MACH 3: YES on WINDOWS 7. But ONLY 32 BIT. Dispelling myths

I’ve read a lot of crazy things about Mach 3 on the forums. Here is what I discovered trying to get “AL - SON OF X-CARVE” working:

  1. Yes, they have moved on to Mach 4. Mach 4 is 64 bit capable and requires a breakout board with USB not parallel.
  2. Mach 4 WILL WORK with parallel ports - using a plugin that costs an extra $25. BUT only if your machine is 32 bit.
  3. Mach 3 is still available for download and works great and there is not reason not to continue to use it. I wouldn’t BUY it though because… well, you should by Mach 4 it is better. [EDIT] Some are reporting a few bugs with Mach 4 and you should stick with Mach 3.
  4. Mach 3 DOES work with Windows 7 as long as it is 32 bit version and not 64 bit version. [EDIT] You CAN use 64 bit Windows 7 if you employ at PPT emulator like the Smooth Stepper.
  5. If you already have Mach 3 you can put it on other machines by copying your license xml file from the root folder (and if you are not using it for a commercial enterprise).

This nonsense about needing XP is crazy talk. If you don’t have a parallel port, add one for $5. Obama is not a Muslim. etc. etc.

Public service announcement. I am not advocating for Mach 3, but I paid for it many years ago and want to get the most out of it.

I have Mach3 working fine on Windows 10, 64-bit using USB. This controls another CNC machine–not the X-Carve.

I agree with your assessment, however. Buy Mach4 at this point.

If you own Mach3 there is no reason to spend extra on Mach4. If you are buying for the first time, Mach4 is the better choice… Unless your equipment has Mach3 specific code requirements.

It would be cool if that were true. Can you explain the whole windows 10, 64 bit usb thing with Mach 3. Like, maybe a link or something? If that’s true it is very relevant to what I am trying to do here. All of the information I have seen is contrary to what you are saying. To be more specific: What USB controller are you using? How did you install the Mach 3 parallel port controller (it does not install on 64 bit machines)?

I apologize. I am actually using Mach3 with the ESS… It plugs into the ethernet port of my computer. It works just fine with Windows 10. I was originally going to buy the USB version of Warp9’s SmoothStepper but read somewhere that the ethernet version is faster. So, this may be a possibility for you. I knew that going to Windows 10 would eliminate the parallel port option.

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I have Mach3 running on Win 7 64 bit using first a UC100 USB controller and now an Ethernet Smooth Stepper controller. The more experienced Mach users on the ArtSoft forum say Mach 4 is still too buggy to trust, and may be for some time to come. YMMV.

Does it go: Computer -> ESS -> Breakoutboard -> Stepper Drivers? So I would connect my parallel breakout board to the ESS?

So I would still need my breakoutboard and stepper motor drivers correct?

I have a gecko 540 on the 1000 mm x-carve but it is in use. I also have a couple of BOB/3 Driver systems laying around I could use.

Yes, the ESS will connect to the BB if you want to use one to connect relays, etc. Just be sure the PC you use has an Ethernet port. The USB SS can be used if only a USB port is available. I have both types of SS, and prefer the ESS over the USB SS, which tends to be slightly more problematic in use due to the way USB works on PCs.

The output from SmoothStepper boards connects just like pports do, so any setup that uses a pport can be used with a SS of either type.


So if I wanted to convert my X-Carve to a Mach3 machine what would I need to acquire to make that happen. I have a windows 10 PC with USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet port but no parallel port.

My X-Carve is a 1000mm version with NEMA 23’s for all axis.

I also have the original power supply that came with my X-Carve. Thought I may be able to employ that to power something in the but not sure what.

I just wanna play with the big boys!!


I went with the Gecko G540 and Ethernet Smoothstepper.

I used a beefier power supply 48v at 12.5amps with the original nema 23 steppers from Inventables.

I also added a Gecko G251 to add a rotary axis.

Ditto what Erik wrote. I have a similar set up on my big laser machine, but I use two individual Gecko G251x, which are what is used in the G540. You should be able to use your original power supply.

Phil Johnson is building a controller using different drivers (but with a UNO).

I don’t know anything about those drivers, so can’t comment on how well they work.

Rotary axis, now you have me drooling!!! Actually that is one of my goals and the reason I started thinking Mach3 in the first place.

I’ve seen the Smoothstepper and saw the system requirements which stat that windows 10 is fine to use with the Ethernet version. I understand that I will need a breakout board as well. Looking at the price of the Gecko G540 I got a little sticker shock. I see that there are lots of other options with some as low as $5.00. There has to be a difference in them to go with the HUGE price difference. Not that I’m considering a $5.00 breakout board but do I really need a $280 Gecko?

I looked around and went with the Gecko because it seemed very stable and very well documented. The Gecko and the smoothstepper work very well together. It was not cheap, but I am very pleased with the setup.

Most of the money I make selling the Triquetra Line goes right back into it. So there isn’t much of a budget for upgrading to Mach3. I was in hopes that I could get it done for under $200.00 since I already have a working X-Carve. But I don’t want to do it with junk parts either. So if may have to go on to the back burner for now unless someone has any alternative ideas.

Than you guys for your input though.


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If you already have Mach3 then you probably can. Maybe use a screw shield board and connect the ESS to your existing stepper driver (G-Shield???).


I used cheap Chinese breakout boards and stepper drivers for a few years before upgrading to Gecko. They worked fine. The Gecko allows 50 volts and has a magical way of smoothing out movement so greater speed and accuracy can be achieved (along with greater voltage). It was night and day, but you can upgrade to Gecko later and then sell your old setup on this forum as I did.


I had problem running Mach3 on a 64bit machine with 64bit Windows 7 operating system. I thought, maybe if I would install a 32bit Windows 7 operating system on the same 64bit machine, it might work. I installed the 32bit operating system and Mach3 and I have had no problems. I am using a Sherline Mini Mill with 23 nema motors and a Chinese 5 axis control board.