Last Updated on May 10, 2022 | Andrew Jason
In the previous two decades, there has been a significant advancement in the field of CNC machines. While industrial CNC processors were the only option a decade ago, recent technology breakthroughs have completely transformed the hobby CNC market today. Many capabilities that were previously only available in industrial-grade CNCs are now available at a reasonable price in hobbyist controllers, making them more accessible. Essentially, a CNC controller serves as the brain of your complete machine; a more capable brain leads to higher performance and superior output. In your search for a best CNC controller, there are several factors to consider, such as how many stepper motor drivers the board can connect and how many axis machines the controller can handle at the same time.
For the sake of this guide, we have identified the top CNC controllers currently available for non-industrial CNC applications, and we have included a general overview of each motion controller. Others rely on a microcontroller to read the G-code, such as PC-based motion controllers that convert the PC/Computer into a controller. In fact, specialized CNC controller boards are available for control systems that turn the PC further into the controller (Mach3, LinuxCNC), and these boards perform significantly better than the direct parallel connection. To control those control systems, we have selected the finest dedicated external controller available in the market.
What we have covered
- Editor’s Pick: Best CNC Controllers
- Best CNC Controllers 2022 Reviews
- Best CNC Router
- 5. UCONTRO Manual CNC Controller Pendant Motion Control System
- 6. SainSmart Genmtisu CNC Router Machine Controller Board
- 7. Offline Control Module with Touchscreen LCD GRBL Control for FoxAlien
- 8. CNC Router Engraver Milling Machine Controller Board
- 9. Stepper Motor CNC Driver Controller Motor Stepper Driver Nema
- 10. Controller Kit CNC with ArduinoIDE Stepper Motor Driver
- 11. Electronic Wireless MPG Pendant CNC Controller
- 12. STEPPERONLINE CNC Stepper Motor Driver Controller
- 13. SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Offline Control Module
- 14. Stepper Motor Driver Phase Hybrid Motor
- Things to Look for while buying Best CNC Controllers
- FAQs on Best CNC Controllers
Editor’s Pick: Best CNC Controllers
Best CNC Controllers 2022 Reviews
1. CNC Digital Stepper Driver for CNC
The Stepper Motor Driver DM556 gives quality manufacturing output preserving professional standards. It assures the lowest speed with zero vibrations followed by lesser noise output, offering you a superior utilizing effect experience. This higher motor controller obtains the great anti-interference capacity to accomplish high accuracy placement, even in extreme environmental dangers. The input of the optic isolator with such a pulse has a much superior rating up to 200 kHz than the signal without the pulse.
This makes this stepper suitable for even the highest torque NEMA 23 motors (4.2A) with holding torque of 425 oz. in. This makes it an excellent choice for robotic applications. This stepper driver is suitable for practically all CNC projects, such as the massive 8’x4′ CNC Routers and is reasonably priced. The only item it isn’t capable of running is NEMA 34’s with 6A power and more than 1000 oz. in holding torque, which is rare. The DM556T is equipped with outstanding anti-resonance characteristics, which provide smooth movement and silent operation.
- This stepper controller has a wider practicality
- It is compatible with a 42/57 stepper motor
- It can be utilized in engraving machines
- Auto-packaging systems and many other automation devices are compatible with this
- It has a good customer service
- It can be a bit pricey
Suppose you’re looking for something with extra smooth motion, no noise and no Cons, then this option is the best for you. This CNC controller has no flaws and is perfect in every way.
2. 4 Axis Offline Stand-Alone CNC Motion Controller
An expert CNC motion controller for 3D – printed applications is something you’ll want to have on hand if you’re planning to make a significant investment. CNC software is supported for connecting with such a hybrid stepper motor to make the engraving more convenient. However, if you enjoy working using MACH3 software, this is not the program for you. However, for CNC milling as well as engraving applications, this machine is flawless or nearly flawless. While testing that controller on a 2-axis TurboCAD drawing, it was discovered that it comes with a program that is intuitive. This one will not let you down with its high accuracy when it comes to 3D printing and sketching projects.
