Anycubic Photon S 3D Printer Review


The Anycubic Photon S is a slight upgrade over Anycubic’s groundbreaking Photon. Featuring a more powerful screen and improved user interface, prints completed slightly faster than the older Photon model. However, Anycubic’s change to an all plastic frame and proprietary control board disappointed us with its flimsy feeling and lack of 3rd party slicer support (which was fixed in a much later update). Unless you are in the market for a resin 3D printer with a built-in gull-wing door, the Elegoo Mars Pro features nearly identical hardware at a much lower price.


Manufacturer: Anycubic

The Pros
The Cons
Paul Chow
Paul Chow

Co-Founder & CTO

Amazon.com Disclosure: As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Anycubic made a name for itself in 2017 when it released the original Photon resin printer. It was the first consumer resin printer that was easy to use, reliable and produced extremely high-resolution prints that were unmatched by any other FDM printer on the market. Best of all, it was priced under $500, a substantially different price point compared to the $1,000 resin printers from Formlabs and Peopoly on the market. By making resin printers more accessible, it opened the door for hobbyists to get their hands on an affordable printer.

Anycubic hopes to have the same success with the new Photon S resin printer. Released in 2018, it has an improved UV light source and a few quality of life improvements for $20 more than the original Photon. In this Anycubic Photon S review, we will dive deeply to see if the improvements are worth the price increase and how the Photon S resin printer stacks against its competitors like Elegoo, Phrozen and EPAX.

Please note at the time of writing this review, the Photon S has received several price cuts and has been superseded by the new Photon Mono SE. However, we believe that the Phonto S is still a top contender for entry-level resin printers, particularly since it can now be found for as little as $259.

Table of Contents

Key Features To Look For In A Great 3D Printer

Print quality is one of the most important things to look for in a great 3D printer. This is especially true for resin 3D printers, and we tested its ability to revolve details, z layer alignment and consistency across the entire build surface. The Anycubic Photon S scored a 9/10 because it had no issues printing all of our highly detailed test models and consistently high-quality prints across its entire build surface.

Ease of setup is crucial because you want to get printing without needing an engineering degree to set everything up. The time it took to get from unboxing to printing took us around 30 minutes, so we gave it a 9/10. For all 3D printers, you would want to ensure that your skill level and experience match the difficulty of printer assembly.

The weight and size of this printer are quite small, and you will have no trouble fitting the Anycubic Photon S on most tables and desks. As with all resin 3d printers, it is highly recommended that you place the Photon S in a highly ventilated room due to the odour and fumes that resin gives off.

As with nearly all budget resin printers, the Photon S is equipped with highly standardized internal components. As a result, it is very easy to purchase and replace parts such as the LCD and FEP sheet from 3d printer retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon. We gave the Anycubic Photon S an 8/10 for maintenance and repairability.

Community support is so important to users since 3d printing is still a very new hobby. Having a group or forum to ask questions, find mods or check out upgrades with fellow enthusiasts is a great way to improve your 3d printing experience. We found 4 dedicated support groups, and each of those groups took the time to answer our questions and gave it a score of 9/10.


Overall Score

Ranked #8 of 10
SLA Printers

Learn more about our 3D printer review methodology.

How We Researched This Printer

Anycubic Photon S belongs to the budget small-form-factor MSLA resin 3D printer family specializing in highly detailed prints. These types of printers are also known for their small size, ease of setting up, low cost and large community support.

That said, we decided to test out multiple printouts, travel to all the corners of the support groups to gauge the community, stress test this printer to the max to see how well it handles harsh environments, and more. To set the baseline, we compared this printer to competitors like the EPAX X1, Phrozen Sonic Mini and Elegoo Mars Pro to see how well the Photon S stacks up against their cousins.

This is research you don’t want to skip. If you select the wrong small-form-factor MSLA resin printer, you can be left with a difficult setup, poor quality prints, very little support when running into technical difficulties, and overheating that can cause your cooling bills to skyrocket! With new 3D printers continually being released, we ensure that all the features justify the new price tag.

