Best Plasma Cutter: Top 7 of 2020 Reviewed

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We like to imagine that operating a plasma cutter is just as easy as firing a laser gun (and just as cool). In reality, we all-too-often find that the high-powered arc we’re looking for sputters out more like water from a squirt gun.

The best plasma cutter is one that’s built to last with reliable power regulation, easy-to-use controls, and, ideally, a touch-free emitter like a pilot arc.

If, for some reason, you’re looking for a poor-quality plasma cutter, feel free to buy one without variable power control and low maximum severance. Low-power plasma cutters without protection from high-frequency interference are out there, but they’re a pathetic waste of your hard-earned money.

To help you separate the good from the bad – we’ve reviewed the Top 7 Plasma Cutters of 2020.

Buy with the confidence that you’re buying one of the best plasma cutters on the market. Let’s jump straight into the reviews.

best overall rating
Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter
  • Built-in air compression system
  • Point-and-click operation
  • Fine-tipped emitter for thin kerfs and minimal warping
premium choice rating
Hypertherm Powermax 45 Plasma Cutter
  • Small form-factor for convenient storage
  • Variable air pressure for both high-power and low-power cuts
  • Patented safety system
great value rating
Lotos LTP5000D Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
  • Touch-free plasma cutting easily slices through surfaces
  • Extremely lightweight at only 19 pounds
  • Excellent value for the money (under 500)

Top 7 Best Plasma Cutters

Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter – Best Overall

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Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor...
  • Built in Air Compressor
  • Cuts faster than oxy fuel
  • Smaller heat-affected zone for less warping

If you won’t settle for anything but the best tools for the job, the Hobart Airforce 12ci is the best plasma cutter your money can buy. The Airforce 12ci is packed with everything you need to cut steel, copper, and aluminum for any project big or small. With its compact emitter, the heated tip is smaller than competing plasma cutters resulting in ultra-fine cuts with little to no warping at all. The smaller contact surface also creates a much thinner kerf, resulting in far less slag and a cleaner overall cut.

Gone are the days of buying compressed air canisters or busting out the old, unreliable air compressor pump. The Hobart plasma cutter has an air compressor built right into the unit, eliminating the need to carry extra parts or machinery to your job site. This also saves you significant energy costs in the long run and reduces the chances of your setup failing due to a faulty air compressor.

The air compression system also allows for much faster plasma cutting than standard oxy fuel systems. The air pressure is automatically tuned for you by the manufacturer so all you have to do is point, pull the trigger, and cut.

Hobart backs its flagship plasma cutters with their 5/3/1 limited warranty. This means that they’ll cover the primary electronic components for up to five years, including the main power rectifiers. The PC boards, drive systems, and mechanical parts are covered for up to three years, and all of the other pieces and parts get one full year of coverage.

Few tools we’ve looked at in our “best plasma cutter” reviews offer the convenience of point-and-click operation, and even fewer guarantee their products with 5-year warranty coverage. While the Hobart Airforce 12ci comes at a higher price than some other plasma cutters, it’s far more reliable than budget machines that have a reputation for poor longevity or shipping with defects. For a plasma cutter you can depend on for years to come at a reasonable price, we can’t think of a stronger choice to call our best overall pick.

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What We Like
  • Built-in air compression system
  • Point-and-click operation
  • Fine-tipped emitter for thin kerfs and minimal warping
  • Generous 5/3/1 warranty coverage
What We Don’t Like
  • Higher-end price point
  • No pilot arc or dual voltage settings

Hypertherm Powermax 45 Plasma Cutter – Premium Choice

Hypertherm Powermax 45 XP Machine System CPC 25' Leads
  • Hypertherm powermax 45 xp #088121 machine system cpc 25' leads

There’s one plasma cutter that’s a cut above the rest– pun totally intended– offering heavy power in a portable package. Hypertherm’s Powermax 45 is one of the most compact plasma cutters on the market making it easy to carry to any job site and store discreetly in even the smallest home or garage workshops. Its premium price reflects its superior quality and between its convenient size and easy-to-use features, there’s no better plasma cutter for your money.

With a Powermax 45 in your hands, you can make the cleanest cuts with ease thanks to its Smart Sense technology which helps you maintain the exact air pressure needed to maintain a consistent arc for smooth, simple cutting. For low amp cuts, you can easily reduce the pressure to avoid blowing out your arc, and your high amp cuts will have all the power and pressure needed to keep the energy flowing.

