LaserGRBL VS LightBurn

LaserGRBL VS. LightBurn

In the realm of desktop laser engravers, LaserGRBL and LightBurn stand out as two of the most common controlling software options. Let's delve into the strengths and weaknesses of these two programs to help you determine which one is the right fit for your needs.

Introduction to LaserGRBL

LaserGRBL is our first contender in the realm of laser engraving software. It's noteworthy that LaserGRBL is a free laser engraver software, albeit exclusively available for Windows users. While there are workarounds to make it function on Mac and Linux systems. You can easily download LaserGRBL from by clicking on the prominent download button and following the standard installation process for Windows. Once installed, launching LaserGRBL reveals a user-friendly interface. Let's delve into its features and functionality.

Pros & Cons of LaserGRBL

1. Free of Cost: LaserGRBL is available for free, making it accessible to users with budget constraints.
2. Basic Functionality: It offers essential functionalities for laser engraving, such as importing designs, generating G-code, and controlling the engraving process.
3. Compatibility: LaserGRBL is compatible with Windows operating systems, making it accessible to a wide range of users.
4. User-Friendly Interface: The interface is relatively simple and easy to navigate, making it suitable for beginners in laser engraving.
5. Append Feature: The "Append" feature allows users to combine multiple files into one project, enabling complex designs without advanced editing tools.

1. Limited Features: Compared to more advanced software like LightBurn, LaserGRBL lacks advanced features such as layering, image manipulation, and intricate design capabilities.
2. Windows Compatibility Only: While LaserGRBL works natively on Windows, it may not be accessible to users on other operating systems like macOS or Linux.
3. Less Support: As a free software, LaserGRBL may have limited support resources compared to paid software options, resulting in fewer updates, tutorials, and community support.
4. Limited Customization: Users may find limited options for customization and fine-tuning settings compared to premium software alternatives.
5. Steep Learning Curve: While the interface is user-friendly, mastering the software's functionalities and optimizing engraving settings may require time and experimentation.

Wide Compatibility

LaserGRBL significantly expands your capabilities compared to software like NEJE. If you've used NEJE's desktop or mobile applications before, you're likely familiar with their limitations. These applications are quite basic and restrict your ability, especially for custom projects. LaserGRBL, on the other hand, opens up a new world of possibilities. With LaserGRBL, you can design custom projects using vectorial software like Inkscape, which is free and open-source.

This flexibility allows you to create virtually anything you desire. While LaserGRBL might not match LightBurn in terms of customization and control, it offers workarounds for complex projects.

LaserGRBL Interface

Let's briefly explore the interface. In the center, you'll find the canvas where your project preview is generated. The top-right corner displays coordinates, while the left section features connection-related information and progress indicators. The console in the center shows the code sent to the machine. Below, you'll find jog tools for manual machine movement, line counts, buffer status, and estimated time. Control buttons and customizable buttons are available, with speed and power overrides at the bottom right, along with stop and resume buttons. This interface provides comprehensive control over your laser engraving process.

With LaserGRBL, you have precise control over your machine's movements, making it easy to position your workpiece exactly where you want it for your laser engraving projects.

Performing image manipulation in LaserGRBL is an engaging task. After importing raster images, you can use the Import Raster option window to make basic adjustments to your image. You can tweak parameters like brightness, contrast, and more to suit your needs. For a deeper understanding of LaserGRBL's functionalities, refer to the comprehensive video tutorial on Youtube.

Supported File Types

LaserGRBL seamlessly accommodates a range of file formats, from G-code to raster images like PNG and JPEG, vector graphics such as SVG, and LaserGRBL projects. LaserGRBL also directly imports SVG files from Inkscape, simplifying the process with customizable speed and power parameters. Proper file preparation in Inkscape ensures smooth operation within LightBurn, empowering users to effortlessly manipulate and prepare images for engraving or cutting.

