Buyer's Guide

Best 3D Printers in 2021: What to buy?

Lately, I’ve been asked multiple times about what are the best 3D printers in 2021. I did a 3D Printer Buying Guide in 2020 which is still somewhat relevant (especially considering new discounts available) but I think it’s a good idea to re-iterate and share my opinion about the current printers I recommend.

In this article, I will share my favorite 3D printers which I recommend purchasing. These recommendations are based on my experience after testing and reviewing them. I strongly recommend checking out the review articles before making a purchase decision. Of course, I also recommend checking other reviews online, to form your own opinion.

What printer do I buy?

When purchasing a 3D printer, you always need to ask yourself a few questions:

What do I want to print with it?

This is the most important question you can ask yourself before considering what printer to buy. Mostly because the answer to this question can impact the budget, and also the type of 3D printer you are going to choose.

For example, if you are looking to print large objects, then it’s obviously better to get a larger format 3D printer. Another benefit of a larger printer is having the possibility of more objects at the same time, compared to a regular format printer.

If you’re thinking about printing miniatures, then it’s probably a better idea to get a resin printer, because they can produce much better quality for small objects, and the resolution is increased.

What I recommend is thinking about the most common use for your printer, and getting the correct one. For example, It’s not worth getting a large format 3D printer if you think you “might” need it in the future. It’s usually more expensive and you could get better equipped machine if you choose a smaller one. And that’s not even considering the space it takes.

What’s my budget?

After you decided what kind of models you plan to print with your 3D printer, then you need to establish how much money you are willing to spend. For a regular-format FDM 3D printer, a budget of ~300$ gets you a pretty capable printer which should perform great out of the box, and requires minimum investments in the future. Just don’t get the cheapest printer you can find, because it could be harder to assemble and start using it (as a beginner).

For a larger format FDM 3D printer, a budget of ~500$ is great is if you want a decent printer out of the box, that doesn’t need upgrades for good performance. Sure, you can get cheap larger format FDM printers, but most of the time you will spend at least 100$ more to upgrade it for consistent and reliable operation. But those types of printers have their own public.

If you are more advanced, and you already know your way around a printer, then I recommend getting something different compared to what you have/used in the past. That way, you can try other “flavors” and learn new things. For example, you could try a CoreXY or a resin printer. And you could even start building a more advanced kit, like I did when I built the RatRig V-Core 3.

I also recommend not spending money on all kind of upgrades before getting the printer. I covered this topic in more detail so make sure you give that article a read.

Artillery Hornet

The Artillery Hornet wins a place in the budget category because it’s price has been reduced to a point where it’s one of the best regular format FDM 3D printers, sold for a fair price. For me, it’s one of the best 3D printers you can get in 2021 if you want to save some cash, without sacrificing print quality and have one of the most silent printers out there.

Artillery-Hornet

You can read more about it in the Artillery Hornet Review, but here is a quick summary:

The Good

  • Good print quality out of the box
  • Titan extruder clone
  • Interesting bowden setup which makes the printer look really clean
  • Silent operation (it’s the most silent machine I own)
  • Dual part cooling fans
  • Good firmware with Mesh Bed Leveling out of the box
  • It used a full size SD card
  • It comes with a 32-bit board that has removable stepper drivers
  • Spool holder is set in a nice location

The Bad

  • The glass print surface is glued to the bed with silicone glue
  • My unit had gaps in some sections of the bed, which caused small bed temperature uniformity issues
  • Proprietary hotend design

The Ugly

  • The screen has some backlight bleeding

The Artillery Hornet can be purchased from the following websites:

Amazon
Banggood
AliExpress
TomTop

BIQU B1 SE Plus

The BIQU B1 SE Plus just launched and it’s been quite a nice surprise in the budget category, because it offers a large print volume and Auto Bed Leveling for under 300$. This is the printer I recommend if your budget is limited at the moment, but you don’t mind spending a bit more money in the future to upgrade it with a better heat break and extruder. For now, this is the best budget large format 3D printer in 2021 when it comes to cost.

BIQU B1 SE Plus | Best 3D Printers in 2021: What to buy?

