Scoring in the upper portion of the drill group overall, the DeWalt Atomic DCD708C2 is an overall excellent cordless drill. This compact tool packs a ton of power in a form factor that is much smaller than its competitors, resembling a 12-volt tool more than a 20-volt model. The Atomic did very well in most of our drilling and driving tests, though it did struggle to drive in the large lag screw. It has most of the typical convenience features and a battery that can handle most projects, though it is just a bit less powerful than some of the top tools.Editor's Note: This drill review received an update on February 14th, 2022, with more details on which drills we prefer and why.
DeWalt Atomic 20V Max Brushless Compact 1/2 In. Drill/Driver Kit DCD708C2 Review
Pros: Compact, powerful, good battery life
Cons: No battery level indicator
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|Pros||Compact, powerful, good battery life||Great for driving fasteners, heavy-duty, efficient use of battery life||Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight||Impressive drilling power, strong steel drilling performance, good control, great price||Inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||No battery level indicator||Heavy, takes some force to swap batteries||Expensive, only includes a single battery||Only includes a single batter, so-so battery life in our tests||Weak, minimal features|
|Bottom Line||If you want a compact 20-volt drill that packs plenty of power, the Atomic is where it's at||If you are looking for a top-tier drill to go with your existing Milwaukee batteries, this is your best bet||The highest scorer in our group, this is a heavy-duty drill that can keep up with all your toughest projects||A decent drill for DIY projects that won't deplete your savings||An okay drill for basic household tasks and assembly projects at a great price|
|Rating Categories||DeWalt Atomic 20V M...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||DeWalt Atomic 20V M...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Capacity (Included)||1.5 Ah||Tested w/ 2 Ah||2 Ah||1.3 Ah||1.5 Ah|
|Drill Model Tested||DCD708||2803-20||KDD 524B-03||CMCD700||LDX120C|
|Box Model (Kit) Tested||DCD708C2||Tested tool-only, no kit||672823||CMCD700C1||LDX120C|
|RPM||Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1650
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1500
|0 - 650|
|Peak Torque (manu)||340 UWO||1,200 in-lbs||650 in-lbs||280 UWO||N/A|
|Measured Weight||3 pounds 3.7 ounces||4 pounds 1 ounce||3 pounds
|3 pounds 7 ounces||2 pounds
|Measured Charge Time||68 minutes||25 minutes||75 minutes||58 minutes||210 minutes|
|Battery Indicator Location||N/A||Battery||Battery||Battery||N/A|
|LED Location||Above the battery||Above the battery||Above the battery||Above the trigger||Above the trigger|
|Included Belt Clip||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The DeWalt Atomic might not be the most powerful cordless 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.
— Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman
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