Powerful instruments for customizing everything from glassware to wood signs are laser engravers and cutters. But the software you use to control these machines is just as important. Two of the most popular options are LightBurn and xTool Creative Space (XCS). But which one is better for your needs?
Overview of LightBurn and xTool Creative Space
LightBurn is compatible with laser engravers and cutters from various manufacturers that use common controller boards like GRBL or Ruida. For making engraving and cutting tasks, it offers strong design, editing, and layout tools.
xTool Creative Space is made specifically for xTool brand laser engravers and cutters. Its user-friendly UI is designed for novice users. xTool Creative Space offers cloud syncing across devices and access to free design assets.
Below we compare these two programs across 10 factors so you can determine which is the right fit.
User Interface and Ease of Use
The xTool Creative Space interface has a clean, minimalistic design that helps newcomers easily navigate the software. Icons and menus are descriptive and project workflow follows clear stages:
- Import file
- Set up cut/engrave parameters
- Send to laser
Comparatively, LightBurn gives the impression of having more complex, professional-grade tools with tons of advanced options upfront. Although there is a higher learning curve for novices, this is fantastic for experienced users.
For total beginners getting started with their first laser machine, xTool Creative Space wins for user-friendliness. However, more control is available with LightBurn for seasoned aficionados.
Design Tools and Functionality
LightBurn lets users design projects from scratch using tools like Bezier curves, text generators, and AI auto-tracing of bitmaps. It also expertly handles importing existing files like SVG, PNG, DXF etc.
xTool Creative Space similarly allows importing various file types for engraving/cutting. Moreover, it offers autotracing & AI picture Creation. But the drawing and editing tools are more basic compared to Lightburn.
When it comes to project design, LightBurn edges out xTool Creative Space in capabilities and flexibility.
A major advantage of LightBurn is broad compatibility with laser engravers/cutters. It works with devices that have GRBL, Smoothie, Ruida and other common controller boards. Multiple operating system devices can even be controlled from a single LightBurn workstation.
In contrast, xTool Creative Space only works with xTool brand laser machines with a GRBL-based controller board. This locked-in ecosystem makes things super convenient if you specifically own an xTool laser. But it doesn’t offer flexibility if upgrading other equipment over time.
For machine flexibility, LightBurn is the clear winner. But xTool Creative Space offers a streamlined user experience for those within the xTool hardware universe.
File Import and Export Options
Lightburn supports a vast library of file types for importing and exporting projects: AI, PDF, SVG, DXF, PLT, PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP, GCode, NC and more. This makes it Compatible with Virtually any design program.
xTool Creative Space can import the most common design files like SVG, DXF, PNG, JPG and BMP. But it does not handle niche formats like AI or PDF files. And users cannot export xTool Creative Space projects as raw GCode files for other programs.
If you’ll be working with many file types from various sources, LightBurn offers vastly better format compatibility.
Customization and Settings Control
Experienced users love LightBurn for its immense customization options. You can set up distinct parameter profiles for power, speed, passes, scan direction, image dithering and more. Advanced features like kerf Compensation allow Incredibly precise results.
By comparison, xTool Creative Space does offer the basics like power and speed adjustment. But settings are simplified since the software is made exclusively for xTool hardware. There just isn’t much need to “tweak under the hood” when hardware and software are purpose-built in tandem.
Pricing and Licensing
For those wanting granular control, LightBurn is easily the winner. But xTool Creative Space settings are sufficient for novice makers using xTool lasers.
LightBurn costs around USD for a perpetual single-device license. Upgrades are free for 1 year and about annually thereafter. Business licenses and subscriptions plans are also available.
xTool Creative Space is 100% free to download and use with compatible xTool engraver/cutter machines. Being built specifically for this hardware line, the company doesn’t charge extra for using the software.
If working solely with an xTool laser machine, the free xTool Creative Space software helps reduce startup costs. But LightBurn offers great Value for a one-time payment usable across equipment.
Given its expansive features, LightBurn follows more of a prosumer or professional grade learning curve. Novices can certainly learn it with great tutorials and documentation resources available. But expect a bit of a process coming up to speed on core functions.
