You can make almost anything with a 3D printer. 3D printing has come a long way; anyone can get started for less than $200.
We’ve tested dozens of 3D printers and found the Prusa i3 MK3S+ to be the best for its ease of use, outstanding print quality, extensive community, incredible support, consistency, and reliability.
Makers on a budget would do well purchasing a Creality Ender 3 S1 at less than half the price but still providing incredible print quality, reliability, and ease of use. Our top resin pick goes to the Elegoo Mars 3, which offers unmatched detail at an affordable price.
This product guide will also cover why choosing the right 3D printer is essential, the factors we weighed, and the things to consider when buying a 3D printer.
While the Prusa i3 MK3S+ is our top pick, we’ll cover a range of printers based on the use case, the best 3D printers for every budget.
The Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ is the latest iteration of Prusa's flagship 3D printer. The MK3S+ has a polished open-frame design that produces consistently high-quality prints. The printer offers exceptional print quality out of the box and supports several filament types.
The powerful software includes various error detection, calibration, and mitigation systems for one of the most intelligent printers.
Its powerful functionality and ease of use make it one of the top-rated 3D printers on the market.
Plus, it's backed by a large community of makers.
Prusa Research provides continual firmware updates, so your printer improves over time. It natively integrates with Prusa's proprietary slicing software for fast and precise printing.
Our tests show that the printer is smooth to operate and consistently delivers above-average print quality. The pre-assembled version is perfect for beginners or printing veterans, while the lower-priced kit is fun for hobbyists who enjoy the process of assembling a new printer.
- Consistent above-average print quality
- Easy to use
- Powerful software
- Excellent support and a large community
- Supports several filament materials out of the box
- Includes a 1kg spool of PLA filament
- A bit pricy compared to similar printers
- The build volume is on the small side
Creality's Ender 3 S1 introduces a dual-motor-driven Z-axis and an integrated auto bed leveling system. Our favorite update is the introduction of a compact direct extruder which makes filament loading quicker and drastically improves print quality.
The updates mean the S1 is able to produce higher-quality prints with little user effort. Setting up the Ender 3 S1 is a bit confusing, with no help from the poorly illustrated instruction manual. But after assembling the 3D printer, it's an absolute joy to work with.
The Ender 3 S1 is able to support multiple filament types out of the box and is a step up from previous Ender models.
One small detail that deserves attention is the change to a full-sized SD card, which is far more convenient than the often-used microSD.
The solid construction, user-friendliness, and consistently high print quality make it our runner-up and best 3D printer under $500.
- Exceptional print quality
- Excellent price to value
- Advanced calibration tools
- Large community and great support
- Confusing instruction manual
- Higher price tag compared to previous Ender models
The Monoprice Mini Delta V2 is a well-rounded entry-level printer. The low price point, ease of use, and decent print quality make it a perfect budget-friendly printer for beginners.
At under $200, the printer has some surprising features, like fully automatic bed leveling. Bed leveling is a common problem among entry-level 3D printers, but the auto bed leveling found on the Mini Delta V2 is truly automatic. The printer doesn't require any external calibration, and it's one of the easiest printers to use.
Mini Delta V2 has a unique design thanks to its three sets of arms used to move the nozzle. The design allows the printer to print faster than those with the traditional Cartesian (x,y,z) design.
With fast printing and decent print quality, the small build volume is the only downside. The printer is limited in the x and y-axis but can print relatively tall prints (relative to the x and y-axis.)
- Under $200
- Easy setup
- Supports multiple filament types
- Small build volume
- Subpar print quality
Crealtiy's CR-10S Pro V2 is one of our top recommendations for a large-volume 3D printer. The V2 improves on the popular CR-10S model with a sleek, compact design, 480W power supply, and an improved Capricorn Bowden tube.
We weren't fans of the original CR-10S Pro, but the V2 makes several minor changes to improve print quality and user experience.
The printer comes mostly assembled, making it quick and easy to get up and running. After attaching the Z-axis tower and connecting the wiring, you're ready to print.
The auto bed leveling makes it easy to get good first-layer print adhesion without struggling with manual leveling. We had no trouble keeping prints adhered to the build surface.
The CR-10S Pro V2 provides excellent print quality with a large build surface to play with. The printer's not perfect and lacks the Z-axis supports. But if you want big prints, the CR-10S Pro V2 is a must.
- Great value
- Large build volume
- Compact design
- Easy to use
- Excellent print quality
- No cross braces to support the Z-axis
The Elegoo Mars 3 features the slickest design yet. Look under the hood and find a compact but powerful resin printer. The Mars 3 packs a 4K screen and has the ability to print at a resolution of 35 microns per voxel.
The upgraded resolution isn't all that noticeable, but they do make fine details pop on miniature
And printer's 143x90x165 mm build volume is bigger than other small-sized 3D printers.