Even though the program for this controller will never support the Windows 10 operating system, a professional can easily install it after calibrating it. Aside from that, the setup is straightforward. Its software is excellent and powerful when it comes to tiny CNC machines. This one will do the work with the highest level of accuracy and precision on your tiny CNC machine. The most prominent feature of this controller is it is a go-to, which contains all of the required functions, including spindle control and many others, to allow for end-spot hookups to be made with minimal effort.
- This system supports CNC software
- It has a 3-axis controller kit for starters
- It was found to be worth the price
- Relatively simpler and smooth functioning
- The customer can define distance in this system
- It doesn’t need an external power supply for its IO ports
- This system doesn’t support Windows 10
If you prefer a 4 axis CNC controller, then you have come to the right place. This is the perfect controller that has easy and smooth functioning.
3. 4 Axis Linkage Offline Motion Controller System
This GRBL controller is an excellent choice for your 3D engraving and milling requirements. It is surrounded by user-friendly features and a variety of capabilities that make CNC applications a less time-consuming operation. When it comes to operating systems, this controller’s software is compatible with both Windows XP & Windows 7, and its performance on Linux is second to none. However, if your PC is running the Windows 10 operating system, you should avoid running this software because it may cause various difficulties and failures.
The manufacturer shows its appreciation for its customers by informing them on a regular basis that this controller will never work with Windows 10. It is easy to use because the controller board comprises a spindle motor, internet board port, USB connection port, and a power switch, all of which are built within it. If you haven’t tried attaching a controller to your CNC drive or motor before, it is far less complicated, and installing it is a piece of cake. Because the board cannot be calibrated, it is possible that it will create a malfunction when a firmware and software upgrade is performed.
- Compatible with Windows XP, 7 and as well as Linux
- The system comes with a Bluetooth port
- For emergency situations, it comes with a limit switch
- It has an offline control module
- It is not compatible with Windows 10
The 400 Linkage Offline CNC controller is one of the best offline controllers in the market out there. This controller is recommended for people with connectivity issues.
4. Ethernet SmoothStepper CNC Motion Controller
Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS), which is produced by Warp9 Tech Design, is a device that works as a link between the circuitry and the computer. ESS is compatible both with Mach 3 and Mach 4 processors. For Mach3/Mach4 CNC to collaborate with ESS, you must first install a module called Mach SmoothStepper plugin on your computer. The step and orientation signals are then generated by ESS and delivered to the stepper drivers. If you use a specialized controller instead of connecting directly to the computer through a parallel connection, you will reap considerable benefits. When ethernet SmoothStepper is used instead of a direct connection to the PC, the performance is noticeably smoother and more consistent.
To use this controller, you must have a PC running the Windows operating system. The cost of this control system, which is $480, makes it suitable for practically any non-industrial CNC application. CNC brands aimed at small businesses, like the highly-rated Avid CNC, employ Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS) to run Mach4 on their PRO machines, which are designed for small enterprises. Overall, an Ethernet SmoothStepper is among the most widely used, tried, and tested solutions for running Mach3/Mach4, and it’s tough to go wrong with one of these machines.
- It works smoothly
- Compatibility is found with Mach3 and Mach4
- Using a parallel connection can give benefits
- Suitable for industrial use
- It has a high rated AVID CNC
- The mach3 software must be purchased separately
If you’re looking for a CNC plasma controller kit that gives a fast connection, make sure you try this one out. It has all the features and speed is its plus point.
Best CNC Router
If you are down here reading all the content than you are well into woodworking and hence you need to look into the best CNC router.
5. UCONTRO Manual CNC Controller Pendant Motion Control System
On the 5th number of this list, we have the UCONTRO Manual controller system. It is a pendant controller system. Knowing the importance of G-code as a CNC machinist is essential. For quick movement, it is a computer programming language that allows the machine to be given instructions. It can read G-code from a U-disk with great efficiency because it serves as the mind of your CNC machine. The fact that you can operate it without the need for a computer means that it is dimensionally flexible enough.
