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The Best 3D Printers of 2020

Monday May 25, 2020
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We researched and compared well over 150 different products, then bought the 12 best 3D printers you can get in 2020 to test them head-to-head and help you find the best. We printed hundreds and hundreds of different models to compare and score print quality and look at how each printer handled small details, like overhanging geometry, bridges, and articulated parts. We also compared the dimensional accuracy of each machine out of the box. Our evaluation and final scores include the different printing capabilities of each product, their overall ease of use, and the difficulty in assembling and configuring each product. Keep reading to see which printers are worth their premium prices, which are the easiest to use, and which make the highest quality objects.

Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Best Overall 3D Printer


Ultimaker 2+


The Ultimaker 2+.
Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$2,500
List Price
See It

74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Print Quality 8
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Print Capabilities 7
  • Support 7
Build Area: 225x150x145mm | Max Extruder Temperature: 280°C
Unrivaled print quality
Great customer support
Best print capabilities
Expensive
Few instructional videos

Taking home the top rating for the entire group of printers and handily winning both an Editors' Choice award and the title of Best Overall 3D printer, the Ultimaker 2+ is our clear recommendation for those that want the absolute best of the best. This sleek and stylish printer has phenomenal print quality, even with some of the most difficult prints in our test. On top of this top-notch performance, this product is super easy to set up and operate — even for a complete 3D printing novice. This printer also includes a mobile app to guide you through the initial setup process, with more documentation online if you run into any sort of difficulties. This capable printer has an impressive build volume and a helpful support team behind it.

All of this performance, however, comes with a premium price. This model is one of the most expensive of the group. It's intended for those that want the absolute best — and are willing to pay for it. The more casual hobbyist is probably better off with a less expensive option, but those in a professional or semi-professional setting will love this printer

Read review: Ultimaker 2+

Best Print Quality


Elegoo Mars


Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$214.99
(42% off)
at Amazon
See It

62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Print Quality 10
  • Ease of Use 2
  • Print Capabilities 5
  • Support 6
Build Area: 120x68x150mm | UV Resin Type: 405nm
Creates high-quality and very detailed models
Compact form factor
Small build area
Resin printing is generally messy

If you are hoping to create the most detailed prints on a smaller scale, then you should consider the Elegoo Mars, a resin 3D printer. This printer uses a UV-curable resin instead of plastic filament, allowing it to produce much more intricate and detailed models than the majority of filament-based 3D printers. The Elegoo Mars is our top recommendation for anyone who wants a 3D printer for things like jewelry making, tabletop gaming, model making, or anything else that needs smaller, extremely detailed 3D-printed objects.

While there are tons of benefits to resin printers, they do have some flaws. The Elegoo Mars — and most other resin printers — are all much more work to use than filament-based printers. In addition to resin simply being messier, you will also need to deal with washing any uncured resin off of every model after it's been printed, ensure there aren't any cured bits floating around in the vat, and removing supports, as well as post-curing each model with a UV light to fully set the resin. You should be wearing gloves for all of this, so you can also expect to need a hefty supply of disposable gloves on hand, as well as paper filters, paper towels, and cleaning solutions. The prints can be totally worth all of the hassle, but all the extra work and additional tools and equipment might not be worth it if you're only using the printer occasionally.

Read review: Elegoo Mars

Best Bang for the Buck


Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2


Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$669
List Price
See It

70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Print Quality 7
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Print Capabilities 8
  • Support 5
Build Area: 300x300x400mm | Max Extruder Temperature: 260°C
Great print quality
Economically priced
Enormous build area
Mediocre customer support
Bed adhesion with ABS is so-so

If the price tag of the Ultimaker 2+ is more than you are willing to spend, then we recommend checking out the Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2. This printer offers an incredible bang for the buck, allowing you to maximize your investment. It has one of the largest build areas of the entire group and made some exceptionally high-quality prints for an FFF/FDM printer. The Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 is also extremely user-friendly, with an automated touch probe and bed leveling process that can take a lot of the frustration out of fine-tuning your machine. It's compatible with a wide range of materials as well.

