Cricut Maker vs Silhouette Cameo 4

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The question on every crafters’ lips right now — Cricut Maker vs Silhouette Cameo 4: which is the best cutting machine?

These two big shots are the primary cutting machines on the market right now, with the Maker (available to buy on Amazon or the Cricut Store) released back in 2017 and the Cameo 4 (available on Swing Design and Amazon) new to your craft rooms since Fall 2019.

They’re powerful, fast and more versatile than you could ever imagine from a desktop machine.

But which one is best? Which one deserves your hard earned cash?

Here’s a sneak peek at how the two compare:

Cricut Maker Silhouette Cameo 4
Downward Force 4kg 5kg
Max Cut Size 12″ x 24″ 12″ x 10′; 15″ x 10′ (Plus); 20″ x 10′ (Pro)
Software Cricut Design Space Silhouette Studio
Stand-Out Feature Sewing Pattern Library Power and Speed
Price $$$ $$

Let’s find out more…

Cameo 4 vs Cricut Maker
Power

silhouette cameo 4

One of the easiest ways to compare the Cameo 4 against the Cricut Maker is by how powerful both machines are.

Let’s be upfront about it: both machines are incredibly powerful — much more so than your average desktop cutter — and it’s highly unlikely you’d even notice a great deal of difference, unless you were cutting very high volumes of thick materials that require such power.

But, nevertheless, the Cameo 4 does inch ahead of the Maker with a whopping 1,000 extra grams of downward force than its rival.

 The Cameo 4 has 5kg of downward force while the Maker has 4kg. 

In this round, the point undoubtedly goes to the Cameo 4, but it’s worth considering how important this actually is given how powerful both machines are.

Speed

maker vs cameo 4

Similarly, both machines are very fast cutters — especially for standard materials like paper, cardstock and vinyl.

The Cameo 4 is advertized as being 3 times as fast as its predecessor, the Cameo 3, while the Cricut Maker benefits from ‘Fast Mode’ that works at double Cricut’s speed for standard materials.

We’d estimate them being about neck and neck for these materials — there’s certainly not enough of a difference to choose one over the other.

When it comes to more complex and thicker materials like fabric and chipboard, for instance, we’ll be conducting speed tests between the two once Silhouette have released the necessary tools.

At the moment, however, we’d award the speed category as a draw between the two machines.

Versatility

We know that we’re not the only crafters to value versatility as one of the most important features of any cutting machine that we’re likely to buy.

So, what contributes to versatility? We look out for features like the following:

  • Power
  • Ability to work with multiple tools
  • Ability to work with multiple materials
  • A dual carriage that allows for two tasks to be carried out at once (like sketching and cutting, for example)
  • Huge library of images, projects and designs

Both machines boast all of these features and can definitely both be described as versatile.

But the Cricut Maker just inches out ahead of the Cameo 4 here.

Probably because it’s already been on the market for a couple of years, it’s got access to a lot more tools. Not only game changers like the Rotary Blade and Knife Blade, but more specialist stuff like the engraving and debossing tips, wavy and perforation blades, scoring wheel and more.

The Cameo 4, in contrast, has just been released with the AutoBlade and is awaiting the release of its new tools — hopefully to come early in 2020.

UPDATE
The Cameo 4 High Pressure Rotary Blade and High Pressure Kraft Blade have now arrived!

Aside from the tools, the Maker also benefits from the absolutely massive sewing pattern library that makes it a must-buy for crafters passionate about sewing.

 49 Things To Make With The Cricut Maker 

Both Silhouette Studio and Cricut Design Space thankfully have huge image, font and project libraries for you to find practically any design you can think of. Plus, of course, you can create your own designs within both programs.

Point to the Maker — the score currently stands at 2-2.

Software

cameo 4 review

One of the most important things to consider when choosing between the Cameo 4 and the Cricut Maker is how much you like working within the design software they provide.

We know that more experienced designers choose to use their own, more sophisticated programs — like CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator, for instance — but the truth is that most people find it easier to stick with the included software.

For the Cameo 4 that’s Silhouette Studio.