If you don’t have much experience using a plasma cutter, the Hypertherm Powermax 45 is a great option for you, built with a patent-protected drag-cutting system that helps keep the unit stable for safe, smooth, and clean cuts every time. More seasoned users will find they can work much faster with a Powermax 45 since they can work quickly without compromising the quality of their work even if performing more sensitive and carefully-measured cuts.

Your job will get done that much faster, even when cutting dense steel, with a cutting speed of up to 1.5 times the speed of oxyfuel cutters. Not only does this mean you’ll become a more efficient worker, but you’ll use less compressed air saving you money whether you use disposable air tanks or power-sucking air compressors.

Offering top-of-the-line gouges and high-quality cuts, you’ll save even more time on your project since you’ll need to spend far less time pre-grinding and preparing your edges. This means more time building and less time planning and prepping. All Hypertherm products are backed by a 2-year warranty (and 3 years for power supplies) ensuring your plasma cutter is protected for a long time after purchase.

The Hypertherm Powermax 45 is our favorite tool for all of your plasma cutting needs in one small package. For the money, other plasma cutters just don’t compare. While it’s priced at a premium, it’s the most precise and reliable compact plasma cutter money can buy.

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What We Like
  • Small form-factor for portability and convenient storage
  • Variable air pressure for both high-power and low-power cuts
  • Patented safety system for smooth, risk-free drag cuts
  • 2-year product warranty w/ 3-year power supply protection
What We Don’t Like
  • Pricier than most plasma cutters
  • Bulky in weight, measuring in at 36 pounds

Lotos LTP5000D Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter – Great Value

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Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter, Dual Voltage...
  • ★ NON-TOUCH PILOT ARC PLASMA CUTTER: efficiently cuts though rough, painted, and rusty surfaces and produces minimal slag. Pilot arc technology allows you to cut without...
  • ★ SAFE AND AT LOW COST: compact plasma cutter has a handle for portability and uses non-hazardous compressed air to cut stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper, and...
  • ★ THE COMPATIBLE CONSUMABLES SETS for this BROWN Color LTP5000D Plasma Cutter are "PCS22" or "PCS33". Please search "Lotos PCS22" or "Lotos PCS33"; ★ NOT compatible with...

For a power tool packed with innovative technology at a jaw-dropping low price, treat yourself to a Lotos LTP5000D 50-amp plasma cutter. The Lotos cuts quickly and effortlessly through tough surfaces even if you have to work through heavy rust or thick layers of paint with very little slag. Even better, this unit features a touch-free pilot arc allowing you to work while keeping a safe distance from the cutting surface.

This compact plasma cutter is portable enough to carry to any job site and tucks away conveniently in even the smallest of spaces in your workshop. Despite being so small in stature, it’s powerful enough to cleanly cut through aluminum, copper, mild steel, steel alloys, and even stainless steel. Powered with compressed air, the LTP500D plasma cutter is safe and non-toxic, keeping the air in your workspace clean without emitting harmful pollutants. This means it’s completely safe for both indoor and outdoor use.

Compatibility is a key feature of any good plasma cutter, and while your top-of-the-line tools can be used with a wide range of consumables, you can still choose between two different sets for the LTP500D. Be sure to pick up either a Loto PCS333 or Lotos PCS22 set of consumables, as this model is incompatible with PCON90 and PCON40 sets.

The Lotos LTP5000D packs a powerful 10-50 amp DC power source running at a 60% duty cycle to allow for a maximum severance cut of up to 3/4 inches. For best results, you’ll get the cleanest cuts working with about a half-inch of metal. For smaller jobs, you can use the 10-35 amp power source instead, which is better for making a clean cut in sheets measuring 1/3 inches in cutting thickness or less, maxing out around 2/5 inches.

Installation and setup is a breeze with the LTP5000D, equipped with a 6-foot ground clamp plus an industry-standard NPT 1/4″ type-D plug and a regulator to make it compatible with any air compressor with a stand coupler. Putting together the whole rig takes less than a minute!

For the best balance between functionality and affordability, try out the Lotos LTP5000D. It’s the best plasma cutter available if you’re on a budget or don’t need a heavy-duty tool like this too often.

