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1. Best overall: Cricut Maker 3
2. Best laser: xTool M1
3. Most complete: Brother ScanNCut DX
4. Best control: Siser Juliet
5. Best large: Silhouette Cameo 4
6. Best beginner: Cricut Explore 3
7. Best value: Cricut Maker
8. Best portable: Cricut Joy
9. Other options
How to choose
How we test
The best vinyl cutter machines available today offer a sometimes bewildering amount of choice. Modern digital craft machines can do more than simply cut materials; they can score, engrave and be used with heat press machines to create shirts, stickers and even wallpaper.
Some vinyl cutting machines come with added functions like debossing, scoring, foil transfer, or perforation, and most can be paired with software on a laptop or smartphone so you can cut sophisticated designs relatively easily. One of the newer machines in my list below, the xTools M1, even features a laser cutter alongside a traditional blade cutter for extra accuracy and improved speed.
I've used and compared the machines below and more to cut through the specs and identify the best vinyl cutter for different needs, evaluating each machines pros and cons in terms of capacity, features, versatility, speed, power and value. If it's specifically Cricut you're looking for, see our guide to the best Cricut machines and also the best Silhouette machines, which are emerging as good alternatives.
The Quick List
Below is a very brief summary of our top six choices as the best vinyl cutter machines and what sets them apart. Scroll down or you the jump links to read more about our opinion of each or to browse or full selection.
Cricut Maker 3 can use over 300 materials, and is capable of cutting, engraving and scoring. It also makes use of the new Cricut Smart Materials for longer, mat-free cutting.
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This cutter is unique in that it features both a blade and a laser, and can cut, score and engrave with either, or both in the same project. That offers the best of two worlds: speed and incredible accuracy.
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This is a revolutionary vinyl cutting machine thanks to its inbuilt CPU and scanner, which means you don't need a computer to operate it (or a scanner). You use the simple LCD touchscreen.
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The highlights of this new vinyl cutter is the built-in camera and the neat LCD display, which we found offer precise control over pressure and accuracy. It t also has adjustable pinch rollers, so it's possible to modify speed and pressure and experiment more.
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The Cameo 4 is a bit cheaper than Cricut's Maker 3 while just beating it on power and offering a slightly wider cut area. It has on-board controls for the basics plus Bluetooth and USB. We found the built-in cross cutter keeps vinyl edges nice and neat.
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Ian Dean is a journalist who has spent 20 years writing about art and technology. In recent years, Ian has been creating crafts using digital craft machines such as Cricut as well as laser cutters and engravers. Below is Ian's pick of the best vinyl cutter machines that he has personally tested or has commissioned expert crafters to review for Creative Bloq.
The best vinyl cutter machines in full
Why you can trust Creative Bloq Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
The best vinyl cutter machine overall
If you need a vinyl cutter that can also cut a range of other materials, the Cricut Maker 3 is the Rolls Royce option. Able to cut anything from vinyl to basswood, it also works with Cricut's Smart Materials, and you won't need a cutting mat to use them. This means you can work continuously for up to 12 feet. That's long enough to make a banner or poster of real scale, and a lot more than the original Maker's 24 inches.
It's more expensive than the original Cricut Maker, but it's also twice as fast. While I don't recommend this one for people who aren't ready to make a seriously commitment to vinyl cutting, I've found it to be brilliant for large projects and works on over 300 materials. For more information, see our Cricut Maker 3 review and our comparison of Cricut Maker vs Cricut Maker 3.
The best laser vinyl cutting machine
While the best vinyl cutters on this list use a blade, the xTool M1 differs by using a blade and a laser cutter. It can cut, score and engrave using either blade or laser, or both in one project, and the handy app controls everything. xTool offers a library of pre-designed projects to get up and running with, but I found that once you've mastered the basics, it's easy to create designs in the app, which is similar to Cricut Design Space, or to import files created in other software, such as CorelDRAW.
The M1 is around the size of a large printer, or two Cricut Makers sat side-by-side, and will fit on most average-sized craft tables. A lid keeps any dust inside and you can connect an air filter, which is recommended. A 'riser' can be added to double the height of the work area and a rotary engraver enables you to engrave pens and even glass vases. As I noted in my full xTool M1 review, I found this is an essential addition.
