Struggling with finding a capable CNC machine that fits within a modest budget?

In this blog, we showcase the best CNC machines available for under $500, ideal for hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts, and small-scale fabricators. We cover a variety of CNC machines that offer a balance between affordability, precision, and ease of use. From compact desktop models suitable for small projects to more versatile machines capable of handling a variety of materials, we include options that cater to different fabrication needs and skill levels.

With over 18 years of experience in machining and digital fabrication technology, we’ve guided numerous clients, from beginners in woodworking and metalworking to small business owners, in selecting the right CNC machine for their creative or production goals. Our selection of CNC machines under $500 is based on thorough testing and real-world applications, ensuring our recommendations are both practical and effective.

These machines aren’t just about low cost; they excel at providing a good introduction to CNC machining, offering features like user-friendly interfaces, adequate power for basic projects, and modularity for upgrades. We’ve evaluated them for their performance, build quality, and ease of setup and operation, finding them ideal for anyone looking to delve into CNC machining without a substantial initial investment.

Best Desktop CNC Router Machines 2024

Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer Mach3

Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer Mach3 with Mach3 Control

The Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer Mach3 is your go-to machine for building CNC skills. It works with Mach3 and DrufelCNC software. It’s made for easy, precise work on many materials. It cuts plastic, wood, soft aluminum, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs.

It comes mostly ready-to-use. You can set it up in less than 30 minutes. The all-aluminum body is sturdy and easy to clean. It comes with safety features to keep your workspace neat.

SainSmart, the company behind this machine, is known for quality. This machine shows that. It’s great for beginners and small business owners. It offers options to upgrade. This makes it a tool you can grow with.

The 3018-PROVer Mach3 works with Windows. It has an auto-tool zero feature for easy changes and calibration. It also has an open design. This lets you work on larger pieces.

In short, the 3018-PROVer Mach3 is a powerful, easy-to-use tool. It meets many needs and opens the door to endless creativity. It’s a great start to your CNC journey.

Key Features of Genmitsu CNC Router Machine

  • Mach3 Compatibility: The 3018-PROVer Mach3 CNC machine works well with Mach3 and DrufelCNC software. It suits users who are already familiar with these systems. This compatibility lets the machine perform pre-programmed actions and advanced features.
  • Quick Setup: The machine arrives mostly pre-assembled. You can set it up in less than 30 minutes. This saves time and lets you start work quickly.
  • High-quality Materials and Design: The machine boasts an all-aluminum body. It has a premium look and feel. It also comes with an acrylic safety baffle. These barriers keep dust in and make cleaning easier.
  • Versatile Controller Board: The controller board supports the Windows system. It connects to DC motors up to 100W. It’s also suitable for 775-spindle motors. This makes the machine flexible and capable of handling various tasks.
  • Auto Tool Zero: The 3018-PROVer Mach3 has an auto tool zero feature. With one mouse click, the machine will return to a set position. This allows for easy tool changes and calibration.
  • Wide Range of Applications: The machine can cut various materials. These include all types of plastics, woods, soft aluminum, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs. Its open design allows for larger pieces to be worked on without limits.
  • Additional Mach3 Features: Mach3 offers more features for users. These include direct import of files through LazyCam, visual G Code display, and customizable M-Codes and Macros. This makes the 3018-PROVer Mach3 a powerful tool for all kinds of tasks.

What We Like

  • Compatible with Mach3 and DrufelCNC software.
  • It is mostly pre-assembled, making setup quick and easy.
  • All-aluminum body for a premium look and feel.
  • Acrylic safety baffles contain dust for added safety.
  • The controller board supports the Windows system.
  • Auto Tool Zero feature for easy tool changes and calibration.
  • Can cut a wide range of materials.
  • Open design allows for working on larger pieces.
  • Additional features are available through Mach3.

What We Don’t Like

  • Machine stiffness could be better. You need to adjust your depth of cut.
  • The spindle may stall if the material removal rate is high.
  • Leadscrews may have errors that accumulate along the length.Calibration of travel axes is necessary.
  • “3018-PROver Mach3” and “3018-PROver” are different models. Make sure you’re buying the right one.

Why did it make the cut?

In short, the 3018-PROVer Mach3 stands out for its ease of use, versatile cutting ability, and quality design. These features make it a valuable tool for both beginners and experienced users.