Mars 3 is a go-to printer for detailed resin printing. The beginner-friendly set up, ease of use, and highly detailed printing make it one of the most popular resin printers on the market.
- High-resolution prints
- Slick design
- Relatively large build volume
- Not WiFi enabled
- Not much of an improvement compared to previous models
The Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K offers a huge 243 x 198 x 121mm build volume and excellent print quality. The 6K screen ensures that you don't lose quality as you scale up your prints, a common problem among resin 3D printers.
The upgraded screen provides faster print speeds than the original Photon Mono X of 80mm/h compared to the Mono X's 60mm/h.
The large build volume, fast print speed, and highly detailed print quality make it a perfect choice for large detailed prints like cosplay items, prototyping, or home decor. The printer is incredibly user-friendly, making it perfect for beginners.
The only drawback to the Photon Mono X 6K is the loud fans used while operating. The fans ensure the printer runs at optimal temperature, but the noise means you'll have to keep it in a separate room while in use.
- Excellent print quality
- Large build volume
- Provided screen protector
- WiFi connectivity
- Fans can be noisy
- High price point
- Prints can adhere too well to the build plate and be difficult to remove
The Phrozen Sonic Mega 8K is an incredible package, outperforming all other 3D printers on the market with unparalleled print quality. The printer comes with a 15-inch mono LCD screen - the largest on the market.
When you receive a Sonic Mega 8K printer, it comes with the build plate pre-leveled and calibrated. All you have to do is take it out of the box and get ready to print.
The dual linear rail and all-metal structure provide excellent support and stability, which is important when printing large objects. And the dual-rear fans provide enough cooling to ensure your 3D printer never overheats.
The Sonic Mega 8K produces incredibly detailed prints, with the largest build volume of any resin 3D printer. With its easy to use design, sturdy construction, and Chitubox integration, it really is the ultimate printer.
- Ultra-detailed 8K resolution
- Massive build volume
- Expensive price tag
The Original Prusa Mini+ is a smaller version of the popular Original Prusa i3 MK3S+. Unlike the MK3S+, the Mini+ doesn't have a fully assembled purchase option. The printer comes in kit form or semi-assembled.
The printer requires assembly, and the calibration process can be tricky for beginners.
But once you've fully assembled the printer, the Prusa Mini+ is easy to use and produces excellent print quality. The auto bed leveling is a major plus, thanks to its SuperPinda probe. We consistently found excellent first-layer bed adhesion and incredible print quality during our testing.
The printer supports various filament types, including PLA, ABS, PETG, and PC.
The printer is good for beginners and advanced users looking for a powerful filament printer without needing a large print volume.
- Excellent build quality
- Support a variety of filament materials
- Powerful software
- First-layer calibration is tricky
- Might not be safe with kids around
Ultimaker's S5 is a massive 3D printing workhorse. The large footprint and impressive build quality are just the tip of the iceberg on a printer that's thought of everything.
The low assembly printer means you can get up and running quickly. And despite its industrial applications, the printer is incredibly easy to use.
The printer is compatible with nearly every kind of filament type out of the box. And features like dual-extrusion, quick filament swapping, and humidity-controlled filament storage make it a must-have for those who need to reconfigure printers on the fly.
The impressive features are complemented by an extraordinary price tag. The Ultimaker S5's steep price means the printer isn't geared toward hobbyists. But if you require unrivaled power and flexibility, then the S5 is worth looking at.
- Fast setup
- Wide material compatibility
- Compatibility with 3rd party materials
- Enclosed design with humidity-controlled filament box
- The build plate is known to break
- The cloud functionality feels like a work in progress
How to Chose the Best 3D Printer
When selecting our list of the best 3D printers, we rely on our personal experience, expert articles, community feedback, and customer reviews.
Our list is geared toward a hobbyist and small business applications. Most of the printers on the list are below $1,000.
Good print quality is a must. But your printer should be able to produce high-quality prints with minimal calibration and maintenance.
The printer should produce prints with layer heights of 0.1mm or less and smooth-looking models with barely visible layer lines. For consistent printing, the best 3D printers should be able to output high-quality prints without needing to calibrate the printer between prints.
Although we recommend regularly calibrating your 3D printer, you should be able to produce a dozen prints without any loss in quality.
Ease of Use
Even a complete beginner should be able to assemble the printer, load the filament, start a print, and remove the object from the print bed. It should be simple to level the bed, and a built-in auto bed leveling system is a bonus.
The software should be intuitive and easy to use. The 3D printer should come preloaded with all the necessary software for printing, and compatibility with Ultimaker’s Cura slicing software is a plus.
Printers should provide easy-to-use tools for calibration and tuning, with advanced features for more experienced makers. The software should be easy enough for a beginner to navigate the interface without any instruction.
