Creality Ender 3 V3 SE Review: It’s Better Than I Hoped

Marcello De Lio

Last Updated:

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. We may receive compensation when you purchase via my links at no cost to you. See our disclosure for more information.

A fully assembled Ender 3 V3 SE on a white table with a beige wall in the background
Creality Ender 3 V3 SE Review
  • Print Speed
  • Print Quality
  • Ease of Use
  • Features
  • Support
3.4

Our Verdict

The Ender 3 V3 SE is the perfect 3D printer for beginners and those on a budget. The printer boasts features like the Sprite direct drive extruder, CRTouch auto bed leveling, automatic Z-offset calibration, linear Y-axis rods, and dual Z-axis lead screws for under $200. These advanced capabilities make the Ender 3 V3 SE a strong contender in its price range. While it advertises 250 mm/s print speeds, optimal results are achieved at around 180 mm/s. The straightforward setup, solid design, and thoughtful features make the Ender 3 V3 SE stands out as a capable and dependable 3D printer, offering excellent value for its cost.

Pros

  • Good quality at an affordable price
  • CRTouch auto bed leveling
  • Automatic Z offset calibration
  • Direct drive extruder
  • Full sized SD card

Cons

  • PC build plate is too sticky
  • No WiFi capabilities
  • The hotend isn’t all metal
  • No touchscreen

Creality’s Ender 3 V3 SE delivers great print quality at a budget-friendly price. The printer’s Sprite direct drive extruder, CRTouch auto bed leveling, automatic Z-offset calibration, linear y-axis rods, and dual z-axis lead screws drive the printer’s performance.

Although the Ender 3 V3 SE advertises 250 mm/s print speeds, I’ve found the best combination of speed and quality at lower speeds, around 180 mm/s.

These features make the Ender 3 V3 SE a strong contender in its price range, offering beginners and experienced users a reliable tool for their 3D printing projects.

Unboxing and Setup

Unboxing the Ender 3 V3 SE. The open box shows well packed parts surrounded by foam for protection

Getting started with the Ender 3 V3 SE is straightforward and beginner-friendly. The mostly assembled printer is well-packed with thick foam to prevent damage during transport. From start to finish, it took around 20 minutes to get the printer up and running.

The components of an Ender 3 V3 SE 3d printer laid out on a white table with a beige wall behind

After removing the printer’s comments from the box, I began assembly by attaching the gantry frame to the base. Four large screws connect the gantry and provide a stable platform for printing.

Next, I mounted the LCD screen by attaching it to the side of the base frame and connecting it using the LCD ribbon cable. All of the cables fit in only one direction to prevent incorrect installations, and they are also neatly labeled to avoid miswiring.

The wiring connections require careful attention, particularly when connecting the extruder and motor cables, which are vital for the machine’s operation. These connections must be secure and properly routed to avoid interference with moving parts.

The Ender 3 V3 SE hotend during the Z offset calibration

After I assembled the printer, I checked the voltage switch on the back before powering it on. The voltage was initially set to 230V, so I flipped the switch to 115V to match my North American power supply.

Newer printers use power supplies that automatically handle both voltages. But the SE uses a cheaper power supply with a switch.

Be sure to set the correct voltage to avoid damaging your machine.

I powered on the printer and began the initial setup and bed leveling.

The Ender 3 V3 SE uses Creality’s CRTouch for automatic bed leveling (ABS). The ABS simplifies this process by using a sensor to map the bed’s topography precisely and adjusts the print head’s height during printing for optimal print quality.

Editor’s Note

At this point in the assembly process, I encountered my biggest issue.

I attempted to run the auto-bed leveling sequence several times. The print head spent around 10 minutes adjusting the Z-offset each time but skipped the bed leveling sequence.

Thinking there must be a software issue, I updated the printer’s firmware to the latest version. After powering on the printer, I noticed that the Ender 3 used a new startup sequence, where you could not move on to printing until the printer successfully completed its initial bed leveling.

A crtouch error message on the display of a creality ender 3d printer

I attempted to run the ABS sequence several more times, but every time, I got an error message notifying me of an issue with the CRTouch probe and advising me to contact Creality’s customer support.

I visited Creality’s website to contact the support team, but they could not assist me with my issue.

I realized, and hoped, that the issue was isolated to the CRTouch. I took out a spare CRTouch I had on hand and replaced the probe. I restarted the V3 SE, and it completed bed leveling without any issues or error messages.

