to maintain
  • Versatile unit
  • Portable and compact unit
  • Comes with several safety features
Cons
  • Steep learning curve
  • Build quality is decent but not great

3. Miller Spectrum 625 X-TREME Plasma Cutter – Premium Choice

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The third option on this roundup is a unit that is designed primarily for welders that are into some light-duty construction and DIY enthusiasts. The unit comes in a compact and lightweight design (just 9.5 kg); hence it is very portable and can be taken from site to site with incredible ease. To aid with the transportation, the unit comes with a case. This case comes in handy during storage and transportation as it has a shoulder strap. The lightweight nature of this unit does not affect the sturdiness of construction as it is made with quality parts.

Performance-wise, it is quite impressive. It comes with auto-line circuitry which jettisons the need of any connecting tools to its 120-240 VAC. The 50% duty cycle at 40A enhances performance.

It might be designed for light-duty applications, but this premium unit can take on even mid-level industrial work. The product is also quite easy to use as it features the Auto-Refire technology. This feature ensures that the cutter is automatically controlled as you cut metals of varying thickness. Although the board has certain issues, these can be fixed quite easily.

Compared to many others on this roundup, it is quite expensive, and that is why it is our premium choice. It justifies the price, though, as it is a very reliable plasma cutter that will deliver excellent performance and lasts for a long time.

Pros
  • Very portable and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Comes with several convenient features
Cons
  • Not meant for heavy-duty applications
  • Controller board issues

4. Lotos LTP5000D Dual Voltage Plasma cutter

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This humble unit offers an excellent cutting cycle of 60% at 110V AND 220V that elevates it above its competitors on the market.

Due to the Pilot Arc technology, it is one of the units that does not require you to touch the welding tip to the metal. Hence, it is safer than other options that lack this feature. Additionally, it is quite compact (15 x 6 x 12”). It features a handle that is designed to enable you carry the unit around safely without any risk of dropping it. It also weighs 10.2 kg.

This unit is also quite versatile. It works on several metals and alloys, ranging from aluminum to steel. With its relatively high rating, it can cut up to ½ and inch and can even reach cutting depths of ¾ of an inch.

While we noticed that it doesn’t come with as many accessories as other options on this list, it is still one of the best products around.

As our top dual voltage plasma cutter, this unit can be connected to different places in the home or workshop. It can automatically choose the correct voltage.

Pros
  • Cuts quite cleanly
  • Dual voltage unit
  • Comes with several safety features
  • Lightweight and portable
Cons
  • The hose leaks air
  • Doesn’t come with all accessories

5. Hypertherm Powermax45 Plasma Cutter

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For most folks, what stands out in the Hypertherm Powermax45 XP is the price. However, upon closer inspection, you will likely discover that the performance of this excellent unit justifies the perceived high cost. This machine is one of the most durable options that you will find. It comes with all its parts made from high-quality materials, from the cords to the welding torch. With this unit, you can rest assured of using it for several years before having any issues with it.

It is one of the biggest on this roundup, measuring 17.4 x 6.8 x 14.1”. It also weighs 14kg; heavier than the rest as well.

However, the 45A of power and 50% duty cycle makes it one of the most versatile and powerful options you can find at this price. Due to this cutting power of up to 5/8”, it can cut through different types of metals. Despite the power, it doesn’t burn through your consumables. Therefore, you get excellent value for money as you don’t have to constantly buy new consumables.

This excellent plasma cutter is good for different types of users. Whether you are a DIYer or a professional, we are quite sure that you would enjoy using this machine. The only downside here is the relatively high price, but considering the power, it is worth it.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Small carbon footprint and uses little energy
  • Delivers excellent power exceeding most rivals
  • Durable and rugged construction
  • Fast performance
Cons
  • It is expensive

6. Amico CUT-50 Plasma Cutter

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The Amico CUT-50 is an excellent plasma cutter that comes with a nice, sturdy design and a decent performance index.

This unit comes with advanced inverter technology and a digital control system that makes it quite easy for amateurs to handle it. In terms of size (18 x 8 x 14”), it isn’t as portable as the other products.

Performance-wise, it can cut through a thickness of up to ¾” and features maximum severance of 1”.

It can adapt to either 100V or 240V power. This unit can also cut through different materials cleanly and quickly. Maintenance is not a hassle with this particular model from Amico.

If you are a beginner, then we highly recommend that you get the Amico Cut-50. It is great, not because it offers less power than you might be able to handle, but because it is easy for you to use.

Pros
  • Decent performance
  • Affordable unit
  • Comes with auto dual-voltage feature
  • Great for beginners
Cons
  • It lacks a pilot arc
  • It isn’t designed for heavy-duty application

7. Hobart Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter

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The Hobart brand is known for the impressive quality of the products that it churns, and it is refreshing to see the tradition continued with the Hobart Airforce 40i. This plasma cutter is one of the most powerful options from the brand, and it comes with an impressively solid and reliable duty cycle.

The Airforce 40i weighs 14.5 kg, which makes it heavier than other products on this roundup.

