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Best 3D Printers Under $300

It used to be that the barrier to entry for 3D printers was several thousand dollars just to get your hands on an entry-level machine that barely functioned. Now you can easily find printers that can compete with professional machines at just a fraction of the cost. The cost of a good entry-level printer has now dropped to the point where we can easily recommend a number of 3D printers at under $300. Remember that most of these printers are not the latest or the greatest, but they will easily produce great quality prints with minimal fuss.

ELEGOO Mars 2 PRO

9.3/10

The best value small form factor resin printer currently on the market

Anycubic Photon Mono SE

9.2/10

One of the most refined and polished small form factor resin printers out

Creality Ender 3 V2

8.6/10

The Creality Ender 3 V2 is the ideal entry into 3D printing for little money

Anycubic Mega Pro

7.8/10

Anycubic Mega Pro creatively combines 3D printing with laser engraving

Anycubic Mega X

7.7/10

The Mega X convinces with a decent out of box printing appearance and print quality

Picture of Paul Chow
Paul Chow

Co-Founder & CTO

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

Just a couple of years ago, it would have been impossible to find a 3D printer that didn’t cost thousands of dollars, let alone a 3D printer that didn’t take a week to set up and troubleshoot before you could even start printing. The 3D printing industry is littered with terrible quality printers that aim to be the cheapest printer available. Cutting corners such as safety, quality control and features in the name of hitting the lowest price point possible. 

As a result, these printers frequently jam, break and even catch on fire, requiring users to spend time and money to make them function as intended. A good example of this is the infamous Anet A8 3d printer. Released in 2016, it was hailed as one of the first ultra-low-cost printers at under $300. 

However, poor quality electronics and an acrylic frame resulted in many broken printers and a few catching on fire. A more recent example is the TronXY X5A, a large volume printer promising a huge build volume at an unmatched price of under $400. However, like the Anet A8, it suffered from poor quality control, acrylic mounts for the stepper mounts, warped heated bed and weak electronics, resulting in many users being unable to use the printer at all without significant mods to make it functional. 

Thankfully today, several 3D printers are reliable, quick to set up, easy to get, great quality prints and all that for under $300. From FDM filament-based printers that can print most everyday plastics to resin printers that can print the most detailed miniatures out there, we got the list for you!

What To Look For In A 3D Printer Under $300

Reliability

Reliability is one of the most important traits in a 3D printer. It doesn’t matter if the printer has all the bells and whistles in the world if it constantly jams, breaks or fails to print objects that you want it to. Thankfully, 3D printers have come a long way from the early days of wooden frames and instead feature sturdy metal frames and quality components to ensure that every time you press print, you can rest assured that it will spit out the right object.

Ease of Set Up

In the early days of consumer 3D printing, most printers came in a kit that users had to build it up. This required both time and expertise that turned away anyone who wasn’t a die-hard tinkerer. Modern printers now come in much easier-to-assemble sections, which usually consist of screwing in a small number of bolts and connecting a few cables before powering the printer on and starting printing. Many of the printers on this list are already fully assembled and just require several steps before printing. You can rest easy that every printer on this list would not require an engineering degree and a week’s worth of time to get up and running.

Print Quality

Print quality has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Printers that are considered budget now rival the quality of printers that cost several thousands of dollars just a few years ago, with some prints rivalling those that came from injection molding. Resin printers take that a step further with prints that are indistinguishable from casted miniatures used in tabletop gaming.

 

Table of Contents

Top 3D Printers Under $300

FDM Printers

FDM or fused deposition modelling printers take plastic filament, melt it, and stack the extruded molten plastic in layers until the desired model is printed. Also known as filament printers, FDM 3D printers are the most common 3D printers used by both consumers and professionals alike. They combine versatility, build volume and ease of use at a low price point. What’s great about the printers we recommend is despite their low price tag, they all punch much higher than their class, often rivalling printers several times more expensive in print quality.

However, they are typically restricted in their smaller print volumes. They lack many of the creature comforts their more expensive rivals offer, such as automatic bed leveling, colour touchscreens and a polished user experience. Despite these shortcomings, they can be easily overlooked by the sheer value per dollar these printers offer.

Resin Printers

Resin SLA 3D printers are perfect for users looking to produce miniatures for tabletop gaming or highly detailed objects that cannot be replicated on FDM printers. Until recently, resin 3D printing was reserved for professionals due to its extremely high price tag, but thanks to Anycubic and other manufacturers, resin 3D printing is now accessible to hobbyists and consumers. Resin 3D printers are much messier to work with compared to FDM printers, requiring users to invest in cleaning equipment/chemicals, and resin is substantially more expensive to buy compared to FDM filament. Additionally, with most of the printers featuring tiny build volumes, resin 3D printers are usually only recommended for users looking to make tabletop miniatures or jewelry. 