Filament vs. Resin Printers
Choosing between filament and resin printers is a personal decision. You should consider the types of objects you will be making and your expectations for printing.
Filament printers are cheaper and come with larger build volumes. FDM printers are easy to use and beginner friendly. You can’t achieve the same level of detail compared to a resin printer, but all the printers on this list produce high-quality prints.
Filament printers are best for printing large objects, beginners, and those on a budget.
Resin printers have unmatched detail and precision. They produce incredibly detailed prints and are easy to set up and use. Resin printers require post-processing to remove excess resin and cure the finished prints. Most resin 3D printers have small build volumes, but you can purchase a printer with a larger build volume at a high cost.
Resin printers are best for printing smaller, complex objects. The post-processing requires additional work and safety precautions which may not be suitable for beginners.
Before purchasing a 3D printer, you must understand the size of the models you’ll be printing. 3D printers come in a range of build volumes, and it’s essential to buy a printer with a big enough build size for your needs.
The standard sizes for FDM printers have a large enough build volume for most people. Advanced users can split larger parts into several smaller pieces to print on a smaller machine.
In all, the build volume isn’t a significant concern for most people. But you’ll want to pay close attention if you’re looking on the entry-level side. Many entry-level printers sacrifice build volume to keep costs low.
Compatibility With Filament Brands
Some 3D printer manufacturers have built-in systems that require users to purchase filaments directly from the manufacturer.
The proprietary filament is generally more expensive and comes with higher shipping fees and delivery times. If the manufacturer goes out of business, you can say goodbye to your 3D printer, as you won’t be able to use it with 3rd party filament brands.
It’s always a good idea to check that your printer is compatible with several filament brands. The printers on the above list can print with most major filament brands.
Enclosed Printing Chamber
Enclosed printers are a nice-to-have feature. They won’t make or break the printer’s performance, but they help reduce the number of print imperfections.
Enclosures help to keep a consistent temperature which helps reduce warping, bubbling, stringing, and other surface defects.
Some filament types, such as ABS, require an enclosure because it is prone to shrinking.
A built-in enclosure isn’t essential. And if you require one in the future, you can purchase or build a DIY printing enclosure.
Price and Value
It’s not enough for a printer to produce excellent-quality prints. It must be price efficient. In other words, does the performance live up to the cost of the printer? Or did you spend a lot of money for so-so prints?
Several printers produce incredible-quality prints. But at unreasonable price tags, we can’t justify their inclusion in this list.
Why You Should Trust Us
Dario is a mechanical engineer with over a decade of experience working with 3D Print Mentor. Dario strives to provide accurate and actionable education and advice for beginners and advanced makers.
Throughout his 3D printing journey, he has tested several dozen filaments and 29 3D printers. He has a background in designing objects for 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and material testing.
Dario’s current personal printer is the Prusa i3 MK3S+, but his favorite is the Ultimaker S5.
Marc has over a decade of 3D printing experience that began after working with the printer his high school purchased for their maker club.
After building a successful business selling prints online, Marc co-founded 3D Print Mentor to teach and inspire creators. His current printers are the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ and Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K.
How We Test 3D Printers
When we unbox a new printer, we time how long it takes to get the machine set up and print-ready. We take notes on the installation process, quality of the instruction, software installation, and calibration steps.
Most printers come preloaded with ready-to-print models. The models are carefully calibrated to the printer and should produce a successful print without any changes.
If the print fails, there is a glaring issue with the printer. It could be a mistake in the printer’s assembly or calibration or a hardware or software issue preventing it from printing successfully.
After a successful test print, we print 10 of our own test prints and determine print quality on a scale from 1-5:
- 5 – Excellent: A smooth-looking print with no obvious imperfections.
- 4 – Good: Some visible layer lines but no obvious imperfections
- 3 – Mediocre: The print has visible layer lines and some imperfections but still produces an ok print.
- 2 – Bad: Obvious layer lines, a non-smooth surface, and print imperfections. The print hasn’t failed, but it’s not acceptable for display or function.
- 1 – Failure: Failure can be caused by broken filament, spaghetti, the print detaching from the bed, or software or hardware issues.
We choose a generic model with standard PLA settings for the test prints. Aside from bed leveling and manufacturing recommendations, we don’t perform any other manual or slicing calibration.
Advanced users can get excellent print quality from any 3D printer with enough fine-tuning. And although we can improve the print quality by fine-tuning the slicer settings, our tests mimic the print quality that beginners and real-world users should expect.
We generally use the 3DBenchy model from Thingiverse to compare the print quality against previously tested printers.
Before each test print, we check the bed leveling. A quality printer shouldn’t require more than one bed leveling throughout our 10 test prints. We make a note of how many times the bed needs to be re-leveled.