Inconel 718 has high fatigue strength, good tensile strength and less thermal conductivity which indirectly leads to the development of work hardening layer during machining and subsequently become difficult to machine. This paper focuses on the experimental investigations on the machinability issues of Inconel 718. The experimental work is designed as per Taguchi's L27 Orthogonal array considering three levels of various cutting parameters like cutting speed, depth of cut, feed rate, types of cutting inserts and cutting condition. Three types of cutting inserts used are PVD coated TiAlN carbide, whisker reinforced ceramic and cBN tools. Three cutting conditions namely dry, minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) and flood cooling methods are adopted for the experimentation. The capability of each cutting inserts under different cutting conditions are evaluated in terms of the cutting forces generated during the machining process, surface roughness produced on the work piece, wear observed on the inserts and the micro hardness induced on the subsurface of the machined specimen. Variations in the micro-hardness values against the subsurface depth are analyzed individually for the three cutting conditions (dry, MQL and flood cooling). Micro-structural analyses of the worn tools are presented to understand the nature of wear formed on the inserts subjected to different cutting conditions. © 2017, Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society. All right reserved.