Blogs, CNC Plasmas, CNC Routers

What to Look for in an Entry-Level CNC Router

shopsabre rc8 cnc router

A CNC router can make a massive difference for small-to-mid-size businesses by helping improve the efficiency, quality, and overall scale of production. It’s easy to see why so many shops looking to get off the ground or expand operations look into purchasing a CNC router.

But with so many options on the market today, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to consider when researching entry-level CNC routers. Here are some of the top aspects to look at to ensure you end up with a machine that will best serve your current needs and future goals while also falling within your budgetary constraints. Let’s take a look.

CNC Features and Capabilities

The first question you should ask yourself is, What does my shop really need out of a CNC router?

How aggressively are you looking to ramp up your operation? How large is your onsite team? What types of parts are you planning to produce? These questions and others will all help inform the features and capabilities needed to maximize the impact of your entry-level CNC router.

Maybe you’re light on hands in the shop and need features like an automatic tool-changer and top-end vacuum technology to help automate certain aspects of production. Perhaps you’re hoping to scale production quickly and need an industrial precision gantry to better handle routing forces while increasing cutting speeds.

Whatever the case may be, understanding your specific goals is a key first step in narrowing down your purchasing decision.


Size is another important aspect in researching entry-level routers, especially in shops where space is limited. If you purchase a machine that’s too big for your space, you’ll either have to sacrifice other elements of the shop or spend time and money expanding your space.

Thankfully, there are several entry-level CNC routers that can deliver excellent capability without taking up an excessive amount of space. The RC4 CNC router from ShopSabre serves as the most advanced entry-level solution on the market, with a space-saving footprint of just 79x68x69.

Drive System

There are generally two types of drive systems to consider when researching CNC routers: ball-screw and rack-and-pinion.

For larger, higher-end operations, ball-screw technology can typically produce better parts by operating in a way that is more precise and that creates fewer issues but that’s not to say rack-and-pinion is never a good option. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For entry-level machines, rack-and-pinion is still a tried-and-true method of drive system that can deliver results at a lower price point. The RC Series machines are driven by XY-axis rack-and-pinion systems with our exclusive inverted floating drive gear engagement technology. This allows the rack-and-pinion to reduce debris contamination while self-aligning for wear, increasing the performance and lifespan of the gear while reducing maintenance.

Motor System

In addition to the drive system, the motor system is also something to keep in mind when shopping for an entry-level router. Much like drive systems, there are two primary types used in CNC routers: servo (or closed-loop) and stepper (or open-loop).

Stepper motors generally provide the most value on small-footprint, small-work-envelope machines that don’t need to support high speeds or torque. Most stepper motors run open-loop, which can help eliminate the added cost and complexity of adding an encoder or resolver to the mix.

Once a CNC machine reaches a certain size and speed, it begins to require more power to work effectively. This is where servo motors come into play.

Servos are best for applications that require improved positioning precision and resolution. They run faster than stepper motors (usually at several thousand RPMs) and also provide more consistent torque across the entire speed range of the machine.

The RC Series features heavy-duty industrial closed-loop motors with encoders connected to direct-drive planetary drives, contributing to improved speed and accuracy with less maintenance. Closed-loop motors much like the ones in the RC Series machines eliminate missed steps, loss of accuracy, and loss of torque.


This next one is obvious, but if you can’t afford to add a certain machine to your shop, you shouldn’t be buying it. The RC Series of entry-level CNC routers from ShopSabre starts as low as $18,995 with financing plans available to help meet your budgetary needs while supplying your shop with a substantial upgrade.

Ease of Use

Depending on your level of experience and expertise, ease of use may also be a key factor in choosing a CNC router.

Every ShopSabre machine and especially our entry-level options is designed for you to use right out of the box with minimal training or formal education. They are meant to be intuitive and user-friendly for you to begin working with the day they arrive at the shop. And just in case, ShopSabre also offers 24/7 technical support to deliver guidance and answer any questions you may have about getting up and running.


Lastly is something many upstart CNCers may not think about, but it is incredibly important: where was your machine made?

Some have no issue purchasing their machine from an overseas manufacturer. Apart from the subpar quality standards and lack of support for our local economy, purchasing a machine made overseas will also often be the end of your relationship with that vendor. Follow-up, support, and customer service fall short due to time zone differences, language barriers, and more.

Purchasing your CNC machine from an American-made company like ShopSabre opens the door to an ongoing relationship with passionate experts from right here in the USA. You can be confident your CNC router was produced right here with American labor from American workers and that it is built to stand the test of time regardless of setting or application.

Experience CNC the Way It Was Meant to Be

ShopSabres industry-best and American-made CNC routers, plasmas, and accessories are designed to help both shop owners and hobbyists grow their production through unmatched precision, repeatability, and automation all at an affordable price.

Our machines are easy to purchase, set up, and operate, even without any formal training. Our team of dedicated experts offers one-on-one support to help you find the right machine and to make sure it works the way you and your business need it to both on day one and on day 1,000.

Here are a few of the reasons ShopSabre is able to develop and produce such revolutionary CNC technology:

  • Experienced and dedicated in-house engineering talent
  • The ability to fully fabricate and test designs onsite at our state-of-the-art facility
  • The ability to place designs straight into production right here in-house

Shop our unmatched collection of CNC routers and CNC plasmas today to experience CNC the way it was meant to be.

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