Trying to decide on Elite vs X50 series before I buy

Past the obvious things like a better screen and compact controller/screen I am trying to figure out if I need the features of a closed loop system. I know it allows starting back up when process is stopped but what other value does it bring? Tighter tolerances? Would folks who have bought a X50 buy an Elite if they had it to do over again? I am going to be using the machine for work/hobby stuff so I could easily get away with the X50 but I like good tools and don’t want to buy a machine twice. I would welcome any feedback from owners of the Journeyman Elite. This is my first CNC. Cheers John

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I own one of the early x35s but would like to upgrade to the elite once that upgrade path is defined. Since this is your first CNC, I would actually recommend the Elite primarily because of the Masso controller. With a proper CNC control, you can do things like adjust feedrate on the fly, which can be very helpful as you are learning feeds and speeds. Furthermore, as you learn your preferred CAD/CAM software and the intricacies of the design to build flow, it is always nice to be able to slow things down around tricky areas, near clamps, screws, etc. The servos mean that if you do crash in such a way as to not ruin your carve, you can restart much easier than I have to do with my steppers.

There are more reasons, but as a newbie, those two alone will save you tons of frustration.


I have been using a Masso G3 as the controller on my Woodworker custom build for well over a year now. I think it is a great controller that is easy to set up and has many features I wanted and needed for my ATC build. Doing a quick calculation from the website it looks like an Elite journeyman is less than 1K more the the X50 version.

From my experience I would choose the Elite for the value alone. You get a much more capable 5 axis ready stand alone controller with touch screen, higher torque closed loop steppers, and 10 micron accuracy homing sensors. The cost of just the controller, 4 steppers, and 4 sensors is about $2K US without shipping or tax, and you also get the electronics and cabling to control and power it all - and then there is the actual CNC.

If I wanted my next CNC to be a 1F, I would buy an Elite model without hesitation.


Great feed back! Thank you>

That is extremely helpful. Thanks!

As I read a lot of the stuff on this forum, it seems that the Buildbotics control may be a little problematic, I ordered the Elite mainly for the Masso Control, a pretty proven control in my opinion. I have been messing with Mach 3 for a long time and look forward to a better control.

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Elite 100% … if you can wait that long

Great selling points right there.

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Could I also ask your opinion on the option of a 80 mm spindle?. If starting from scratch would you choose a spindle? Maybe not a critical path decision starting out as I am guessing one would want the Z20 if switching to a spindle and the Z20 accommodates 65 and 80mm so it might mean you would only end up with a surplus Makita trim router if you started with that. I welcome any and all feed back on that and the the "stiffy"option. Please let me know if I am asking this in the wrong forum category.

I think you will find a lot of information already on the forum - search ‘spindle vs router/Makita’ and you will have ample reading.

I am retired, and a hobbyist who ‘needs’ to learn, design, build, test, etc… , so for me it was an easy choice and I knew I wanted ATC functionality so I dove right in. There are many members/owners who have different needs and goals - some need it to make money right away, some are not inclined to go a DIY route for any number of reasons, some want to spend less money.

As for the stiffy I am undecided. I started with an original Woodworker X35 with stiffy rail, then changed (upgraded?) to a double X50 rail. I plan to share some force and deflection data in the weeks to come once my upgrades and modifications are complete. Maybe others who have a digital force meter can gather quantitative data, and we can all share and compare the results of our tests. I think there are rigidity limitations to all CNCs, regardless of design and linear motion hardware, and I am not sure the added stiffy overcomes these in the 1F machines. Like I said before, I like data and testing :smiley:


I’m a hobbyist who started with very
little knowledge in CNC and received my 1F in the Summer of 2021: X50

  • I would go Elite: for the controller.
  • I would go spindle: but you can start without it, get things working, then upgrade. I went air-cooled. Works fine for me. I assume less hassle than plumbing in a coolant system. Benefits: control and noise.

I have the journeyman x50 and in a heartbeat I would have gotten the elite series stronger motors, more accuracy, speed change on the fly, oh yes absolutely and i will do the upgrade when it becomes available I will keep my size the same but upgrade everything else.

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I agree with Tom and Andy - I’d get the Elite if I could do it over again. I’m definitely interested in an upgrade path if they have that option.



I am first time hobby cnc but I use full size cnc and programming for work. Knowing how production machine works and I without a thought am ordering the elite series for sure


When you mention improved accuracy, what aspects of the Elite series are you considering responsible for this? Is it the closed looped system that can compensate lost steps should you create them?

Thanks to you and all that have shared, really invaluable feedback to a newbie like myself. Cheers John

that and the much more robust z axis


John, like you I am a first time cnc purchaser waiting on an Elite Foreman. I bought the 80mm spindle with the intention to start out with a Makita router and use a 3d printed shim, then as a reward for succussfulking making money, ill buy the spindle. I think learnin the machine and the complexity of a spindle at the same time may really lengthen the learning curve. I think you may like to do the same and not buy the z20 twice.

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Thanks Wes. So when you order the “spindle” version you get the Z20? If this is the case then I will definitely follow your lead. It does beg the question of why anyone would order the 65mm mount when they can get one that fits both the 65 & 80mm and is more rugged for the same price.?


John, keep in mind that the z20 slider still has the option of an 80mm or 65mm mount…I would order the 80mm mount. A 3d printer shim (reducer from 80 to 65 mm) would allow you to use the makita initially until you upgrade to an 80mm spindle.