Top Motherboard Upgrades for Ender 3 (Pro/V2) in 2023

Top Motherboard Upgrades for Ender 3 (Pro/V2) in 2023

The mainboard is an essential component when it comes to controlling the functions of machines. It acts as a sort of central control unit, allowing you to integrate electrical components into a single platform. Mainboards are found in laptops, 3D printers and beyond; powerful software helps the user make educated decisions to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Although Creality Ender 3 series 3D printers offer excellent value for money, their stock mainboards could use a bit of an upgrade. Thankfully, the open-source design allows users to easily customize and modify their machines for optimal performance.

Upgrading the mainboard of your Ender 3 can add an almost limitless number of new capabilities to your 3D printing experience. Utilizing modern options like dual extrusion, an additional Z-axis stepper motor and more powerful stepper motor drivers can open an incredible range of possibilities. With these upgrades, you can print more quietly, add multiple extruder nozzles for a wider variety of prints, and much more.

Motherboard Upgrades for Ender 3

Not only does it enable the use of longer bit processors for faster operations, but also provides access to advanced firmware and makes updating your system easier. Going with the latest version of Marlin (or its derivatives such as TH3D Unified 2 or Creality Marlin) can bring additional enhancements, and may also reduce troubleshooting should any issues arise.

With the global microchip shortage and delays in the supply chain resulting in inflation of prices, it has become more important than ever to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on a new mainboard for your Ender 3 (Pro/V2). With that in mind, this article will present several excellent options to upgrade your current board. We’ll go over their various features, specs and common problems these boards might be able to solve. While we have done our best to report prices accurately at the time of publication, it is worth noting that retailers may still offer different prices.

Before we get to the list, however, let’s review some things you should keep in mind as you’re looking for a new mainboard.

Providing Clear Explanation

Creality’s technological advances have been substantial since their original V1.1.3 mainboard that shipped with the original Ender 3 model. With so many questions surrounding the exact board used in each Ender 3 model, Creality clarified that the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro printers come with the non-silent V2.2.2 mainboard, while the Ender 3 V2 comes equipped with a silent version of the same mainboard. 

The Korean market ships with a V4.3.1 mini motherboard and there’s a small catch – it comes in both a silent and non-silent version. Knowing which one you have installed will be essential when deciding which upgrade to choose for your machine. So, before making any decisions, it’s important to do a quick check of your printer to determine what type of motherboard you’re currently using.

While the V2, original, and Pro are different models, they all have one thing in common: They work with the same list of mainboards. This is great news because it means that you don’t need to find a specific mainboard for your model. In fact, you could upgrade your original Ender 3 with a V2 mainboard if you wanted to! The only caveat is that the Ender 3 V2 comes with a full-colour LCD whereas the original and Pro have older LCDs. 

Four mainboard characteristics that have a significant impact on performance are examined below.

Crucial Characteristics


When shopping for a mainboard, it’s important to consider processor speed and architecture. A low-speed board can be incredibly frustrating to operate, as tasks take longer and performance is lagging. Going with a 32-bit processor is the better option in most cases; it will generally have more storage for larger firmware packages that provide additional features, leading to easier operation and improved print quality.

Upgrading to a board with an 8-bit processor may seem like a logical step up, but it might not be worth it in the end. This processor limit can be quite limiting as 8 bits simply don’t have enough memory required to run an entire firmware package like Marlin 2.0. To work around this issue you could disable important features of the firmware, so while it is technically possible to upgrade, it would severely limit your experience and really wouldn’t be making the most out of what Marlin 2.0 has to offer.

For those wondering why 8-bit mainboards weren’t included on this list of best boards for the Ender 3 V2, it’s due to their incompatible nature with the full-colour LCD or TFT displays. Unfortunately, many 8-bit boards lack the processing power to be able to run these types of displays smoothly, which hinders their overall effectiveness with the Ender 3 V2.

Stepper Motor Drivers

Stepper motor drivers are an essential part of a 3D printer, performing the critically important role of regulating power given to stepper motors. It is through this regulation that stepper motor drivers help to reduce the jerk effect and vibration of the motors when they switch direction, leading to quieter operation.

While shopping for 3D printers, looking for boards with integrated stepper motor drivers can be beneficial. In addition, many boards offer driver ports that allow you to add your own preferred type of driver – such as TMC2208 – for a more customized approach to noise reduction. Boards outfitted with high-grade stepper motor drivers are generally the most effective at suppressing sound from your printer; however, investment in the right type of driver is necessary if you wish to benefit from a quieter 3D printing experience.


