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The Best Cricut Machine (2020): Which Cricut Best Suits Your Crafting Needs?

Cricut is a household name in the crafting world, with many serious crafters owning a Cricut machine or two in their art room. Out of the cutting machines it has released in the past few years, which is the best Cricut machine? We compare its flagship Cricut Maker and its predecessors, the Explore Air 2 and the Explore Air, to help you pick the best Cricut machine for your crafting needs.

The Best Cricut Machine (2020): Maker vs Explore Line Comparison Chart

ModelCricut MakerCricut Explore Air 2Cricut Explore Air
best cricut machine 2020 (2)best cricut machine 2020 (2)best cricut machine 2020 (2)
PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Year Released201720162015
Major Upgrades From Its PredecessorCutting power and the Adaptive Tool SystemUp to 2x faster and has more color optionsBluetooth and dual carriage
Cutting Force4000 grams400 grams400 grams
Max Cutting Size12 x 24 in12 x 24 in12 x 24 in
BluetoothYesYesYes
Adaptive Tool SystemYesNoNo
Fast ModeYesYesNo
ColorsBlue, Lilac, Champagne, Mint, White, RoseBlue, Cherry Blossom, Matte Black, Twilight, Mint, Persimmon, RoseBlue
SoftwareDesign SpaceDesign SpaceDesign Space
Free Ready-To-Make Projects50 plus 25 sewing patterns5050
Included ToolsRotary Blade, Fine-Point Blade, Fine Point Pen, 12″ x 12″ FabricGrip™ and 12″ x 12″ LightGrip machine matsFine-Point Blade, Fine-Point Pen, 12″ x 12″ LightGrip machine matFine-Point Blade, Fine-Point Pen,12″ x 12″ LightGrip machine mat
Compatible ToolsAll the tools available for the Explore Air 2 plus the following:
Rotary Blade
Knife Blade
Single Scoring Wheel
Double Scoring Wheel
Wavy Blade
Perforation Blade
Fine Debossing Tip
Engraving Tip
Deep Point Blade
Bonded Fabric Blade
Scoring Stylus
Cricut Pens
Scoring Stylus, Deep-Point Blade, Bonded Fabric Blade, Cricut Pens

Downward Force and Speed

The Cricut Maker is the best Cricut machine in terms of cutting power and versatility.

cricut comparison
The Cricut Maker can cut through thicker materials such as the boards used for many 3D DIY projects

Dubbed as the “ultimate cutting machine,” the Cricut Maker provides significant upgrades from its predecessor that make it worth switching to this newer model. It has up to 4000 grams of downward cutting force which makes it 10x more powerful than the Explore Air 2 and Explore Air. Using its compatible blades, the Maker lets you cut through leatherette, balsa wood, chipboards felt, fabric, and other materials that are up to 2.4mm thick.

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Both the Explore Air 2 and the Explore Air have up to 400 grams of cutting force and though not as powerful as the Cricut Maker, these machines can still cut through around a hundred material types. If you don’t cut wood or thick fabric often, these Cricut machines can still cut through most cardstocks, vinyl iron-ons, and bonded fabric with great precision.

As for speed, the Cricut Maker and the Explore Air 2 are equipped with the Fast Mode feature and can cut and write twice as fast as the older Explore Air. Perhaps the major difference of the Explore Air 2 from the Explore Air is the speed. If you create quite a lot of projects using your Cricut, the Fast Mode makes a big difference and saves you a lot of time.

You can read our more detailed comparison chart of the Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2 here.

Machine Tools

The Cricut Maker has the capability to expand its compatible tools, making it the best Cricut machine for long term use

best cricut machines 2020
The Engraving, Debossing, Wavy Rotary, and Perforation Tools were released for the Maker in 2019

At a lower price tag, the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Explore Air are equipped to cut, write, and score a hundred or so materials through its compatible tools: the Fine-Point Blade, Deep-Point Blade, Bonded Fabric Blade, Scoring Stylus, and Cricut Pens. If you are a casual crafter, these are highly reliable and capable Cricut machines.

Meanwhile, with the new Adaptive Tool System of the Cricut Maker, the possibilities are endless. This feature is designed with expansion in mind. With this, you can take advantage of all of the future crafting tools that Cricut will release. This is not possible with the Explore line. In 2019 alone, Cricut released four new tools that many crafters are already raving about. This feature alone makes the Maker the best Cricut machine. What else will be released in 2020? It’s definitely something we are looking forward to.

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You can read more about how the Cricut machines stack up against other machines here.

Exterior Design

They differ in color options, tool compartments, and material dial

The Cricut Maker (left) has more storage space and does not have the material dial found in the Explore Air 2 (right)

Throughout the years, Cricut has successfully released some of the most stylish and sleek die-cutting machines in the market. They do not take up much space and their Bluetooth wireless capability makes it easier for you to position them in your craft room.

Among the major differences between these three Cricut machines are the colors (see comparison chart for available colors), storage space, and the material dial.

Both the Explore Air 2 and Explore Air have a material dial found at the top right of the machine, a pen and stylus compartment on the left, and a tool drawer at the base. On the other hand, for the Cricut Maker, you can change the material settings in the software as it does not have the dial its predecessors have. It also has a deeper tool tray at the base of the machine and two compartments on the left for even more tool storage.

Verdict

The Cricut Maker is the best Cricut machine overall, but the Explore Air models are still excellent options for beginners and intermediate crafters

Cricut Maker

cameo vs cricut vs brother 150 x 100px (2)

Cricut Explore Air 2

best cricut machine 2020 (2)

Cricut Explore Air

best cricut machine 2020 (2)

The Cricut Maker may be at the pricier end of the spectrum, but it is overall the best Cricut machine. This machine is packed with features that makes it worth the investment. If you are a more advanced, professional crafter who works on a lot of projects using denser materials, this is the best Cricut machine for you. Even if you are not yet an expert crafter but see yourself advancing your techniques in the future, the Maker’s Adaptive Tool System lets you expand your tools as you grow as a crafter.

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For the more casual crafters who want to cost-effective options, the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Explore Air are still well-built and reliable machines. You can make a wide range of projects at a lower cost. Which should you choose between the two though? The Cricut Explore Air 2 is the best Cricut machine when considering value for your money.

Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.