Creality Ender 3 vs. Ender 3 Pro

Best 3D printer under $300

Sturdier, quieter, better

No 3D printer seems to fuse quality and affordability quite like the Ender 3. With the right settings and patience, this printer can achieve quality as good as printers 3-4x the price. Great for beginners and tinkerers. It’s an excellent machine for getting into 3D printing at a price point that’s available for everyone. However, if you’re looking for a plug and play option look elsewhere (and prepare to spend more).

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Overall with the upgrades, the Pro is worth the extra $30-40. Compared to the Ender 3, it has better print quality as the stability of the printing surface is improved. It also has a thinner, quieter, and all-around better power supply. Along with the magnetic printing bed, these 3 upgrades are worth more than the sum of its parts. Creality has worked out all the kinks, glitches, and inconsistencies that were shipped with the original Ender 3.

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Pros

Cons

While the Ender 3 Pro and Ender 3 are mostly the same 3D printer with some tweaks, the sturdier Y-axis and quieter power supply make the Ender 3 Pro a good choice if you don’t have either. If you already have the Ender 3, you don’t need to spend money to upgrade as the parts can be bought separately. 

Bottom Line: The Ender 3 Pro is our overall winner as the better print quality from the sturdier frame and quieter operation are noticeable improvements that are worth the price.

Main Differences Between The Ender 3 Pro Vs Ender 3

The main differences between the Creality Ender 3 Pro vs the Ender 3 are:

  • Ender 3 Pro has a magnetic and flexible build plate which means your prints won’t stick and you’ll have an easier time removing them. 
  • The Ender 3 Pro has an improved, sleeker power supply for quieter printing ops. 
  • The Ender 3 Pro has a sturdier, more stable Y-axis base compared to the Ender 3 which can sometimes cause printing defects with its smaller base

That said, I’ll be diving more in-depth and seeing which is the better option. 

Creality has dug out a niche in the 3D printing market in the last couple of years, proving their ability to make dependable, inexpensive, and easy to use 3D printers. 

This is best demonstrated through their Ender line of printers, which clock in as some of the least expensive 3D printers available on the market today. 

I’ll start by going over each printer individually, then discussing some of the notable differences between the two models. Ultimately, I want to find out how much weight that extra “Pro” really carries and whether it justifies the higher price.

Let’s find out!

Out of the box, the Ender 3 isn’t completely assembled. 

And while this isn’t by any means a deal-breaker, an unsuspecting newbie could see it as a problem when they open their box.

However, assembly and initial adjustment could have been a lot worse, and it only took me about 45 minutes to get everything up and running. 

While I have prior experience, most of my time was spent on trial-and-error, getting the settings right. If your a complete beginner then add an hour or two.

Once I got going, the real fun began.

Despite its unbeatable price, the Ender 3 3D printer has plenty of features that are hard to find in budget printers. Most noticeable is its “resume print” option. 

3D printing takes a long, long time, especially if you’re feeling ambitious. 

So you’re always at the mercy of power outages, accidental unpluggings, and other disruptions, particularly if you’re working on a 12+ hour printing batch. 

The resume print button lets you… well, resume your printing. 

Typically, these continuation features only show up in $500+ printers, and I definitely gave this printer extra points for this addition.

As for the printing itself, the Ender 3 has a brass-coated build plate, which has its advantages but can also lead to some warping. 

I tend to prefer glass, as do most other people I’ve talked to – and replacing the original build plate with a glass one was a straightforward and pretty inexpensive process as well.

The Ender 3 build volume isn’t so impressive at 220 X 220 X 250mm (especially when compared to their CR printer series), but it’s sufficient enough to sink your teeth into some cool projects. 

If you’re looking to print larger then check out our recommendations for large format 3D printers.

It also has an excellent max build speed of 180mm/s, which is much, much quicker than most other printers in this range.

Not only that, the Ender 3’s precision is 1 micron, which is also much higher quality than any printer at this price point (and printing at a similar speed) has any right to produce.

My Final Impression – Creality Ender 3

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by almost every aspect of the Ender 3. There’s a reason why this is our #1 recommended 3D printer under $200.

This 3D printer seems to have it all; a great price point, hackability if you want to upgrade (which you should), and excellent quality. 

