Reviews You Can Rely On

Best 3D Printer of 2021

We tested 3D printers from Creality, Elegoo, Prusa, and others to find the best models
The CR-10 V2 made some solid prints but there overall was some room to...
Credit: Jason Peters
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Jul 20, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
We researched and compared well over 150 different products, then bought the 14 best 3D printers you can get in 2021 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 14 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award   
Price $999 List$669 List
$626.00 at Amazon
$450 List
$384.00 at Amazon
$600 List
$439.00 at Amazon
$680 List
$637.77 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Easy to use, highly capable, great printsCompact form factor, excellent prints for FFF, easy to useFully enclosed, integrated camera, easy to useGreat value, large build areaEasy to use, intuitive interface
Cons Pricey, limited vendorsSupport could be better, a bit more assembly than other printersLimited filament compatibility, so-so customer supportNonexistent support, little harder to useNot the best prints, limited capabilities
Bottom Line If you are looking for a top-notch filament printer, then we think is an excellent choiceIf you're seeking a great value option, it's hard to beat this user-friendly machineIf you are searching for an enclosed and easy to use option that won't break the bank, then this is a great optionIf you are searching for a solid printer on a budget and don't mind doing a little tinkering, then this model is the perfect choiceWhile this model didn't make the best prints, it is very easy and intuitive to use, making it a good option for beginners
Rating Categories Prusa i3 MK3S+ Creality 3D CR-10S... FlashForge Adventur... Creality 3D CR-10S Dremel Digilab 3D20
Print Quality (40%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (30%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Print Capabilities (20%)
8.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
6.0
Support (10%)
5.0
5.0
4.0
2.0
7.0
Specs Prusa i3 MK3S+ Creality 3D CR-10S... FlashForge Adventur... Creality 3D CR-10S Dremel Digilab 3D20
Build Volume (XxYxZ) 250x210x210mm 300x300x400mm 150x150x150mm 300x300x400mm 230x150x140mm
Maximum Extruder Temperature 300°C 260°C 240°C 260ºC 230°C
Layer Cooling Fan? 1 1 1 2 1
Heated Bed Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Build Plate Material Removeable magnetic steel sheet, smooth. Textured and satin surfaces available. Aluminium build plate with an adhesive printing sheet Removeable and flexible plastic with sticker Glass Plastic with adhesive printing surface
Maximum Bed Temperature 120°C 110°C 100°C 135ºC N/A
Compatible with Third-Party Materials? Yes Yes No Yes No
Included Nozzle sizes 0.4mm 0.4mm 0.4mm 0.4mm 0.4mm
Print layer resolution 0.05 - 0.35 mm 0.1 - 0.4mm 0.1 - 0.4mm 0.1 - 0.4mm 0.1-0.3mm
Filament Size 1.75mm 1.75mm 1.75mm 1.75mm 1.75mm
PLA? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ABS? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Network Printing No No Yes No No
Standalone (SD card or USB drive) Printing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


Best Overall 3D Printer


Prusa i3 MK3S+


77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Print Quality 8
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Print Capabilities 8
  • Support 5
Build Area: 250x210x210mm | Max Extruder Temperature: 300°C
Wide range of compatible materials
Great print quality
Very easy to use
Pricey
Limited vendors

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.

Read review: Prusa i3 MK3S+

Best Print Quality


Elegoo Mars 2 Pro


61
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Print Quality 10
  • Ease of Use 2
  • Print Capabilities 5
  • Support 5
Build Area: 130x80x160mm | UV Resin Type: 405nm
Fantastic print quality
Relatively inexpensive
Difficult to use
Higher cost of consumable supplies

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.

Read review: Elegoo Mars 2 Pro

Best Bang for the Buck


Creality 3D CR-10S Pro V2


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 you don't have a lot of cash to drop on a 3D printer, check 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. It 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 somewhat 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 found their customer support team to be harder to get in touch with than other manufactuers. However, this is a fantastic budget machine if you don't mind putting in the effort to learn the ins and outs of your device (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


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 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.

Read review: Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro

Best for Beginners


FlashForge Adventurer 3


65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Print Quality 6
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Print Capabilities 5
  • Support 4
Build Area: 250x210x210mm| Max Extruder Temperature: 240°C
Exceptionally easy to use
Fully enclosed
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.