MYSWEETY 2 in 1 5500mW CNC 3018 Pro Engraver Machine

MYSWEETY 2 in 1 5500mW CNC 3018 Pro Engraver Machine

The MySWEETY CNC 3018 Pro Engraver Machine is a unique tool. It is perfect for those trying out CNC engraving for the first time. With this device, you can bring your creative projects to life. The machine has two parts: a spindle motor and a 5.5W module on the Z axis. To use the spindle, you must take off the module. This machine can function without needing to be connected to a computer.

This is because of its 1G capacity offline controller. You can place it in your garage, workshop, or any other space you like. Despite its technical features, the machine is quite simple to assemble. If you face any trouble, customer support is ready to assist you.

All of these make the MYSWEETY 3018 Pro a valuable tool for beginners in CNC learning.

Key Features of MYSWEETY 2 in 1 5500mW CNC 3018 Pro

  • Two-in-One Design: The MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro is a 2-in-1 tool. It has a spindle motor and a 5.5W module. You can use the spindle by removing the module.
  • Offline Controller: This machine has a 1G-capacity offline controller. You don’t need to connect it to a computer. You can place it anywhere.
  • New Control Board: The control board has a sturdy design. It has an integrated driver chip and a fixed heat sink. An external fan cools it. The board also has short-circuit protection.
  • Versatile Uses: You can cut many materials with this machine. It can handle plastics, wood, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs. It is useful for a wide range of projects.
  • Simple Assembly: The machine is easy to assemble. The package comes with clear instructions. If you have any issues, you can ask customer support for help.
  • Additional Details: The machine comes with clamps, bits, and an extension rod. It runs on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. The machine is large in size and corded. It is made of phenolic resin and aluminum.

What We Like

  • The base comes preassembled
  • The device uses ribbons to move on the x-y axis
  • Can be moved manually
  • Great value for the price

What We Don’t Like

  • The base may not be assembled squarely
  • Z-axis is somewhat flimsy
  • Bit depth may vary during cuts
  • Machines can be sensitive to bumps during cutting.

Why did it make the cut?

This machine has a lot of good things going for it. It’s a two-in-one tool, which means it offers more functionality. The offline controller is a big plus, as you can use it without a computer. It can cut many types of materials, making it very versatile. Despite having many features, it is easy to assemble. Even if you have problems, you can get help from customer support. Considering the price, you get a lot of value from this machine. All these factors are why the MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro makes the cut.

MUNBYN 10W Laser Cutter

Laser Engraving Machine, Laser-Engraver-for-Wood-and-Metal

The MUNBYN 10W Laser Cutter is a must-have for all creatives. It’s sturdy, and it can carve precise designs on many materials like wood, plastic, and metal. Thanks to its advanced laser system, you get clear, precise carvings every time.

This machine also boosts your cutting skills. With its 10W power and special laser head, you can cut thicker materials. It can handle 20mm wood or 15mm black acrylic with ease.

Accuracy is a strong feature of this laser cutter. It makes very thin lines and is very precise. Your engravings will look just like your original design.

Setting up the MuNBYN laser cutter is simple. It comes mostly assembled already. You can have it ready in about 30 minutes. And if you ever need help, MUNBYN provides lifetime support. Whether you’re a newbie or an expert, this cutter is a great tool for your creative work.

Key Features of MUNBYN 10W Laser Cutter

  • Advanced Technology for Precise Engraving: This laser cutter stands out due to its advanced technology. It enables high-quality, detailed engravings on various materials. Wood, plastic, or metal—you name it.
  • Enhanced Cutting Thickness: The MUNBYN 10W Laser Cutter has a unique feature. Its 10W output power and spot diode laser head increase cutting thickness. It can cut up to 20 mm of wood and 15 mm of black acrylic, unlike others.
  • Highly Accurate Engravings: Accuracy is paramount in engraving. This machine boasts a high accuracy of 0.01mm. It can achieve super-fine engraving lines of 0.06mm. Your engraving results will be as precise as your original drawings.
  • Cylindrical Laser Engraving Support: The MuNBYN Laser Cutter supports cylindrical engraving. It comes with a free rotary tool in the package. You can engrave objects as small as a pen and as big as a 1-gallon water bottle.
  • Easy to Install: There is no need to worry about the installation. The MuNBYN laser cutter comes 70% pre-assembled. You can set it up in around 30 minutes. The user manual provides a clear, step-by-step guide.
  • Lifetime Support: MUNBYN offers lifetime support for this machine. They provide free replacements for wearing parts like belts and screws. Their team of professional engineers is ready to assist you at any time.
  • Eye Protection and Dust Cover: The laser head has been designed to reduce harmful light exposure. This means you can view your work directly without special glasses. The dust cover reduces laser ash, extending the life of the laser head.
  • Software Compatibility: This machine is compatible with a range of engraving software. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll find a program that suits your needs.

