The Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra is an over-achiever. Its prints are of a superb quality, it's refreshingly easy to use, and that 12K resolution? Well, it's to die for. I have almost nothing bad to say about this thing. Indeed, anyone grabbing one is unlikely to be disappointed.
Is it perfect? Not quite - it lacks some features that help its rivals stand out. But generally, it's not far off. As such, the Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra is a strong contender in terms of the best 3D printers, and it's a good choice regardless of whether you're a beginner or an expert.
Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra - features & design
The headline act here is that 10-inch LCD screen with its juicy 12K resolution (protected by a sturdy 9H tempered glass protector), allowing you to pump out prints with far more crisp detail. If you've been using a 4K or even 8K machine, you'll notice a big difference.
This is all powered by a faster operating system using Linux and 4GB of RAM for more stable file transfer (which can be done via Wi-Fi thanks to the added dongle) and quicker running.
Speaking of speed, the new ACF release film certainly helps in that regard. It needs less release force overall, and when combined with Elegoo's new Rapid standard resin, the company claims that you can complete models three times faster - up to a speed of 150 mm/H. Thanks to the inclusion of an inbuilt air purifier, it shouldn't stink out your workspace too much either way.
Even before locking in any settings, it pumped out crisp print after crisp print
As for its design, the Saturn 3 Ultra is particularly sleek. The black lid and metal body give it a classy elegance you don't always see with 3D printers, and the positioning of the USB port, Wi-Fi dongle, and on/off switch on the right toward the front is much appreciated (it's so much easier to access). It's a similar story with the cap at the back for an extractor system, should you want to install one.
Finally, it's worth pointing out that this printer comes with access to the Voxeldance Tango slicer. The system is pretty reliable and intuitive in my experience testing the Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra, though anyone dedicated to Chitubox should be able to use that system upon release.
Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra - performance
Once I'd leveled it correctly (it often takes me a try or two to find the Goldilocks zone of 'just right'), the Saturn 3 Ultra 12K worked like a charm. Even before locking in any settings, it pumped out crisp print after crisp print. No matter whether it was a larger chunk of scenery or a tiny dwarf warrior for the best tabletop RPGs, Elegoo's machine was more than up to the task. Details were sharp, there wasn't any kind of fuzziness, layers were nearly invisible, and models stuck well to the build plate.
Print time usually ended up being shorter than predicted, too. Even if I was creating something tall (like the 'ruined' temple column for wargaming), the Saturn 3 Ultra smashed through it around half an hour quicker than it estimated using standard resin in fast mode.
There's really no downside to this Elegoo machine
In truth, there's very little to complain about here. The Saturn 3 Ultra is very accessible with an easy-to-understand interface, so you won't be fiddling about trying to find what you're looking for (unlike the Anycubic Kobra Go). Elegoo's smart placement of the USB port, wireless antenna, power switch, and cord makes it all easier to access if you're short on space, too. (Having a power switch at the back of the unit is always a nightmare.)
More to the point, it matched the quality of its rival - the Anycubic Photon M5 S.
However, this brings us to one of the few downsides when comparing these two machines. The Saturn is basically the same as the new Photon but without a few key features. To be precise, it doesn't come with self-leveling or the same smart functionality where it'll tell you if it doesn't have enough resin to complete a build. That's not a drawback, of course; it's just disappointing when a direct competitor can do the same thing and more.
Should you buy the Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra 12K?
When considered in a vacuum, there's really no downside to this Elegoo machine. Its prints are of excellent quality with minimal effort, it's easy to use thanks to a smart design, and it's reliable. The price is reasonable too.
In fact, the only reason I'd advise against it would be if you're open to spending just a little more. In that case, you're arguably better off with the Anycubic Photon Mono M5 S. That one gets you the same functionality with bonus features (self-leveling chief among them), and it's only a fraction pricier - around $70 / £50 more.
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
How we tested the Elegoo Saturn 3 Ultra 12K
This review sample was provided by Elegoo, and I used the machine for around two weeks. Alongside classic test models, I printed tabletop RPG and wargame miniatures from Cast n Play, Artisan Guild, and Titan Forge. These varied between smaller 28mm / 32mm characters, larger monsters, and scenery.
For ideas on what to use your shiny new 3D printer on, check out the best Dungeons and Dragons books. You can also find out how to 3D print miniatures for D&D and tabletop RPGs.