Despite only being founded in 2014, Creality has already become a household name in 3D printing. Their low-budget, high-performance 3D printers have been the talk of 3D printing communities since their release, solidifying their status as a go-to for many 3D printing enthusiasts.
3D printers such as the Ender 3 are also open-source and very upgradable — you can add auto-leveling kits, a laser engraver, and so many more general quality-of-life-improving elements to your Creality 3D printers.
Naturally, they had nowhere to go but up, and so got to work and released further updated and tweaked resin printers over time. Later, the Ender 5 released, a new model that came with a larger price tag.
Many people started asking exactly why they should pay so much more when the Ender 3 already offered so much, and that question persists to this day amongst those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying out both the Ender 3 and Ender 5.
Here, we’re going to look in detail at the key differences between the two most popular Creality Ender models. If you’re on the fence about which to get, or simply want to justify your choice of purchase, then look no further.
Creality Ender 3 vs Ender 5 – Key Differences
Read more: Ender 3 vs Ender 3 V2, Pro and Max
A powerhouse in the 3D printing market, the Ender 3 is one of the most popular 3D printers today, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Known as the catalyst for personal use low-cost 3D printers, the Creality Ender 3 is an affordable but very capable machine that soon became the benchmark for hobbyists all over the world.
Because it’s open-source, the Ender 3 has become well-known for its various community-shared modifications, too. Add-ons and non-official upgrades have made it the tinkerer’s dream in 3D printing.
For example, you can check out our article on your options for Ender 3 laser engraver upgrades here.
Read more: the top Ender 3 upgrades
By now you’re probably asking yourself the same question many of us have. If the Creality Ender 3 is such a powerhouse, then why pay more for the Ender 5?
The simple answer to this question is the Ender 5’s biggest draw, namely its much larger build volume.
Where the Ender 3’s build volume is 220 x 220 x 250mm, the Ender 5 has a larger Z axis, giving it a build volume of 220 x 220 x 300 mm. While this may not seem like a massive change on paper, it does put the Ender 5 in a league of its own with print potential.
If you’ve already got experience with 3D printing, you’ve likely come across prints or projects that you either need to scale down or abandon altogether due to build volume limitations. In this regard, The Creality Ender 5 leaves almost no project behind.
As well as this larger build volume, the Ender 5 is also capable of more complicated prints due to its advanced nozzle movements. While still attached to the central beam of the printer, the Ender 5’s hot end can move along the XY plane as opposed to simple X, Y, or Z movements.
This allows for not only more accurate models due to diagonal movements, but also faster print times by avoiding negative space.
One of the most common complaints about the Creality Ender 3 involves its arduous assembly process. On release, the instruction manual was less detailed and more confusing than many would like, and for first-time builders, putting it together could take hours.
For those who didn’t want to spend an entire afternoon putting their printer together, this was something of a dealbreaker.
Creality listened to their consumers when designing the Ender 5. With only a few screws and a much better manual, the Ender 5 can be put together in 30 minutes without any experience, and still under an hour for first-timers.
Creality earned its fame by having fully open-source hardware and firmware, even making their full specs available to anyone who wants them. Both official and non-official upgrades and modifications are all over the internet for both models.
These include laser engravers, metal bed levelers, silencers, and dual Z-axis upgrades to name a few.
Because the size and capabilities of the Ender 3 and Ender 5 differ, you will need to make sure that the modification you’re getting applies to your machine. There’s nothing worse than putting together an auto-leveler only to realize it’s the wrong size.
Getting any new tech, be it hardware or software, should involve looking into just how reliable it is. Program crashes can lose many work hours, and an unreliable piece of hardware can damage a machine or even come with some dangerous risks.
Both the Creality Ender 3 and Ender 5 have different features that help keep your mind at ease.
The Ender 3’s hot end is Creality’s own MK8, while the Ender 5 sports the upgraded MK10. This means that the Ender 5 is less likely to succumb to print- and machine-damaging clogs and jams.
