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Best Cheap CNC Machines [2023] that are Reliable

Best Cheap CNC Machines [2023] that are Reliable

Best Cheap CNC Machines [2023] that are Reliable

If you are looking for budget CNC machines that can do the job for you, we're here to help you.

Cheap need not necessarily mean low quality.

The machines in this list are the most affordable CNC machines that you can buy in 2023 without compromising on quality.

I came up with this list after carefully considering their size, price, value for money, build quality, ease of use, and quality of customer support.

MellowPine is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

These are the best cheap CNC machines available today [2023]:

RATTMMOTOR 3018 PRO MAX CNC Wood Router Machine Kit 3 Axis GRBL Control DIY Mini CNC Engraver...
Best Pick
Genmitsu 3018-PROVer V2 CNC Router Machine with Full Aluminum Structure for Beginner, Mini Milling...
CNCs
RATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro Max
SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer
Work Area
11.8” x 7.1” x 1.77"
10.2” x 6.1” x 1.4"
Speed
10,000 RPM
9,000 RPM
Drive system
Leadscrew drives
Leadscrew drives
Warranty
No official warranty
1 Year
RATTMMOTOR 3018 PRO MAX CNC Wood Router Machine Kit 3 Axis GRBL Control DIY Mini CNC Engraver...
CNCs
RATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro Max
Work Area
11.8” x 7.1” x 1.77"
Speed
10,000 RPM
Drive system
Leadscrew drives
Warranty
No official warranty
Price
Best Pick
Genmitsu 3018-PROVer V2 CNC Router Machine with Full Aluminum Structure for Beginner, Mini Milling...
CNCs
SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer
Work Area
10.2” x 6.1” x 1.4"
Speed
9,000 RPM
Drive system
Leadscrew drives
Warranty
1 Year
Price

Although these machines are the most affordable among hobby CNCs, I have chosen only those machines which have a good reputation for being reliable.

I also considered the Sainsmart Genmitsu PROVerXL 4030 CNC Router for this review.

However, the BobsCNC Quantum Mini CNC router almost costs the same as the Genmitsu 4030 and is a better machine in many ways. Hence it didn't make the list.

Among the machines in this list, Comgrow ROBO and Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 are CNC engravers while BobsCNC Quantum Mini and OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 are desktop CNC machines.

Maslow CNC is in a category of its own.

1. RATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro Max- Most Affordable CNC

RATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro Max
RATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro Max
ParametersRATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro Max
Work area11.8” x 7.1” x 1.77"
Footprint15.7” x 13” x 9.4”
Linear MotionLeadscrews
Assembly3 hours

Quick summary of RATTMMOTOR CNC 3018Pro Max

RATTMMOTOR 3018 Pro Max is an engraving machine that is good for beginners and small-scale engraving work.

It is a Chinese brand that makes affordable CNC machines that are ideal for DIY users who want to engrave soft materials like wood.

Size and build

It has a footprint of 15.7” x 13” x 9.4”, which makes it compact and can be placed on a desktop.

This CNC engraver weighs around 16 lbs and can be easily accommodated on a shelf for storage.

You can process workpieces with a dimension less than 11.8” x 7.1” x 1.77" on this CNC engraver.

The CNC has an aluminum and nylon frame, which is rigid enough for engraving on soft metals like aluminum and copper.

Linear Motion

All three axes on the RATTMMOTOR Pro Max are driven by lead screws using stepper motors.

The stepper motors used are the NEMA 17 type that provides 0.25 Nm of torque and works with a 12 V 1.3 A supply.

Spindle

The spindle used on this engraver is the 775 type which is similar to the one used on Genmitsu.

However, it has a higher speed of 10,000 RPM than the spindle on Genmitsu.

The spindle comes with an ER11 collet that has a clamping range that lets you use tools with a shank diameter of 0.125”

Controller and electronics

The kit comes with a GRBL-based Woodpecker CNC Camxtool v3 controller board that can be connected to your PC via USB cable.

It also has an offline controller that lets you use the engraver without connecting it to a computer.

It also has an offline controller that accepts memory sticks with G-code files to control your machine without a computer.