Silhouette Studio has really improved in the past year or so, thanks to some much-needed updates, so it’s now intuitive to use and has plenty of opportunities to really grow your design skills. It can still be buggy, however, which definitely causes some frustration.

Cricut Design Space is probably slightly better set up for beginners and doesn’t seem to suffer from the same number of bugs as Silhouette Studio but can be a little limiting for more experienced designers.

It’s hard to award one program over the other as it really will come down to personal preference — beginners and lower-level users tend to prefer Cricut Design Space whereas Silhouette Studio has more to offer the more advanced.

Looks like it’s another draw…

Cutting Space

cricut maker vs explore air 2

Another feature that’s super important to a small section of users is just how much space you have to cut your designs on both machines.

While most crafters are perfectly happy to work within the confines of the 12″ x 24″ cutting space that the Cricut Maker sports, others will be looking for something a little less restrictive.

Particularly if you’re running a craft cutting business or tend to work mostly on larger projects.

The Cameo 4 is the answer if that sounds like something you need.

The standard size cuts 12″ wide (like the Maker) but can deal with designs up to a whopping 10 feet long.

And that’s not all — 2020 promises to see the release of the Plus and Pro versions of the machines, which will be able to cut 15″ and 20″ wide respectively.

That’s definitely a point to the Cameo 4. It’s now 3-2!

The Look

Of course, aesthetics is lower down the list of priorities when it comes to choosing the best cutting machine for you, but we thought it may still be worth considering for many of you.

Our preference is for the Cricut Maker — it’s sleek, shiny and well contained, and available in a number of interesting colors including:

  • Champagne
  • Lilac
  • Mint
  • Rose
  • Blue

cricut maker vs cameo 4

We also like that the Maker has a mobile/iPad docking station within the machine lid. This is a really underrated feature and particularly useful if you’re not working with a lot of space.

The Cameo 4 looks a little clunky and industrial in comparison — but maybe that’s just us.

It’s currently available in three colors: white, black or blush pink. Our preference is for the white or black but, of course, your preferences are likely to differ!cricut maker vs cameo 4

That’s taken the score to 3-3 — looks like it’s a draw!

Cricut Maker Review
The Positives

silhouette cameo 4 vs cricut maker

  • A truly excellent cutter that can be relied on for accuracy
  • Very easy to use after mastering the small learning curve
  • Loads of tools that ensure this machine is super versatile
  • Fast and powerful
  • A machine for life thanks to the adaptive tool system that ensures it’ll stay compatible with all past and future tools
  • Wireless cutting capability
  • Access to a huge sewing pattern library — a must buy for sewists!
  • Beautiful aesthetics
  • Cuts through fabric like butter thanks to the Rotary Blade (which is included)
  • Can cut materials up to 2.4mm thick with the Knife Blade (you’ll need to buy this separately)
  • Cricut Access membership gives you access to a huge number of ready-to-make projects, fonts and other designs
Read Our Cricut Maker Review
The Negatives
  • Cutting space is restricted, at just 12″ x 24″
  • Not everyone will love Cricut Design Space
  • More expensive than the Cameo 4
  • Less powerful than the Cameo 4
Cameo 4 Review
The Positives

cameo 4 vs cricut maker

  • An excellent cutter that’s both fast and accurate
  • Very powerful — with 1,000 grams of additional downward force over the Maker
  • Easy and intuitive to use thanks to features like the Single Tap AutoBlade, Smart Tool System, and the built-in roll feeder
  • Much bigger cutting size than the Cricut Maker — and even more so when the Plus and Pro versions are released next year
  • Cheaper than the Cricut Maker
  • Promises to be very versatile once the new tools are released
  • Allows for matless cutting with some materials
  • Comes with access to plenty of designs if you buy from Swing Design
  • Bluetooth connectivity for wireless cutting
Read Our Cameo 4 Review
The Negatives
  • Not as good-looking as the Maker
  • Not everyone will love Silhouette Studio software
  • Dual carriage can be a little inefficient
  • We’re still waiting on lots of tools so it’s hard to judge how well they all stack up (stay tuned!)
Cameo 4 vs Cricut Maker: Overall Verdict

It’s really hard to choose a winner between the Cameo 4 and the Cricut Maker as truthfully they’re both fantastic machines that are really at the top of the market.

