Best Budget 3D Printers 2024: High-Quality Output on the Cheap

Best Budget 3D Printers
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

On the hunt for the best budget 3d printer in the market? Whether you want to dive into 3D printing as a hobby or use it to start a small business, you may not want to just spend hundreds or thousands of dollars right off the bat. Purchasing a beginner or budget-friendly 3D printer is a good way to get started or, if you're an experienced maker, to build out your farm. 

The good news is that you won't lack for choices if you are trying to find the best budget 3D printer to suit your needs. There are dozens of capable budget 3D printers that sell for less than $300 and even some that go for below $200. The bad news is that, with a huge variety of makes and models, it can be difficult to find the right one.

At Tom's Hardware, we test dozens of consumer / prosumer-level 3D printers each year, measuring their speed, output quality, features, and ease of use. To help you choose, we've listed the best budget 3D printers available right now, along with the pros and cons of each.

Check out our shopping tips section below for a short checklist of things to keep in mind before buying the best budget printer for you. If you have room to spend a bit more for premium options, check out our list of Best 3D Printers to see more of our recommendations.

If you are looking for fast printers, check out our 3D Printer Speed Hierarchy, where we include the top high-speed FDM models and rank them according to quickness and output quality.

Best Budget 3D Printers

The Best Budget 3D Printers You Can Buy Today

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Best Budget 3D Printer Overall

3D Print Bunny’s Safe from the Rain with 3Domsculpts Chibi Totoro. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget 3D Printer Overall

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
Build Platform: PEI Spring Steel Sheet, heated
Interface: 3.2” Color Screen with Knob
Bed Leveling: Automatic
Connectivity: SD Card

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Easy assembly
+
Excellent Auto bed leveling
+
Direct drive
+
Easy Interface

Reasons to avoid

-
PC coated plate

The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE is simply the best budget FDM 3D printer you can buy today. It's an ideal beginner-friendly machine that is packed with deluxe features and retails at an affordable $199. 

The Ender 3 V3 SE is easy to use as it comes almost fully assembled and only took us 15 minutes to build before we were ready to get printing. Creality includes a printed manual to guide you through the building process as well as installing or changing filaments. Video instructions are also available online for your convenience.

With a maximum speed of 250mm/s, the V3 SE may not be among the fastest 3D printers around today, but it's faster than the Anycubic Kobra Neo (our previous best budget pick), which had a max speed of 60mm/s. Our tests turned out clean prints, some with tiny wisps like with the Domsculpts Chibi Totoro.

It's also smaller than the Kobra Neo, so it takes up less space, but it has the same build volume (220 x 220 x 250 mm) and has a slightly bigger LED interface with knob controls. Sadly, it does not have a touch screen or WiFi support. It does have CR Touch for auto bed leveling and a Sprite direct drive, which are features reserved for Creality's premium models like the S1.

Creality made significant improvements to the Ender 3 V3 Series with the SE model but kept the cost low to benefit budget-conscious makers - new and old.

More: Creality Ender 3 V3 SE Review

Best Budget 3D Printer for Beginners

Model by Keetah (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget 3D Printer for Beginners

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 225 x 225 x 265 mm
Build Platform: Flexible PEI
Interface: 4.3-inch Color Touchscreen
Bed Leveling: Automatic 121 Point
Connectivity: microSD, USB, Ethernet

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful direct drive extruder
+
“Sport” mode part cooling fan
+
Linear rods enable fast printing speed
+
Synchronized dual Z-axis threaded rods
+
Textured PEI build platform excels at part adhesion

Reasons to avoid

-
Build platform leveling requires manual input

The Neptune 4 Pro is a great machine for new makers who are thinking of diving into 3D printing or even as an additional printer for your business. With a mid-size build volume of 225 x 225 x 265mm, you can build and explore printing various neat projects. In our print tests, we found it can easily handle the printing of detailed models like the Sandcastle by Kijai or even ones with compliant mechanisms like the Blaster by BYU_CMR.

The Neptune 4 Pro requires some assembly, but it's not too complicated for a novice to handle. Similar to most bed slingers, it just takes a few easy steps (screwing a few bolts and connecting wires) and the unit is ready for printing.

As an upgrade to the Neptune 3 Pro, this model is quite similar to its predecessor at first glance, but it is a better value for its high-speed performance, cooling capability, and sub-$300 pricing.

The Neptune 4 Pro is on sale at Amazon for $299 and directly at Elegoo for an even more affordable price of $259.

