Imagine if you went out and spent $60,000 on a new Porsche. A week into owning it, you accidentally drop a box of heavy items on it and you dent it pretty bad. Repairs are outrageously expensive because well, it’s a Porsche. That’s how you’ll feel if you buy an expensive machine and make a mistake that we all eventually make and ruin a part of the machine.
Now imagine buying a $10,000 10-year old car. Same scenario, something heavy drops on it and dents it. You take it to your friends garage, he hammers out the dent and it just costs you a case of beer. That’s how you’ll feel if you buy an Xcarve and make that same mistake that we all make.
I’ve stripped screws (I hate those stupid button screws), replaced Vwheels, replace spindle mount, belts, etc. All for various reasons that I probably could have avoided but learned that the hard way. I’ve upgraded my motors, new Hitachi router, my Z axis, dust boots, Y rails, etc. I’ve gone from a Raspberry Pi to a Mini PC to control it. Added a monitor, new workbench, etc. If you can think about it, I’ve probably either broken it or upgraded it. I push my Xcarve more than most do (1/8" DOC at 100 ipm into walnut w/ a 1/4" EM, 1/16" EM at 160ipm into pine) and plan to keep pushing it because I’ve not actually reached that “slow down” point. I wanna push it till it breaks then back up a little.
I still haven’t spent more on my machine than what most of those others you listed will cost you.
CNC Router Parts? Expect to easily spend $5-6k when you include electronics, spindle mounts, spindles, etc. and then throw in MACH3 ($150), Vcarve ($350, $700, or $1400 for Aspire…unless you go Fusion 360), bits, etc. And that only gives you 24"x24" of space. If you want larger, that price tag goes up some.
Axiom? Easily $6k again excluding the SW needed to run the machine and do CAD/CAM design, bits, etc.
Stepcraft? Probably $3-4k and then any CAD/CAM, bits, etc.
Openbuilds? I believe the Openbuilds machine is in a similar class as the Xcarve and a bit more expensive.
Remember also, those making comments otherwise may have older machines. The latest generation of the Xcarve has come a long way concerning a lot of those pain points mentioned.
Will the Xcarve work as a stock machine? Yes, absolutely.
Will it be the quickest machine? No, but it’ll work.
Is a new Z axis linear slider better? Yes, but it’s not required.
Are 9mm belts better? Yes, but it’s not required.
Is Inventables customer support amazing? Yes.
Is the forum an invaluable resource for your Xcarve journey? Yes. There are a lot of very helpful people doing amazing things with their machines.
In the end, the choice is yours. If you want to spend the money and risk a pricey repair, then go for it. Or, as Allen stated, get the Xcarve, learn on it, get better, and then upgrade to the better machines and sell the Xcarve.
If I had to get a machine right now given what I know now, I’d buy a 1000mm Xcarve, a CNC4Newbies Z slider, 2 pieces of wide makerslide, order true Gates GT belts (stock 2mm pitch, 6mm width), go get a set of Charley’s 1" lift plates with holes for the wide makerslide in them and build the machine using wide makerslide for all rails. That should be Inventables next upgrade (along with a Z slider) in my opinion. It’s an extra $300-350 for those 2 upgrades and they would make a huge difference, in my opinion.
In the end, it’s all about what you are comfortable spending and doing. My Xcarve fits my needs well but it may not fit your needs.