Since 2018, manufacturers have rapidly iterated on their printer designs, and as a result, the vast majority of current resin 3D printers share the same internals. Manufacturers have differentiated themselves by price and quality of life features. Nearly all small form factor resin printers can be found for less than $400, and some are often on sale for under $200. 

If you’re looking to start your resin or FDM printer journey for under $300, then these printers should be on your shortlist!

 

ELEGOO Mars 2 PRO

The Pros
The Cons

The ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro was among the first companies to equip their resin 3D printers with monochrome LCDs. This resulted in a minimum 30% improvement in speed compared to the previous generation resin 3D printers. Elegoo quickly set itself apart from the competition with the quality of life features such as a charcoal air filter, an easy-to-level print bed and one of the lowest initial prices for a monochrome LCD printer. The Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, like all resin 3D printers, produces excellent quality prints, which are often indistinguishable from cast resin miniatures.  

Some users may take the issue that the lid has to be removed to access the printer as it takes additional space to store the lid. However, we found this to be a minor issue in the office. The Mars 2 has an extremely small print volume of 129mm (l) x 80mm (w) x 160mm (h) which limits the printer to very small prints. Also, as of the writing of this article, the Mars 2 Pro has been superseded by the Mars 3, which features a larger print volume and higher resolution LCD screen; however, the Mars 2 is still much better supported with extremely cheap replacement parts available at many retailers. 

The ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro features one of the largest resin 3D printer communities, which gives users a wealth of information if any issues come up. Coupled with ELEGOO continuing to support the Mars 2 Pro despite the newer Mars 3 being released, the Mars 2 Pro is easily a top-recommended resin 3D printer for under $300.

Read Review: ELEGOO Mars 2 PRO

Anycubic Photon Mono SE

The Pros
The Cons

Anycubic revolutionized the resin 3D printer market back in 2017 with the release of the original Anycubic Photon, a resin 3D printer for under $500. Fast forward several years later, Anycubic modernized its now aging Photon with the Photon Mono SE.

Now sporting a monochrome LCD, it prints as fast and well as its competitors. However, the Photon Mono SE sets itself apart with its iconic gull-wing door design and updated bed leveling mechanism. Most consumer resin 3D printers use a removable top lid to access the print bed, which requires users to find extra room to place the lid aside while accessing the print bed. The Mono SE’s door design is a potentially huge advantage to users who are very limited in space for their 3D printing. Its spring-loaded leveling mechanism is our favourite method of leveling the bed plate as it ensures that the build plate is always perfectly level with the LCD screen.

While these pros would have made the Photon Mono SE an easy win on paper, we originally could not have recommended it due to its initial launch price and lack of software compatibility. It couldn’t have justified a launch price of 2x its closest competitor, the ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro, when the Mars 2 Pro produced the same quality prints. But its recent price cuts have dropped it to roughly the same price as Mars 2 Pro. Likewise, with its software situation, it initially was not compatible with popular slicers such as Chitubox and Lychee Slicer. However, recent updates to both programs have put the Photon Mono SE on par with all other resin printers on the market. These two changes have made the Photon Mono SE an easy recommendation for a resin 3D printer for under $300.

Read Review: Anycubic Photon Mono SE

Creality Ender 3 V2

The Pros
The Cons

Creality was the first to market with a sub $300 printer that was usable out of the box with the original Ender 3. The V2 takes the same great base printer and dramatically adds to the user experience with silent stepper drivers, belt tensioners, a glass bed and a colour screen. It has a respectable build volume of 220mm (l) x 220mm (w) x 250mm (h), which allows it to fit 90% of prints most users would need and arrives mostly assembled in 2 major parts and can be assembled and printing in about 30 minutes thanks to its well-documented assembly instructions. We found that the Ender 3 V2’s print quality is among the best of the budget 3D printers, rivalling the print quality of our printers that cost over $1000.

While reliability and print quality are kings with the Ender 3 V2, it has minor drawbacks. First, despite being equipped with TMC silent stepper drivers, which ensure that the motion of the 3D printer is incredibly quiet, we found that the printer as a whole is loud due to the noisy, poor-quality fans that are always on. We also found that the Ender 3 V2 does print relatively slowly with stock print settings compared to many of its rival printers. And finally, some users might not prefer having a glass print surface as it does make print removal tricky without tools or cooling the print surface to release completed prints.

