Creality Ender 5 3D Printer Review
The Creality Ender 5 is a breath of fresh air in the sea of Ender 3-style printers. However, its noisy and outdated hardware, mediocre print quality and warped heated bed leave much to be desired. The box-style frame gives an upgrade path for experienced users wanting to upgrade the Ender 5 into an enclosed 3D printer. However, most users would be much better served with Creality’s own Ender 3 V2.
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Creality has a reputation for releasing some of the most popular printers on the market, and the Ender 5 was no exception. This is Creality’s first consumer box style FDM 3D printer. Box style printers utilize a large box frame with a print motion system placed at the top and a vertically moving print bed. Most consumer printers, known as i3 printers, use an upside-down T-shaped frame with a print motion system that moves left and right and forward and backwards on its bed. I3 style printers, like the Creality Ender 3, are much simpler and cheaper to produce compared to a box style printer. However, a box-style printer, like the Ender 5, has two advantages over the Ender 3: it is much more rigid, and it doesn’t need the bed to move to print on the y-axis. This gives the Ender 5 the potential to print much faster than the Ender 3.
It should be noted that many box-style printers use a mechanical system called core-XY to move the printhead, which uses two motors to move the printhead in both the x and y direction simultaneously. The Ender 5, however, uses a mechanical system called cartesian to move the printhead where there is one motor to move in the x direction and one motor to move in the y direction. This is much simpler and cheaper to set up. However, it is slower than core-XY. This means the Ender 5 is potentially slower than its competitors, who use a core-XY system.
The Ender 5 is a high-speed alternative to Creality’s Ender 3. Its benefit is that it shares many of its components with the Ender 3 (i.e. lets users find replacement parts and upgrades easily), keeping the costs lower than its competitors, like the TwoTrees Sapphire and the TronXY X5.
When writing this review, the Creality Ender 5 3D printer can be found as low as $319 and has been superseded by the Creality Ender 5 Pro. In this Ender 5 3D printer review, we will be going in-depth into the 3D printer’s print quality, ease of set up, maintenance, print experience and how it compares to competitors such as the TwoTrees Sapphire Pro and the TronXY X5.
Table of Contents
Key Features To Look For In A Great 3D Printer
Print quality is on the top of everyone’s list when buying a 3D printer, and for a good reason. We scored the Creality Ender 5 a 5/10 after our hands-on test. The first thing we noticed was that it was only equipped with one part cooling fan on the right side. This could lead to poor cooling results and create overhangs on the left side. Surprisingly, even despite this, the details were intact for most of our testing models.
Print speed is also an important factor to consider when choosing your next 3D printer. Creality claims that the Ender 5 has a fast printing speed due to its box-style design. We noticed when testing that the Ender 5 prints at 50mm/s, which are similar speeds to its more inexpensive brother, Ender 3. We set the speed to 80mm/s to see if the Ender 5 could up its game and be faster than the Ender 3. To our disappointment, the print quality suffered as a result of increasing the speed. While it can technically achieve even higher speeds, the extruder could not push plastic fast enough to keep up. As a result, fast prints show inconsistent results and extrusions with bulges and gaps in the object’s surface.
Now that we have print quality and print speed now, one of the top 3 things to check for maintenance since you don’t want your printer to mimic your car in terms of upkeep expenses. Like most of the Crealitys machines, almost all parts and components can be replaced by the user, including the extruder, hotend, control board, motion and motors system. Due to brand recognition, many of these parts can be found at most 3D printing retailers. Additionally, the control board for the Ender 5 is a breeze to access, but they hot glued their connectors to the board, making it hard to service. However, if you have a heat gun, you can remove the hot glue to make the adjustments you want.
Ranked #31 of 37 Printers
How We Researched This Printer
The Creality Ender 5 belongs to the medium format family of 3D printers that specialize in being an all-purpose printer that can handle nearly anything most users throw at it. These printers are well known for their low cost, good print quality, ease of set up and large community support.
With that said, we threw a series of 3D test prints, crawled through its numerous communities, support groups and forums in search of questions and answers, stress tested the Ender 5 in several harsh print environments and more. To get a baseline measurement of its performance, we compared it to several other printers like the TronXY X5A, TwoTrees Sapphire and its cousin, the Creality Ender 3.
