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Glowforge vs. xTool: Which One Should You Buy?

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Updated to include xTool P2! Laser machines are exploding onto the market as a popular tool for crafters! The ability to laser cut and engrave a wide variety of materials is something that intrigues many creators. When it comes to choosing a laser cutter, Glowforge and xTool are two very popular options. But which laser cutter is right for you? I own both machines, and I have compared them in terms of their features and cost. Keep reading to see which laser cutter you should buy!

glowforge v. xtool with glowforge pro, xtool m1, and xtool p2 images

What is a Laser Cutter?

A laser cutting machine is a machine that uses a tiny but powerful focused beam of light (laser) to cut, engrave, and score various materials at the width of a human hair.

They are relatively new to crafters, but have increased in popularity in the last few years. Laser machines for crafts gained interest on platforms such as Kickstarter, and are finally hitting the market in mass quantities.

Glowforge was the first consumer-grade laser cutter popular with hobbyists and professionals alike. There have been many complaints about the price of a Glowforge machine for entry level crafters. Enter: Makeblock. They have exploded onto the market with affordable laser engravers and cutters (including the hybrid M1 laser and blade machine and the brand new 55W P2 CO2 machine) that you can use to make a variety of crafts, including laser engraved wood, acrylic, and other popular laser cut crafts.

Both the Glowforge and the xTool desktop laser cutters are a crafter’s dream! They are precise, impressive, and most importantly, user friendly for the general public. BUT, there are some MAJOR differences between Glowforge and certain xTool laser machines that you need to know before you buy one.

xtool vs glowforge

Which is the best laser cutting machine? I own a Glowforge Pro 3D Laser Printer as well as a xTool M1 10W Hybrid Laser and Blade Cutting Machine. However, xTool has additional lines of laser engravers and cutting machines that I will reference, including the brand new xTool P2 55W CO2 laser machine!

Note: the P2 55W Laser Cutting Machine is available for preorder and will ship starting in May 2023. As soon as I get one, I’ll have a xTool P2 Review!

If you’re looking for affordability, you should look at xTool laser machines. For performance and speed, the Glowforge is a better machine (for now! I haven’t had a chance to test the P2 yet). But there are a ton of details to compare! Before you spend a lot of money on a craft machine, I want you to know ALL of the facts – so let’s get started!

Glowforge v. xTool

I’m going to cover a LOT of information! If there’s a feature or product detail that you’re most interested in, you can jump ahead to that section by using the links below:

Size and Weight

Type of Laser

Precision of Cut and Engrave Functions



Maintenance and Care

Materials You Can Engrave and Cut


Additional Features to Consider

CONCLUSION: Which Machine You Should Buy (and WHY)

xtool m1 laser cutter sitting on desk in craft room

Glowforge vs. xTool M1

For a quick comparison of the machines, here’s a Glowforge v. xTool comparison chart:

Glowforge v. xTool M1 Machine Comparison Chart

Glowforge vs. xTool P2

Here’s a quick look at the specs of the Glowforge Laser Printing Machines in comparison to the new xTool P2 (they are much more similar than the Glowforge and M1):

comparison chart of glowforge vs. xtool p2

You can also read more details about each of the machines at these posts:

First, let’s compare the size of the Glowforge and xTool M1 and P2.

Size and Weight: Difference Between the Glowforge and xTool M1 and P2

The Glowforge is approximately 38 inches long x 20.75 inches deep x 8.25 inches high, and weighs 55 pounds. It’s quite a large machine and takes up a good deal of desk space. In fact, I purchased a Husky tool chest with drawers to place my machine on. My desk wasn’t quite big enough.

Despite the large footprint of the Glowforge, the actual cutting (printable) area of the Glowforge is approximately 11 x 19.5 inches. If you upgrade to the Glowforge Pro, you do have the option of cutting with the passthrough slot. The passthrough allows you to cut materials of any length.

The xTool M1 approximately 22 inches long x 18 inches deep x 9 inches high. It is so much smaller than the Glowforge! It weighs just over 20 pounds, which was light enough to unpack and move around by myself. I compare it to a large desktop printer in size. In fact, I put the M1 on the Ikea Alex drawer cart that my printer was on!

xtool m1 sitting on glowforge pro to compare size

The cutting area of the M1 laser machine is 12 x 15 inches, which is a little smaller than the Glowforge.