So, the M1 can do pretty much everything a Cricut can do, but with the added option of faster cutting and engraving with the laser. A downside is everything must be placed inside the 15 x 12 inches work area, so it lacks Cricut's Smart Material lengths or the Glowforge Pro's passthrough; this expensive laser cutter features a more powerful CO2 laser module but is also twice the size. (Read my Glowforge Pro review for more on that.)
On the upside, xTools M1 offers the best of both worlds: it can speed up you cutting, offer incredible accuracy, and can engrave and cut thicker woods and plastics without the need for new attachments. If you're looking for a unique alternative to Cricut, I suggest giving this serious consideration (read my guide to the best xTool machines for more from this brand. You might also want to see our pick of the best laser cutters).
The best complete vinyl cutting machine
The Brother ScanNCut DX range is a revolutionary vinyl cutting machine that can do everything a Cricut Maker 3 can do, but without the need for a PC or tablet or a scanner. This is a self-contained craft cutting machine with a larger cutting area (11.7-inches) and 3mm Auto Blade that can cut most materials out-of-the-box.
Just like the Cricut Maker 3 you can cut fabrics, cards, metals and woods with the Brother ScanNCut DX as well as attach a pen for drawing out designs. In our review of the Brother ScanNCut DX2200D review, a Disney-branded model with extras, we found this vinyl cutter comes into its own when creating fabric designs as it will add seam measurements to your designs automatically – it means you can scan in a pattern, seams are added, and then you can feed material in and it cuts everything to fit… all on one go. If you're a sewer or quilter the Brother ScanNCut DX is essential.
There's an LCD touchscreen on the Brother ScanNCut DX that enables you to use a pre-programmed design or even create designs right there without a PC, but there is an app to use on PC or tablet too and designs can be sent to the Brother ScanNCut to adjust. As it hosts so much tech, the Brother ScanNCut DX is more costly than the Cricut Maker 3, and if you're happy to use a PC and external scanner then you may want to opt for our No.1 machine. But if you want to get crafting out-of-the-box with fewer extra costs, the Brother ScanNCut DX is a nice choice.
The best vinyl cutter machine for control
The Siser Juliet Digital Cutting Machine is the latest digital craft machine to launch, and comes from a trusted brand known for its heat press machine, the Siser Craft Heat Press (read our guide to the best heat press machines). The machine's specs make it a great alternative to Cricut Maker 3.
One of its key design features is the built-in camera for precise cutting and control over your projects. This is complimented by the neat LCD display, which means toy can control this vinyl cutter's pressure and accuracy directly. The Siser Juliet also features adjustable pinch rollers, which means it's possible to adjust the speed and pressure of the cut and experiment more.
As with Cricut, Silhouette and Brother the Siser Juliet uses its own bespoke design app, called Leonardo. I found this easy to use, and it's fully usable with other design software such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW. Overall, the Siser Juliet is an excellent addition to the digital craft machine market and is on par technically with Cricut, Brother and Silhouette. It may have a more restricted number of add-ons, but it impresses out-of-the-box.
The best vinyl cutter machine for large projects
With a 3-millimetre clearance, the Silhouette Cameo 4 works on all sorts of material, from vinyl to leather. It's perfectly suited to working on t-shirts because of its generous cutting width, ideal for larger logos and images. In many ways there's not much to separate the Cameo 4 from its rival the Cricut Maker 3, except the out of the box the Cricut can cut 300 materials and the Cameo 4 100.
Don't let that figure fool you however, as they can both cut the main materials you'll need, it's when you get into the variants of foils and metals that Maker 3 comes out on top – though you will likely need to buy extra blades to achieve this. The big difference is in blade pressure and power, the Cameo 4 pips the Maker 3 here, which means technically Silhouette's machine is more handy out-of-the-box. But, again there's nuance… Maker 3 uses a fast motion to overcome a lack of power, which can create cleaner cuts.
You can control the Cameo 4 using Bluetooth or a USB connection, but there are on-board controls too, which will let you master the basics without having to unlock your phone. The built-in cross cutter will keep vinyl edges neat, ready for your next project.