I browsed the internet to see if other people experienced the same issue. I found several people who encountered similar issues with the V3 SE’s CRTouch. But fortunately, it seems to be a rare occurrence.

I think it’s important to highlight that defects are a normal part of manufacturing. And no matter how careful a company is, there will always be at least a few components that ship with issues.

While I was frustrated with the unboxing experience, I believe it’s not a common story. As such, I’ve included my experience with the CRTouch for completeness, but I haven’t let it affect my review of the Ender 3 V3 SE.

After running the bed leveling, I was ready to print. I loaded the filament, which is straightforward thanks to the direct-drive extruder. The Ender 3 V3 SE uses Creality’s Sprite, a dual-gear extruder, which efficiently handles flexible materials like TPU.

The assembly process took less than 20 minutes. I only ran the bed leveling sequence during the initial setup. After more than a dozen prints, the bed continues to be precisely level and I haven’t needed to adjust the Z offset.

Creality Ender 3 V3 SE Design

A 3d printed vase on a Ender 3 V3 SE With Upgrades

The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE offers a sleek, modern design that looks like it belongs in everyone’s home. The new V3 is a long way from the original Ender 3’s hobbyist design. The new printer features a minimalist yet functional approach with clean lines and a predominantly black color scheme for a modern tech vibe.

It’s clear Creality paid careful attention to the printer’s aesthetics to provide a modern, complete 3D printer.

Close up of the custom aluminum extrusions on the Ender V3 SE print gantry

The new aluminum extruded parts for the Z-axis look custom-manufactured. Unlike the Original Ender 3 and Ender 3 V2, the aluminum extrusions feature a flat face, giving the printer a more complete look.

Previous Ender models had the appearance of a hobbyist’s machine—something to be tinkered with in a garage or basement. However, the new aluminum extrusions give the V3 SE a design that could fit in a modern living room or office.

The x axis stepper motor on an Ender 3 v3 se which has been moved to the inside of the printer frame to provide a sleeker appearance

Additionally, Creality moved the X-axis stepper motors inside the printer’s frame. The subtle change gives the printer a more streamlined look and preserves the straight edges around the machine’s verticle faces.

The Ender 3 V3 SE’s overall structure is compact and efficient. It occupies minimal desk space while maximizing its print volume. Its open-frame design facilitates easy access to the print bed and provides a clean aesthetic.

Creality added a base covering to the Ender 3 V3 SE, giving the printer a more polished appearance. The plastic base has rounded corners and looks good despite being made of plastic.

Speaking of plastic, the printer uses a lot of it. The plastic components aren’t as durable as the metal components on Creality’s higher-priced models, but we’re not concerned. The Ender 3 uses metal components where strength and rigidity are necessary. It appears that Creality was careful to use plastic only in places where it wouldn’t affect the stability or print quality of their V3 SE.

Cost savings likely allow the printer to include more features and keep the price low. For a printer that costs less than $250, I’m quite impressed with the construction and design.

Moreover, the printer’s interface features a straightforward LCD screen coupled with a rotary knob, which aligns with the machine’s minimalistic design ethos. Given the Ender’s price, the lack of a touchscreen isn’t a surprise, but it would be a nice upgrade.

Features

Build Volume and Print Bed

Close up of the front of the pc textured build plate on the Ender 3 V3 SE with thumb tabs for easy removal

The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE offers a standard build volume of 220x220x250mm, the same as the original Ender 3 and Ender 3 V2. This print volume is good enough for most home projects but not large enough for cosplay.

Close up of the two bed alignment pins at the back of the build plat on an Ender 3 V3 SE

The build surface includes several nice features, including two notches that align with pins to ensure perfect bed alignment and two thumb tabs that make removing the build plate from the print bed easy.

The purge strip on the left side of the build plate on an Ender 3 V3 SE

There’s also a spot on the printer’s left side where the hotend can purge filament before printing.

Purging the nozzle prevents the old filament from entering the model, which is essential during color changes or material swaps. I prefer to use a skirt or brim for this purpose, as the purge line reduces the build volume, but it is nice that Creality considered filament purging.

The printer’s most significant drawback is the Ender’s smooth, PC-coated build surface. I’m unsure why Creality continues shipping PC-coated build plates when there are much better print surfaces on the market.

You want a build surface that promotes strong bed adhesion so your prints don’t come loose during printing. However, you should be able to remove your printed objects without much force.

Creality’s PC build plate only accomplishes the first task.