The number of ports offered by your motherboard is an essential part of the overall setup. More ports can be helpful for adding customizable features or for expanding functionality. For example, a larger number of ports allows you to have multiple extruders, or a BLTouch bed levelling sensor so that prints don’t come out flawed. Additionally, another Z-axis motor could make calibrating and operating your printer smoother than ever before. The following are some common ports on motherboards that you should be aware of:

  • Endstop: By connecting them to the ports at the end of the X-, Y-, and Z-axes, these components monitor the movements of the printer. If any of the components reach the end of an axis and continue going beyond its boundaries, end-stops will effectively prevent them from derailing or jamming.
  • Fan: With three cooling fans connected to the mainboard – one each for the mainboard, hot end and parts being printed – you can rest assured that your prints will come out looking great. And there’s even a fourth fan dedicated to keeping the power supply cool as well. Some of these mainboards have special 12/24-V output ports which allow you to connect an additional fan and keep them all running smoothly at the same time. 
  • Filament runout sensor: some mainboards come with a dedicated port for a filament runout sensor, providing protection against such mishaps. This sensor works by detecting when the filament is no longer flowing through the path—generally located around the extruder. 
  • RGB lights: Investing in a printer with RGB lighting systems is not only incredibly functional but also aesthetically pleasing. With this extra accessibility and visibility, anyone can stay updated on the current state of their printing job— even from miles away via webcam. Not to mention, the vibrant display of colours provided by these systems offers a delightful addition to any workspace. 
  • Thermistor: The ability of thermometers to measure and regulate the temperature of the heated bed and hot end makes them crucial parts of 3D printers. In order to ensure that all thermistors are properly connected, it is crucial that the number of thermistor ports in a 3D printer corresponds to the number of heating elements.
  • TFT display: TFT liquid-crystal displays are incredibly useful additions to any printer, allowing users to navigate digital menus easily and seamlessly. With the addition of touch capabilities, commands become even easier to send and input. Oftentimes the name of both the port, which can be used for upgrades and display will vary between different manufacturers. For example, Duet3D’s name for their respective display and port is PanelDue: a distinct monicker that is unique to this type of device. 


The mainboard is the heart of any digital device and its connections and interface options are essential to consider when making a purchase. There is a considerable choice of different connection types, from SD (or microSD) card slots, Mini- or Micro-USB ports and Ethernet ports to Wi-Fi modules. Each type has its advantages so it’s important to understand your needs before selecting the one that best suits you.

Now that you have the basic knowledge needed to start off, it’s time to take the plunge! 

Creality V4.2.7

Creality is continuing to set the bar high with its 3D printers and the new V4.2.7 board they released recently is no exception. This mainboard has a powerful 32-bit processor, making it faster and more efficient than the earlier versions.

The V4.2.7 board features an impressive range of features that are ideal for DIY 3D-printed projects; its TMC2225 stepper motor drivers make for a quieter printing experience, while the multiple ports offer convenience and flexibility when accessing components like a BLTouch bed levelling tool and filament runout sensors. However, in spite of the precautionary fuse, several users have reported that the board has occasionally malfunctioned and started emitting smoke.

​The board is an amazing piece of technology that can be used with Marlin 2.0, making it possible to control a 3D printer with ease. Additionally, it has been designed with a microSD card slot, so firmware can be updated quickly and with minimum fuss. Its Micro-USB port also provides the means to communicate with the printer by sending G-code commands directly to the board. 

  • Cost: ~$40
  • Bit: 32
  • Integrated motor drivers: TMC2225
  • Updating firmware: MicroSD card
  • Connections: Micro-USB, microSD card
  • Ports: 4x motors, 2x thermistors, 3x endstops, 3x fans, BLTouch, filament runout sensor
  • Compatible firmware: Marlin 2.0, Marlin 2.0 forks
  • Supports linear advance: No

SKR Mini E3 V3

BigTreeTech’s SKR Mini E3 V3.0 board is a great advancement in 3D-printer control options. As the name suggests, it is a miniaturized version of the powerful and popular SKR boards, yet still much larger than competitive models – allowing you to fit it into your Ender 3 without having to sacrifice performance or build quality. This new model boasts integrated TMC2209 stepper motor drivers for quieter engine operation and a striking pre-installed heatsink for improved cooling and reliability.

The board is an impressive combination of features and hardware, making it great for optimizing 3D printing projects. With five motor ports, dual Z-axis motors can be used to speed up printing time and improve accuracy. Additionally, the board has a port for a Z probe, a filament runout sensor and an LCD screen. Those wanting to connect in more sophisticated ways will love the Micro-USB port and the ability to use a TFT display for better visualization.  Last but not least, no extra equipment is needed as users can easily update the firmware with just a microSD card.

