Looking to invest in your own 3D printer? Our team of experts researched more than 150 products before extruding our selection down to 10 of the best 3D printers on the market. We purchased all of these units to test side-by-side in our own print labs, and ran tests to compare the dimensional accuracy of each machine out of the box. We ran dozens of prints on each printer to examine how each handles small details, overhanging geometry, bridges, and articulated parts. Throughout our analysis, we considered the difficulty in assembling and configuring each printer, their different print capabilities, and overall ease of use. Our in-depth review compares models head-to-head so that we can deliver expert recommendations to help you understand which printer is worth the price.
Build Area: 256x256x256mm | Max Extruder Temperature: 300°C
REASONS TO BUY
Nearly ready out of the box
Filament run-out sensor
REASONS TO AVOID
Only has a proprietary slicer
Required to print your enclosure walls
The Bambu Lab P1P has just about everything you're looking for in an FDM printer. It ranks near the top of every metric we test for, and while it's not cheap per se, it's a lot more affordable than most of the higher-end models we've seen. It's incredibly easy to set up and use, and produces prints of the best quality we've seen from an FDM option. But that's not what the P1P does best — that distinction goes to its highly upgradeable nature, with an available multi-filament changer and a framework that accepts a huge variety of add-ons like custom enclosure walls. While this is elective, it is undeniably fun and the gateway into jumping into the huge community of fanatic fellow Bambu users via a dedicated forum. The printer is also very fast and has some nice built-in features like camera to monitor prints, time-lapses, and WiFi connection.
Bambu Lab is a relatively new player in the 3D printer market and is already known for its stellar print and build quality as a brand. Even though the price may cause some to clutch their pearls, this model is one of the more affordable in Bambu's lineup. That said, it's a fun printer that motivates us to iterate, build, and push our understanding and skillset.
Build Area: 235x235x250mm | Max Extruder Temperature: 260°C
REASONS TO BUY
Broken material detection
REASONS TO AVOID
Fragile leveling (can't touch)
Another newcomer brand, AnkerMake, is the off-shoot of established charging gadget maker Anker. The AnkerMake M5 is its first market offering. The M5 does lots of things well — it's easy to set up, has super fast print speeds, and has some eye-catching features. The M5 gets extra consideration as the video and customer support for setting up, replacing parts, and running the machine are second to none. This would be a fantastic beginner printer for that reason alone, if not for the mid-to-high-end price tag. Read below for our "Best for Beginners" award winner, but if you're going for the home run straight out of the gate, then consider the M5 as well.
Some of the features admittedly need a little polish, such as the clunky proprietary slicer and AI print fail detection, but there's so much potential here that we're itching to see how things get patched via firmware. The sky's the limit with this brand; we will watch its future upgrades with much interest.
Build Area: 245x245x260mm | Max Extruder Temperature: 260°C
REASONS TO BUY
Painless to assemble
Practical, useful features
REASONS TO AVOID
Print quality may take some chasing
Customer support can be slow
The Anycubic Vyper is an incredible value for a 3D printer. This model features downright useful tech that is usually reserved for pricier printer options. We love that this printer is straightforward and burden-free to set up and run. It is also backed by some solid support to help with getting your print looking flawless and replacement parts switched out easily. If you've been waiting for a headache-free 3D printer option that doesn't burn a massive hole in your wallet, this is your winner.
The Vyper has respectable but not fantastic print quality. The quality is certainly nothing to be discouraged over, but expect to take some time tinkering in your slicer software of choice to really dial the quality in. Once it is, your prints should be repeatable and simple to remove and post-process. Customer support is China-based, and while they are knowledgeable and helpful, there is no way to contact them in real time. This shouldn't matter in most cases; however, their video support is very comprehensive for most issues.
Build Area: 220x220x250mm| Max Extruder Temperature: 255°C
REASONS TO BUY
Great PLA prints
A good set of printing capabilities
REASONS TO AVOID
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 is a great bet. This printer is a fantastic value, coupling excellent overall 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 relatively 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 decent customer service and support.
