10 Best GRBL CNC Controllers 2021

Almost every hobbyist will need a CNC machine at some point in their life. As one of the most versatile innovations, we’ve got a hundred and one reasons for having this machine as part of your DIY paraphernalia.

While it’s a good idea to go for a factory-made model, opting to make your own is still a good idea. A DIY CNC machine will cost you less but will perform almost similar to a ready-made variety.

Now, if you intend to make your CNC machine, having all the needed components remains a prerequisite. You have to ensure that you have the Arduino, stepper motors, drivers, Arduino CNC shield, GRBL firmware, and more.

With all these components, sifting through hundreds of options for every part can be an uphill task. But worry less—that’s why we are here! In this article, we will be reviewing the top-notch GRBL CNC controllers in the market.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, for the sake of the uninitiated, let’s begin by understanding the basics.

So, what’s GRBL? It’s firmware that installs to Arduino to facilitate motion control for CNC machines. In the most straightforward terms, GRBL interprets the incoming G-codes (computer commands) into motor movements.

That aside—back to the core thing. Here are the top 10 GRBL CNC  Controllers worth buying.

10 Best GRBL CNC Controllers

1. RATTM Motor 4V 3 Axis GRBL Controller Board

RATTM Motor 4V 3 Axis GRBL Controller Board

When shopping for a GRBL, it’s good you opt for one that isn’t likely to disappoint. While we have a few options that surely won’t let you down, this GRBL Controller Board is worth recognizing. The unit has everything you need to create a high-performance CNC controller.

Here, you are getting a 3-axis CNC controller. By that, we mean that it offers the X, Y, and Z axes control. Also, the ability to support the three axes renders it an ideal option for beginners. What’s more about this controller board, you can still control the axis location using an offline file recognition technique.

The unit has a voltage range of 12-24 VDC. However, the manufacturer suggests that you stick to the higher limit if you want the best results. The laser configuration of 12V is another feature of this option that’s worth mentioning.

In terms of software compatibility, the manufacturer recommends a GRBL controller and Universal G-Code Sender. Also, the unit will work with Windows XP/7/8/9/10, and that maximizes its usefulness.

Pros
  • Offline control.
  • You can control the spindle and motor simultaneously.
  • It supports most Windows OS versions.
Cons
  • Not the most versatile unit out there.

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2. Purewords 3-Axis GRBL USB Driver Controller Board

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The next on the list is yet another option you can count on to deliver a fantastic performance. The unit packs plenty of features for a more wonderful experience with your DIY CNC machine.

Like the predecessor, it’s a three-axis unit. That means it works ideally for professionals and beginners alike. Also, it allows for offline support, a convenient feature that will more often come in handy in your operations.

The unit offers dual 12-36 V input voltages. Additionally, the outputs of the laser and the 775 motor are 12V and 24V, respectively. The Bluetooth connectivity and other functionalities indicate that it comes with almost everything you need for smooth performance.

After you place your order, you should receive a box that contains the GRBL 0.9J 3-axis control board, offline control board, USB cable, power adapter, and a cable for spindle connection.

Of course, looking at the price, it’s evident that it isn’t any close to becoming one of the most affordable options out there. Nevertheless, when it comes to GRBL CNC controllers, the adage—you get what you pay for—usually becomes truer. That means if you value quality and performance over price, this unit should top your list of priorities.

Pros
  • It can drive four steppers.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.
  • The display screen is large enough.
Cons
  • Not the most affordable.

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3. ICROATO CNC Controller Board

ICROATO CNC Controller

As stated earlier, you usually get what you pay for when it comes to GRBL CNC Controllers. However, at times, it’s possible to get more value than what you incur. And yes, the ICROATO CNC Controller Board is a perfect case in point.

Although it comes at an incredibly affordable price, this unit arrives with all the functionalities a typical user will need in a machine of it’s kind. In fact, it even packs more than you will get in other controllers of the price range. Examples of these high-end features include E-stop and the limit switch headers.

This three-axis option is compatible with Windows XP and Windows 7/8/9/10. That means you can buy it knowing that you won’t have any compatibility issues no matter the type of Windows operating system you are using.

Other than the impressive functionality, you will like the build quality of this controller. The high-quality construction ensures that it stands the test of time. Hence, if you are after durability, here comes one of the ideal options to buy.

If you have interacted with a product of its caliber before, you will find it easy to set up. However, if not, you may need external intervention. The reliable customer support guarantees a smooth process, whether a beginner or not.

Pros
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Durable construction.
  • Great features for the price.
Cons
  • The documentation isn’t enough, especially for the beginners.

