The DeWalt DCW600B XR 20V cordless router is a chart-topping best seller. This makes it the number one contender for best cordless router. There is, however, strong competition for this title. This review is going to place the top three cordless routers head to head. You can decide which is deserving of the top spot: DeWalt vs Makita vs Milwaukee.
Ask anyone in the know or read just about any review site. When asked “which is the best power tool brand?” three names will invariably be mentioned: DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee. There are others, of course, but few have garnered such universal appeal. When we’re talking about cordless tools, it is reasonable to say that DeWalt XR, Milwaukee Fuel, and Makita LXT are the best. DeWalt is probably the most popular of these.
Going by sales, and the opinions expressed by most of the top tool review sites, the DeWalt DCW600B is the best choice for anyone buying a cordless router. I tend to agree with this point of view. That’s not to say that the Makita XTR01Z and Milwaukee 2723-20 are without merit. Because the DeWalt 20V MAX tool series is the most comprehensive, these tools are enduringly popular. It can be more of a practical decision, not really that the tools are that much better than any of the other top brands.
Cordless tool buyers have come to realize the benefit of sticking to one brand, using the same battery format. A one size fits all battery is pure common sense. You only need one type of charger and you can use the same battery for all your tools. Since DeWalt has the greatest variety amongst their 20V MAX tools, it will usually be the first choice. Even though any of the three cordless routers in this review can technically rate as the best, your choice may be a simple matter of which battery platform you’re using.
DeWalt 20V MAX XR Compact Cordless Router (DCW600D)
- Dual LEDs help illuminate the work surface
- Variable-speed dial allows the user to match speed of the router to the application
- Depth adjustment ring allows for fast and easy height adjustments
- Soft start motor with full-time electronic feedback allows the motor to maintain speed during cuts
- Electronic brake slows the motor down faster after the unit is shut off
Very few power tools have been met with as much enthusiasm as the DeWalt DCW600B. Not only is this an Amazon best-seller, but it has received a 4.9 star rating out of more than 1,500 customer reviews. That’s about as good as it gets.
What makes this cordless router such a hit?
I guess the DeWalt 20V XR branding is where it all begins. DIYers and contractors have come to greatly appreciate the battery efficiency and extreme durability associated with DeWalt XR tools. The XR brushless DC motor has proven to be one of the best.
The DeWalt DCW600B has a bunch of amazing user-friendly features. I’ll be detailing these through the review. Personally, I’m quite awe-struck by the fantastic durability of this machine and the exceptional engineering. The core workings of the router are precision engineered in high-grade aluminum. The look and feel of this tool is one of absolute quality.
The variable speed dial is placed for easy adjustments on the go and has a fantastic range: 16,000 – 25,000 RPM. A highlight has to be the superb depth adjustment ring. It is solid, accurate and so user friendly. Turning the ring gives you instant and totally accurate depth settings. Removing the base involves releasing a clip, a twist, and you’re ready to fit the fixed base in seconds. Everything slots back into position just as quickly and you press the clip back to lock the base securely and easily.
The DeWalt DCW600B has a super-fast electronic brake, no waiting for the bit to stop. This improves working efficiency and is a great safety feature. By the time you place the router back on the bench, it would have come to a complete stop. The soft start motor is excellent, and real time electronic feedback maintains a constant speed as you work. Note that this tool only accommodates ¼” bits.
The thick transparent base gives you perfect visibility and is really smooth, allowing the DCW600B to glide over the workpiece. It also has two bright LED lights, improving visibility even further. The DeWalt DCW600B weighs only 3.4 LBS. With a narrow diameter body, it’s a wonderfully comfortable tool to use. A well-padded surround makes for remarkably comfortable handling. All the accessories, used for the corded DeWalt routers, fit this model.
The DeWalt DCW600B router is a superb tool to use. It’s lightweight and nimble. I cannot fault this tool in any way. It’s built to last and has truly amazing user-friendly design features. I rarely give any tool full points, but this one truly deserves a 5-star rating. Being part of the DeWalt 20V MAX lineup means you can use any of their 20V batteries or the newer FlexVolt battery. Buying a DeWalt tool is always a decision that is made with complete confidence. With one of the best customer service records, and the great 3-year warranty, 90-day money back guarantee, as well as a free 1-year service plan, DeWalt is an industry leader in customer satisfaction.
- Electronically controlled BL brushless motor improves efficiency, matching power to the application and RPM.
- Variable control dial (10,000 – 30,000 RPM).
- Soft Start.
- Rack and pinion depth adjustment for smooth and precise settings.
- Dual LED lights.
- Quick release cam lock – easy depth adjustments and base removal.
Having expressed my opinion that the DeWalt DCW600B is the best compact cordless router, it may be difficult to give the Makita XTR01Z a completely unbiased and fair review. The Makita cordless router is, undoubtedly, a fine machine. Given the popularity of the exceptional LXT battery, and the great variety of Makita 18V cordless tools, there will be many for whom the Makita XTR01Z will be an automatic first choice. If your cordless tool repertoire already consists of Makita 18V LXT models, then this one will be the obvious choice.
The Makita XTR01Z can compare to the DeWalt DCW600B on just about every level. I do, however, feel that the DeWalt router displays a more refined approach to its engineering and manufacture. None the less, the Makita router is, like all their tools, indestructibly tough and reliable.
It has a similar compact and ergonomic design for comfortable and easy working. This is a slightly heavier machine, compared to the DeWalt DCW600B, at 4.6-pounds. Like the DeWalt router, extensive use of aluminum makes this a durable machine. The Makita router also has a delightfully comfortable grip.