Printer Setup

Just Level The Bed
The Anycubic Photon S comes fully assembled from the factory and almost fully ready to print straight from the box. The resin printer itself is well packaged with protective foam all around the printer, build plate and resin vat. Users should make sure the resin vat and build plate are free from any particles of foam when setting up.

Leveling the build plate to the LCD is the one thing users are required to do before printing. While all budget resin printers require the user to level the build plate before use, the Anycubic Photon and Photon S needed the most tinkering (we tested them against the Elegoo Mars Pro, Phrozen Sonic Mini, EPAX X1 and Prusa SL1).

The Photon S’ build plate uses one screw to tighten the build plate into the correct position, however, if the user applies too much pressure while tightening, the build plate can become skewed, throwing the printer off level. The Elegoo Mars Pro and Phrozen Sonic Mini avoid this by using 2-4 screws to distribute the tension evenly, and the EPAX X1 comes from the factory fully leveled.

We found the best way to level the build plate is to apply pressure with one hand while tightening the leveling screw with the other, ensuring the build plate stays level. Anycubic improved on this with the Photon SE, where the build plate is spring loaded to keep it in the correct position while the level screw is being tightened.

Resin printers are capable of extremely detailed prints that FDM prints cannot hope to compete with. The limit of how much detail a resin printer can resolve is determined by the resolution of the LCD screen used. The Anycubic Photon S’ 2k screen can resolve details as small as 47um, allowing it to print just about any level of detail.

We have tested the Anycubic Photon S in 3 major areas: ability to resolve detailed models, z height consistency and consistent UV exposure across the whole build plate.

To test the Photon S’ ability to print detailed models, we had it print several detailed figures, both large and small. First, we had it print a small and medium-sized fantasy figure. The printer had absolutely no issue printing details such as a thin sword and did a very good job at reproducing the scales and texture found on the dragon model. Next, we printed a much larger house model and robot figurine. The Photon S had no issues printing each of these models, and the stone texture of the house came out beautifully. One thing to note, the robot figurine saw faint pixelation on flat angled areas.

We then printed an Eiffel tower to test the Photon S’ ability to print tall objects and to exaggerate any issues related to the z stepper motor. We were really pleased with how well the Photon S could reproduce the details and found no issues with z layer alignment.

Lastly, we printed a series of detailed tiles across the Photon S to test how evenly the UV light is distributed across the build plate. If the light distribution is uneven, details on the edge will look different compared to those in the middle. We found there was no difference between the tiles found on the edge and those found in the middle.

Overall, we were extremely pleased with the print quality coming out of the Photon S and found it on par with all other resin printers in its class.

Setting Up Prints
The Anycubic Photon S comes with Anycubic’s own slicer to create print files for the Photon S. While their software works, the user experience is far behind 3rd party slicers such as Chitubox and Lychee slicer (which we recommend). Anycubic has recently released a firmware update that allows it to print files sliced by Chitubox and Lychee slicer.

Anycubic Workshop, Chitubox and Lychee slicer all come with print profiles for the Anycubic Photon S, making getting prints extremely easy and taking all of the guesswork out for the user. When conducting our tests, we used the default print profiles for the Anycubic Photon S in Anycubic Workshop. Files are loaded into a USB flash drive and inserted into the Photon S’ USB port. The Photon S features an easy-to-navigate menu to select and start prints. One advantage over the original Photon, Elegoo Mars Pro and EPAX X1 is its text size is substantially larger.

Noise Levels
Unlike FDM printers, resin printers only have 1 stepper motor used to move the z-axis, making the Photon S extremely quiet while in operation. The loudest components of the Photon S are the cooling and vent fans which are always running. We recorded about 40db of noise when the Photon S is printing, which for comparison, is about as loud as a quiet office.

