GRBL vs Mach3 (Which Software Is For Your Woodwork?)

Wanna start working on wood carving but don’t know which CNC software might suit? Maybe, you have listed two major firmware- GRBL and Mach3, right? But which one gets your woodworking covered totally? 

Worry not, we have got the answers. 

So, what are the key differences between GRBL vs Mach3?

Well, in terms of pricing, GRBL wins over Mach3. Also, it provides a free version to try out too! Meanwhile, motion control is on another level in Mach3. With higher precision, you can not have better software other than Mach3. However, GRBL is quite a beginner and DIY-friendly firmware. 

That’s not all! You will get to learn more aspects about them from our next segment.

Excited? Let’s cut to the chase then!

GRBL vs Mach3: A Quick Glimpse

Most of you already might know what GRBL and Mach3 typically are. While both of them are wood-oriented software, getting service might not be the same from them. 

Where do the differences lie then? Well, we have listed a few major aspects that seem vital in our eyes. 

Join us! It’s time to get the gist together.

Compared FactorsGRBLMach3
Highest Control Accuracy(in mm)0.080.0001
Wood CarvingAverageMore proper
Free VersionAvailableNot available
Easy to Set UpYesNo
Job VarietiesCan’t handle heavier woodworkingCan handle every type of works
Beginner and DIY-friendlyYesNo
Graphical User InterfaceNot ChangeableCompletely Customizable

Bet you might have found some basic factors separating themselves in many ways. Worry not, you do not have to rely on this “food for thought”! 

So, let’s head on to the following part to uncover these a bit more. 

GRBL vs Mach3: Detailed Comparison

To have a proper idea between GRBL and Mach3, you will require some more detailed information. When using different wood software, we can’t stress enough how essential it is to know everything!

That’s why we have prepared all the details of GRBL vs Mach3. 

So, let’s jump on it!

Wood Carving Skill

GRBL has got some custom features serving as much use as you expect. Spindle control operating from this firmware is quite good. So, you get holding the end mill or drill a bit smoother. 

At the same time, your benefit is to make it turn easily. And, getting materials removed in a good manner. 

You might feel it is so handy and user-friendly while handling tiny timber or wood cutting. However, as soon as we jump on heavy wood carving, it might not suit enough. 

As a result, Arduino might not perform better. So, no huge load can be fulfilled here. And also, completing complex milling acts might be another big challenge. 

In the meantime, Mach3 is such a robust and helpful CNC controller. And how does it work? 

Well, this firmware has the pattern of controlling from CNC routers to CNC mills. Or even CNC plasma to CNC lathe, this firmware can put the best effort. 

As soon as it gets into the Arduino, woodworking starts to become smoother. And yes, it has better motion control than GRBL.  and other CNC machine tools. 

In the meantime, Mach3 comes with loads of features. This woodworking program can nicely fit professionals such as wood industries. 

Along with that, if you are a hobbyist, this software might get you relaxed while operating. Wood cutting or relevant work generally brings a huge load of tasks. 

So, having the capability of delivering this many tasks is quite vital. Meanwhile, Mach3 can keep the Arduino stable. That’s how you can expect the best finish for wooden rolling pins.

And, different types of complicated milling tasks can be done within the least possible time. 

Winner: Mach3.

Motion Control

Getting better motion control from the CNC is a crying need, doesn’t it? In terms of cutting wood into better, precise, and perfect shapes, CNC software is the key! CNC or Arduino can not be operated without the software command. 

In the meantime, Mach3 can have more perfect cuts. While you require furniture or other relevant woodcuts, Mach3 can be the ideal option. 

However, the manufacturer of Mach3 already has released the updated firmware- Mach4. 

This is more incredible in performance. But till you compare GRBL with these, Mach3 is enough to win the race. 

Mach3 is effective in not just cutting wood into curved shapes. You can rely on encircling the disclosed edges of the particle board.