What We Like

  • Advanced technology for precise, high-quality engravings
  • Can engrave a variety of materials like wood, plastic, and metal
  • High cutting thickness due to 10W output power
  • Spot-diode laser head for concentrated energy
  • Highly accurate engravings with 0.01mm precision
  • Supports cylindrical laser engraving
  • Comes with a free rotary tool
  • Easy to install with 70% pre-assembly
  • Offers lifetime support and free replacement of wearing parts
  • Eye protection design and dust cover for safe use
  • Compatible with a variety of engraving software

What We Don’t Like

  • The machine might be bulky and heavy for some users
  • It may require some time to learn and master the software
  • Needs regular maintenance to maintain optimal performance
  • Not suitable for engraving on highly reflective or transparent materials without prior preparation
  • I can’t cut certain materials, such as thick plastic boards and some metals

Why did it make the cut?

The MUNBYN 10W Laser Cutter is a powerful, versatile, and user-friendly tool. It makes the cut because it delivers where it matters: performance, versatility, safety, and support. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, this machine is a solid choice.

Sainsmart Genmitsu CNC 3018: Best for Beginners


The Genmitsu CNC 3018-PROVer from Sainsmart is our first recommendation. Despite its affordable price, its quality makes it highly recommended. Its dimensions of 300 x 180 mm and a Z-axis depth of 45 mm offer a good workspace. It is a great option for beginners because it is so cheap.

The router is ideal for those who want to take advantage of CNC without investing a lot of money. With Open Source Arduino (OSA), it can generate G-code and control motion.

The best materials are plastic, foam, and wood. An affordable and functional machine incorporating CNC principles is likely to be affordable.

Key Features

  • Wood, plastic, PCB, and aluminium are among the materials she works with.
  • Its dimensions are 300mm x 180mm x 45mm.
  • A spindle is included.
  • A controller for offline use.

What We Like

  • Affordably priced.
  • Easily navigable.
  • Spindle included.

What We Don’t Like

  • This tool won’t be able to cut steel.

Why Did It Make The Cut?

The machine works very well. I’m surprised at how much detail you can get from this little guy. Assembly took quite some time but was not difficult at all. Instructions are similar to those for LEGO, so take your time to distinguish the parts and screws.

They provide a small area for gathering all the components for each step, then a blown-up photo demonstrating where to attach them. The assembly took between 1.5 and 2 hours (I recommend using a tape measure to verify the right lengths). In order to get started, I contacted Sainsmart for assistance. In spite of the difference in time, they were very helpful.

After they helped me solve my problem, they reached out again a few days later to ensure all was well. great customer service experience; they seem to really care. Finding usable patterns, or software to create your own patterns, can be a daunting task. It is not an easy or cheap hobby, but the projects you can create are endless and of high quality. You will not be disappointed if you have the time and patience for it.

FoxAlien CNC Router Machine 4040-XE

FoxAlien CNC Router Machine 4040-XE

  • Using 300W spindle and stepper motors, the 4040-XE CNC Router has a maximum moving speed of 2000mm/min and a speed range of 0~10000.
  • This controller has a 3.5″ touchscreen LCD display that can be used as an offline controller as well. It uses 110 volts as its input voltage.
  • With this machine, you can engrave, cut, and drill all kinds of materials, such as wood, metal, MDF, acrylic, foam, resin, nylon, carbon fiber, and PCB. It’s perfect for both home and business use.
  • An engravable area of 15.75″ x 15.75″ x 2.56″ (400x400x65mm). This CNC machine has a CNC control based on GRBL.
  • Wires are clearly labeled for fast connection and bundled into the drag chain for easy management. The main parts are pre-assembled, and assembly only takes 15–30 minutes.

What We Like

  • Easy to assemble
  • Pre-assembled
  • High-quality components
  • Fast delivery time
  • Good performance
  • Excellent customer service

What We Don’t Like

  • No manual included

Why Did It Make The Cut?

One thing to remember is that even though it is sized for a desktop computer, it’s a real CNC. When you’re a beginner, you won’t be able to make intricate carvings out of the box right away.

