What’s the best 3D printer under $500?
When you’re looking for the best 3D printer under $500, it can be difficult to know where to start. The rise in popularity of 3D printing means there are more options to choose from than ever before, which makes finding a good cheap 3D printer increasingly difficult.
Printers in this class all have a few things in common besides their price point and are typically geared towards new users looking to buy their first machine for home use. All are quite capable with PLA filament, have heated printing beds, and a similar set of tech specs as well.
Additional features and build quality are what separates the best from the rest in this class, and our guide will help you find the perfect 3D printer to suit your needs. We’ve listed some of the top-rated 3D printers using FFF/FDM (fused deposition modeling) technology.
Desktop 3D printers under $500
|3D printer||Build volume||Price*||Buy|
|FlashForge Adventurer3||150 x 150 x 150 mm||$449||See offer|
|Prusa Research Original Prusa MINI||180 x 180 x 180 mm||$349||See offer|
|Creality Ender 5 Pro||220 x 220 x 300 mm||$399||See offer|
|Creality CR-10 Mini||300 x 220 x 300 mm||$329||See offer|
|Artillery Sidewinder X1||300 x 300 x 400 mm||$449||See offer|
|JGAURORA A5S||305 x 305 x 320 mm||$399||See offer|
|Anycubic Mega X||300 x 300 x 305 mm||$479||See offer|
|Qidi Tech X Maker||170 x 150 x 160 mm||$328||See offer|
*Price: Prices may change over time and/or from one country to another (shipping, taxes, etc.).
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Overview of the best budget 3D printers under $500
Below you'll find more details about each printer.
- Build volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
- Price: $399
First off, the Adventurer 3 is one of the few machines that is fully enclosed. Auto-leveling and an auto-feed system for the filament are two other reasons beginners will love this printer. Plus, it comes fully assembled. The flexible build plate is also removable, and the machine can pause prints when filament gets low.
More information: FlashForge Adventurer3
Prusa Research Original Prusa MINI
- Rating: –
- Build volume: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
- Price: $349
The Prusa MINI is one of the best 3D printers under $500 available on the market today. The Original Prusa i3 MK3S, which is basically a larger version of the Prusa MINI, has earned many awards throughout the years and heads several of our own 3D printer lists.
It features a magnetic print bed and removable print plates, “one-click printing” with auto bed leveling and calibration, and is able to resume prints after a power failure. In terms of quality and customer service, you can’t go wrong with an original Prusa printer.
More information: Prusa Research Original Prusa MINI
Check out our full Original Prusa i3 MK3S review.
The Ender 5 Pro can hit speeds of up to 180 mm/s, and the Y-axis with dual shaft is another feature not commonly found on machines in this class. You won’t get automatic bed leveling on this model, but the bed is magnetic, and it’s a solid upgrade over the popular Ender 3 overall.
More information: Creality Ender 5 Pro
This high-speed printer can handle PLA with ease and has a heated bed with a maximum temperature of 100°C. While it shares plenty of similarities with the full-size CR-10, the mini is a bit sturdier due to newer parts used in the build.
More information: Creality CR-10 mini
Artillery Sidewinder X1
- Build volume: 300 x 300 x 400 mm
- Price: $449
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 is quieter than other printers in this range thanks to ultra-quiet stepper drivers. It’s one of the best 3D printers for beginners as it’s easy to use with a small touchscreen and incredibly easy to assemble as well.
More information: Artillery Sidewinder X1
- Build volume: 305 x 305 x 320 mm
- Price: $399
One highlight of this budget 3D printer is the 2.3” touchscreen, although filament run-out detection and power failure protection are included as well. We’re also fans of the clean cable system and the Black Diamond Glass heated platform.
More information: JGAURORA A5S
ANYCUBIC Mega X
- Build volume: 300 x 300 x 305 mm
- Price: $479
It comes with a huge volume, a filament sensor, a large touchscreen, and a 90°C heated bed.