Whether you opt for the Cameo 4 over the Maker 3 will likely come down to price and which deal is best at the time you buy, and also consider the broader ecosystem of add-ons – Cricut has some excellent accessories and materials. Note that I've placed Cameo 4 is a little low on this list purely because it's so similar to Maker 3 – xTool M1 and Brother ScanNCut are very different approaches to digital crafting. Read our Cricut versus Silhouette for a more in-depth comparison.
The best vinyl cutter machine for beginners
New to crafting but want to work with smart materials? Then the Cricut Explore 3 – the successor to the Cricut Explore Air 2 (see below) – is probably the best vinyl cutting machine for you. Cricut's Smart Materials allow you to cut projects without the need for a cutting mat. This means you can make cuts up to 12 ft (3.6 m) long in one go. T
he Cricut Explore 3 cuts very fast, can cut 100 different materials, and yet it's quite affordable. It comes pre-installed with a premium fine-point blade, blade housing and an accessory adapter in the machine. You also get a quick start guide, USB cable, a power cord and a sample of Smart Vinyl for a test cut. Just note that this is a mid-range model and not as powerful or feature-rich as the Cricut Maker 3. If you need more professional features, such as being able to cut 300 types of material, then you may find the premium-priced vinyl cutter suits your needs more closely. For more information, read our full Cricut Explore 3 review.
The best vinyl cutter machine for value
The original Cricut Maker is another great mid-range option, as it comes with a powerful rotary blade that cuts through far more than vinyl. It's capable of cutting through thicker projects up to 2.4mm, too, and the 30cm wide cutting slot is suitable for even larger tasks.
Straight out of the box there are 50 projects ready to go. These work with Cricut Design Space, which has a capable free version, as well as an optional subscription that could massively expand the fonts and designs on offer. It can do most tasks and cut and score hundreds of materials, as our writer wrote in her Cricut Maker review: "Whether you want a cutting machine for personal projects or you’re planning on using it for business, this machine can do it all."
This is slightly larger than the Maker 3 but is an older model, meaning it's slightly less powerful and from experience louder than the Maker 3, can't fit a roll holder and won't use Smart Materials. But 'power' I'm really talking about speed, as both machines can cut much the same material list, but Maker will take longer. Because of this, and its age, you can get some excellent discounts on this aged model but it's still a powerful vinyl cutting machine that can compete. A Maker 3, or indeed an Explore 3, will future-proof your crafting, but for price and performance the original Maker is excellent value.
The best portable vinyl cutter machine
The Cricut Joy is specially designed for vinyl cutting. While it's got a narrower cutting width, it can work on Smart Materials for as long as 20 feet, making it suitable for banners or repetitive tasks without too much supervision. You won't even need a cutting mat when working with Cricut's own materials, meaning it can go on and on. It's neat and compact, and looks pretty cute, too.
Because it's controlled entirely from your phone or laptop, the Cricut Joy vinyl cutting machine isn't a good choice for those who would prefer to push physical buttons. But this is a big advantage of the Joy over some of its larger vinyl cutting machines – it can be run from a mobile, tablet or even one of the best Chromebooks for Cricut. This is a smart portable craft cutting machine to take to a friend's house for an afternoon of fun.
In her Cricut Joy review, our writer loved this little craft machine commenting, "if you want to create cards, stickers and heat press templates the Cricut Joy is a quick and easy gadget to have in your craft closet". It's size limits what you can do, but also means the Joy can be stored and accessed quicker – it's a nice entry-level cutting machine or companion to a Maker 3.
Most crafters will want something that's not too cheap and nasty, but also won't want to pay top dollar for a premium cutting machine. In which case, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is the perfect middle ground. This is an older model of the newly release Explore 3 (above) and as such you'll likely find some good deals.
Aside from vinyl it can cut over 100 materials, from cardstock and iron-on for t-shirts to glitter paper, bonded fabric, and even cork board. You also benefit from a fast mode that can power through simple tasks in double its regular speed, which is fantastic for those finishing touches.