The latest board in the Ender 3 range was recently released and is still available to pre-order from various retailers. Its specs far exceed what you’d expect for its budget price point, making it a great choice for those on a tight budget. Reviews across Amazon have been largely positive, but one user warned of a compatibility issue between the firmware and the V2 model’s screen. This indicates that it might be worth some extra attention before proceeding with an upgrade if you own a V2 model.

  • Cost: ~$50
  • Bit: 32
  • Integrated motor drivers: TMC2209
  • Updating firmware: MicroSD card
  • Connections: MicroSD card, Micro-USB
  • Ports: 5x motors, 2x thermistors, 3x endstops, 3x fans, BLTouch, filament runout sensor, neopixel RGB lights, TFT
  • Compatible firmware: Marlin 2.0, Klipper
  • Supports linear advance: Yes

MKS Robin E3D

Makerbase’s MKS Robin series offers a wide range of boards that are perfect for FDM and SLA 3D printers. The MKS Robin E3D, in particular, is ideal for users of the Ender 3 who are looking to try out a few upgrades.  This powerful 32-bit board facilitates faster printing speeds and smoother operation, making it an attractive option for both experienced makers and those just getting started with their 3D printing journey. 

One of the standout features is that the board provides five stepper motor ports and five corresponding external ports, meaning you can add more motors if needed. The great thing about this board is that it also allows for dual Z-axis motors and multiple fan ports. Not only does it come with two designated fan ports, but also two 12/24-V output ports that can be used for fans as well.

If you’re looking to level up your 3D printing game, then the board with multiple filament runout sensor ports, a BLTouch auto-bed levelling port, and even a port for neopixel (RGB) lights are the one for you. Not only can it upgrade your 3D printer’s performance, but it also offers superior convenience with its microSD card slot, allowing you to easily upgrade its firmware without any hassle. 

But, It’s just slightly larger than the Ender 3’s stock mainboard, so you’ll need to find another place for it. Luckily, Makerbase has created a helpful tutorial video that teaches you how to install the board on your Ender 3. You can also take your installation a step further by making a custom case to house the MKS Robin, allowing for a truly unique setup of your printer.

  • Cost: ~$60
  • Bit: 32
  • Integrated motor drivers: None
  • Updating firmware: SD card
  • Connections: MicroSD, USB Type-B, Wi-Fi module
  • Ports: 5x motors, 2x thermistors, 3x endstops, four fans, BLTouch, 2x filament runout sensors
  • Compatible firmware: Marlin 2.0, Marlin 2.0 forks
  • Supports linear advance: Depends on the stepper motor drivers (TMC2209 works)

SKR E3 Turbo

Next on the list is the SKR E3 Turbo. It is an upgrade specifically designed for the Ender 3 printer. This board is equipped with a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 LPC1769 processor, which allows it to have increased speeds and smoother operations compared to standard boards. It also has 512 KB of RAM, which enables it to support larger firmware packages that other boards might struggle with. For example, with the SKR E3 Turbo, you can install Marlin 2.0 or any of its forks without any issues, allowing users to run their machines with the latest firmware available. 

This high-powered board is equipped with extremely powerful TMC2209 stepper motor drivers and a multitude of ports, such as six stepper motors and two nozzle heaters. Not only that, but it also has three thermistors, a Z probe, RGB lights, a TFT LCD, three end-stops and more! With these options at your disposal, you’re able to configure an even more advanced 3D printing operation. Not only can you utilize dual Z-axis stepper motors and dual extrusion at the same time but you can also harness its full potential for some truly intricate creations. 

Lastly, Installing the SKR E3 Turbo mainboard has become an easy affair, courtesy of its convenient mounting holes to fit Ender 3’s stock sheet metal and pre-installed compatible firmware on a microSD card.  Reviewers have been going wild about the ease of this process, lauding both features for helping them to get up and running quickly.

  • Cost: ~$60
  • Bit: 32
  • Integrated motor drivers: TMC2209
  • Updating firmware: MicroSD card
  • Connections: MicroSD card, Micro-USB
  • Ports: 6x motors, 4x thermistors, 3x endstops, 3x fans, TFT, RGB, Z probe
  • Compatible firmware: Marlin 2.0, Marlin 2.0 forks, Klipper
  • Supports linear advance: Yes

Duet 2 Wifi

The Duet 2 Wifi mainboard from Duet3D is a popular board that’s often used for 3D printing, due to its impressive Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities. At first glance, the price may seem like a bit much considering the cost of an Ender 3, but once you look a little closer it quickly becomes worth it. It comes with many different ports and features, plus a high-end processor. 

The Duet3D 32-bit board offers an impressive selection of ports and connections such as five motor ports, three thermistors, and a Z probe, plus the option to connect components such as an external SD card reader and PanelDue display. This board also offers users expandability options through its connectable daughter boards, allowing for the addition of extra motor ports and thermistors. One of the best features is being able to control and monitor your printer remotely thanks to the integrated Wi-Fi component with access to Duet3D’s online interface.