Unfortunately, this machine can be a bit intimidating for a novice. Setting up the Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 requires a bit more assembly than some of the other models. We also have not had the best experiences with their customer support team, finding them to be more difficult to get in touch with than many manufacturers. However, this is a fantastic budget machine if you are trying to stretch your dollar and don't mind putting in the effort to learn the ins and outs of your machine and potentially being on your own for any troubleshooting.

Read review: Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2

Best for Tight Budgets


Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro


Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$254.99
(9% off)
at Amazon
See It

62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Print Quality 6
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Print Capabilities 7
  • Support 6
Build Area: 220x220x250mm| Max Extruder Temperature: 255°C
Great PLA prints
A good set of printing capabilities
Much more involved assembly process
Struggled to print ABS in our tests

If you're looking to get into 3D printing for the least amount of money possible, the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro by Creality 3D is a great bet. This printer is a fantastic value, coupling overall good performance with one of the lowest list prices of the entire group. Its PLA print quality floored us in some of our tests and it is fairly easy to use — once you get the hang of it and get all of its settings dialed in. It has an impressive set of printing capabilities for its price range and we found the customer service and support to be decent.

Unfortunately, we can't recommend the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro to anyone who isn't prepared to do a little tinkering with their printer. It is far from a turnkey solution when it arrives and takes the most time out of any of the printers we have tested to get set up. The bulk of the assembly is completed at the factory, so it is much faster to put together than a full kit but you still need to attach all the main assemblies and plug in the wiring harness. It only takes an hour or two and there are plenty of resources available from the manufacturer or third-parties to help walk you through it. However, it can be a bit daunting if you aren't tech-savvy or well-versed on 3D printers in general. It also can be improved quite a bit by some printed or purchased upgrades. Despite the more involved assembly process, it's our top recommendation for anyone on a tight budget. Unlike some other bargain models, the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro is a printer that you won't immediately outgrow, but you do have to treat the machine like a project of its own, rather than just a tool.

Read review: Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro


A group of printers that have gone through rounds of testing.
A group of printers that have gone through rounds of testing.

Why You Should Trust Us?


We bought all the printers in this review at retail pricing — none were given to us to review for free or at a reduced cost — to ensure that you can trust that our review is unbiased and without any financial incentive to pick one brand over another. Our lead reviewer and tester, David Wise and Austin Palmer, both have extensive expertise that they bring to the table with these products. Austin has spent hundreds of hours with the products in this review, extensively testing them and comparing their performance. Given the finicky nature of these machines that means he also has an inordinate amount of experience unclogging nozzles and clearing filament jams. David comes from a mechanical engineering background with extensive experience in rapid prototyping. He has worked with 3D printers and 3D design for close to a decade and has managed various makerspaces and shops, working with a wide variety of different printers. He also has designed and prototyped various components with 3D printers for real-world applications, such as on deepwater submersible robots and autonomous underwater gliders.

We spent thousands of hours printing a suite of evaluation models in different filaments with each printer. Each test model was selected to thoroughly challenge these printers, whether it was printing successively steeper overhangs, bridging longer and longer spans, or particularly fine details. We then assembled a panel of judges — both novice and expert — to rate the print quality of each model, without knowing what printer produced it. In addition to our print-quality tests, we also awarded points based on each printer's printing capabilities, its ease of use, and the level of documentation and customer support available.

Related: How We Tested 3D Printers


Analysis and Test Results


All in all, we conducted about 45 different tests to rank these products, ranging from extensive print quality assessments to how helpful customer support was. The metrics included Print Quality, Ease of Use, Print Capabilities, and Support. The following sections detail how each printer stacked up against the competitions, where they excelled, and where they displayed less than stellar performances.

Related: Buying Advice for 3D Printers

Value


While the Ultimaker 2+ is the best you can get, it is also very pricey. If you're shopping on a budget, you would be much better served with the Creality CR-10S Pro V2 if you don't mind some tinkering to save you some cash. You can save even more by going with the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro, but you will have to put in some time to put it together and get it adjusted correctly before you start getting decent prints out of it. The Elegoo Mars is also a fairly inexpensive model but it is important to remember all the additional costs of resin printers and take that into account when if you're shopping on a budget.

