There is a literal power struggle between the top power tool brands for cordless tool supremacy. We’ve put two great rivals to the test, Makita XGT vs DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage. How do the Makita 40V XGT and DeWalt 20V FlexVolt Advantage 7¼” circular saws compare?
This should be an epic challenge. Although the Makita XGT circular saw uses a 40V brushless motor and the DeWalt a 20V variant, these two models are quite evenly matched. DeWalt claims a whopping 77% increase in power, thanks to the FlexVolt Advantage system. Okay, that’s a bit of a crazy comparison, since they’re referring to the early model 20V MAX circular saw that didn’t use the XR brushed motor.
All of the top dogs in the cordless tool business have been competing to improve their battery technology and the tools they power. The DeWalt FlexVolt battery certainly took the world by storm when it was launched a few years back. This 20V/60V battery is unique in its ability to power either 20V or 60V tools. More recently, DeWalt brought us the FlexVolt advantage tool range. These are 20V tools that are cheaper than the 60V equivalents; yet produce more power than any other DeWalt 20V MAX model when using a FlexVolt battery.
In late 2020, Makita finally decided to introduce a new line of 40V tools, and the Makita XGT trademark was born. Over the past year, we’ve seen some great new tools hail from the Makita 40V XGT lineup. Since the Makita 40V XGT (GSR01Z) is quite a bit more expensive than the DeWalt DCS573B 20V FlexVolt Advantage 7¼” circular saw, one would expect it to be a lot more powerful.
In most respects, these saws are very similar. So, the only real question is about the power and how this is delivered to the saw blade. The final question is: Is the more expensive Makita XGT circular saw worth the extra cash?
Makita GSR01Z XGT Circular Saw Review
- Brushless motor delivers up to 6,400 RPM (no-load speed)
- Automatic Torque drive adjusts cutting speed under load for optimum cutting performance
- XPT™ is engineered to provide increased dust and water resistance
- 2⁹⁄₁₆” cutting depth allows cutting of 3X lumber in a single pass
- Electric brake and soft start
- Bevel angle up to 53°, with positive stops at 22.5° and 45°
Before I say anything more about the Makita XPT 40V rear-handle circular saw, I have to say this is an absolutely awesome machine. I’ve been a longstanding fan of the Makita brand. Then again, I also have massive admiration for DeWalt tools. This ought to be an interesting review since both the 7¼” circular saws chosen for this challenge are among my favorites.
The first time you use the Makita GSR01Z circular saw, one thing is immediately apparent; the power is incredible. A soft start takes the blade smoothly to a maximum 6,400 RPM (no-load speed) with perfect ease.
I’m really amazed at how this saw refuses to bog down. Even cutting through thick hardwood boards, the Makita XGT electronic torque control is utterly sublime. I can’t say for sure, since there are no official power specs available, but I think it could be as powerful as the DCS578B 60V FlexVolt circular saw. The even, constant torque power delivery is better than any circular saw I’ve used. Yes, I believe this one beats both Milwaukee and DeWalt when it comes to constant power. Makita has achieved some sort of wizardry when upgrading the electronic controls for the XGT range.
I’m also immensely impressed with the solid build quality. Then again, this is something that has always garnered my respect when it comes to Makita power tools. The aluminum shoe is excellently machined. Though I have to say, I was a little irritated by some lateral movement on the saw base. It’s not enough to affect the accuracy of the cut but a little annoying on a top-grade machine like this. I have high expectations for the Makita XGT circular saw, so even the smallest defect will be noticed.
Adjustment for the bevel angle (up to 53°) is superb. You have an easy to use positive stop knob, with detents at 22.5° and 45°. The blade locks rigidly into place when you snap the lever to the lock position. Really easy to use, accurate, and robust. The brake is almost instant which is a real time-saver.
The rear handle position is great, though not everyone prefers this setup. It has a nice soft-grip handle with very little vibration. The trigger switch is isolated in a little hole just in front of the handle. I guess this is good for safety but not everyone will find it that comfortable. I have no problem with the trigger position, some may not agree.
I like the way most of the sawdust is expelled from the side of the saw, not out the back and into your face. It has a dust extraction port to keep the work area perfectly clean. The Makita XGT circular saw also has a really convenient, and super tough, hanging hook that folds out of the way when not in use.
Cutting capacity is about the best and it has a depth of cut adjustment, like one would expect of any modern circular saw. At 90°, maximum depth is 2⁹⁄₁₆”, 1¾” at a 45° bevel, and 1½” at 53°. This saw is a little lighter than its 36V LXT predecessor, thanks mainly to the lighter XGT 40V battery, compared to 2 X 18V LXT batteries. At 11.7 pounds (including the battery), it’s quite a nimble, easy saw to use.
