Voxelab Aquila X2 vs Ender 3 V2

If you’re searching for a cheap 3D printer, it’s hard to ignore the Voxelab Aquila X2 versus the Ender 3 V2 as two top options. After all, both printers are known for being entry level, extremely budget friendly, and reliable.

But the competition between the two raises many questions. Is the Aquila X2 actually different from the Ender 3 V2 in any meaningful way? Or does the lower price simply mean it’s lower quality?

We’ll start off by going over the key features and benefits of each printer before taking a deeper dive into how they differ. Picking between similar, entry level printers can be a real struggle, but we’ll run the gamut from upgradeability to filament compatibility to make the choice easier.

Is the Aquila X2 a knockoff version of Creality’s superstar – or is it a real contender amongst low-cost 3D printers?

01/09/2023 08:45 am GMT

Voxelab Aquila X2 vs Ender 3 V2: A Quick Summary

Voxelab Aquila X2

  • Price: Check latest price at Voxelab here / Amazon here
  • Printing technology: FDM 
  • Build volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
  • Filament compatibility: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU
  • Layer height: 100 – 400 microns
  • Printing accuracy: ± 0.1 mm
  • Max extruder temp: 250°C 
  • Max bed temp: 110°C
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
Voxelab Aquila X2

The Voxelab Aquila X2 is best known as yet another copycat of the Ender 3 V2, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Voxelab priced the Aquila X2 at $179.99 to undercut the Ender 3. At a price point that’s nearly $80 less than Creality’s budget king, the Aquila made itself a strong contender in the market.

Like other Ender 3 clones, the Aquila X2 has similar specs and capabilities to the Ender 3 V2. It has the same build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm, the same layer resolution of 100 – 400 microns and similar printing accuracies.

The Aquila also comfortably works with the same filaments that other budget FDM printers do: PLA, ABS, and PETG. Although it technically can print with TPU, it’s likely you’ll need to upgrade the extrusion head, if nothing else.

Aside from the price, what sets the Aquila X2 apart from the Ender 3 V2 is the filament runout sensor. This can be a great help for longer prints and for newer hobbyists, and it’s also the biggest upgrade from the original Aquila.

The Aquila X2 comes equipped with a carrying handle attached to the top as a quality of life feature. Other features, like a rotary encoder-controlled color screen, quiet printing, and an easy method to tighten the belts, are shared by the Aquila X2 and Ender 3 V2.

Voxelab Aquila X2
$179.00

Open source FDM 3D printer with the following features: Filament Detection, Resume Printing, Removable Build Surface Plateform, 32-bit Silent Mainboard, Auto Filaments Feed/Return

Amazon here
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/09/2023 08:45 am GMT

Ender 3 V2

  • Price: Check latest price at Creality here / Amazon here 
  • Printing technology: FDM 
  • Build volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
  • Filament compatibility: PLA, PETG, ABS, TPU
  • Layer height: 100 – 400 microns
  • Printing accuracy: ± 0.1 mm
  • Max extruder temp: 255°C 
  • Max bed temp: 110°C
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
Creality Ender-3 V2

Creality’s Ender 3 V2 is the reigning champion of budget FDM printers. It’s easy to see why, as the original Ender 3 was a price leader with solid features when it was first released – it’s still one of the world’s best-selling 3D printers.

The Ender 3 V2 costs around $259. It’s not the absolute cheapest on the market, but you’re paying for a product with a strong community and well-known company backing it.

That community is actually one of the main selling points of the Ender at this point. It has a build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm, which the Ender 3 popularized as the standard for its many budget copies. That’s not bad by any means, but it doesn’t set it apart from the competition.

It’s the same story for the Ender 3 V2’s other features. The rotary controlled color screen, 100 – 400 microns layer resolution, and even the filament compatibility aren’t special compared to other budget options. The filaments are identical to the Aquila X2’s: PLa, PETG, ABS, and TPU.

That being said, the Ender 3 V2’s community really does put it ahead of the game. Just like the Aquila X2, the Ender 3 is only able to properly make use of TPU with some upgrades and fine tuning. It’s much easier to make that happen when there are hundreds of people who have done it before you.

