Nothing is more satisfying than that “clink” sound when you accurately hit your target with the cue ball when playing pool. Not all balls are created equal, though. Some are made out of special resins, have better consistency and flexibility, and will outlast other balls by years. Finding the best pool balls will depend a lot on their materials, size, finish, and more importantly – price.
In this guide, I’ve ranked all the top models for this year based on their pros, cons, and specific categories they fit best in. After that, we will take a look at the specific features that define a good set of balls and see which are the brands we can never go wrong with!
Pool Balls Comparison Chart
Best Overall – JAPER BEES Pool Balls Set
A good set of pool balls must be a few things. It should be very durable, have a long-lasting finish, and of equal importance – it should be a good value for your money. The JAPER BEES Pool balls set is just that and is the perfect set for any player from beginner to pro, in my opinion.
These balls are made out of pure resin, which the brand calls a polyresin formula. This allows them to control the ball’s consistency and weight much better, mimicking brands like Aramith at a fraction of their price. The balls also have excellent hardness, roundness, and glossiness that won’t wear off in a year.
Another thing that I really like about these pool balls is that they come in a lot of color combinations. You can get the Pearl or Marble Swirl versions which are stunningly beautiful while maintaining the same physical characteristics as the Deluxe, Premium, or Pro models. All of them also come in an attractive gift pack that can work great for birthdays or just a nice travel case. As a whole, Japer Bees balls are an exceptionally good option for something that doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg but also wants something premium that is regulation-sized and will last longer than other sets in this price range.
- Great price
- Classic design
- Polyresin formula
- Regulation weight and size
- Crisp colors
- Excellent finish
- Not the most durable balls out there
- Some versions aren’t suitable for proffessionals
Best For The Money – Aramith Continental Regulation Pool Ball Set
Aramith is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to pool balls. While they are most often associated with premium and expensive products, they also have the “Continental” line which is exceedingly good value for your money and brings most of the cool features from the more expensive model lines.
This complete set of 16 balls comes at a bargain price which makes it one of the best values for your money out there, even better than the JAPER BEES set of balls. Moreover, it is the entry-level and cheapest Aramith set out there so it is excellent for beginners that want to get something that will follow them on their way up. Like almost all other Aramith sets, this one is made out of phenolic resin which gives the balls great long-term durability and even better consistency and finishing properties. The balls are smooth, shiny, and won’t damage the felt they are rolling on. Moreover, the accuracy here is second to none. All the balls are regulation-sized at 2 1/4″ and 5.9 oz.
While this isn’t the top-shelf product from the brand, it does bring a ton of value to the table and is one of their best products when it comes to its price-to-value ratio. I’d argue that you don’t need anything more than this if you’re set on buying Aramith balls and you aren’t a professional.
- Incredibly good price-to-value ratio
- Phenolic resin construction
- Smooth finish
- Consistent weight
- Great-looking colors
- Colors are painted on
- Color fading is a common issue after an year or two
Best Aramith Set – Aramith Super Pro Pure Phenolic Pool Balls
Following the trend of the previous “Continental” Aramith ball set, the Aramith Super Pro is the top-shelf product that is the dream of every pool player. They are hands down some of the best balls in the world, topped only by the Tournament series from the same brand. As expected, their biggest downside is the insanely high price but that is pretty much where the downsides end. These balls are perfectly balanced, uniform in their weight, and have excellent reaction and rebound properties which are apparent in this series far more than in the lower ones.
Just like any other product from the brand, the Super Pro balls are made out of phenolic resin which is in the core of all of the superb properties of these balls. Each of the 16 balls is regulation-sized and perfectly crafted. None of the balls is colored, as all have their resin run through their core. This ensures no fading over time, something that is typical for cheaper sets. The phenolic resin also lasts up to 4-5 times more than other synthetic materials on the market currently, easily giving these balls a lifespan of nearly 10 years or more if you don’t use them frequently.
Another thing that shows you the true potential of these balls is the massive amount of tests they’ve been through. They’ve been submitted to 5 tons of pressure, impact resistance tests, burn spot tests, and homogeneity tests. Thanks to their molecular structure, these balls have passed every single test with flying color. They won’t break under insane amounts of pressure, won’t burn your felt, and won’t chip away after a few years. As a whole, if you’re not a professional I wouldn’t recommend these, as cheaper Aramith balls will do the job but if you are serious about pool tournaments, these should be very high on your shortlist.