I found that prints adhere way too well to the bed. While I don’t need to worry about bed adhesion, removing my finished prints was challenging. I often needed to remove the bed and flex the build plate to unstick my objects. Or use a scraper and risk damaging the build platform.

The broken PC build plate on a Creality 3d printer after removing a grey pla 3D benchy model. The build plate stuck to the bottom of the print and broke off during print removal

On my fifth print, a 3D Benchy, I decided to pry the print from the bed. The bed adhesion is so strong that I actually tore the print surface. A small piece of the PC print bed stuck to the bottom of my print and failed to release.

After getting over the initial shock, I decided to upgrade my Ender 3 V3 SE with a textured PEI build plate.

Our Pick
Official Creality Textured PEI Sheet 235x235mm
$22.99
Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/10/2024 08:56 pm GMT

After upgrading to the PEI sheet, I haven’t had any issues with bed adhesion or print removal. If you purchase this 3D printer, I highly recommend upgrading to a PEI sheet.

Interface and Connectivity

A full sized SD Card and usb c port on the side of an Ender 3 V3 SE FDM 3D printer

The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE features a color LED screen with a simple user interface. Sadly, the printer doesn’t offer touchscreen capabilities. Instead, You navigate the LED screen using a rotary knob.

Despite the lack of a touchscreen, the rotary knob is easy to use. The intuitive menu organization is easy to navigate.

Close up of the LCD screen on the Ender 3 V3 SE with control dial and Marlin firmware

The 3D printer’s display gives you a lot of control. You can adjust real-time print settings like speed, temperature, and Z-offset. After completing auto bed leveling, the screen will display the mesh bed compensation.

Regarding connectivity, the Ender 3 V3 SE uses a full-sized SD card. On the surface, this is a small change. But one that we welcome with open arms.

The Ender 3 V3 SE also includes a USB-C port for networking or camera functionality.

Unfortunately, the printer does not natively support WiFi or Ethernet WiFiections. However, you can wirelessly control and monitor your V3 SE by installing Raspberry Pi with OctoPrint or Creality WiFi Cloud Box.

DWiFit Drive Extruder

Close up of the hotend on an Ender 3 V3 SE with the Creality logo prominantly displayed

The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE uses a modified Sprite Direct Drive Extruder. The dual gear setup provides smooth and consistent filament feeding and allows printing flexible filaments like TPU.

We’ve always found Creality’s Sprite extruder reliable, with smooth extrusion and consistent filament flow. The Ender 3 V3 SE’s extruder is no different.

Direct-drive extruders offer closer proximity between the extruder and the hot end. Direct-drive extruders can more precisely control filament extrusion and retraction by reducing the distance. The result is significantly improved print quality, especially for intricate details and small features.

Cooling

Close up of the hotend on an Ender 3 V3 SE with the plastic shroud removed. There is the sprite extruder, brass nozzle, CRTouch ABS probe, and an undersized cooling fan

The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE has two cooling fans, a 20mm hotend fan and a 4010 part cooling fan. Cooling fans are crucial for maintaining consistent temperatures at the hotend and ensuring that the molten filament cools effectively.

The 20mm hotend fan focuses explicitly on preventing the extruder from overheating, essential for consistent material flow during long prints. However, the 20mm fan is noisy.

Editor’s Tip

I recommend upgrading to a quieter, more efficient fan like a Noctua 40mm 24V. This upgrade can significantly reduce noise and improve cooling efficiency, and it isn’t overly complex to install.

The 4010 part cooling fan directs airflow to the nozzle tip, solidifying the freshly deposited filament.

Unfortunately, the cooling fan is very underpowered. Proper cooling is essential for preserving fine details and handling overhangs. While we got great details in our test prints, we found that the Ender 3 V3 SE consistently struggles with overhangs.

Upgrading the part cooling setup to a more powerful 5015 blower fan can enhance the cooling efficiency and provide better overhangs.

Several community-driven modifications and printable upgrades are available to improve cooling:

Automatic Mesh Bed Leveling and Z Offset

Close up of the bottom of the Ender 3 V3 SE hotend with the nozzle and CRTouch probe

The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE features Creality’s CRTouch probe for automatic bed leveling. The CRTouch automatically measures 25 points on the bed to create a detailed mesh to compensate for any unevenness in the bed surface.