That said, we wouldn't recommend the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro to anyone not prepared to do a little tinkering with their printer. It is far from a turnkey solution when it arrives — it took the most time to set up of any of the printers in our test fleet. The bulk of the assembly is completed at the factory, so it is much quicker to put together than a full kit, but you still need to attach all the main assemblies and plug in the wiring harness. This 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 in 3D printers in general. It also can be improved quite a bit by some printed or purchased upgrades. Despite the more involved assembly process, this is still 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 expect to treat the machine like a project of its own, rather than just a tool.
If print detail and quality are the most important criteria for choosing a 3D printer, then you'll want a resin model, such as the Elegoo Saturn 2. Seriously, the Saturn 2 produces the best prints we've ever tested, prompting a perfect score. The details are near flawless, and the build lines are so minuscule that you're not going to see them unless you're really looking. The Saturn 2's secret is the 10-inch, 8k resolution LCD screen, which is industry leading. This means you'll have XY pixel resolution of 28.5 micrometers (μm). That's about a third the width of a human hair.
Resin printers demolish FDM in print quality, but that comes at a high cost. The resin is sticky, messy, and requires labor-intensive post-processing to clean and cure your prints. The bottom line is if your print needs are hyper-detailed models for tabletop gaming or model building, this is the absolute best printer on the market.
Build Area: 250x210x210mm| Max Extruder Temperature: 240°C
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptionally easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
Designed for smaller filament rolls
Looking for an entry-level printer, particularly for classrooms? Check out the FlashForge Adventurer 3. This convenient and easy-to-operate printer is fully enclosed, keeping curious hands away from moving or heated parts. It also has an integrated webcam for monitoring the status of your prints. Even better, we found that it has an above-average print quality and a decent set of capabilities, including a fairly large build area.
Our main issue with this printer is that it is designed for smaller filament spools. You aren't restricted to a proprietary brand, but you will need to either rewind the smaller spools or make a separate spool holder if you plan to use the readily available one-kilogram spools instead of the 500-gram spools it's designed for. It might not be the absolute best printer around, but we think it tops the charts when it comes to ease of use and is our favorite option to recommend to teachers.
Our lead reviewers and testers, 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 excessive 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 maker spaces 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 printed a series of evaluation models in different filaments with each printer. Each test prototype was selected to thoroughly challenge these printers, whether it was printing successively steeper overhangs, bridging longer and longer spans, or creating particularly fine details. We then assembled a panel of judges to rate the print quality of each model, without knowing which 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.
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. We carefully evaluated how each printer stacked up against the competition, where they excelled, and where they displayed less than stellar performances.
Overall, our vote for the best value in 3D printers on the market today is, undoubtedly, the Anycubic Vyper. There are other FDM printers that offer better print quality, most notably the Prusa i3 MK3S+, but you do pay a handsome price for that luxury. Meanwhile, the Vyper has similar features as the i3 MK3S+, including an auto-leveling feature and a removable, flexible, magnetic print bed — all for a fraction of the cost. With some tinkering, the Vyper's print quality also manages to punch above its weight class. If you're on an even tighter budget, the Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro is a good option, but do know the print quality will take some time to dial in, and it's not quite as easy to use as other FDM printers available. If print quality is your main focus, going with a resin-based printer may be for you. The Elegoo Saturn 2 is a great choice for top-notch print quality at an affordable price tag. Just remember that resin printers are notoriously messy and annoying to post-cure, so if ease of use is an important quality for you, FDM (filament-based) printers are the way to go.
Print quality is the highest weighted rating metric of our review. For each of the filament, or FDM printers, we picked out a suite of test models, each designed to focus on a different type of geometry, and attempted to print a set in both Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). Our panel of judges then scored the quality of each print to determine scores. For the resin printers, we selected a different set of test models since the different printing mechanisms would have rendered more than a handful of our other tests moot.
Earning the top marks out of the entire group are the resin printers — specifically the Elegoo Saturn 2 and the Anycubic Photon Mono — which delivered exceptional results in our print quality tests.
Both printers created extraordinarily delicate and intricate models that would have almost certainly perplexed any of the other printers in the review and had a fantastic surface finish after we dialed in the correct resin exposure settings. 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.
