Original Prusa MK3S 3D Printer Review
Despite originally being released in 2017, the Prusa MK3S remains one of the most popular medium-sized 3D printers on the market and for a good reason. Equipped with a huge number of features that are still considered class-leading, coupled with excellent print quality and excellent slicer software makes, the Prusa MK3S is one of our top medium format 3D printers. However, competitors such as the Creality Ender V2 offer nearly identical print quality at a tiny fraction of the price. We would highly recommend the MK3S to users looking for a high-performance workhorse of a 3D printer. However, budget-sensitive users will also be well served with the Creality Ender 3 V2.
The Original Prusa i3 printer was first released in 2015 as a commercial kit. It became hugely popular at the time as an affordable and good-quality 3D printer for those picking up 3D printing as a hobby. Thanks to a considerable amount of marketing and a distinctive orange and black colour scheme, Original Prusa became an extremely well-known and supported brand. Over the next 4 years, it received a number of updates to become the gold standard for modern 3D printers. In its 2019 iteration, the Original Prusa Mk3S brings a number of improvements that are usually found on more expensive printers that range in the thousands of dollars.
Users can purchase a kit for $749 or opt for the fully assembled printer for $999, which places the Prusa Mk3S in the upper range of 3D printers for hobbyists. Pressure from a number of more inexpensive, high-quality 3D printers with cutting-edge features has raised questions in regards to the market position the Prusa Mk3S holds. In this in-depth Original Prusa Mk3S 3D printer review, we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of this 3D printer and whether it still has a place in the extremely competitive hobby 3D printer market.
Table of Contents
Key Features to look for in a Great 3D Printer
Quality printing is what sets the stage for a good 3D printer. Thankfully, we scored the Original Prusa Mk3S a solid 9/10 after running out of internal test prints. We printed a test model, Benchy, a Mandolorian figurine, & the classic calibration cube. While testing, we noticed the cooling is not as good at the back of the objects in comparison to the front since the Prusa Mk3S filament cooling fan is blowing air to the front and sides. However, this didn’t hinder print quality. Surfaces were flat and smooth on the calibration cube, but we did notice some minor ringing and ghosting, so we couldn’t score it a perfect 10.
You also want to make sure that you have a community behind you to help you on your 3D printing adventures. Since Prusa has one of the strongest brand recognition in the 3D community, the Mk3S is widely supported across forums, Facebook groups, subreddits and more. We could easily find answers to any of our questions, and people were eager to help!
Lately, maintenance for any product can be a headache. This is especially true for 3D printers. Due to the advanced machinery, you want to ensure you can find replacement parts or upgrades at a fair price, so your journey isn’t cut short. Thankfully, all components of the Prusa Mk3S are easily replaceable. It has an open frame that allows access to all components and only requires a few screw removals. Conversely, the control board and the automatic bed leveling sensor are proprietary. Due to the popularity of the Prusa Mk3S, it’s still easy to find replacement parts from popular resellers.
I lied, there’s 1 other point I wanted to bring up that doesn’t get considered often enough. The printer volume should also be considered if you live with your parents or have roommates. The Prusa Mk3S is the first consumer printer to come with TMC 2100 silent stepper drives. This was a huge leap forward for printers, and they didn’t stop there. They also added in Noctua branded fan on the hotend which also makes the printer even quieter.
Ranked #10 of 37 Printers
Learn more about our review methodology.
How We Researched This Printer
The Prusa MK3S belongs to the medium format cartesian family of 3D printers, which specializes in printing objects in a print volume that 90% of users would be happy with. These printers are well known for their ease of use, good print quality and enormous community support.
The Prusa MK3S is unique in that it occupies the upper end of the price range as it comes with many quality-of-life features that most of its competitors do not have. It is also one of the few western companies that compete in the medium format space, which gives it an upper hand in terms of warranty and after-sales support.