If you want to control the engraver with your computer, you can connect the controller to the computer using a USB cable.

The controller is compatible with a laser module and 20,000 RPM spindle, providing options for future upgrades.

Software

The machine does not come with any dedicated software, and you can use any CNC software for designing and controlling this CNC router.

However, you must ensure that the control software that you use is compatible with GRBL firmware.

Assembly

The machine is shipped as a DIY kit that needs to be assembled. Most of the tools required for assembly are also provided in the kit.

You will need to spend around three hours putting this CNC router together.

The printed assembly manual that comes with the kit is detailed and will help you with the assembly process.

Community and Support

There is no US-based customer support team for this CNC engraver, and you will need to mail the manufacturer for any queries.

Despite being a Chinese brand, for those just getting into hobby CNC, RATTAMMOTOR is the most affordable and realistic option today.

Most of the components that require support, like the controller, are sourced from other brands. You can contact the original manufacturer for troubleshooting.

RATTMMOTOR CNC 3018Pro Max
  • 【Upgrade Version CNC 3018 PRO MAX 】Frame size: 42x35x27CM (16.53 x 13.78 x 10.63”). Working area:18x10x4.5CM(11.8 x 7.1 x 1.8”). Material: Aluminum Alloy. Spindle: 775 spindle motor (12-24V) 24V:10000r/min. Stepper motor: 42 stepper motor, 12V, phase current 1.3A, phase resistance 2.1 ohms, torque 0.25N.m
  • 【Simple Assembly/Use】This mini cnc router machine kit is mainly designed for DIY carving enthusiasts/beginners, easily assembled and opertated, coming with a paper manual and USB flash drive of all the files.

2. SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router 3018-PROVer- Popular Cheap CNC Machine

SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver with the offline control unit
SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer
ParametersSainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer
Work area10.2” x 6.1” x 1.4"
Footprint15.7” x 13.0”
Linear MotionLead screw
Assembly2 hours

Quick summary of SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer

SainSmart is the first CNC brand that packaged the no-name generic 3018 CNC into a branded CNC machine.

With the 3018-PROVer, Sainsmart offers a CNC engraver that's affordable, with a price range close to what you expect in a desktop CNC engraver.

At the same time, you get decent customer support, and support for spare parts, accessories, and upgrades which is rare for 3018 CNCs.

It is a great machine for beginners who want to learn about CNC machines before moving on to professional CNC routers.

Size and build

The Genmitsu 3018-PROVer is a desktop machine and has a 16.5" x 13.4" footprint which is ideal for placing on most desks.

It needs a clearance of 9.4” on the top of your desk to place it.

The size of the machine allows you to store it on your shelf when not in use.

You get an effective cutting area of 10.2” x 6.1” on which you can engrave workpieces with a maximum thickness of 1.4 inches.

The name 3018 stands for the 30 cm x 18 cm cutting area the 3018-PRO provides.

The frame is made of aluminum which gives it good rigidity for engraving.

The sides of PROVer have transparent baffles that protect you from chips and allow you to view the cutting process safely.

Linear Motion

All three axes move using a lead screw mechanism that is driven by 12 V stepper motors and has a maximum torque of 2.2 lb-in.

Spindle

The Genmistsu 775 spindle used on the 3018-PROVer is a basic CNC spindle.

The 775 spindle is good for engraving on soft materials like wood and plastics.

It can spool up to a maximum speed of 9,000 RPM at 36 V and uses an ER11 collet that can clamp tools with a shank diameter between 0.02” and 0.276”.

However, if you want to engrave on aluminum you must consider the drop in spindle upgrade from Genmitsu that can go up to speeds of 20,000 RPM.

Controller and electronics

Genmitsu uses its proprietary control board with GRBL 1.1 firmware for the 3018-PROVer.

It supports laser modules, 3 stepper motors, and a spindle.

It can supply a maximum power of 150W for the spindle and the stepper drivers can handle up to 2A of current at 12V.

The controller is GRBL-based and connects to your computer via a USB cable.

You can use any G-code sending software to operate this CNC machine.

The stepper motor driver used is the Toshiba TB6S109 which is silent compared to stepper drivers used in other 3018 CNCs.

