Home > CNC Routers > Best CNC Router 2021: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Best CNC Router 2021: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking to make complex woodwork designs or custom made items in your small workshop or home? Then, a CNC router is the best option for you. Having the best CNC router ensures a higher level of productivity and capable of delivering consistent work for a prolonged time.

There are a lot of models and brands available on the market. Unfortunately, choosing the right one that can fulfill your needs could be a daunting task. But, don’t worry. To make it easy for you, here is a list of the best CNC routers that you can choose from.

Best CNC Router for the Money

Our Pick
STEPCRAFT D.600 CNC Machine Package

Editor's Rating - Best Overall CNC Router

This machine is perfectly designed, sleek, compact, easy to assemble and highly functional. Also, the construction kit doesn't take much effort to get assembled. A fully assembled option is available, unlike most CNC Routers today.

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Other Great CNC Routers…

Pro CNC Router Kit
$175.00

Editor's Rating - Best Under $500

The CNC 3018 Pro is a great CNC router for people who are new in the area of engraving. The router is perfect for all kinds of woods, plastics, acrylics, soft aluminum, PCBs, and PVCs.

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11/06/2022 02:17 am GMT
BobsCNC Evolution 3 CNC Router Kit
$1,145.00

Editor's Rating - Best Under $1000

The CNC E3 router kit by BobsCNC is one of the sought-after beginner kits for small businesses and individuals. When you purchase this machine, you'll get a DeWalt 660 router included in the package.

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11/06/2022 08:27 am GMT
Gowe 1013 Inch CNC Router CNC Machine
$999.00

Editor's Rating - Best Under $2000

The Gowe 1013 is equipped with a brand new and powerful DC spindle motor for delivering good performance. The Gowe 1013 CNC router machine is suitable for advertising designs, art creation, student projects, technology research, and hobby purposes.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
11/06/2022 03:28 am GMT
NEXT WAVE CNC Next Wave CNC Shark SD120

Editor's Rating - Best Under $3000

The touchscreen controller, automatic alignment features, virtual zero software, and many more features give Piranha XL an upper hand among the others in its class.


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Ultimate Buyer’s Guide:

What is a CNC Router?

A Computer Numerical Control or CNC router is nothing but a computer-operated cutting tool where the engraving or cutting paths are fully controlled through a computer instead of a hand.

The software that is pre-programmed dictates the functionalities of the machine. It can be used in cutting materials like foam, plastic, aluminum, wood, and steel.

A series of motors and drive systems work along with the CNC controller to make movements and control the router’s axes for executing the programmed motions. For doing the job, the user needs to have 2 programs. One, to make the designs for engraving, and another to convert those designs into a set of instructions called G-code.

The CNC router operator has less work to do because the machine is automated. However, during the operation, the operator has to do other important things such as making the adjustment, measuring metal sheets, and so on.

Some of the common parts in a CNC router includes spindle motor(s), linear guides, ball nuts, AC inverter drives, CNC controller, etc.

What features should you look for in a CNC Router?

Buying a CNC router from a wide range of products available on the market can be confusing sometimes. Deciding on buying the right router for your specific needs is going to be a difficult process, and you need to consider several factors. Here are some features to consider before buying a CNC woodworking machine.

Features to look for

1. Use type and capabilities of the machine – The first feature about a CNC router depends on the kind of task you want to fulfill. It is better to choose a machine that has the right capabilities to get your job done. Remember, what you want the machine to do. This way, you can buy the CNC router that matches your goals.

2. Software compatibility – Any kind of CNC router needs some Computer Assisted Design (CAD) software. Software compatibility is an important aspect that should be taken into account. Ensure that the model you are buying is equipped with software compatible with your computer.

3. Drive system – In general, there are 3 different types of drive systems fitted with a CNC router. These include ball screw, rack & pinion, and lead screw. The ball screw drive system, among them, can handle several materials with accuracy. They are expensive, as well.

4. Motor system – The cutting speed and torque of a CNC router depends on its motor system. The model that has a higher rating, provides faster cutting of materials.

