Dewalt is coming out with a new 20V Max li-ion brushless cordless drill driver, model DCD790, which will be released alongside the also-new brushless hammer drill that we previously discussed.
The new compact brushless drill is designed for maximized runtime, but should still outperform their previous compact brushed drill/driver by a small margin as it has a 2.86% higher power rating (360 UWO vs. 350 UWO).
While some might look to compare this model to Milwaukee’s FUEL M18 brushless drill, it is worth remembering that Dewalt designed the DCD790 to be more compact and lightweight.
Meet the Competition: Bosch DDS181, Milwaukee M18 Fuel (Top Pick!), Milwaukee M12 Fuel, Makita 18V
- 7.2″ length
- 3.5lb weight
- 360 “UWO” max power
- 2-speed gearbox (0-600, 0-2000 RPM)
- 1/2″ metal ratcheting chuck
- LED worklight with 20-second release delay illumination
- 15 clutch settings
- DCD790D2 kit includes DCD790 drill, 2x 2.0Ah batteries, fast charger, belt hook, bit holder, kit box
- DCD790B is the bare-tool
Like the new hammer drill and other recent 20V “Max” releases, the new brushless drill features Dewalt’s “XR” branding. The kit comes bundled with their new 2.0Ah li-ion batteries that provide up to 33% more runtime with 50% longer recharge time (45 mins vs. 30 mins).
The new drill also features a foot-mounted LED worklight, a la Bosch and Ridgid’s designs, for fewer shadows.
Marketing images show that the DCD790 is shorter than other top brands’ competing models, but it is also substantially less powerful. Size-wise, Bosch’s 7″ long DDS181 still looks to be best-in-class. That particular Bosch compact drill is conveniently left out of Dewalt’s size comparison photo.
It’s compact, it’s lightweight, it boasts “up to 57% more runtime” compared to its predecessor, and it sports some nice features such as the metal ratcheting chuck and foot-mounted LED. If Dewalt didn’t change the balance or handle profile too much, the ergonomic should be great as well.
But I still cannot shake the feeling that there’s too much of an overlapping grey area between compact lightweight 18V/20V “Max” tools and high performing 12V models.
If I could only work with one cordless drill, I would probably pick a more powerful compact 18V drill over this one. And if I could only work with two, I would pick a high performing compact and lightweight 12V model (such as the brushless Milwaukee M12 Fuel), and a more powerful compact or heavy duty 18V model.
That all said, the DCD790 will surely be popular with users that mainly drill and drive smaller or shorter holes and fasteners. Dewalt 18V and 20V Max fans finally have 20V lithium ion brushless models to upgrade to, but those without strong brand loyalty will have to think hard about whether this is the best model for their needs.
I reviewed Dewalt’s DCD780 compact 20V drill/driver a while back, and while I didn’t use the word fantastic, it really was a very nice design. The DCD790 builds upon the 780’s strengths with a couple of improvements, most notably the brushless motor and metal chuck.
The power rating does falls short of what I would consider the ideal Goldilocks range for a compact 18V/20V “Max” drill, but that’s more a personal hangup about on-paper specs than real-world performance.