Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro feature image

Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro Review – For That Really Tight Starter Budget

The Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro is another FDM printer in the books for our 3D printer reviewing line-up. We’ve got a pretty broad range of brands that we covered so far and we were happy to give Elegoo’s FDM printer a shot.

The Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro isn’t their latest model, the Neptune 4 series supersedes the Neptune 3 Pro. And basically, it covers this review in a nutshell: the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro is dated by design. Newer, better, faster models with more quality-of-life features have entered the market for a slightly higher price.

Printing roleplay tiles with the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro, the plate is pretty full and the squares are printed with a nice grid infill

TL;DR

The Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro is a solid starter printer that is cheap and easy to set up. The box comes with all the basic tools you need to print and maintain the printer.

The downside is the age in the design choices, there is sort off automated bed levelling, but still requires you to use a sheet of paper to get it perfectly. Any mistake there ends up in bad prints. The speed of the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro is vastly slower than new printers entering the market.

The software they tell you to use is aged and also superseded by the Orca slicer and forks of that slicer. If you are on a budget and looking to start with 3D printing, this could be your start, but save up just that little more and get a better, easier, and faster model like the one we reviewed here.

The integrated leds on top of the rail are powerfull and a nice addition when you want to look at your prints in the middle of the night.

Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro – Bigger Ain’t Always Better

For being very cheap, the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro delivers a big print volume of 225 x 225 x 280 square mm. You can print some pretty huge boxes, bins, or statues. If you have the patience to wait for a day or two. Not only was it slow in comparison to my main, smaller printer. I also had multiple failed prints and SD card errors while testing for this review. We’ve had prints that were 9-14 hours end in failure and a waste of materials and energy.

Your First Print: A Storage Box For All The Stuff You Get

Not only does the box come with all the parts for the printer, but you also get some tools and glue to keep your printer running and have an easier time maintaining it. So, what do you get in the box? Let’s see here:

  • Base Unit
  • Gantry Frame Unit
  • Spool Holder Arm
  • Touch Screen
  • Cable for said screen
  • Filament Detector
  • Power Cable
  • Spool Holder
  • Fasteners
  • SD Card and USB connector for your pc
  • Tools
    • Scraper
    • Wrenches
    • Hexes
    • Glue

It won’t surprise you that several STL’s are to be found on Thingiverse for toolholders or even reserve parts.

Printers Assemble!

The manual takes you through the setup process step by step, leveling the bed and organizing the cables a bit. All cables and connectors are labelled so you cannot make any mistakes, which is ideal if you are a total newcomer to 3D printing. The whole process from start to finish of the Buddha bench model that comes on the SD card took three hours.

After that you are prompted to install Elegoo Cura on your pc using the install on the SD card. Elegoo Cura is horrible, after opening it up I was flash-banged by the all white background and UI and frantically, half blind searched for a Dark Mode option. Only to be prompted to update to the latest version first. Which installed a new version of Cura but never deleted the old version of Cura so I had two versions of Cura that blinded me.

The options in Ultimaker Cura are basic, unintuitive to find and manage and we were really looking for some settings we got used to using with the Orca Slicer. So we do recommend using the slicer you are used to, if you are completely new just skip Cura and get Orca Slicer or one of its forks like the Bambu slicer.

Give Me The Deets Choom

The design on the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro does have some cyberpunk-ish vibes; the detailing does have something resembling it, we guess. Here is a rundown of the specs listed for the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro:

Product Model nameBuild VolumeMax Nozzle Temp
Neptune 3 Pro225 x 225 x 280mm³260°C
Printing TechnologyPrinting Platform SizeMax Bed Temp
FDM235 x 235mm²100°C
Frame MaterialMachine SizeResume Printing
CNC machined alu extrusion475 x 445 x 515mm³Yes
VoltageFilament detectionFile Transfer Method
100-120V?224-240VYesSD card
Filament CompatibilityFile FormatNet Weight
PLA/TPU/PETG/ABS/ASASTL and OBJ8.1kg
The Deets

I will immediately add that the Resume Printing option can create layer issues while printing and it was recommended to us to turn it off anyway. So, one of the selling points is instantly not a selling point.

Printing a huge statue with support in the background and a prompt that the fillament has run empty.

How Did It Run? Slower Than Forrest Gump’s Brainpower

We mentioned it earlier and will mention it again: the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro is slow. The first few prints we did came out nice and perfect; support did its job, and while the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro took its sweet time, it was worth the wait.

We tested the filament detection and some larger statue prints that came out nicely. Shortly after we tried printing some tiles for a wargame and roleplay board setup that for some reason suddenly were going to take upwards of 500 hours for 3 tiles. After switching slicers and using Orca Slicer we got the number down to 192 hours for the whole set of 18 tiles.

A Glitch In The System

After that several issues started happening, several prints were several hours when they started getting SD card read errors. After formatting the SD card, the issue was fixed, and I quickly realized the card that comes with the printer is not the best and needs replacing to ensure no errors would happen again. In the good spirit of testing, we continued using the card that came with the printer. Only to later be faced with the card simply not getting read out by the printer, but was still detected by the pc. Another format fixed the issue.

We had bad layer lines that were fixed afterward by levelling the plate. A huge layer shift on a print that we had previously completed but simply wanted more containers to the field as the terrain in our games, another 10 hours down the drain.

Newer printers have full auto bed levelling integrated before any print, ensuring that everything is stable and level. The fastest speeds these newer printers apply make it feel like less of a loss when something goes wrong. Sure, it is still annoying, but having to wait 19 hours for a print to finish or 6 hours is a huge difference. We did a head-to-head comparison in speed of a huge project, and the Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro was going to take eight days to complete it, while our newer and fastest printer could do it in less than two days. That is six whole days for other projects.

Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro – Conclusion

The Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro is dirt cheap for its build quality and ease of assembly and can produce solid, nice-looking prints. It is just outdated on so many levels that spending some extra money for all the convenience you get is totally worth it. But if you have the time and a super tight budget to start, go with it. Upgrade the SD card, use a decent slicer and make sure to level the bed frequently and this printer will deliver.

Thank you, Elegoo, for having us test this unit.

Stijn Ginneberge

Posts published: 133

Gaming for me is about experiencing their stories, overcoming challenges, living in fantasy worlds and exploring alien planets. You can also find me in the local game store or on an airsoft field.