Voxelab Aquila X2 Review: best 3D printer under $200?

Updated

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Front view of the Voxelab Aquila X2 3D printer during our review

The Voxelab Aquila X2 offers a solid set of features in one low-priced package. On first look, the X2 looks like a clone of the Ender 3 V2. However, during our Voxelab Aquila X2 review, we discovered that the Aquila X2 has some unique features that help it stand out.

What’s In The Box

The first layer of the box for the 3D Printer

The box contains everything you need to get your printer up and running. Here’s a rundown of what we found inside:

  • The base of the printer with the heated print bed
  • The upright gantry for the X and Z-axis movement
  • A spool holder for filament
  • A power cable
  • A microSD card
  • A set of assembly tools, including wrenches and hex keys
  • Spare parts, such as extra nuts and bolts
  • A detailed instruction manual
  • A small roll of filament

Assembling Process

The second layer of the box with parts for the machine

Assembling the Voxelab Aquila X2 was relatively straightforward, similar to any Ender or Ender clone.

But we didn’t love the instruction manual. The instructions could have been clearer, and the images could have been more helpful.

The 3D Printer user manual for the Aquila X2

If it’s your first time assembling a 3D printer, you may need to follow along with a YouTube video.

First, we secured the upright gantry to the printer’s base with the provided bolts. Next, we connected the X-gantry with the extruder and X-axis motors.

Connecting the x-axis belt was a bit tricky. Take your time, and remember to add the belt tensioners before connecting the belt.

Close up of the top frame X axis belt handle and spool holder assembled on the Aquila X2

After attaching the top frame, we connected all the wires.

The wiring is labeled and easy to follow, so finding the right connections was easy. Once we connected everything, it was time to connect the LCD display.

Before plugging it in, ensure you check the voltage setting.

Like most printers, the Aquila X2 has a switch on the back to flip between 115V and 230V. Our printer came preset to 230V, so we changed it to 115V to match our local power supply.

The loading screen on a Voxelab printer when turning on the machine for the first time

After turning the machine on, we leveled the bed and ensured the hot end and bed build plate heated correctly. If you notice any issues with the heating, turn off your machine and check your wiring.

With these steps completed, the Voxelab Aquila X2 was ready for its first print.

Overall, the assembling process was simple for seasoned makers, but beginners might need help with the confusing instructions provided in the box. It took us about an hour to put the printer together.

Under $200
Voxelab Aquila X2
2.5

The Voxelab Aquila X2 is nearly identical to other Ender clones. But the low price point and a slight edge in print quality make it one of the best entry-level 3D printers, with a price below $200. Once assembled the machine is easy to use and a pleasure to work with.

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Design

A top down view of a 3d printer

The Voxelab Aquila X2 features a simple yet effective design, similar to many Creality Ender clones. At first glance, it looks nearly identical to the Ender 3 V2.

The primary design change is an added handle for easy transportation. It’s a bit unnecessary, but it made it easier to move around while photographing.

Close up of the hot end on a 3D printer

We were impressed by the build quality, given the low price point.

The aluminum rails are sturdy, and the build plate is easy to adjust and level.

Close up of the control screen on a 3D printer

The printer has a 220 x 220 x 250mm build volume with nearly identical features to the Ender 3 V2 but at a lower price point ($60 less at the time of this review).

The Bowden tube setup continues to be a frustration for us. But the filament runout sensor is a nice feature we don’t commonly see on lower-priced models.

When feeding the filament into the printer, we noticed a small PTFE tube leading from the runout sensor to the hotend mechanism. The small tube made it much easier to feed the filament. Unlike the Ender 3 V2, we could feed the filament through the runout sensor without curling or clipping.

Like the Ender 3 V2, the Aquila X2 features tensioning knobs for easy belt tensioning.

Key Features

  • Filament runout detection
  • Silent printing
  • Carbon silicon crystal glass print surface
  • 4.3″ display with an easy-to-use interface
  • Fast bed heating
  • Auto-resume from power loss
  • Portable handle
Under $200
Voxelab Aquila X2
2.5

The Voxelab Aquila X2 is nearly identical to other Ender clones. But the low price point and a slight edge in print quality make it one of the best entry-level 3D printers, with a price below $200. Once assembled the machine is easy to use and a pleasure to work with.

Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Filament Runout Detection

The printer has a filament runout detection feature, which automatically pauses the print when it detects that the filament has run out or broken. After replacing the filament, we can resume printing without issues.

The feature minimizes waste where a traditional FDM 3D printer would continue printing until the end of the file. When the Aquila X2 detects that you’ve run out of material, the print pauses and allows you to replace the spool.

Without it, the printer would continue the printing process without any filament passing through the extruder. The result is a half-finished print.

Filament detection is a standard feature on higher-priced 3D printers but is not common on entry-level printers. We’re happy that Voxelab added it to their entry-level Aquila X2. Although filament runout is rare if you’re careful, we prefer the piece of mind knowing we can leave a print running without worrying if we have enough filament.

Silent Printing

Close up of the hot end and X axis on a fdm 3d printer

Noise is a common complaint with budget printers, but not the Aquila X2. The printer uses a custom 32-bit controller board with TMC2208 silent stepper motor drive chips for near-silent printing.

The fans make a bit of noise, but we’ll take the quiet hum of a fan over the screeching of stepper motors any day.

Carbon Silicon Crystal Glass Platform

Close up of the glass build plate on the Voxelab 3D printer

The Voxelab Aquila X2 comes with an upgraded glass bed. Unlike most budget printers that supply a magnetic PEI sheet, the glass bed surface provides an even heat distribution for better bed adhesion and smooth first layers.

The glass surface is an upgrade over magnetic build mats.