For adjusting the PWM output of your CNC project, this controller has 8 photoelectric segregated input ports, 5 photographic isolation output ports, and 1 analog output port with a 0-10V changeable spindle speed for use with the controller. Because it is a 5-axis controller, you may use it in conjunction with a 5-axis stepper system to create a complete system. You will receive a 125kHz pulse frequency for each axis, which is the best part. It has 19 user keys and a TFT screen of 3.5 inches, making it ideal for simple CNC machining applications. You can build your own CNC project for about $200 if you purchase a five-axis DSP Pendant Movement controller device and an instruction guide.
- This reads G-CODE
- It can operate even without a PC
- Work with CNC and engraving machines
- The system is equipped with an ARM motion control chip
- It comes with a 3.5-inch TFT screen to show running programs
- To use this system, math skills are an obligation
If you’re looking for a machine that is easy to read and operate, then try this one out as it runs on G-code!
6. SainSmart Genmtisu CNC Router Machine Controller Board
The SainSmart Genmtisu microcontroller is a cleverly constructed piece of equipment that can transform a CNC router controller 3018-PROver into an MX3. Connection with a dc motor is made simple with the help of this compact controller, which features diverse functionality. The controller is not compatible with Linux or iOS platforms since these operating systems do not support GRBL-related control software. On the other hand, it operates uninterrupted on the Windows operating system.
This kit includes a controller board as well as a single USB port, which makes connecting to the Internet a breeze. This CNC USB controller, in conjunction with its software, enables users to print in three dimensions simply by joining the poles correctly. Additionally, this controller enables machinists to operate laser modules on CNC machines in addition to 3D printing along three axes using this device. It makes use of a stepper motor with an absolute maximum frequency of 2.1A and a NEMA17 enclosure. Because it does not require calibration, this GRBL controller is an excellent choice for novices due to the ease with which it may be used.
- This supports 3 axes, engraving and a laser module
- We found this system suitable for 775 spindle motors
- It is compatible with Mach3mill and DrufelCNC
- This system supports the Windows system
- It works offline as well
- This system is not for Linux and iOS systems
Looking for an offline best CNC controller system? Then why not try this one out. This system is quick and easy to operate.
7. Offline Control Module with Touchscreen LCD GRBL Control for FoxAlien
The FoxAlien Cnc Machining Machine is a powerful, well-built machine that is simple to operate. It is appropriate for people of practically all experience levels, even those who are just getting started. When you purchase this machine, you will receive much more than simply the machine itself. You’ll also benefit from exceptional customer service as well as a knowledgeable network of people who will be happy to assist you in your attempts. This machine has been developed and constructed to be as dependable and user-friendly as possible. It’s compatible with open-source software GRBL, and it makes use of strong NEMA23 stepper motors to accomplish its tasks efficiently. With the help of its tablet LCD controller, you’ll be able to program this machine to do exactly what you want it to perform.
A multitude of projects can be completed with this machine, whether you are an amateur, an experienced professional, or even a business owner. It is also capable of working with a wide range of materials, including hardwood, resin, acrylic, styrofoam, PCB, carbon fiber, and other similar materials. It creates clean and exact cuts, as well as images that are extremely precise in their accuracy.
- You can start engraving once you receive the module
- The offline controller functions as the control software in the computer
- It can control all actions of the machine
- This offline controller can free your computer when it needs for long hours of engraving
- It is quick and easy
- This system doesn’t work on MAC
It can work with a wide range of materials, including hardwood, resin, acrylic, Styrofoam, PCB, carbon fiber, and other similar materials. If you’re looking for something that works for all the materials, choose this CNC controller.
8. CNC Router Engraver Milling Machine Controller Board
Next on the list is a CNC router engraver milling machine. Any board may be swapped for the CNC F-Yi GRBL Engraving Machine Board. It handles all the CNC control board tasks, and PWM controls lasers that need an opposite-polarity control signal from a vendor apart from SainSmart. As a result, it is more helpful.
The control board would need to include a polarity reversal circuit. The main difference in installation is that the board has slots instead of mounting holes, and the mounting takes some adaptation. The fan is noisy, but it’s not a big deal when machine cutting creates so much noise.