The xTool P2 is slightly larger than the Glowforge at 39.4 x 25.1 x 10.6 inches. It has a cutting area of 23.6 x 12.1 inches, which is a great size! BUT, because of the depth of 25.1, it wouldn’t quite fit even on my Husky workbench (it would only exceed it by 0.6 inches). I would have to get a bigger workbench or make a custom table to fit the P2.

WINNER: Makeblock xTool M1 (for Diode) or Glowforge (for CO2)

This conclusion is based on size alone. Unless you have a large craft space or studio, the xTool M1 packs a punch despite being contained in a small size. If you want to find a reasonably priced workbench that fits a desktop CO2 laser easily, the Glowforge is a better purchase because it is under 24 inches deep.

What Type of Laser is the Glowforge v. xTool?

The power behind the xTool M1 is a diode laser, as opposed to the CO2 laser of the Glowforge and xTool P2. Diode and CO2 lasers use two entirely different scientific methods to create laser beams, which creates differences in their capabilities.

Diode lasers are MUCH less expensive than CO2 lasers. It is the main reason that diode lasers are becoming popular in the DIY and crafting market. Diode lasers last longer, are more durable, but are less powerful than CO2 lasers.

Because they are so much less powerful, they are much slower than CO2 laser machines. But both lasers have limitations to the thickness and material that you can cut, regardless of which one you choose.

The xTool M1 diode laser machine is available in 5W and 10W laser optical strengths, which is powerful enough for most home crafters. However, it is much less powerful than the Glowforge Pro CO2 laser tube power, which is 45W. The Glowforge Basic and Plus models have 40W of laser tube power. The xTool P2 is the most powerful at a laser power of 55W, which is huge! But unfortunately I haven’t been able to test it yet to see if that strength is necessary for most projects.

laser module and blade housing inside xtool m1 hybrid cutting machine

The xTool M1 10W laser can cut a variety of materials including wood (up to 8mm thick) and acrylic (up to 3mm) in one pass.

Glowforge can cut many materials 1/4″ and less in one pass. For engraving, you can insert objects as thick as 2 inches. The Glowforge can engrave to a depth of 1/2 inch, depending on the material.

Because the xTool P2 is so much more powerful, it can cut 20mm acrylic in one pass – that’s over 3/4 inch! It can cut solid wood up to 18mm, and plywood up to 12mm (really thick plywood has a tendency to light on fire). It can also engrave at over 600mm/s. That 10W increase in power definitely shows in cutting material thickness and speed! I truly can’t wait to test it’s capabilities.

As far as diode lasers go, I have a 10W xTool M1 machine. I tested it against the Glowforge, and there really is no comparison with speed and power. That said, if I didn’t have a Glowforge, I wouldn’t have known any different and would have been impressed by the M1.

All of that said, CO2 and diode lasers are different enough that I can’t compare them fairly. It all comes down to what kind of power you’d like for your projects.

WINNER: xTool P2

A CO2 laser is more powerful, is faster than a diode, and can cut thicker materials. The end.

Precision and Accuracy of Craft Laser Machines

Time for some detailed technical specifications!

The laser beam produced by the M1 is 0.08 x 0.08mm (.08mm in diameter), which is quite impressive for an affordable laser cutter. It is accurate within .01mm, producing an image quality of 500dpi.

The Glowforge laser beam is 0.008in (0.2mm) and can position the beam within 0.001 in (0.03 mm). That means it can print in 1000dpi (the average web picture is 72dpi and printed image is 300dpi).

xTool P2 is also 0.008in (0.2mm) and the precision of the laser is 0.01mm. The visual precision of the AI camera is 0.03mm and it can print up to 1000dpi when laser engraving.

WINNER: It’s a tie between the Glowforge Pro and xTool P2

The M1 produces a smaller beam, but the Glowforge and P2 have a much higher printing quality than other laser engraving machines.

What Software Does Glowforge and xTool Require?

Glowforge has a printing application that has a Basic (free) version and Premium (paid) version. Both are the same platform, but the premium subscription includes additional features. I do have the premium subscription and use it to add shapes when needed to my designs. There is also a premium design catalog and free special monthly premium design.

xTool laser machines use xTool Creative Space (D1 and M1) and Laserbox (Laserbox Rotary CO2).

The P2 can use xTool Creative Space as well as Lightburn.

Both machines can connect to your computer and the software using Wifi, but the Glowforge app MUST be connected to the internet to work. Both xTool machines can connect to your computer via cable.

Both softwares work with Mac and Windows based computers.

