For relentless power and maximum torque, there's still nothing to beat an AC-powered electric drill.
But if you're working beyond the length of an extension cable and don't want your work impeded by a fiddly power lead then there's only one way to go: cordless.
Today's cordless drills pack more punch than ever, due in no small part to the advent of the lithium ion battery. Li-ion batteries are not only lighter than nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) packs – a great weight saving on the wrist and forearm – they also hold their charge when not in use and don't mind being topped up from half empty.
Our pick of the cordless drills around today is the Hitachi DS18DSD. It's expensive, but it's the best of the best. If you want something a bit more reasonably priced, then go for the ace DeWalt DCK211D2T. It's a twin-pack, so you get a Compact Drill Driver and an Impact Driver!
How to buy the best cordless drill for you
A key consideration is voltage… Put simply, the higher the battery's voltage, the more power and torque you'll have to drill through tough materials like steel and especially concrete and brick. As an added bonus, all cordless drills serve two purposes: drilling and screwdriving. Combi Drills differ slightly in that they also include a hammer action for hard-going masonry work.
Most of the drill drivers in this roundup will tackle basic DIY tasks but it goes without saying that you get what you pay for. The more expensive models are invariably better built and add heaps more power to your elbow.
If you're looking for the best cordless drill to get your DIY on with this year, then look no further. From Black and Decker to JCB, these awesome drills will turn you into the next Handy Andy.
Our pick of the best cordless drills to buy today
1. Hitachi DS18DSDL
Portable and powerful
There's not much this potent Hitachi can't handle thanks to its ability to spin up to 1,800rpm and deliver an impressive 92Nm of torque. There's a two-speed gearbox that's suitable for most applications but ultimately this is a powerful drill for making man-sized holes.
It comes with two batteries, meaning it's easy to swap them out during long and arduous DIY tasks, while the unit is ergonomically designed and weighs less than some of the other beasts mentioned here, which is great for long-term usage.
One of the neatest features is the white LED spotlight that sits at the front of the drill and illuminates the work surface for a reduction in DIY slip-ups. This is a serious drill.
2. DeWalt DCK211D2T 10.8V Compact Drill Driver and Impact Driver
A great set of tools at a super price point
A crazily good deal at the price, this twin pack includes the DCF815 Impact Driver, which develops a whopping 107Nm of torque, with 15 settings.
There's no hammer action, and the LED light is a but feeble, but the drilling performance is still highly impressive, and the simple, keyless chuck is cool too.
Also included is aDCK211D2T 10.8v drill/driver with 15 torque settings, for all your kitchen cabinet, screw-fixing needs.
Both of these tools are very good standalone products, but in a pack with two batteries, for this price, they're very hard to beat indeed.
3. Milwaukee M18 Compact Brushless Drill Driver
A heavy duty drill driver that will last for years
If you're in the market for a really heavy duty 18v drill driver (a drill and screwdriver in one) that'll last for years and perform any task you throw at it, then reach deeper into your wallet and nab yourself one of these American killer drillers. The Milwaukee brand may be relatively unknown in DIY-land but it's one of the first ports of call for the hard-hat brigade.
The newest model in the US-made M18 series is equipped with the latest in brushless motor tech which provides 50% more efficiency and twice the lifespan of your common or garden motor. It's also one of the smallest drill drivers on the market (it weighs in at around 2kgs) and that means greater ease of use in confined spaces.
The new M18 runs off a long-lasting 5Ah battery and is capable of producing a whopping 60Nm (Newton Meters) of unrelenting torque. To give you some idea of just how powerful that is, there's a video demonstration of the previous M18 model winching in an 11-ton digger without so much as a hiccup.
The M18 also features REDLINK overload protection (lest you hit a diamond seam), an on-board fuel gauge, an LED light to illuminate the working area and individual battery cell monitoring. The M18's full-fat package includes two Li-ion batteries, an 80-minute charger and an all-metal case to put the whole caboodle in.
At about half its launch RRP online, this is now something of a steal…
4. Bosch PSR 18 LI-2 Ergonomic
A smart drill loaded with next gen tech
This bundle of dual-grip friskiness is 20% smaller and 10% lighter (1.1kg) than the average cordless man drill. It's also ergonomically designed to give you optimum power transfer and less of an aching hand.
Certainly, the dual grip is a godsend for those tricky jobs that require a bit of body weight and an extra hand on the drill. Where in the past you'd be triggering the drill with one hand and pushing from behind with the other, with this one you simply grip the arched front handle, lean in and drill right through to the neighbours sitting room. Furthermore, if the drill's integrated sensor detects sudden jamming – for example you may hit a steel joist, an old Roman axe, or whatever else is tucked behind the wallpaper – it shuts the motor down preventing kick back of the drill and possibly further chaos.
The PSR 18 is no lightweight when it comes to tricky tasks. It loves a good screwing – it has no less than 20 torque settings – and will penetrate any willing material, be it masonry, brick, metal, wood or, if your name's Reno, skull.