Of the filament-based printers, we think the Bambu Lab P1P merited top marks. This printer delivered some excellent PLA prints with clean geometry and a smooth surface finish. It even did well with some of the more difficult options, like the overhang assessment, bridging test, and articulated, print-in-place platform jack.
The Prusa i3 MK3S+ came in a close second. The Benchy and bridging tests performed fantastically. Most PLA prints performed well, but more than a few ABS prints were ailed outright. You'll need an enclosed printer if ABS is our preferred filament of choice, like the FlashForge Adventurer 3.
The FlashForge Creator Pro did very well in our overhang test, in both PLA and ABS, and was able to print high-quality, low-poly figurines. However, we found that it 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 consistently struggled with layer separation and bed adhesion issues. We couldn't even get it to print ABS reliably on the stock print bed, and only after we added an aftermarket borosilicate glass bed could we get the models to stay attached. It did better with PLA filament however. 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. 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.
The FlashForge Adventurer 3 got off to a good start with the 3D tugboat, breaking the trend a bit, as we found its ABS version of the little boat actually came out a bit better than its PLA-version. It did well with some of the more difficult tests, like the bridging and the Eiffel tower, though its platform jack never seemed to work quite right.
The Bambu Lab P1P and the AnkerMake M5 delivered great prints for FDM, earning mid-range scores on our absolute scale, but that's because resin printers skew everything else down. The P1P provides you with the best quality an FDM option can reasonably give. As with most printers, PLA filament performed better on average, but the main thing to note here is that very few prints failed outright. A print can start off rough, but ultimately the P1P corrected itself, and that is all an experienced print enthusiast can realistically hope for many days.
The AnkerMake M5 generally performed best in our geometric and simple shape tests. It showed good dimensional accuracy, very little sag in thin walls, and sharp points and corners. The coin test referenced above ended up with a good but not great fit, but we feel comfortable saying that your prints will turn out relatively unskewed or warped.
Ease of Use
After our exhaustive Print Quality test, we determined the ease of use for each printer. We examined the initial setup, the difficulty level of swapping out filament rolls, bed leveling difficulty, the various printer connection methods, and the display quality.
The newcomer Bambu Lab P1P again takes top marks here, due in no small part to its lightning-quick setup in under 15 minutes. Once you do, you'll also enjoy upgrading the chassis with add-ons like enclosure walls for ABS prints. The WiFi capability for transferring prints to the machine is super helpful and not at all common yet in the industry. It's also aided by an onboard camera and a decent app to watch over your prints from afar. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the auto-plate leveling functionality, which truly removes the headache from the process.
The FlashForge Adventurer 3 is exceptionally user-friendly and scored highest in this metric. Filament swapping is almost fully automatic while bed leveling wasn't really necessary. Additionally, no setup was required. This printer even has a companion app that lets you monitor your print with the built-in camera.
We found the Prusa i3 MK3S+ to be very user friendly. This printer also probes the bed and compensates for level before every print, and the semi-automatic feeder makes it very easy to swap filaments. It arrived completely assembled, and files can be sent via USB or SD card, with a screen that shows you the current print status while in operation.
The Anycubic Vyper and all of Anycubic's offerings can also be assembled and ready to print super fast. It also has an auto-leveling print bed. Paired with a removable bed that makes retrieving your prints a snap, it's hard to beat for an economical option.
We thought the documentation and labeling for the 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.
You can send files to all three of these printers from a computer directly connected to the printer through a USB cable or with a microSD card for standalone printing. These machines have similar displays and interfaces that are reasonably clear and easy to understand, with all the necessary information relevant to your print shown while they are running. Swapping filament and leveling the bed are both moderately easy. However, we would have liked the 3D Ender 3 Pro a bit more if it had a semi-automatic bed leveling process.
A particularly neat feature of the AnkerMake M5 is that the packaging of the box can be used as a jig to set up the chassis to the base. It's one of the more highly rated printers for its easy setup and additional features — like an automatic 49-point auto bed leveling program.
Next up is the FlashForge Creator Pro. The tool head of the Creator Pro required mounting before you can start printing, and we found it to be a little hard to access the screws to connect the tool head and align it properly. However, it wasn't overly difficult.