- There is a power button switch, the emergency brake button port
- It also comes with a probe port and an XYZ limit port
- The Control board is compatible with engraving machines such as 1310, 1610-PRO, 3018, 3018-PRO, and 3018-PRO MAX
- Improved spindle drive that can accommodate a spindle speed of up to 20000rpm
- You may face a missing capacitor (C46) after delivery, and the LCD is pricy
This device works well with both the router and the Laser and can handle all board tasks. It’s among the top CNC controller kit.
9. Stepper Motor CNC Driver Controller Motor Stepper Driver Nema
It is an Efficient two-phase bipolar motor driver, which a clock pulse signal can only operate. The biggest 32 subdivisions of the six versions are optional, as is high-speed photoelectric isolation of the input signal. It has a single pulse interface that is a common anode standard, and the semi-closed enclosure may be converted to a more demanding environment.
The x & y-axis drivers are tuned to 3 amps, while the z-axis driver is set to 2 amps. Make that the power source can run all the motors simultaneously. Set a specific current output depending on the spec sheet for the stepper motor. Higher currents cause the stepper motors to heat more, yielding far better results. A heat sink is massive, and the quality appears to be decent.
- Can control 1-2, W1 -02, 02W1 -02, 04W1 -02 phase stepper motor rotation
- TB6600HG is both quiet and efficient
- Optocoupler signal isolated input
- It comes with a strong anti-interference ability
- It has a built-in overcurrent detection
- Not ideal if MCU must complete booting before taking power
- Controlling problems forces the disc to move
You should try this controller in your woodwork shop. DIP-switches allow variable driving currents from 0.5 to 4 Amps with 1 to 32 micro-steps. It is great if you want to save some electricity.
10. Controller Kit CNC with ArduinoIDE Stepper Motor Driver
Longruner is a professional maker of DIY tools, electronics, Raspberry Pi, 3D printers, robots, and other products. Our clients can count on us to give the highest quality goods and courteous service. All the components in the package are contained in a small case that is simple to transport and store.
The GRBL shield’s blue connections make this simple to do. If you’re prepared, this is a simple plug-and-play situation. In terms of software, you’ll need a hex code (easy to get online) and then an x-loader to flash this to the Arduino/GRBL shield. Then, to launch the files, utilize the universal G-code sender.
- It’s compatible with ArduinoIDE software or hardware
- Compatible with DRV8825 or A4988 stepper driver
- A sensor kit for a 3D printer is a premium sensor kit
- It is a DIY CNC controller
- It is portable, which can help you work anywhere
- If the current is too high, drivers will latch fault until power cycles them
- The Z-axis capacitor’s solder connection is often corroded
It comes with various components or a sensor module that one may use in many projects, making it reusable and economical. If your main concern is your budget, this controller offers all the features keeping it economical.
11. Electronic Wireless MPG Pendant CNC Controller
Here is another famous CNC controller on the list and its MPG Pendant CNC controller. It saves so much time contrasted/compared to using a keyboard or mouse that it quickly pays for itself. The setup is simple, and you’ll like the cycle placement begin, stop, & feed hold buttons. I can’t say sufficient/enough nice things about how much simpler life is because of it.
The only thing that needed to be done during installation was to connect to the receiver & enter the licensing information; everything else was handled automatically. It has everything one can need in a pendant controller: a fast display and a handwheel. Professional outcomes can be achieved when wireless performance is combined with seamless Centroid CNC control motion. The product requires batteries, but they are not included in the package.
- The power source is a battery
- 03 or 04 Display DRO with common CNC functions
- Professional outcomes are achieved by combining wireless performance with seamless Centroid CNC control motion
- It saves a lot of time
- It is simple to set up
- Earlier functions are missing from the upgraded programs, & manuals are outdated
If you’re looking for a controller that is easy to set up and saves time, then try out this one.