We created a TON of test prints to evaluate these products.
We created a TON of test prints to evaluate these products.

Print Quality


Print Quality is the highest weighted rating metric of our review, comprising 40% of the total score. We selected 15 different test models for each printer to make, in both Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) whenever possible, and used those to evaluate each printer.

To eliminate any possibility of bias, a panel made up of novice, intermediate, and advanced 3D printer users rated each test print without knowing which machine produced it.


Earning the top score out of the entire group, the trio of resin printers — the Anycubic Photon, the Anycubic Photon S, and the Elegoo Mars — all received a 10 out of 10 for their phenomenal print quality.

The sample print pre-loaded on this printer.
The sample print pre-loaded on this printer.

All three of these printers created extremely delicate and intricate models that would have flummoxed any of the other printers in the review and had an amazing surface finish after we got the correct resin exposure settings dialed in. We used different models to compare print quality for the plastic-based printers, such as a wireframe cube, detailed miniatures, and some resin-specific torture tests.

An extremely detailed miniature castle made by the Elegoo Mars.
An extremely detailed miniature castle made by the Elegoo Mars.

Our Editors' Choice award winner for Best Overall — the Ultimaker 2+ — came next, earning the top score for any of the filament printers, an 8 out of 10. The Ultimaker 2+ produced high-quality prints across the board, in both PLA and ABS.

A selection of the test prints from our top FDM printer in this metric.
A selection of the test prints from our top FDM printer in this metric.

The Ultimaker 2+ thoroughly impressed us with its print quality compared to the other fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers. This printer earned top marks in most of our various printing tests, doing especially well with the 3D Benchy, spiral vase, and wireframe cube. There were some issues with bed adhesion when printing larger ABS models, regardless of whether we were using any of the common fixes to this problem (hairspray, blue tape, or a glue stick). We were very pleased, however, with how the Ultimaker 2+ handled overhanging geometry and bridged unsupported spans, as well as with its high-quality surface finish.

Following the Ultimaker 2+, the Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 and the Creality 3D CR-10S tied for the runner-up position with a score of 7 out of 10. The Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 did a fantastic job in our overhanging geometry, bridging, and print-in-place articulated print tests, with the vast majority of our prints all having a high-quality surface finish.

The CR-10S Pro V2 made some very high-quality prints for a plastic-based printer.
The CR-10S Pro V2 made some very high-quality prints for a plastic-based printer.

It did show a tiny bit of Z-axis wobble and it struggled in the Eiffel Tower prints. We also observed a handful of layer separation issues when printing in ABS. The nickel dimensional accuracy test showed that our unit tended to print a little on the larger side out of the box but this could be fixed with some X and Y axis step count calibration.

The Creality 3D CR-10S delivered a solid performance across the board in this test, with only a few exceptions. The Creality 3D CR-10S printer handles PLA much better than ABS, even rivaling the Ultimaker 2+ at making a spiral vase and printing low-poly figures. This printer also did a flawless job in the difficult bridging and overhang tests, as well as an almost unnoticeable amount of Z-axis wobble in the tall tower test.

It struggled a little more with ABS, having a few warping issues on the bridge test and some pronounced layer separation in the spiral vase, low-poly figures, and articulated elephant. The Creality 3D CR-10S also failed to print the Eiffel Tower and platform jack in ABS.

A sample of prints from the CR-10S.
A sample of prints from the CR-10S.

The bulk of the group followed this trio of top-performing printers, with the FlashForge Creator Pro, Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro, Creality 3D CR-10 V2, and the MakerGear M2 all scoring a 6 out of 10.

The FlashForge Creator Pro and the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro tied for the best 3D Benchy of this group in PLA and held their own against the premium models. In fact, they created the best 3D Benchy of the entire group in PLA and the FlashForge Creator Pro was one of the top performers with ABS, by a unanimous decision. Unfortunately, the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro struggled with ABS, and the majority of its prints were plagued with layer separation. This jolly little boat has a variety of features designed specifically to torture test 3D printers.

