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xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura – which laser is right for you?

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We’re going to compare 2 popular diode craft lasers, the xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura. What do these machines have in common and what sets them apart? Plus, my expert recommendation on which one is going to work best for you.

This post may contain affiliate links, view my full disclosure policy.

Glowforge Aura vs xTool M1

I’ve been using, and reviewing, craft lasers for a while. I have been able to get my hands on new models as they are released and share buying tips with you early. If you are ready to start crafting with a laser I want you to have the best model for your projects.

What is a craft laser

First things first, what is a craft laser and why would you want one? The models we are talking about are low wattage diode lasers. They are safe to use in your home or small workshop and can help you cut and engrave a wide variety of small projects.

Lasers are ideal for cutting and engraving wood, acrylic, metal, leather, stone, ceramic. paper and more. Take a look at some of my favorite laser projects for inspiration. I use a laser in addition to my Cricut and other craft tools, it has allowed me to expand my projects and create detailed pieces that I couldn’t do before.

collage of laser items
tumbler | cutting board | painted wood pins | bottle opener

Not all craft lasers are made equal, you can start with a beginner model like the Aufero Laser 2 for under $300. It performs great but there is a learning curve and it does have some limitations.

When looking for a diode laser, keep a few things in mind. Ideally, you want an enclosed box for safely. I like a laser with easy to use software, and excellent proven customer support. Take a look at all my tips for choosing a laser.

Why the Glowforge and xTool?

These 2 machines are very similar and check all the boxes for what to look for in a laser. From the outside it can be tough to tell which one is right for you. They are both marketed very well!

Take a look and my review of the Glowforge Aura and the xTool M1 for more details.

Let’s start by talking about their similarities. Here is what both the Glowforge Aura and xTool M1 have in common.

  • Diode laser – learn the technical definition here, but for our purposes know that both machines are using the same technology.
  • Fully enclosed – this means your eyes are safe when the laser is running. It has a box around the machine, and a tinted lid. You never want to look directly at a laser beam. If using an open laser be sure to wear goggles and keep others out of the area.
  • Built in camera that live updates when connected to the software so you can place your designs appropriately on the material.
  • Auto-focus – on lower model lasers you have to manually focus and home your machine. Auto focus saves time and helps ensure your project is using the correct settings.
  • Optional air filter/smoke purifier – this add on can be really important. The other option is to vent your machine out a window. A filter keeps the air around you clean and safe.
  • Software – a proprietary design studio that allows you to create or upload designs that can be cut and engraved. As opposed to other lasers that use open source versions like LaserGRBL or Light Burn.
  • Wide variety of materials – Both machines can work with wood, acrylic, metal, stone, fabric, cardboard and more.
  • Pre assembled – there is very little set up involved, you can be up and running in no time.
  • Great community and customer support – Join a brand specific Facebook community and watch YouTube videos, both companies also offer direct support for any issues you come across.
  • Similar price range – these are not inexpensive lasers, either one is an investment.

Machine specifications

Here are a few items that are unique to the Glowforge Aura.

Glowforge Aura and air filter
  • 6 W diode laser
  • The working space inside the machine 12×12 inches with pass through slots allowing you to work on longer pieces. You can work on a piece of material up to 1/4 inch thick.
  • Sleek and quiet, this machine looks great in my craft room.
  • Easy to use. It has 1 button and 1 cord, and is connected to your device via WiFi. The material settings auto populate and all you have to do it pick a design and print.
  • Built in fan to move air around but no air assist. The machine does not come with a vent hose, it needs the air purifier to run efficiently.
  • Software – there is a free version, but the paid option offers so much more. Compare them here. Both make the machine really easy to use.
  • Proofgrade materials – these are amazing. Everything is pre-masked giving you clean cut lines without char. There is a QR code on each one that is scanned by the camera. Material settings are done automatically taking out any testing or guess work.

A few things that are unique to the xTool M1

xtool m1 full photo
  • 10 W laser
  • 11×15 working space
  • Vent hose comes with the machine for venting out a window or connecting to a smoke purifier.
  • Ability to add on – this is one of the best parts of the M1.
    • Air assist – a hose that attaches to the side of the laser and greatly reduces char and build up when cutting.
    • Risers for taller items – remove the base and lift the machine using risers or a riser base.
    • Rotary holder for round items – Engrave tumblers, mugs, balls and rings with this tool.
    • Honeycomb base for less char when cutting – when combined with air assist these add ons give your projects are clean professional finish.
  • Blade – not only is the xTool M1 a laser, it has a blade cutter built in. Learn how to cut vinyl with the M1. The machine comes with an adhesive cutting mat that sticks the base to hold vinyl, HTV or paper. It operates just like a Cricut and allows you to create all kinds of projects using 1 machine.
  • Free software – XCS is free and continually updated. It’s also very easy to use.

Craft laser Price

An important part of making this decision when it comes to the xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura is price. It might be the most important decision. Both lasers are over $1000, putting them well above other basic models on the market. These prices are current as of October 2023, check the links for the most up to date pricing and deals.

My recommendation

I enjoy and use both of these machines pretty regularly. Both are in my office, sit nicely on a set of wide Alex drawers, and are safe to use in my home.

I use the Glowforge Aura for basic engraving, I really like the masked Proofgrade materials and how incredibly simple it is to create a project from start to finish.

The xTool M1 I use more often for cutting and engraving projects. I have more freedom to create in their software and am able to adjust the height of the machine to accomodate all types of material.

If you want something really straightforward and plan to work with flat (1/4 inch or less) materials, the Glowforge is a good option. I have enjoyed the personal air filter and would recommend that, it allows me to use the laser anywhere without venting it outside. I would not recommend buying this machine without it, there is no vent hose to use out a window that comes with the machine.

If you want to do more, or think you might down the road, the xTool M1 is a great investment. It has a slightly stronger diode laser so it’s faster and more efficient. You have the ability to engrave tumblers and other circular items. Plus, engrave on thick items using the risers or rise base to increase the height of the machine.

xTool M1 on risers

And, it has a blade allowing you to use it like a Cricut or Silhouette to cut vinyl, HTV, thin paper, fabric and more.

xTool M1 blade

The xTool M1 has multiple package options and deals that include the riser kit, air assist, delux material bundle and the rotary tool. Keep an eye on their site for deals, I also share them on Instagram as they are announced.

The xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura can be a tough choice to make, I hope this overview helped you decide. Be sure to watch the video in this post for more details, and drop any more questions in the comments.

Glowforage Aura vs xTool M1

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Tami Williams

Sunday 3rd of December 2023

I’ve subscribed to your you tube channel, I watched your comparison on the m1 and the Aura, I have a question, can you upload svg files that I’ve purchased from ETSY and other places for use in the M1? I have a Silhouette and have hundreds of images saved that I would like to use with the laser. Thank you, I was torn between which one to get and I agree the one machine laser and cutter, plus the ability to add the add ons make sense to go with the M1


Sunday 10th of December 2023

Yes you can upload SVG files, I do it all the time. So glad you found this helpful!

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