- Excellent for professionals
- Superb build quality
- High impact resistance
- Remarkable longevity
- Perfect rebound properties
- The price is very high
- Overkill for beginners or intermediates
Best Budget Set – GSE Games & Sports Expert Professional Pool Balls Set
Going from the most expensive set to the cheapest set on this list – the GSE Games & Sports Expert Pool Balls are everything you’d expect from a set that costs half of the next cheapest set here. They have decent durability, regulation size, and are one of the best choices for a beginner that will likely upgrade after a year or two of playing pool. They are also great for any general game room or bar as they are somewhat resistant to constant play and it won’t hurt your budget if any of them gets damaged after some time.
Apart from their ridiculously low price, these balls have a surprisingly good build quality. What I mean by that is that they have consistent roundness and decent balance. While they don’t feel as homogenous as some more expensive balls on the market, they are good for training and won’t hinder your accuracy as you practice.
The set also comes in three other color options and one more weight option. The pearl version is regulation-sized but doesn’t fit the regulation weight requirement, as each ball weighs 4.3 oz. This makes them much lighter and actually better for beginners and kids to train on. As a whole, these balls are nothing more than a beginner set of pool balls that does everything okay but at the same time, they are also nothing less.
- Very cheap
- Ideal for beginners
- Decent build quality
- Great for game rooms and bars
- Come in other color combinations
- Colors are prone to fading
- Long-term durability isn’t great
- Not good for intermediates or pros
Most Complete Set – BETTERLINE Billiard Balls Set
Few sets on the market manage to mix quality, decent levels of performance, and good overall value. The Betterline Billiard Balls Set is one of these products. It combines a ton of accessories with balls that aren’t too bad. All of the balls in this set are regulation-sized (cue ball is 6.0 oz) and made out of high-grade polyester resin. While polyester resins are dubbed “low-quality” in a lot of conversations, the material is still good enough for balls that aren’t meant for professional players.
The thing that made me include this set in this guide is the fact that it comes with quite a lot of accessories. All that while it still remains relatively cheap compared to other similar balls in this price range. When you get this billiard balls set you also get two solid wooden racks. One of the racks is a triangle rack and one is a diamond 9-ball pool rack. The racks are both made out of hardwood and will outlast most cheap plastic racks out there. On top of that, you also get 5 cue chalks and 2 spot stickers for your table.
Another thing that is unique to a handful of sets on this list is the fact that you can get a full refund or an exchange if you aren’t happy with your product. As a whole, if you’re a beginner who is looking to get a complete set of balls and items, this is one of the best deals out there currently.
- Great price
- Includes 2 wooden racks
- Includes 5 chalk cubes and 2 spot stickers
- Excellent for beginners
- Good glossy finish
- Regulation sized
- Average quality
- Long-term durability isn’t great
- Colors start fading after an year or two
Best Mini Set – Empire USA Mini Pool Ball Set
The Empire USA Mini Pool Ball Set is a home-made set of mini balls that are exactly half the size of the regulation-sized ones. The smaller size gives a lot of advantages as it makes the balls lighter, faster, and more suitable for kids and beginners. They are also cheaper which makes them even more attractive. Some people even prefer mini pool balls for smaller pool tables, as the big ones often feel disproportionately big compared to the pool’s bed and pockets. As with other pool balls in this class, they are made out of high quality synthetic resin.
There are a few downsides to the small size, however. First of all, they aren’t meant to be hit as hard as a large ball and will chip and break if you play rough with them. Moreover, they are harder to hit. While that is great for your accuracy it won’t really help you develop a good feel for the ball’s mass and weight if you want to learn to play with regulation-sized ones. The color of these balls also tends to fade away around the first-year mark.
- Made in the USA
- Good price
- Great for kids
- Good for recreational pool
- Decent quality
- Good finish
- Not suitable for stronger plays
- Will chip and break upon harder impacts
- Colors tend to fade
Best Looking – GSE Games & Sports Dark Marble Swirl Style Pool Ball Set
This set of pool balls is the same as the other GSE Games & Sports Expert regulation size pool ball set. The difference here is that these balls are marble-colored and are, therefore, much more attractive. While the look of the pool balls isn’t on everyone’s priority list, I have to admit that these are some of the better-looking balls out there.
They are made out of the same resin material as the Standard set and feature a similar AAA quality grade. All of the 16 balls here are regulation-sized at 2 1/4 inches and 5.9 oz. Contrary to the dark marble swirl set, there is a regular marble swirl pool balls set that is much lighter and, some would argue, even more attractive. Unfortunately, the added effect does bring the price quite a bit up, making these twice as expensive as the standard set from the brand. I’d recommend these only if you want something to “wow” your guests with. Otherwise, go for the Standard set.