We’re leaning slightly towards the Cricut Maker at the moment although we reserve the right to change our minds once we’ve seen the full spectrum of the Cameo 4’s capabilities.

As the Maker has been out for around two years at this point, we’ve had a long time to play with it and take advantage of all the Cricut tools that have been released so far. The Cameo 4, on the other hand, is brand new and still awaiting the release of lots of exciting tools and the larger versions of the machines.

There are some clear ways to judge that the Cameo 4 is the better machine. however.

In comparison to the Maker, it’s:

  • Cheaper
  • More powerful
  • Allows more space for cutting

The Maker is more versatile at the moment.

Let’s see how they compare in a few months time…

Check Price on Cameo 4 Check Price on Cricut Maker

Cameo 4 vs Cricut Maker: which do you think is the best?

Still can’t decide which cutter is right for you? Be sure to check out the rest of our detailed machine comparisons, as well as our complete guide to the best vinyl cutters.

About Author

Stephanie Osborn

I’m a life long crafter with a passion for vinyl cutting — it’s been both a hobby and a career for me over the past 5 years. Everyday I love testing new machines, materials and techniques and passing my tips and reviews along to my crafting friends and readers. I don’t like to play favorites, but it’s hard to deny that the Silhouette Cameo and Cricut cutters hold a special place in my heart! When I’m not in my craft room (and sometimes when I’m in it), you’ll find me playing with my baby daughter and my two furball puppies.

12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I recently moved from a Silhouette cameo 3 to the maker. I knew the 4 was coming out, but was impatient and hooked in by the amazing tools of the maker. I sort of regret it now. The biggest reason was the software.

    You declared that one a draw: I massively disagree.

    Cricut’s Design Space is a terrible piece of software. Both the in-browser and downloaded versions are the same – there are no differences between them – point of note, you need an internet connection to be able to upload anything in the desktop version. It is clearly designed for iOS devices and has very limited capabilities and capacity. I make my own designs in adobe illustrator. I used to do that even when I used Silhouette Studio, but here is where the two differ so much. The studio is a powerful piece of software (I had the pro version which made it even more so – with the cricut, there is no option to have a more advanced piece of software) – you can import a large variety of file types, the print and cut was highly versatile and customisable and the in-software tools were meant for designers. The Cricut Design Space is not at all made for designers. It is made for crafters, not for people who make their own designs. You can’t import vectors. The print and cut is incredibly restrictive (you can’t decide where you are going to cut, it just does it automatically depending on the image – awful). And the biggest let down for me recently was when I tried to upload and cut a tiny file (less than 4kb), but it had hundreds of lines – it was a model of my house that I was trying to build as an advent calendar and I wanted to score the lines of the bricks – the software kept freezing when I tried to upload it, telling me the file was too big (it was 4kb), and then whenever I tried to do anything with it (i.e. attach, or make) it would have another meltdown. I had to give up. What is the point in this powerful machine with these awesome tools if the software isn’t fit for use?

    One other issue is the restrictive settings on the tools – in the Silhouette Studio, you can very specifically set the depth, the pressure, the speed, the passes. There are standard materials, but everything is customisable. In the Design Space, you only see the materials which are preset. You can’t see any details as to what the pressure, depth, speed, passes are. You can edit these, but you can only edit the number of passes and the pressure – you can’t edit the speed. I was trying to cut a somewhat intricate design on their faux leather yesterday using their own settings and it was going too fast and kept pulling up the material. I really really really needed it to slow down, but couldn’t find a single way to get it to do so. In the Silhouette Studio, that would have been easy.

    I have kept my Silhouette Cameo 3, which I didn’t mean to do. I wanted to sell it, but I find I need it for the things that the Design Space won’t let me do – the stickers I make for instance (the print and cut is a nightmare in the design space). I am going to save up and buy a Cameo 4 to use them side by side as I do still love the tools in the maker and for simple pieces, it works well. It is such a shame, because other than the software, it is an excellent piece of kit.

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      thank you for your detailed response. it really helps as i navigate this new marketing minefield.. so good that you are a designer too.. with more specific needs and you took the time to respond. thanks so much.

