Creality updated the stock motherboard in their Ender 3 3d printer towards the end of 2020. So how do you tell if it’s an 8 bit or 32 Bit Motherboard? There is nothing external to the 3D printer that allows the user to figure out whether they have an older 8 bit Atmel board or a new 32 bit Arm board with the exception of of one thing. Creality took the opportunity to change the USB connector from a mini USB socket to a Micro USB socket on their stock board. I blogged about this HERE I think that this is still the easiest way to find out. But here’s some more information on identifying the boards. And… if this is not enough there more Here in a further post related to the CR Touch Self Leveling kit.
Just as a quick aside: If you hate the spring clips holding the bed on why not try using plastic book spines? like these on Amazon. You may well just have some laying around.Dirt cheap and effective. Worth a try. See more about this in This Post.
Ender 3 Motherboards: The Differences
But I just received a comment from somebody who has a board with a micro USB socket and yet cannot get the 32 bit software to update. So I thought I’d look a little deeper. First of all here’s an image of the two different boards that ship or have shipped with the Ender 3.
If you’re thinking of upgrading to a 32 bit board you can get one for approx $79/£60 on This LINK (Amazon seller with over 200 5* ratings)
Notice the 32 bit board has the number “V 4.2.7” on it just under the “Creality” logo while the older 8 bit board has the legend “Creality 1.1.x” near the Atmel processor. The other visual giveaway is the silver oscillator can on the older 8 bit board. It is not present on the 32 bit board.
(Be warned: Several suppliers (including Creality!) have an advertising image of the 8 bit board along with it’s box instead of the 32 bit board mixed in with the advert for the 32 bit board. Like HERE:
They go to great lengths to show the difference between the 8 bit or 32 Bit Motherboard then wrap it up with a packaging image (last one) of the wrong board. Hey Ho.
I have one potential issue. It’s with 8 Bit boards that are “silent boards” (i.e. V1.1.5) Getting images on-line of the USB connector has proven to be spectacularly difficult. But… “I think” they are mini USB like earlier versions (from one image at an angle!). I don’t think that many 1.1.5 boards were made before they were replaced by the 32 bit boards. I don’t think they even made it into the shipped product – they were only replacements. But if you have one I’d be grateful if you could confirm the USB connector type in the comments below.
So, I suppose that if you are doubting whether the mini/micro USB connector is correctly identifying your board then the only this to do is crack the beast open and have a look. This is not difficult. Creality even provide you with the tools you need. Which in this case, is a single Allen Key.
Creality Ender 3: Accesssing the Motherboard
There are two screws on the top/front of the motherboard box box and one towards the back of the processor box. You will need to bring the bed forward to get at the screw at the back. Take them out and then behold your motherboard in all its beauty. Here’s mine (8 bit)
The only possible alternative here is that you have a non Creality board fitted in which case all bets are off, but I think that in most cases is unlikely.