You can use 3018-PROVer without a computer as it comes with an offline controller.

All three axes on the PROVer come with limit switches that prevent the gantry from crashing into the frame.

The offline controller has a 1.8” screen which gives you complete control over the machine. You can run G-code directly from a memory stick using the offline controller.

SainSmart has also provided an emergency stop button on the side of the PROVer which lets you stop the machine in case of any emergencies.

Software

Genmitsu 3018-PROVer comes with a three-month free subscription to CARVECO CAM and design software.

CARVECO is easy to use and learn and is a good starting point for beginners.

However, if you do not want to pay for CARVECO after three months, you can use any free CNC software to make designs and generate toolpaths.

Good G-code sending software programs to pair with Genmitsu 3018-PROVer are the Universal Gcode Sender and the GRBL Candle.

If you are a beginner it's better to use free software for CNC to learn the basics and then move on to paid software with better features.

This CNC machine is compatible with most operating systems like Windows XP, Windows 7 32/64 bits, Windows 8, Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS.

Upgrades

SainSmart offers several upgrades for the Genmitsu 3018-PROVer that improve the capabilities of the machine.

1. Genmitsu GS-775M Spindle

This is a spindle upgrade for the 3018-PROVer that allows you to engrave on aluminum.

It is a 24V, 20,000 RPM spindle that has been designed to be a drop-in replacement for the spindle on 3018-PROVer.

All you have to do is replace the spindle in the mount and solder the wires.

2. laser module kit for Genmitsu

This is a 2.5 W blue laser module that can be used for laser engraving using the 3018-PROVer.

It uses a 445nm blue laser and works with a 12 V supply that draws 2A of current.

You can use it for engraving on MDF, wood, plastic, leather, plywood, and anodized aluminum.

The setup is easy, as you can directly mount it onto the Z-axis gantry and it is also supported by the controller board on 3018-PROVer.

Assembly

3018-PROVer comes almost pre-assembled and that is a major upgrade from its previous versions.

Most users take around 30-45 minutes to put together this machine.

Considering it comes almost assembled, it would be inaccurate to call it a DIY CNC router kit.

You can find several helpful videos on YouTube to further ease the setup.

SainSmart provides a well-detailed online instructions manual for Genmitsu 3018-PROVer.

Community and Support

Sainsmart provides email support for its customers and the quality of support is acceptable compared to most other 3018 CNC brands.

The official website has troubleshooting tips for almost all problems you may face while using the 3018-PRO.

Sainsmart also sells the Genmitsu 3018-PRO which is the cheaper, older version of the 3018-PROVer.

I chose the 3018-PROVer for this review, as it's a much-upgraded machine compared to the 3018-PRO.

Overall, the SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer is an affordable CNC machine best suited for engraving and is probably the best in its category.

Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer
It's the most affordable 3018 CNC
Powered by a standard 775 spindle
Provided with a 1-year manufacturer's warranty

3. Maslow CNC- DIY Router Kit

Maslow CNC kit assembled
Maslow CNC kit assembled
ParametersMakermade Maslow CNC kit
Work area4' x 8' x 1.625"
Footprintdepending on setup
Linear MotionChain drive
AssemblyDepends on the frame size

Quick summary of Makermade Maslow CNC kit

The Maslow CNC router kit is a truly unique machine.

It is fundamentally different from other CNC routers in the fact that it is a vertically mounted machine.

Maslow is used predominantly by those who make wall panels and stage decorations.

Several brands make Maslow CNC router kits but the most popular and reliable one is the one made by Maker Made.

What you get with Maslow are the cables and the electronic components.

The easel-style frame that you see on the Maslow CNCs is built separately by each Maslow owner.

The plan and instructions to build the DIY parts of this CNC is available for free on the Maker Made website.

Size and build

There is no fixed dimension for the Maslow CNC kit.

The waste board you see in the pictures is not shipped with the kit.

You have to make your own frame and waste board using the instructions provided.

Hence the size and dimension for each of you will vary according to your requirements.

However, the maximum work area that you can achieve is 4’ x 8’.

Even with such a large work area, the footprint of the machine is low, as it has a vertical work bed.