5. Vacuum pressure – It decides the hold-down pressure of the materials. When the vacuum system is stronger, the unit can hold the material in place, and is able to cut with ease.

6. Dust collection system – When you want to achieve precise and fault-free results, this feature has an important role to play. Check the model and find out whether there is a dust collection port. Also, you need to check the power and capacity of the collecting system.

7. Ease of use – When you are a beginner to a CNC router, you should choose a terrible device. Always look out for devices that are easier for you to master as a beginner. Ensure that they have great software compatibility.

8. Spare parts – Keep in mind that longevity is everything. Many of the companies are based overseas. Hence, the availability of spare parts is always a matter of concern. For instance, BobsCNC relies on servos and circuit boards over the counter so that they can be easily repaired.

9. Price – CNC routers are not that expensive as people think. Yet, you need to observe the price when you are planning to buy a unit because they have a wide range of price points. If you are planning to handle an easy and simple task, you can get the best CNC router that fits your budget.

Best CNC Router under $500:

1. CNC 3018 Pro Router Kit

Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

The CNC 3018 Pro is a great CNC router for people who are new in the area of engraving. The router is perfect for all kinds of woods, plastics, acrylics, soft aluminum, PCBs, and PVCs. But, the only material that this CNC router can’t handle is the durable metals like steel.

Despite the machine being best suited for softer materials like plastic and wood, the router itself is considered as strong. It is often well-reviewed as a machine that is built with quality. Because the unit is quite small, weighing about 15 pounds, the CNC Pro router can be moved and positioned with ease.

If you are worried about the need for self-assembly, there are tons of videos and tutorials available online. You’ll find that the machine took very little time to assemble, in about 2 to 3 hours. Once the unit is assembled, it is ready for engraving.

If you wish to connect the unit to your computer, you have to purchase an offline controller. The unit uses Grbl, high-performance, and open-source software for managing the movements, and it runs on Arduino. You get support whenever you are stuck making this one of the best CNC Router options for a hobbyist.

Features:

  • Integrated hardware and software for a seamless design
  • Versatile engraving equipment that works on many materials
  • Instructions for simple assembly are provided

Pros:

  • Works with accuracy
  • Easy to set up
  • Value for money
  • Durable and strong

Cons:

  • Doesn’t cut through steel or other hard materials

Final thoughts:

Although the CNC 3018 Pro serves best for novice users, it still provides several features that are found in other high range devices. If you are looking to take your creativity to the next level, you can purchase a laser engraving module separately.

2. GRBL Control DIY Mini CNC Machine by MYSWEETY

RATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro 3 Axis GRBL Control DIY Mini CNC Router Machine Kit CNC Engraving Milling Machine Working Area 30x18x4.5cm for Cutting Wood Plastic Acrylic PVC PCB

This new DIY CNC router 3018 Pro from MYSWEEETY is the recent version of 3018. Equipped with all the major features, this unit would meet all your DIY engraving requirements. Firstly, this machine is the best for beginners, and they can learn the basics quite easily. The open design of the machine lets you see for possible adjustments when trimming.

When it comes to assembling the CNC 3018 router, the inclusion of an instruction booklet makes the work easier.

The powerful 775 motor provides no-load speed at 4100rpm. But, the drill bit is not able to engrave sturdy hard metal. For plastic, PVC, PCB, acrylic, wood, and other similar material, this machine can do a fine job.

One of the best features of this unit is that the upgraded control board can help in the offline controller function. Because of this feature, you can easily download the required design files into the controller. There is no need for a computer to download those files. You can manually open or close the spindle of the machine. You can make adjustments to the three axes’ position manually.

Features:

  • Over-current and over-temperature protection
  • Aluminum profile for higher stability
  • Simply assembly without issues

Pros:

  • Very light in weight
  • Well designed and sturdy
  • Convenient and easy to use
  • Great for beginners

Cons:

  • No laser attachment
  • The offline controller and computer can’t be used at the same time

Final thoughts:

The GRBL Control Mini CNC 3018 Pro by MYSWEETY allows you to add a laser module kit to this machine. Overall, the unit is good at this price. If you are an enthusiast in this type of work, you can find your creativity by using this wonderful CNC router.  Possibly the best cnc router for your money.

