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PrusaSlicer vs. Cura: Which Choice is Better?

PrusaSlicer vs. Cura: Which Choice is Better? | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

William Stone


January 6, 2023

3D printing has migrated from a fringe hobby with a high bar to entry to a genuine fascination and artistic outlet for tons of makers out there. The expanded popularity of 3D printers has also led to a larger market for slicers, like the popular PrusaSlicer and Cura programs, which has left many makers feeling lost about which slicer is the best choice for them. 

PrusaSlicer and Cura are both excellent choices for anyone looking to get the most out of their 3D printer. They have many similarities and differences, and ultimately it will be up to each user to decide which one is going to be just right for them. 

If you ask anyone who has used both programs, they will probably tell you why they prefer one over the other, and that opinion will shift from person to person. We’re going to break down all the similarities and differences of these two slicers and the most important things for you to consider when choosing yours

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Table of Contents

Can My Computer Run PrusaSlicer and Cura?

It’s important to have a strong understanding of your system and its capabilities. Rendering 3D models is no small task and will require a lot of processing power. Cura has put together lists outlining both the minimum system requirements and the recommended system requirements for optimum performance.

The absolute minimum requirements for Cura are:

  • An OpenGL 2 compatible graphics card (and at least OpenGL 4.1 if you want to use the 3D layer view)
  • A resolution of at least 1024×768
  • At least an Intel Core 2 processor or AMD equivalent
  • At least 550 MB free space on your hard drive
  • 4GB RAM

However, the recommended system requirements are:

  • A graphics card compatible with OpenGL 4.1 (a quick google should tell you all about your card)
  • 1080p resolution screen (1920×1080)
  • An Intel Core i3 processor or AMD Athlon 64
  • 600 MB of free space on your hard drive
  • 8GB RAM

PrusaSlicer isn’t quite as definitive as Cura when it comes to system requirements. It’s fair to assume that the requirements for PrusaSlicer are similar to Cura and if you’re serious about 3D printing, you’ll want to aim for the recommended setup.

Both slicers can be run on Mac, Windows, or Linux operating systems, but Chromebook users will find themselves in the lurch.

Chromebooks are great for essential computing tasks, but are not designed for the kind of high processing power required for 3D printing. Even top of the line models, like the PIxelbook, would struggle or be unable to run Linux versions of the software.

How Much Do Cura and PrusaSlicer Cost?

Both Cura and PrusaSlicer are open source, free to download software. There are slicers available for purchase out there, but there really is no reason to pay for it. These two popular slicers have continually improved over time, almost entirely thanks to the free, open source model.

By being an open source product, external developers have been able to tinker with how it works and engineer their own adaptations. Some of the most popular adaptations have even been worked into new release versions of both softwares. These adjustments and updates are what keep these products at the top of their game.

While the software is free, you’ll still need to consider the costs of the actual printer itself, filament and printing materials, and depending on your current computer, you may need to invest in some upgrades there to get the best experience.

You can check out Prusa’s line of flagship printers right here and Ultimaker’s line of printers right here. Both PrusaSlicer and Cura work with printers from other manufacturers, but these particular models from each respective company are designed and built to be the best experience for each slicer.

The average consumer will likely find more accessible pricing for some of Prusa’s lower end models when compared to Ultimakers. As we’ll discuss later, Ultimaker has an eye out for industry and manufacturing, while Prusa is geared towards consumers. This difference is evident in the design of the printers and the price tag.

Do PrusaSlicer and Cura Have Any Special Features?

Both slicers share tons of features, but there are a few unique aspects that each could claim over the other. Let’s look at some of the popular commonalities and distinctions. PrusaSlicer and Cura are fully functional 3D printing slicers, and will deliver many of the standard expected features, like these three discussed below.

Modifier Meshes

This feature allows you to include unique settings to different parts of the STL (Standard Tessellation Language.) By making tweaks to different parts of the structure, you can achieve a more detailed and intricate design model in your print.

Variable Layer Height

This allows you to change the thickness of layers depending on the shape of the model. Shifting from finer to thicker layers can speed up overall print time helping you dive into your next project even sooner.  

Experience Modes

Both slicers offer different mode settings to help meet the user at their experience level. Shifting between the different modes will change the UI and hide certain features from view so as not to fully overwhelm a new user. As you gain experience, you can step up to different modes and explore the wider array of features.