Creality made a couple key improvements on the original Ender 3 that make the V2 really stand out. Firstly, the V2 has quiet printing thanks to a superior motherboard. This is pretty meaningful, since budget printers often need upgrades tacked on in order to run quietly.

The V2 has a belt adjuster, so there’s no need to pull out any tools. But if you did need to, it also has a handy toolbox to store them in. Overall, these quality of life improvements keep the Ender 3 V2 competitive with other budget options.

Top Pick
Creality Ender 3 V2
$279.99

Upgraded version of the original Ender 3 with a number of key quality-of-life improvements.

Creality Store here Amazon here
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Comparison Showdown

Build Volume

  • Voxelab Aquila X2 – 220 x 220 x 250 mm
  • Ender 3 V2 – 220 x 220 x 250 mm
Build Volume: Aquila X2 Ender 3 V2

The Aquila X2 and the Ender 3 V2 have the same build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm. You’re not likely to get anything bigger unless you’re willing to pay a higher price, since this is the unspoken standard for printers in that price range.

That means large prints and printing en masse are going to be strictly off limits regardless of which printer you use. Still, it’s definitely easier to extend the print bed with the Ender 3 V2 because there are Ender Extender products designed specifically for that purpose.

With the Aquila X2, you would have to attempt to co-opt an Ender Extender to get the same results. You’d be taking the risk of blowing your money on a product that ultimately might not work, which is a hard sell if you’re looking for an entry-level printer.

Print Speed

  • Voxelab Aquila X2 – Up to 180 mm/s
  • Ender 3 V2 – Up to 200 mm/s

The Ender 3 V2 has a slightly higher maximum print speed, at 200 mm/s compared to the Aquila X2’s 180 mm/s. On a practical level, though, neither of these max speeds will ever be used because of the printing errors they would cause.

Even if we ignore that and compare max print speeds anyway, the Ender 3 only has a lead of 20 mm/s. It’s not meaningful enough to make a difference in your experience with the printer. 

Filament Runout Sensor

Filament Runout Sensor-Voxelab Aquila X2 (built-in) vs Ender 3 V2 (sold separately)

The standout feature of Voxelab’s Aquila X2 is that it has a filament runout sensor and auto feeding capabilities. Despite the Ender 3 V2’s reputation as a great entry-level printer, it lacks that ability.

It might not be an absolute must-have, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. A filament sensor for the Ender 3 would cost between $7 – $15. You also have to consider the time it takes to install– and potentially troubleshoot– a filament sensor if you wanted to add one.

Official Creality Ender 3 V2 Filament Runout Sensor
$14.99

The normal filament feed indicator is a blue LED light that turns off when the sensor detects filament runout. This product is compatible with Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 MAX, Ender 5 Plus, CR-10S PRO, CR-10 V2, and CR-10 V3.

Amazon here
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/09/2023 03:40 pm GMT

An alternative is to go ahead and purchase the Ender 3 V2 Neo. Just like the Aquila, it’s equipped with a filament sensor. The downside is that it’ll be much more expensive than the extra $15 it takes to upgrade the Ender 3 V2. 

Ultimately, the lack of a runout sensor isn’t going to be a deal breaker in most cases. It’s just a convenient feature that makes the Aquila X2 slightly more efficient and beginner friendly.


Bed Leveling

The Ender 3 V2 and the Aquila X2 have standard manual bed leveling. It’s good to get familiar with the process, but it’s also an extra step that you might not want to deal with if this is your first printer. Introducing more variables when you’re already using a budget printer can make things much more difficult than they should be.

For a higher price, the Ender 3 V2 Neo has automatic bed leveling that Creality has dubbed CR Touch. It works through touch probes, just like antclab’s BLTouch. 

Read more: the best low-cost 3D printers with auto-leveling

Upgradeability

When you purchase a cheap, entry-level 3D printer, you’re usually accepting that upgrades will be a necessity. The Aquila X2 and Ender 3 V2 are no exceptions. With either printer, you’ll probably want to upgrade basics like the fans, the extruder, and the bed mounts.

Some Ender 3 Fan Upgrades
For more information about this, do check out the linked article below.

