Wondering which Cricut machine to buy? What is the difference in the Cricut Joy, Explore Air 2, and Maker? We’ve got a full breakdown of the pros and cons of each machine to help you decide which is the perfect Cricut for you! Sponsored by Cricut.
Which is the Best Cricut Machine?
So you want to buy a Cricut…but which one?
There are currently three Cricut smart cutting machines available in 2021:
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Explore Air 2
- Cricut Joy
Each one has its own benefits that make it ideal for different situations.
In this post I’ll break down the pros and cons of each Cricut smart cutting machine so you can make the best purchase for your crafting needs.
This post contains shop-able affiliate links to products we love; our disclosure policy is available here.
Which Cricut Machine Should I Buy?
When deciding which Cricut machine to get, you’ll want to consider:
- Your budget
- What you plan to make with it
- How much space you have
Below I’ve created categories comparing price, size, and features for the three machines to help you find the perfect Cricut for you.
Price: Low to High
- Under $200 — Cricut Joy
- Under $300 — Cricut Explore Air 2
- Under $400 — Cricut Maker
One thing to keep in mind: the above price points are for the machines only. Cricut often offers bundles that include the machine and many of the essential tools and supplies you’ll need to get started. I highly recommend starting with a bundle for the best value!
Whichever machine you go with, a bundle is great way to save money versus buying everything individually. Plus, you know you’ll have all the basics you need to start creating right away!
Check out some of the best Cricut Bundles here:
- Cricut Explore Air™ 2, Blue + Everything Bundle
- Cricut Maker® + Everything Materials Bundle, Blue
- Cricut Joy™ + Label Making Bundle
Bonus — This link will detail how you can save even MORE on bundles with Cricut Access: What is Cricut Access & Do I Need It?
Size: Small to Large
- Cricut Joy: 5.50″H x 8.40″L x 4.25″W (3.85 pounds)
- Cricut Explore — 6″H x 22″L x 7″W (21 pounds)
- Cricut Maker — 6″H x 22″L x 7.5″W (24 pounds)
The Explore Air 2 and the Maker are comparable in size (I rounded to the nearest half inch for the measurements), but the Maker is slightly heavier. This is likely due to the components needed for the increased cutting power of the Maker (more on that below).
The Joy is significantly smaller and lighter — in fact, its size and portability is the Joy’s main selling point! The compact size makes it easy to move, store, and set up pretty much anywhere, without needing a designated crafting space in your home.
- Cricut Explore Air 2 — 400 pounds
- Cricut Maker — 4000 pounds
The Cricut Explore Explore Air 2 is the most popular Cricut machine because it provides a combination of all-around vinyl and paper cutting ability and value pricing. This makes it the perfect choice for the home crafter.
On the other hand, the Cricut Maker provides 10 times the cutting power of the Explore. If you’re working with heavier materials, such as fabric or leather, you will need the cutting power and specialized attachments unique to the Maker.
Cricut Joy Benefits
In 2020, Cricut debuted the Cricut Joy and the crafting world was abuzz at the cutting machine that fits in the palm of your hand.
I absolutely love my Joy because it’s perfect for spur-of-the-moment crafting and label-making. I also love the Joy-specific insert card mat that allows you to create professional quality greeting cards in minutes.
Pros of the Cricut Joy:
- Compact and lightweight (the smallest Cricut machine ever!)
- Connects to computer via Bluetooth (instead of a cord)
- Mat-free cutting with Smart Materials, designed just for the Joy
- Can cut a design that is up to 4 feet long or make repeating cuts (small shapes, confetti, etc.) up to 20 feet, using Smart Vinyl
A few things to consider, which may steer you to a larger machine:
- The Joy can write and cut, but not at the same time
- The max width of cutting projects is 4.5″
Learn More — The following link goes into detail about the Cricut Joy and starter crafts you can make with it: Everything You Need to Know About Cricut Joy
Cricut Explore Air 2 Benefits
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is Cricut’s value machine, with an approachable price point that makes it a top choice for DIY-ers. One thing I love about the Explore is that it comes in beautiful colors, so it matches your personality and your crafting room!
What Makes the Explore Air 2 Special:
- The fastest machine in the Cricut Explore series
- Cuts, writes, and scores over 100 materials
- Available in a variety of stunning designer colors
Unless you plan to cut heavy-duty items such as wood or fabric, the Explore Air 2 is likely more than enough to meet your needs.
Cricut Maker Benefits
The Cricut Maker is Cricut’s flagship smart cutting machine. It’s over 10x more powerful than the Explore Air 2 and features a variety of specialized tools that allow it to cut hundreds of materials.
If you want the ultimate cutting ability for your home or business, the Maker is the way to go!
Perks of a Cricut Maker:
- The most powerful Cricut smart cutting machine
- Cuts over 300 materials
- Rotary blade available, for cutting fabrics
- Knife blade available, for cutting thick material, such as balsa wood
- Scoring wheel tools for creating sharp folds
Learn More — The following link takes a deep-dive into all the perks of a Cricut Maker: What is a Cricut Maker & 5 Reasons I Love Mine or learn about ALL the materials you can use with your Cricut here!
What Can You Make with a Cricut?
Want to see some of the cool projects you can create with a Cricut Maker, Explore Air 2 or Joy? Check out some of these Cricut crafts we’ve made:
- Paper Snow Globe Ornaments with Cricut
- DIY Doormat
- 20 Back to School Cricut Ideas
- DIY Garden Markers
- Homemade Cloth Face Mask
- How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl on Fleece Blankets
- 34 Easy Cricut Christmas Crafts
- DIY Cricut Christmas Coasters
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This was the best comparison article I have read, and it was great! All the information I needed to decide which machine was best for my needs.
Stacey aka the Soccer Mom says
Awesome! So glad you found it useful!