WINNER: Glowforge Pro

I have used both programs extensively, and I personally prefer the Glowforge software. It is smoother and more user friendly. xTool Creative Space is a little clunky BUT it is not a bad software overall.

For 99% of my projects, I use imported designs. I design SVG files in Adobe Illustrator and then upload them to the design software. For this function, both Glowforge and xTool software are perfectly fine.

Safety Features of xTool and Glowforge Laser Machines

Lasers are definitely more dangerous than other craft machines, but both the Glowforge and xTool have built in safety features.

The machines will automatically stop if the lid is opened when the laser head is cutting or engraving. This is helpful in keeping little fingers out as well as keeping materials from being moved.

Both the Glowforge and M1 are enclosed machines and block light, so you don’t need to wear safety goggles when the laser is operational. I also like that the P2 has an auto-locking lid.

The Glowforge Pro has a different class of laser, which requires additional safety features. A laser safety course is required with purchase of the Pro (it’s included with your purchase and you complete it with setup). There is also a light blocking panel if you are using the passthrough slot.

xTool offers D1 laser machines that feature an open cutting area. They have additional safety features such as a flame detector, gyroscope to stop the machine if it were to get moved, and you can also buy a safety enclosure. (I have little kids around, so this machine was never a consideration for me).

Both the Glowforge and xTool machines have built in fans to remove dust particles and toxic fumes while the machines are in use. There is no need for additional ventilation if you can use the included pipes to vent out a window.

I have an inline fan for my Glowforge, and I just added the air assist to my xTool M1 10W. An air assist is included with the xTool P2. For either machine, I would recommend an inline fan and/or a face mask if you are sensitive to smells or small dust particles.

WINNER: It’s a tie between the Glowforge Pro and xTool Machines. Both companies take safety very seriously.

Both machines are safe for home crafters and outside of keeping a fire extinguisher in my craft room, I’ve never felt unsafe with either machine.

If there was a slight edge, it would go to the P2 because of the auto-locking lid.

Maintenance and Care of Desktop Laser Cutting Machines

Regardless of the laser cutter and engraver you buy, you’ll have to keep up with the machine to keep it running at peak performance.

Both the Glowforge and xTool lenses will need to be cleaned regularly to ensure proper function of the machine. Glowforge recommends wiping the lenses with a ZEISS cleaning wipe. xTool recommends that you wipe the lenses with dry cotton or cotton material moistened with alcohol.

In addition to the lenses, you need to make sure that the insides are kept clean from dust and debris. Both machines require a little bit of maintenance, but really no more than you would expect. It doesn’t take much time away from my crafting. If you plan to produce more projects, expect to have to clean the machine more.

Let’s talk for a second about laser durability/lifespan.

Diode lasers last longer than CO2 lasers. That’s just how it is. That means your Glowforge and P2 laser may not last as long as your xTool laser. (For reference, the P2 CO2 laser is expected to last 6000-8000 working hours).

If you need to replace the laser parts, you have to send your Glowforge machine back to the company. I’ve not had to do it, but it’s quite expensive. If you are making a lot of projects to sell or stock an online shop, that may be something you need to consider.

WINNER: xTool M1 (when considering laser lifespan.) It’s a TIE for regular maintenance.

Materials You Can Cut or Engrave with Glowforge vs. xTool

Here are some of the materials you can use with both machines. This is not an exhaustive list.

A Glowforge can cut and engrave wood, fabric, leather, paper, acrylic, and more materials. The Glowforge can also engrave glass, coated metal, marble, some phones and laptops, and more.

The xTool M1 can cut and engrave wood, bamboo, some colors of acrylic, MDF, leather, and more. It can engrave paper, cardboard, fabric, felt, sticker paper, glass, ceramic, stainless steel, slate, and more.

The xTool P2 can cut and engrave everything that the Glowforge can! It’s due to them being CO2 lasers instead of diode lasers.

Here’s a handy chart to compare materials that the Glowforge and xTool M1 can cut and engrave:

glowforge v xtool p2 materials comparison chart

The major difference between what the Glowforge and P2 vs. M1 can cut or engrave is: ACRYLIC. This is an important distinction, and comes down to the diode v. the CO2 laser. The xTool can only cut or engrave certain colors of acrylic. I’ve had most success with black and green, to be honest.

WINNER: Glowforge Pro and xTool P2

It is disappointing that you can’t cut or engrave most acrylic with the xTool M1. Acrylic crafts are something that most crafters look forward to when they purchase a laser cutter. But that’s just what the diode laser is capable of. If acrylic crafts are NOT on your to-do list, then you can remove that from your consideration.