The technical features that it has also make it a good option. For instance, you will find it has a maximum cutting ability of 7/8 inches at 50% duty cycle. Therefore, the professional welder can cut through different types of metals easily. There are also several safety features like a trigger safety and a fan that ensures dust doesn’t enter the unit.

Although it costs more than your average plasma cutter, the powerful performance is worth every penny.

This plasma cutter is the top choice for professionals as it allows for heavy-duty use. With the Auto-Refire Technology and Pilot Arc technology, you can cut the metal without touching the tip to the surface.

Pros
  • The unit delivers quite powerful performance
  • Cuts through different types of metals
  • Impressive safety features
Cons
  • It is a single voltage unit

8. Forney Easy Weld 251 Plasma Cutter

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The Forney Easy Weld 251 comes at a relatively affordable price and offers quite impressive performance, especially when you consider that it is designed for home use. It is so easy to operate.

It features a compact and durable construction. It is still built to be carried around the home and taken along on jobs as it weighs just 9.7 kg. Due to the metal casing, it can survive bumps and impacts without getting damaged.

Performance and ease of use are quite impressive. It is convenient and can be handled without requiring any special skills. As a plug and use unit, there is no need to adjust the pressure setting or even heat up the metal before use. With its 120 V and 20A output, it isn’t the most powerful unit you will find. However, it is often powerful enough to handle your basic welding requirements.

This top choice for home use is very versatile and will cut most metals of ¼” and lower.

Pros
  • Easily cuts through rusty metal
  • Compact and very durable build
  • 8 feet ground lead
Cons
  • Lacks plenty of power
  • Has hard time cutting metals thicker than ¼”

9. Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter

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The Hobart brand provides top-notch products; therefore, it isn’t very surprising that the Hobart Airforce 12ci is one of the best plasma cutters you can buy. It comes with several interesting features; for instance, you will find that it has an inverter-based design and comes with an air compressor. Aside from these features, it is really portable and compact.

If you are a freelancer who moves around and needs to carry their unit around, then you will find the Airforce 12ci really handy. Aside from the 12.2 kg weight, the in-built air compressor makes it easy to carry all your welding equipment wherever you go.

For welders that weld for extended periods, the grip, trigger and safety of the torch makes the unit really easy to use.

An entry-level unit, it has an output of 12 Amps and runs on a 120V, 20A circuit. While this means it isn’t as powerful as other models on this roundup, it is sufficient for light-duty applications.

Pros
  • Comes with built-in compressor
  • Lightweight and portable
  • It comes with an ergonomic torch
  • The leads are quite long
  • Thermal overload protection
Cons
  • There is slag build-up
  • It is quite slow
  • It struggles with dirty metal

10. LOTOS LT5000D Plasma Cutter


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The last, but definitely not the least on this roundup is the LOTOS LT5000D. This unit is one reliable option that can be used for your light-duty projects, small industrial tasks, and DIY projects. It comes in an attractive body that is built to withstand abuse.

Weighing 10.5 kg and 15 x 6 x 12” dimensions, it is lightweight and portable.

A 50A unit, it has the distinction of being a dual-voltage unit. We like the ease of operation as well as the little amount of maintenance that it requires. The 10-50A output current and duty cycle of 60% at 50A makes it a reliable unit.

This unit can cut different metals and has a duty cycle that delivers enough power for your light-duty projects.

It lacks the Pilot Arc function of the LTP5000D mentioned earlier, however, its MOSFET transistors deliver reliable, high power outputs whenever you are cutting thicker metals.

If you are looking for an affordable, powerful, inverter-based unit, then you cannot go wrong with the LT5000D. With its dual-voltage feature, it is a good fit for welders that work in different places as they don’t need to carry an adapter around.

Pros
  • Comes with most of the accessories required to begin welding
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Dual voltage unit
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Less slag clean up
Cons
  • No power plugs
  • The plugs must be connected to the power cord by the user

Buyer’s Guide (Tips & Tricks)

The ten products above are the best plasma cutters you can buy today. You might wonder about the parameters that we used in choosing them. Well, this section discusses these parameters and their importance.

Which is more important: Performance or Price?

It can be a dilemma choosing between the cost of a plasma cutter and the price. On one hand, you want to spend the least amount of money possible; on the other hand, you want a unit that gives you the best performance.

When faced with such a problem, here is what we advise;

First, be clear about the purpose of the unit. Once you identify what you need the plasma cutter for, then look for the available models that can help you achieve the task.

After this, compare the models you have drawn up; checking for any bells and whistles that add to the price without adding any value to your work.

After doing this, you will likely choose the best product that offers a perfect balance between price and performance.

It is essential that you remember that the initial cost of buying the unit isn’t the only factor that affects the price. Consumables are also important. This leads us to our second important factor.

Consumables

What are consumables? Simply put, these are the parts of the plasma cutter that wear out over time. In most units, they include: electrode, retaining cap, shield, swirl ring, and the nozzle.

As the name implies, the shield helps to protect the unit and other consumables from sparks. Nozzle and electrode are the consumables you will spend the most amount of money on because they are “consumed” quickly.