The screen on an Ender 3 V3 SE after bed leveling. The screen shows a green grid with the calibration numbers at each of the 25 bed leveling points

As expected, the CRTouch performs exceptionally well. I had no issues with the first layer adhesion. But it’s no surprise, considering how well the CRTouch probe performs.

The automatic Z Offset is a new feature of the Ender 3 V3 SE.

I was a bit hesitant to try the automatic Z offset after my experience with the Anycubic Kobra 2. However, Creality’s innovative solution blew away my expectations.

Close up of the strain guage used to calibrate the Z offset on an Ender 3 V3 SE

The Ender 3 V3 SE uses a strain gauge on the front left corner of the bed to accurately measure the Z offset. During bed leveling, the nozzle moves to the front left corner and repeatedly taps the bed to get its measurement.

The system correctly set the Z offset from the start. And I haven’t had to adjust it since the initial bed leveling.

The bed leveling and automatic Z offset calibration are excellent features that make the printer easier to use and lower the skill requirement for getting excellent prints.

One slight downside is that the bed is slightly raised on the corner where the strain gauge is located. The difference wasn’t much on my machine, but several other reviewers noticed larger differences in bed height (measured with the CRTouch).

Y-Axis Linear Rods

Close up of the Y axis liner rods and belt on an Ender 3 V3 se

The Ender 3 V3 SE is equipped with linear rods on the Y-axis, which is an incredible surprise considering we don’t usually see them on sub-$200 3D printers.

Linear rods provide smooth, stable motion during 3D printing. They are more durable and precise than the V-roller wheels on the X and Z axes, resulting in higher print quality and greater stability during printing.

X-Axis V-Roller Wheels

The Ender 3 V3 SE uses cheaper V-roller wheels on the X-axis, which glide along aluminum extrusions. This setup isn’t as robust as linear rods, but it does the job and keeps costs down.

After about 25 prints, I started to notice rubber residue on the aluminum extrusion. If the V-roller wheels wear out, you can quickly tighten or replace them.

Z-Axis Synchronization

Close up of the z axis stepper motor during our Creality Ender 3 V3 SE review

The printer’s Z-axis enhances precision with synchronized dual lead screws. The dual Z-axis lead screws are connected by a belt at the top of the printer’s frame, which synchronizes their movements and helps reduce z banding.

Despite having two lead screws, the Ender 3 V3 SE only uses a single stepper motor to drive the belt system. The single stepper motor isn’t ideal, but I notice a slight reduction in Z banding compared to the Ender 3 V2.

Test Prints And Performance

A photo of several 3d printed models on the print bed of a Creality Ender 3 V3 SE 3d printer on a white table with a beige wall in the background

Given its budget-friendly price point, the Creality Ender 3 V3 SE delivers excellent print quality. You won’t get the near-perfect lines found on the Bambu Lab P1P, but the print quality is better than expected at this price.

I started by printing two 3D Benchy’s. The first is at a 0.2 mm layer height, and the second is at a 0.1 mm layer height. The models exhibit clean lines and smooth sides. I noticed some stringing inside the ship’s hull, especially with the 0.2 mm Benchy. Additionally, the overhangs on the ship’s bow were disappointing, likely owing to the underpowered part cooling fan.

A 3d printed vase in white pla using cura vase mode on a white table with a beige wall in the background

Next, I printed a geometric vase in white PLA using Cura’s default print profile with Vase mode enabled. The vase was exceptionally clean. There was a bit of layer shifting at the bottom of the print, but otherwise, the vase has smooth sides and clean corners.

A 3d printed statue of the hulk using CREALITY hyper pla in grey color on a white table with a beige wall in the background

I decided to push the printer with a detailed Hulk statue. I used Creality’s Hyper PLA and decided to try out the latest version of Creality Print.

Downloading Creality Print was one of the biggest surprises with our Ender 3 V3 SE test. I last used Creality’s slicing software when we tested the Ender 3 V2 last year.

At the time, Creality Print was nothing more than a reskin of an outdated version of Cura. The software was nearly identical, without offering anything new, and lacking the latest features from the newer versions of Ultimaker Cura.

The new Cura Print offers an entirely new experience. The program provides better integration with Creality’s 3D printers. It makes it easy to select your printer, choose a print profile, and make adjustments on the fly.

I’ll need to test this more, but the software sliced files much quicker than Cura.

After slicing my Hulk model, I plugged in the SD card and hit print.

Close up of a 3D printed hulk in grey pla

The model isn’t perfect. There are noticeable dimensional inaccuracies, visible layer lines, and a minor amount of stringing. But the print quality is much better than I expected for a sub-$200 machine.