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What We Like
  • Touch-free plasma cutting
  • Lightweight at only 19 pounds
  • Dual voltage for variable power output
  • Easily cuts through rust or paint
  • Advanced features at a bargain price
What We Don’t Like
  • Low compatibility with different consumables
  • Some users report difficulty with thicker cuts

Forney Easy Weld 251 20 P Plasma Cutter

Forney Easy Weld 251 20 P Plasma Cutter,Green
  • CUTS- Mild steel, aluminum and stainless steel from thin material to 1/4"* (6.35 millimeters) with ease! *(Mild Steel)
  • EASY TO USE- All you need is 120 volt power source and 1.5 CFM of compressed air. Built in regulator and air dryer make operation a breeze
  • DRAG TORCH TECHNOLOGY- Allows you to drag cutting tip in direct contact with the metal you're cutting for smooth consistent clean cuts

Forney’s Easy Weld 251 model plasma cutter is a fantastic alternate choice among budget-priced plasma cutters that’s easy to use and hard to break. Its full metal casing is extra-durable for heavy-duty day-to-day use on even the most demanding jobs. Unexpected slips, drops, and falls won’t damage your expensive new plasma cutter, and by comparison, it’s actually not very expensive in the first place!

Setup for your Forney Easy Weld 251 is simple– in less than a minute, you’ll be powered up and ready to start sawing sheets up to a quarter-inch of cutting thickness. Just plugin the 120v AC power supply, hook it up to an air compressor, and get to work. The Easy Weld 251 is equipped with its own air dryer and pressure regulator so even a novice can cut with confidence; no tweaks or pressure adjustments needed.

Despite its sturdy metal framework, the Easy Weld 251 plasma cutter weighs a mere 21.5 pounds making it compact, easy to carry, and even easier to store away in small spaces. While this small stature comes with some trade-off in power, this hardy plasma cutter can blaze its way through mild, stainless, or galvanized steel as well as copper, brass, and aluminum. It’s the perfect plasma cutter for small-time contractors, DIY enthusiasts, auto-body technicians, and even ranching & farming needs.

While there’s no pilot arc model or optional attachment, the direct contact emitter tip allows this small, portable unit to achieve its highest possible cutting power despite a small 35% duty cycle. Forney calls this cutting unit its “drag torch technology” which enables you to drag the plasma arc quickly and seamlessly through metal sheets. Small, clean, smooth cuts come out looking like they’ve been laser-cut by industrial-quality equipment, but you don’t have to tell anyone you made these impressive cuts with a handheld plasma cutter!

Backed by a 1-year warranty, the Forney Easy Weld 251 is a safe choice for inexperienced users or projects with low-power needs. Based on our plasma cutter reviews, it’s lacking the extravagant features you’ll find in more premium plasma cutters, and for a similar price you can pick up a higher-power unit like the Lotos LTP5000D.

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What We Like
  • Durable metal case
  • Lightweight unit at 21.5 pounds
  • Fast setup
  • 60% Duty Cycle
What We Don’t Like
  • Feature-bare
  • No touch-free pilot arc

PrimeWeld CUT60 Plasma Cutter

PRIMEWELD CUT60 60Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc PT60 Torch Plasma Cutter...
  • CUT60 PILOT ARC 3 year warranty 7 day per week support in USA
  • PT60 blowback cutting torch WITH EURO CENTRAL CONNECTION
  • Blow-back start technology, Pilot Arc

As one of the highest-rated plasma cutters for home workshops and professional job sites, the PrimeWeld CUT60P is among the best mid-range plasma cutters on the market today for its durability, reliability, and power. Its compact size and light weight make it the perfect tool for carrying from job to job and storing away neatly in any space no matter how small.

The CUT60P is the perfect plasma cutter for inexperienced users and those still learning the delicate (yet heavy-duty) process of proper plasma cutting. It’s designed to be easy to operate while still delivering high-quality cuts at a fast pace. It comes packed with a lot of power that self-regulates so neophyte workers don’t have to make adjustments on the fly to keep the arc on while cutting more challenging materials.

PrimeWeld’s CUT60P is loaded with cool features like its 60% duty cycle, continuous pilot arc, and blowback-start technology. The heat from intense blowback and slag can shorten the lifespan of the cutter’s consumables, but this is an issue you’ll face with even high-end plasma cutters. Being a major manufacturer and a proven system, consumables for the CUT60P are widely available and inexpensive to keep on hand.

