Ender 3 V2 vs. Prusa MK3 Kit

I posted this in another channel along with Dr. Vax 4/23 printer comparison. I thought it might be better to post it in this channel.

I wish to purchase my first 3D printer. I have several hobbies and like to make things. My objective with 3D printing is to create tools, fixtures and storage for my other interests: Woodturning, Book Binding, papercrafts, and photography. This means that I want to learn as much as I can about 3D printing, but I don’t think 3D printing is a hobby for me in and of itself. Hopefully that makes sense.

I am thinking through two options: Ender 3 V2 and the Prusa MK3. Seems odd at two ends of the spectrum and I would appreciate input on criteria or questions that I should consider before pulling the trigger.

First, I want to go with a kit, regardless of purchase, so I know how to repair or upgrade it if needed. Either printer fits in the budget, which I want to keep below $1000.

Prusa: Seems easiest to calibrate and manage, faster printer, good support, but has long assembly time. Cost is high, but if I get to good prints easily so I can produce things and spend the time with other hobbies, that is a plus.

Ender: Cost is a huge advantage, and the comments on the end products, once tuned would fit my needs. Although I can afford either, I would feel like I overbought with the Prusa if this printer can do the job. I have fallen a little victim to all the postings on FB, YT, etc, showing all the start up problems. I am a bit put off if I have to spend a lot of time fiddling at start up and then continually as I printed. Rationally, if i have to spend 8 plus hours on assembling the Prusa, and in 8 hours can build and tune an Ender to get to a similar result, then I would go the Ender route. Plus my local Microcenter stocks them - and i love instant gratification.

I summary, i am interested in thoughts on two questions: [LIST=1]

  • Do i make too much of the effort required to tune and maintain an Ender? Related, after tuning the base model, is there a first upgrade that gives me the most value for ease of use? What is your experience on what was required. Are there resources on best practices for tuning and maintenance.
  • Are there other questions i should be asking myself to weigh the pros and cons of this purchase? The decision is mine, but i value any opportunity to learn from those that debated, purchased, and learned from using the printer. [/LIST] Thank you.
  • Do have a look at the official Creality forums where Ender 3 v2 users are having layer shift problems. I have an Ender 5 Pro which also has the same problem. At the moment, I wouldn’t recommend an Ender 3 or Ender 5 pro printer from my experience. I’m regretting buying the Ender 5 pro.


    As my nickname suggests, I have an Ender 5 (the Pro version). I have not had layer shifting issues. When I 1st got it, I did have 2 major issues: the Z axis steps/mm was 400 instead of 800, and the Y axis would just stop working mid-print. The Z axis was fixed easily (once I spent days finding out what the issue was) by entering the correct value into the firmware using the LCD screen. The Y axis just quitting was fixed by upgrading to new firmware.

    Don’t overlook the value of having support and rapid parts replacement. I had problems with Prusa parts, spent an hour or so late at night with online chat support, and had replacement parts within a week. I had a cable break on my Artillery Sidewinder X1 due to poor design, spent days exchanging email with support, and received my replacement parts on an “urgent” basis 60 days later. If the 3D printer is a hobby unto itself, time spent may not be a big deal. If it’s to support other hobbies or a business, downtime is worth considerably more.

    @bobstro, I don’t think I would use economy printers like these for business purposes. If I did, I would make sure to have multiple backup units just so I wouldn’t be in a situation of waiting for parts.

    A couple of additional thoughts. A well-tuned Prusa will always outperform a well-tuned Ender. The components in the Prusa i2 Mk3s+ are of higher quality. The Prusa will be much faster since it uses a direct extruder.

    On the other hand, I am less likely to “hack at” at a $750 printer that took me a day to assemble than a $250 printer. So if half of the fun for you is trying out different modifications go with the Ender. If you want a production quality printer with highly optimized and match firmware and slicer go with the Prusa.

    I have been watching Prusa assembly videos on Frank’s 3D shop channel. Dr. Vax’s comments that the Prusa build is challenging rings true. I found watching the process very helpful and quite intimidating. I don’t need production grade, and I figure if I spend as much time building the Ender (which seems quite manageable) and tuning it (I figure the Prusa would take me a week and multiple bags of Haribos) i should be able to get prints off it. Thank you for the comments.

    I will have to watch that Prusa build video. I’ve never watched 1. Should be interesting.

    I purchased an Ender 3 V2 and began the assembly. I was following a Just Vlad video: Creality Ender 3 V2 - 3D Printer - Unbox & Setup - YouTube that seemed pretty comprehensive and added some initial quality check on the base that I had not seen elsewhere. When I tested the bed movement, it hit two spots, almost like an indent catch. It was enough of a catch that i thought it reached its limit, but I knew i was well short of the total movement. I began fiddling with eccentric bearings under the bed as well as the belt. The belt did not seem quite straight, so I managed to sort that out. However, after fiddling for a while I have it improved significantly, but I still feel a slight bumpiness at the most forward position of the bed. If I pull the bed to the front, then lift the front, the bed slowly glides to the back, so I think i have the right tension on the rollers. There is not wiggle to the bed either.

    I was wondering if others experienced this and if there are some tricks to apply to get the last few minor bumps out of the travel. It is easiest to do this now before i put the z axis on the base.