With that said, we decided to put the Prusa MK3S through a number of test prints, subject it to harsh printing conditions and travel to its many support groups and forums to see how helpful its community is and more. To get an idea of how well it prints, we pit it against its competitors like the Creality Ender 3 V2, Sovol SV01 and the Anycubic Mega.
This is a read that you would not want to miss. Choosing the wrong medium format printer can result in poor print quality, a bad printing experience and even a printer catching on fire! We carefully did our research so you know where to place your trust in when choosing the right 3D printer.
For this review, we purchased a fully assembled machine. The Prusa Mk3S comes packaged in a large cardboard box with large sheets of packing foam to secure and protect the 3D printer. Cables and moving parts have been tied down using zip ties. As a fun surprise, and depending on the region, users may find a bag of Haribo gummies with their 3D printer as it is part of their branding.
Setting up the machine was incredibly easy as there was no assembly required. Users would need to check that the power supply unit is set to the correct voltage in their region. In our case, it was already set to the correct 110V, and we plugged in the 3D printer and let it run a self-diagnostics test. Once completed, it was ready to print.
We also inspected the machine for any defects during assemblies, such as misaligned rods or loosened bolts. We could not find any issues and noticed Prusa included a quality control checklist to confirm that the unit is ready for shipping. You may notice some filament in the nozzle since the quality control staff does check that the hotend is functional before shipping.
The Prusa Mk3S has a medium-sized build volume of 250mm (l) x 210mm (w) x 210mm (h), which allows it to print most objects users would throw at it. The magnetic flexible PEI build plate combined with the automatic bed leveling allowed us to print confidently with absolutely no print failures due to bed adhesion issues.
We tested the Prusa Mk3S 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 PrusaSlicer.
To test the FDM printer’s ability to resolve details, we printed a number of detailed models, including the standard test model Benchy, a Mandolorian figure and a calibration cube. The Prusa Mk3s reproduced the details on the Benchy, Mandalorian and calibration cube decently well. We noticed cooling is worse at the back of objects compared to the front, as the Prusa Mk3S’ filament cooling fan is blowing air at the front and to the sides. Flat surfaces are smooth on the calibration cube, indicating that the extruder was pushing filament consistently. We noticed ringing and ghosting artifacts on flat surfaces due to the inclusion of a direct drive extruder and fast default printing speeds. The Creality Ender 3 V2 shows none in comparison due to a much lighter Bowden setup and slower printing speeds.
We tested the z-layer alignment consistency by printing a massive 200mm 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 like a tube will exaggerate any z wobble in a 3D printer; however, in our testing, we didn’t see any z wobble in our 200mm tall tube.
To test dimensional accuracy and print consistency, we printed a 20mm calibration cube 20 times to see if there were any differences between the various cubes. Our cube measured 20.2mm (l) x 20.2mm (w), which makes the Prusa Mk3S slightly above average for dimensional accuracy. We also noticed that between the first and twentieth calibration cube, there wasn’t a notable difference in finish or dimensional accuracy, making the Prusa Mk3S a very consistent 3D printer.
Setting Up Prints
Prusa bundles their 3D printers with their in-house PrusaSlicer program to create files for the Prusa Mk3S. PrusaSlicer is a fork of the open source Slic3r with a number of usability features and optimizations added. Prusa has a large number of preset profiles for their printers, in-house and 3rd party filaments, making it one of the best-supported 3D printers on the market. In many cases, users simply need to load their model of choice, pick a preset for their printer and filament and create the sliced file.
Files are then loaded to an SD card and inserted into the front display of the Mk3S. Users then use the monochrome LCD and use the click wheel to navigate and start prints. We feel that navigating on the LCD and using a click wheel feels dated compared to competitors, such as the Creality Ender 3 V2, which features a large colour LCD. Other printers include colour touch screens for much less than what Prusa charges for their printers. However, one exception to this is the Matterhackers Pulse which does not have a screen or click wheel to operate the machine and requires a computer to be tethered to utilize the 3D printer.