And even if its build volume isn’t the best on the market, it’s still competitive with printers way above its pay grade. 

So, where’s the catch?

As I mentioned earlier, the build plate has a nasty habit of warping out of shape. 

While this didn’t occur during my testing, enough online reviews mentioned it that I thought I should include something about it here. 

I’ve also had it happen with other printers that used similar build plates to the Creality Ender 3.

It does take some manual adjustment, which can be irritating when you’re ready to get to work, and the constant adjustments can cause some shaky prints. However, the adjustment process is relatively simple, so it’s not an insurmountable problem.

Pros – Creality Ender 3

  • Excellent price point
  • Large online community to ask for help and ideas
  • Great print precision: 1 micron

Cons – Creality Ender 3

  • Build plate may warp
  • Requires frequent manual adjustment
  • Requires some assembly and trial/ error

3D Printer Specs – Creality Ender 3

  • Print Speed: 180mm/s
  • Printing Size: 220x220x250mm
  • Filament: 1.75mm PLA, TPU, ABS
  • Working Mode: Online or SD offline
  • File Format: STL, OBJ, G-code
  • Machine Size: 440x440x465mm
  • Net Weight: 8KG
  • Power Supply: 100-265V 50-60HZ
  • Output: 24V 15A 270W
  • Layer Thickness: 0.1-0.4mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Printing Accuracy: ±0.1mm
  • Hotbed Temperature: 110℃

Bottom Line: The Ender 3 Pro is our overall winner as the better print quality from the sturdier frame and quieter operation are noticeable improvements that are worth the price.

At first glance, there isn’t a lot of difference between the Ender 3 and the Ender 3 Pro

As with many models, the “Pro” means Creality improved some specific aspects of the printer or included some upgraded features or add-ons.

So it’s safe to say that my initial impression of the Ender 3 Pro was also positive. 

After all, it maintained most of the significant parts of the original Ender 3 while including some exciting additional material.

The similarities between these models became apparent when I started taking the Ender 3 Pro out of its box. 

Just like the Ender, this 3D printer requires some initial setup and DIY assembly

This was almost the same process I used with the Ender 3.

The main difference this model makes over the Ender 3 is its increased stability. 

The Pro accomplishes this through a sturdier Y axis, designed with upgraded mounts for better stability throughout the printing process.

When printing, I noticed another positive change right away: the upgraded power supply. 

The Ender 3 Pro comes with a sleeker and quieter PSU than its predecessor, making a huge difference. 

As I mentioned in the previous section, one of the main disadvantages of the Ender 3 was its noisy printing. 

The Pro has taken steps to fix this – much appreciated!

The power supply also opens the door for other printing materials. 

While the Ender 3 could handle most filaments, the Ender 3 Pro can print with wood, TPU, Gradient color, carbon fiber, etc.

Finally, the Ender 3 Pro baseplate is also improved.

First, they’ve added a flexible magnetic sheet, which, in theory, should help you remove your finished product much easier than the solid base plate included in the Ender 3. 

The Pro baseplate also has increased structural stability, potentially reducing the amount of adjustment you’ll need to make as you print.

Beyond that, the printing specs are almost entirely identical; besides these changes, you’ll be getting the exact same printer.

So was it worth it?

My Final Impression – Creality Ender 3 Pro

Overall, all the changes that the Ender 3 Pro made were very positive. 

The quieter power unit was incredibly helpful, as it really cut down on the ambient noise that comes from printing with the Ender 3. 

A disruptively loud printer is the last thing you want, particularly if you’re doing a multi-day project and plan on sleeping anywhere in the vicinity.

The extra reinforcement on the Y-axis is also a huge bonus

While the Ender 3 can handle most projects and is a remarkably reliable printer out of the box, the number of readjustments after a print job can get aggravating. 

The new mounts mean you’ll spend less time adjusting and more time printing.

Finally, the baseplate. 

While the new plate should be objectively better – and is, in some cases – this was actually the most underwhelming of the three main changes. 

The magnetic base was a bit fussy, refusing to align correctly and failing to justify its inclusion in the new version.

The base plate’s increased stability was superior, but given the absolute uselessness of the magnetic plate, the upgrades were a washout.