More: Elegoo Neptune 4 Pro 3D Printer Review

Best Budget 3D Printer for Multicolor Printing

Fire Engine by FixumDude  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget Multicolor 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
Build Platform: PEI textured spring steel sheet, heated
Interface: Touch screen
Bed Leveling: Automatic
Connectivity: WiFi, Bambu-Bus, Micro SD

Reasons to buy

+
Fast
+
Direct Drive
+
Quick change nozzle
+
Auto bed leveling
+
Inexpensive AMS (optional)

Reasons to avoid

-
AMS takes up a lot of space

Some of the best things come in small packages, and this is so true with Bambu Lab's A1 Mini. This tiny machine is capable of producing nearly flawless multi-color models in record time. It can print at a maximum speed of 500mm/s and go toe-to-toe with its big brothers without breaking a sweat, thanks to its excellent input shaping. This is why it lands a place in our 3D printer speed hierarchy as one of the fastest printers we've tested.

The A1 Mini is also packed with the premium features from Bambu Lab that we've come to expect - from automatic bed leveling, flexible PEI coated build plate, easy to navigate smart menu and its all metal direct drive hotend that can reach up to 300 degrees. It comes almost fully assembled and makes it easy for new makers to put the rest together and start color printing right away. It's also a very quiet machine, so you can have a job running at odd hours or during a call and not even hear it working. 

Retailing for $249, which costs just more than half the price of a P1P, the Bambu Lab A1 Mini is your best bet if you are looking to dabble into color printing for the first time. The combo costs $399 and you can use up to four spools for printing. The A1 Mini is also compatible with other third-party filaments so your options are limitless.

More:  Bambu Lab A1 Mini Review

Best Budget 3D Printer for Fast Printing

Gemstone Dragon by Cinderwing3D  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Fastest Budget 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 240 mm
Build Platform: PEI coated spring steel sheet, heated
Interface: 4.3-inch Touch Screen
Bed Leveling: Automatic + Z
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi

Reasons to buy

+
Klipper firmware
+
Excellent Auto bed leveling
+
Direct drive

Reasons to avoid

-
Accelerometer not included

The Creality Ender 3 V3 KE is one of the most affordable high-speed printers available with Klipper enabled. It is currently on sale for $279, which is $40 less than our previous fast-budget pick, the Sovol SV07. This makes the ideal choice for makers who are looking for fast printing on a limited budget. With an additional $15 discount, you can purchase it directly from Creality for $265.

The KE is a step-up version of Ender V3 SE. Here are some of its notable features: open source platform provides flexibility, Wi-Fi connectivity for PC and mobile notifications and controls, has K1-based hot end capable of printing using a wide variety of filaments, supports high-speed printing with a maximum speed of 500mm/s and acceleration of 8000mm/s2.

For the most part, our test prints came out smooth and clean. However, some prints, like the one for the Maker’s Muse Clearance Castle, needed some tuning to fix minor issues. 

If you have the budget or want an even faster machine with more premium features, consider upgrading to the Creality CR10 SE, currently on sale for $399.

More: Creality Ender 3 V3 KE Review

Best Budget Resin 3D Printer for Beginners

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget Resin 3D Printer for Beginners

Specifications

Technology: Resin
Build Volume: 165 x 89 x 143 mm
LCD Resolution: 4096 x 2560
LCD Size: 6.6-inch Monochrome
XY Axis Resolution: 34 microns
Connectivity: USB Type A 2.0

Reasons to buy

+
Detailed 4K prints
+
Fast setup
+
Effortless print removal
+
Easy to navigate menus
+
Generous anti-scratch film to protect the glass

Reasons to avoid

-
Slippery feet on the base
-
Lightweight and cheap feel

The Anycubic Photon Mono 2 gets our nod as the best start-up printer for anyone who wants to get into resin 3D printing without breaking the bank. Designed specifically for first time resin users, this printer comes mostly assembled for easy setup, user friendly and includes an anti-scratch film screen protection.

It is light-weight and small for easy storage when not in use. But despite its compact size, the Photon Mono 2 features a bigger build volume than its Photon Mono cousins. We were able to fit six presupported minuatures on the build plate at once during our tests.

The Photon Mono 2 is a great printer for miniature models and small builds. It also comes with its own custom slicer, the Photon Workshop V3. Priced at $209, this machine is a solid and affordable option if you are looking to get started with resin 3D printing.  It's on sale directly from Anycubic for $179. Or get from Amazon for an additional $20 discount at $159.