The exceptional 3D Benchys made by the FlashForge.
The exceptional 3D Benchys made by the FlashForge.

The FlashForge Creator Pro did very well in our overhang test, in both PLA and ABS, as well as printing high-quality figurines that were on par or even rivaling the Ultimaker 2+. However, we found that the FlashForge Creator Pro did a mediocre job at bridging and had a slight Z-wobble that caused the tall tower to have noticeable undulations on the side.

The Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro scored below average with pretty much every test print in ABS. It was consistently hampered its layer separation and bed adhesion issues. We couldn't even get it to print ABS reliably on the stock print bed and it was only after we added an aftermarket borosilicate glass bed that we could get the models to stay attached.

The Creality Ender 3 did impress us with its PLA printing performance in a handful of other tests besides the 3D Benchy. It did particularly well with the bridging and overhang models. It is capable of printing even long spans with only the slightest amount of drooping, bridging gaps that most other printers routinely failed. This put it almost on par with the Ultimaker 2+ when it comes to bridging but not quite. It did well with the articulated prints but struggled a little with the finer details, producing a very subpar Eiffel Tower. It also didn't do well in the nickel test for dimensional accuracy, printing a hole that was on the loose side and wouldn't hold the coin at all.

We were blown away by the bridging performance of the Ender.
We were blown away by the bridging performance of the Ender.

The MakerGear M2 also failed to impress us a ton in this metric, providing all-around average prints while having a premium price. The MakerGear M2 uses their custom software for slicing 3D models to print and this software had issues with some of our test files, refusing to slice them when the same files exhibited no issues in the other programs. This printer did very well with overhanging regions, performing admirably well in our overhang test and composing quality figurines.

However, it produced a mediocre Benchy tugboat, platform jack, and articulated elephant. It also had a tiny bit of noticeable Z-Axis wobble and struggled with retraction, evidenced by the tower and hollow cube test. This 3D printer also consistently did worse with ABS prints, and on the whole, was quite unremarkable.

The Creality 3D CR-10 V2 did decently well across the board in most of our tests, particularly impressing us when it came to overhangs, bridging, and retraction. It made an excellent 3D benchy and impressed us with the overhang torture tests and low-poly figurines. We were less than impressed, however, with persistent issues when it came to the surface finish on most of its prints. Although they look fairly smooth, they feel noticeably rougher than other models when you run your hand across them. We tried a handful of things to fix this but nothing was immediately successful.

Some of the printed models created by the CR-10 V2.
Some of the printed models created by the CR-10 V2.

This printer also had some issues with ABS and a minuscule amount of Z-Axis variations with the tallest prints. A lot of these issues could be fixed with some amounts of calibration and getting into the weeds to fine-tune your printer but we consider this beyond the scope for most users.

Lagging behind the majority of the other printers in the review, both the Monoprice Maker Select V2 and the Select Mini V2 by Monoprice scored a 5 out of 10 for their overall middling printing quality. This pair of printers had a very hard time printing with ABS filament and were consistently plagued by warping and bed adhesion issues, no matter which tricks we tried to mitigate this problem.

The Monoprice Maker Select V2 essentially produced mediocre prints across the board when compared to the other models, having more Z-Axis wobble and layer separation, as well as failing to produce smooth faces or a nice surface finish.

The Monoprice Select Mini V2 was similar, pretty much flunking at every ABS test, but exhibiting less wobble than the Maker Select V2. This printer did distinguish itself by doing extraordinarily well in the bridging test.

Some models were drastically easier to use than others.
Some models were drastically easier to use than others.

Ease of Use


Following our massive set of tests for Print Quality, we moved on to assess the ease of use for each printer. This metric encompasses the ease of the initial setup, the difficulty at swapping out rolls of filament, how hard it was to level the bed, the different methods of connecting to the printer, and the quality of the display on the printer — if there is one. In total, these tests are responsible for 30% of each 3D printer's overall score.


The Ultimaker 2+ and the Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 both earned a 7 out of 10. The Ultimaker 2+ is very easy to use, essentially ready to go straight out of the box. All that is required is to attach the spool holder and you are ready to print. Ultimaker has a handy app with comprehensive documentation and instructions. This was probably one of the easiest printers overall to initially set up and assemble.