The noise level of these printers hovers around 50dB. Upgrading their fans (including the part cooling, hot end, PSU, and control board fans) is the best option for quieter printing.

Getting a better extruder and replacing the default bed springs with silicone mounts will also benefit both printers equally, and it’s relatively easy to find parts for either of them. Since the Aquila is nearly identical, most things that will work with the Ender 3 will also work for the Aquila.

Of course, these upgrades aren’t free. As the more expensive printer, every additional upgrade makes the Aquila X2 look more appealing and the Ender 3 V2 seem less worthwhile. 

Read more: all the best Ender 3 upgrades (both DIY and buyable options)

Filament Compatibility

Filament compatibility of Voxelab Aquila X2 and Ender 3 V2

You’ll be working with the same basic set of filaments, whether you have the Aquila X2 or the Ender 3 V2. They’re compatible with PLA, PETG, and ABS. It’s common for hobbyists to upgrade the Ender 3’s extruder for the sake of using TPU, and in fact, it’s actually advertised as being able to use TPU.

Regardless, flexible filaments like TPU can be finicky. The Ender 3 isn’t the ideal option if you want a wide range of filaments to use, and neither is the Aquila. This is another area where the two printers are at a near-standstill. 

Any upgrades that can be done to the Ender 3’s extruder can also be done to the Aquila’s, and the end result is two printers that can use essentially the same pool of filaments.

If you opt for the Ender 3 V2 Neo, you’ll have a clear advantage over the Ender 3 V2 and the Aquila X2: a fully metal Bowden extruder. It will give you a better time with handling filaments and be more durable, to boot. 

Read more: the best filaments for the Ender 3

Assembly

Assembly-Voxelab Aquila X2
Source: Imgur

Creality chose to leave the Ender 3 V2’s complete assembly in the hands of whoever buys it for the sake of a lower price. The Aquila X2 follows in Creality’s footsteps, leading the two printers to have very similar assembly times.

Assembly-Creality Ender 3 V2
Source: Reddit

It commonly takes between 30-45 minutes to set up the Ender 3 V2 or the Aquila X2. There are detailed guides for building either printer, so they’re both fine choices for beginners from this perspective.

Price

With few other features or specs to differentiate the two, price is the biggest factor between the Ender 3 and the Aquila X2.

The Ender does get marked down for sales regularly, but it usually won’t dip beneath $199. The Aquila X2 blows the Ender 3’s regular and sales prices out of the water with a price of $179.99.

The Ender 3 V2 Neo is, of course, even more expensive at $298. In perspective, this is still a relatively cheap printer. It just can’t compare to the Aquila X2’s price.

Community

Many hobbyists flock to the Ender 3 purely because of how established it is. As far as 3D printers go, the Ender 3 is a household name– and with that comes a flourishing community. 

The benefit of having dozens of large and growing forums is that troubleshooting becomes much easier. Chances are, any issue you have with the Ender 3 V2 is an issue someone else already has experienced and posted about somewhere on the Internet. If you’re new to the world of 3D printing, the community alone can make the difference between success and a 3D printer that never gets used. 

But although the Ender 3 V2 technically wins out when it comes to community support, the Aquila X2 isn’t a total loser. The build of the Aquila is so similar to that of the Ender 3 that many resources can be used interchangeably between the two.

01/09/2023 08:45 am GMT

Voxelab Aquila X2 vs Ender 3 V2 – The Bottom Line

The Ender 3 V2 has paved the way for future budget printers, and the Aquila X2 is exactly the printer to take its place. There is only one feature that really differentiates the two printers, and that’s the Aquila’s filament sensor.

Aside from that, Voxelab and Creality have made near-identical printers in everything but price. They have the same (or nearly the same) specs, need the same upgrades, and work with the same filaments.

The Ender 3 V2’s main appeal is being an entry-level, budget 3D printer. If the Aquila can do everything the Ender can at a lower cost– and it can– then why not buy the Aquila instead?

The only possible caveat is if the Ender 3’s community is worth the extra cash. But even then, there’s nothing stopping you from using resources for the Ender 3 and applying them to the Aquila X2.

Related articles: