Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
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Last updated: February 06, 2021
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Do you want ultimate precision and quietness? If so, you need the best stepper motor driver for a 3D printer. They are a great way to upgrade your 3D printer, but there are many different options out there. Trying to choose the right one for you can be confusing. We’re here to help you out with our stepper motor driver for 3D printer reviews, as we’ve carefully selected some top-rated models out there. We’ll give you all the information that you need to get high-quality prints like never before.
What makes the best stepper motor drivers for 3D printers? The phases and step modes are crucial, but you need to know more than that. Current, voltage range, and what it can replace are important to know, as are key specifications such as the heat sink and how many pieces you get in the package. Are you ready to dive deeper? Let’s go!
"This silent stepper motor driver has CoolStep current dynamic adjustment technology along with StallGuard2 stall detection technology.1.4A (continuous), 2A (peak) current.4.75V-36V voltage range.256 step resolution."
"For those who need a stepper motor driver with UART mode, you can go for this set.2.0A (continuous), 2.8A (peak) current.4.75V-29V voltage range.Faster motor acceleration/deceleration than StealthChop."
We think this is the best stepper motor driver available today. It accepts a current of 1.4A continuously and 2A at the peak. Along with that, it can accept a voltage of between 4.75V – 36V, and this ranks it in the mid-range in terms of power.
It comes with a highly effective heat sink that will keep temperatures to a minimum. On top of that, there are a few other great features, such as the sinusoidal control and stackable headers. They perform perfectly at being able to control the stepper motors and have impressive durability.
What we liked: The first thing you notice with these drivers is the incredible reduction in noise. Additionally, they are simple to install and allow you to get printing in no time at all. The build quality is excellent, and there is nothing to moan about with these drivers.
What could be better: We couldn’t pick a fault with the actual driver, but the screwdriver that came with it wasn’t of the best quality. Other than that, this is a brilliant stepper motor driver and one we were very impressed by.
These drivers from BIQU were our choice when it came to what was the best value. They offer intelligent shopping control along with the automatic detection of current decay. Along with that, they also have thermal shutdown circuitry for overheating protection.
You get 5 pieces in the pack here, and they work perfectly as a replacement for the A4988 micro-stepping driver. Each unit can accept a continuous current of 1.4A along with a voltage range of 3.3V – 5V. It produces excellent results and comes with a high-quality heat sink.
What we liked: We firstly loved the value for money that you get with these drivers as they are much more affordable than some of their rivals. They also come well packaged, so you don’t have to worry about receiving any broken drivers.
What could be better: While these are cheap, they do come with one downside – they are quite louder than some other drivers. If noise is not an issue, you’ll love all the other benefits you get.
If you want to have a complete CNC controller kit, this is going to be the perfect solution. It includes everything you need: a CNC shield board and a Longrunner board to give you plenty of options.
The stepper motor drivers themselves are DTV8825 and are an ideal replacement for the A4988. You get four pieces in the pack, and they come with large heat sinks. Despite it being the most expensive product on this list, it still represents excellent value for money considering everything you get.
What we liked: The installation of this kit is going to be fairly straightforward, which is aided by the detailed instructions that it comes with. The entire kit is high-quality, and that can be seen by the heat sinks that are effective at keeping it cool.
What could be better: We did notice that a few users have complained about quality control. It appears that some have received defective parts, but this appears to be a rare issue.
Are you looking for a replacement for the TMC2209? These stepper motor drivers are going to be ideal. One of their most significant features is that they have a UART working mode along with them having an almost silent operation.
The current is 1.2A continuous with a peak of 2A, and a voltage range is between 3.3V and 5V, which are all fairly standard. Also, they all come with highly effective heat sinks which are easy to attach. The quality is very high here, and it’s not going to let you down.
What we liked: The all-important print quality that these drivers give you is exceptionally high. You’ll be happy with how they work while also appreciating the low level of noise and excellent temperature control from the heat sinks.
What could be better: There are only 4 pieces in the set, but that should be more than enough to get the results you need. The packaging is good, so you shouldn’t have any issues with their longevity.
The versatility of these drivers is shown by the large voltage range that they can operate in. You’ll be able to swap them out for the A4988, DRV8825, and LV8729 drivers.
The product offers a 256 step resolution and comes with its own CoolStep current dynamic adjustment technology, which works perfectly to give you the most precise printing. It’s able to do that while avoiding stalls and missteps that may otherwise ruin your prints.
What we liked: While color isn’t important for drivers, we quite liked that you have two options here. Notably, the drivers run very well and produce a minimal amount of noise. That’s partly due to the high-quality construction that will ensure they last for many years.
What could be better: We did notice that some users have complained of delivery issues. While it seems rare, it’s a good idea to inspect your package immediately after opening it.