The Ultimaker 2+ lacks automatic bed leveling but does have a series of prompts to guide you through the process, making it the easiest of the printers that require manual bed leveling. This printer also uses the standard edition of Cura as the recommended slicer. Files can be sent directly to the printer from a computer via USB or a standard SD card can be used for standalone printing. The Ultimaker 2+ also has a simple display that shows a progress bar and an estimated countdown to the print being completed. It is very easy to swap different filaments on the Ultimaker 2+ using its semi-automatic method.

The Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 might take a little more assembly and troubleshooting out of the box than the Ultimaker 2+, especially considering that we didn't think the included documentation is the most thorough or helpful. However, it does have an automated touch probe for bed leveling, a filament sensor that will stop the print if you run out of filament, and a resume after power failure feature which are all incredibly useful and convenient. It's not overly difficult to change filament and the screen shows all the basic stats while printing.

The automated touch prone (lit up in red) makes this one of the easiest printers to level the bed on.
The automated touch prone (lit up in red) makes this one of the easiest printers to level the bed on.

Following this large group, the remaining printers from Creality — the Creality 3D CR-10S, the Creality 3D CR-10 V2, and the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro all earned a 6 out of 10 for their above-average ease of use. The initial assembly process for these printers is quite a bit more time-consuming, with the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro taking the longest to put together.

The printed instructions were hard to follow and they left out information  check the SD card.
The printed instructions were hard to follow and they left out information, check the SD card.

To put the Creality 3D CR-10S together, you need to attach the vertical frame, connect all the wires, and install the print bed and spool holder. This is made a little more difficult by the lack of clear instructions, but we eventually figured out which wire plugged in where with only a little bit of our own research. The Creality 3D CR-10 V2 has a very similar assembly process, with the main difference being that you need to add the supporting Z-Axis braces.

The Z-Axis braces should help with any wobble but we aren't sure how much they helped  as it was still prevalent in quite a few of our prints.
The Z-Axis braces should help with any wobble but we aren't sure how much they helped, as it was still prevalent in quite a few of our prints.

We thought the documentation and labeling for the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro is quite a bit easier to interpret and understand but the assembly process is overall more involved and labor-intensive. The major subassemblies are ready to go out of the box but you need to assemble the frame and attach all of them, then move on to connecting all of the wires. In total, it took us about an hour to get it ready to go, even with our extensive 3D printer experience.

There is a fair amount of assembly to get the Ender ready to go.
There is a fair amount of assembly to get the Ender ready to go.

You can send files to both of these printers from a computer directly connected to the printer through a USB cable or with a microSD card for standalone printing. Both of these machines have similar displays and interfaces that are fairly clear and easy to understand, with all the basic information relevant to your print shown while they are running. Swapping filament and leveling the bed are both moderately easy, though we would have liked the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro a bit more if it had a semi-automatic bed leveling process.

Next, the Monoprice Maker Select V2, Monoprice Select Mini V2, and the FlashForge Creator Pro all earned a 5 out of 10. Two of these models took a little bit of assembly to set up, with the Monoprice Maker Select V2's Y-Axis needing to be attached and the tool head of the FlashForge Creator Pro requiring mounting. It was a little hard to access the screws to attach the tool head and align it properly but it wasn't too difficult. The Select Mini V2 is ready to go right out of the box, only requiring the spool holder to be clicked into place before it is ready to go.

The Monoprice Maker Select V2 and Monoprice Select Mini V2 utilize Cura as a slicer — a standard option — while the FlashForge Creator Pro instructs you to use ReplicatorG. This isn't the most user-friendly software and has a steeper learning curve than Cura. The FlashForge Creator Pro also has the option of using FlashPrint — a slicer made by the manufacturer, which we found to be vastly preferable. You usually have the option of using most of these printers with other third-party slicers, but it can be a little more technical to get them configured properly.