You can read more about it in the BIQU B1 SE Plus Review, but here is a quick summary:

The Good

  • Large print volume
  • Auto Bed Leveling sensor integrated in the hotend
  • Fixed bed that doesn’t need manual adjustment
  • Touchscreen with good menu and options
  • Good print quality out of the box
  • Glass print surface with good adhesion
  • Great price for what you get

The Bad

  • The quality control lacks in some areas, and you might need to fix some small issues during assembly
  • Single part cooling fan

The Ugly

  • It only has a single Z screw which is not ideal for a large format FDM printer
  • The hotend is not great, but it can be improved with a bi-metal heat break
  • The extruder is single gear, but that’s understandable for a budget machine

The BIQU B1 SE Plus can be purchased from the following websites:

AliExpress
BIQU

Anycubic Vyper

The Anycubic Vyper is one of the best performing 3D printers launched in 2021. It works really well out out the box and it’s perfect for a complete beginner. It’s one of the top three machines I recommend for people that are just starting in 3D printing, and don’t want to mess with the printer too much.

Anycubic Vyper | Best 3D Printers in 2021: What to buy?

You can read more about it in the Anycubic Vyper Review, but here is a quick summary:

The Good

  • It’s excellent for a complete beginner because of how easy it is to setup and start a print
  • Excellent print quality
  • Auto Bed Leveling sensor integrated in the hotend
  • Fixed bed that doesn’t need manual adjustment
  • Comes with a removable magnetic PEI flex plate that offers excellent adhesion
  • Geared BMG extruder clone for accurate filament control
  • Volcano clone hotend for higher flow rate
  • V6-like hotend design
  • Dual part cooling fans
  • Dual Z screws with dual Z endstops
  • Uses a full size SD card
  • Belt tensioners for both X and Y axis
  • Handy front-side drawer

The Bad

  • The V6-like hotend is different from an original V6
  • It’s hard to upgrade the hotend, and the heat break type is less common

The Ugly

  • It’s noisier than other machines, but not very annoying
  • There is no thermal insulation for the bed
  • The side spool support is not collapsible, and takes too much space

The Anycubic Vyper can be purchased from the following websites:

AliExpress
Amazon 
Banggood
Geekbuying

Artillery Sidewinder X2

The Sidewinder X1 is one of the most popular 3D printers of 2020, and the X2 has just been launched. While the new Sidewinder X2 doesn’t fix all the issues, it’s still much improved. The printer was able to deliver excellent print quality out of the box, and the whole setup process was a breeze.

I think that the Sidewinder X2 could have been one of the best 3D printers launched in 2021 if the bed wouldn’t suffer from the bad temperature uniformity. But if you don’t print higher temperature materials too often, or you plan to upgrade the printer in the future, then I don’t think you’re going to regret buying the X2. Just make sure you get a good deal.

Sidewinder X2 | Best 3D Printers in 2021: What to buy?

You can read more about it in the Sidewinder X2 Review, but here is a quick summary:

The Good

  • Excellent print quality out of the box
  • BLTouch-like Auto Bed Leveling sensor
  • Titan Aero-like direct drive extruder
  • Volcano hotend, with PTFE lined heat break (can be easily upgraded to bi-metal)
  • 32-bit board with removable stepper drivers
  • Dual Z lead screws with a Z sync belt
  • Wide aluminum extrusions for increased accuracy
  • Ribbon cables which make the printer look much cleaner
  • AC heatbed which heats up fast
  • Large print volume
  • Silent operation

The Bad

  • The glass heatbed has one of the worst thermal uniformity on the market, which can cause adhesion issues when printing large models
  • Plastic extruder idler which is known to fail after a while

The Ugly

  • The screen firmware is spartan, with minimum functionality
  • Single 4020 part cooling fan

The Artillery Sidewinder X2 can be purchased from the following websites:

AliExpress
Amazon 
Banggood – 20$ Discount code: BGArtillery
Artillery
Geekbuying

FLSUN Super Racer

The FLSUN Super Racer is another printer in my top three recommended printers. Launched in 2021, it’s one of the fastest 3D printers you can get right now. Most of the hardware used on the printer is solid, and setup is really easy even for a beginner. Besides that, it’s a Delta 3D printer which allows it to take less horizontal space while also being mesmerizing to watch when printing.