This is an article that you would not want to skip since choosing the right medium format 3D printer could mean the difference between a great print experience and a terrible print experience. Not to mention the headaches of poor print quality and expensive repair and electricity bills if the wrong one is chosen. We made sure to carefully research all aspects of the Ender 5 to arm you with the information to make the right purchase decision.
Assembling the Printer
The Ender 5 printer comes as a kit that needs assembling before use. It is shipped in 4 major components: top assembly, base, side pillars and z-axis assembly. Instructions for assembling the Ender 5 are lacking and consist of a single card with a few pictures of the printer being assembled; however, users who are comfortable with IKEA-style assembly manuals will be able to follow. As with all 3D printer kits, care must be taken to ensure all parts are aligned properly. In our case, it took us about 1.5 hours to fully assemble the Ender 5, and we are happy to report that all pre-assembled components were assembled correctly and did not require us to fix them.
Leveling the Printer
Like many printers in its class, the Ender 5 needs to be manually leveled before printing. Leveling is achieved by using 4 large knobs on the aluminum print bed corners to raise or lower it to the correct position. However, this requires that the print bed be perfectly flat, and unfortunately, the print bed of the Ender 5 was bowed in the middle, raising it by about 1mm. As a result, the nozzle will be too close to the print bed when printing in the middle and too far from the print bed when printing near the edges, negatively impacting the first layer quality and print adhesion.
Creality’s other printers avoid this by using a flat piece of glass on top of the aluminum print bed. In our testing, we used the removable magnetic build surface for small prints and switched to a glass print surface for larger prints to avoid our test prints from failing due to poor print adhesion.
The Ender 5 has a medium-sized build volume of 220mm (l) x 220mm (w) x 300mm (h), which allows it to print a large number of different objects. However, due to its warped heated bed, any object longer or wider than 50mm, we suggest using a glass build plate to remove the chance of print failure.
We tested the Ender 5 in 4 major areas: the ability to resolve details, z layer alignment, dimensional accuracy and print repeatability. For the tests, we used stock 0.2mm layer height settings in the Cura.
To test the Ender 5’s ability to resolve details, we printed several detailed models, including the standard test model Benchy, a Mandolorian figure and a calibration cube. One concern with the Ender 5 was that it was only equipped with one part cooling fan on the right side. This could lead to poor cooling results creating overhangs on the left side; however, in our testing, the details were intact on the Benchy, Mandolorian and calibration cube. The flat surfaces were quite smooth on the calibration cube, indicating that the extruder was pushing filament consistently.
We tested the z-layer alignment consistency of the Ender 5 by printing a 280mm tall tube. Quality control and design of the z-axis assembly dictate the consistency of the z-axis of a 3D printer. If the lead screw in the z-axis is off or bent by even a fraction of a degree, ribbing artifacts known as z wobble will manifest on the 3D print. A tall smooth object such as a tube will exaggerate any z wobble. In our testing, we did not see any z wobble in our 280mm tall tube.
To test dimensional accuracy and print consistency, we printed a 20mm calibration cube 20 times to see if there are any differences between cubes. We noted that our cube measured 20.2mm (l) x 20.3mm (w), which makes the Ender 5 average for dimensional accuracy. We also noticed that between the first and twentieth calibration cube, there was no major difference in finish or dimensional accuracy, making the Ender 5 a very consistent 3D printer.
Setting Up Prints
Creality bundles its own Creality Slicer program to slicer 3D models for the Ender 5, which is a reskinned version of Cura. Using Creality Slicer is quite straightforward since the preset profiles for the Ender 5 were included and default options such as the number of perimeters, layer height, and nozzle temperature were easy to access. More advanced options can be selected if users enable them. Alternatively, users can use Cura since Creality Slicer is based on an older version of Cura, and Cura has an Ender 5 profile built-in.