With FoxAlien’s 4040xe, you might just be putting your name on the wood that evening! As good as it is, its user interface is so user-friendly, you might be putting your name on the wood that evening! FoxAlien is wonderful with customer service and eager to help, even if it’s at a cost to them!

FoxAlien CNC Router Machine: Comparison Table

FoxAlien 4040-XE Masuter Pro WM-3020
Active Working Area 15.75” x 15.75” x 2.16” 15.75” x 15.75” x 2.36” 11.4″ x8.6″ x2.7″
Spindle Power 300W 60W 300W
Limit switches X,Y,Z X,Y,Z X,Y,Z
Enclosure X X X
Stepper Motor NEMA23 NEMA17 NEMA17
Compatible with 300W spindle, 5W/20W/40W module; trimmer router 300W spindle, 5W/20W/40W module; trimmer router 300W spindle, 5W/20W/40W module; trimmer router
Shortcut Buttons X Home shortcut button Home shortcut button

A Guide to Buying CNC routers

Not sure which one to choose? Take a look at our buying guide if you’re thinking about purchasing a CNC router.

Area and Dimensions

It is important to consider the work area. It determines the capabilities of the machine. Depending on your needs, you might choose one option over another.

Choosing the right material for an area is extremely important. Taking this into account when selecting a CNC router is important. Check if your machine can cut through thick materials if you plan to cut them.

Ensure that you have room for your new machine in your workshop or on your work counter.


Don’t forget to consider your needs. When it comes to small machines, they are typically limited to cutting wood and plastic, while advanced units can also cut soft metals like aluminum.

Kit or pre-assembled

If you enjoy tweaking things and building things from scratch, CNC router kits are a great choice. Nevertheless, if you do not have the time or energy to assemble the CNC system, you should opt for pre-assembled CNC systems.


Since router bits can get quite expensive, it is best to get a machine with more capabilities than just router bits. Some machines may come with spindles and lasers as well. It will be necessary to install these additional tools, but they are worthwhile.

FAQs: Best CNC Machine Under $500

What are the common problems with CNC machines?

One issue is tool wear or breakage. This happens due to the strain of heavy usage. Another problem is poor surface finish. This can result from incorrect cutting speed or tool path. Also, the machine can lose its position accuracy over time. This needs regular maintenance checks to be fixed.

What are the three disadvantages of a CNC machine?

Firstly, these machines are costly. Both buying and maintaining them can be pricey. Second, you need skilled operators. Not everyone can use these machines. Lastly, they are not ideal for low-volume production. The time and cost to set them up often aren’t worth it for small quantities.

What is the highest CNC tolerance?

CNC machines are very precise. They usually have a tolerance of 0.001 inches. That’s about the thickness of human hair. In top-of-the-line machines, the tolerance can be even less.

What are the two limitations of a CNC machine?

One limit is the need for a power supply. No power, no operation. Another limit is the restricted size of the machining area. The machine can only work on parts that fit in this space.

What is the average CNC cutting speed?

The speed depends on the material and the tool. For soft materials like aluminum, the speed can be around 1000 inches per minute. For harder materials like steel, the speed is often lower.

What is the most common CNC language?

The most common language is G-code. It tells the machine what to do. Each G-code gives a specific instruction. It could be to move the tool, change the speed, or do something else.

How many G codes are there in CNC?

There are many G-codes. The exact number depends on the machine. Some machines might have just a few dozen. Others can have hundreds. It’s all about what the machine needs to do its work.

Why should you buy a CNC router?

Any workshop can benefit from CNC routers as a useful and popular machine. Combining the power of software, technology, and machinery, it is a powerful machine.

Metal can also be cut using this machine, similar to handheld routers for wood, metal, and plastic. The following materials can be cut, carved, and engraved: wood, steel, aluminium, plastic, foam, and composites.

Computers can also be used to control CNC mills, so you can do anything you want. Reduces waste by using CNC routers. Faster than traditional machines and saves time.


They were the most affordable and best CNC routers you could buy. Plastic, wood, plywood, foam, and other soft materials can be cut with these routers.

Although some of these routers can cut harder materials, we do not recommend them. These routers can engrave metals such as aluminium.

CNC routers provide a good amount of working space on the X and Y axes, as well as Z axis depth.

We have achieved our goal by delivering the most affordable CNC routers on the market. You can now find the one that meets your exact needs and falls within your budget.