All of these printers can connect to your computer or print directly from an SD card, though the Monoprice Maker Select V2 and Monoprice Select Mini V2 both use a microSD card. The Monoprice Maker Select V2 and the FlashForge Creator Pro both have practically identical displays — seemingly the standard for most 3D printers that show the % completed. The display of the Select Mini V2 is a little nicer but still displays the same information.

It was about average to swap filaments in both the Monoprice Maker Select V2 and the FlashForge Creator Pro, while it was a little more difficult with the Monoprice Select Mini V2. All of these printers had a subpar method of manual bed leveling.

The FlashForge Creator Pro leads you through a series of prompts, instructing you how to adjust the four adjustment points. The Monoprice Maker Select V2 and the Select Mini V2 also have 4 leveling points, but no prompts to guide you which makes them our least favorite to level.

Rounding out the back of the pack for the filament printers, the MakerGear M2 earned a 4 out of 10. We aren't huge fans of this printer, finding it somewhat of a pain to use. This model has to be connected to a computer to start printing but you can pull the cable after it has started. It also lacks a display but you can purchase one as an upgrade. The setup process was about average, you only need to attach the build plate, Bowden tube, and spool holder. However, you need to download Slic3r to slice 3D files for printing and Printrun by Pronterface to run the printer and select files off of the SD card. Finally, it is also fairly difficult to swap filaments and level the bed, requiring you to connect to a computer to swap filaments and follow a series of prompts that aren't very clear to level the bed.

Earning the lowest score overall, the Anycubic Photon, the Anycubic Photon S, and the Elegoo Mars all earned a 2 out of 10. We found these three resin printers to all be very similar in operation, and substantially more hassle to use than any of the other printers that we have tested.

The resin in the vat should be filtered back into its bottle after a failed print or if you have any reason to suspect there are cured chunks of resin floating around.
The resin in the vat should be filtered back into its bottle after a failed print or if you have any reason to suspect there are cured chunks of resin floating around.

It is very easy to load the resin into these machines when it is cleaned and empty by simply pouring it in. However, you need to wear gloves and proper personal protective equipment whenever handling resin. You also need to filter and empty the printer of resin if you aren't going to be printing in the next 48 hours — a somewhat involved and messy process that takes about 30 minutes. There is a decent amount of post-processing involved with finishing a print. Once the print is removed, you need to wash the finished print in both warm water and isopropyl alcohol and then post-cure it with UV light to harden the resin to its full strength.

Some of the various other materials and tools necessary to make full use of the Photon.
Some of the various other materials and tools necessary to make full use of the Photon.

This group, however, does arrive almost completely assembled and ready to go. While it wasn't enough to really impact the scores, we did find the fully removable top of the Elegoo Mars to be a bit more of a hassle than the hinged openings of the Anycubic Photon or Anycubic Photon S.

The Ultimaker had a decent set of capabilities  compatible with a handful of materials.
The Ultimaker had a decent set of capabilities, compatible with a handful of materials.

Print Capabilities


Making up 20% of the total score, our Print Capabilities metric evaluated what you can do with these products. We ranked and scored each model based on their build volume, build plate, the types of filament each model is compatible with, the types of cooling, as well as the different software programs, or slicers, that can be used with each machine.


Claiming the top spot, the Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2, the Creality 3D CR-10S, and the Creality 3D CR-10 V2 all earned an 8 out of 10 for their exceptionally full-featured set of printing capabilities. These machines all have both a layer and extruder cooling fan, with a maximum extruder temperature of 260°C. They're not restricted to proprietary filaments, and are compatible with any 1.75mm filament that fits that temperature profile. These printers all have a heated bed and are compatible with a handful of slicers, including Cura, Simplify 3D, Creality's own software, and many others. These three printers all have a massive build volume, measuring in at a whopping 300x300x400mm (11.81x11.81x15.75in) — more than enough volume for all the cosplayers out there to print an entire helmet in one go.

Next, the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro and the Ultimaker 2+, each scored 7 out of 10 for their excellent set of printing capabilities. The Ultimaker 2+ utilized the standard edition of Cura — our favorite of the free slicers — and is compatible with Simplify3D. It has a decently large build volume at 223x223x205mm. We did have some minimal bed adhesion issues on the heated borosilicate glass print surface, mainly with ABS. The Ultimaker 2+ is compatible with a large array of generic filaments, such as PLA, ABS, PC, Nylon, or any filament that has a print temperature below 260°C, and it has two layer cooling fans.

The Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro has a smaller build area than the larger Creality printers but is very comparable in size to the Ultimaker 2+. The Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro and the Ultimaker 2+ are essentially identical in terms of X and Y dimensions, with build areas of 220x220mm and 223x223mm, respectively. However, the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro can print up to 250mm in height compared to 205mm for the Ultimaker 2+.

The Ender 3 has a decently expansive set of printing capabilities given its bare-bones nature.
The Ender 3 has a decently expansive set of printing capabilities given its bare-bones nature.

Creality has its own slicing software but the Ender is also compatible with a wide variety of other slicers — same as the Creality 3D CR-10S variants. The hotend can get up to 255°C and you aren't restricted to proprietary filaments, so you can print any material available in 1.75mm spools that melts below that point. This printer also has a heated bed that can hit a maximum temperature of 135°C and has a hotend and layer cooling fan. However, we had a ton of bed adhesion issues when printing in ABS with the stock bed. These were eventually resolved by adding a glass plate and using an ABS/acetone slurry on the bed before printing.

The MakerGear M2 and the Monoprice Maker Select V2 followed, each meriting a 6 out of 10. The Monoprice Maker Select V2 allows you to use Cura to control it, far superior to the trio of programs needed to run the MakerGear M2. However, both of these printers can be upgraded to work with Simplify3D. The MakerGear M2 has a slightly larger printable area than the Monoprice Maker Select V2, 200x250x200mm compared to 200x200x175mm. Both of these printers, however, are significantly smaller than the enormous build volumes of the Ultimaker 2+ or the larger Creality 3D printers.

The MakerGear M2 has a borosilicate glass bed with a replaceable print surface that is vastly superior to the thin aluminum plate with a stick-on build surface of the Monoprice Maker Select V2. We had some bed adhesion issues with the MakerGear M2 but substantially fewer than the Monoprice. These both take generic, 1.75mm filaments, though the MakerGear M2 has a wider temperature range than the Monoprice, 300°C to 260°C. These printers did have reduced cooling capabilities, with only a single layer fan each that may cause prints to cool less evenly.

Next, the FlashForge Creator Pro, Anycubic Photon, Anycubic Photon S, Elegoo Mars, and the Monoprice Select Mini V2, all earned a 5 out of 10 for their printing capabilities. While the Monoprice Select Mini V2 used our preferred slicer, Cura, the FlashForge Creator Pro can use either a proprietary software — FlashPrint — or third-party slicers, like ReplicatorG. We got the hang of the proprietary slicers relatively quickly but were continually baffled by the clunky interface of ReplicatorG and found it to be much less intuitive.

The FlashForge Creator Pro has a printable area that is about average in size — on par with the Monoprice Maker Select V2. The FlashForge Creator Pro has a solid print bed and we didn't have too many bed adhesion issues. The Monoprice Select Mini V2 gave us tons of trouble with bed adhesion, with our build plate appearing to have a bow in it that made printing in ABS almost impossible — no matter how carefully we leveled it.

Unfortunately, the resin printers don't give you a ton of options when it comes to software, as the majority of slicers are designed with FDM/FFF printing in mind. However, there are more and more options becoming available as SLA printing drops in price and gains popularity. We used the Anycubic's proprietary slicer for the Photon and Photon S in our tests and the ChiTubox slicer for the Elegoo Mars.

Both are fairly intuitive and easy to use, though it can be a bit of a learning curve to understand the best strategy to orient models to minimize support. These printers are all compatible with any 405nm UV-curable resin but don't have the largest build areas. The Elegoo Mars has the largest build volume, measuring 120x68x165mm, followed by the Anycubic Photon S at 115x65x165mm, and the Anycubic Photon at 115x65x155mm.