While the PrimeWeld CUT60P is a smaller unit, it offers diverse functionality and can even be connected to welders or generators for longer use or enhanced power. On top of its compact and low-weight structure, the unit is highly durable inside its steel casing to help it endure rough and tough workshop conditions. Plus, what you see is what you get– the fine build quality pictured is exactly what comes out of the box upon delivery.

The CUT60P is fitted with a PT60 cutting torch with a Euro central connection giving you fine control over even the most sensitive cuts. Being a non-touch pilot arc torch, you can reliably cut aluminum, copper, mild steel, stainless steel, steel alloys, and other types of metals with different levels of hardness.

If you do run into issues with your CUT60, PrimeWeld offers unparalleled customer support that makes it easy to replace parts and obtain new consumables. While they don’t offer a very wide selection of mods and different types of consumables, these can be found with aftermarket sellers so you still have a decent choice of consumable sets to go with the CUT60 plasma cutter. Combined with a 3-year warranty, PrimeWeld’s post-purchase service is extremely reliable and they’re even available 7 days a week right in the USA.

The PrimeWeld CUT60P is an excellent plasma cuter for hobbyists and journeyman contractors looking to add a reliable unit to their arsenal. Its primary downside is that it eats through consumables rather quickly and it doesn’t cut quite as fast as some of the top-shelf plasma cutters on the market. However, it’s incredibly easy to set up and use, and with its long-lasting 3-year warranty on parts and service, you can count on it to serve your plasma cutting needs for a long time.

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What We Like
  • Non-Touch Pilot Arc
  • Lightweight, small form factor
  • Mid-range price while offering high-end precision
What We Don’t Like
  • Lower power than heavy-duty plasma cutters
  • Uses up consumables quickly

SunGoldPower CUT50L Dual Voltage Plasma Cutter

Plasma Cutter Pilot Arc CUT50 Dual Voltage 110V 220V 50A Cutting Non...
  • 1. Non-touch Pilot Arc: it efficiently cuts though rough, painted, and rusty surfaces and produces minimal slag;the technology allows you to cut without touching the tip to...
  • 2. Input and Output: Dual voltage capability allows the machine to run directly on 110V/220V. plug adapters included, 10-50 A output, 1/2” ideal clean cut and 3/4” maximum...
  • 3. Wide Applications: Suitable for cutting stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper, carbon steel and aluminum, and other metals. Can be widely used at demanding...

SunGoldPower is known for its green energy products that are environmentally-friendly, easy to use, and offer versatile applications. The CUT50L dual voltage plasma cutter is a reliable tool with no high-frequency interference to interrupt the non-touch arc meaning you get a smooth, consistent cutting beam from start to finish with minimal blowback.

To get started, the CUT50L is easy to set up and comes with its own built-in air regulator so you don’t have to make adjustments mid-cut. It also features its own water trap to ensure that condensation doesn’t cause damage to the unit itself or seep out into your workspace. Hooking up your torch, fuel, and power source takes only a few seconds so you can get right to work without wasting any extra time for set up and tear down. Just plug it in with its 5-foot ground clamp and cable, and get cutting!

The pilot arc cuts with ease through most metals while producing very little slag, even when cutting through rust, paint, or bumpy and uneven surfaces. As a non-touch plasma cutter, the consumables last longer before wearing out even under high-heat conditions. This ensures that you get higher-quality cuts for longer, and when the consumables do start to wear out, you’ll be able to tell a clear difference in cut quality and power.

With your CUT50L, you’ll be able to saw through all sorts of metals like aluminum, carbon steel, copper, stainless steel and steel alloys, and mild steel. While it’s a low-cost unit, it delivers powerful cuts with a maximum severance of 3/4 inches making this plasma cutter a suitable choice for heavy-duty industrial use, light home workshop projects, and everything in between. While it’s a small and portable unit, it does weigh in a bit heavier than competing plasma cutters at just under 30 pounds.

The dual-voltage capabilities make the CUT50L a great choice for higher-power and lower-power cuts alike, and the unit is packed with an included plug adapter depending on your power intake needs. It has an output of anywhere from 10-50 amps at a 60% duty cycle giving you extra-fine control over delicate cuts through smaller sheets, producing an ideal clean cut through materials of up to a half-inch.