The Prusa Mk3S is equipped with both TMC silent stepper drivers and a Noctua fan for the hotend. This combination of components makes the Prusa Mk3S the quietest printer that we have ever tested. Averaging 35db of noise while idle and 40db in motion, users will have difficulty hearing it at all. This makes the Prusa Mk3S the ideal printer for users looking for the quietest 3D printing experience.
If there’s one thing for certain, the Prusa Mk3S was built with speed in mind. With a direct drive extruder and a sturdy frame, this 3D printer can move very fast. Its default print speeds are very fast at 75mm/s compared to the Creality Ender 3 V2’s default speeds of 50mm/s. With some tuning, the Prusa Mk3S can be pushed to print even faster, which many users have been able to print at speeds greater than 100mm/s.
On paper, the Mk3S can print flexible filaments due to its direct drive and dual gear extruder. However, in practice, we found that the Prusa Mk3S can only reliably print TPU as fast as 30mm/s. While this is considerably faster than Creality’s Ender 3 V2’s speeds of 15mm/s. It was disappointing that it could not print faster than 30mm/s without issues.
Prusa put a lot of effort into developing its own ecosystem of printers, software and filament. While their printers and filament are more expensive to source here in Canada, we found the experience was seamless and reliable. We didn’t encounter a single issue when using Prusa branded filament and default settings in PrusaSlicer. Any issues we have encountered were due to either user error or pushing the Mk3S past its default settings. Having this ecosystem of printers, software and filament are great for users looking for a low-maintenance machine.
The Prusa Mk3S sports overall dimensions of 520mm (l) x 540mm (w) x 480mm (h), a build volume of 250mm (l) x 210mm (w) x 210mm (h) and weighs in at 7kg. This relatively compact 3D printer is small and light enough to fit on most tables or desks. Against its competitors, like the Creality Ender 3 V2, the Mk3S features a slightly smaller and more compact frame at the cost of a slightly smaller build volume. The Matterhackers Pulse, on the other hand, is identical to the Prusa Mk3S in terms of construction and build volume.
The base is constructed out of 2020 aluminum extrusion and the top section out of stamped aluminum sheeting. This provides a relatively rigid frame for the Prusa Mk3S. Subjectively, the extensive use of 3D printed parts, and the minimalist look of the aluminum sheeting gives the Mk3S a hobby feel compared to the all-metal clad Creality CR10S Pro or the affordable Creality Ender 3 V2.
Original Prusa printers are well known for their safety considerations, especially compared to their more affordable competitors.
Thermal Runaway Protection
One of the biggest concerns of 3D printing is the heater losing control and catching fire. Thermal runaway protection is a software feature that monitors the hotend to ensure it stays within an acceptable temperature. Prusa printers were one of the earliest 3D printers to have this safety feature enabled, making the Mk3S no exception. In our testing, we will never recommend a printer without this critical feature enabled. If the Prusa Mk3S detects that the temperature has gone out of an acceptable range, then it will display a heating error message, cut its power and wait for the user to restart the machine.
Cable Relief and Cable Management
For many low-cost 3D printers, small details such as power cables that lead to the heated bed breaking due to the constant movement of the heated bed are often overlooked. Prusa has done their research to make sure cables are properly supported using strain reliefs from the heated bed and the moving hotend. Additionally, all cables that run to the hotend and heated bed are wrapped in a nylon sleeving to protect the cables from tangles and improve the 3D printer’s aesthetics.
Another highlight in the construction of the Prusa Mk3S is the properly crimped and terminated cables that connect the various components of the 3D printer. Too often, 3D printers use solder or incorrect connectors, potentially leading to connections falling out or, even worse: electrical arcing that could lead to overheating and fires.
Self Diagnostics and Fan Monitoring
Unique features of the Prusa Mk3S are the self-diagnostic wizard and fan monitoring capability. When the Prusa Mk3S is first turned on, the 3D printer will run a series of tests to make sure critical components are functional and properly installed. Additionally, while the 3D printer is powered, it will continuously monitor the state of the cooling fan. If it detects that the fan is not spinning correctly, it will power down the printer to prevent overheating. This attention to detail gives us a lot of confidence in the Prusa Mk3S’ as a reliable and safe option.