And luckily, this software makes the CNC so accurate in syncing the speed of the panel. Does your wood task involve more than one axe? Mach3 can serve better results with smarter motors and integrated drives. 

In the meantime, you might find a lack of centralized control in the GRBL. In recent times, users have mostly shifted from GRBL to Mach3 or Mach4 indeed.

Get the best motion controllers from our recommendation!

Winner: Mach3.

CNC Precision

CNC router machines having GRBL control come with an aluminum alloy frame. And, you will find three unmixed XYZ axes too. 

At the same time, it can resist any form of corrosion. As a result, you will find increased stability from the machine. 

In the meantime, its robust spindle along with the stepper motors generate such incredible cutting. And yes, don’t forget its top-notch milling performance! 

That’s how you get this versatile software pushing the CNC to work more rapidly and diversely. 

On the other hand, machines containing Mach3 bring all of the characteristics that GRBL shows. In addition to that, it has an aluminum spindle holder. And, all credit goes to Mach3 firmware that constantly helps in increased stability.

Winner: Mach3.

Overall Flexibility

GRBL initially comes with a bang requiring no computer involvement! Yes, you hear it right!

As a result, you might run this on an Arduino board directly. So, you can stream G-code declarations straight through GRBL too. In this manner, this firmware has become much more popular in this CNC machining world. 

However, involving computers is a must for most GRBL models nowadays. 

In the meantime, setting this up is quite fun and easier. Relevantly, DIY and beginner wood carving projects based on this firmware become popular. 

Along with that, you might pick the suitable software program here if you want. It will let you generate G-compute code. 

On the other hand, Mach3 can not run a simple function without computer operations. And, this firmware charges a fee in some cases. 

At the same time, using Mach3 comfortably might be a challenge. Especially, it does not provide any flexibility for those who just start using this. 

Loads of complicated functions where you might feel lost!

What do we have learned here then? Overall flexibility we discuss contains easy installation and fewer tool requirements! 

And, who’s the winner? You might have guessed the name, didn’t you?

Winner: GRBL.


Mach3 is one of the expensive motion controllers. However, it might allow you to try its free version out. In the meantime, there’s a catch! Until you get the paid one, carving wood might not be that smoother. 

Mach3 firmware might win the marketing strategy by throwing a free version to users. However, without the skill and quality, your woodworking requires, unpaid ways do not help actually!

Meanwhile, GRBL is totally free and the hardware cost is very low. Those who try DIY methods having no deep pockets find the best result out of this. 

Winner: GRBL.

Final Verdict

Finally, it’s time to put a verdict! In our research, we have found out Mach3 is a more diverse firmware. Though GRBL is less expensive but can’t help you out to the fullest. 

Meanwhile, Mach3 helps in getting more accurate and precise cuts. Motion control is also a smoother factor for Mach3. 


What Is The Difference Between GRBL And G-code?

GRBL is basically controller software while G-code is sender software. Mostly, this is known as Universal G-code Sender or UGS. Along with that, it brings a graphical user interface sending the G-code to the GRBL controller. Meanwhile, GRBL is operated on an Arduino-based controller. 

Can CNC Be Utilized For Wood?

Definitely, you can! A computer numerical control (CNC) router can cut and engrave different types of wood. You can consider wood derivatives here such as Medium-density fibreboard or even plywood. In the meantime, this is quite popular for digital and computerized milling appliances too.

Can LightBurn Be Operated With Mach3?

No, it’s not doable actually! Mach3 does not either help lasers or allow different software to control them. Along with that, you will not see any transformation of the PWM level. However, you can install G-code from LightBurn to operate Mach3. But grayscale will not adopt this operation suitably.

Final Words

Now, you know the differences between GRBL and Mach3! Throughout this article, we have tried to portray the best features of each software. 

Hopefully, you can differentiate between them better! Found this post useful? Let us know your opinion! We would love to hear!

That’s all for today! Happy woodworking!

Kevin Smith

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