The Makita GSR01Z 40V XGT circular saw is a truly remarkable machine. I doubt any circular saw (corded or cordless) can compete with the wonderfully even torque and constantly high power that this baby delivers. I have basically no complaints, apart from a minor quibble about the base. The Makita XGT 7¼” saw is a contractor’s dream machine. I think this would be the primary target market, as it is on the higher end of the price scale.
Makita is one of the top brands chosen by professionals and is priced accordingly. I know there are home users who are also prepared to pay for this kind of quality, and I doubt anyone will be disappointed. The only cordless circular saw to rival this one would be the DeWalt 60V model which is even more expensive.
DeWalt DCS573B 20V FlexVolt Advantage Circular Saw Review
- UP TO 77% more power when DEWALT 7 1/4 circular saw is paired with FLEXVOLT batteries
- Powerful brushless motor delivers 5,500 RPM for faster cutting
- Maximum depth of cut of 2⁹⁄₁₆” at a 90° or 2” at 45°
- Electric brake stops the blade after the trigger is released
- Bright LED increases visibility and cut accuracy
- Integrated rafter hook for quick and easy storage
- Optional dust port compatible with the DeWalt AirLock system or a standard 35 mm dust extractor to minimize dust during cutting
- Tool Connect Chip Ready: Chip pocket accepts Tool Connect Chip DCE042 and connects with Tool Connect Site Manager app for easy asset management on the jobsite. (DCE042 sold separately)
To avoid any confusion, I should offer an explanation about the FlexVolt Advantage system, as some may not be aware of what this is. The DeWalt DCS537B is not a 60V circular saw. It is a 20V saw, similar to the DeWalt 20V XR model.
FlexVolt Advantage is a range of tools that have recently been launched by DeWalt. FlexVolt advantage tools are equipped with a more powerful motor than the standard 20V XR models. The internal electronics and software have also been updated. This allows the FlexVolt Advantage circular saw to draw more amps when using a 20V/60V battery, which makes for a more powerful tool. Hence the term FlexVolt Advantage. It allows you to take advantage of the FlexVolt battery, even when using a 20V tool.
This makes the DeWalt DCS537B is the most powerful 20V MAX cordless saw. It’s not as powerful as the 60V DeWalt model, or the Makita XGT 40V 7¼” circular saw. On plus side, the DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage circular saw is not as expensive as the DeWalt 60V or Makita 40V models. I guess this is a nice middle ground between price and power. From what I’m able to deduce, the FlexVolt Advantage saw is more powerful than both the Milwaukee 18V Fuel and Bosch 20V circular saws.
With this distinction made, the DeWalt DCS537B is not very different from the 60V or XR models when it comes to its looks or features. This is a great 7¼” circular saw, with an astonishing amount of power for a 20V machine.
The handle is not the same as the Makita 40V XGT saw chosen for this review. The DeWalt saw has a 45° rear/top handle which is large, well-padded, and extremely comfortable to use. It has the standard trigger setup, similar to most DeWalt saws, at the top of the handle with a trigger lock directly above it.
While not quite as good as the Makita XGT, the DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage circular saw has pretty good torque and steady power up to the maximum 5,500 no-load RPM. It has a great blade brake, equal to that of the Makita XGT any time.
Depth of cut capacity also matches the Makita 40V XGT. The DeWalt DCS537Bcab cut up to 2⁹⁄₁₆” at 90° and 2” at 45°. The bevel angle can be adjusted up to 57°. It weighs a very reasonable 8.2 pounds without the battery and will end up weighing pretty much the same as the Makita 40V XGT circular saw when you insert a FlexVolt battery. You don’t have to use a FlexVolt battery, but it makes sense since it is this battery that gives you the power advantage. If you use a DeWalt 20V MAX battery, it will only be a little more powerful than the XR model.
The DeWalt DCS537B FlexVolt Advantage circular saw has all the extras one can think of. It has a bright LED light and a tough metal hook for hanging the saw. A dust extraction kit is available which is compatible with the remarkable DeWalt AirLock system. It also accepts the Tool Connect Chip (DCE042). This is a handy tracking system for contractors, allowing for easy tool management when you have a bunch of tools heading off to jobsites every day.
Comparing the DeWalt FlexVolt advantage and Makita XGT 7¼” circular saws, in terms of value for money, is not an easy feat. These are both highly respected industrial-grade brands. The XGT saw is a flagship model in the Makita cordless tool lineup. This makes it pretty expensive, costing more than the DeWalt DCS537B, which is second from the top of the DeWalt range. I’m edging toward the DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage as the better value choice of the two. It is cheaper and not too much less powerful than the Makita saw. On the other hand, if you want as much power as a cordless circular saw can deliver, the Makita GSR01Z is the best option. It is a mighty impressive machine by anyone’s standards.