Looking to invest in your own 3D printer? Our team of tech experts researched more than 150 products before extruding our selection down to 12 of the best 3D printers on the market. We purchased all of these units to test side-by-side in our own print labs. We ran tests to compare dimensional accuracy of each machine out of the box. We then printed hundred of different models to examine how each printer 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: 250x210x210mm | Max Extruder Temperature: 300°C
REASONS TO BUY
Wide range of compatible materials
Great print quality
Very easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
If you desire the best of the best when it comes to filament-based 3D printers, we highly recommend the Prusa i3 MK3S+. This printer delivered some exceptional test prints and is one of the easiest options to use. It is a very capable printer with a wide range of different compatible filaments, upgrade options, and a moderately large build area. There is also a plethora of instructional material available on the manufacturer's website.
Unsurprisingly, this printer's price tag matches its quality — it's pricey. Additionally, it's sometimes only available from a limited number of vendors and is often coupled with substantial shipping or import fees, increasing an already considerable price tag. However, we highly recommend this printer to anyone seeking a premium product without making the jump to an industrial or professional printer.
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 you value the detail of your printed objects above all else, we highly recommend the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro. This compact resin printer created incredibly detailed models at a miniature scale that would be almost unattainable with a conventional resin printer. This printer created extremely thin and delicate models with ease, producing smooth curves and a premium surface finish. We also like that it has a decent build volume for a resin printer and is compatible with a wide variety of different resins.
However, the Mars 2 Pro is going to have a much more labor-intensive printing process. Resin is generally messier, forcing you to do things like filter it and clean the vat before you can swap colors or types. Your prints will also need to be thoroughly washed after printing — usually with isopropyl alcohol — and the resulting solution requires consideration for proper disposal. Finally, the prints must be post-cured under a UV light source to achieve their peak mechanical properties. It's by far our go-to option if we want a small-scale detailed print — think tabletop gaming or model building — but definitely requires a bit of work to get there.
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 Mars 2 Pro 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 Anycubic Photon Mono, and the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro — which all 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 Prusa i3 MK3S+ merited top marks. This printer delivered some absolutely 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.
However, we did notice a bit of a drop in quality with some of the ABS prints, with a few even failing completely.
The Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 and the Creality 3D CR-10S came in at the runner-up position. The CR-10S Pro performed fantastically in our overhanging geometry, bridging, and print-in-place articulated print tests, with the vast majority of their test prints having a favorable surface finish compared to the rest of the group.
The CR-10S Pro showed a tiny bit of Z-axis wobble in our tall tower test, and it struggled with 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 we were able to fix this with some X and Y axis step count calibration.
The Creality 3D CR-10S delivered a reliable performance across the board in this test, with only a few exceptions. This printer also did a flawless job in our more 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.
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 benchy 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 Monoprice Select Mini V2 and the Anycubic Mega S delivered so-so prints, earning them fairly lackluster scores. We found the Select Mini V2 had a very tough time printing with ABS filament and consistently encountered warping and bed adhesion issues — no matter which tricks we tried to mitigate this problem. This printer did distinguish itself by doing extraordinarily well in the bridging test but overall failed to impress when it came to print quality.
The Mega S generally struggled with the ABS prints, undergoing plenty of failures. It also seemed to have some under-extrusion issues, leading to prints that just seemed a little on the rough side. It did a decent job at bridging and overhangs but our judges just found the overall quality of the prints to be wanting.
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 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 a close second to the Adventurer 3 when it comes to ease of use. This printer 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 it is in operation.
The Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2 might take a little more assembly and troubleshooting out of the box than the Prusa, 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, all of which are incredibly useful and convenient. It's not overly tricky to change filament and the screen shows all the vital stats while printing.
The Creality 3D CR-10S, 3D Ender 3 Pro, and the Anycubic Vyper, are all above-average when it comes to ease of use. The initial assembly process for these printers is quite a bit more time-consuming, with the 3D Ender 3 Pro taking the longest of this group for us to put together.
In contrast, the Anycubic Vyper can be assembled and begin printing much faster. Its auto-leveling feature legitimately helps make one of the most vexing tasks every user must undertake to be almost pleasant. Paired with a removable bed that makes removing your prints a snap, it's hard to beat for an economical option.
To put the 3D CR-10S together, you need to attach the vertical frame, connect all the wires, and install the print bed and spool holder. A lack of what we feel our clear instructions made this a little more complicated, but we eventually figured out which cable plugged in where, with only a little bit of our research.
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.
The Mega S did come mostly assembled and has an average bed leveling process. It also isn't too bad to change the filament with but we did struggle a bit with the build plate, as it didn't seem quite as flat as some of the other models.