It's also the first DIY drill to incorporate the latest in brushless e-motors that are not only smaller and lighter than current units, but are also more powerful and wear-free.
Bosch's accompanying 18-volt Lithium-Ion battery dishes out a very ample 2.5Ah and can be charged to 80% in just 40 minutes. You only get one for your money, but a single charge lasts long enough to see you through, ooh, at least 10 IKEA cupboard assemblies, several shelving units and possibly the building of a full-scale Spitfire replica.Oh, and because the battery is part of Bosch's 18volt 'Power4All' system it can be used on 15 other Bosch-based DIY and garden tools.
5. Worx WX372.2 20v Max
Compact and lightweight
This compact and lightweight hammer drill is not only one of the most powerful cordless devices offered by Worx, it also looks rather ace, with chunky rubber grips and a cool contrasting orange and black colour scheme. Not that we're easily swayed by aesthetics or anything.
A beefy 20v lithium-ion battery pack ensures the motor can develop 50Nm of torque, which is more than enough to take on most drilling tasks. The 13mm keyless chuck and - ho ho - shaft lock make it easy to swap drill bits on the fly and the latest battery tech promises no self-discharge, for optimum performance.
There's a standard 3-year warranty on all Worx tools but surprisingly they still manage to come in at the lower end of the budget spectrum. This package includes a spare battery and "over 150 accessories" in a case.
6. Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2
A great companion to annoying flatpack jobs
The latest in Bosch's expert range is compact and handy, yet powerful enough to take on most jobs.
It delivers 38Nm of torque and can drill up to 30mm in wood and 100mm in steel and masonry, while the numerous torque settings make it a great companion to annoying flatpack jobs that require tons of screwing.
It's also lightweight and the latest 18-volt battery system means plenty of running time and a rapid 1-hour recharge - you get two batteries.
A keyless chuck with Bosch Auto-Lock system means drill bits can be changed by hand and there's no more worrying abut losing that darned key.
7. Guild 1.5AH Li-on Hammer Drill
Good performance and incredibly affordable
Another one for penny pinchers and occasional drillers is the new range of Guild power tools at Argos. This may not feature the same outlandish torque outputs as some of the other drills mentioned but this sub-£60 number packs a credible 42Nm, with 23 torque settings. The top speed is 1,400rpm,with fan cooling to motor to prevent the drill from overheating,and there's a fast charging 1.5Ah lithium battery pack.
The drilling capacity for wood is 35mm, while it can handle 13mm when working on steel and masonry, but the lack of power means it's probably worth looking elsewhere for the toughest jobs. However, it's a great value addition to any toolbox, with a two-year guarantee.
8. Wickes 18v Li-Ion Cordless Combi Drill
Perfect for light to medium duty applications
The latest value range of tools from Wickes doesn't quite match up to the outright power of the offerings from big name brands, such as Bosch and Milwaukee, but they are great for those carrying out light- to medium-duty fastening applications.
A 240-volt motor develops around 35Nm of torque, which isn't enough for going through robust masonry like a knife through butter, but it'll have a go, and quite enough for plaster walls and wood. It's also great for making quick work of screwing things to other things.
A 2-year warranty and the fact there's a spare battery make it a decent deal for just half a ton.
9. Ryobi LLCDI18022 ONE+
A top do-it-all all-rounder
This keenly-priced, two-gear, variable-speed hammer drill-cum-screwdriver comes bundled with a spare battery and a handy tool bag. The Ryobi's 18 volt battery charges in a very reasonable 45 minutes and provides enough juice and torque for even the toughest of DIY tasks – its hammer action is especially handy for making lots of holes in a brick wall. Top tool.
10. Black & Decker Trappano ASL188KB
A strong and dependable addition to the manshed
Every manshed in the country has at least one B&D product lurking among the cobwebs, and this would be a worthy addition.
This hammer drill/driver feels light in the hand and runs at 18 volts, which is more than enough rotational oomph for most DIY jobs, including tricky masonry tasks. It has two gears for variable high and low speed drilling, an LED light to illuminate the work surface and a clever feature called Autoselect that choses the best torque and gear settings for the job in hand.
Comes with a case and two lightweight lithium ion batteries. Everything you need, in other words, to turn the living room wall into Swiss cheese.
11. Metabo Combo Set 2.1.1 18V Cordless Kit
A well-built and reliable tool
Metabo is a powertool brand that few householders may have heard of, but word among those in the know – professional builders, carpenters and the like – is that Metabo products are well built and reliable.
At 1.8kg, this chunky little household helper is one of the lighter drills on the market, though it doesn't offer hammer action for masonry work. However, it does feature a four-pole motor that makes wood and steel drilling quick and effortless. Not only does it come with an extra battery, they also throw in a cordless screwdriver as well, although obviously the drill can do that on its own, too.