Users then load their sliced files into a microSD card which is inserted into the Ender 5. Some users may not appreciate such a small card to load their files. However, in our testing, we did not find it to be an issue. On the Ender 5, users start printing by selecting their files via a monochrome LCD and the click wheel. Navigating on the Ender 5 does feel very dated compared to colour touch screens on many modern printers.
The Creality Ender 5 3D printer is noisy. To keep costs down, Creality has opted to use non-silent stepper drivers to power the stepper motors and noisy fans to cool the printer. This results in the Ender 5 outputting 50db while idle and 60db when in motion. Its competitors use more modern TMC silent stepper drivers to keep their printer’s noise down while in motion. The TwoTrees Sapphire outputs 48db at idle at 52db in motion, and the TronXY X5 outputs 50db at idle and 52db in motion.
Magnetic Flexible Build Surface
The Creality Ender 5 features a removable build surface where users can flex to remove prints. This makes it extremely easy to remove completed prints, and unlike rigid build surfaces, it does not require a scraper to remove. However, one major downside of this is it requires a very flat heated bed for prints to adhere effectively. Unfortunately, the Ender 5 does not have a flat heated bed, and we needed to use a flat piece of glass instead of the flexible build surface for larger prints to adhere properly.
Creality advertises that the Ender 5 can print fast due to its box-style frame. However, by default, the Ender 5 prints at 50mm/s, which is the same speed as their more inexpensive Ender 3. We increased the speeds up to 80mm/s to test if the Ender 5 could print faster than the Ender 3, and unfortunately, we were disappointed in the print quality at that quicker speed. While the print can move at 80mm/s without issue (it can actually reach non-printing speeds up to 150mm/s reliably), the extruder could not push plastic fast enough to keep up. As a result, fast prints show inconsistent extrusion with bulges and gaps in the surface of the printed object. To reach these speeds, users would need to upgrade their extruder to Creality’s dual drive, E3D’s Titan or Bondtech’s BMG extruder.
The Creality Ender 5 3D printer is a relatively large 3D printer with its overall dimensions being 550mm (l) x 480mm (w) x 510mm (h), a medium-sized build volume of 220mm (l) x 220mm (w) x 300mm (h) and weighs in at 14.2kg. Compared to the Creality Ender 3, the printer is significantly larger and heavier with a slightly taller build volume. Stacked up against its competitors, the Ender 5 is much lighter and more compact than the TronXY X5 (300mm (l) x 300mm (w) x 300mm (h) build volume). The Ender 5 is roughly the same size and weight as the TwoTrees Sapphire Pro, which has a build volume of 235mm (l) x 235mm (w) x 235mm (h).
As a box-style printer made out of 2040 aluminum extrusion, it is an extremely rigid machine. The aluminum extrusion creates several mounting options for printer upgrades or attachment panels that enclose the printer to protect users from moving parts. It allows users to print plastics that require the heat trapped within the printer. Additionally, the extra rigidity provided by the aluminum extrusion allows the Ender 5 to move faster than the Ender 3.
The Ender 5 has the print bed moving vertically and is supported on the rear of the machine. This could potentially skew large prints since the print bed can wobble when weight is applied to it.
Electronics for the Ender 5 3D printer is enclosed in the bottom, making the printer look clean and professional. The only wires that can be seen lead to the print head and are wrapped in a flexible nylon sleeving.
The Creality Ender 5 3D printer is equipped with thermal runaway protection that is enabled by default. This feature monitors the temperature of the hotend. If it detects that the temperatures are rising too high or too low, it will shut down the Ender 5 and display a heating error message, requiring users to restart the machine. This is an extremely important safety feature since FDM 3D printers can catch fire if temperatures are too high due to a mechanical or electrical issue in the hotend.
Cable Management and Strain Relief
The Ender 5 places the majority of its cables within the base of the printer. This keeps any major electrical connections away from the user and gives the Ender 5 a clean look. The only cables that are exposed are the connections to the hotend assembly, extruder and heated bed. Those cables are wrapped in a flexible nylon sleeve which protects the cables and the user. However, there is no cable strain relief to the cables that connect to the heated bed. As the heated bed moves up and down, the cables have the potential to wear down over time, potentially leading to a fire hazard. It is highly recommended that users print a strain relief as soon as possible to remove the risk of the cables breaking over time.
