Milwaukee wins the top spot based on overall power. While there are other 2-1/4 HP combo routers on our list, this one is a 13 amp motor, making it have a little more torque than the others. That will help keep it from bogging down on those rough cuts, especially with the larger bits installed. It comes with both 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch collets, so you can use any size router bits with it, including panel raising bits. There is a rotary “turret” depth gauge, with six different stops, each of which is 1/8 inch deeper than the previous; great for deep cuts in dense hardwoods.
The adjustment is calibrated for 1-64 inch increments and the plunge system uses four point PM bushings and constant spring tension throughout the 2-7/8” range. Motor is variable speed, with a dial speed control, giving 10,000 to 24,000 RPM. For the fixed base, there is a body grip, so you can hold the router body directly, instead of just the handles. Clear sub-bases and a dust shield are provided.
Bosch’s kit provides a little more speed than either the Milwaukee or the Makita, with a fully adjustable range of 8,000 to 25,000 RPM. Like the others, it has a variable speed dial to set the speed, as well as circuitry to maintain the speed under load. The motor is rated at 2-1/4 HP and 12 amps, making it slightly less powerful than the Milwaukee and slightly more powerful than the Makita.
Soft start circuitry eliminates the jerk common to starting a router and both bases are designed with quick clamp systems for easy changes, as well as micro fine adjustment of bit depth. A precision centering design makes it easy to keep the bit on the intended outline when working with jigs, templates and fixtures. The trigger switch can work from either side, making the tool ambidextrous.
Makita’s kit comes with a 2-1/4 HP router motor, but it’s rated at 11.0 amps while its speed range is slightly larger than the Milwaukee, giving you 8,000 to 24,000 RPM via a variable speed dial. The electronics motor controls maintain speed even under load and this is also a low noise unit, with an output of only 81 dB.
The motor and tool are all ball-bearing design for long life and the housing is flat on top, providing stability when changing bits. Brushes are accessible externally for easy maintenance. and a cam-lock makes changing the base and adjusting the motor height quick and easy when using the fixed base. The max plunge depth on this unit is 2-19-32 inches and both sub-bases are already drilled to accept industry standard template guides. Like the Milwaukee, it comes with both 1-4 inch and 1/2 inch collets.
This is a slightly smaller router, with a 1.25 HP motor and it’s also more compact. Nevertheless it’s still packed with the same types of features we’ve seen in the other routers. A variable speed control with electronic speed control keeps the bit turning from 16,000 to 27,000 RPM, higher than the bigger units could do.
The fixed base (only) provides 1/64 inch adjustment on the bit depth. Dual LEDs illuminate the workpiece through the clear plastic baseplates and this model only comes with a 1/4” collet, as it’s a lower power unit. The motor can be easily removed from one base and put on the other for various types of work.
Porter-Cable’s claim to fame with this unit is it’s billed as a compact router because there’s times when a compact router is needed, as a larger ones just won’t fit in the desired space. Even so, it’s got a 1-1/4 HP motor, with electronic speed control and soft start. This one isn’t variable-speed, but provides a fixed speed of 27,000 RPM packed into a motor that’s only 2.70 inches in diameter. The depth adjustment ring is calibrated to provide accurate settings of 1/64 inch. The depth ring and clamping mechanism work together to ensure that the motor stays locked in position. The turret on the plunge base provides five stepped or repeating plunge cuts.