A selection of failed prints from testing. Good customer support can make the difference between a quick fix or extensive troubleshooting when a printer isn't behaving as it should.
A selection of failed prints from testing. Good customer support can make the difference between a quick fix or extensive troubleshooting when a printer isn't behaving as it should.

Support


The final metric in our test — Support — accounted for the final 10% of the total score. 3D printers are still a relatively immature technology — unfamiliar to most people — and having a helpful manufacturer can make all the difference between a quick fix or hours of frustration. We evaluated the different ways to contact the manufacturer, the helpfulness of the customer support, the warranty on each printer, and if there were instructional videos online.


A trio of printers took home the top score in this metric, with the MakerGear M2, the Anycubic Photon, and the Ultimaker 2+ all earning a 7 out of 10.

Ultimaker only had a few support videos on their website but it did have plenty of pictures. They have both email and phone numbers to contact and are available Mon-Fri, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm(ET). They responded very quickly to our questions and provided helpful links and instructions to fix our problem. There is also a 12-month warranty on their printer for the original purchaser — something to note if you are looking at a secondhand model.

The MakerGear M2 similarly few videos on their YouTube page and both an email and phone number to contact support. However, their support line closed earlier than the Ultimaker 2+ at 4:00 pm. They were also very helpful in their response to the raft printing poorly. The MakerGear M2 comes with a 6-month warranty but it can be upgraded to 12 months for an additional cost.

Anycubic has a few tutorial videos and it's about average difficulty to get in touch with their customer support team via email, contact form, or an international phone number. We found their support team to be extremely helpful, even offering to place supports and slice a model that we were struggling with. Finally, it has a solid warranty — 3 months on the UV LED/LCD screen and 12 months on most other components. We found their customer support to be much more helpful in the past than in more recent times. It was much harder to contact them about the Anycubic Photon S than when we contacted them regarding the Anycubic Photon. This earned both of these printers a 5 out of 10.

Next, the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro, FlashForge Creator Pro, Monoprice Maker Select V2, Elegoo Mars, and the Monoprice Select Mini V2 all earned a 6 out of 10. All of these printers had a handful of videos, except for the Monoprice Maker Select V2 and the Select Mini V2, which had none. The pair of Monoprice printers and the FlashForge Creator Pro, however, are the only ones in this group to have a USA contact number. These manufacturers all had either email or support ticket methods of contact and were somewhat helpful to our questions. FlashForge was the most helpful, with Monoprice being the least. The FlashForge Creator Pro shipped with the shortest warranty of 3 months, while the Monoprice's has a 12-month warranty.

Our experience with customer support with the Creality printers has been a bit of a mixed bag. We never heard back when we tested the Creality 3D CR-10S a while ago but we did get a response for the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro, Creality 3D CR-10 V2, and Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 when we contacted them more recently. However, we still didn't find Creality to be all that helpful in response to our questions about a broken cooling fan, as they immediately referred us to contact the seller, COMGROW. COMGROW was surprisingly helpful and offered to replace the fans once we sent in photos of a broken one. The Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro also has a one-year limited warranty but we aren't sure how easily you would actually be able to take advantage of this in practice. It seems like the customer support has been improving with the Creality printers but it still doesn't feel reliable enough to count on. Luckily, inexpensive replacement parts can usually be found and there is an enormous amount of information online about repairing and upgrading these printers. They are such good bargain buys that it is hard to discount them solely on their lackluster customer support. We awarded both the Creality 3D CR-10 V2 and the Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 a 5 out of 10 because of this.

Finishing last in terms of customer support, the Creality 3D CR-10S earned a 3 out of 10. Supposedly, there is a 1-year limited warranty, but we aren't sure if this is useful at all since we never actually contacted them successfully. We recommend getting this 3D printer from a reputable third-party retailer that offers returns if it arrives damaged or defective, rather than relying on the manufacturer.

A sample of models used in our testing.
A sample of models used in our testing.

Conclusion


Hopefully, this review has helped you find the perfect 3D printer for your needs and budget, whether you are looking for a simple introductory model, a prosumer workhorse machine, or a bargain buy. We did all the research and bought all the best 3D printers around, so you don't have to.

David Wise and Austin Palmer