FLSUN Super Racer | Best 3D Printers in 2021: What to buy?

You can read more about it in the FLSUN Super Racer, but here is a quick summary:

The Good

  • It’s easy to setup
  • Excellent print quality
  • One of the fastest 3D printers you can purchase
  • Auto Bed Leveling sensor included
  • Fixed bed that doesn’t need manual adjustment
  • Geared BMG extruder clone for accurate filament control
  • Volcano clone hotend for higher flow rate
  • V6-like hotend design
  • 32-bit board with removable stepper drivers
  • Dual part cooling fans
  • Handy front-side drawer
  • Handy removable touchscreen
  • Easy to upgrade to Klipper firmware

The Bad

  • The dual part cooling fans can’t keep up with the print speed
  • The extruder can be noisy during fast printing with quick retractions
  • Less common heat break design

The Ugly

  • The glass print surface can sometimes give you a bad time with adhesion, depending on the type of filament used

The FLSUN Super Racer can be purchased from the following websites:

Amazon
Flsun
Banggood – 429$ with discount code BG3226cd
AliExpress
Geekbuying

Creality Ender 6

The Creality Ender 6 is also one of my favorite 3D printers from 2021. Mostly because of it’s Core-XY movement which works really well. While the stock setup is quite limiting, after upgrading the hotend you get a quite capable machine.

You can push things even further and upgrade to a direct drive extruder and Klipper firmware to unlock the full capabilities of the Ender 6. I’d recommend this printer if you are looking for a good “base” to work with, and don’t mind adding a few upgrades to push it to the limit. It’s one of the best 3D printers if you like tinkering, or if you want to print higher temperature materials which require an enclosed machine.

Ender 6 | Best 3D Printers in 2021: What to buy?

You can read more about it in the Creality Ender 6 Review, but here is a quick summary:

The Good

  • Decent print quality out of the box
  • Core XY design with wide belts
  • Dual-Gear extruder
  • Partially enclosed, and can be fully enclosed with a cover
  • Sturdy design
  • Easy to upgrade to Klipper firmware
  • Can be a great machine after a few upgrades

The Bad

  • The hotend is one of the worst parts of the printer, which limits the print speed and print quality of the printer
  • Single part cooling fan which can’t keep up with the printer speed

The Ugly

  • The cover for completely enclosing the printer comes as a separate purchase
  • The stock firmware is not that great
  • The bed springs can sometimes cause leveling issues

The Creality Ender 6 can be purchased from the following websites:

AliExpress
Amazon
Banggood

Artillery Genius

The Artillery Genius has been out for a while now and I still think it’s a good budget machine, if you don’t need a larger print volume. The Artillery Genius Pro just came out which means that the regular Genius price will be even lower in the future. I am sure we’ll have some great deals when the sales season comes.

The printer has some known issues which can be solved if you’re more technically inclined. If you don’t want to mess with the printer too much, then I recommend looking into the Pro version, which already has some of the issues fixed and it’s comparable with the Sidewinder X2. Basically, they’re identical, and the main differentiating point is the print volume

Artillery-Genius

You can read more about it in the Artillery Genius Review, but here is a quick summary:

The Good

  • Great print quality out of the box
  • Titan Aero-like direct drive extruder
  • Volcano hotend (can be easily upgraded to bi-metal heat break)
  • Dual Z lead screws with a Z sync belt
  • Wide aluminum extrusions for increased accuracy
  • Ribbon cables which make the printer look much cleaner
  • AC heatbed which heats up fast
  • Silent operation

The Bad

  • The glass heatbed has one of the worst thermal uniformity on the market, which can cause adhesion issues when printing large models
  • Plastic extruder idler which is known to fail after a while
  • The ribbon cables don’t have strain relief installed and can cause issues

The Ugly

  • 8-bit board which can be considered outdated
  • No Auto Bed Leveling solution
  • The screen firmware is spartan, with minimum functionality
  • Single 4020 part cooling fan

The Artillery Genius can be purchased from the following websites:

AliExpress
Banggood
Amazon
Geekbuying

Anycubic Photon Mono X

When it comes to large format resin printers, the Anycubic Photon Mono X is probably a best buy right now. There are other machines out there, but this one is not locked into the Chitubox ecosystem which allows it to be used with slicers like Lychee. Besides that, the print quality is great and it makes a good team with the Anycubic Wash and Cure Plus.