12. STEPPERONLINE CNC Stepper Motor Driver Controller
The DM542T is a completely digital stepper driver based on the latest motion control technology built with an innovative DSP control algorithm. It has attained a new degree of system smoothness, delivered ideal torque and eliminated mid-range instability. This product modifies current by converting pulses into various voltage pulses across stepper motor coils. The steps/revolutions of your motor are irrelevant to the driver. Several steps in each revolution may be changed. If one cares about absolute location or has a defined pulse frequency and requires a specified RPM, it is up to users to translate the rhythm into motor shaft rotations.
The DM542unique T’s characteristics make it an excellent option for high-demand applications. Working as a NEMA 17 and NEMA 23 driver is highly recommended. A controller is designed for a motor with a 400 ppr rating. The program or code must then be adjusted for 800 ppr versus 400 ppr.
- Controls step and direction (PUL/DIR)
- 5V or 24V optically isolated inputs
- This system provides a smooth working
- Anti-Resonance for increased torque and additional smooth action
- Electrical noise, software controller issues, & wiring mistakes may all cause errors
It has the capability of motor auto-identification & parameter auto-configuration, allowing for the speedy establishment of optimum modes; if that’s your priority, why not try out this one!
13. SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Offline Control Module
Genmitsu offline controller may be used as a substitute for using your computer to operate your GRBL-based CNC machine. You may operate the router, go to, and establish the home, origin location, and communicate the contents of files straight to the router using your offline controller instead of a PC linked to it via USB connection. This Wireless best CNC controller makes work a thousand times easier for the woodworker. It is a universal GRBL G-code sender software.
The router and the Offline Controller cannot be connected simultaneously via the USB. Disconnect the USB cord from the router & vice versa before attaching the Offline Controller. It has stepper motor support 12V, maximum power of 2A or even less is suggested within 1.5A and extra heat.
- This supports Laser Engraving
- It supports PWM spindle speed
- This controller can work offline as well
- It is wireless
- The Control spindle can be on and off
- Opposes files with simple line feed characters between lines, as seen in UNIX-derived applications
It works flawlessly, giving control of the steppers and stand-alone routing via SD card. This is one of our top recommendations.
14. Stepper Motor Driver Phase Hybrid Motor
Only pulse signal PUL, the subdivisions are set to 16, and the direction & offline are halted once the power source and motor are correctly connected. When the motor is turned on, it defaults to forward. Test the operations of acceleration, direction, subdivision, and offline once the program has run successfully. Applicable to 6 and 8 Wire Stepper Motors. It can control 1-2, W1 -2, 2W1 -2, phase stepper motor rotation. It has a stepper motor driver with a 9-42V DC power supply and a bipolar H bridge drive.
Get the stepper motor’s current specifications and set dip controls on the box end. Connect the box and the four motor wires to an external power source. Finally, connect a microcontroller, such as an Arduino, to the direction & pulse leads. You’re ready to go after a few code lines to produce a pulse. X-Y-Z tables, labeling machines, engraving machines, laser cutters, pick-place devices, etc., may all employ Nema 17, 23 and 24 stepping motors.
- It can control two-phase stepper reverse and forward rotation
- A more rigorous environment can be adapted to a semi-covered/closed enclosure
- Common-anode traditional single/one pulse interface
- Provides energy-saving current semi-automatic lock function
- Clock signal pulse can be driven into two-faced bipolar motor steppers
- Power LED goes off occasionally, although no over-temperature alarm has sounded
If you want a high quality and economical CNC controller, this is for you.
Things to Look for while buying Best CNC Controllers
You must have gone over the list above; aren’t you blown away by the high quality of the products? If you are, then here’s a secret algorithm that we utilized to choose them for your consideration. You can make use of them as well! The best thing is that it is valid for all of your product purchases! Furthermore, wouldn’t it be beneficial to you if you were aware of the criteria we took into consideration when selecting the CNC controllers in the preceding list? So, how about we start with the guideline & assist you in learning about the crucial variables first?
Is it equipped with the characteristics you require?