The general design of the Ender 5 was also improved to allow the parts to move more freely without clashing. Effectively, this means the Ender 5 has a longer shelf life since the parts won’t damage each other through time and use, and the prints are more likely to come out as their intended shape.
The heated beds used in both models are the same, but the Ender 5’s has been slightly adjusted for its size and doesn’t scrape or bump against the other parts, increasing the chances of successful prints.
The key difference here is the springs under the bed. The Ender 5 sports Uxcell springs, which are far more reactive to pressure than the Ender 3’s more garden-variety springs, and make automatic bed leveling a less commonly needed task.
While the Ender 5 can be seen as a generally upgraded Ender 3, Creality has made tweaks and changes to its older models over time. Unlike the first line of Ender 3s, newer models have a fault detection system that makes sure temperature is carefully monitored and dangerous errors like clogs force quit the printing process.
The Ender 5 is also equipped with such detection, and it makes both models much safer to use. Upgrades in power supplies, nozzles, and internal wiring do make the Ender 5 much less likely to be subject to such faults in the first place.
So, while you can rest easy with both the Ender 3 and 5 in use, the Ender 5 wins out when it comes to overall safety.
Ender 3 vs Ender 5 Print Quality
Both the Creality Ender 3 and Ender 5 are capable of some truly impressive 3D prints. They are both FDM printers, which are not as known for their print quality as resin printers are, but they manage to hold their own against resin printers.
Despite the credibility that the Ender 3 has earned for high-quality prints in its relatively short life, the aforementioned axis movement upgrades of the Ender 5 give it a considerable advantage when it comes to the overall quality of its output.
Generally speaking, neither the Ender 3 nor 5 falter in print quality, but given the Ender 5’s improved movement, upgraded design so parts don’t bump together, and more reliable safety protocols, it wins overall for more consistently successful prints.
Ender 3 vs Ender 5 Price
Now here is where the crux of the Ender 3 vs. Ender 5 argument comes into play. If they are largely the same machine, then why is the Ender 5 so much more expensive?
The Ender 3 became a household name in impressive yet affordable 3D printers. At only $189 for tech that could cost you at least $500 elsewhere, it is an amazing steal even at the most advanced levels.
The Creality Ender 5 is around $269 for what could arguably be called a similar machine. The price difference between the two is clear. If your budget for something like a 3D printer is tight, you’ll definitely want the Ender 3 over the Ender 5.
Ender 3 vs Ender 5 Summary
The Ender 5 is not so much a new or different 3D printer as it is an upgrade to the Ender 3. Because of this, the two are still largely comparable in many ways.
The Ender 5’s biggest selling point is its larger build area, though its upgraded firmware and more reliable safety features also make it a much smarter purchase than the Ender 3.
That isn’t to say that the Ender 3 is not worth it by comparison. As an FDM printer that can do so much more compared to similar machines at multiple times the price, it’s also a smart purchase for 3D printing hobbyists who are looking for a great machine without breaking the bank.
Ultimately, your decision will likely come down to the price. If money is no object, then you should absolutely go for the Ender 5 due to its undoubtedly better capabilities. However, if you really want a 3D printer but are working to a budget, you’ll be better off getting the Ender 3, which has equally impressive specs and capabilities without breaking the bank.
If you’re in a hurry to buy a 3D printer, then the Ender 3 is your best bet. But if you don’t mind saving a little more before making your purchase, then the Ender 5 is the printer for you.
Other articles you may be interested in:
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- Ender 3 vs Ender 3 Pro vs Ender 3 V2: Compared
- Ender 3 vs Prusa Mini compared
- Ender 3 V2 vs Prusa i3 MK3S+
- Ender 3 dual extruder upgrades: all your options
- Ender 3 Upgrades — all the coolest mods
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- Ender 3 laser engravers — all your options
- Ender 3 Review
- The best Ender 3 alternatives
- Best Ender 5 Plus upgrades
- Ender 5 Pro upgrades and mods