When looking at a fancy (and undeniably expensive) 8K printer like the Anycubic Photon M3 Premium, you might be wondering whether there's any real difference in quality compared to cheaper models. It may look better on paper, but it's a bit like the frames-per-second argument. Can most people actually tell the difference?
As it turns out, yes - you really can. I was a little skeptical ahead of testing the Anycubic Photon M3, but having spent a few months messing about with it, I can say that the extra expense is worth your while. In fact, this is probably one of the best 3D printers you can get without breaking the bank.
Anycubic Photon M3 Premium - features & design
|$639 / £672.99
|8K (7680x4320px, 28.5μm XY)
|10" Monochrome LCD
|≤95 mm or 3.7in./hr
Naturally, the big selling point of this printer is its 8K capabilities. Because most only produce miniatures at 4K resolution (with a few managing 6K), this is a massive jump in quality. Thanks to a massive tank able to handle two full 1kg bottles of resin, it's a massive jump in capacity as well.
Beneath the hood, the Anycubic Photon M3 Premium packs improved cooling to keep everything ticking over nicely at the right temperature. That sits alongside Anycubic's LighTurbo 2.0 system for better light uniformity and a smoother print surface.
While there is a slightly larger build plate to go along with all that, it's not too much bigger than other models in Anycubic's range. Instead, a big draw is the increased volume of 6.7L in total.
OK, let's get the drawbacks out of the way first. To begin with (and as with all resin printers), figuring out leveling and adhesion issues can be a chore. Much like building one of the best gaming PCs from scratch, it can be a frustrating trial-by-error process that requires fine-tuning as you work out the sweet spot. And while that's an issue shared by every resin printer I've ever used (including the excellent Mono X2 that I said was "not foolproof, but it's pretty damn close" in my Anycubic Photon Mono X2 review), it's a little more frustrating due to the depth of the vat. This is a boon in every other sense, but when you've got to empty out two bottles' worth of fluid to clear failed prints, it's a faff.
It's a similar story with some screws in the build plate itself. Because they are placed horizontally along the top, they fill with resin and prove to be a nuisance to clean. Likewise, the inbuilt filters - which are generally excellent and do a good job of reducing that nasty resin odor - aren't securely locked in place so are too easy to knock by accident even when you're just turning them on.
However, that's really all I can say to criticize this printer. The enormous vat means less refilling (ideal if you're lazy, as I am), the build plate's laser-etched surface is very effective for the most part, and the larger surface area gives you a bit more space to squeeze on models for use in the best tabletop RPGs. That's a win-win by any stretch, and anyone printing a lot on the regular (perhaps for dioramas or cosplay props) will appreciate it.
Not that you need to worry about clearing too much space. Despite having a larger volume, the Anycubic Photon M3 Premium isn't so massive that it'll feel like a monster in your workshop or on a desk - it doesn't take up an unreasonable amount of real estate.
In terms of actual prints, it's equally successful. The 8K resolution is a marvel, achieving an impressive level of super-sharp, pristine detail on sculpts across the board that even I could see was much better than 4K or 2K equivalents. Indeed, I was able to produce prints that looked just like the preview image on my computer for the first time without being a bit disappointed in smudgy details. Frankly, it blows my old Elegoo Saturn out of the water.
Should you buy the Anycubic Photon M3 Premium?
If you're on the fence about this printer, I'd definitely recommend diving in. It's not a complete slam-dunk due to a couple of small niggles, but it's not far off - it really does impress in every way that counts.
Okay, beginners should probably steer clear because there's more that can go wrong with this beast of a machine. But intermediate or expert printers? They'll find a lot to love here.
Buy it if...
You want precise, detailed, and high-quality prints
Because it's able to hit that sweet, sweet 8K resolution, this printer offers the best performance you can get without spending loads more.
You want to create bigger prints
Thanks to a higher build volume and large plate, you can tackle more ambitious projects with the Anycubic Photon M3 Premium.
Don't buy it if...
Cleaning out lots of resin stresses you out
I'm not a big fan of sorting raw resin (I'm the anxious type), so the need to deal with a massive vat of the stuff if any prints fail and stick to the FEP is a real turn-off.
You're a beginner
There's more to go wrong with this printer and it's a lot more expensive than your average 4K or 2K equivalent, so I'd say to avoid it if you're new to all this.
How we tested the Anycubic Photon M3 Premium
I used this printer over the course of several months, printing off miniatures designed by independent companies like Cast n Play, Broken Anvil, and Artisan Guild along with community-generated prints. These varied in size and complexity, so the Anycubic Photon M3 Premium was given a good workout.
For more information on our process, check in with our hardware policy.
This review unit was provided by Anycubic.
Want some inspiration on what to print next? Check out our guide to the best Dungeons and Dragons books.