More information: ANYCUBIC Mega X
Qidi Tech X-Maker
- Build volume: 170 x 150 x 160 mm
- Price: $499
It’s equipped with a closed frame, a color touchscreen with Wi-Fi connectivity, and a flexible, removable build plate. Qidi Tech’s proprietary slicing software comes in two versions, professional and educational.
More information: Qidi Tech X-Maker
How to find the best 3D printer under $500: buying guide
These are some of the things you should take into account when deciding on which 3D printer to buy.
What do you want to print?
It’s easy to become blown away by a slick-looking 3D printer or fall for cool new features that may or may not be useful down the line. Before you set your heart on a machine, the first thing you need to do is take a minute and think about what you want to create with your new 3D printer.
The level of detail you can get from a machine in this range is limited, so a budget resin 3D printer (from $199) may be a better solution if you want to print figurines or intricate works of art. Alternatively, if you just want to produce a custom case for your smartphone, prototype parts, or print a simple figure from sites like Cults3D, any FDM printer will do.
There are a handful of specifications you’ll want to keep in mind with any 3D printer, especially budget 3D printers in this class. Build volume is the first thing you should look for, in our opinion, as this dictates how large of an item your machine can print. Even the best budget 3D printers rarely exceed 300 x 300 x 300 mm, although there are a few exceptions under $500.
Resolution and print speed
After build quality, you’ll want to consider the resolution and speed of the 3D printer. Resolution refers to the layer height, which is the minimum thickness of a layer produced by an FDM printer during a pass over the plate.
Printing speed is important as well, but only if you need to produce parts quickly and aren’t concerned about detail. If you print too fast, your prints can fail, so speed is more about finding the perfect settings than searching for the fastest printer.
One thing that’s always made consumers leery of 3D printers is the learning curve. Improvements with hardware and software over the years have made it more simple to pull off the perfect print out of the box, even with 3D printer kits under $500. While we feel all of our picks are pretty easy to use, there are a few features that will make life easier.
Print resume and filament-run out detection are fairly common in this class along with heated beds, although the quality can be hit or miss. Any good budget 3D printer will have a memory card slot and manual controls, but you won’t find many that have Wi-Fi or a color touchscreen. 3D printers with enclosures and dual extruders are also possible in this class, but rare as you’ll see from our list.
There are dozens of excellent 3D printers for under $500, but they do have drawbacks compared to machines in a higher class. The biggest issue that tends to disappoint makers that are new to the world of 3D printers is a simple one, however, as it usually comes down to material support.
Most affordable 3D printers in this range can print with PLA or ABS aside from a few of the cheaper printers, but you will run into trouble with some of the more exotic composites. To print successfully with Carbon Fiber or other composite materials, the print head and build plate need to reach certain temperatures and may require a special extruder or nozzle, which leads us to our next section.
One of the great things about 3D printers is the fact you can upgrade most of them in some way. Whether it’s through official parts and kits or third-party accessories, new users are often amazed at what an extra hundred dollars can do to a low-cost desktop 3D printer.
Unfortunately, not all printers in this price range are upgradable, so pay close attention to the frame, how the machine is built, and if the manufacturer has parts or upgrade kits available. You can build or buy an enclosure to keep your prints warm or swap extruders, but the frame or overall build quality can put a serious damper on any upgrade plans.
Solid customer support is always a good thing to have, whether you’re buying a 3D printer under $500 or considering a large professional 3D printer. Support is an area where the results are mixed with budget-friendly 3D printers as you’ll find some manufacturers won’t even have an official website.
3D printers with excellent “official” support from the manufacturer always have an edge, but don’t overlook community support. There are subreddits, sites, and forums dedicated to brand and particular machines as well. In our opinion, community and customer support go hand in hand.
Do all cheap 3D printers use PLA?
Yes, but some are capable of working with other plastic filaments like ABS as well. Heated beds need to reach 100°C to get good adhesion with ABS (and avoid warping), and the hot end needs to hit 210°C for materials like TPU.
Can 3D printers under $500 work with any software, or do I need to use the program provided with my printer?
With more expensive systems, you can end up tethered to a company’s software. That isn’t the case with cheap 3D printers, however, as most will work with open-source software like Cura.