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Difference between xTool M1 and xTool S1 laser cutters

Disclosure: Thanks to xTool for providing me with the product to review. I am not paid or sponsored by xTool to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own and honest.

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Which laser cutter should I choose: the xTool M1 or the S1?

The xTool S1 laser cutter was initially available in 20W and 40W versions. When xTool released the more affordable 10W model, I wondered why. The xTool M1 also features a 10W laser. But after comparisons and research, I figured it out.

I’ll get straight to the point. Personally, if I had to choose between the xTool M1 and the xTool S1-10W, I’d go for the xTool S1-10W. In the next few lines, I’ll explain the background of this choice and why I made it.

*Note that throughout the post, for the sake of brevity, I’ll refer to “xTool S1”, but please note that this is the 10W version we’re talking about here.

Similarities between xTool M1 and S1

Diode vsCO2

The xTool M1 and S1 are two of the least expensive laser-cutting machines available. Why? Well, because they’re diode laser machines.

In fact, there are two types of laser: diode and CO2.

CO2 laser machines are more powerful and faster and can cut and engrave more materials. These are also much more expensive machines, more appropriate for people who do laser cutting professionally. When we think of aCO2 laser machine, we think of the Glowforge Pro, for example, or xTool’s xTool P2.

The xTool M1 and S1 each feature a diode laser, which is slower and may require more passes to cut certain materials than a CO2 laser. Diode lasers also have a shorter lifetime, but are much cheaper to manufacture.

That’s why the xTool M1 and S1 are ideal machines for everyday DIY enthusiasts. In the same diode laser category, there’s also the Glowforge Aura, but beware, this one has a much lower wattage than the xTool. I’ll tell you more about it below.

It’s also important to note that diode lasers don’t cut clear acrylic (and other transparent and opaque colours). You can engrave transparent acrylic, but you’ll need to add masking on the surface.

External connection

Laser-cutting machines absolutely need external evacuation. A hose is located at the rear of the unit and must be connected to an external window or door.

Laser power

As mentioned above, the xTool M1 and xTool S1-10W have a 10-watt laser. The one on the xTool S1, on the other hand, is removable. This means that you can choose the 20W or even 40W version at the time of purchase while keeping the same base for the machine.

You might even decide to change your mind later and simply buy the module without replacing the entire machine.

I won’t explain the difference between 10W, 20W and 40W lasers here, but you can guess that the higher the power, the thicker the material you can cut.

Laser filter cover and automatic shut-off

Both the xTool M1 and S1 have a laser filter cover, allowing you to look at your project without the need for protective eyewear.

They also shut down instantly as soon as the lid is opened to prevent laser leakage.

RA2 Pro

Both machines have the option of the RA2 Pro which is an adapter that allows cylindrical engraving such as glasses, mugs, balls, cups, etc.

It’s important to note that the RA2 Pro for the xTool M1 is the same as that for the xTool S1. However, they don’t have the same cable. So it’s important to buy the right one or get the right cable if you already have the RA2 Pro on one machine and want to use it on the other.

I’ve never used the RA2 Pro on my xTool M1. From what I’ve read, this tool requires a lot of trial and error, and I’m personally not very patient about that. That’s why I decided not to use it for the xTool S1.

Differences between xTool M1 and xTool S1-10W

Some elements are very different, while others are more subtle. Let’s start with the obvious.


The xTool S1 is longer and deeper than the xTool M1. There’s nothing like a graph to show the difference:

In terms of height, however, the xTool M1 is about 2 inches higher.

Working area

As the xTool S1 is larger, the work area is necessarily larger too.

The dimensions of the work areas are as follows:

  • The xTool M1 is 385 mm x 300 mm (15″ x 11.8″) in size.
  • The xTool S1 is 498 mm x 330 mm (19.61 in. x 13 in.) in size.

It should also be noted that a conveyor can be added as an option to the xTool S1, modifying its working area to 470 mm x 3000 mm (18.5 in. x 118.11 in.)! This is not possible with the xTool M1.

For the conveyor to work, the riser base must also be added (see below).

The camera

A camera is often used to position projects on materials. Such is the case with the xTool M1. On the other hand, the xTool S1 has no camera!

You’d think this would be a problem, but on the contrary, it increases precision. Indeed, the xTool M1’s camera is positioned at the top center, which means that the photos taken are often distorted. Especially if you want to cut or engrave something on the bottom of the M1.

The xTool S1 requires you to move the laser with your hands to identify precise points on the object to be cut and/or engraved. This method takes a little getting used to, but gives the machine hyper-precise information, so you can be perfectly centered every time.

The cut

Although both machines are 10W, the xTool S1 offers a higher maximum speed than the xTool M1: 400 mm/s versus 250 mm/s. I did, however, cut an identical project with both machines and it took almost the exact same time.

The S1’s laser is also more precise at 0.04 x 0.06 mm than the M1’s 0.08 x 0.08 mm.

On the other hand, the M1 can cut basswood up to 8 mm thick in a single pass, while the S1 can cut up to 6 mm.

Engraving (curve)

What really impressed me about the xTool S1 was its ability to engrave curved surfaces thanks to the “3D CurveTM Engraving” function.

And it’s not about using the Ra2Pro adapter. No, it’s the laser that will measure the surface at several points to know exactly how to adjust the laser for uniform engraving.

I’ll soon show you a tutorial for making an engraving on a wooden spoon like this.

Smart air assist

The air-assist system circulates air and prevents burns, particularly charring on wood.

The xTool S1’s air assistance system is “smart”. Simply set it to “Auto” and it will automatically adjust the air sent to the machine according to whether it is engraving or cutting.

It’s also much better integrated and follows the laser at all times.

In the case of the xTool M1, it’s immediately obvious that the air assist is a feature that wasn’t created with the machine but rather added afterwards.

I’ve had to add tape myself to hold it in place, and I’m always afraid when the laser cuts at the front of the xTool M1.

Honeycomb and raiser base

Both the xTool M1 and xTool S1 come with triangular prisms onto which to install materials that have the need of air circulation underneath when cutting, such as wood.

These prisms are not always convenient, and I’ve often dreamed of having the honeycomb with my xTool M1.

For the xTool M1, the honeycomb comes with the riser base. For the xTool S1, the honeycomb and raiser base are sold separately, but there’s also a bundle with the purchase of the xTool S1 that includes the honeycomb and smart air assistance (I recommend it!).

The Honeycomb also comes with handy magnets to keep materials securely in place.


Both laser cutters require the free xTool Creative Space (XCS) software.

For the xTool M1, this is a must. For the xTool S1, LightBurn software can also be used, but you’ll need to go back to XCS for special features such as engraving on curved surfaces and real-time laser positioning.

The blade

The xTool M1 also has a blade that can cut materials similar to the Cricut.

The xTool S1 laser cutter has no blade. However, its laser module is interchangeable and can even be replaced by an infrared module (see next paragraph).

Infrared laser module for xTool S1

The infrared laser module does not cut. It enables more beautiful engraving on surfaces that are difficult to engrave with a blue laser (diode laser).

Here’s a comparison from the xTool website.


The infrared laser module is not included with the xTool S1 and is a separate purchase. It’s not cheap either, so I suggest you see if you really plan to use it before you buy.

To use it, unscrew the 10W laser module and replace it with the infrared module. It’s quite simple to do.

xTool M1 and S1 laser cutters price comparison

You’ll need to visit your local xTool website to compare prices:

On the other hand, I can tell you that the base price of the two laser-cutting machines is comparable and among the most affordable for machines of this type.


To sum it up, as I said at the start, if I had to choose between the xTool M1 laser cutter and the xTool S1, I’d go for the xTool S1.

The machine’s working area, the ability to make curved engravings, the ease of use of the air-assist and also its precision for placing designs on materials are all factors that favour the choice of the xTool S1.

Also, people like me who own a Cricut don’t need the xTool M1’s blade functionality.

Only once did I use a blade+laser combo when making faux leather earrings.

So you might want to choose the xTool M1 if you don’t have a Cricut, or if you really plan to use the blade+laser combination in your projects.

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