Finding Replacement Parts
All components, from the hotend, control board, extruder, motors and fans, are fully and easily replaceable. With an open frame, it allows access to those components relatively easily and only requires the removal of a few screws. The control board and automatic bed leveling sensor of the Prusa Mk3S are proprietary to the Mk3 line of printers. However, due to the popularity of the Prusa branded 3D printers, it is very easy to find replacement parts direct from Prusa or 3D printer resellers such as Matterhackers, Digitmakers and Spool3D.
Accessing the Control Board
Prusa makes accessing the control board very easy with the Mk3S. The control board is located on the left-hand side of the 3D printer and is enclosed in an easy-to-access 3D printed case. Users simply need to open the hinged door to access the control board. Due to the open nature of the Mk3S, there is a lot of room to navigate around the control board. Prusa uses the correct connectors, which makes replacing cables and components incredibly easy. For these reasons, we find the Prusa Mk3S one of the easiest machines to work on.
Features & Upgrades
Prusa has boasted that the Prusa Mk3 is one of the first “smart” printers. With a large feature set to improve the print quality and quality of life, we can understand why Prusa would make this claim. However, many of these features are not available for low-cost 3D printers and are only found on much more expensive machines.
Magnetic Flexible Spring Steel Build Plate
The Prusa MK3 was the first printer to feature a removable and flexible build plate that is secured using magnets. When a print is completed, a user simply pops the build plate off the heated bed, bends the build plate slightly, and prints simply come off. Compared to users needing to traditionally use a scraper to hack a print off the build plate, which could lead to damaging the build plate, throwing the build plate off level, or cutting their hand, this is a massive quality of life improvement and touted as one of the top reasons to use a Prusa 3D printer.
Prusa, at this time, has three different PEI coatings for their build plates which are designed for different filaments. This includes smooth PEI, textured PEI, and satin PEI.
Smooth PEI is designed for PLA and ABS and gives the bottom of the print a smooth glossy finish. With that said, it is not recommended for PETG and TPU because those two materials will stick to the smooth PEI, which may lead to ripping when the print is removed from the spring steel sheet.
Textured PEI is suitable for PETG and TPU filament and gives the bottom of the spring a slightly rough texture. In contrast to the smooth PEI, textured PEI is not recommended for PLA since the surface does not have adequate adhesion for heated PLA. The worst case is that a PLA print can detach from the build plate, which would ruin the entire print.
Satin PEI is a good middle ground between smooth and textured PEI. Featuring good bed adhesion for PLA and ABS while not adhering too well to PETG and TPU. If a user is printing a wide variety of different filaments, we recommend using the satin PEI sheet.
Except for the Matterhackers Pulse, no other 3D printer manufacturer offers a spring steel build plate with their 3D printers.
Automatic Bed Mesh Leveling
The Prusa Mk3S has an automatic levelling feature which avoids running into this issue. The bed leveling process is operated by an induction probe that records the measurement at various points of the bed to ensure accuracy for a flat surface. This is a major quality of life improvement over 3D printers that have manual bed leveling (manual leveling can be both time-consuming and inaccurate). Additionally, the Prusa Mk3S can compensate for deviations of the build plate, unlike manual bed leveling.
Competitors such as the Creality CR10S Pro and the Matterhackers Pulse do come with automatic bed leveling. However, the Creality Ender 3 V2 does not. It should be noted that newer competitors such as the Sovol S03 also come with automatic bed leveling.
Filament Runout Sensor
The Prusa Mk3S is equipped with an optical filament runout sensor. This sensor will detect when the Prusa Mk3S runs out of filament, pause the printer and wait until the user loads in new filament before resuming. This quality of life feature is useful for users who don’t like to keep an eye out to make sure there is enough filament left to complete a print.