3. Genmitsu CNC MX3 Router Machine by SainSmart

For experienced or beginners CNC router users alike, there is another professional and compact CNC router machine on the market. The Genmitsu 3018 MX3 by SainSmart provides you with the top-quality features at an affordable price. The Genmitsu MX3 is perfect for working on a range of DIY projects.

That includes woodworking, milling, drilling, and engraving. An interesting aspect of this machine is that it is favorable for both budding and hobbyist CNC business owners. The machine has an engraving area of 11.8 X 7.1 X 1.8 inches and a footprint of 15.7 X 13 X 9.4 inches.

Yet, with its open front and back panels, the machine can accommodate bigger projects and materials with ease. The unit is controlled and managed by professional software Mach3. However, you have to purchase it separately.

The software is supported on Windows 7/8/10 and on Mac OS.

Features:

  • Compatible with Mach3
  • Inclusion of auto-zero tool
  • Versatile engraving machine

Pros:

  • Safety-driven design
  • Affordable price
  • Ideal working space
  • Easy to set up, and use

Cons:

  • May need some knowledge and programming experience
  • Average Spindle

Final thoughts:

Overall, the Genmitsu 3018 MX3 by SainSmart can increase your creativity level and convert those concepts into real objects made of a range of materials such as soft metals or wood. If you are looking for a professional and affordable CNC router, this is the best option for you.

Best CNC Router under $1000:

1. Evolution 3 CNC Router Kit by BobsCNC

BobsCNC Evolution 3 CNC Router Kit with the Router Included (16" x 18" cutting area and 3.3" Z travel)

The CNC E3 router kit by BobsCNC is one of the sought-after beginner kits for small businesses and individuals. When you purchase this machine, you’ll get a DeWalt 660 router included in the package. The cutting area is decent at 450x390x85 mm, which can cut through a thick stock of 3.3″.

Hardwoods and composite wood are finely cut with this CNC woodworking machine. You can use the machine to engrave a variety of soft materials. But, it is better to check the compatibility before using the machine. The router is supported on the SG20U rail system and a GT2 belt rolls on the x and y-axis.

You can choose from a range of software to run Evolution 3. And, almost every one of them is free sources. The G-code sender, UGS is a popular choice. The firmware pre-loaded on the microprocessor is GRBL and open source. Transferring designs is pretty simple. Connect the device with your computer and run it.  One of the best CNC machines for a small business.

Features:

  • Tool changing mechanism
  • Robust wooden frame
  • A versatile machine with a large cutting area

Pros:

  • Included DeWalt 660 router
  • Very convenient and simple to use
  • Adequate cutting space
  • Compatible with many operating systems

Cons:

  • The setup process is somewhat complicated
  • Wooden construction won’t be durable

Final thoughts:

Evolution 3 is an advanced and friendly CNC router machine intended for serious enthusiasts. The machine can be functioned through the USB port of a computer or a laptop. The installation process is quite simple. An assembly manual, quick start guide, and a troubleshooting guide are included in the package.

2. Maslow CNC Engraving Router Kit by MakerMade

2021 M2 CNC Engraving Machine Kit, First Wall Mounted Highly Accurate Cutting Engraver, 3-Axis CNC Machine for Wood, Metal, Plastic & More, Up to 4x8ft Working Area, Based on Maslow CNC Design

Yet another CNC router kit that provides its users with a machine specially developed for larger projects. With the Maslow CNC router, people are successful in creating furniture, houses, boats, and many other things. One of the greatest features of this unit is that Maslow has designed it to be open-source.

A community was created surrounding this router where people can share their designs and projects with other people. This way, the ideas, and support get facilitated for all. This quality machine tool has the capability to cut anything a conventional hard router can. That includes hard plastics, soft plastics, plywood, etc.