However, it is ironic that such an advanced tool is limited by its firmware compatibility; it runs almost exclusively on RepRap firmware, eliminating its uses for alternative printing solutions. It also appears to be a challenge to connect the board to the Ender 3 due to incompatibility between the wiring and mounting components of the two devices. 

  • Cost: ~$170
  • Bit: 32
  • Integrated motor drivers: TMC2660
  • Updating firmware: MicroSD card
  • Connections: MicroSD card, Micro-USB, Wi-Fi
  • Ports: 5x motors, 3x thermistors, 5x endstops, 6x fans, Z probe, PanelDue, external SD card reader, daughter boards, LCD, expansion pins
  • Compatible firmware: RepRap, Klipper
  • Supports linear advance: Yes (known as pressure advance in RepRap firmware)


If you’re after speed and reliability when 3D printing, Biqu’s SKR V2 motherboard is an excellent choice. It boasts a far superior 168-MHz processor compared to its predecessor, the SKR 1.4 Turbo board, improving its performance exponentially. Not only is it faster than the Turbo’s 120-MHz chip, but even outperforms Creality’s stock V1 8-MHz processor for power users wanting to get the most out of their 3D printing experience. 

The most notable feature of the SKR 2 is its ability to engage in dual extrusion, which is made possible by five stepper motor ports. This board also has an impressive range of safety-focused features like two fuses that help protect your print projects from defects. It also has improved thermistor ports that enable more reliable temperature readings for optimal performance. Additionally, the board provides extra fan ports for better airflow and an integrated Wi-Fi module that helps it outperform versions like the V1.4 Turbo.

For a convenient upgrade of the firmware for this board, the microSD card slot is an ideal choice. For other communication purposes, two alternatives are offered – developers can either use the Wi-Fi module’s compatible online interface or take advantage of the USB Type-B port; both providing efficient methods to interact with the board.

Recently, there have been some discussions on forums about the LCD screens of V2 models having some build-quality issues. Luckily, if you do run into any problems with these printers there are plenty of tutorials and solutions available online. You can find helpful YouTube videos for installation and user support as well as in-depth troubleshooting threads on dedicated community forums.

  • Cost: ~$50
  • Bit: 32
  • Integrated motor drivers: None
  • Updating firmware: MicroSD card
  • Connections: MicroSD card, USB Type-B, Wi-Fi module
  • Ports: 6x motors, 3x thermistors, 3x endstops, 5x fans, BLTouch, RGB light, TFT
  • Compatible firmware: Marlin 2.0, Marlin 2.0 forks, RepRap
  • Supports linear advance: Depends on the stepper motor drivers (TMC2209 works)

SKR Pro V1.2

Lastly, The SKR Pro V1.2 Biqu mainboard is the perfect choice for 3D printer upgrade enthusiasts. It is designed to meet the demands of professional-grade upgrades with its high-end specs, like the 32-bit ARM-level Cortex-M4 processor which runs at an impressive speed. Not only that, but it has a variety of other features that make upgrading your 3D printer fast and easy. 

The Pro V1.2 board is a potent piece of technology that can offer a multitude of features even without integrated stepper motor drivers. Thanks to the board’s external stepper motor driver ports, extra functionality such as dual Z-axis motors and dual extrusion can be accomplished with ease. Despite having six motor ports in total, there are four thermistors and four heater ports; allowing for the potential of triple extrusion.

The Pro V1.2 offers users a wide range of connectivity options.  Not only can the firmware be updated conveniently through the microSD card slot, but you can also connect to it via Wi-Fi for compatible platforms, or through either of the Type-A and Type-B USB ports for sending G-code commands. 

For those looking for a basic computer motherboard, the variety of chips and ports that come with this board may be overwhelming. While experienced users may enjoy having as many options available to them as possible, casual and beginner users might want to consider one of the simpler boards with fewer features. 

  • Cost: ~$50
  • Bit: 32
  • Integrated motor drivers: None
  • Updating firmware: MicroSD card
  • Connections: MicroSD card, USB Type-A, USB Type-B, Wi-Fi module
  • Ports: 6x motors, 4x thermistors, 6x endstops, 3x fans, TFT
  • Compatible firmware: Marlin 2.0, Marlin 2.0 forks, Klipper, RepRap
  • Supports linear advance: Depends on the stepper motor drivers (TMC2209 works)
Gunaseelan Murugesan
Author | Website

Experienced Project Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of Product Design & Development industry in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled in 3D Printing and Re engineering Technologies with CATIA V5 , Materials Science, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Mimics, ANSYS Workbench and Casting Simulation software. Strong engineering professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Industrial Metallurgy from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

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