Wait a minute before purchasing the CNC controller board, and make sure it includes all the features on your wishlist. If it does not offer these features, you should avoid purchasing that model and begin looking for an alternative instead. It is usually recommended that our editors create a list of vital features before putting an item on a list. Then, based on the feature, product quality and brand assurance, they should rank the product! As a result, if it includes all you require, you should not be concerned about paying a little more.
However, if you end up purchasing the best CNC controller board that does not include the function you require the most, your investment would have been for naught! Would it make a difference? It wouldn’t make sense to us! That is why you should create a list of the characteristics you are searching for, as well as any technical standards, if applicable, and then develop a budget.
Compatibility of budget and price
With a limited budget, it’s evident that you won’t be able to purchase the greatest CNC board. That is why it is critical to make a list of all the crucial features, specifications, and elements, as well as to establish a budget. Having determined your budget, you should begin looking for things that are either comparable to or close to it. Keep your spending inside your budget because, while exploring, you may come across a model that is somewhat superior and has an additional feature for which there is only a minor price difference.
In such a situation, you’ll need to figure out the cost of the product with all of the essential features as well as the cost of the CNC controller with the extra features. Check to see if the variation in money is worth it for the added functionality or not. If you don’t have any second thoughts, you’ll almost certainly boost your spending limit.
Warranties and Brand Names
Most of the CNC controllers board industry professionals with whom we spoke advised us to always purchase a product that is manufactured by a reputed brand. They have specifically requested that we only feature the greatest brands so that people do not end up purchasing models from obscure brands or untrustworthy organizations. Because while a CNC controller board from such an unknown brand may appear to be inexpensive at first glance, it may require extensive maintenance and result in hefty repair costs.
Another advantage of purchasing a CNC controller board from such a recognized brand is the availability of a guarantee. Most CNC controller boards from reputable manufacturers are backed by solid warranties. However, although many low-cost devices are covered by a warranty, obtaining reimbursement can be a difficult effort. As a result, look for models that are made by well-known companies and come with a long warranty.
Look for reviews on the website
Back in the day, when the Internet wasn’t quite as popular as it is today, local retailers charged exorbitant prices and even eventually sold things that were either inferior or unsuitable for the future. It’s because the salesman used a lot of technical jargon and caused the buyer to become confused. However, nowadays, there are websites such as ours that conduct all the research and compile a list of the top models, as well as eCommerce stores such as Amazon that have user reviews that can be read to learn about the user’s experience with a certain CNC controller board. Isn’t it wonderful?
FAQs on Best CNC Controllers
Which controllers are used in CNC machines?
Different kinds of controllers are used, with Raspberry Pi CNC Controller, Masso CNC Controller, LinuxCNC Controller and GRBL CNC Controller being the most famous ones.
Is GRBL good for CNC?
Yes, GRBL is good for CNC. GRBL is one of the most widely used CNC controller firmware packages available. Many hobbyists utilize GRBL in conjunction with a CNC controller, such as an Arduino, to create their projects. One particularly advantageous aspect of GRBL is that it does away with the necessity for a parallel port on your computer.
What is Mach3 CNC software?
Mach3 is a program that transforms a standard computer into a CNC machine controller. It has many capabilities and offers excellent value for money to customers who require a CNC control solution. Mach3 is a program that may be used to control the motion of motors on most Windows PCs by reading G-Code.
What are Fanuc control systems?
A FANUC control system is the name given to a control system that is made by FANUC. It’s a Japanese firm that provides automation equipment and services, including robots and computer numerical control wireless systems.
In this article, you should have gained a thorough understanding of the GRBL controller and the components that make it up. Modern CNC controllers are simple to use, and they enable machinists to perform 3D printing and laser modeling with no difficulty. If you do not properly install a GRBL controller on your CNC machine, your machine will not operate smoothly. As a result, make certain that your controller can support all your machine’s settings and configurations.
When used properly, the CNC controller can be a source of enjoyment in and of itself during the engraving and 3D printing processes. We hope that our advice on the best CNC controllers will be useful to you as you go on your journey to build your own CNC machine and purchase the best motor driver controllers available. Just be sure to check the machine’s compatibility with the software and that the driver board is capable of withstanding whatever your CNC machine is used for.