Here, we see another driver that is a good replacement for a wide range of drivers. That includes the TMC2208, A4988, DRV8825, and LV8729. It’s able to cope with a high level of current, which is shown by the 2.0 continuous amperage it can handle.
A common feature of high-quality stepper motor drivers is that they will reduce the noise output, and that’s exactly what you get here. Along with that, it can also handle up to 256 subdivisions for the highest quality prints.
What we liked: One of the first things you notice with these drivers is just how easy they are to install, and you’ll have your printer up and running again in no time at all. Along with that, the UART mode works great, and the overall build quality is impressive.
What could be better: While they are easy to install for those that are comfortable with what they are doing, the lack of documentation here may well be a little frustrating for some.
This model works great as a simple-to-use stepper driver. It’s going to be compatible with anything that has a digital pulse between 0 – 5V. It’s able to drive any bi-polar motors and handle set-ups of 4, 6, or even 8 motors.
It’s great for being able to micro-step and get the highest levels of precision from your printer. This requires a different type of installation and doesn’t come with a heat sink, with this being a larger one-piece unit.
What we liked: The level of versatility is great here, and that allows it to cover a wide range of machines. It works very well and has a compact size when compared to the larger boards we see. Due to that, it also gives great value for money.
What could be better: Without a heat sink, the driver is going to get quite hot. It may be a good idea to look for an alternative solution such as a fan to keep it cool.
This is going to be a great option for those looking for a straight replacement for the Pololu A4988. It has the right specs, which include a 1.4A continuous current and a peak of 2A to control all of your motors easily.
The level of build quality here is very high, which gives the drivers durability that you don’t get with other products. It has that level of quietness that you’d expect. Moreover, there are 5 pieces in the pack and high-quality heat sinks that keep your components cool.
What we liked: These drivers offer brilliant value for money, especially considering their level of performance. They are quite simple to use, and this is aided by aluminum heat sinks that are extremely effective.
What could be better: While we thought the drivers were great, one of the reasons they are highly affordable is that the packaging isn’t great. As with others, it’s a good idea to inspect them upon delivery to ensure they are not damaged.
We’ve seen some great options already as a replacement for the A4988, and this is another one. It’s a quality Pololu replacement and works perfectly with the Prusa i3, among others. The set-up is extremely easy to use, and you’ll be up and running in no time at all.
There are five high-quality pieces in the set, and all of them come with an impressive heat sink that will work to take the heat away from the drivers. They are rated for a current of 1.56 and have a high level of build quality you’ll be more than happy with.
What we liked: All these drivers will impress you with their performance, and you’ll have no issues with that here. Despite an affordable price tag, they have a durable construction that helps to give you brilliant value for money.
What could be better: If you want to have the ultimate level of silence from your driver, then you’re not going to get that here. The printer will still be fairly loud, but for many people, this won’t be much of an issue.
If you’re looking for an integrated solution, then this would be a great option as an H-bridge bipolar constant phase flow driver. It enables micro-stepping to give your printed items the highest quality finish available.
The peak current of the driver is 4.0A, and it can accept a voltage range of between 9-40V. A great aspect of this model is the heat sink is included which, may negate the need for other cooling methods. It’s a brilliant solution to control your motors.
What we liked: The consistent level of quality from this driver will give you a high level of confidence in your prints. It is able to work flawlessly while producing a minimal amount of noise. Additionally, it’s easy to set up, so you shouldn’t have any issues.
What could be better: The level of documentation that you get with these drivers can be a little lacking. You may need to rely on online support to get the info you need.
Things to Consider
There are plenty of features to consider when you’re looking to get a stepper motor driver. That’s why we’ve written this in-depth buying guide so that if you have any doubts, we can quickly clear them up for you. We’ll look closely at all of those key features and answer any queries in the FAQ section. By the end, you should have no doubts about how to pick the best stepper motor driver.
How to pick the best stepper motor driver for a 3D printer?
To pick the best stepper motor driver, you have to work out which combination of features is the best for you. What type of current and voltage do you require? Do you need a heat sink? How many pieces are in a set? What is my budget? These are the types of questions you need to be thinking about. Thankfully, we’ll be able to answer them for you here. It’s good to make a mental note after each section so you can get the perfect match for your printer.
It’s important that you get the right level of current running through the stepper motor and get a driver that is compatible with your current set up. A lot of these drivers will deliver a continuous current of 1.2A, with a peak of 2A that can be found with the BIGTREETECH TMC2208.
If you want to get a driver with a higher capability, the Eryone TMC2209 would be a great option with a continuous available current of 2.0A and a peak current of 2.8A. There is also the SMAKN TB6600, which can go even higher than that with a possible peak current of 4A.
As with current, it’s vital to ensure you’re getting the right voltage for your system. If you’re sure about this, then it’s good to refer back to the documentation for your motors.