The speed control dial is as blissfully easy to use as the DeWalt tool, with a wider RPM range. The Makita XTR01Z has a variable speed of 10,000 – 30,000 RPM and has an excellent electronic control system that maintains a constant speed. It has an awesome rack and pinion mechanism for making fine, precise depth settings. As much as I appreciate the incredible accuracy and relative ease with which you’re able obtain the perfect depth adjustment, I don’t believe anything can beat the DeWalt DCW600B depth adjustment ring. This is just one of those ingenious ideas that the DeWalt engineers are so adept at developing. I like the Makita quick-release clip for the cam lock, and it is just as easy to exchange the base as with the DeWalt router.
The base is as smooth as silk, looks to be made of expertly polished Teflon, though I can’t be totally sure of the materials used. The base does not extend past the diameter of the tool, unlike the DCW600B which has a large, transparent base. Either can be an advantage. Both the DeWalt and Makita routers can accommodate a bunch of accessories for varying types of work. The Makita XTR01Z also has LED lights, making it easy to see what you’re doing.
Makita were the first cordless tools I owned, and I have the utmost respect for the brand. While I have, over the years, moved over to DeWalt cordless tools (mostly for the greater variety of options), I have never lost my admiration for the Makita 18V LXT battery system. Makita Star controls are fantastic. Really clever computerized management ensures that the battery and tool are protected from the rigors of high-intensity working conditions. You will never experience overheating, overcharging, or undercharging and battery performance is maximized at all times. The Makita rapid chargers have always been remarkable, possibly the best charging times.
There are numerous reasons to consider the Makita XTR01Z as one of the best cordless routers. Least of which would have to be the tried and tested LXT battery. The tool is, in proven Makita tradition, hardy and ready for any challenge. The differences between the Makita XTR01Z and DeWalt DCW600B are slight. Depending on where you buy, the Makita may end up costing a little less. I consider Makita service to be in a league with the very best and this tool has an amazing 3-year warranty.
- Powerful 900W (2.25HP) Brushless Motor.
- Rack and Pinion depth adjustment with macro-adjustment dial (1.5”) and micro-adjustment screw (¹⁄₆₄”).
- REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence ensures maximum performance and protects from overloads, overheating, and over-discharge.
- Variable speed dial ranges between 10,000 and 31,000 rpm, providing precise control for clean edges and details.
I know a lot of life-long faithful Milwaukee supporters. Much like Harley fans, these guys will maintain, to their last breath, that there can be no other tool brand that comes close to Milwaukee. It’s hard to disagree with this. Milwaukee tools are incredible in every way. They are, however, expensive. If the Milwaukee 2723-20 didn’t cost quite a bit more than the DeWalt DCW600B, I would probably rate it as the best cordless router. Perhaps my enthusiasm for clever DeWalt engineering, like the unique depth adjustment dial (which is just so immensely cool), may also cloud my judgement somewhat.
When it comes down to it, the Milwaukee 2723-20 is, like most M18 Fuel tools, is the most powerful in its class. With 900 watts of electronically managed power, I think it’s reasonable to say that this router is even better than corded models when it comes to great power. The brushless POWESTATE DC motor actually delivers more brute power, more efficiently, than an AC equivalent.
The tool itself is very similar to both the Makita XTR01Z and DeWalt DCW600B in that it is lightweight, compact cordless router with exceptional capabilities. It is the lightest of the three, at 2.95 pounds. Yet is every bit, if not more durable than any other similar tool. Precision crafted metal components are jaw-droppingly awesome. Expert engineering and extra power are two of the main hallmarks of the Milwaukee brand, and the 2723-20 cordless router exemplifies this.
The Rack and Pinion depth setting is pretty much the same as the Makita router, smooth and perfectly accurate. The quick release lever is also just as easy and convenient. The Milwaukee router has an advantage, in providing a micro-adjustment screw in addition to the conventional turn knob used for this type of rack and pinion system. The screw does, however, take a little effort to use.
The variable speed dial is basically the same as the other two routers in this review. It’s really easy to adjust your speed with your thumb, without releasing your grip on the tool. I really like the soft grip body of this tool. Super comfortable with less vibration felt at your hands. The Milwaukee 2723-20 standard base is a narrow diameter (4”) round type and easy to maneuver. There are, of course, numerous optional extras which include various different bases.
Many consider Milwaukee to be ultimate tool brand. It would be difficult to make an argument to the contrary. Their 18V batteries are super durable and efficient. Apart from the price, the Milwaukee 2723-20 is a real winner. It has incomparable power, with great performance. In keeping with their stellar reputation, Milwaukee offer the best warranty, an incredible 5-years.
Calling the DeWalt DCW600B the best cordless router is certainly a bold claim. There are those who will disagree. If I put my own opinions aside, looking purely at market stats, the DeWalt 20V MAX XR cordless router is the darling of tool-buying public. If the Milwaukee 2723-20 were a little cheaper, I have every reason to believe this would be the most popular cordless router.
Where does the Makita XTR01Z fit into all of this? Simple. Of the top three cordless routers, the Makita is the cheapest. It offers very much the same performance and features as the DeWalt and Milwaukee offerings. It’s safe to say that Makita XTR01Z is the best budget cordless router.
The DeWalt DCW600B fits neatly in the middle of the price range here. It also has a few unique features that have won the hearts of tool buyers in their numbers. There must be good reason why this router is so popular.