- Stunning look
- Excellent polish
- Good build quality
- Regulation size
- Quality resin
- Great for a first set of balls
- Colors are prone to fading
- Long-term durability isn’t great
- Not good for intermediates or pros
- Twice as expensive as the Standard set
Best for Beginners – Hathaway Pool Table Ball Set
Beginner’s sets are often made far too complex and “professional”, which ends up bumping their price. The main goal of a beginner set is to teach you how to handle the weight of the ball across the felt. Apart from that, it needs to be affordable and fairly durable in order to last you a year or two until you decide to move on with a better, premium set.
The Hathaway Billiard Ball Set is all of that. It is affordable, all of its balls are 2-1/4 inches and 5.5 oz, and are precision engineered. Their weight and color calibration combined with the blended poly-resin makes them surprisingly responsive and consistent in their aim. They aren’t very gentle to the felt, nor they are as durable as some other more expensive poly resin balls out there. However, that doesn’t take much away from them, considering they are competing in the lowest price bracket, where competition isn’t exactly stellar.
If you’re now starting to learn how to play pool and want something on a budget, this is a solid set to put on your list!
- Great for beginners
- Weight calibrated
- Regulation size
- Blended poly resin construction
- Smooth finish
- Colors fade away easily
- Chips and cracks aren’t uncommon
Pool Balls Buyer’s Guide
Pool balls (or billiard balls) are extremely similar at first glance. However, upon further review, they are differentiated by a plethora of features all of which play a role in gameplay. All these features also greatly reflect on the price. Before we dive a bit deeper into these specific features, though, let’s first discuss the various types of pool balls out there…
Types of Pool Balls
Since there are a lot of versions of billiard existing nowadays, normally there would be more than just one type of ball out there. The most common types of pool balls you can find now are:
- American pool balls – American balls that follow regulation sizes are 2 1/4 inches and weigh anywhere from 5.5 to 6 oz. These balls are used to play different games like nine-ball, eight-ball, and even one-pocket. The American version of pool is called Kelly pool in England. The balls are divided into two groups – solids and stripes. The 8-ball looks like the solids but has a much different significance for the game itself.
- British pool balls – English pool is played with slightly different balls. In the set, there are 7 2-inch balls (red) along with 7 more than are yellow. There is one 2-inch black ball and a 1 7/8 inch white cue ball.
- Snooker balls – Snooker balls have a standard size of 2 1/8 inches. There is no official weight but all balls on the table must be within the same weight limits (with a maximum of 0.11 oz difference). There are 15 red balls as well as 6 other balls that are colored yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, and black. These 6 different balls all carry anywhere from 2 to 7 points. To be able to score one of them, you must first score a red ball in a pocket of your liking.
- Carom balls – Carom billiards is a very old form of the game but is still played around the world. It uses 3 colors for its balls – white, red, and yellow.
- Mini pool balls – Mini pool is a game with increasing popularity. Its balls are of different sizes and are referred to as “mini pool balls”. They aren’t regulation-sized and can vary a lot from set to set.
In traditional billiard, balls are typically divided into regulation and non-regulation balls, where they either meet the official criteria (5.9 oz and 2 1/4 inches) or they don’t. These also meet specific color combinations. Balls with official sizes but without official coloring are also marked as non-regulation balls.
Additionally, you can find a lot of people having Aramith balls in a class of their own. That is because they might actually be in a whole separate class. These Belgium-made balls are made out of consistent and evenly distributed phenolic resin which runs through the whole ball unlike most other balls out there. That gives it a unique characteristic along with a long lifespan and amazing consistency.
What To Look For
As I mentioned earlier, pool balls have quite a lot of features that separate them into different categories based on their materials, sizes, quality, price, and more. The most important features that you should pay attention to are:
- Overall Quality
- Life expectancy
There are a lot of materials used in pool balls nowadays. The most common ones are acrylic and polyester and they are primarily used in cheaper sets. More expensive sets use materials such as synthetic resins. Brands like Aramith use the famous phenolic resin which has excellent properties. It is easy to work with, lasts longer than other materials, and leaves no grooves or soft spots on the ball over time. That is important not only for the ball’s movement and consistency but also for its ability to keep the felt unharmed when rolling.
Apart from the type of materials used in the ball, the way the material is distributed is also important. This is called “homogeneity” and is an important characteristic of premium billiard balls. The more homogenous the material, the more accurate and true the roll of the ball will be.