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4. RATTM Motors 3-Axis GRBL 1.1f USB Port CNC Engraving Machine

RATTM Motors 3-Axis GRBL 1.1f USB Port CNC Engraving Machine

The fourth GRBL on the list is from RATTM Motors. Therefore, it originates from the same facility as the first suggestion on our top-notch list. Like the sibling, you are getting a reliable component for your CNC controller.

Whether you are using Windows XP or any other latter version of the Windows OS, this piece works with all of these operating systems. It also supports popular software like GRBL control, Candle (3-Axis), and Universal G-Code Sender.

The unit has an input voltage range of 12V-24V. However, like the earlier sibling, the manufacturer here still insists that you consider using the higher limit if you want to make the most out of the unit. 

Furthermore, the piece offers three-axis control. Also, it works with a 12V stepper motor with a maximum current rate of 2A or less but within 1.5A. However, before you buy it, it’s worth knowing that it supports 42/57 stepper motors.

The package comes with the GRBL control board and a USB cable. While that number is a bit low than what you are likely to find in competitors’ boxes, it’s worth considering that you are paying one of the lowest prices.

Pros
  • Pre-programmed.
  • It supports laser and router.
  • The performance is impressive.
Cons
  • Will only handle 2A at 24V

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5. MYSWEETY CNC Control Board

MYSWEETY CNC Control

This control board is another ideal option for anyone in need of a unit that will provide the needed functionality at a minimal cost. The product lives up to everything it promises, and that’s why it remains one of the top-rated models out there.

It comes with popular software like the Universal G-code sender and GRBL controller. However, you may have to update the software to a newer version if you want to reap the most out of your purchase.

When you compare the fan to that of most competitors, it performs better in keeping the stepper motors cool. However, some users think that adding a few heatsinks would still be a good idea.

Generally, MYSWEETY CNC Control Board features all the required connectivity to deliver results right off the bat. When it comes to durability, the sturdy frame assures us that it will last longer than most competitors.

Pros
  • The cooling fan works incredibly well.
  • The sturdy construction makes it durable.
  • It’s reliable.
Cons
  • Adding documentation would be a good idea.

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6. RATTMMOTOR GRBL Red Control Board

RATTMMOTOR GRBL Red Control Board

Invent a high-performance CNC controller of your own and take your DIY woodworking projects a notch higher. Now, as you think about shopping for a GRBL CNC Controller Board, our sixth suggestion is one of the options you need to consider.

Unlike some options that will handle a maximum of 2.0 Amps, the maximum amperage here is 6A. Therefore, if you want a unit that can support high amperage,  this model is worth your shot.

The GBRL Control and LaserGbrl software come pre-loaded. However, with this GBRL, ensure that you don’t upgrade the software or firmware as the manufacturer warns that it may cause the control board some trouble.

When it comes to compatibility with operating systems, this controller works with Windows XP, Windows 7, and Linux. While that is still a decent level of compatibility, the inability to work with Windows 8 and other later versions is a big miss.

Although the input voltage here still runs between 12V-24V, the manufacturer recommends that you use the 24V 5A for the best user experience. Finally, we appreciate that the unit supports an offline control module and a tool setter.

Pros
  • It can handle up to 6A.
  • You don’t need to upgrade software.
  • Easy to use.
Cons
  • Upgrading software may attract trouble.

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7. Longruner 3D Printer CNC Controller Kit

Longruner 3D Printer CNC Controller Kit

Longruner is a famous manufacturer of DIY tools, raspberry pi, robotics, and 3D printers, and more. Her commitment to producing products of the highest quality has seen her earn the customers’ trust.

Now, when it comes to GRBL controllers, Longruner neither comes shy, and that’s why we have this option on our top-notch list. Unlike any of the previous options, here you are receiving a kit.

The thoughtful combination of the components maximizes the kit’s usability. With that said, if you are looking for a unit that will cater to a variety of needs, you won’t go wrong with this kit by Longruner.

The kit comprises of a Longruner board, CNC shield board, USB cable, (3) Nema 17 stepper motor with their mounting brackets, and more. There are also four stepper motor drivers and four aluminum heatsinks (with 3M tape backing).

With all these components, it gets more straightforward to work on the CNC controller. That’s especially true if you want to perform 3D printing operations. What’s more, all the components utilize premium-grade materials in their construction to ensure maximum durability.

Pros
  • It supports four axes.
  • The components are of top-grade construction.
  • It’s a multi-purpose kit.
Cons
  • There are only three end stops.

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8. RATTM Motor 3 Axis CNC Kit Nema23 Stepper Motor

RATTM Motor 3 Axis CNC Kit Nema23 Stepper Motor

Although it’s the eighth on our top-notch list, it’s only the second when it comes to kits. The package contains three Nema stepper motors, three Nema stepper motor drivers, a hand controller, a USB cable, and other components.

