here is some thought processes when I bought stringing machines.
1. Set the budget
2. type of machine (drop weight, crank and electronic)
3. your personality
When I search for my first stringing machine, I set my budget about $300-500. I was thinking of drop weights but I was also looking for used crank machine locally too. I found like new condition silent partner Aria (electronic for $500 locally) but it was a little late. I think I searched over 6 months then I found Gamma progression ST II (Crank machine) for $450 with a stand. when I saw the machine, I could recognize that the machine was barely used. it was very good deal since it comes with a stand too. the funny thing was I needed some tools such as starting clamp, awl etc so I visited Silent partner website in the same day I bought the gamma. I found the close out deal of Opus (MSRP: $3000) which I could not resist. the deal was hard to believe and I thought it might be a lifetime chance to own high end electronic machine. It was very a hard decision because I just got the machine but I thought If I buy high end machine, I don't need to search or try to upgrade stringing machine anymore in the future so I bought OPUS. Never had any regrets in my decision. everything works very smooth and easy to stringing especially prince O3 rackets (my main racket is Japanese Rebel 95).
When you set the budget, you will know what kind of machine is the best option for you then your personality might play some part of decision.
In my case, I knew if I don't buy the electronic machine at that time, I might still search for good electronic machine in the future. I did not want to deal anymore so I bought the machine. If you have money to spend high end electronic machine, there is nothing wrong to buy a first stringing machine for electronics.
tight budget (under $200) : Gamma Progression 200 or Klippermate (drop weight)
low budget ($300-500): Gamma Progression II 602 (drop weight)
Low-high ($500-1000) : ALPHA Revo 4000 or Gamma Progression ST II (Crank).
Mid budget ($1000-$1500) : ALPHA Axis Pro (less than $1000) Prince neo 1000, 1500, Gamma 5003, 6004 (crank).
Mid high ($1500-$2000) : I won't buy any in this price range because you only can get entry level electronic but crank might be a much better option.
High low ($2000-2500) : Gamma 5800 (electronic)
High medium ($2500-3000). I can't think of any machine in this price range and might expend a little more to buy next level. I've seen alpha odessey might be this price range but have not heard anymore for the machine.
High ($3000 over) : there are some high end machines but babolat star 5 might be the most popular and Wilson Baiardo might be most wanted haha.
there are more high ends machines but in this level, it depends on stringers preferences.
you can get cheaper alternative stringing machine but usually name brand might have better resale value though (I sold my gamma for $500 within a day, never strung any on the machine haha).
Good luck with your search and take time to find a good deal.
stringing machines are strange that some people bought new machine then stringing rackets for less than 50. After that stop stringing anymore for a year or more then decide to sell for half prices. .
I often see like new condition stringing machine for more than half price off.