More: Anycubic Photon Mono 2 Review

Best Budget Resin 3D Printer under $200

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget Resin 3D Printer under $200

Specifications

Technology: Resin
Build Volume: 163 x 102 x 180mm
LCD Resolution: 4098 x 2560
LCD Size: 7.6-inch
XY Axis Resolution: .04mm
Connectivity: USB

Reasons to buy

+
Detailed 4K+ prints
+
Fast 2 second per layer exposure time
+
Effortless print removal
+
Roomy build volume for a small printer

Reasons to avoid

-
4-bolt leveling platform

With its excellent 4K+ prints, easy set-up and large build volume, the Anycubic Photon M3 easily takes the crown as the best entry-level resin 3D printer we have reviewed.

What sets the Photon M3 apart from its competitors is its wide 163 x 102 x 180 mm build plate, which allows it to produce larger models in very fine detail. In our testing, we printed Louise Driggers’s Unicorn of Darkness and came out with impressive results. The 180mm tall model took over ten hours to finish, but the detailing on the unicorn's horn and ornate mane was so clear and sharp.

The M3 includes an etched build plate that holds models very well during printing and lets you remove them easily when done. It also comes with handy safety features such as a pour spout for the metal vat and a screen protector for the LED glass to keep the machine safe from accidental dripping. 

Originally sold at $300, it is now available for $70 less than MSRP. This makes it an even more attractive and affordable choice as budget high resolution resin 3D printer. Purchase it directly from the Anycubic store and get a $100 discount.

More: Anycubic Photon M3 Review

Best Budget 3D Printer for Miniatures

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget 3D Printer for Miniatures

Specifications

Technology: Resin
Build Volume: 129mm x 80mm x 160mm
LCD Resolution: 1620 x 2560
LCD Size: 6.08-inch
XY Axis Resolution: .05mm
Connectivity: USB

Reasons to buy

+
Spring-loaded self-leveling build platform
+
Integrated air filtration system
+
Solid metal construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Build volume can feel limited
-
Preloaded test print isn’t up to par

If you are looking for a quality high resolution resin 3D printer at a reasonable price-range, then you should include the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro in your short list. This machine comes with premium features such as integrated air filtration, 2K mono LCD resolution and solid metal construction, but without the premium price tag.

The Mars 2 Pro has a spring-loaded self leveling build platform that simplifies the set up configuration and makes it easy to calibrate. We also appreciate the built-in air filter which is a big plus for anyone sensitive to the smell of resin during the print process. (However, to minimize any danger of inhaling fumes, you still need to use the Mars 2 Pro in a well-ventilated room.)

In one of our tests, we used Printed Obsession's Doom Guy model with the Elegoo Standard Photopolymer Clear Green resin and it printed perfectly on our first try. The print time took over eight and a half hours but was well worth it as the 2K resolution masking LCD picked up all the fine details of the 3D model.

For fast high-res resin 3D printing at an affordable price, the Elegoo Mar 2 Pro earns our best value recommendation.

More: Elegoo Mars 2 Pro 3D Printer Review

Best Budget 3D Printer Shopping Tips

Here are a few important points to consider when choosing the best budget 3D printer.

✅ Cost? How much can you afford to spend? If your budget is really tight, you can grab a model that's less than $200 but a sub-$300 budget will get you farther. 

FDM or Resin? The two main types of 3D printers are FDM, which involves spools of filament that are extruded onto the build plate or resin (aka SLA), which uses light to shape liquid resin. FDM printers are easier to use and don't have the safety concerns that come with handling noxious chemicals. If you can handle them properly, Resin printers give you a bit more detail, particularly for miniatures. Given the ease of use, though, we think FDM is best for most people. 

Features: Look for auto bed leveling, easy setup, and a good UI. On FDM printers, getting a PEI build plate or direct drive design is a real plus. For resin, look for a high output resolution (2K, 4K or higher).

MORE: Best 3D Printers

MORE: Best Resin 3D Printers

MORE: Best Filaments for 3D Printing

MORE: How to Buy the Right 3D Printer

Anj Bryant

Anj Bryant is the Assistant Managing Editor at Tom's Hardware. She provides content layout and development support, and coordinates editorial initiatives for all the talented groups of freelancers, contributors, and editors in the team.

  • Giroro
    I have a photon mono 2; it was very cheap from microcenter over the holidays.

    I haven't used it much because I've broken everything I've tried to remove from being stuck to the print surface, and you can't get a removable flexible print surface for it in the right size.
    Is obsolete and must not have been popular, so there's not really any 3rd party support.
    Reply