The Unique Features of Cura

Cura has been around a bit longer than the PrusaSlicer and offers a few exciting and popular features that help it stand out.

3rd Party Printer Support

Ultimaker, the company behind Cura, has their own printers, but you’ll find that most 3D printers work with Cura. This is definitely helpful to folks on a tight budget that want to invest in a lower cost 3rd party printer without having to sacrifice the high quality software experience that can be found with Cura.

The Cura Marketplace

The Cura Marketplace is easily one of the most popular and appealing assets of this slicer. This functions similar to the app store on your phone and allows you to add customized plug-ins to your software. There are tons of awesome features just waiting to be loaded up. Check out some of the most often recommended ones right over here.

Custom Scripts for Cura

Another popular feature is the ability to fully customize scripts. This gives you the flexibility to pause prints in process and opens up the space to add in other hardware components, making adjustments or alterations, or anything else you may need to do before resuming the print process.

Cura’s Experimental Settings

Another fun and exciting area to explore with Cura is the Special Modes and Experimental Settings. These settings are a fun playground for the user to try out new things, almost like a beta tester. It’s a great way for an experienced printer to explore some new strategies and ideas.

Cura’s Flexibility in Material Selection

Ultimaker boasts that they offer “the widest material choice on the market.” This allows endless flexibility when purchasing and choosing filaments to print with.

PrusaSlicer Unique Features

PrusaSlicer began as a variant of the popular Slic3r program and is a little bit newer to the game than Cura. However, just because it hasn’t been around as long doesn’t mean that it is lacking in specialized features.

Conditional G-Code

This is similar to the custom scripts mentioned above. Specifically, it allows you to enter “if” statements into the code so that if the printer encounters a certain parameter then a certain action will occur. This can prove to be a valuable asset for more experienced printers that want to explore some more advanced design ideas.

PrusaSlicer’s Connectivity

Cura has some excellent connectivity features, but PrusaSlicer offers connectivity to the popular FlashAir and Astrobox. The FlashAir functions similarly to a standard SD card, but includes a wireless LAN chip providing the advantage of accessing the stored data without having to connect and disconnect the card through complicated adapters.  

The Print Host Upload Queue

Think of this like a print queue for a standard printer. It allows you to slice multiple files and push them all into a queue until you are ready to print. Maybe you’re waiting on some supplies to arrive before printing or maybe you just want to get ahead of schedule. Either way, this can prove to be a real time saver.

PrusaSlicer has Extensive Language Support

PrusaSlicer currently works in 14 different languages including:

  • English
  • French
  • Italian
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Czech
  • Polish
  • Ukrainian
  • Korean
  • Simplified Chinese.

Prusament: An Exclusive Filament

Prusa offers an exclusive filament that they have dubbed “Prusament.” The Prusament comes in an abundance of different colors and varieties ensuring that your print turns out exactly the way you had imagined.

Most users will find that either program has what they need to succeed, but may prefer some features over the other. The vast network of plug-ins available on the Cura Marketplace is definitely a leg up over other Slicers.

Which Slicer Has the Best User Interface?

One of the most important aspects to consider when choosing any software, is what the interface is like. After all, if the user can’t easily navigate the application, then it really doesn’t matter what it is capable of. Both slicers offer customization to the interface to make it most helpful for you.

Cura Interface

Many people find Cura to be a great interface for any level printer. Cura offers different interfaces depending on your experience level, making a simpler experience for the novice and a more complex one for the expert.

The Cura interface is an intuitive one. There is a dedicated build area display to keep an eye on your project, and the menus are stored in an easy to access drop down style menu bar across the top that will feel familiar to any user. Cura has also recently added a dark theme, which is a popular choice among techies and much easier on the eyes.

Cura also offers print estimations and preview animations. These can be extremely helpful as you are considering moving ahead with printing your model and will provide valuable insight into the most time consuming or delicate pieces of your print.

The visual cues provided are like helpful little nudges to pay attention to something you may have missed. A certain line item may light up brighter, reminding you to check on a certain setting before proceeding.