You can read more about it in the Anycubic Photon Mono X Review, but here is a quick summary:

Anycubic-Photon-Mono-X

The Good

  • Generous print volume
  • Sturdy design
  • Fast printing
  • Aluminum resin vat with stands
  • Slanted build plate to avoid trapping resin above it

The Bad

  • Wi-Fi conectivity is almost useless

The Ugly

  • Fans are a bit too noisy
  • Resin fumes are not contained inside the printer

The Anycubic Photon Mono X can be purchased from the following websites:

AliExpress
Amazon
Banggood
Geekbuying

Wrapping up

I hope this quick comparison has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, or want to get more information regarding any of the printers listed in this article, feel free to leave a comment below, or join the 3DPrintBeginner Discord server.

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29 Comments

  1. Hi – Looking for a large printer around $400. All seem to have some issues. I like the Biqu B1 SE Plus and the Ender 3 S1 at this price point. You recommend the Artillery Sidewinder X2 with reservations, but several other testers have found issues with the printer on objects over 100mm so I’ve ruled it out.

    You have rated the Ender higher than the SE Plus. However looking at your test photos, some looked better on the SE Plus, some on the Ender. The SE Plus is now around $350 and adding the Dual Z upgrade for $55 would put these two at about the same price. There appears to be little to no user or company support for Biqu, much more for Creality. Which would you spend your money on and why?

    Thanks!

    1. The Ender 3 S1, because it just works really well out of the box.
      It’s direct drive vs bowden and it has a flexible print surface.
      It doesn’t really need any significant upgrades, other than a bi-metal heat break (which is nice to have).

  2. Thank you very much for you reviews and a lot of useful Information. Could you please write your opinion, which one is the best choice to buy, Ender 6 or Artillery Genius Pro or maybe some other 3D Printer under 1000$.

  3. Would the Aries be a good pick for someone who doesn’t want to upgrade anything and just wants an out of the box experience?

  4. This may sound silly, but the CR-10 V3 is not on the list. I almost decided to purchase Sidewinder X2, but the bed uniformity issues mentioned in the review make it look like a poor choice? CR-10 V3 with BLTouch (or cr-10 smart) package would be comparable in price — would that be a good choice? If not, what other mid-range printer with direct drive, with a bit larger print volume than prusa mini?

  5. I noticed you didn’t even mention Prusa. Why is this?
    A lot of other places recommend the Mini+ and I3 MK3S+ over all other printers (if you can afford it).

  6. What about Biqu bx? I was going to buy it yesterday but saw you comment about new post so I waited… What should I go for then? After your review the quality and noise and easy OctoPrint made me love it. Now I’m not sure where to go. Should I go Artillery Sidewinder X2 over Biqu bx in case of quality and noise level and further upgrades like OctoPrint?

    1. I love the BIQU BX, but it’s over 500$ right now. It might be worth it to you if you plan to use OctoPrint and want to have everything nicely attached to the machine.
      But the X2 is a larger machine which prints just as well, and it’s cheaper.
      As always, make your own decision about these

      1. They are on sale at Aliexpress for $485. I read your review and loves that this machine is already well equipped out of box… I may buy one as my 5th printer, and really hope that you have more upgrading articles regarding this machine.

  7. I think Ender 3 versions and CR-6 SE are missing. Ender 3 needs some Upgrades, but it is ultra cheap and you can get great results. The CR-6 SE is not that cheap, but you can get it for 250 Euro with some codes on some sites. Anycubic Vyper is just a copy of it.

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