What sets the Creality Ender 3 V2 apart from the competition and makes it one of our top budget picks is its community and retailer support. The Ender 3 V2 boasts one of the largest communities and users will be able to quickly find answers to their questions and any number of upgrades to their printer to take it to the next level.

Read Review: Creality Ender 3 v2

Anycubic Mega Pro

The Pros
The Cons

Anycubic is definitely not afraid to try new things and go against the current. In the current 3D printer landscape of clones, Anycubic decided to design FDM 3D printers that didn’t look like they copied their competition’s homework. The Anycubic Mega Pro is definitely an example of that. 

Superficially, it looks like Anycubic Mega X’s smaller brother. Shrunk down in every dimension to a relatively small build volume of 210mm (l) x 210mm (w) x 205mm (h), at first glance, it has no reason to be on our top budget pick list. However, it packs two features that no other 3D printer in this category has: a laser engraver attachment and a dual drive extruder. The laser engraver is a great addition to anyone looking for a 2-in-1 machine that both prints and engraves, and the dual drive extruder dramatically improves print consistency and the ability to print flexible filaments such as TPU. In our testing, we found that the laser engraver does its job well and prints, for the most part, look very good.

The Anycubic Mega Pro is not without its flaws, however. While the laser engraver is a great addition, it forces users to use Anycubic’s horribly outdated slicer software for it to be utilized. We even encountered compatibility errors when using it on our Windows 10 machine. Just like the majority of Anycubic’s machines for this generation, the Mega Pro makes use of very loud A4988 stepper drivers, which makes operating this machine very loud in comparison to many modern 3D printers. Overall looking at the Anycubic Mega Pro as a pure 3D printer, you would be better served with the Creality Ender 3 V2 with its larger build volume, quieter performance and much better community/retailer support. However, there are no better options out there for a 2-in-1 machine than the Mega Pro. 

Anycubic Mega X

The Pros
The Cons

Anycubic made a name for itself with their resin 3D printers. However, they also have extensive experience in the FDM 3D printer space. The Anycubic Mega X is one of the latest machines in their Mega line and showcases some of the best Anycubic had to offer before their new Kobra/Vyper line. The latest price drop of the Mega X has placed this 3D printer in the less than $300 space, and Mega X boasts the largest print volume in the group at 300mm (l) x 300mm (w) x 300mm (h). It also boasts the best-looking design with its steel construction, all its wires hidden within the printer’s body and a colour touchscreen. Making the Anycubic Mega X the cleanest and most professional-looking printer in the sub $300 group. Print quality is also quite good with the Anycubic Mega X when using its stock settings.

Released several years ago, the Anycubic Mega X is missing many features that would be standard in a 2022 printer. The most obvious is the lack of TMC silent stepper drivers, which make printer movements on the Mega X extremely loud. Another relatively minor issue is the lack of any belt tension adjustment, which makes fine-tuning belt tightness very tedious. 

Unlike many other printers on this list, the Anycubic Mega X lacks the community support of popular printers such as the Creality Ender 3 V2, making support difficult if users find any issues if found. While the stamped steel frame makes the Mega X extremely aesthetically pleasing, it makes it highly non-upgradable. Coupled with the incredibly old stock software, users will need to be happy with the Mega X out of the box. However, with its 300mm ^3 build volume, there are no other printers that can compete with the Anycubic Mega X for large prints.

Final Verdict

3D printing as a hobby has come a long way from being exclusive to tech-savvy tinkerers. Many 3D printers are now getting close to the point where users simply need to plug it in, press a few buttons and start printing. Companies are now even producing affordable printers that can produce professional-level 3D prints for only a few hundred dollars.

Be forewarned: an affordable 3D printer can be a gateway into more expensive systems and pricey modifications that can take your prints to the next level. An affordable printer, however, will get you the necessary experience to start creating models or attempt expert-level print jobs. 

However, if you have always wanted to print an Iron Man helmet or the Infinity Gauntlet, these 3D printers are your first steps into unlocking this dream. 

Disclaimer
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.

Sources
1. ELEGOO.com, “ELEGOO, INC.” Accessed July 26, 2022.
2. Anycubic.com, “Anycubic 3D Printing” Accessed July 26, 2022.
3. Creality.com, “Shenzhen Creality 3D Technology Co., Ltd”. Accessed July 26, 2022.

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