Creality’s Ender 3 printers have been the industry benchmark for budget printers since the first model launched in 2018. The Shenzhen-based manufacturer designed these machines to offer outstanding performance at a low cost, making them instant fan favorites.
As a result, if you’re getting a 3D printer today, the chances are pretty high that you’re at the very least considering an Ender 3. So, you must be thinking, which Ender 3 model should you choose?
To answer this question, we’ll be looking at two of Creality’s bestselling models, the original Ender 3 and the newer Ender 3 pro. We’ll be comparing the features of the original Ender 3 printer with the upgraded ones in the Ender 3 Pro.
Let’s dive in!
Ender 3 Vs. Ender 3 Pro – Differences
The Ender 3 was the first Ender printer to be released, with a price of about $190. The Ender 3 Pro followed closely behind, with the new updated model commanding a higher price point of $286 (The price is much lower now at $236).
Although, at first glance, the Ender 3 Pro looks just like the Ender 3, it has a few upgraded features that set it apart from the original. Let’s take a look at them.
- Newer Meanwell Power Supply
- Wider Y-Axis Extrusion
- Removable Magnetic C-Mag Print Bed
- Redesigned Electronics Control Box
- Larger Bed Levelling Knobs
New Meanwell Power Supply
One of the differences between the Ender 3 and the Ender 3 Pro is the power supply used. The Ender 3 comes with a cheap, unbranded power supply unit that some users have called unsafe and unreliable because of poor quality control.
To combat this, the Ender 3 pro upgrades the PSU to a high-quality Meanwell power supply unit. Although both PSUs share similar specifications, the Meanwell PSU trumps the unbranded unit.
This is because Meanwell is a trusted brand known for its high-quality power supply units. So, with this updated unit, the chances of bad performance and PSU failure are slimmer.
Wider Y-Axis Extrusion
The Ender 3 Pro also comes with a wider Y-axis extrusion than the Ender 3. The extrusions are the aluminum rails where components like the print bed and nozzle move on with the aid of POM wheels.
In this case, the ones on the Y-axis are where the wheels that connect the print bed to the carriage move on.
On the Ender 3, the Y-axis extrusion is 40mm deep and 20mm wide, while on the Ender 3 Pro, the slots are 40mm wide and 40mm deep. Also, the Y-axis extrusion on the Ender 3 Pro is made from Aluminum, while the one on the Ender 3 is made from plastic.
According to Creality, the wider extrusion gives the bed a more stable foundation, resulting in less play and more stability. This will increase print quality and reduce the amount of time spent on bed leveling.
Removable Magnetic “C-Mag” Print Bed
Another major change between both printers is the print bed. The print bed of the Ender 3 is made from a BuildTak-like material, offering great print bed adhesion and first-layer quality.
However, it is not removable as it is stuck to the print bed with an adhesive. On the other hand, the Ender 3 Pro has a C-Mag print bed with the same BuildTak surface. However, the print sheet is removable.
The C-Mag print sheet has magnets on its rear surface for attaching to the lower build plate.
The Ender 3 Pro’s print bed is also flexible. So, once you detach it from the build plate, you can flex it to remove the print from its surface.
Redesigned Electronics Control Box
We also have a different control box on the new Ender 3 Pro. The control box is where the mainboard and its cooling fan are kept with the different input ports.
The control box on the Ender 3 features a design that puts the cooling fan for the electronics box on top of the box. It also has an SD card and a USB port on the bottom of the electronics box.
On the Ender 3 Pro, the control box is flipped over. The fan is placed at the bottom to avoid objects falling into it, while the SD card ports are at the top side of the control box.
Larger Bed Levelling Nuts
The bed leveling nuts on the Ender 3 are larger than those on the Ender 3 Pro. The larger nuts give users a better grip and surface area to tighten and loosen the springs underneath the bed.
As a result, you can level the Ender 3 Pro’s bed more accurately.
Ender 3 Vs. Ender 3 Pro – User Experiences
User experiences of the Ender 3 and the Ender 3 Pro aren’t dramatically different, especially when it comes to printing. However, the new upgraded parts on the Pro can offer some additional benefits to users in some areas.
Let’s look at some key areas of the User Experience.
There is actually no noticeable difference between the prints coming out from both printers. This comes as no surprise because there is no change in the extruder and hotend setup.
Basically, there’s no change in the printing components apart from the stabilized print bed. So, you should not expect that much difference in the print quality between the Ender 3 and the Ender 3 Pro (Amazon).