Power Loss Recovery
The power supply unit of the Prusa Mk3S has a special board attached to detect when there is a sudden power cut. This allows the printer to save its current print state and resume printing when power is restored. While this is a useful feature on paper, in reality, if a power outage lasts longer than 10 minutes, we found that the print detaches from the build plate due to the heated bed cooling.
TMC Silent Stepper Drivers and Noctua Fan
The Prusa Mk3 is the first consumer printer equipped with TMC 2100 silent stepper drivers. This was a huge leap forward in the quality of life for the 3D printing industry since, at the time, 3D printers were very loud. Prusa has further reduced noise by using a Noctua branded fan on the hotend compared to fast spinning generic fans that nearly all 3D printer manufacturers use.
Dual Drive Extruder
Another first for the 3D printer industry was the use of dual drive gears by Bondtech in the Prusa Mk3S’ extruder. At the time, 3D printers often used 1 gear in their extruder to push filament into its hotend. However, Bondtech developed a 2 gear system that increased the filament grip of an extruder. This resulted in more reliable and precise filament movement and better print quality. Prusa was the first manufacturer to include them in their 3D printers.
However, many modern printers now feature Bondtech dual drive gears (both genuine and cloned) in their 3D printers. Additionally, many manufacturers use the more modern 3:1 gear ratio of the dual drive gears to further increase the extruder’s filament grip strength.
Multimaterial Unit 2S
Original Prusa has developed a multimaterial system that allows users to print with up to 5 different filament colours in a single print. While this is already a great option, the real strength comes with the integration within Prusa’s PrusaSlicer software. This provides a workflow for users that is extremely user-friendly, making the Prusa Mk3S and a Multimaterla Unit 2S a highly recommended package for users looking for an intuitive and low-cost multi-material 3D printer.
Prusa enjoys some of the strongest brand recognition in the 3D printing market. As a result, the Prusa Mk3S has become one of the most popular and supported 3D printers currently available. There are many forums, Facebook groups, and subreddits where users can find solutions for issues, mods and upgrades. Some of them that they can access are:
The Prusa Mk3S is an incredibly polished machine. It comes with several quality-of-life features that many 3D printing manufacturers are trying to catch up to. Even though it was first released in 2017 (the Mk3S update came in 2019), it’s still considered the gold standard for every consumer 3D printer is compared to. Unfortunately for Prusa, it is now facing stiff competition as many affordable 3D printers have caught up in print quality.
The Mk3S is becoming increasingly dated as newer printers have begun implementing colour touch screens and other usability upgrades. At $749, or $999 assembled, it is difficult to recommend the Prusa Mk3S on print quality alone, with competitors such as the Creality Ender 3 V2 matching it at $280. However, no other consumer 3D printer manufacturer can boast of the same ecosystem of printers, software and filament the Prusa has. For users such as educators, print farm operators or beginners wanting low maintenance, no-fuss machine, the Prusa Mk3S is still a worthy recommendation.
However, for advanced users and those who love to tinker, affordable machines like the Creality Ender 3 V2 can be upgraded with all the bells and whistles of the Mk3S for much less.
- Build volume: 250mm (l) x 210mm (w) x 210mm (h)
- Printer size: 520mm (l) x 540mm (w) x 480mm (h)
- Weight: 7kg
- Enclosed print area: No
- Display: Monochrome LCD
- Drive type: FDM Direct (all metal)
- Filament capability: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, Polycarbonate, ASA, Nylon
- Connectivity: SD card
- Drivers: TMC2130
- Build Surface: Spring steel PEI sheet
- Heated Bed: Yes
- Bed Leveling: Automatic
- Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
- Maximum hotend temperature: 280 °C
- Maximum movement speed: 200mm 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, TPU, Polycarbonate, ASA, Nylon
- 3rd party filament support: yes
- Operating System: Windows, macOS, Linux
- Supported Slicers: Prusaslicer, Slic3r, CURA, Simplify3D
- 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. Learn more.
1. Prusa3D.com, “Prusa Research a.s.” Accessed July 26, 2022.