Are you getting your first 3D printer? Got your eyes set on Ender 3 machine already? There is a difficult choice to be made. Should you get the original Ender 3 (review) at the discounted prince, and spend saved money on upgrades you want, or should you splash out more to get the latest and greatest Creality Ender 3 v2? It’s a thought question, as an owner of both 3D printers, I’ll try to answer it for you.
Into 3D printing…
You could nab the original Ender 3 for about £130 on Banggood (depending on the promotion) or spend a little more and get the latest Creality Ender 3 v2 for about £195. Either way, both printers are considered very wallet-friendly, and great machines to get started with.
Creality Ender 3 v2 comes partially assembled, and you could build it in about 1-2 hours depending on your experience. It’s not a difficult task. Instructions are clear and well explained, so don’t feel intimidated if this is your 1st time. In fact, assembling a 3D printer will help you understand better how the machine works. Doing it right, assures that printer will run trouble-free for a long time. I have a guide about what to pay attention to when assembling (or maintaining the printer) – feel free to check it out.
What’s new with Creality Ender 3 v2
I have to give it to Creality, they took on board the community’s feedback and improved all familiar design of the original printer without hiking the price up too much. I almost forgot what’s the original Ender 3 is like, thanks to my mods so the jump to Creality Ender 3 v2 was not as big to me. A quick look back at the stock machine and the improvements are more than obvious. To me, the most important upgrades are:
- 32-bit motherboard with silent stepper drivers
- Sturdier base (based around 40×40 MBS)
- new display and interface
- improved extrusion
- better layout of the components
- belt tensioners
- faster prep time
- glass bed as standard
- filament runout & BL Touch support*
The motherboard alone is probably the best upgrade you could ask for. It removes the all-familiar stepper whine and introduces 32-bit processing of your code, resulting in better quality prints overall. While the jump to 32-bit based board, may not be instantly noticeable (it matters more with complex prints), quiet printing is something I appreciate a lot. Now I can continue overnight prints without the stepper whine being present in other rooms. Don’t get me wrong, the fans are still making a fair share of noise, but it’s a lot better now.
One of the features not often mentioned in the reviews is the change of the extrusion profile. It’s bigger, heavier and will reduce the wobble of the printer in use. Why it matters? If you have ever seen the effects of ringing in your final prints, sturdier base reduces vibrations of the print bed.
Creality Ender 3 v2 also comes with cosmetic changes. While new hotend shroud won’t change the printing experience much, redesigned display and the new menu certainly alter the experience in a positive way. The new GIU is made for a touch interface (now available as an upgraded component – check it out in this link), so imagine my surprise when I discovered that the touchscreen isn’t present! Shame, it’s going to be one of my first upgrades to Creality Ender 3 v2.
It looks cleaner, options are easier to find, but levelling is still a pain in the neck to go through. I guess I’m used to levelling procedures available on BigTreeTech boards. It’s worth noting that Creality Ender 3 v2 heats up quicker than its older brother. I got the 65/210℃ temps minutes ahead of the original Ender 3 (even with all the upgrades 4 min vs 6 min on the original Ender 3).
I’m glad that the extrusion mechanism got some attention as well. The original plastic parts were first to go, causing the filament to eat into plastic, resulting in snapped filament and blocks. With a metal insert, the extrusion mechanism should last much longer.
The orientations of the components changed too. There is a drawer to store spare nozzles, tools and other 3D printing related bits, the power supply had been moved underneath the bed making Creality Ender 3 v2 look much smaller optically. It’s nice to see belt tensioners as well, but if you have assembled the printer correctly, these are pretty much set and forget add-ons.
The new Ender 3 v2 is still an Ender 3 at heart. Comes with the same hot end, the same bed size (now with a glass bed by default). It’s capable of pretty much the same things. I have a printer a model of the Stitch on 3 printers: Ender 3 (unmodified), Ender 3 (upgraded) and Ender 3 v2 to see if I could pick up any significant differences in the final print.
As you can see from the pictures, the differences were minimal. In fact if not for the subtitles, you wouldn’t be able to tell the prints apart. Upon closer investigation, I discovered that Creality Ender 3 v2 handled the complex geometry of the tree supports and teeth a little better than the original printer, but came slightly short of what my modified version is capable of.
It’s a testament to the original design. It works very well at this price point, and all improvements of Creality Ender 3 v2 aim at increasing the reliability of the printer and reproducibility of the prints. I know for a fact, that I could run my print a bit faster on my modded Ender 3 vs the original one, without any visible impact on the print. Once I dial in all the settings, I’m pretty confident Creality Ender 3 v2 won’t be far behind.
Which one to get?
If the budget is a strong consideration, the original Ender 3 is still a great choice. The ability to make incremental upgrades as funds become available – is great and the results are mostly on pair with Creality Ender 3 v2. You will be in charge of what to upgrade first and which components matter to you most. But if you have money to spend, Creality Ender 3 v2 should be taken into consideration.
If this is your first printer, and you are excited to try 3D printing, go for Creality Ender 3 v2 instead. It’s an overall better product which will serve you well. Once you understand how 3D printers work in detail, you can take the upgrade challenge and start modding the printer to your needs.
At the moment the original Ender 3 offers better options for upgrades and mods. It had been in the market for much longer, there are plenty of aftermarket parts and options. If you want to turn Ender 3 into a modded monster like I had, you will be better of starting with the original Ender 3 instead.
With time, we should see more and more aftermarket mods and parts that are made specifically for Creality Ender 3 v2. If you want to know more about the mods implemented in my original Ender 3 machine, check out this section.
Buy Creality Ender 3 v2
Buy it using these links to support NotEnoughTech.
In all honesty, you can’t go wrong with either of them. Both machines offer affordable 3D printing that will most likely meet your needs. Ender 3 was my 1st machine. Thanks to this printer I was able to try new projects, learn about the strengths and shortcomings of 3D printing as technology and I figured out how I’d like my hobby to develop. Creality Ender 3 v2 is a much-needed update. It comes with a fantastic price and I’m already looking forward to a couple of upgrades to make my life easier, and turn the machine into something more specialised. I’ll be looking for a touchscreen display, but for now, I have ordered BL Touch kit to keep the pain out of levelling and an all-metal hotend to try more challenging filaments. In the near future, you will see detailed guides about the upgrades I have done. If you have any questions, let me know in this Reddit thread.
*Creality Ender 3 v2 had been sent to me by Banggood free of charge but I reserve the right to share the honest take on the product!