SunGoldPower offers a 12-month warranty on all of its products to give you a full year to ensure your plasma cutter is up to snuff and operates consistently from use to use. If you have any issues with your CUT50L, SunGoldPower will bear the cost of shipping fees for returns or replacement parts. In addition, they back their plasma cutter with a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you aren’t completely satisfied with the device’s performance.

The CUT50L is one of the best plasma cutters you can find at such a bargain price. It’s fast and easy to set up, and it offers versatile cutting power. It weighs a good bit more than competing units, and it does cut slower than many while losing a little bit of fine control as you approach its maximum severance. If you spend a little bit more on a higher-end plasma cutter, you’ll get that extra “oomph” for those tough cuts, but when used within its specified ranges, the SunGoldPower CUT50L is a machine that delivers on its promises.

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What We Like
  • Environmentally friendly
  • No high-frequency interference
  • 3/4in Maximum Severance
  • 1-year warranty
What We Don’t Like
  • Heavier than other portable plasma cutters
  • Cuts slowly

AmicoPower CTS-160 3-in-1 Combo Plasma Cutter

CTS-160, 160A TIG-Torch, 140A Stick Arc Welder & 30A Plasma Cutter...
  • Combo 3-in-1 multifunction Plasma Cutter/TIG Torch/Stick Arc professional welding machine.
  • Advanced IGBT technology, synergic controlled, very easy and simple operation.
  • Featured wave-form control system: perfect wave form of volts and amps during, short circuits and Arc burning cycles.

If you’re looking for a plasma cutter that can do it all, the AmicoPower CTS-160 is the combination power tool for you. Not only does the CTS-160 offer powerful and easy-to-use plasma cutting, but it allows for TIG torch welding and arc welding all in one compact machine.

With the power of insulated-gate bipolar transistor technology and synergic control settings, the CTS-160 delivers powerful plasma cutting for all sorts of metals, whether you’re cutting copper, gold, brass, or any number of steel alloys. These synergic settings also make it a breeze to operate even for novice users as it gives you totally customizable control over your cut depending on your needs for different types of projects.

The CTS-160 includes a built-in wave-form management regulator that maintains consistent voltage throughout the circuit in order to keep the arc steady and flowing. This is critical for its 60% duty cycle to not only conserve power and fuel but also to maintain the integrity of your cut without interruptions in the intensity of the arc. The system protects the device from power surges and helps to keep power running to the beam even if the voltage or current drops or spikes unexpectedly, so with an AmicoPower CTS-160 in hand, you’ll never have to worry about power regulation again.

Being a 3-in-1 combo plasma cutter does come with a bit of an overall power reduction, however. The maximum severance for the plasma cutter function to make a clean cut is only 1/2 in. with an ideal cutting thickness of 2/5 in. It’s also a bit bulkier than your average portable plasma cutter at nearly 2 feet long, over a foot tall, and weighing in at a hefty 43 pounds. However, this gives the CTS-160 all the room it needs to pack in the parts for its multiple functions, meaning you won’t need a separate portable welder to take with you in the first place.

The biggest downside to the AmicoPower CTS-160 is that the manufacturer doesn’t offer very effective communication with its customers. While we’re able to confirm that AmicoPower offers a 1-year manufacturer warranty, they don’t maintain a reliable website and trying to reach their customer service operators is a bit of a challenge. The device itself is highly-rated by their customers, but should you encounter any trouble with your 3-in-1 plasma cutter, you’ll be working through a third-party seller to manage returns or warranty repairs.

If you’re looking for the best plasma cutter on the market, you’ll have to pass on the AmicoPower CTS-160. However, if you don’t have high-power plasma cutting needs, or you’re looking to downsize the welding setup in your workshop, this 3-in-1 device is a great low-cost tool. Plus, the unavailability of AmicoPower’s service team makes it a bit of a gamble should anything go wrong during your warranty period.

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What We Like
  • Plasma cutter and multi-use welder all in one tool
  • Reliable automatic power regulation
  • Comparatively low price
  • 60% Duty Cycle
What We Don’t Like
  • Bulky, heavyweight unit
  • Poor customer service

About Blake Sutton

Blake has worked as an electrician for over 10 years, receiving his Journeyman Electrician license in 1998. Looking to take his professional electrical career further, in 2008 he received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from the University of Texas in Austin. Blake now works full time as an electrical engineer, specializing in power systems.