Make a smart buy for your business and your budget with our favorite affordable printers of 2021.
Finding an inexpensive printer with low operating costs can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. With so many printer brands and price points to choose from, it’s hard to know whether you’re making a smart buy. Equally important factors like cartridge replacement costs and page yield are an often-overlooked piece of the puzzle and if you end up with an inefficient machine, you could be stuck with high operating expenses for a long time.
Luckily, with this guide, we cover everything you need to consider when shopping for a cheap printer. To start, we’ll break down a few printer pricing factors that will help you keep your costs low, then we dive straight into a few our favorite budget-friendly printers.
If you wish to jump right to the list of cheap printers with low-cost cartridges, click here. For further reading, check out our guide on how to decide between an inkjet and a laser printer or our list of the best printers of 2021.
Know What Printer Type You Need
Printer type and printer pricing can vary quite a bit. With different printers going on sale every week and new printer models being released every few months, there are no shortage of options if you are searching for a new printer. Before you start your search, decide what features and functionality make sense for your needs.
First, you’ll need to choose between an inkjet or a laser printer. Inkjet printers have a cheaper sticker price than most laser printers but cartridge replacements tend to be far more frequent thanks to a smaller cartridge capacity. They are great for casual home printer users needing to print text and photos, but they aren’t the most economical option if you print a lot. Laser printers use toner cartridges to produce a print and are best suited for high volume printer users. You will end up paying more upfront for that additional printing power but toner cartridges are more cost efficient than ink cartridges in the long term because of their higher page yield.
Next, you’ll have to decide whether you need a multi-function (aka all-in-one) printer or just a basic printer. An all-in-one printer that features scan, copy and fax options is going to be slightly more expensive than a basic printer that only prints, but most of those additional features won’t add too much to the total price tag since they are so common these days.
More advanced features like faster print speeds and a higher monthly duty cycle can definitely affect printer price, and you can expect to pay more for those if they are a must-have.
Understand Cartridge Page Yield
What’s page yield? Page yield is the approximate number of printed pages you get from a particular printer cartridge.
All printer manufacturers base their quoted page yield on the same ISO/IEC 24711 standards so consumers can easily compare cartridge efficiency across printer brands. Cartridge cost and page yield can vary from printer to printer, making it very important to keep in mind when shopping for a new machine.
Buying a printer that uses cartridges with an inefficient page yield means more frequent cartridge replacements and higher operating costs.
In your hunt for an affordable machine, you will want to look for a printer that offers a decent page yield and low cartridge costs. Unfortunately, this isn’t always straightforward. In fact, two printer cartridges can offer the same page yield but sell at very different prices.
Let us look at the HP 64XL black ink cartridge and Brother LC103 black ink cartridge as an example. Both cartridges offer a page yield of approximately 600 pages but HP sells their cartridge for $37.99, while Brother’s is only $16.79. Varying degrees of page yield and cartridge cost can lead to a very different printing bill at the end of the month depending on what printer you go with. Be sure to pay attention to cartridge operating costs when you are comparing potential printer models.
Important: What may seem like a great printer deal upfront may end up using costly printer cartridges! Don’t forget to factor in cartridge price and page yield when shopping for a new machine…
Consider the Cartridge Capacity (Standard Yield vs High Yield)
Printer cartridges come in a range of sizes and capacities.
- Standard yield cartridges are the least expensive of the bunch, but print the least number of pages.
- High yield, or “XL” cartridges, are also regularly available for most machines, priced just slightly higher than their standard counterpart but offering considerably more ink.
- Some printers even offer an extra high yield or XXL size for users with heavy volume print jobs.
The difference between these three cartridge types is not the size of the cartridge but the amount of ink that is filled inside. High yield cartridges typically print about twice the number of pages than a standard cartridge, making them a better overall value if you print regularly.
Pro Tip: If you print regularly, you can save money by buying high yield cartridges instead of standard ones.
Save More With Low Cost Alternatives
It’s a known fact that printer cartridges can quickly end up being the most expensive part of owning a printer. Cartridges from your printer manufacturer can particularly be pricey, and the cost adds up if you print frequently.
Fortunately, there are alternative options that print just as well at a fraction of the cost!
Remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges from third-party sellers are designed to fit and function in your machine just like the original and print the same number of pages. Reputable providers like LD Products offer high quality compatibles for thousands of popular printers and have established trust and confidence in homes and offices across the country.