Print Speed
Anycubic claims that the Photon S is about 25% faster than the original Photon S, with a default exposure time of 6.5s, compared to 9s for the original Photon. However, this does not consider the time the printer needs to move the print bed up to the next layer, which makes the overall print speed of the Photon S about 10% faster than the original Photon.

Competitors such as the Phrozen Sonic Mini are equipped with a monochrome LCD display which substantially decreases the exposure time for the Sonic Mini to 2.5s per layer. This makes the Sonic Mini about 50% faster than the Photon S. If you are looking for the fastest budget resin printer, the Phrozen Sonic Mini should be considered a top contender.


The Anycubic Photon S is a compact desktop machine measuring 220mm (l) x 220mm (w) x 400mm (h) in size. The resin printer features a build volume of 115mm (l) x 65mm (w) x 155mm (h), putting it in the category of small-sized resin printers. The Photon S resin printer’s overall dimensions are identical to the original Photon.

A defining feature in the Anycubic Photon series is the gull-wing door that is used to access the build plate. Most competitors use a simple acrylic lid over their printers. This does not affect print quality in any way; however, it does give the feeling that the Anycubic Photon S is better engineered than its competition. We particularly like this feature as removing the lid and storing it in competitors’ printers was tedious in our small office.

While the Photon S shares the same design and builds volume as the previous version, the same cannot be said for the materials used in its construction. The original Photon had a shell made out of sheet metal, making the machine extremely rigid and durable. Whereas the Photon S has a plastic shell, making it feel a little less premium. Test prints show that this does not negatively affect print quality. However, the entire machine feels flimsy and cheap. The gull-wing door has a notable amount of flex, and it does not inspire any confidence in its durability. The only positive result of the change from metal to plastic is the decreased weight. The Photon S weighs in at 5.9kg versus 6.6kg in the original Photon.

Safety Highlights

MSLA resin printers are electrically safe compared to filament-based FDM 3D printers. Resin printers need very little power to drive an LCD screen, UV light source, and 1 stepper motor versus high-power heaters used to melt filament and heated beds found in FDM printers. As a result, MSLA resin printers such as the Anycubic Photon S do not have the electrification or fire risks associated with FDM 3D printers.

Resin Health Concerns
The 405nm UV resin has several health hazard risks. 405nm UV resin is extremely toxic if ingested and can cause an allergic reaction when it comes in contact with bare skin. Several precautions should be taken when handling 405nm UV resin.

Nitrile gloves should always be worn when handling resin, and fortunately, Anycubic ships their resin printers with a few extra pairs of disposable nitrile gloves. Users should always have a number of extra nitrile gloves when using any resin 3D printer.

The 40w UV light source has the potential to harm the eyes and should never be looked at without safety glasses. The acrylic windows on the gull-wing door are tinted to prevent UV light exposure. This serves a dual purpose both to protect users and prevent UV light from reaching the UV-sensitive resin within.

Built-in Charcoal Filter
405nm UV resin is known for its smell and potentially toxic fumes. The resin will give off fumes even when the printer isn’t operating, making it extremely important to properly ventilate the printer to avoid toxic fume buildup.

The Anycubic Photon S is equipped with a charcoal filter to remove fumes that come from 405nm UV resin. Anycubic claims that the filter removes all toxic particulates; however, there is no HEPA certification on their filter, which causes some level of concern from our perspective. The charcoal filter does a good job removing the resin smell; however, it requires regular replacements, which Anycubic does not offer. We highly recommend that users operate resin printers in highly ventilated areas or attach a HEPA-certified filtration system to their resin 3D printers.


Finding Replacement Parts
The LCD screen and the FEP film in the resin vat are considered consumables and are expected to be replaced roughly every 400 hours. Fortunately, for the Photon S and many of its competitors, finding replacement LCDs and FEP film sheets is both easy and inexpensive. Replacement LCDs can be found in both 3D printing stores like Matterhackers and large retailers such as Amazon between $20-40. This is a huge advantage over the newer generation resin printers with a monochrome LCD as replacements are much more expensive at $80-100 or more.