Cost of the Glowforge v. xTool M1 and P2

Let’s cover the xTool machines first. The 5W xTool M1 is listed at $1299 and the 10W M1 is listed at $1499. I have seen them online (in fact at the time I wrote and updated this post) at $818 for the 5W and $910 for the 10W (prices subject to change due to sales.)

The xTool P2 is listed at $4999 (currently on sale for $4199, subject to change at any time).

Shipping is FREE with the purchase of the M1 or P2 (subject to change).

Here’s how much Glowforge machines cost (prepare yourselves). The Glowforge Basic Laser Machine is $3995, a Glowforge Plus is $4995, and a Glowforge Pro is $6995*. Shipping is $350. These prices are also subject to change. I have recently seen Glowforge offer a free shipping promotion. The glow forge price for the Pro model is definitely cost prohibitive for a lot of crafters.

*NOTE: With my Glowforge coupon, you can save up to $500 on a machine.

The cost of materials that you can use with either machine is about the same. Depending on the crafts you prefer, materials can be costly. Wood and acrylic are not cheap items, and you don’t want to buy cheap quality wood, acrylic, or other thick materials. If you are selling finished crafts, that material cost is translated into the cost of your finished item.

Glowforge has a line of “Proofgrade” materials that are available on their website or at Michaels. xTool also has a line of materials that will fit inside the machine available on their website.

WINNER: xTool M1 for affordability, xTool P2 for value

Despite that the xTool M1 isn’t as powerful or as fast as the Glowforge (refer back to the diode v. CO2 laser), it wins for affordability HANDS DOWN. The xTool M1 is a steal at under $1000 if you can catch it on sale. With sales tax and shipping added, a Glowforge Pro would be over $8000. Ouch.

For value, you can get a 55W laser from xTool for around $4000 or a 40W laser from Glowforge for about the same price. I would purchase the 55W every time.

Additional Details to Consider Before You Purchase a Glowforge or xTool

The xTool machines have the additional rotary tool attachment (RA2 Pro) that you can use to engrave round items such as tumblers or glasses. It’s something that Glowforge does not offer.

In addition to the rotary attachment, the M1 is a hybrid machine that includes a blade cutting system. I wouldn’t choose it over my Cricut machine, but it does work.

Glowforge v. xTool: Which Machine Should You Buy?

Just to reiterate, the xTool M1 is a totally different type of laser, so you can’t quite compare it. When you compare diode v. CO2 lasers, it’s obvious that the Glowforge is a machine with WAY more power. A diode laser will never be as powerful or as fast as CO2 laser engraving machines.

If you are a beginner or hobby crafter, and you don’t own a laser machine – honestly, the xTool M1 might be the machine for you. It’s very easy to use, and it is a good machine to introduce you to the world of laser crafting.

If you’re a pretty experienced crafter, but want to try out laser cutting and engraving. If you want to make personal items or gifts for family and friends – again, the 10W M1 is a great machine to consider!

If you are an experienced crafter and you will consider adding laser crafts to your busy Etsy shop, website, or craft shows, I would recommend a xTool P2 with the Rotary Attachment. If you are working in large product batches, want to make ALL the acrylic projects, have lots of heavily engraved items, or just need to pump out projects quickly, the xTool M1 isn’t for you. Actually, no diode laser is going to cut it for you (haha, laser joke). You really should look into a 40W or more powerful Co2 laser.

For the money, the xTool M1 10W is a GREAT BUY. The affordable price is the main selling point, in my opinion. It would make an amazing gift for a beginner laser crafter, especially if you’ve been scared off by the price of a CO2 laser. You can buy every accessory for the M1 and a selection of supplies for less than 1/2 of the price of a basic CO2 laser. That’s a pretty big deal if you’re just getting started with laser crafts.

Let me know what you think and if you buy a laser cutting machine! I would love to see what you create! You can comment at the end of the post or email me at: info@pineapplepaperco.com – although email gets to me faster!


If you or someone you know is considering a laser cutter purchase, make sure you pin this image to your favorite crafting board on Pinterest:

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

glowforge v xtool

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about charynn


Hi, y’all! I’m Charynn, the owner and designer of Pineapple Paper Co. I’m a mom of four kids (two girls and two boys) living in Pittsburgh. I love hand lettering, anything southern, cocktails, and of course, pineapples! I am excited to share my SVG files, printables, and craft projects with you! The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, and I welcome y’all to my little corner of the internet. Read more…

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