2019 Hobart 12CI Plasma Cutter vs. Hypertherm Powermax 45 XP our Comparison

Both Hobart and Hypertherm are rock-solid brands in the world of plasma cutters. We’ve looked at both individually, and today we wanted to pit them against each other to see which one came out on top. By comparing and contrasting roughly comparable cutters, you’ll see at a glance which would make the most sense for you.

We’ll first walk you through several categories where these cutters perform differently before rounding out the comparison with an across-the-board look at where they are broadly similar. When we’re done, you should see your motivating factor clearly: the bottom line or a pricier cutter that packs an incredible punch.

Type of Metals It Can Cut

Unlike the beefier Hobart Airforce plasma cutters, the Airforce 12ci [Read Our Full Review] is only rated to cut 1/8-inch of mild steel, and it will cut quite slowly even then. It can sever ¼-inch of the same material. This cutter also allows you to work with aluminum, brass, copper, and sheet metal.

The Hypertherm, on the other hand, can power through 5/8-inch of mild steel. It has a severance capability of one inch of steel since it can cope with prolonged cutting through even harder plates. Hypertherm torch technology makes this possible along with the ample 45 amps of cutting power.

If you’re looking for precise and clean cuts on materials in excess of ½-inch, the Hypertherm Powermax 45 XP is the standout winner for cutting power combined with accuracy and consistency.

a worker carrying a toolbox

Portability and Weight

The Hypertherm has a relatively small footprint, measuring just 16 ¾ x 6 ¾ x 13 ¾ inches. It’s also a lightweight unit weighing only 37 pounds unloaded and without any accessories. The handle on the top is a nice touch as well. Although the primary focus with a plasma cutter should be its cutting ability, it doesn’t hurt to have portability too, and the Powermax hits the spot in that regard without compromising power.

The Hobart is a little bulkier at 16 ½ x 18 ½ x 11 ¼ inches, but the size is offset by a lighter weight of just 31 pounds. Unfortunately, while comes in lighter on the scales, it’s also decidedly less powerful.

In a straight-up comparison of portability, the Hobart wins out by some distance. The other elements we discussed, though, should not be overlooked.

Consumables

The Hobart comes with no consumables provided beyond electrodes, a plasma retaining cup, an O-ring and swirl ring, and two tips to enhance arc transfer while helping to maintain constant arc length.

Another winning advantage with the Hypertherm Powermax is that it’s designed to run for lengthy spells using as few expensive consumables as possible. Since these consumables can be expensive, this is a welcome feature. The Essential Consumable Kit is ideal for beginners, while the HyAccess Consumable Kit gives you the benefit of increased reach and better accessibility. The ability to switch between different types of consumables, plus the efficiency with which it uses them, again gives the edge to the Powermax 45 in our head-to-head comparison.

Both of these welders are compact, but neither sacrifices power to achieve their lighter weight.

The Hobart has an integrated piston-driven air compressor, and you won’t need to fuss with the pressure as you do with some plasma cutters.

The Hypertherm Powermax has smart sense technology helping to regulate the air pressure so that you won’t be inconvenienced with this cutter either. Forty-five amps of cutting power allow this tool to punch dramatically above its weight class.

Warranty

Despite an exceedingly complex warranty, with Hobart, you’ll be covered for five years with the options of repair or a refund if any problems occur within this time, which indicates faith on their part. Because let’s face it, no manufacturer expects to lose out by offering a guarantee!

Hypertherm offers just three-year coverage for their cutter with a one year guarantee for the torch. While still reasonably robust regarding industry-standard warranties, the Hobart is an obvious winner in this capacity.

Hobart and Hypertherm: Similarities

Comparing the differences between these cutters showcases the strengths and weaknesses of each one, but it’s also instructional to take a quick glimpse at where they share common ground.

Both cutters are exceptionally durable, which is another must for this type of tool.

The Hobart 12CI is labeled the brand’s “Everyday Cutter,” and you can undoubtedly press it into regular and sustained action without worrying that it will let you down. The lifespan of the torch is extended thanks to an efficient post-flow cooling system. Another significant benefit is the presence of troubleshooting indicators which can help you to stave off problems before they develop, again providing you with improved longevity. With a fan that kicks in on demand, perfect for working in dusty backdrops, the Hobart is rugged in the extreme.

The Powermax is also built to last with professional-grade cords and technology designed to prevent malfunctions due to air pressure, which means that you can easily expect ten years of service from this cutter.

Price Point

Considering price, both cutters are in a similar ballpark; however, the Hypertherm is costlier.

Both machines are valuable in specific situations but reading through reviews will also show that users believe “you get what you pay for.” Glowing reviews of the Hypertherm validate the higher price point.

If pushed to choose just one of these cutters, our vote goes to the Hypertherm Powermax 45 XP.

While undeniably not the cheapest plasma cutter on the market, it pays to consider overall value rather than merely looking at the bottom line. Given the way that it can switch between consumables and perform a wide variety of tasks and considering the lifespan you can expect from this tool, the price to performance ratio is unbeatable.

If we had to pick just one element where the Hypertherm excels, it would be the efficiency with which it can cut through 20 inches of steel in a minute while burning through relatively few consumables to achieve this.

The Hobart certainly can cut through a range of metals, but its performance is nowhere near the level of the Hypertherm. Not to say the Hobart is weak, merely that the Powermax, as its name suggests, is a real beast.

Overall, although it’s a close contest, the Hypertherm Powermax 45 XP is our winner in this head-to-head.

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