5 Best CNC Routers 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews

A Computer Numerical Control Router, popularly known as a CNC router is one of the most versatile power tools that woodworkers and cabinetmakers find incredibly handy. The CNC router, a computer-controlled woodworking tool, is chiefly used for systematically cutting a wide variety of materials like wood, laminate, plastic, and glass. The best CNC routers enable carpenters and woodworkers to produce beautiful furniture, cabinets, cupboards, and numerous other bespoke and DIY products from the above materials.

When it comes to producing factory-grade woodwork or customized metal engravings, then the best CNC router is indispensable. Before the advent of the CNC router, plunge router, and fixed-base router, woodworkers did all the cutting, incising, and engraving by hand. However, with the arrival of CNC routers, carpenters and woodmen were able to take full advantage of their craftsmanship.

The best CNC routers were able to do all the tasks that the woodworker did manually but with enhanced quality and precision. A CNC router can make the same cuts and engravings that humans do, albeit with greater accuracy because the machine is computer-controlled.  

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Buying Guide to Help You Buy the Best CNC Routers

Before we walk you through how to select a CNC router that best fits your needs and preferences, let us define a CNC router in brief. Speaking, a CNC router is an advanced machine tool whose operation is permanently monitored and controlled via a computer. The best CNC routers can cut, incise, slice, and engrave different materials, including wood, metal, glass, and plastics, according to instructions you feed into the computer.

Picking and choosing the best CNC router from amongst the multiple brands available out, there can be quite challenging. The task of selecting the appropriate brand becomes all the more bewildering if you’re unaware of the exact type you’re looking for. There are certain factors or aspects that you should take into consideration before you can zero in on the appropriate product.

For instance, you should factor in the type of projects you usually execute, the materials (wood, laminate or MDF), software companionability, and so on. This buyers’ guide lists some of the most vital factors you should reflect on before making a buying decision:-

1. Software companionability

No matter whichever brand or model of CNC router you choose, ensure that the product comes preinstalled with a software app that is companionable with your PC. Software compliance is the most crucial factor to take into account before you can consider other factors.    

2. Project size/work area dimensions

The size of your work area is another vital aspect that will determine the brand you should select. The best CNC router is a massive and large machine, so you’d need quite a large area for housing it. At the same time, see to it that the device will be able to handle the size and type of projects.

3. Router table dimensions

Check out the table dimensions or size of a few CNC router brands. The CNC router’s table size should match the dimensions of the materials that you generally work on, be it hardwood or laminated plastics. The thumb rule for the CNC router’s table size is that it should be higher than the materials or at least equivalent.

4. Motor system

Its cutting speed and torque determine the capability of a CNC router’s motor system. In other words, the higher the cutting speed and torque rating of a CNC router’s motor, the more performance-oriented the machine tool will be.

5. Drive system

The best CNC routers available for sale, feature any one of the three drive system types. These are the ‘Rack and Pinion’ system, ‘Ball Screw’ system, and the ‘Lead Screw’ system. CNC routers featuring the ‘ball screw’ drive mechanism tend to be the most expensive as these machine tools can correctly deal with various materials. 

6. Vacuum pressure

The vacuum pressure capacity of a CNC router defines the machine tool’s ability to hold documents in position while you perform cutting or engraving tasks. The more efficient the machine’s vacuum system, the heftier the materials the device will be able to hold.  

7. Sawdust collection mechanism

The dust collection receptacle or port in a CNC router collects the flying debris or chips and prevents them from spreading over the worktop. Therefore, make sure you buy a model that comes with a built-in saw dust collection port and also check the receptacle’s capacity.  

8. Preassembled or knockdown

Choosing a knockdown CNC router makes sense if you specialize in producing DIY woodworks. You can assemble the CNC router in a way that perfectly suits your nature of job and type of projects. On the other hand, if you mostly create standardized plans, then choosing a preassembled or factory set CNC router is the most practical option.

9. Your budget

How good a CNC router you will be able to buy boils down to one hardcore fact-your budget. Keep in mind that the best CNC routers available in the market come at a price, implying that the expensive models are of superior quality. Nevertheless, you’ll come across many quality CNC router models that are priced competitively.  

Some other essential aspects worth keeping in mind while shopping for the best CNC router are power rating, and ease of installation.

Reviewing the Best CNC Routers 2020

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Product Name

Best Feature


Offers the best value for money


Best overall


Best for small workshops

Best entry-level CNC Router


Best for sophisticated work



















The 2500MW Laser Engraver CNC 3018 Pro Engraving Machine is an upgraded version of TopDirect 3018 CNC Router. The all-new and innovative CNC 3018 Pro Engraving Machine features a more ergonomic design, rendering setting up of the machine tool easier. This CNC router unit comes with an offline controller, which frees you from the requirement to pair the machine tool with your PC or desktop.

So, you can access the engraving, etching, and cutting files straight away instead of having to download the files. The excellent laser engraving capability of this machine implies that you can print high-quality illustrations and images. At the same time, you can access the images and representations directly in SVG, BMP, or JPG formats.

This CNC router from TopDirect comes with safety goggles that protect your eyes while you use the laser engraver.         

