I see that SKR boards are indeed available for around $20.
Interesting and intriguing. Thanks.
All the MKS SBASE 1.3 boards I am seeing are in the $45-$60 range, and around $80 with a 3.2TFT included (but of course you already have one so all you need is the main board).
All of these sorts of boards are derivatives of the original Smoothieboard and they use a less expensive processor chip from NXP that runs slightly slower (100mhz instead of 120mhz) but still has something on the order of 25-35x the processing power of the ones used on the original 8 bit boards.
So it's all good.
As for the low prices and what you are missing, well where are they manufactured?
Also, I can find identical hardware from the very same manufacturers at source prices, wholesale prices and retail prices, and they carry similar disparities in pricing to what you are describing.
It's all in how many middlemen are in the chain marking it up at each step of the way.
And of course you are taking some chances with the super cheap boards because they may or may not be tested as thoroughly as the expensive ones.
But you never know.
I might buy an SKR board just to play with, but the first impressions I get from seeing them are that there are more connection points on the SBASE version and more potential for flexibility as a result.
I run some oddball peripherals (like AC power latch circuitry and external status LEDs) so I need to have I/O pins that may or may not exist on the SKR, I don't know.
Also, the SBASE has the motor drivers (8825's, 1/32 micro-stepping) built into the board so you don't have to mess with adding your own.
Unless of course you prefer to use your own drivers, in which case the SKR might be your better choice.
And I like having a bank of status LEDs on the board itself for diagnostic purposes.
As for staying loyal to FT family ties, well sort of.
My printer at this point is only "sort of" an FT5, as are many, many others on this forum.
In the control enclosure for example nothing original remains, it has none of the original print head or carriage parts, and almost none of the original print bed parts.
The framework has been heavily modified and braced and little of the X and Y component drives remain original.
I am planning an H-Bot drive conversion one of these days, along the lines of the CoreXY, but when I will get around to it is unknown at this moment.
At that stage it really won't be an FT5 any more other than a general resemblance.
All that being said, you would probably be just fine with the SKR, and I do hope that FT moves in the direction of 32 bit controllers (and preferably color graphic displays, whether touchscreen or not).