Die-sinking electrical discharge machining (EDM) is widely used in die and mold-making industry. Finish EDM conditions are often selected to produce good quality surfaces. Attempts to enhance the finishing capabilities using ultrasonic vibration and powder-added dielectric medium have been reported in the literature. However, the changes in the gap phenomena with ultrasonic assistance and powder addition have not been analyzed. In this article, finish EDM of hardened D3 steel has been carried out based on full factorial design of experiment with three levels of setting voltage, setting current and pulse on time. The performance of ultrasonic assisted and graphite powder-added EDM are evaluated by analyzing the voltage and current pulse trains in finishing operation for the first time. Based on two new parameters, namely energy expended over a second (E) and ratio of energy due to sparks in relation to total discharge energy (PF), the results are discussed and also compared with those obtained with conventional EDM for selected conditions. Even though E of 102.9 J (PF = 0.862) with ultrasonic vibration is higher than E of 43.0 J (PF = 1.0) with powder mix, the molten metal is removed effectively from the gap by ultrasonic vibration which results in a relatively better surface. The micrographs of cross-section and surface of the workpieces obtained using optical and scanning electron microscopes, respectively, also reveal their relative performance. © 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.