Read review: FlashForge Adventurer 3

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
77
$999
Editors' Choice Award
We think this printer is easily one of the best filament-based printers you can get for home use
70
$669
Best Buy Award
This printer is a highly capable machine that offers excellent print quality at much more affordable price than the top-tier models
65
$450
Top Pick Award
If you want a convenient and user-friendly product that is great for classrooms, then this is one of our favorites
64
$600
Offering solid print quality and a large build area at a great price, this is a great choice if you are shopping on a budget
64
$680
This printer is relatively compact and easy to use but didn't impress us all that much when it came to print quality
63
$499
When you look at performance per dollar, the Creality 3D CR-10 V2 is a good option
62
$280
Best Buy Award
This printer is one of our favorites for those shopping on tighter budgets and don't mind a little tinkering to get it printing perfectly
61
$419
The Photon S can be a pain to operate but did produce some exceptional prints when it wasn't misbehaving
61
$300
Editors' Choice Award
This resin printer is our top recommendation for anyone looking to create highly detailed prints
60
$300
This compact resin printer made some very detailed prints and has a lower price tag than many of its competitors
58
$340
Overall we found this to be a fairly run-of-the-mill 3D printer but it can be a good budget option
55
$900
This printer scored about average and isn't priced excessively high
55
$1,999
The performance of this models doesn't align with its high cost
51
$220
The Monoprice Select Mini V2 isn't the best printer of the group, but it is an exceptional value for those on a tight budget

A group of printers that have gone through rounds of testing.
A group of printers that have gone through rounds of testing.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Why You Should Trust Us?


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 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.

Related: How We Tested 3D Printers

Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

Related: Buying Advice for 3D Printers


Value


While we think the Prusa i3 MK3S+ is the best you can get, it is also a very pricey printer and can be a bit more than many are willing to spend. 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 correctly adjusted before you start getting decent prints out of it. The Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is also a relatively inexpensive model. Still, it is important to remember all the additional costs of the necessary supplies to clean and post-cure your prints with resin printers and take that into account 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.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Print Quality


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 is the trio of resin printers — the Anycubic Photon Mono, the Anycubic Photon S, and the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro — which all delivered exceptional results in our print quality tests.

The sample print pre-loaded on this printer.
The sample print pre-loaded on this printer.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

All three of these 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.

The platform jack produced by the Prusa in PLA came out practically...
The platform jack produced by the Prusa in PLA came out practically perfect.
Credit: Jason Peters

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

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.

A sample of prints from the CR-10S.
A sample of prints from the CR-10S.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 exceptional 3D Benchys made by the FlashForge.
The exceptional 3D Benchys made by the FlashForge.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

The Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro impressed 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. 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.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Creality 3D CR-10 V2 did reasonably 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 relatively 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.
Credit: Jason Peters

This printer also had some issues with ABS and a minuscule amount of Z-Axis variations with the tallest prints. You can fix a lot of these issues with some calibration and fine-tuning of your printer, but we consider this beyond the scope of most users' capabilities.

Some of the many test prints we made with the 3D20.
Some of the many test prints we made with the 3D20.
Credit: Laura Casner

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.

If you&#039;re looking for a classroom 3D printer, the FlashForge...
If you're looking for a classroom 3D printer, the FlashForge Adventurer 3 is a great option.
Credit: Jason Peters

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.

Credit: Jason Peters

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.


If you're looking for an exceptionally easy-to-use 3D printer, the FlashForge Adventurer 3 is the best of what we have tested. This printer doesn't really require bed leveling and has an almost fully automatic filament swapping method. There was no setup required, and it even has a companion app that allows you to monitor your print with the built-in camera.

This printer is one of our favorites when it comes to ease of use.
This printer is one of our favorites when it comes to ease of use.
Credit: Jason Peters

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.

If you are looking for the best, then this model is hard to beat.
If you are looking for the best, then this model is hard to beat.
Credit: Jason Peters

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 automated touch prone &amp;#40;lit up in red&amp;#41; makes this one of...
The automated touch prone (lit up in red) makes this one of the easiest printers to level the bed on.
Credit: Jason Peters

We also found the Dremel Digilab 3D20 to be very very easy to use. This printer arrives almost completely assembled, only requiring you to attach the adhesive-backed surface to the build plate and load up some filament before you are ready to start printing. It has very clear prompts that guide you through the 3-point leveling process, even showing which way to turn each knob. It also guides you through the filament loading or unloading process, though we did find that it can be a bit cramped since the spool is inside the machine. However, this is much easier if you remove the top lid as well, giving you much more access.