The router stands on its own and needs a large space in your workshop. If you have very little space, this machine may not be the ideal one for you. There are limitless possibilities while using this router as you can create projects that are practical and functional.

Features:

  • Tool changing mechanism
  • Robust wooden frame
  • A versatile machine with a large cutting area

Pros:

  • An open-source project
  • Great community of builders surrounding the router
  • Perfect for large projects
  • High-performance machine tool

Cons:

  • Not a desktop model
  • Not ideal for creating detailed, smaller projects

Final thoughts:

If you are thinking out of the box, and willing to share and learn from people, there is a great opportunity when you are involved and engaged in router projects. Although Maslow isn’t a desktop CNC router, you can consider this machine if you want to get more lively on your projects.

3. CNC Router Engraving Machine by VEVOR

VEVOR CNC 3018-PRO Router Machine 3 Axis GRBL Control with Offline Controller Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

If you are searching for a compact CNC router that can produce high-quality commercial-grade results, then you should probably go for a Vevor CNC router. This particular compact router is perfect for someone who intends to use the machine for smaller projects. It fits neatly in a small space, and you can use where you want to.

This engraving machine has a built-in USB port that can be controlled both by a desktop computer and a laptop. If you want to have something extra out of this router, you would be delighted to know that it is coming along with a laser.

The router can engrave materials such as metal, steel, solid wood, MDF board, plywood, and so on. Specifically designed for hobby prototype building, advertising signs, PBC, aircraft models, etc., this router can perform quite fine. The machine itself is made from durable materials, and so it should last for a while.

Features:

  • Controls the engraving more precisely
  • Have a carving speed of 0 to 2000 mm/min
  • Spindle speed between 300 and 8000 rpm/min

Pros:

  • Comes along with a laser
  • Cuts through a range of materials, even aluminum
  • High-quality results
  • Made of sturdy material

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work with Mac computers
  • Pretty small in comparison with others

Final thoughts:

This CNC router from Vevor is quintessential for teaching, research, art, hobbyists, and industrial purpose. Because this machine has a compact size, it allows you to engrave materials either at the office or from the comforts of your home. All you need to do is connect the device with your computer and create the design you want to engrave.  One of the best prices you’ll find for a CNC Router on our list.

Best CNC Router under $2000:

1. CNC Router Kit Evolution 4 by BobsCNC

BobsCNC Evolution 4 CNC Router Kit with the Router Included (24" x 24" cutting area and 3.3" Z travel)

Being the successor of Evolution 3 or E3, Evolution 4 by BobsCNC comes with a few new tricks up its sleeves. Before mentioning those things, it is important to recognize the brand that has kept its service and quality unchanged. Hence, you can expect the same reliability compared to that of E3.

The company included the same DeWalt 660 router in its new package. But, you can always change it with another router provided your preference matches with that one. In the box, you’ll have a SG20U supported rail system. It supports the router with ease. The GT2 belt works well on the x and y-axis.

On top of that, the E4 features the same Grbl and Arduino microprocessor. As mentioned earlier, these control and manage each and every movement of the router. It makes sure that there are no problems with the design, and the output becomes perfect.  This is one of the best CNC router options for a hobbyist.

Features:

  • Relatively easy to set up
  • Increases productivity with broader engraving space
  • Top performance Arduino microprocessor

Pros:

  • Smooth belt drive and support rails
  • Laser-cut wooden frames
  • DeWalt 660 router included
  • The large cutting area

Cons:

  • Wooden boards have chances of breaking
  • Price is a bit higher

Final thoughts:

The company has changed the size of the engraving board in this new model. Precisely, the size has been doubled. An increase in size means that you can have multiple designs cut up at the same time. This way, productivity gets increased. But, the price has gone upwards a bit, which is a matter of concern.