    • Avatar

      Thank you for the explicit details between the two! I am getting back into this and have worked with the larger professional plotters and cutters 20+ years ago. I don’t have the room for one of those or the patience to try to learn how to operate specialized software and prefer to use Illustrator for my custom design work. That is exactly what I needed to know, which would be easier to work with my existing software. I was torn between the two and only hearing from crafters, not designers on which was better. I am glad I found this site and your review of the two.

    • Avatar

      Curious to know if you have bought the Cameo 4 yet? If so, do you love it or hate it? I’m intruiged by the Cameo 4, but a bit scared by some of the trouble people have had with it… any thoughts? How is it for cutting fabric? Thank you!

  2. Avatar
    Jacqueline Barker on

    The Cricut Maker is absolutely stunning for cutting fabric, especially hard to cut fabrics like felt, hessian and organza. Perhaps your review of both machines could have emphasised this fact, as a lot of quilters and sewers like to use a machine to cut their fabric, especially without having to use a backing or stabiliser (especially if they are running a craft business).

    I agree that the software for the Maker is dreadful and much prefer using Silhouette Studio ( I still have the original Cameo!). I am holding out for the Cameo 4 Pro, as I make, primarily, 18″ cushion covers and want to cut whole stencils for painting the cover fronts, rather than having to cut smaller stencils with a repeatable design.

    I was hoping that the rotary blade for the Cameo would be as stunning as the Maker’s rotary blade, but the few demos I have seen so far indicate that it is not. Having said that, it’s early days for the Cameo 4, so I will keep an eye out for more demos/tutorials.

    I can see myself using both the Cameo 4 Pro (for the larger stencils etc.) and the Maker (for cutting felt appliques etc.). I just have to wait a few months until the Pro is available!

  3. Avatar

    Well, darn. Got a lot of great information from this blog, so thank you for posting and thank you to those who commented with more info as well. I’m glad I’m taking my time deciding which machine to invest in — I have never used a cutter before, but I’m pretty confident in my abilities to figure out how to operate whichever one I choose and think I will wait for the Silhouette Pro 20″ to come out.

    I’ve been looking for it online expecting it to be released (it’s now later in May 2020) and can’t seem to find any information on its release. I did see that the new tools for the Cameo 4 are now available on the market, so that probably would’ve made me jump to buy it if I didn’t read about the Cameo Pro…

    Although, I’ve just read some of the reviews on the Cameo 4 and found that many people are upset having found out AFTER purchasing it that it does not indeed cut up to 15″ — it maxes at 14.5″ish. This will make me look for actual cutting size of the 20″ Pro when I can find reviews.

  4. Avatar
    Henry Merryweather on

    Thank you for the very helpful comparison.
    Have you any experience or good information about how the Cameo 4 and Maker will cut real wood veneers? I am not referring to the limited number (it could be as low as 3) wood veneers that are supplied by Cricut. These are 0.5mm thick compared to 0.6mm for normal wood veneers but probably more significant is that the Cricut veneers are made of two pieces sandwiched together. In case you are not familiar with wood veneers there are several hundred available with different cutting properties. It is certain that it will not be sensible to use all particularly those which are relatively hard and/or have a strong grain. However, there may well be a larger enough number of different colours and texture to be useful. There are some videos about cutting wood veneers but for a variety of reasons not as helpful as they may be. I know some ‘early’ machines of these brands have been used with some variable results. The maximum cutting force for these was around 0.31kg. The new models having cutting forces of 4kg (Maker) and 5kg (Cameo 4) so that I would hope this will make a significant difference. So I would be very grateful if you can help.

  5. Avatar

    I have the Cameo 3 and nearly upgraded to the Cameo 4 but ended up with the Maker instead. As much as I like the Cameo, it feels cheap. It’s made of cheap plastic (the tool drawer lid catch broke on me the first day I had it). Thus, I opted for the Maker. The Maker feels very solidly made. I much prefer Silhouette Studio and will continue to use it and import my designs. I just wish Cricut would get their act together with their software – it really is woefully inadequate when you compare it to Silhouette Studio.

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