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Silhouette Portrait 3 review

The Silhouette Portrait 3 is a brilliant die cutting machine for most people, but its two millimeter clearance means you can't use it on thicker materials.

Silhouette Portrait 3 review
(Image: © Silhouette Portrait 3)

Our Verdict

The Silhouette Portrait 3 is a fantastic die cutting machine due to its user-friendly features, but users complain that it's rather noisy.

For

  • Auto-detection for attachments
  • Works as a scanner
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Works with USB and Bluetooth
  • You can use this machine mat-free

Against

  • Limited to eight inches width
  • Software isn't the best
  • Noisy

There is a lot to love about the Silhouette Portrait 3. It has both Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port, and it's also immensely lightweight. This is one of the best die cutting machines we have reviewed because it perfectly balances smart features and ease-of-use. One of the smart features is an AutoDetect mode that makes adjustments based on your chosen cutting cool. This machine also draws, but it lacks some of the added features of embossing or scoring that you'll find in bulkier models. 

As we explain further into our Silhouette Portrait 3 review, while this is a capable machine, it's limited to materials of 2mm thickness. If you want a die cutting machine to create cards, stickers, and finer cutouts, this is a good choice. For those who want to work with bulky materials, you may need to upgrade. 

Silhouette Portrait 3: What you need to know

Silhouette Portrait 3 review: An image showing the machine in action and being used to create crafting flowers

(Image credit: Silhouette Portrait 3)

The Silhouette Portrait 3 is similar in looks and dimensions to other die cutting machines such as the Cricut Explore Air 2, and with an RRP of $199, it's also marginally cheaper. While no die cutting machine is truly cheap,  you still want to make sure you're getting what you pay for. So, what's on offer with the Portrait 3? 

For starters, you'll get a compact machine. The Silhouette Portrait 3 is 17 inches wide, 5.5 inches deep, and 4.25 inches tall. It's also only 3.5 pounds, which is truly lightweight. The Cricut Joy weighs about the same, and is the most portable die cutting machine in our roundup. 

The similarities don't end there. The Cricut Joy has a very narrow maximum cutting width of 5.5 inches, and while the Portrait 3 is wider, it's not significantly so. With an eight inch maximum width you'll struggle to complete larger projects on this die cutting machine. For stickers, cards, and long narrow items such as banners, it's perfectly capable. Like the Joy, the Portrait 3 offers mat-free cutting when you buy specific materials from the manufacturer. This means you won't be limited in the length of your projects by a cutting mat, but if you do want to use the cutting mat, it's 12 inches long. 

Silhouette Portrait 3: Main features

Silhouette Portrait 3 review: The die cutting machine shown in a glossy white color

(Image credit: Silhouette)

Many of the smart features you'll find in the Brother ScanNCut SDX125E can also be found on the (significantly cheaper) Silhouette Portrait 3. This includes automatic tool selection, which adjusts settings based on your tool of choice, and Print & Cut. This allows you to use your photo printer to print photos, labels, or outlines, and then cut around them using your die cutter. 

You're limited by the two millimeter cutting depth on the Silhouette Portrait 3. For cardstock, vinyl, and finer felt or fabric, you'll be fine. However, if you had intended to cut something thicker like leather or balsa wood, this isn't the machine for you. Something else we like about this machine is PixScan - this allows you to place an image, picture, or text on the PixScan mat and import it onto USB or wireless devices using your die cutter. You can then interact with it to re-print it or cut around it via your laptop or phone. 

You can connect to the Silhouette Portrait 3 via USB or Bluetooth. While Bluetooth connection can be exciting, many find it reassuring to have the option of USB connections for when internet connections are bad or their signal is unreliable. In order to use this machine, you'll find it easier to use the related software. The Silhouette Design Store has a massive range of incredible prints and illustrations, as well as fonts. You get a one-month registration with your new machine, but after that it's $10 per month. 

Silhouette Portrait 3: User reviews

Silhouette Portrait 3 review: An image showing the machine surrounded by plant pots and scented candles

(Image credit: Silhouette Portrait 3)

Of all the user reviews we've come across when reviewing die cutting machines, the Silhouette Portrait 3 had some of the very best feedback. Of 330 Amazon reviews, there's an average of 4.4 stars. Reviewers rave about the autoblade detection and the accuracy of this machine: "Love everything about my Silhoutte portrait 3. Easy to use and perfect for beginners."

People do have some criticisms of the Silhouette software, saying that, "The software is pretty clunky and I wish it were more guided, like the Cricut software is." It's also not the quietest die cutting machine out there, so if you like to keep your work quiet, this something to consider. 

Should you buy the Silhouette Portrait 3?

We think the Silhouette Portrait 3 is one of the best you can buy. Users love its accuracy and how easy it is to use. This is due to its auto-detection function that allows you to switch between blades easily. You can also use this machine to draw, but it can't score or emboss. 

The Silhouette Portrait 3 is noisy and its software could be better, but you can easily use other design software options with this machine because it's able to connect to your computer using a USB. Because it's lightweight, this is also a great die cutting machine to take with you as you travel, but it is limited by an eight inch cutting width.