I have been using, testing and reviewing 3D printers for the better part of a decade now, and I’ve seen a lot of 3D printer manufacturers come and go, especially those looking to capture the lower-end, budget sector. Two names have not only survived but flourished to become the leaders in this space.
Anycubic and Elegoo have always been part of the race to the bottom, and I don’t mean that negatively. Both of these Chinese companies have worked to bring as many advanced features as possible to 3D printers that are priced around the $300 mark. Auto bed leveling, power interruption alerts and material runout sensors were the purview of the best 3D printers, not the lower-end machines, until Anycubic and Elegoo started their contest.
Anycubic and Elegoo Spec Chart
|Anycubic Kobra 2||Elegoo Neptune 4||Anycubic Kobra 2 Pro||Elegoo Neptune 4 Pro||Anycubic Kobra Max 2||Elegoo Neptune 4 Max|
|Build volume (mm)||220 x 220 x 250||225 x 225 x 265||220 x 220 x 250||225 x 225 x 265||420 x 420 x 500||420 x 420 x 480|
|Nozzle max temperature||260C||300C||260C||300C||260C||300C|
|Build plate max temperature||110C||100C||110C||110C (segmented)||90C||80C|
|Official max speed||300mm/s||500mm/s||500mm/s||500mm/s||500mm/s||500mm/s|
|Supported material||PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG||PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, nylon||PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG||PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, nylon||PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG||PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, nylon|
|Connectivity||USB, Wi-Fi, App||USB, LAN||USB, Wi-Fi, App||USB, LAN||USB, Wi-Fi, App||USB, Wi-Fi|
|Slicer||Anycubic Slicer||Elegoo Cura||Anycubic Slicer||Elegoo Cura||Anycubic Slicer||Elegoo Cura|
As you can see, when comparing the different models from Anycubic and Elegoo, each one is essentially the same as the others. Each of them has a 0.4mm nozzle and a direct drive extruder, as well as auto bed leveling and filament runout sensors. The standard Kobra 2 and the standard Neptune 4 are comparable, as are the Pro and Max versions of both. This means that no matter which of these printers you buy, you are going to get a very similar experience.
While some might see this as negative, I see it as a huge win for anyone looking to start 3D printing. With the Neptune 4 and Kobra 2 series and their Pro versions, you have four 3D printers for under $300 that can print well and print fast. They may not be as good in terms of quality as the best fast 3D printers that cost $600 or more, but for an entry-level printer, you really can’t beat them. And then you have the Max versions, behemoths capable of printing enormous models at high speed with good accuracy, all for $600 or less. It’s staggeringly good value.
So whichever brand you choose, Anycubic or Elegoo, know that your 3D printer will be a good one, and, to give you a little more detail on each, we have them listed below and why we like them.
One word of caution
While I firmly believe all of these printers are worthy of your time and money, they all suffer from one glaring issue: the software. While Elegoo uses a version of Cura that it has reskinned for itself, Anycubic currently has profiles for Prusaslicer that don’t always work the best. Both company’s slicer solution is not perfect, and for a beginner, they can be frustrating.
Anycubic and Elegoo need to spend some of their resources on making slicers they can be proud of or invest in heavy testing and working with Cura and Prusaslicer — two of the best 3D printing slicers — to produce quality profiles that are easy for users to understand and implement. It is the biggest barrier to entry for these budget-friendly 3D printers and one that can be solved with a bit of money.