PrusaSlicer Interface

Many users have described PrusaSlicer’s interface as simpler and more streamlined than Cura’s. It may feel more familiar to photoshop veterans out there with an emphasis on views, categories, and modes.

Much like Cura, PrusaSlicer offers a variety of modes from basic to expert, providing just the right amount of complexity for each user based on their skill level. Progressing through the modes as you learn more is a valuable skill builder and intuitive progression.

PrusaSlicer’s settings are grouped a bit more compactly than Cura’s, which many users find easier to navigate through than the various dropdowns from Cura. Users also report adjusting layers is even easier with the use of an easy sliding bar for layers.

Which Has the Easier to Navigate Interface?

The word “easy” may not be fair to apply to any new slicer software, but it seems that PrusaSlicer is a bit more user-friendly than Cura, at least for those new to the hobby. Both could be overwhelming at first and will take a bit of exploration, but with some poking around and exploring, you should find comfort in either one.

Who Should Use Cura and Who Should Use PrusaSlicer?

This is one area where the two slicers seem to be heading down decidedly different pathways. Ultimaker, the company behind Cura, appears to be steering more towards industrial use and manufacturing, while PrusaSlicer seems to be more heavily invested in the small businesses, artists, and hobbyists.

Cura Heads Towards Industry

Cura has partnered with several large polymer manufacturers and worked to integrate those materials into its popular marketplace. They have also made a serious commitment to ensuring that Cura can work with many proprietary CAD softwares, to ensure a professional product.

While average consumers still look fondly on Cura and turn towards the product for many uses, Cura has been positioning itself to create custom fixtures and replacement parts, and to try to make a footing for itself in manufacturing.

PrusaSlicer for the Home

PrusaSlicer doesn’t appear to have the same industrial ambitions as Cura. It is keeping a dedicated focus on artists and hobbyists working out of small shops or homes. This focus is likely what is keeping the interface simpler and more user friendly as well.

PrusaSlicer has even created a repository of pre-sliced parts to make file sharing easier than ever. This repository offers huge added value to home printers by creating time saving easy to print files and making them so readily available.

Which Is Best for My Applications?

Ultimately, only you can answer this. PrusaSlicer is making a push to be the go to slicer for the hobbyists and small artists, while Cura has an eye towards industry. It’s likely that PrusaSlicer will serve your home printing needs a little better, but it is also possible you’ll fall in love with the advantages offered by Cura.

Do Both Cura and Prusa Offer Support for Users?

Neither Cura, nor Prusa, offer direct company communication support for users, but both offer extensive guides, FAQs, and manuals. However, these slicers’ popularity has led to a tremendous boom of community support in forums and blogs. Detailed discussions can be found across the internet, but most reliably on reddit.

The 3D printing community is huge and very vocal about supporting each other online. Reddit communities offer different niches and discussions for individual printers, softwares, general printing questions, and more.

Beyond Reddit, Cura offers its own community support website. The results here are similar to what you may find in a reddit discussion, but will be specifically tailored to questions regarding Ultimaker Cura products. Additionally, Ultimaker offers a deep dive into each possible setting right here

Prusa also offers its own dedicated community forum that is very similar to reddit or the Cura website. Depending on your use case, it is pretty likely that someone in the community will have faced a similar problem and have some insight about how to work through it.

While neither company offers the kind of direct support you may expect from big companies, they do both have moderators who review forum content and often respond over time. These moderators also help to ensure that future versions of the software address any common recurring problems they may discover in the forums.

So Which Program Is Better?

As with most software choices out there in the world, the answer is mostly up to you and your needs. Cura has been around a bit longer and offers a large library of plug-ins to help with your ideas, but Prusa is a bit more dedicated to the small printer experience and has won over the hearts of veteran printers.

Both programs are free which offers an exciting and basically no risk opportunity to try them both and find out which one is best for you. Ultimately, both are great products and wildly popular and are sure to make all of your 3D dreams come true. It might just take a little time to master.

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PrusaSlicer vs. Cura: Which Choice is Better?


William Stone

William Stone

William has spent 20 plus years in the custom manufacturing industry as a COO, CEO and Owner of various custom product businesses. His experience has exposed him to all types of manufacturing from die cast, die struck, injection molding, CNC machining, laser etching, engraving and of course 3D printing.

Learn more about William Stone

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