DeWalt Atomic 20V Max Brushless Compact 1/2 In. Drill/Driver Kit DCD708C2 Review
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|Bottom Line||This drill has tons of power in a compact package for a 20-volt model||This tool delivered excellent results across the board and is a fantastic option to complement the M18 battery system||A great budget drill for a homeowners or DIYer and has more than enough power for moderate to light-duty tasks||Our favorite compact 12-volt drill when considering overall performance and price||This drill isn't great, but can speed up driving screws through prefabricated furniture at a low price|
|Rating Categories||DeWalt Atomic 20V M...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Bosch 12V Max Drill...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||DeWalt Atomic 20V M...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Bosch 12V Max Drill...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Included Battery Pack(s)||1.5 Ah||Tested w/ 2 Ah||1.3 Ah||2 Ah||1.5 Ah|
|Drill Model Tested||DCD708||2803-20||CMCD700||PS31||LDX120C|
|Box Model (Kit) Tested||DCD708C2||Tested tool-only, no kit||CMCD700C1||PS31-2A||LDX120C|
|RPM||Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1650
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1500
|Low: 0 - 350
High: 0 -1300
|0 - 650|
|Peak Torque (manu)||340 UWO||1,200 in-lbs||280 UWO||256 in-lbs||N/A|
|Measured Weight*||3 pounds 3.7 ounces||4 pounds 1 ounce||3 pounds 7 ounces||2 pounds
|Measured Charge Time||68 minutes||25 minutes||58 minutes||85 minutes||210 minutes|
|Battery Indicator Location||N/A||Battery||Battery||Drill||N/A|
|LED Location||Above the battery||Above the battery||Above the trigger||Above the trigger||Above the trigger|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The DeWalt Atomic might not be the most powerful or the best drill we have tested, but it is definitely the most compact of the top-tier tools. It's a great choice if you work on projects in confined areas, especially combined with its solid integrated work light.
Responsible for 35% of the DeWalt Atomic's overall score, our trio of drilling performance tests are some of the most significant of our entire review process. We rated and scored the Atomic's performance at drilling through a solid door with a 5" hole saw, drilling through some dimensional lumber with a 1" paddle bit, and at making some holes in a steel sheet with some twist drills. It did very well with all three tasks, earning one of the better scores of the group.
This tool did quick work of the 2x12 with the paddle bit, punching through without much of a struggle. It occasionally got hung up and stalled but never failed to drill the hole. It also did very well at drilling through the 16 gauge metal sheet. We used a ¼" and ½" twist drill for this, with the Atomic, only taking 1.5 seconds to make it through with the ¼" drill and 3-4 seconds with the ½" one.
Of our three drilling tests, the Atomic did the worst with the 5" hole saw. It drilled to the full depth but did require a little convincing. Its fastest time was a very respectable 35 seconds but needed more than a minute when it was struggling. It can stall if you push too hard, forcing you to completely let go of the trigger before it restarts again.
Matching drilling performance for significance, our Driving metric is also responsible for 35% of the final score for each tool. To compare performance, we used the Atomic to drive in both a ½" diameter, 5" long lag screw, and some standard wood screws. We used an appropriate size pilot hole for the lag screw and scored based on the amount of effort it took for the Atomic to drive the screws to their complete depth. It again did very well, scoring close to the top of the group.
The Atomic did very well with the typical wood screws, driving them in extremely quickly and easily. It goes fast enough that it even took a bit of time to get used to it to not drive the screw head well below the surface of the wood. The clutch has 15 different torque settings you can also use to prevent this.
Unfortunately, the Atomic didn't do quite as well with the giant lag screw. It seemed like it wasn't struggling but stalled out with about 1" remaining to drive in.
We eventually were able to muscle it all the way, but it sure wasn't easy, and you could tell by the smell that the Atomic was working hard.
Responsible for 20% of the final score, our next metric focused on the battery life of this cordless tool. We compared the battery life of each product by alternating between drilling three 1" holes with the spade bit and driving in 16 of the normal wood screws, then awarding points based on the number of completed cycles. We also timed how long it took a dead battery to recharge and the number of batteries included. The Atomic continued its impressive performance, again scoring in the top part of the group. We assessed this tool with a 2 amp hour battery.
The Atomic made it through about 7.5 of our drilling/driving cycles, which was significantly more than most tools. It included a pair of 1.5 amp-hour batteries that took a little over an hour to recharge when completely dead in our tests.
For the remaining tenth of the Atomic's total score, we looked at all the little features and functions that make this tool a little easier and less of a hassle to operate. It is missing a few features compared to the top products, putting it roughly in the middle of the group overall with its slightly above average score.
The Atomic has a built-in belt clip and work light, which is quite good. It provides adequate illumination for your work area and stays on for 20 seconds or so when you hit the button.
It's about average weight, tipping the scales at just over three pounds. The chuck can hold bits up to ½" in diameter, and you have two different speed/torque ratios to choose from. It's also easy to swap the batteries in and out, but we were disappointed by the lack of a battery charge level indicator.
Should You Buy the Dewalt Atomic?
Overall, the DeWalt Atomic is an excellent cordless drill that we found very little to cause complaint. It's a good option if you have other DeWalt tools and want to stick with the black and yellow or if you need a pint-sized drill with plenty of power. The Atomic isn't the best value option, as there are much less expensive drills with similar performance results.
What Other Drill Should You Consider?
The DeWalt 20V Max Compact Brushless Drill/Driver DCD777C2 scored slightly higher overall and for drilling in our tests. It could be the better choice with the same price tag as the Atomic unless you want something smaller and lighter weight. The Atomic has a longer battery life, but if you have other Dewalt tools or batteries, it isn't challenging to swap out batteries when you need to. Depending on your goals, one will likely be a standout. Alternatively, if you want a top-performer, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/2" Drill Driver offers impressive, similar performance for drilling and driving to both Dewalts with far better battery life.