Finding Replacement Parts
Like most of Creality’s popular machines, almost all parts and components of the Ender 5 can be replaced by the user, including the hotend, extruder, control board, motors and motion system. Due to Creality’s brand recognition, many of these parts can also be found at popular 3D printing retailers such as Matterhackers, 3D Printing Canada and Digitmakers. Even large retailers such as Amazon will carry Creality’s products.
Accessing the Control Board
The control board of the Ender 5 is easy to access, but its connectors are hot glued to the board, making it difficult to service. You would need to use a heat gun to remove the hot glue to replace the cables or board.
Features & Upgrades
Magnetic Build Surface
The Ender 5 features a flexible magnetic build surface to help with print adhesion and print removal. Creality claims that the surface can adhere to PLA, PETG, ABS and TPU filaments and allows users to easily peel and remove prints instead of a rigid surface like glass or aluminum. Users require a scraper to remove prints.
Though not exactly a line item feature, the Creality Ender 5 is one of the most affordable box-style printers on the market as of the time of this writing. This makes this printer a very attractive option to users looking for an inexpensive printer to get into the 3D printing hobby or as a platform to tinker and upgrade.
The Ender 5 has several official Creality upgrades if users want to improve their 3D printing experience. These upgrades include:
- Ceramic coated glass bed: This build surface replaces the original flexible build surface with a rigid piece of glass. The main advantage is that glass is extremely flat and provides a uniform surface from which the Ender 5 can build. The stock flexible build surface is not fully flat, and the Ender 5 can have issues printing on parts that are too high or too low.
- Dual drive extruder: The stock extruder that comes with the Ender 5 uses 1 gear to push filament and is the limiting factor on how fast the Ender 5 can print. The dual drive extruder uses 2 gears which allow users to print faster and push filament more consistently.
- Silent control board: The Ender 5’s stock control board is equipped with A4988 stepper drivers, which make the Ender 5 very loud in operation. The upgraded silent control board is equipped with TMC stepper drivers, which dramatically reduce the noise of the Ender 5 when in motion.
Creality has strong brand recognition, and as a result, its printers generally have a very large community following. If users have any questions, issues or are curious about upgrading and modding their Ender 5, they have several Facebook, Reddit and forum groups they can access:
The Creality Ender 5 3D printer is the most affordable way to get a box-style printer. Out of the box, it prints small objects very well. However, due to its warped heated bed, it could not reliably print larger objects without adding a sheet of glass on top to make it flat. Additionally, we found the printer to be loud, and its speed is held back by its extruder. We wish that Creality would have placed more effort in the design of the Ender 5, thereby making it a very reliable and quick 3D printer.
Recently, Creality upgraded the Ender 5 to the Ender 5 Pro, featuring silent stepper drivers to reduce the amount of noise while printing. We would recommend getting the Ender 5 Pro over the Ender 5. As an alternative, we would recommend looking at the Creality Ender 3 V2, which features a flat glass bed and much quieter stepper motor drivers. At nearly the same price, the Ender 3 V2 is an easy recommendation over the Ender 5.
- Build volume: 550mm (l) x 480mm (w) x 510mm (h)
- Printer size: 220mm (l) x 220mm (w) x 300mm (h)
- Weight: 14.2kg
- Enclosed print area: No
- Display: Monochrome LCD
- Drive type: FDM bowden (ptfe)
- Filament capability: PLA, ABS, PETG,
- Connectivity: Micro SD card
- Drivers: A4988
- Build Surface: magnetic sticker
- Heated Bed: Yes
- Bed Leveling: manual
- Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
- Maximum hotend temperature: 250 °C
- Maximum movement speed: 180mm per second
- Maximum XY accuracy: 0.1mm
- Minimum Z height: 0.1mm
- Number of extruders: 1
- Filament diameter: 1.75mm
- Supported materials: PLA, ABS, PETG,
- 3rd party filament support: Yes
- Operating System: Windows, macOS, Linux
- Supported Slicers: Prusaslicer, Slic3r, CURA, Simplify3D
- Supported File Types: STL, OBJ, M3F
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