The instructions for the FlashForge Creator Pro instructs you to use ReplicatorG. We think this software isn't the most user-friendly and has a steeper learning curve than Cura. The 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 correctly. It also uses a full-size SD card for file transfer and a fairly standard display that shows the percentage of the print completed and some temperature information.
The FlashForge Creator Pro leads you through a series of prompts, instructing you how to adjust the four adjustment points. It's not the easiest of procedures, but this is how older FDM options used to be.
Always follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding 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 immediate future, again following the manufacturer's instructions. There is also a decent amount of post-processing involved with finishing a print. Once you remove the print, you usually need to wash the finished product in both warm water and isopropyl alcohol and then post-cure it with a UV light source to harden the resin to its full strength.
We will admit that it is easier to load resin than filament — provided the vat is already cleaned and empty, though gloves and other PPE are usually required. You should definitely check the manufacturer's instructions and the MSDS for the specific flavor of resin you are using regarding safety precautions. However, it gets considerably more complicated when you need to swap resin, as you will need to filter the resin back into the bottle and then clean out the vat to avoid mixing different colors. Once the print is finished, you will have to post-process the print by cleaning off any uncured resin and then curing it under a UV light to reach full strength.
Our Print Capabilities metric evaluates the extent of 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.
The Prusa i3 MK3S+, Bambu Lab P1P, and the AnkerMake M5 all have an exceptionally full-featured set of printing capabilities. The P1P and MK3S+ share the highest maximum extruder temperature (300°C) we've seen, meaning they can handle more filament types. These printers all have heated and removable beds, but only the MK3S+ is meant to work with 3rd party slicers, including Cura and Simplify 3D. The P1P has the largest build volume we've seen in an FDM machine at 256x256x256mm, with the Vyper and MK3S+ coming in slightly smaller.
Creality has its proprietary slicing software, but the Ender is also compatible with a wide variety of other slicers. It can get up to 255°C, and you aren't limited to proprietary filaments, so you can print any material available in 1.75mm spools that melt below that point. This printer also has a heated bed that can hit a maximum temperature of 135°C and has a 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 AnkerMake M5 has a build volume of 235x235x250mm and the typical peak hot end temperature of 260°C. It does have a proprietary slicer that we think can use some polishing, but give it time. We think it can be as good as Cura with some tweaks and upgrades, especially in how the models are tumbled and rotated to view.
The M5, Bambu Lab P1P, and Anycubic Photon M3 Premium all have proprietary slicer software from their brands which you don't have to use, but some features are only available through them, so you'll have to decide how loyal to Cura or Chitubox you are. Some are pretty clunky, but for some (like in the case of the P1P), the app integration is probably worth learning the new software.
The FlashForge Creator Pro has a printable area that is about average in size, with the Adventurer 3 being a bit smaller. The Creator Pro has a stable print bed, and we didn't have too many bed adhesion issues, with the Adventurer 3's being even stickier.
Unfortunately, the resin printers don't give you a ton of options for software, as most 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 M3 Premium in our tests and the ChiTubox slicer for the Elegoo Saturn 2.
Both are relatively 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 Saturn 2 has the most substantial build volume, measuring 219x123x250mm, followed by the Anycubic Photon Mono at 130x80x165mm. One thing we did notice is that the Saturn 2's resin vat was particularly small, meaning you may have to refill it halfway through a larger build. The M3 Premium, however, has a vat almost double the size.
The final metric in our tests accounts for the last 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, and if there were instructional videos online.
The AnkerMake M5 easily takes the top spot in our final metric. There are a plethora of tutorial videos on setup, replacement of parts, and print help, and the email support was top-notch. It even had a US-based 800 number (not super common with many printer brands being Chinese-made), and we were able to speak with a person right away.
Next up are the Anycubic Vyper, FlashForge Creator Pro, and the Creality Ender 3 Pro. The manufacturers of these printers all had either email or support ticket methods of contact and were somewhat helpful to our questions when we got responses, which wasn't always the case. Anycubic offered the best support with videos, along with some solidly useful (and reasonably priced) replacement parts for when your printers inevitably wear out or break.
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, Austin Palmer, Matt Spencer, and Kyle Hameister