You will need some 2’ x 4’ ply for the wasteboard and a couple of bricks for a counterweight to build the frame.

The materials for making the frames will cost you around $100, so factor that into the total cost of the machine. 

Linear Motion

For linear motion, it uses a chain drive system.

You can adjust the chain to scale up or scale down the work area as per your requirements.

At 1.625”, the Z-axis movement capabilities are limited and it also depends upon the router you use with the kit.

Maslow is quite slow at 31 ipm, but you need to consider the cost efficiency and the work area it provides.

Spindle/Router

The kit does not come with a spindle or router. This means you can use any router or spindle with this kit.

Controller

This CNC kit is controlled by an Arduino Mega 2560 + v1.2b Shield with the Holey v51.28 firmware installed on it.

You can connect the controller to your computer using a USB cable.

Software

Makermade provides the Makerverse G-code sending software to control the CNC router kit.

It is really easy to use and they provide 10 free sample programs to let you learn the workings of the kit.

Assembly

The main part of the assembly is making the frame and the DIY components.

It's not too difficult if you know basic woodworking, and can be accomplished in a weekend.

Community and Support

Makermade has a huge fan following and hence has a large community that can help you with your queries.

They are based out of Springdale, Arkansas, and they do provide email support to customers.

Maslow CNC kit comes with a one-year warranty

Overall, Maslow is a fun way to do CNC work if you like tinkering with your CNC kit.

It's a bit slow, and it's not for those who want a hassle-free way to get going with their CNC.

But with a bit of patience, it's possible to do some surprisingly good work with this CNC, as the community garden of the Maslow CNC shows.

More detailed review of this CNC router- Maslow CNC Router from Makermade Review

4. OpenBuilds LEAD 1010

OpenBuilds LEAD CNC Machine 1010 (40" x 40")
OpenBuilds LEAD CNC Machine 1010
Parameters OpenBuilds LEAD 1010
Work area29" x 32"
Footprint40" x 40"
Linear Motion8mm acme lead screw
Assembly~24 hours

Quick summary of OpenBuilds LEAD 1010

OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 is an open-source CNC machine. Its modular design lets you customize it as per your needs.

For example, you can alter its cutting area to match the operational requirements of your application.

Size and build

OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 has a footprint of 40" x 40" and a work area of 29" x 32".

You'll have to supply it with a spill board to mount over its frame. If the bit cuts through the board, you can even replace it.

Based on the thickness of the spill board you use, you'll have to compromise on the thickness of the workpiece. The default Z-travel is 4".

You'll have to upgrade the Z-axis with their Z modification kit for more clearance along the Z-axis. It'll be a great addition to the machine for deep engraving jobs.

Linear Motion

The transmission systems on all three axes of OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 are powered by lead screw drives.

It uses an 8mm acme lead screw, and the gantry is slid over the rigid aluminum frame with Xtreme solid V wheels.

This allows the machine to achieve a transmission accuracy of 0.001" ~ 0.003".

Spindle

With OpenBuilds LEAD 1010, you have the flexibility to choose or not choose their 1hp RoutER11 spindle. If you buy it with the machine, $150 will be added to the overall cost.

The spindle is available with US and EU power outlets. The US model has a speed range of 10,000 - 32,000 RPM, and for the EU models, it's 13,000 - 33,0000 RPM.

If you want to use other, more powerful motors, you'll have to get the bigger mount from OpenBuilds separately.

Controller and Electronics

1. Stepper Motor

All three axes of the LEAD 1010 CNC are driven by NEMA 23 stepper motors. The Y-axis is equipped with two motors to prevent the racking of the gantry.

2. Controller

The machine uses BlackBox Motion Control System X32. The controller uses a 32-Bit Atmega328p chip flashed with GrblHAL firmware.

Software

Like any other machine from OpenBuilds, you can work with LEAD 1010 using OpenBuilds CAM & CONTROL software.

OpenBuilds CONTROL software
OpenBuilds CONTROL software

In addition, OpenBuilds also provides you the option to buy a license for Aspire or VCarve Desktop software with the machine.

Assembly

OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 comes with modular parts and can be assembled in a day. Detailed assembly instructions are provided with the machine through manual and video guides.