Conversely, xTool Creative Space is extremely beginner-friendly. The pared back interface, simple menus and guided workflow make it intuitive right from installation. Drag-and-drop import plus preset machine parameters offer nearly instant usability.
For fastest mastery with least effort, xTool Creative Space better facilitates beginners diving into laser engraving as a hobby. LightBurn wins for customization but requires more self-education.
Manufacturer Support Resources
Both LightBurn and xTool Creative Space benefit from engaged manufacturers who heavily support their user communities.
LightBurn documentation and forums facilitate peer-based support. Users exchange tips and machine profiles. The app even automatically checks for optimized settings based on your laser model and controller board.
As you’d expect, xTool has video lessons and detailed instructions for getting started with Creative Space software. Given tight hardware/software integration, users can expect a smooth onboarding experience.
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With active user forums and engaged staff, both manufacturers earn top marks for community support.
Cloud Compatibility and Storage
A unique advantage of xTool Creative Space lies in its cloud connectivity across devices. Users can sync projects through a cloud workspace and access files across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android apps. This makes shifting workflows between a desktop, tablet or phone seamless.
LightBurn conversely works as locally-installed software without cloud hooks. Files stay on the device where you’re actively working rather than shuffling through the cloud. You can manually store them using services like Dropbox or Google Drive. But no built-in cloud handling exists between versions and devices.
For platform flexibility, xTool Creative Space takes the win for cloud saving/access. Though LightBurn users can store projects however they wish externally.
As if easy cloud syncing wasn’t enough, xTool Creative Space has another ace up its sleeve: access to free project files and tutorials through xTool Projects. This online community contains 1000+ laser cut templates, handy materials calculators and more.
Comparatively, LightBurn does integrate with popular outside platforms like Inkscape for extended functionality. But xTool Creative Space managing both cloud file storage AND bonus community assets gives it an attractiveness edge.
Verdict: It Depends on Your Needs
When weighing all factors, LightBurn arguably comes out ahead for pros wanting more design influence and machine control. But xTool Creative Space shines for beginners seeking simplicity.
If you specifically own or plan to buy an xTool laser cutter/engraver, the purpose-built xTool Creative Space software makes good sense. It streamlines the entire process from file prep through machine execution. And bonus resources like free project files, cloud syncing and community support offer added long term value.
Multiple operating system devices can even be controlled from a single LightBurn workstation. Interfacing smoothly with anything from hobbyist diode engravers to industrial CO2 lasers, it can grow alongside more advanced equipment down the road.
So determining whether LightBurn beats xTool Creative Space really comes down to individual equipment and skill level:
- Novice xTool Laser Users → xTool Creative Space
- Advanced Users With Various Machines → LightBurn
It can be well worth trying both laser software options through free trials to gauge hands-on experience. For simple needs, beginners save money sticking with bundled xTool Creative Space. But LightBurn brings professional design/layout tools to enthusiasts open to a bit more complexity.
Is xTool Creative Space software free?
Yes, xTool Creative Space is 100% free to download and use for owners of compatible xTool laser engraver/cutter machines. There are no license fees or subscription costs.
What files can xTool Creative Space open?
xTool Creative Space can open and import SVG, DXF, PNG, JPG and BMP file formats for engraving/cutting.
How to install xTool Creative Space?
Download the xTool Creative Space installer for your operating system (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android) from xtool.com/pages/software
Run the installer and follow prompts to install the software and plugins
Launch xTool Creative Space app once installed
How do I connect xTool D1 to creative space?
To connect your xTool D1 laser to xTool Creative Space software:
Connect the D1 unit to your computer via USB cable and power it on
Launch xTool Creative Space on your computer
Click the “Connect Machine” button
Select your xTool D1 device in the device list
Your D1 laser should now be paired with the software
How do I connect my xTool laser to my computer?
To connect any xTool laser engraver or cutter to a computer:
Use the USB cable provided with your xTool laser to connect the machine to your computer
Power on the xTool laser machine
Install necessary drivers and xTool Creative Space software
Open software and click “Connect Machine”
Select your xTool laser from the detected device list