Today I just wanted to discuss, in my opinion, the top 3 CNC softwares on the market in 2023.

And just so you know, my opinion will probably shock you on the best overall. So, the credentials first. I am a small business that makes money “mostly” off of designs I create off of CNC programs and yes, in the last year I have had the priemium subscription to several programs. Let me take the headache out of this for you!

3D image of the state of Texas designed on Fusion 360 and rendered in the CAM setting.

Top 3 CNC Programs

1. Fusion 360

2. Vectric VCarve Pro

3. Easel Pro


Fusion 360

When you start learning the process of your new CNC machine you will inevitably hear about Fusion 360. And everyone will say, it’s the best.

Because it is. Fusion 360 is such an immense program that you can literally design a space ship with it. Based of Autodesks AutoCAD (the gold standard for drafting) it has so much power you can do anything.

The “yeah, but,” statement is that Fusion has a high learning curve. If you want to buy a file off etsy and cut something today, you may want to look elsewhere. I 100% say, go with Fusion. Here are some specs and things I like about the program. 

  • You can design ANYTHING in high definition rendering.
  • Runs on either Mac or PC. Cloud based, but with a physical app on your computer (best of both worlds maybe).
  • You can import tool lists from vendors like
  • Costs about $550 annually. Not the cheapest, not the most expensive. FREE student license!!!
  • Fusion does both the CAD (designing) and CAM (figuring out how to mill something).
  • Can integrate hundreds of post processors.
  • Low crash rate (VERY low in my opinion).
This is an example of the rendering from VCarve Pro, an inlay reversed.

Vectric V-Carve Pro

Let me start with, I can only speak to VCarve Pro, because when I started out to solve a problem I jumped in with both feet and bought the Pro version. I understand the other programs under Vectric are very capable as well.

I love VCarve Pro. I use Fusion 360 when I am designing something complicated that has to be perfect. VCarve Pro is a program I can use 90% of the time. It is much simpler, with a moderate to low learning curve. And that is not to say that it is actually less capable than F360, I just spent the time to learn F360 and once you grasp it, it is an awesome tool.

  • Importing, creating, rendering and/or running tool paths is EASY. This software is the Easy Button.
  • Runs ONLY on PC. Many Mac users use a program called Bootcamp to get around this. I bought a dedicated PC.
  • You can also import tool databases. Really an amazing feature you don’t know you want until you have used it.
  • $700, one time fee. BANG-BUCK.
  • VCarve Pro like F360 does both CAD & CAM, I will say the CAM is better on this program than the CAD.
  • Can also integrate hundreds of post processors.
  • In my experiance, NO crash rate.
Sign made on Easel called Papa Lee's Palace.

Inventables Easel Pro

In fairness, you will see I am jaded on this one. I started with Easel before it really had the Pro and ability to do 3D cuts. I was a good program and one that was EXCELLENT for someone that has never touched this type of software. Very intuitive.

With that said, it is the reason I have now tried several other programs. And, with the somewhat recent addition of the 3D CAD/CAM it got cooler, but worse. The crash rate for me on the program was unexceptible and some of the 3D rendering times were rediculous. I also dislike how you impliment demensions in the program. It’s clunky and combersome.

  • This is the easiest program for CNC to learn.
  • Runs both PC and Mac.
  • It doesn’t (to my knowledge) let you directly import tool databases.
  • $233 a year for the Pro.
  • Easel does both CAD/CAM, but it’s slow and crashes. If you import a file from Etsy and don’t change anything, it’s probably going to be ok.

My final two cents.

If I were just starting, I would buy VCarve Pro or one of the lesser level Vectric products. It has the power to do just about anything you can imagine. Like I said, I use it for most of my work. My really big super finite detail (or expensive material) projects I use Fusion 360. Hard for me to say one is better than the other, but in reality, I think Fusion 360 wins. It is just harder to use.

Hope this helps you out!


Hill Country CNC & Woodworking

#fusion360 #vectric #autodesk #vcarvepro #easel

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