How to Install the SKR Mini E3 Board (Ender-3)

The SKR Mini E3 is an affordable, 32 bit board upgrade for the Ender-3 and Ender-5 3D Printers. The form factor (shape) and layout are an exact match to the original Creality boards, making it a simple drop-in replacement.

It comes with a blazing fast 32 bit ARM Cortex processor, the latest TMC 2209 silent stepper drivers for ultra quiet performance and pre-loaded with Marlin 2.0 firmware. No need to flash a bootloader or tinker with settings, just hook it up, turn it on and start 3D Printing.

Purchased Parts

SKR Mini E3 V2.0 Control Board - $45.99

SKR Mini E3 vs Creality Board

Creality 3D Printers like the Ender-3 are shipped with a basic 8-bit Melzi board, integrated A4988 stepper drivers and 128 Kb flash memory. That’s more than enough to get us started, and works just fine out of the box, but this is ancient hardware that is starting to show its age.

32 bit boards on the other hand have been available for years, but few people could justify the hefty $150+ price tag. That is where the budget family of SKR boards from BigTreeTech, specifically the SKR Mini E3, changed the industry over night.

These are now less expensive than the old 8-bit options, have more than 5x the processing speed, and at least twice the flash memory. That means we can enable more firmware features like auto bed leveling, linear advance and full color graphical displays.

8-bit vs 32-bit Processors

When we’re 3D Printing, constant commands from the G-Code file are sent to the board, telling it to move the nozzle from the current point A to the next point B. A basic 8-bit Melzi board with 16Mhz can handle straight lines (ex: cube) just fine, but more complex curve operations (ex: cylinder) require extra processing to figure out.

This can severely bottleneck performance on organic shapes, especially at faster print speeds, and ultimately creates visible artifacts and degradation in the object.

32-bit boards on the other hand, like the SKR Mini E3 with a 72Mhz chip, can handle these advanced calculations without a hitch. That means faster printing and better results, because the processor isn’t throttled while trying to figure out the next move.

A4988 vs TMC2209 Drivers

Stepper drivers are small chips that control how the stepper motors operate, sending electrical pulses that turn it to a certain degree. Because a half-step and full-step rotation is too large for the precision we need in 3D Printing, we use micro-stepping to make smaller rotations instead.

The generic A4988 drivers included on Creality boards are capable of up to 1/16th micro-stepping, meaning a full motor rotation can be segmented out in to 16 steps. In contrast, the latest TMC2209 drivers used on the SKR Mini E3 are capable of a whole 1/256 microsteps.

Unfortunately, due to factors outside of our control, the print resolution only gets a...