Also keep in mind that not all cheap bits are good. I used to be firmly in the camp “learn on cheapie so it doesn’t hurt so much when it breaks”.
Recently I saw someone getting trash cuts that instantly improved with a quality endmill. Also, I had some HQmasters that absolutely would not cut aluminum at any serious depth. Broke like 8 of them, blamed it on my machine not being able to go fast enough with rigidity to get the load right. Finally got the chance to chuck them into a steel and screw machine with big motors that can move and guess what? Still wouldn’t cut. The bottom is sharp enough, but not the flute edge.
I submit to you this : buy some cheapies (Hqmaster have treated me well in wood and plastic) but go ahead and get a nice one or two at the same time. Even if it’s just one. That way, if the program looks OK on the cheapie (no weird unexpected moves or feeds, and speed isn’t burning up the endmill) but the cut doesn’t look so great, you can safely chuck in the $$ and not worry about breaking it to compare the cut. Full disclosure, Jeffe suggested to me that cheap endmills cause more problems than they get credit for before I stopped to think about it.
For that matter, quality mills are also less likely break, in my experience. I just blasted one of the single flute kyoceras (the short one) that Ryan sells this weekend. I Talk these up all the time, and his price is competitive.
That was cut in one pass, and I knew it was going bad when I saw the aluminum smear up the cut to the top of the plate, but let it run to see if it would clear. Pried the scrap off and put it back to work.
I’ve had those endmills get straight up STUCK in aluminum and the steppers skip but they didn’t break. Compare that to the 1.50 endmills and suddenly cheap isn’t so inexpensive.
But, if course this is just my opinion, and I keep proving that I’m not so smart, soooooo…