Because of the even heat distribution, you’ll find that PLA sticks better to the bed. And you’re prints are less likely to warp.

Removing prints from the headed bed is super easy. Once the glass plate cools, the prints just pop off. You won’t need any scrapers or tools to release the printed objects, which is a major plus.

User Interface

Close up of the 4.3 inch LCD screen and user interface on a budget friendly Voxelab 3D printer

A major highlight of this 3D printer is its large 4.3-inch color display screen. The well-designed user interface makes it easy to navigate through options and settings.

The control panel uses a dial and button to navigate. While we prefer a touch screen, for the low price, we can’t complain.

Bed Leveling

The Aquila X2 uses the standard four-knob system for leveling the print bed. You can upgrade to a BLTouch to achieve automatic leveling, but for the price point, we can’t complain. 

Print Quality and Performance

In our testing of the Voxelab Aquila X2, we used the basic VoxelMaker profile. Our primary focus was on the quality of the finished prints, the ease of use, and the consistency in performance.

Regarding PLA printing, we found that the Aquila X2 performs quite well. The prints had a smooth finish and showed minimal layer lines.

A 3D Benchy printed on the Aquila X2

When comparing our 3D Bency test print with the one from the Ender 3 V2, the Aquila X2 has a slight edge.

The prints are slightly cleaner, with less stringing, tighter layers, and minimal shifting.

A blue 3D bency printed on an Ender 3 V2 beside a green model printed on a Voxelab Aquila X2
A blue 3D Benchy printed on an Ender 3 V2 beside a green 3D Benchy printed on the Voxelab Aquila X2. The Voxelab has a slight edge in print quality. But it’s interesting to see a slight layer shift at the same point of the print, near the base.A

Regarding performance, the Aquila X2 remained relatively stable throughout our 3D printing sessions. After over a dozen test prints, we only needed to re-level the bed once.

The printer performed surprisingly consistently. We did not notice any significant issues that would cause concern.

The microSD card comes preloaded with several print files. The photo below shows a fun upgrade that adds a bit of storage to the printer.

PXL 20221223 022358324

And below is another pre-loaded print file of several shapes printed in the red filament that was included with the printer.

A test print using red pla filament

Of important note is the small filament roll included with the printer. We do not recommend using the included PLA filament with the printer.

The filament is loosely rolled and can become tangled. We learned this the hard way when a knot in the filament caused the line to snap during printing.

The filament line broke due to a knot in the pla spool
Here’s a photo of the broken filament. Thankfully the filament runout sensor paused the print, so it didn’t impact the final object.

Do yourself a favor and get a quality roll of PLA filament. 

Overall the printer performed much better than we expected. Even beating out the Ender in terms of performance.

Under $200
Voxelab Aquila X2
2.5

The Voxelab Aquila X2 is nearly identical to other Ender clones. But the low price point and a slight edge in print quality make it one of the best entry-level 3D printers, with a price below $200. Once assembled the machine is easy to use and a pleasure to work with.

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

VoxelMaker Slicing Software

VoxelMaker slicing software with a 3D Benchy STL file loaded

For the majority of our test prints, we used the VoxelMaker slicer. It’s a proprietary slicing software developed by Voxelab and their parent company, Flashforge.

The software provides basic print profiles and a wide array of settings to fine-tune your printing.

The software itself is a modified version of Flashforge’s FlashPrint app.

Screenshot showcasing some of the basic settings in VoxelMaker

It’s an easy-to-use software but provides only one printing profile for the Aquila X2. That means if you want to print faster or change the print quality, you’ll need to customize the settings yourself.

It’s not a dealbreaker for advanced users, but it takes some trial and error to get a good printing experience.

Though we used VoxelMaker for most of our testing, we recommend new users stick with Ultimaker’s Cura.

Although Voxelab advertises its compatibility with Cura, the software doesn’t provide a profile for the printer. Because of the printer’s similarity with the Ender 3 Series, we got good results using Cura’s Ender 3 profile.

Comparison with Competitors

Creality Ender V2

We found several similarities and differences worth noting when comparing the Voxelab Aquila X2 with the Creality Ender V2. 

In fact, they are almost identical in build quality, price, and performance.

The Aquila X2 has a slight edge in print quality and comes at a lower price. But the Ender 3 V2 is backed by a larger community of makers.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with either machine.

Elegoo Neptune 2

When comparing the Voxelab Aquila X2 with the Elegoo Neptune 2, we can observe that both are budget 3D printers targeting users looking for an affordable option. They both share a similar design, build volume, and features.

Anycubic Kobra

The Anycubic Kobra is a bit more expensive than the Aquila X2. But it comes with several additional features, including automatic bed leveling. The Kobra is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a few more features.

Bottom Line

Under $200
Voxelab Aquila X2
2.5

The Voxelab Aquila X2 is nearly identical to other Ender clones. But the low price point and a slight edge in print quality make it one of the best entry-level 3D printers, with a price below $200. Once assembled the machine is easy to use and a pleasure to work with.

Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

We found that the Voxelab Aquila X2 is an affordable entry-level 3D printer for beginners looking to enter the world of 3D printing. The printer is easy to use and produces good-quality prints at a budget-friendly price.

Regarding the hardware, the Aquila X2 is nearly identical to many Creality Ender clones. Despite the similarity, we found that the Aquila X2 has a slight edge in print quality compared to the Ender 3 V2.

It’s our top pick for the best 3D printer under $200.

Marcello De Lio
Marcello De Lio

Marcello co-founded 3D Print Mentor to share his love of 3D printing. Marcello used to own an online 3D printing company, where he sold unique designs and customized novelty gifts. After closing the business, Marcello’s new passion is 3D printing replica movie props and cosplay items.

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