You can control the Cricut Explore Air 2 using Bluetooth, and upload your own fonts and photos for free. There's also compatibility with Cricut software on both Android and iOS. And while it's pretty large, the in-built tool storage makes it surprisingly neat. The real downside here is this older model doesn't support Cricut's new Smart Materials, meaning in the long run it could have limited use, unless you use it for general craft cutting.
Short on space? The Silhouette Portrait 3 is a lower-cost portable machine with an in-built roll feeder, and it weighs about the same as the Cricut Joy despite being a lot more equipped for different materials. Silhouette is often pitted as a Cricut alternative, and this is an excellent example. It works with both Bluetooth and USB connection, so you'll always have the guarantee of a backup if your connection fails. Another smart feature is the auto-detection of different cutting tools, depending on what material you're working with.
Silhouette Portrait 3 is actually in a little corner of the digital crafting machine market all to itself; it's not as large as an Explore 3 or as small as a Joy but sits somewhere in the middle, meaning its a good beginner choice but also you may find yourself either wanting the portability of Joy or the power of Explore 3 later. Or indeed, the smallest Cameo 4.
The reason for its size is down to the history of craft cutting, most of these machines grew out of the die-cutting (read our best embossing machines guide) trend, which relied on A4 sized projects and templates. So, if you're used to a Sizzix or Gemini, the Portrait 3 could be your best way into using a vinyl cutter.
How to choose the best vinyl cutter machine
The best vinyl cutter machines used to be predominantly die-cut models, with manual cutters that were only as good as the dies you buy. These days, models from Cricut and Silhouette mean you can have endless fun printing different vinyl stickers for use on cards, labelling, making banners, and even on clothing.
Cricuts are the most popular, but the Cricut vs Silhouette debate is still pretty active. Silhouette machines are often just as capable, and a lot cheaper than Cricut, but they lack the sturdy design with generous in-built storage.
When choosing, think about the size of the projects you'll be working on. While cutting width is a big factor, machines that don't need a mat will mean you're not limited on the length of your project. Cricut models that use the brand's Smart Materials can go for as long as 12 feet, and that includes the nifty Cricut Joy. My advice is consider what you need the machine for and choose the one that best suits your needs, which needn't be the most expensive.
Are vinyl cutting machines portable?
While some vinyl cutting machines are hefty and not ideal for moving away from your crafting space, others can be transported to any place you may want to use them, and they're also a lot more storage-friendly. In our view, the best portable vinyl cutting machine is the Cricut Joy. It's neat and compact, and although that means a narrow cutting width, it can work on Smart Materials for as long as 20 feet, making it suitable for banners.
What are the differences between Cricut and Silhouette machines?
Generally both machines are evenly matched, but I would say the Silhouette Cameo 4 has more pressure in its blade mechanism than the Cricut Maker 3 so it can brute force cuts, while the Maker 3 uses a series of cuts to achieve the same result. Cricut has a broader range of accessories and blades, which means if you invest then Maker 3 can cut more. Read my guide, Cricut vs Silhouette for a deep dive into the two brands and vinyl cutting machines.
Do you need a computer to use a vinyl cutter?
For electrical vinyl cutting machines like those in my list, then generally yes. These craft cutting machines have apps that run on Mac and Windows and Android versions that can run on mobiles, tablets and Chromebooks. The alternative is the Brother ScanNCut range that features an onboard CPU and touchscreen, so technically you don't need a computer with these machines.
Which vinyl cutter is better, Cricut or Brother?
I love the Brother ScanNCut because its a complete system with a built-in scanner and CPU, and it's a powerful craft cutting machine that can do almost everything with few hidden costs. It also plots and adds seam allowances into designs, so is perfect for sewers. Cricut is great too but I find you need to spend on extras to achieve more – but Maker 3 is very easy to use and can be used with Cricut's excellent heat press machines, the EasyPress 3 and Mug Press.
How we tested the best vinyl cutter machines
When we test vinyl cutters and other craft machines, we not only examine what a product can do, but also the value it represents. Our writers are crafters, some pf them professional, so they know what's needed from a new cutting machine, and they test each product in the context of the type of work it is used for in the real world. In this case, we used the machine to cut vinyl for real craft project, evaluating each machine for capacity, speed, easy of use, and value for money.
Read more: How we test and review craft machines