2. CNC Piranha FX by Next Wave Automation

CNC Piranha FX

The touchscreen display at the front side of Piranha FX looks amazing. It does with all your important works by hooking up your laptop or other devices. All you need to do is transfer the design files through a USB drive. The data gets displayed on the screen. From there you can choose the project, and let your work begin.

The Piranha FX is a CNC router  woodworking machine that comes intact, and there is no need for assembly. The machine is perfect for beginners and other users who would like to work on smaller projects like carvings, plaques, etc. This CNC router has its own 3D model library, and they are a part of the Vector Art Sampler Pack.

The area of the board is about 304x457x76 mm, which is bigger than some of the models at this price. Yet, this doesn’t take anything away in terms of the quality of this machine. The company designed its machine on purpose.

Features:

  • Exceptional engraving performance
  • Perfect for beginners with some knowledge
  • Compact design that weighs around 59.9 pounds

Pros:

  • Don’t need to assembly parts
  • Color touchscreen display
  • Compact design
  • 3D models library

Cons:

  • May not be the best for someone with no experience

Final thoughts:

If you aren’t a fan of steep learning curves, stay away from this device. Unless you have persistence and patience, the Piranha FX is not for you. The machine is perfect for beginners with some knowledge who would find it easier to familiarize themselves with the workings of this wonderful device.

3. CNC Router Machine Gowe 1013 by Gowecnc

Gowe 1013 Inch CNC Router CNC Machine Automatic Carving Machine CNC Engraver Drilling CNC Milling Machine CNC Drilling Cutting Machine

Another amazing CNC router that can be the best one for your ultimate needs. The Gowe 1013 is equipped with a brand new and powerful DC spindle motor for delivering good performance. The Gowe 1013 CNC router machine is suitable for advertising designs, art creation, student projects, technology research, and hobby purposes.

The machine can work smoothly and effectively on different materials such as acrylic, wood, and composite plywood. The device works fine with soft metals like silver, copper, aluminum, etc. too. The installation is very simple and easy. Once installed, it is convenient to use.

The body is sturdy because it is built with aluminum alloy materials. The device is controlled by Mach3 software, which is intelligent and simple. With an emergency stop button, you can now control the engraving process more accurately. The spindle motor knob is helpful for adjusting small positions.

Features:

  • The high precision controller box
  • Powerful spindle motor
  • Suitable for hobby and industrial purpose

Pros:

  • Simple installation
  • Sturdy construction
  • Versatile engraving machine
  • Automated tool setting

Cons:

  • You may need to buy the updated working software

Final thoughts:

The Gowe 1013 CNC router machine is a device that delivers sheer performance. Built with durable materials, it ensures that the device can be used for a prolonged time. Assembling the machine is done without trouble. The instructions are easy to follow, and you can engrave your pieces much to your comfort.

Best CNC Router under $3000:

1. CNC Piranha XL by Next Wave Automation

Genmitsu CNC Router Machine PROVerXL 4030 for Wood Metal Acrylic MDF Carving Arts Crafts DIY Design, 3 Axis Milling Cutting Engraving Machine, Working Area 400 x 300 x 110mm (15.7''x11.8''x4.3'')

No matter if you are into miniatures, a model railroader or a modeler, there is no limit to the creative results that you can attain with the CNC Piranha XL router. The touchscreen controller, automatic alignment features, virtual zero software, and many more features give Piranha XL an upper hand among the others in its class.

One of the best features of the machine is the addition of an extra Y capacity, which brings the device an inch closer to a full-fledged CNC router while maintaining affordable pricing. The machine can be set up easily now because of the XY homing capability. The much-improved Z travel promises to handle extra thickness.

The model has an aluminum interlocking table that ensures flexible and perfect clamping. The 24-inch homing ability and the extra-large table makes the machine perfect for projects like plaques, and so on. The device works wonders on plastics, wood, and soft metals. Design your project on your personal computer, save it to your USB drive, and run the program.  The Piranha XL is one of the best CNC Router options for a small business.