Pool balls have different sizes depending on their type. However, for the American pool, you will see that the regulation size is 2 1/4 inches in diameter and anywhere from 5.5 to 6.0 oz. Other sizes are also available but are marked as non-regulatory. They are great for younger players, beginners, or casual players that don’t mind playing with smaller pool balls.
The overall quality of the pool balls is hard to define. It relies on all other features and is a combination of the materials used, the craftsmanship, and the longevity of the ball. A good overall quality will determine an even better value for the set of balls but usually costs quite a bit more than regular pool balls that are just decent.
The elasticity of pool balls is hard to put into words, let alone visualize. It has a lot to do with what the ball does after an impact with another ball. Less elastic balls will rebound more, making them harder to control. More elastic balls (which are also more expensive) will have an optimal rebound that will reduce the risk for kicks.
While design surely isn’t the deciding factor for many, it does come into play for people that are looking for a cool set of balls. Some balls have a better finish than others and are therefore much glossier and better-looking. Additionally, there are more and more ball sets popping on the market that have different styled effects. Some of the most common effects currently are the marble or pearl effects. This has become so common that most brands now have versions of their models that offer alternative paint schemes.
If you want your balls to keep their glossy look for longer periods, look for scratch-resistant models. Models that resist scratches better are also smoother and won’t damage the felt as much over time. Some more expensive ball sets will have their design stay unchanged for longer since the colors are embedded in the resin itself. Others can start fading after a year or two. Most balls will have their white parts start turning yellow.
If you want to learn more about why pool balls turn yellow and more importantly – how to clean them, click here!
How long a set of balls is going to last is a major buying factor. Most cheap ball sets will start chipping around the first year, assuming you play regularly. They will also start discoloring and losing their consistency thanks to slowly losing uniformity in their density. More expensive balls will not only retain their colors better but will also last for years. The most expensive balls can outlive cheaper sets with more than 5 years before they start showing any symptoms of aging. As a whole, cheaper sets can last years too if you don’t use them as often. Moreover, even if they start degrading, you will barely notice the difference if you aren’t training or playing professionally.
While the price isn’t the only deciding factor, it does play a major role in the overall quality of the ball set. More expensive balls will be produced out of better materials (such as improved resins). They will also be much more consistent and will be less likely to discolor over time. Another feature of premium ball sets is that they are much easier on the pool table’s cloth, which is another factor you should keep in mind. As a whole, good sets range anywhere from 40 to 100 dollars, with premium ones reaching way over 200.
As with everything else in the world, there is a brand that stands head and shoulders above the rest. In the sport of pool, that is Aramith. Their balls are simply above all rest thanks to the decades of innovation, material and build quality, as well as superb craftsmanship. Even their cheapest set of balls is a better alternative than a high-end set from a lesser-known brand. These balls are made in Belgium from phenolic resin which is a much better material than polyester, acrylic, or other synthetic resins.
Other brands that are worth mentioning are Diamond Billiard and Brunswick. Although behind, they are quite competitive in certain levels, especially the low and mid-tiers.
If you want to learn how to level your table in order for the balls to keep a proper straight line, click here! Now, let’s answer some questions related to the topic…
Frequently Asked Questions
Do good pool balls make any difference?
Absolutely yes, good pool balls will behave better on the table. They will allow for more accuracy, will have less rolling resistance (hence more speed), and will be much more gentle on the felt. Higher-end balls also won’t chip and will stay consistent over the years, assuming you’re using a good pool cue.
Do pool balls last for long?
While most cheaper brands will give you up to a few years of life before they start degrading and being inconsistent, expensive ball sets can last anywhere from 6 to 8 times that. The main reason behind that is the quality of the materials used in the manufacturing process.
Are Aramith balls worth it?
Aramith balls are a good investment to anyone who is looking to play pool long-term and is serious about it. Casual players won’t notice much difference between cheaper sets and the standard Aramith ball set. The price difference, however, will set almost anyone back, so unless you are into pool and have money to spend, I suggest going for a cheaper set made out of synthetic resin.
How can you distinguish ivory balls from the rest?
Ivory balls are pretty rare but there are some still used on older pool tables. Ivory, unlike all the other synthetic materials, doesn’t burn or melt. That’s why one of the best tests here would be heating up a needle and slightly poking the ball. If it doesn’t melt, it is most likely ivory.
Finding the best pool balls will depend on a few major factors. Most importantly, you have to look at the materials from which these balls are made of. Additionally, make sure that they are regulation size and will last you at least a few years before they start chipping and deteriorating. If you cannot choose a specific model, it is always a good idea to bet on the well-known brands in the industry, such as Aramith, Diamond Billiard, and Brunswick!