Replacing the LCD can be intimidating as it requires the user to pry off the old LCD and worm the connector through a small slot to connect with the control board. However, Anycubic does provide video instructions on its website to guide the user.

Accessing the Control Board
Since there are very few moving parts on the Photon S, opening up the resin printer should be a rare occurrence. However, if the user needs to access the control board or any other internal components, it can be done by removing a few screws on the top and base of the machine. Unfortunately, it is quite cramped as the machine’s footprint is very small, and the sides of the base cannot be removed. Competitors like the Elegoo Mars get around this issue by having removable sides at the base.

Features & Upgrades

The Anycubic Photon S is a great option for people looking for their first resin 3D printer without breaking the bank. One of the big features of the Anycubic Photon S is its easy setup. Despite having a lower price tag, the Anycubic Photon S has available upgrades over its predecessor and competitors, making it a good option for hobbyists who want the option of upgrading.

Upgraded UV Light Source
Anycubic has equipped the Photon S with a 40w UV light source with a lens array to evenly distribute the light and made it significantly stronger than the original Photon’s 25w UV light. Anycubic claims that the Photon S can print 25% faster than the original Photon; however, we found in testing that the Photon S prints about 10% faster (we will go into detail later).

The original Photon had its UV lights concentrated around the center of the resin printer, giving prints near the center of the printer more UV light compared to the edges; this results in an uneven distribution of light that has the potential of creating less detailed prints near the edges. The Photon S, however, has a lens system that distributes the UV light more evenly to reduce the chance of details being lost near the edges.

Dual Linear Rails
The Photon S also has dual linear rails on the z-axis for increased stability compared to the original Photon’s and Elegoo Mars Pro’s 1 linear rail. We found in our testing that this did not make a noticeable difference as all the resin printers tested had excellent print results.

Community Support

The Anycubic Photon S enjoys a large community following due to its popularity. Users can get information for issues, upgrades and mods on various places such as forums, Facebook groups and subreddits. Some of them include:

Final Verdict

The Anycubic Photon S outputs great prints out of the box and comes at an extremely attractive price for users looking for a compact and affordable printer. The Photon S shares many of its components and features with competitors such as the Elegoo Mars Pro and EPAX X1, making all 3 easy recommendations. Between those three resin printers, we would recommend getting the one that is on sale at the time of purchase.

However, with the latest generation of resin, 3D printers achieve print speeds that are 50% faster than the Anycubic Photon. Furthermore, with the Phrozen Sonic Mini offered at the same price as the Photon S, it makes the Photon S a much harder recommendation unless the user considers the cheaper maintenance costs of the Anycubic Photon S.

Technical Specifications

  • Build volume: 115mm (l) x 65mm (w) x 160mm (h)
  • Printer size: 200mm (l) x 200mm (w) x 410mm (h)
  • Weight: 7.5kg
  • Enclosed print area: Yes
  • Display: Color touchscreen
  • Drive type: Resin (MSLA)
  • Resin capability: 405nm resin
  • Connectivity: USB type A
  • Build Surface: aluminum
  • Bed Leveling: Manual
  • Maximum movement speed: 150mm per second
  • Maximum XY accuracy: 0.0047mm
  • Minimum Z height: 0.00125mm
  • 3rd party resin support: yes
  • Operating System: Windows, MacOS, Linux
  • Supported Slicers: Chitubox, Lychee Slicer
  • Supported File Types: STL, OBJ, M3F

3DGearZone.com is a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We don’t guarantee, however, that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services. 3DGearZone.com is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. 

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Anycubic.com, “Anycubic 3D Printing” Accessed July 26, 2022.

Share Article


Revolutionize your 3D printing game with incredible deals!

We get access to exclusive deals and discounts on latest 3D printers and accessories all the time. Subscribe to stay in touch! 

No thanks, I don't want to know about amazing deals
Scroll to Top