You can check out this video on test prints from both machines made by a YouTuber.
The prints from both machines are nearly indistinguishable from each other.
According to consensus, the Ender 3 Pro’s Meanwell PSU is a significant upgrade over the nameless brand on the Ender 3. It provides better safety, reliability and provides better peak performance for powering components like the print bed.
The Meanwell PSU does this by handling its heat dissipation better. The fans on the Meanwell run only when needed, drawing less power and leading to efficient, silent operation.
This means the Meanwell PSU is able to maintain its 350W peak performance for longer. It also means components like the hotend and print bed take shorter times to heat up.
However, you should note that some users have raised an alarm that Creality has started shipping out Ender 3 Pros without Meanwell PSUs. Redditors confirm that Creality has switched to using Creality PSUs on their printers.
So, that should be something to look out for when buying an Ender 3 Pro. Check the branding on the PSU if you can to avoid getting an inferior PSU.
The heated bed on the Ender 3 works better for a wider range of filaments than that of the Ender 3 Pro. Although, the magnetic C-Mag bed on the Ender 3 Pro works better when printing low-temp filaments like PLA, it has a significant flaw.
In the video below, CHEP mentions that you shouldn’t use your heated bed at a temperature past 85°C or it could lose its adhesive properties due to the Curie effect.
Printing above this temperature will ruin the bed’s magnets. As a result, you’re pretty limited in the number of filaments you can print with the Ender 3 Pro.
You can only print filaments like PLA, HIPS, etc. You cannot print ABS and PETG on the stock Ender 3 bed.
Many Amazon reviews have reported bed demagnetization while printing at bed temps above 85°C. You will have to print with a lower bed temperature which can result in a poor first layer.
To print these materials, you’ll want to get yourself a glass bed that you can attach to the lower bed. I’d recommend getting something like the Dawnblade Creality Glass Bed from Amazon. It provides a nice flat surface which has great adhesion without needing glue sticks.
It is also easy to take models off after the bed has cooled down without needing tools. You can clean the glass bed with isopropyl alcohol and a good wipe, or acetone.
One reviewer mentioned that even if your aluminum bed has warped, the glass remains rigid so the warping doesn’t translate to the glass bed. One downside is that it doesn’t come with clips.
In most cases, you’ll have to adjust your Z endstop sensor after installing the glass bed since it’s 4mm thick.
Another complaint users have had with the magnetic bed is that it’s hard to line up and level. Some users also report that the print bed curls up and warps at specific temperatures.
Bed Levelling and Stability
Another significant difference between the frames of both printers is the wider Z extrusion on the bottom of the Ender 3 Pro’s print bed. The wider rail helps keep the bed level longer as the bed’s carriage has more area to balance.
You can even see the difference when you move the print bed. There is less lateral play on the Ender 3 Pro’s print bed.
One user confirms that the bed on the Pro stays level better between prints. However, you do need to tighten your eccentric nuts properly to see the benefits.
Electronics Box Convenience
The placement of the control box in the Ender 3 Pro is more convenient than that of the Ender 3. Most users love the new placement of the Pro’s electronics box because it puts the input ports in a better, more accessible location.
Also, the fan placement at the bottom ensures that dust and other foreign objects do not fall into the fan duct. This has made some users worry about the box overheating, but there have been no complaints so far.
Ender 3 Vs Ender 3 Pro – Pros & Cons
The Ender 3 and the Ender 3 Pro both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Here is a rundown of their pros and cons.
Pros Of the Ender 3
- Cheaper than the Ender 3 Pro
- Stock print bed can print more filament varieties
- Open source and can be upgraded in many ways
Cons of The Ender 3
- Non-removable print bed
- Unbranded PSU is a bit of a safety gamble
- Narrower Y-axis extrusion, leading to less stability
SD card and USB slots are in an awkward position.
Pros of the Ender 3 Pro
- Better, more reliable PSU
- Flexible and removable magnetic print bed
- Wider Y-axis rail, leading to more print bed stability
- Input slots are in a more accessible position
Cons of the Ender 3 Pro
- More expensive than the Ender 3
- Many users have reported warping and leveling problems while using its print bed
- Print bed can only go up to 85°C, making it unsuitable for most filaments.
There isn’t much to separate both printers in terms of performance, but I believe the best choice is the Ender 3 Pro.
First, the Ender 3 Pro’s price has dropped considerably, so there isn’t much of a difference between it and the Ender 3. So, for its lowered price, you’re getting a sturdier frame, a more stable bed, and a better-brand PSU.