Community and Support

OpenBuilds have one of the largest ever community. They are very active, and you can interact with them on the forum.

For the machine, they offer a 1-year warranty. Also, they have a 30-day return policy.

To read a detailed review of this machine, visit OpenBuilds LEAD CNC 1010 Review.

5. BobsCNC Quantum Mini-Best Home CNC Machine

BobsCNC Quantum Mini CNC
BobsCNC Quantum Mini CNC
ParametersBobsCNC Quantum Mini
Work area16" x 16" x 3.8"
Footprint32" x 25" x 22"
Linear MotionLead Scew and Belt Drive
Assembly5 hours

Quick summary of BobsCNC Quantum Mini

The Quantum Mini is the cheapest option in the Quantum series of CNC routers from BobsCNC.

It has a fairly large cutting area, and the frame is made of plywood which helps keep the cost of the machine affordable.

BobsCNC is an affordable choice if you need to work on wooden workpieces at your home shop.

Size and build

The footprint of Quantum Mini is 32" x 25" x 22"  with a weight of 38 lbs, and allows you to cut workpieces with a dimension of 16" x 16" x 3.8".

The frame of Quantum Mini is made of laser-cut baltic birch plywood with good rigidity.

A wooden frame has less rigidity than a metal chassis, but it helps keep the cost down.

People have used Quantum Mini for cutting aluminum at low depths of cut and speeds, but it is not the recommended CNC machine for cutting aluminum.

Overall, it is a capable and customizable CNC machine that can provide you with good precision and performance at an affordable price.

The Quantum Mini is rigid enough for cutting soft materials like wood and plastics with a repeatability of 0.002” to 0.004”.

Linear Motion

The Z-axis uses an Acme rod with an Acetal nut that gives good rigidity to the axis.

For the X and Y axes, a belt drive with V wheels is used. Belt drives are fast but have slow response speeds due to stretching.

Quantum Mini uses a dual drive for the X-axis, which helps in preventing racking, a common problem in machines with any wide gantry is racking.

Spindle

A 1.25 hp Makita RT0701C spindle is provided with Quantum Mini, and it has a variable speed between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM.

The spindle has a ¼” collet and comes with a quick tool change feature.

Controller and electronics

1. Stepper Motor

Four NEMA 17 stepper motors with 76 oz-in of holding torque are used for moving the axes on the Quantum Mini. 

2. Controller

The controller for Quantum Mini is an Arduino Uno board with GRBL 1.1 firmware flashed onto it.

You can control the router through a G-code sending software by connecting the controller to a computer via USB.

3. Limit switches

To prevent the gantry from crashing into the frame and for easy homing, Quantum Mini has limit switches on each axis.

Software

Quantum Mini does not come with any software and you are free to choose any paid or free software for your cutting processes.

You can use any control software that supports GRBL firmware to run this CNC router.

However, BobsCNC does offer a few paid software that you can purchase at extra cost from their official website.

Assembly

Quantum Mini arrives as a DIY kit, and you have to assemble it.

You will need basic tools for assembly, and you can expect to set it up in about five hours.

The BobsCNC assembly manual is one of the best I've ever seen and is really helpful.

You can also find plenty of videos to help you with the assembly process.

Community and Support

BobsCNC is a popular brand among the hobbyist crowd and therefore has a large community of users.

They do not have a dedicated forum, but they do have an active Facebook group.

The official support from BobsCNC is also excellent.

BobsCNC has a 30-day return policy which lets you claim a full refund if you return the product within 30 days of purchase.

Quantum Mini has a 90-day warranty period. Additionally, the Makita router comes with a one-year warranty.

What makes Quantum Mini unique is that it's priced much lower than most desktop CNC routers that can mill wood.

Overall, it is the most affordable CNC router for working on wood and plastics for a hobbyist (not considering CNC engravers).

BobsCNC Quantum Mini CNC Router
  • A rigid laser cut 5-Ply Baltic Birch frame with SG20U supported rail system.
  • GT2 9mm belt drive on X and Y-axis and Tr8 Acme Rod mounted with an ACME Nut on the Z-axis.

You might also like- BobsCNC Evolution 3 in-depth review.

About John Abraham

Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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John Abraham

Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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