Next up are the Monoprice Select Mini V2 and 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 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 instructions for the Select Mini V2 suggest you use Cura as a slicer — a standard option — while 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.
The Select Mini V2 uses a microSD card, while the FlashForge Creator Pro uses a full-size card. The FlashForge Creator Pro has a fairly standard display that shows the % of the print completed and some temperature information. We did think that the display of the Select Mini V2 is a little nicer but still displays essentially the same information.
We found swapping out filaments on the FlashForge Creator Pro to be average, while the Monoprice Select Mini V2 proved to be more troublesome. However, we didn't love the manual bed leveling of these models.
The FlashForge Creator Pro leads you through a series of prompts, instructing you how to adjust the four adjustment points. The Select Mini V2 also has four leveling points, but no prompts to guide you, which makes it one of our least favorite printers to level.
Rounding out the back of the pack for the filament printers is the MakerGear M2. 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 begun. 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 somewhat challenging to swap filaments and level the bed, requiring you to connect to a computer to swap filaments and follow a series of prompts that we don't think are very clear to level the bed.
The Anycubic Photon Mono, and the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro scored the lowest overall. We found these three resin printers to be very similar in operation and substantially more hassle to use than any of the other printers tested.
It is effortless to load the resin into these machines when it is cleaned and empty by simply pouring it in. However, you should 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.
This group, however, does arrive almost completely assembled and ready to go. While it wasn't enough to impact the scores, we did find the fully removable top of the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro and the Anycubic Mono to be somewhat of a hassle.
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+, the Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2, and the Creality 3D CR-10S all have an exceptionally full-featured set of printing capabilities. The Creality machines have both a layer and extruder cooling fan, with a maximum extruder temperature of 260°C, while the MK3S+ can reach up to 300°C They're not restricted to proprietary filaments and are compatible with any 1.75mm part 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 proprietary software, and many others. The Creality models have a massive build volume, measuring in at a whopping 300x300x400mm (11.81x11.81x15.75in) — more than enough capacity for all the cosplayers out there attempting to print an entire helmet in one go. The Prusa i3 MK3S+ has just a bit smaller of a build envelope, topping out at 250x210x210mm.
The Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro and the Anycubic Mega S followed. The Ender 3 has a smaller build area than the larger Creality printers but slightly larger than the i3 MK3S, with a build area of 220x220x250mm.
Creality has its proprietary slicing software, but the Ender is also compatible with a wide variety of other slicers — the same as the Creality 3D CR-10S variants. The hotend 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 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 Mega S has a build volume of 210x210x205mm and the typical peak hot end temperature of 260°C. It also has a heated bed and it is compatible with any 1.75mm filament that will melt under that temperature. We used Cura as a slicer for our tests and liked the amount of bed adhesion the default surface provided.
The MakerGear M2 software was a bit of a hassle, as we needed a trio of programs to run it. However, you can upgrade and use Simplify3D if you are willing to pay for a slicer. The MakerGear M2 has a printable area of 200x250x200mm — significantly smaller than the large build of the Creality 3D printers.
The MakerGear M2 has a borosilicate glass bed with a replaceable print surface. We had a few bed adhesion issues but it was definitely uncommon. It can use generic, 1.75mm filaments that melt at 300°C or less. The M2 does have reduced cooling capabilities, with only a single layer fan each that may cause prints to cool less evenly.
Next are the FlashForge Creator Pro, the FlashForge Adventurer 3, the Anycubic Photon, the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro , and the Monoprice Select Mini V2. While the Select Mini V2 used our preferred slicer, Cura, the Creator Pro and the Adventurer 3 recommend using a free proprietary software — FlashPrint. We got the hang of the proprietary slicers relatively quickly but did prefer Cura.
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. 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 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 Mono in our tests and the ChiTubox slicer for the Elegoo Mars.
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 Mars 2 Pro has the most substantial build volume, measuring 130x80x160mm, followed by the Anycubic Photon Mono at 130x80x165mm.
The final metric in our test — Support — 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 MakerGear M2 takes the top spot in our final metric. Though there are only a few videos on their YouTube page, they have both an email and phone number to contact support. They were also very helpful in their response to the raft printing poorly.
Next up are the FlashForge Creator Pro, the FlashForge Adventurer 3, the Anycubic Mega S, the Anycubic Photon Mono, the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, and the Monoprice Select Mini V2. 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.
Our experiences with customer support with the Creality printers have been a bit of a mixed bag. We never heard back when we tested the 3D CR-10S a while ago, but we did get a response for the 3D Ender 3 Pro and the 3D CR-10S Pro V2 when we contacted them more recently.
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.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.