That said, the Ender 3 Pro is still our #1 recommendation for 3D printers under $300.

And the price difference? 

Well, you’ll be looking at around $30-$40 difference, whether you have a Prime discount or not. I recommend purchasing direct from the manufacturer for more savings.

Pros – Creality Ender 3 Pro

  • Better y-axis stability
  • Less ambient noise while printing
  • Better base plate stability

Cons – Creality Ender 3 Pro

  • Issues with the magnetic strip
  • Higher price point
  • Same assembly requirements

3D Printer Specs – Creality Ender 3 Pro

  • Print Speed: 180mm/s
  • Printing Size: 220x220x250mm
  • Filament: 1.75mm PLA, ABS, Wood, TPU, Gradient color, carbon fiber, etc.
  • Working Mode: Online or SD offline
  • File Format: STL, OBJ, G-code
  • Machine Size: 440x440x465mm
  • Net Weight: 6.9KG
  • Power Supply: AC100-120V/6.8A 200-240V/3.4A/ 50/60Hz
  • Output: DC 24 V 270W
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Printing Accuracy: ±0.1mm
  • Hotbed temperature: 110℃

Understanding the Differences: Things To Consider

So we have uncovered some of the main differences between the Ender 3 and the Ender 3 Pro. 

And at the end of the day, some folks will benefit from all of the changes that Creality made to the Pro, and likewise, there are some who don’t need to spend the extra money.

Understanding which camp you fall into is key for making an informed decision. 

Ultimately, you should ask yourself a few questions to start.

  1. What is your budget?

This is probably the easiest way to figure out the best 3D printer for you, regardless of its features. In this case, though, the budget may not make your decision any easier. As I mentioned before, the price difference between the Ender 3 Pro and the original Ender 3 isn’t all that substantial. 

So unless the Ender 3’s price is pushing your budget, it’s not much of a stretch to invest in the Ender 3 Pro.

  1. Is this your first printer/ how experienced with 3D printers are you?

Given the lower price tags associated with these printers, it’s likely the Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro will be your first (or one of your first) printers. 

However, it’s also possible you’re looking for a good experimental printer, or you’ve been disappointed with a more expensive printer and want something more straightforward and cheaper to work on.

If this is your absolute first printer, the Ender 3 original might be a better option. 

After all, it’s a bit cheaper, and it’s still a completely serviceable 3D printer. 

You can save a couple of bucks by turning down some upgrades that mostly affect your quality-of-life, and which don’t functionally impact your print quality, volume, or speed.

However, if you have some printing experience, these upgrades may well be worth the extra money. In this case, you’re probably going to be working with larger projects, meaning the noise reduction and increased stability will go a long way.

  1. What are you hoping to print?

I got into this a bit in the last question, but this is perhaps the most critical question you should ask yourself. 

Some people come to a new printer with plenty of elaborate projects in mind. 

Others get a printer for the sole purpose of learning more about the field and maybe creating some cool things in the process. 

If you have a specific project in mind, and you’ve done enough research to know it’ll take you a long time to complete it, or you’ll otherwise benefit from greater stability, the Ender 3 Pro is going to be your #1 choice. 

However, if you have mostly smaller, quicker projects in mind or you’re a newbie looking to experiment with a cool new toy, the original Ender 3 is the way to go.

  1. How much do you care about quality-of-life improvements?

Quality-of-life improvements tend to fall somewhere between necessary fixes and completely cosmetic changes. 

In this case, the Ender 3 Pro made three significant changes to its design, none of which drastically changed the original design, but all of which are varying shades of improvement. 

At the end of the day, as a potential buyer, you should ask yourself whether the noise reduction, reinforced Y-axis, and increased base plate stability are improvements that will significantly improve your experience with the printer. 

If not, then there’s absolutely no reason you should spend extra money on the Ender 3 Pro, even if it is only marginally more expensive. 

My Verdict – Ender 3 vs. Ender 3 Pro

So here we are – my complete thoughts on the Ender 3 vs. Ender 3 Pro debate. 

Is it worth the extra cash to go for the Ender 3 Pro, or do the upgrades not justify the bump in price? 

Short answer: yes

Let’s get to it.