With this in mind, before choosing a plasma cutter, consider the type of consumables it uses, how quickly it ‘eats’ through them, and the cost of getting new consumables.

Pilot Arc

In simple terms, a pilot arc plasma cutter completes a circuit without touching the material you are cutting.

On the other hand, regular plasma cutters need to have contact with the metal being cut before a circuit is completed.

The advantage of a pilot arc model is that you can cut through different metal surfaces (rusted, dirty or painted) without any hassle.

Power Requirement

Plasma cutters come with different power requirements. Some are 120V, others are 240V, while others are dual-voltage units. 120V units are great for folks just starting to learn while the 230V are more suitable for advanced welders.

In our opinion, the best options are the dual-voltage units as they can switch depending on the amount of power required.

Type of Cut

There are three main types of cutting quality that you will get from a plasma cutter. These are: rated cut, quality cut, and severe cut.

The rated cut is the fastest and is primarily for cutting relatively thin steel. It is the best cut and delivers pretty clean results.

Quality cut is good for cutting thicker metals. It is not as fast as the rated cut.

Sever cut is the slowest type of cut, although the speed picks up when you cut through thin metals. Although it can cut through thick metals, it often leaves a messy residue and poor finish.

Duty Cycle

This important factor is defined as the time you can cut your metal before it starts to overheat and needs to be cooled. The duty cycle is represented as a percentage. For instance, if your unit has a duty cycle of 40% at 40 amps that means that you can cut with 40 Amps output power for 4 minutes in a 10-minute duration.

The best options on the market often come with higher duty cycle ratings.

Maximum Clean Cut and Rough Cut

There is a maximum thickness of metal that your plasma cutter can cut through without producing slag. This is referred to as the maximum clean cut.

The rough cut is the thickest level the plasma cutter can ever cut through. At this stage, expect plenty of slag, cleanup, and ugly finished edge.

Before choosing a unit, check out the manufacturer’s thickness rating of these cuts.

Purpose

When buying a plasma cutter, the type of cutter you buy will be affected by the type of work you plan to do. Plasma cutters are not like oxy-fueled cutters since they are far more versatile and can cut through different types of metals.

For welders that usually cut ¼” thick metals, it is smarter to invest in a lower amperage unit. If you cut thicker metals, then you will require a unit with a higher amperage rating.

It is important to specify the purpose because if the plasma cutter is always working at the limit of its current capacity, the chances of creating poor quality cuts is quite high. You will likely end up with shoddy cuts that will ruin the quality of your work.

From our research and testing, we observed that most ¼” plasma cutters have about 25A output, ½” units have around 60A output, while ¾” units have up to 80A output.

Speed of Cutting

The next feature you should consider when choosing a plasma cutter is the cutting speed. Since projects are different, you will require different speeds. The options we have reviewed have IPM specifications, i.e. (inches per minute). The IPM is the cutting speed of the unit. If you mostly cut ¼”, you will need a unit with high amps rating because the higher the amperage, the faster the cutting speed.

The Start Method of the Unit

It is essential to consider the starting method of your plasma cutter before you buy it. Plasma cutting usually requires ionized air to get the current flow required to form the plasma. Several of the options on the market are equipped with a pilot arc that conducts electricity via high frequency. This method of starting makes it very easy to start the unit, but it comes with a problem. The high frequency can affect other electrical equipment in the vicinity.

If you are working in such an environment, it might be better for you to find a plasma cutter that utilizes the lift arc method. The lift arc method eliminates the problem of high frequency.

Portability

Portability is quite important when choosing your unit. A lightweight, compact, and portable unit can make your work easier. Look out for units that come with carrying cases, ergonomic handles, and other features that will make it easier to move the unit around. A compact unit is also important if you are working in tight spaces.

Durability

If you are working in an environment that exposes your equipment to several dangers, then you need to get a model that comes with features that will help it last for a long time. Some units are designed with a protective cage around sensitive parts, for example, the air filter.

Ease of Use

It doesn’t make sense to buy a unit that you can barely use. That is why it is essential to look for a product that is quite easy to use. Look for options that come with a panel that is easy to read. It should be designed properly and should be usable even by folks with little experience welding.

Safety

The plasma cutter, when used wrongly, can be a dangerous machine. That is why safeguards need to be put in place to ensure safe use. Some safety features you should consider include safety sensors and pre-flow sequence.

Air Compressor and Desiccant Air Dryer

The plasma cutter requires air to create the plasma, which is why it needs the air compressor.

Furthermore, using the right air dryer will lengthen the lifespan of your consumables and help you achieve cleaner cutting results.

Some units have an in-built air compressor, while others do not. Those with an in-built compressor are more convenient to use since you don’t have to carry two different tools separately. However, they are more expensive to acquire.

Bottom Line

From the review above, it is quite clear that there are some really good plasma cutters on the market. From the reviews, our number one choice is the Hypertherm Powermax30 XP. This excellent product balances cost, design, and features to be one of the best plasma cutters you can buy right now. It is a dual-voltage unit and is made of high-quality materials.

We hope that this post will assist you in making the right buying choice.

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