Pros

  • Large machine frame & engraving areas can accommodate different sizes of materials
  • Ideal for carving different materials like acrylic, plastic, wood, soft metals, and PCB

  • Supports Windows XP, 7, 10, and Linux

  • Easy to assemble as some core parts have been preinstalled

  • Aircraft aluminum shell guarantees fast heat dissipation

Cons

  • This CNC router model does not come equipped with limit switches

The Genmitsu CNC 3018 Router Kit has been specially designed and created for inexperienced woodworkers and carpenters. If you’re passionate about woodworking, then you can rely on this CNC Router from Genmitsu for learning the ropes. You can take advantage of this machine tool for fine-tuning your latent cutting, carving, and engraving skills for becoming a pro.

This Genmitsu CNC router kit can easily handle a wide variety of materials including but not limited to PCB, PVC, acrylic, wood, and soft aluminum. Simply follow the instructions provided in the booklet for putting together the different components included in the kit. Every mechanical part of the CNC router included in the kit is of supreme quality, which makes the entire unit highly durable.

On the other hand, the CNC 3018 Router Kit’s platform is incredibly hard.     

Pros

  • Assembling the different components is a breeze as assembly guidelines are provided
  • You can make the most of this Genmitsu machine tool for working on an assortment of materials and projects

  • Powered by Arduino and exploits GRBL-a highly responsive open-source software

  • Perfect integration between customized software & incorporated mainboard facilitates interaction between hardware and software

  • The large working area of this machine tool means it can hold different materials of large dimensions

Cons

  • Instructions can be difficult to understand for novices and beginners
  • Some of the included components not listed in the parts list


Woodworkers and carpenters will simply love to use the BobsCNC E3 Router Engraver Kit as it comes equipped with the Arduino microprocessor and DW660 router. The microprocessor and the DW660 router make use of GRBL software for communicating with each other. Working on woodwork projects using this CNC router will give you unique user experience.

This machine tool is undoubtedly the best CNC router in the entry-level category as it features a large footprint for performing carvings on different materials. At the same time, it is performance-oriented and quite affordable, enabling you to complete your projects with efficiency. The DIY kit can be assembled without much difficulty and is perfect for working on small projects

Pros

  • Comes preassembled with Arduino-based microprocessor
  • Exploits GRBL software & DW660 router that facilitates hardware-software communication

  • Compatible with Windows, Raspberry Pi, Linux, and OSX

  • Comes with a solid laser-cut machine tool frame

  • GT2 belt drive on both X and Y-axis

  • SG2OU compliant rail system 

  • 5/16-18 nut on the Z-axis

Cons

  • Novices and beginners could struggle with assembling the router
  • Constructed out of wood, precision may not be perfect owing to ‘Z-axis assembly


4. Green Bull 4’ x 8’ CNC Machine Best Entry-level CNC Router

The 4’ x 8’ CNC Machine is Green Bull’s biggest CNC router designed exclusively for working with large sheets of material. This CNC router offers you the option to integrate a 40W laser shaft to the gantry for taking advantage of dual laser/spindle capability. The CNC machine comes with NEMA 34 motors on every axis along with an extensive dust collector for improved vacuuming and cleanup.

The height of the gantry has been increased for keeping the V-groove bearings farther apart. To prevent the gantry from expanding or flexing, a chain of ribs were incorporated inside the gantry box. The x-axis motor installed inside the gantry section makes good use of ½” steel tubes extending from the motor to all sides of the gantry.

Pros

  • Parallel interface panel comes with a USB cable for 5V power

  • Works perfectly with wood acrylic and even lightweight aluminum sheets

  • Superior dust removal capability

  • Helps in making precise cuts and engravings on different 
  • Comes with complete hardware kit for easy assembly

Cons

  • Does not come with a table; so you may have to make one yourself
  • Requires extensive professional experience for using this machine tool


5. Next Wave CNC Piranha XL Best for Sophisticated Work

The brand new CNC Piranha CNC router from Next Wave Automation comes with a built-in large work table making the machine table ideal for cuttings and ornamental carvings. This Next Wave CNC router comes in handy for cutting precisely machined cutouts from acrylics, soft metals, hardwoods, and softwoods. Create project blueprints reflecting a high level of craftsmanship by taking advantage of the integrated VCarve Desktop V8 Design Software on your PC.

After that, you can back up your designs on a USB pen drive, plug it into the relevant port, choose the relevant file, and get going.

Pros

  • Huge (12” x 24”) table for firm positioning of sheets of different sizes
  • Rotational sensing and auto edge technology

  • Solid construction: guaranteed to last for years on end

  • Simple and straightforward setup

  • Extremely user-friendly and versatile

Cons

  • Does not come with  a USB flash drive
  • Not compatible with Macintosh PCs and desktops


Conclusion

Selecting the five best CNC routers for this review out of the several models and brands was an arduous task. After comparing numerous brands, we chose five quality CNC routers- TopDirect, Genmitsu, Green Bull, BobsCNC, and NextWave. Out of the five models, NextWave and Green Bull, were quite expensive, both priced above US$2400 and were perfect for experienced and tech-savvy woodworkers.

On a related note, TopDirect, Genmitsu, and BobsCNC were more suitable for novice carpenters and cabinetmakers.  

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