Introduction to LightBurn

LightBurn represents a significant advancement over LaserGRBL, as demonstrated in the previous segment. Overall, LightBurn is a powerful and versatile software solution for laser engraving, offering advanced features and cross-platform compatibility. While it may come at a cost and require some learning investment, its capabilities and ongoing development make it a valuable tool for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Pros & Cons of LightBurn

1. Advanced Functionality: LightBurn offers a wide range of advanced features, including image manipulation, layering, text editing, and intricate design capabilities, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced users.
2. Versatility: It supports various file formats, including G-code, raster images (PNG, JPEG), vector graphics (SVG), and LaserGRBL projects, providing users with flexibility in importing and exporting designs.
3. Intuitive Interface: LightBurn features an intuitive and user-friendly interface, with organized menus and toolbars, allowing for easy navigation and efficient workflow.
4. Cross-Platform Compatibility: Unlike LaserGRBL, LightBurn is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux, catering to a broader user base.
5. Continuous Development: LightBurn is actively developed and supported, with regular updates, bug fixes, and new features, ensuring users have access to the latest advancements in laser engraving technology.

1. Cost: LightBurn is a paid software, requiring users to purchase a license for access. While it offers a one-month free trial, the full version requires a one-time payment or subscription, which may not be feasible for users with limited budgets.
2. Learning Curve: Due to its advanced features, LightBurn may have a steeper learning curve compared to simpler software options like LaserGRBL. Users may require time and practice to master its functionalities fully.
3. Resource Intensive: LightBurn may require more system resources compared to lightweight software options, particularly when working with complex designs or large files, which could impact performance on older or less powerful computers.
4. Limited Support for Older Machines: While LightBurn supports a wide range of laser engravers, some older or less common models may have limited compatibility or require additional configuration, potentially posing challenges for users with niche equipment.
5. Subscription Model: LightBurn offers a subscription option for ongoing access to updates and support, which may not be preferable for users who prefer one-time purchases or have concerns about long-term costs.

LightBurn Comparison

When initially opening LightBurn, the interface may seem overwhelming compared to simpler applications like the NEJE desktop application or LaserGRBL. However, this complexity is a testament to the extensive capabilities of LightBurn. Unlike its counterparts, LightBurn offers a wide range of functionalities, allowing users to not only design but also manipulate designs through features such as layering. This comprehensive approach empowers users to accomplish a multitude of tasks within a single software platform.


LaserGRBL, being open-source, is available for free, making it an attractive option for users on a tight budget. LightBurn, however, comes with a price tag. As this moment, the pricing is $60 for a G-code license and $120 for a DSP license. This software caters to both typical desktop laser engravers like Ortur, Atomstack, and Neje, as well as CO2 laser engravers. Fortunately, a one-month free trial is available for users to evaluate the software's functionalities before making a purchase decision. Installation is straightforward, as LightBurn is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.

lightburn price

Which Software Should You Choose?

From a personal standpoint, if you're on a budget, LaserGRBL can serve you adequately. With Inkscape for design editing and LaserGRBL for engraving, you'll have most of the necessary functionalities covered. Additionally, LaserGRBL offers an option called "Append," allowing for the combination of multiple files into one complex project.

While LaserGRBL lacks some advanced features like layering, it compensates with the append option, enabling complex projects with careful file preparation. However, if your budget allows and you foresee extensive use of your laser engraver for various projects, especially complex ones involving both cutting and engraving, LightBurn is the recommended choice. LightBurn's comprehensive features and intuitive interface streamline the design and production process, offering greater control and efficiency. Ultimately, the decision depends on your budget and intended usage, but investing in LightBurn may prove beneficial in the long run, making your laser engraving endeavors more manageable and rewarding.

In summary, LaserGRBL is a suitable option for beginners or users with basic engraving needs, offering essential functionalities at no cost. However, it may lack the advanced features and support resources found in premium software options like LightBurn.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: Does LightBurn offer a trial version for users to test before purchasing?

A1: Yes, LightBurn offers a 30 day trial period, with no restrictions. Make some things on us. Have fun - this is the full deal, no watermarks, no limits.

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