Overall, the Ender 3 V3 SE offers good print quality at an affordable price. You won’t be disappointed by the printer’s performance. I can see getting even better prints with careful tinkering with the slicer settings.

Alternatives

Elegoo Neptune 4

ELEGOO Neptune 4
$299.98
Amzon Elegoo Store
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/01/2024 04:19 pm GMT

Both the Elegoo Neptune 4 and the Creality Ender 3 V3 SE are positioned as budget-friendly 3D printers. The Neptune 4 stands out with its high-speed printing capabilities and Klipper firmware with print speeds up to 500 mm/s.

Elegoo’s Neptune 4 offers significantly more features than the Ender 3 V3 SE. The printer includes features like a PEI magnetic print bed for better adhesion and print removal, more powerful print cooling for better dimensional accuracy, and a dual Z-axis for improved stability and print quality.

The Neptune uses a 121-point auto bed leveling system, which provides more than 4.5 times more reference points than the V3 SE’s 25-point system.

Additionally, the printer features an all-metal, dual-gear hotend with a maximum print temperature of 300 °C. The all-metal extruder supports a wider range of filaments, including PLA, TPU, PETG, ABS, ASA, and Nylon.

Both printers offer excellent print quality at budget-friendly prices. But the Neptune 4 achieves significantly better quality even at higher speeds. Thanks to the integration of Klipper firmware, Neptune takes advantage of input shaping, compensating for the vibrations caused by the print head’s movement.

My advice: The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE is an excellent choice if you’re on a budget. But if you can spend the extra money, the Elegoo Neptune 4 is worth the upgrade.

Anycubic Kobra 2

Anycubic Kobra 2
$299.99



Amazon Anycubic Store
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/11/2024 01:12 pm GMT

The Anycubic Kobra 2 is slightly more expensive than the Ender 3 V3 SE. However, they are both excellent budget-friendly 3D printers that offer good print quality at an affordable price.

The Kobra 2 features x- and y-axis linear rods, a touchscreen LCD, auto bed leveling, automatic z-offset, and fast print speeds.

When reviewing the Kobra 2, I found that Anycubic’s automatic Z offset was wildly inaccurate. After several attempts, I had to set the Z-offset manually to get good bed adhesion. I prefer the V3 SE’s auto bed leveling and Z offset calibration.

However, the Kobra 2 does provide better print quality.

You can’t go wrong with either of these printers. If you prefer a more user-friendly experience, I’d go with the Creality Ender 3 V3 SE. If print quality is your number one factor, choose the Anycubic Kobra 2.

Creality Ender 3 V3 KE

Creality Ender 3 V3 KE
$299.00
Amazon Creality Store
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/01/2024 04:14 pm GMT

The Creality Ender 3 V3 KE is slightly more expensive than the Ender 3 V3 SE, reflecting its enhanced features and capabilities.

While similar in name and design, the Ender 3 V3 KE offers significant upgrades over the Ender 3 V3 SE. The K3 features faster print speeds of up to 500 mm/s and acceleration of 5000 mm/s², substantially higher than the SE’s 250 mm/s speed and 2500 mm/s² acceleration. Faster print speeds are possible thanks to Klipper’s 3D printer firmware and x- and y-axis linear rods.

The KE also features a high-temperature hotend, which supports a wider variety of filaments at temperatures up to 300°C​.

The Ender 3 V3 KE also introduces a 4.3-inch color touchscreen known as the Nebula Pad. The touchscreen is much easier to navigate and use compared to the SE’s knob. Additionally, the KE model supports multi-platform connectivity options, including WiFi, LAN, and the Creality Cloud app, allowing for remote monitoring and control.

Both printers are designed to deliver high-quality prints. Still, the Ender 3 V3 KE’s faster speeds and input shaping technology offer better print quality even at faster print speeds. Input shaping helps reduce ringing and ghosting, common issues at high speeds, ensuring cleaner and more detailed prints​.

While both the Ender 3 V3 SE and the Ender 3 V3 KE offer excellent capabilities, the KE model stands out for users looking for higher speed, advanced features, and greater flexibility in filament use and connectivity options. The additional investment for the KE model is well worth it for those who need these enhanced features.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

Ready to Improve Your Results?

Dive deep into the world of 3D printing with our exclusive newsletter. Get insider tips, hands-on reviews, and the latest news to improve your 3D printing.