When you are shopping for a new printer, make sure that compatible cartridges are readily available for your machine. Compatible options can be found for most every printers these days–except if your printer is very new. For the newest printer models, it may take a little while for compatibles to become available since cartridges do take time to develop. You can learn more about the differences between compatibles and original brand cartridges with this in-depth blog article.
List of Economical Printers
Now that you know how to identify printers that use cheap cartridges, here’s a list of our recommended economical printers.
Best Cheap Home Office Printer
HP OfficeJet Pro 8025 – Buy on Amazon*
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8025 is our pick for casual home office and small business users looking to print text and color photos. Equipped with a range of all-in-one features, including copying, faxing and scanning. An automatic duplexer makes it easy to print on both sides of the page and print speeds are reasonably fast at 20 ppm / black and 10 ppm / color. The printer uses four HP 910 ink cartridges available in both a standard and high yield cartridge size, with each high yield cartridge printing 825 pages. A 916XL extra high yield black cartridge is also available for users that print a lot of text, printing 1500 pages for just a few more dollars.
Save Money on Cartridges: This is a newer printer model so compatible cartridges aren’t available for it quite yet, but LD Products will be offering low cost compatible versions of the HP 910XL cartridge series soon. Sign up to be notified the moment they become available here.
Best Budget Printer
Epson Ecotank Expression ET-2720 – Buy on Amazon
Ink tank printers like Epson’s Ecotank series are relatively new to market and a welcome alternative for printer owners that are tired of replacing dried out ink cartridges. Instead of relying on printer cartridges to produce a print, ink tank printers use a refillable tank system and ink bottles to handle printing duties. The tank keeps ink securely stored in an airtight tube so it won’t dry out over time, letting you print thousands of pages for pennies on the dollar without the regular need for replacement. For a complete guide to ink tank printers check out our Best Ink Tank Printers of 2021 article.
The Ecotank ET-2720 is one of the cheapest options from Epson, offering print, copy and scan features and a super low cost per page. Incredibly, the 522 black ink bottle includes enough ink to print 4,500 pages and each 522 color bottle prints up to 6,000 pages. Checking ink ink levels is quick and easy too, just by glancing at the transparent tank display on the front of the printer. Wireless printing is another convenient feature, letting you print from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet.
Save Money with Low Cost Ink Bottles: Compatible Epson 522 ink bottles from LD Products contain the same amount of ink as the original Epson and install seamlessly in your Ecotank machine, available for just $6.99 each.
Best Cheap Black & White Laser Printer
Brother HL-L2390DW Monochrome Laser Printer – Buy on Amazon
Get crisp, sharp text at an affordable price point with Brother’s HL-L2390DW monochrome printer. Perfect for small-businesses, this printer can handle all of your everyday printing duties, offering print speeds of up to 32 ppm and a full suite of convenient multi-function features. A 250-sheet capacity paper tray handles half a ream of paper with ease and an automatic duplexer helps save paper by instantly printing on both sides of the page. Toner cartridges are available in two sizes, the TN-730 standard yield (printing 1,200 pages) and the TN-760 high yield (printing 3,000 pages). The DR-7230 drum unit will also need to be replaced from time to time, generally after the use of 3-4 toner cartridges.
Save with Lower Cost Toner Cartridges: Enjoy big savings when you use compatible Brother TN-760 toner cartridge from LD Products, available for $29.99, or pick up the compatible DR-730 drum for the same price.
Best Cheap Color Laser Printer
Brother HL-L3290CDW Digital Color Printer – Buy on Amazon
Small business users that print regularly in color should consider Brother’s HL-L3290CDW digital color printer – offering multifunction printing features and quick print speeds of 25 ppm at a great value. A manual feed slot handles a range of paper types, including card stock, envelopes and photo paper and a special toner save mode conserves your cartridges when printing out non-essential documents like drafts or emails. Four cartridges are required for this machine, available in both a standard and high yield size. The TN-227 high yield black cartridge prints 3,000 pages and the cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges print 2,300 pages.
Being smart about printing can save you tons of money. You just need to know what printers to get and what considerations to look for. If you need any questions, feel free to leave us a comment! We love helping out.
*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon and Staples. All products are reviewed independently. As an Amazon associate, LD Products earns from qualifying purchases through links on this page. All prices effective as of January 4, 2021. OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.