The Digilab is a decent printer in our books.
The Digilab is a decent printer in our books.
Credit: Laura Casner

The print bed is removable for an easier time removing your finished prints. Files can be sent to this machine via SD card or direct connection through a USB cable and we love the top-tier display on this printer. It not only shows basic printing information but even a 3D render of your files.

We like how this printer shows you a render of the file, making it...
We like how this printer shows you a render of the file, making it easier to select the right one.
Credit: Laura Casner

The remaining printers from Creality — the 3D CR-10S, the 3D CR-10 V2, and the 3D Ender 3 Pro --, as well as the Anycubic Mega S, 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.

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

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. The 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&#039;t sure how...
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.
Credit: Jason Peters

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.

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.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

We found the Mega S to be fairly standard in terms of capabilities.
We found the Mega S to be fairly standard in terms of capabilities.
Credit: Jason Peters

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.

It was about average to swap filaments on the FlashForge Creator Pro, while it was a little more difficult with the Monoprice Select Mini V2. However, we weren't thrilled with the manual bed leveling of both of these printers.

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.

Earning the lowest scores overall are the Anycubic Photon S, the Anycubic Photon Mono, and the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro. 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 tested.

The resin in the vat should be filtered back into its bottle after a...
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.
Credit: Jason Peters

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 with regards to 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.

Some of the various other materials and tools necessary to make full...
Some of the various other materials and tools necessary to make full use of the Photon.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 a bit a tiny bit more of a hassle than the hinged openings of the Anycubic Photon S.

We were very impressed with the quality of the models made with this...
We were very impressed with the quality of the models made with this printer.
Credit: Jason Peters

Print Capabilities


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, the Creality 3D CR-10S, and the Creality 3D CR-10 V2 all have an exceptionally full-featured set of printing capabilities. The Creality machines all 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 trio all 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.

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

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.

We found the Mega S struggled to stand out from the rest of the pack.
We found the Mega S struggled to stand out from the rest of the pack.
Credit: Jason Peters

The MakerGear M2 and the Dremel Digilab 3D20 followed. We found its software to be a bit of a hassle, as we needed a trio of programs needed to run the MakerGear M2. 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.

Right off the bat, the Dremel Digilab is hurt by the fact that it is essentially a PLA-only printer, lacking a heated bed. It has a maximum nozzle temperature of around 230°C and is designed to be used with proprietary Dremel filament.

The build plate can be taken out for easier print removal.
The build plate can be taken out for easier print removal.
Credit: Laura Casner

The build surface seems fairly average in our opinion and this printer doesn't have the largest build volume, measuring in at 230mm x 150mm x 140mm. This printer also uses the Dremel Digilab 3D slicer rather than a third-party option, offering less customization than other slicers but making it a little simpler for beginners to get started.

Next are the FlashForge Creator Pro, the FlashForge Adventurer 3, the Anycubic Photon, the Anycubic Photon S, 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 and Photon S in our tests and the ChiTubox slicer for the Elegoo Mars.

The build plate on this printer is a bit larger than some of the...
The build plate on this printer is a bit larger than some of the other resin models we have tested.
Credit: Jason Peters

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 S at 115x65x165mm, and the Anycubic Photon Mono at 130x80x165mm.

A selection of failed prints from testing. Good customer support can...
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.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Support


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 Dremel Digilab and the MakerGear M2 tie for the top spot in our final metric. The MakerGear M2 only has a few videos on their YouTube page but has both an email and phone number to contact support. They were also very helpful in their response to the raft printing poorly.

The Dremel Digilab offers a variety of different ways to get in touch with customer service, and we found their technical support team to be very helpful. This printer also has a handful of helpful videos on its website if you are new to 3D printing.

Next up are the FlashForge Creator Pro, the FlashForge Adventurer 3, the Anycubic Mega S, the Anycubic Photon 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. They also offered some documentation, but we felt it definitely could be better.

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, the 3D CR-10 V2, and the 3D CR-10S Pro V2 when we contacted them more recently.

A sample of models used in our testing.
A sample of models used in our testing.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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