Features:

  • Provides additional thickness capacity
  • The work area is 12 x 24 x 4 inches
  • Rational sensing

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Straightforward setup
  • Solid machine, well built
  • User-friendly and versatile

Cons:

  • USB drive not included
  • Not compatible with Mac

Final thoughts:

Piranha XL is easy to operate. The greatest advantage of this device is that it doesn’t need to be assembled. Therefore, you can get started almost immediately. No extra assembly needed other than placing your router and putting the cords in. The sleek design allows you to fit the entire machine at one end of your workplace.

2. JFT 3040 CNC Router by JFT-Jessica

Industrial Level JFT 3040 CNC Router Engraving/carving Machine (800W + 4 Axis)

The JFT 3040 CNC router by JFT-Jessica is an all-rounder and small creative router. When you have long continuous work, this unit is perfect for you. It is capable of engraving materials such as iron, aluminum alloy, copper, steel, stone, and wood. You can drill the chassis panel, plastic boxes, and foam.

The resume carving, external reset, and start button function of this CNC router ensures continuous processing. The JFT 3040 router is equipped with a 3-axis imported original TBI SFU 1605 ball screw along with a high-quality nut that won’t rust. The spindle is water-cooled with low noise and provides high precision. The machine has an independent drive that maintains stability and speed.

The control settings are all professional and reflect the good quality. Another amazing feature of this router is the 3.5A current stepping motor. It is situated in the direction of the 3-axis and tends to return to its original point with the press of a single button.

Features:

  • Perfect for continuous tedious work
  • Includes other supporting software and Mach3
  • 3.5A stepping motor for high-speed stability

Pros:

  • Excellent built quality
  • Versatile and creative router
  • Easy operation
  • Robust performance

Cons:

  • To be determined

Final thoughts:

The JFT 3040 CNC router has a USB port, Mach3, 1.5KW, 3-axes, and the product is European CE certified. Apart from all these things, the machine comes with a full one-year free warranty. On top of that, the good built quality of the product ensures that it is something you can blindly rely upon for all your carving needs.

3. WorkBee CNC Router Complete Kit by REFORZELL

Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

The WorkBee CNC router by Reforzell is perhaps one of the most accurate, easy to assemble, best, and super strong CNC machines available on the market. This one of a kind machine is carefully designed and developed to accurately cut woods, aluminum, plastics, and foams to 0.1 to 0.2mm. With this CNC router in place, you can create functional engineering parts, signs, toys, or other things you can.

This machine is adaptable in nature and you can create many things out of your images without leaving your workshop. The bundle Cable Drag Chain contains all the important hardware needed for mounting the drag chain on your CNC router machine. The NVEM3 axis and Mach3 controller bundle help in engraving materials. The unit is boasted with a 2.2KW water-cooled spindle.

This specific CNC router machine is considered to deliver performance because of its water-cooled mechanism. It makes the machine run for prolonged hours without stopping. This is what makes the machine perfect for long complex works or applications. The WorkBee has 2 spoiler board configurations. One got travel of 66mm and another one has 106mm.

Features:

  • A performance CNC router
  • Four different kinds of motor used
  • Water-cooled 2.2KW spindle

Pros:

  • Great accuracy levels
  • Cuts almost every kind of soft materials
  • Easy to install and use

Cons:

  • No Waste Board
  • Mach3 license isn’t included

Final thoughts:

The WorkBee CNC router machine is the outcome of several years of feedback and experience from selling the OX CNC machines. The unit is capable of engraving plastics, wood, foam, and aluminum with in-depth accuracy. If you want to get your hands in creating some of the functional engineering parts or toys, or anything else, the WorkBee water-cooled CNC router would be the best option.

Conclusion:

It is important to have a tool capable of doing your work in an effective way, wasting very less material, can become your partner in long term success. Now that you can choose the best CNC Router for the money, just make sure to follow our resource guide to get the best bang for your buck.

About Maker Industry

Joshua Garcia, Founder

Hi, I'm Joshua. I created Maker Industry to share my passion for maker tools and help others learn about 3D printing, CNC systems, laser cutting and more. Learn More