Your stepper motor driver’s board will dictate the amount of current going to the motors, which means that the motor’s nominal voltage isn’t too important.
Most stepper motor drivers sit in a similar range between 3.3V and 5V. If you wanted something with a bit more power capability, then the 9V to 40V of the SMAKN TB6600 is going to be perfect.
You need your stepper motor driver to be cooled. If you have an integrated system, then you probably will have an internal fan that will cool the system. For most plug-in drivers, they are going to need a heat skink.
Heat sinks are very clever tools that will move the heat generated by the component through and then away from the source. The BIGTREETECH TMC2208 is an example of a driver that has a brilliant heat sink that will keep the driver cool enough to prevent any issues.
What can it replace?
A great way to upgrade your printer is by choosing the proper stepper motor driver. This could increase the step modes that it can currently operate at.
The more steps your motor can take, the more precise it’s going to be. This includes drivers that can micro-step, which can often give you more than 50,000 steps per rotation.
It’s important to know that there are different types of drivers, and if you want to have the easiest installation, you should look for a direct replacement. For example, if you want to replace an H-bridge driver, then the SMAKN TB6600 would be a great idea.
Pieces in the package
You’ll need to have a driver for each stepper motor you have. Due to that, you’ll want to ensure you have enough drivers to control them all. Most are going to be offered in a set of 5, such as with the DORHEA TMC2208, which should be more than enough units to work with.
Other drivers will come in a pack of four, so you’ll want to double-check that it’s enough for you. You’ll also get integrated units, and here, you won’t have to worry about how many pieces you’re getting in the set.
Ease of set up
There are various levels of difficulty with installing stepper driver motors, but most of them are going to be fairly straightforward. The DORHEA TMC2208 is an example of one that is very easy to adjust, and you should have no problems with getting it into place.
Other types of drivers may need to be soldered into place and require a little more work. This can be difficult if you’re not experienced, but soldering kits can be picked up fairly cheaply.
Most of the drivers we’ve featured here are very easy to install and don’t require much expert knowledge.
One of the best features of stepper drivers is that they can often vastly reduce the noise your printer makes. You get many people that comment on their new drivers by saying they had to double-check that their printer was on.
There are a few different price points on these drivers, depending on their performance and other factors. An example is the Trinamic drivers that are often more expensive than Pololu drivers as the latter is generally made for hobbyists rather than commercial use.
For premium stepper drivers, you’ll be looking to pay around $30, and we see with the Eryone TMC2209, which has the fantastic capability. Also, you can get the SMAKN TB6600 a little below that at around $15.
If you are on a budget, there are still some great affordable drivers, such as the Bolsen A4988, which costs less than $10.
This will depend on what type of stepper driver you want to buy and whether or not they need to be soldered. Most of these stepper motor drivers we’ve looked at here are what we call ‘breakout’ drivers as you can pull them out, put them in, and they all have a similar pin-out configuration. There are also integrated drivers that will come as a part of a bigger unit, and the chip will be soldered to the board. To change these, you’ll need to either carefully unsolder it, solder new pins, and cut out the chip or get a completely new board. The ease of installation will depend on your current board, but most of these are ready to use.
Installing your stepper motor and driver shouldn’t be too complicated. The connectors are usually standardized, and it’s a case of plugging everything into the right slot on the control board. There are a few important pieces of advice, such as ensuring that the printer is completely turned off during the installation process. The most important step is that your drivers can supply the right amount of current to your motors. If it is too little, they won’t have enough torque. Too much – and they will overheat. This can be adjusted via the potentiometers on the driver board. Once you’re set-up, give it a test run. If anything looks wrong, immediately shut it down and troubleshoot the problem.
You don’t want your stepper motor and drivers to get too hot, but how hot is too hot? It’s something that many hobbyists ask themselves as they don’t want their components to get damaged. In reality, these components can deal with quite a lot of heat. A normal range for a stepper motor is somewhere around 60-90C (140 – 194F). If you can touch them with your fingers without burning your hand, then that’s a sign they aren’t too hot. You don’t have to worry about temperatures because you can always use a thermometer to check them. If they are too warm, it’s a sign that too much current is being run through them.
We loved all of the stepper motor drivers that we’ve looked at here. If we had to have a top pick, it would be the DORHEA TMC2208. Its performance levels are unbeatable, and it can provide great results while allowing your printer to be nearly silent.
Are you looking for something less expensive? The BIQU A4988 will be a great option as it still offers very similar performance but with a lower price tag. Alternatively, if you are searching for a complete overhaul, the Longruner 3D Printer CNC Controller Kit is going to be ideal.
While these three are great, it’s important to get a driver that matches your needs and is compatible with your printer. If you have any doubts, then our buying guide should have all your answers. All that’s left to do is choose your best stepper motor driver and enjoy fantastic 3D prints.