The unit works only with USB CNC software. That means if you want one that can support any other software like the Mach3, you will have to find something else as it doesn’t offer that support.

In terms of compatibility with the computer operating system, this kit only supports Windows 7. That can pose a challenge, especially if you are using a different version of the operating system.

The minimum configuration for a computer system to work with this high-quality kit is a processor speed of 1GHz and a memory of 512 MB. The computer should also have a free disc space of 500 MB.

Generally, it’s a high-quality kit that does it’s work exceptionally. However, we must also admit that this kit has its drawbacks. For instance, it belongs to the high-end category, and that means not many beginners can readily accommodate it in their budgets.

Pros
  • Intuitive program for beginners.
  • It’s a high-quality kit.
  • Straightforward to set up.
Cons
  • Not compatible with some operating systems.

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9. Rattm Motor 4-Axis Nema23 CNC Controller Kit

Rattm Motor 4-Axis Nema23 CNC Controller Kit

Like the last two previous options, you are also getting a CNC controller kit here. It comes from Rattm Motor. With that said, there are minimal chances that you will regret investing in this high-quality unit.

Four stepper motors, four TB6560 MD430 single-axis drivers, a 5-axis breakout board, DB25 parallel cable, and a USB cable are a few of the many components you will find in this top-notch CNC controller kit.

In addition to that, you will also get a user manual that comes with an easy-to-understand English. However, a few users claim that the wiring to the driver board is incorrect. Therefore, if you aren’t sure how the right set-up is like, it’s better to seek advice from a professional. Alternatively, we have lots of tutorials to guide you on how to do the right set up.

Like any of the previous kits, we don’t expect this unit to come cheap. However, with all the components it packs and the performance it delivers, it’s a unit that’s sure to give you the maximum bang for your buck.

Pros
  • The kit contains lots of components.
  • The manual comes in comprehensive English.
  • It will yield value for money.
Cons
  • The wiring diagram can be misleading.

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10. Mostics CNC Controller Board

Mostics CNC Controller Board

Although it may not be one of the most popular options out there, the Mostics CNC Controller Board is still one of the top models we have out there. It has everything you need to control your CNC machine easily and conveniently.

The unit is one of the three-axis models, meaning that it supports XYZ triaxial controls, just like most of the models in our coverage. It offers connections for the XYZ end switches as well as that of an optional offline controller.

Additionally, this suggestion features an adjustable voltage that ranges from 0-12 V. In terms of current, the maximum amperage the unit supports is 2 A. Therefore, if your applications call for one with the ability to support more, it may not make the ideal purchase for you.

The unit comes with the latest popular versions of the Candle 1.17 and LaserGRBL V3.0.10. About the software, one thing to know is that they are all open source. Additionally, if you are using the programs for the first time, you can access tutorials online for introductory information.

To make the most out of this piece, the producer recommends power within the range of 12V and 24 V DC. Lastly, we like that it has a built-in high-performance fan that keeps everything cool for longer prolonged service life.

Pros
  • Adjustable voltage
  • High-performance cooling fan.
  • Latest software versions.
Cons
  • No physical user manual.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are G codes in CNC machining?

In simple terms, G-Codes dictate what actions your CNC machine should take. Therefore, we can think of it as a set of “raw” commands that tell the machine what to do. We use “raw” here since the instructions have to go through the GRBL firmware for interpretation. After interpretation, the stepper driver motor fetches the “information” in the form of motion pulses.

What is GRBL In CNC Controllers?

GRBL is short for garble. In CNC machining, we use this term to refer to a firmware that translates G-codes into motor movements. When we say that it’s firmware, we mean that it entails codes and commands that work to detect the input and output. Let’s take the remote control of your TV as an example. Once you press any button, the built-in firmware detects the exact button, compares the “input” to the existing record of codes and commands, and then outputs the necessary.

Should you make or buy a CNC machine?

We don’t expect the performance of a DIY version to match that of a factory-made model. Also, placing an order for a ready-made model takes less time than having to make one of your own. However, in terms of cost, making your CNC machine can be cheaper. Therefore, it depends on what wins between time and money.

What kind of computer do you need for a CNC machine?

You don’t need a fancy computer to use with your CNC machine. The minimum system requirements for your computer will depend on the kind of software you want to run. Also, some software will work with some operating systems.

How much should you spend on a GRBL CNC Controller?

Well, it all depends on what you want. Typically, a high-performance unit will cost more than one with lower capabilities. Also, if you need the GBRL alone, you will spend less than when acquiring a whole kit.

Final Verdict

Although GBRL CNC Controllers are a bit technical, it’s still possible to accurately sift out the ideal model from the pool of options.

One surefire way to get the correct option is to operate within the scope of this coverage. All the products we have here are top-notch, so we least expect any to disappoint.

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