I’m going to start by stating again (I know, but it’s important!) that the price difference between these two machines is not at all substantial. 

While initially (at release) the Ender 3 Pro went for upwards of $100 more than the Ender 3 original, the prices have since leveled out, and the Pro typically costs $30-$40 more, depending on current sales and deals.

Still, I’m a firm believer in never spending more than you need to on something (generic cereal bags all the way!). Even though the prices are relatively close to one another, I aimed to determine if the improvements are worthy of the price-bump, no matter how small.

  1. Reinforced Y-Axis

One of my main complaints about the Ender 3 was its need for constant readjustment between projects. Given this, the upgraded 40x40mm stainless steel mounts really helped compensate for this shortcoming in the original design.

However, there’s only so much improvement you can get for such a small price bump. 

While the new mounts significantly cut down on the readjustments, you’ll still need to check your Y-axis between printings, as some shifting may occur.

Overall, this change was a definite all-around improvement and gave the edge to the Ender 3 Pro vs. the Ender 3.

  1. Improved Power Supply

The upgraded power supply, like the Y-axis, is almost all positive with no negative side-effects. 

First

… it’s a huge improvement on the fairly noisy printing associated with the Ender 3. 

When I was looking at these printers, I figured it would be too much to ask for quiet, fast, and high-quality printing, all at a bargain price. 

And with the Ender 3, that was pretty accurate. 

While the printing isn’t deafeningly loud, it’s noticeable, especially if you have trouble with distractions.

However, the improved power supply unit really cuts down on the ambient noise, to the point where it’s much easier having the printer run in the background. 

Even more importantly

… the new power supply opens the door to printing with a diverse range of different materials, including wood composite and carbon fiber. 

Once again, these changes are small but significant and positive enough that they improve your quality of life while printing with the Ender 3 Pro vs. Ender 3.

  1. Changes to the base plate

These changes were, by far, the most underwhelming. 

If anything, the base plate for the Ender 3 was one of my few complaints regarding the original design, giving its nasty habit of warping under high temperatures.

First

… I’m typically leery of magnetic base plates, and the Ender 3 Pro did nothing to change this. 

Their stick-on plate (like so many others I’ve tested) doesn’t align correctly after the first printing and tends to cause more problems than it fixes.

The added structural stability of the Ender 3 Pro was a welcome addition, but it didn’t change as much as I would have hoped. 

While neither my Ender 3 nor Ender 3 Pro had issues with base plate warping, I’ve seen enough evidence from other users to know that the improved base plate of the Ender 3 Pro still suffers from many of the same warping problems as the Ender 3.

All-in-all, these improvements to the base plate weren’t much to write home about, and did little to convince me of the need for a higher price.

But let’s sum it all up.

Overall, the changes that were made align closely with how much extra you’ll pay for the Pro. However, the standout improvements in the power supply unit convinced me that the price for the Ender 3 Pro is a good bargain – and – even better than the Ender 3 original in terms of value for money.

Being able to print with (almost) the entire field of filaments is probably the most significant advantage. However, the amount of noise reduction in the Ender 3 Pro surprised me as well. 

These two factors carried the Ender 3 Pro, which was ultimately my preferred choice.

I’ve done the research and testing – now it’s over to you to decide which is best suited to your needs.

Winner – Ender 3 Pro Vs Ender 3: Ender 3 Pro!

Best 3D printer under $300

Sturdier, quieter, better

So there you have it! 

It was certainly a tight race between these two 3D printers, and there’s a lot to like about the Ender 3. In fact, for a good percentage of people looking for their first printer, I’d recommend the Ender 3 original, as it does a great job handling the fundamentals of 3D printing at an excellent price.

However, the Ender 3 Pro still takes the biscuit for its price, having enough helpful improvements in its design without compromising the excellent print speed, quality, and cost of the original Creality Ender 3.

Whether you choose the Ender 3 or the Ender 3 Pro, I’d like to reaffirm the fantastic work that Creality has been doing in this field. 

Creating a functional printer at such a low price point is difficult for any company, and Creality was even able to improve its design without compromising the original fair price.

Thanks for sticking with me this whole way – it’s been quite the journey. 

Now your turn create something extraordinary!

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