Shopping for a new home printer is easy with this complete buying guide. We’ll tell you what features to look for, what to avoid and how to get the most value from some of today’s best rated printers.
Choosing the best printer for home use can be a bit unnerving. Like most tech available these days, there are an endless amount of options, each with their own unique features and selling points and with many of us now working from home, finding one that is reliable and affordable can take some research. Jumping on the latest printer deal of the week is understandably enticing, but isn’t the most logical thing to do especially if you’re not sure if that printer truly fits your printing needs and budget.
In this guide, we will help you focus your search and explore a handful of top-rated picks for 2021, so you can find a machine that fits both your needs and budget.
To start, we will cover a few common pre-purchase questions. If you would rather skip ahead to our list of best home printers, click the jump links below. For further reading, check out our guide on how to decide between an inkjet and a laser printer or our list of the best office printers of 2021.
- Best Budget Printer: Brother® MFC-J805DW
- Best Home Office Printer: Canon PIXMA TR8620
- Best for Photo Printing: Epson® Expression Photo XP-6100
- Best Monochrome Laser Printer: Brother HL-L6200DW
- Best Color Laser Printer: HP LaserJet Pro M180nw
What kind of printing will you do?
Printing the occasional family photo and daily expense reports obviously require two very different printers. To figure out what you are looking for in a printer, make a list of what you plan to print regularly, semi-regularly and not at all. When you are researching new printers look for features that meet those printing requirements. For an in-depth guide on what to look for in a new printer, check out our “What Printer Should I Buy?” guide. In our printer recommendations further down the page, we cover some of our latest favorites for a range of uses.
How often do you print?
Every printer uses cartridges that offer a specific page yield. The yield determines how many pages a cartridge can print, and subsequently, how often you will need to replace your cartridges. Page yield can vary drastically from printer to printer, so you will want to look for a printer that offers an acceptable yield for your needs. Consumers that only print occasionally might be perfectly happy with a cartridge that only prints 200 pages. However, that same cartridge would not be a good fit for someone that prints 1,000 pages a week.
How much do you want to spend on printer cartridges?
There are consumers who only look at the price of an ink cartridge and think they can save money with a cheap ink cartridge. There are tons of printer cartridges out there that run for $10-$15, which sound like a good deal on the surface. Unfortunately, not all printer cartridges are created equal, and while the initial cost of the cartridge is low, the real way to measure the true cost of an ink cartridge is by looking at it’s cost per page which not only looks at cartridge price but also the number of pages you get from the cartridge as well.
The real way to measure the true cost of an ink cartridge is by looking at it’s cost per page (CPP) which not only looks at cartridge price but the number of pages you get from the cartridge as well.
Determining the cost per page is relatively easy; just divide the printer’s page yield by the cost of the printer cartridge. For example, the Brother LC3035 black ink cartridge that we talk more about later in this article offers a yield 6,000 pages and an original Brother brand version sells for $55.99. After you do a little math, you’ll find that the cost per page is .93 cents, which is super affordable and why we named it one of our favorite budget friendly printers.
Alternatively, if you look at a cartridge like an HP 63XL black ink cartridge, the cost per page is a completely different story. The yield for this cartridge is 480 pages and HP sells the cartridge for $39.99, giving you a cpp of 8.3 cents, or almost eight times more expensive to operate than the Brother cartridge.
The take home lesson is, before buy, calculate the cost per page of the cartridges that come with the printer. If operating costs are high, keep looking!
To cut back on printing costs even more, consider purchasing compatible cartridges. Compatible (and remanufactured) printers cartridges offer the same number of prints and the same standard of quality as an original brand cartridge for a fraction of the price, bringing your cost per page down even further.
What features do you need?
From single-function printers that only print to all-in-one machines with print, scan, copy and fax capabilities, you will need to decide which features are essential. Read up on the specs of your prospective printer before you buy and make sure they line up with your needs. Find the basic specs on the manufacturer’s website!
Best Budget Printer
Brother® MFC-J805DW – Buy on Amazon*
The Brother MFC-J805DW is a budget friendly all-in-one ink tank printer that offers a low-cost per page and a number of convenient features for everyday use. It’s high yield cartridges are priced very reasonably for the generous amount of ink that is included in each one, keeping your print budget low and cartridge replacement something of a rarity. This printer is part of the Brother Inkvestment ink tank series, which blends the familiarity of a conventional inkjet printer with the cost savings of an ink tank printer like the Epson EcoTank. Instead of using ink bottles and an ink tank system like the EcoTank series, it uses regular ink cartridges, but once they are installed, the ink is stored in a tank that’s built into the printer. Storing the ink in a tank inside the printer lets you print longer without worrying about replacing your cartridges. Monitoring your ink levels is easy with the page gauge on the printer display so you know when your ink is running low.
The LC3033 cartridges (black, cyan, magenta and yellow) last between 1500-3000 pages each, depending on the cartridge. For an even better value, high yield LC3035 cartridges are also available, printing 6,000 pages in black and 5,000 pages in color. Print, copy and scan capabilities come standard and an automatic duplex function makes it easy to print on both sides of the page.
On the go, computer-free printing is easy too with built-in wireless functionality. The printer’s paper capacity is a bit small at 150 pages but the tray is designed to accommodate a range of paper sizes, including photo prints.
To bring your printing costs down even further, consider LD brand compatible LC3035 ink cartridges. At just $22.99 for the black cartridge and $24.99 for each color cartridge, the savings are tough to beat.
|Cartridge Model Number||Page Yield|
|Brother LC3035 High Yield Black Ink Cartridge||~ 6,000 pages|
|Brother LC3035 High Yield Cyan Ink Cartridge||~ 5,000 pages|
|Brother LC3035E High Yield Magenta Ink Cartridge||~ 5,000 pages|
|Brother LC3035 High Yield Yellow Ink Cartridge||~ 5,000 pages|
Best Home Office Inkjet Printer
Canon® PIXMA TR8620 – Buy on Amazon
Canon updated their PIXMA printer line recently, hoping to replicate the success of the incredibly popular PIXMA MX-922. Home and small office customers loved the MX-922’s countless features and streamlined functionality. Easy all-in-one print options and a faster engine make the compact TR8620 a worthy successor.
The printer uses five cartridges offered in three sizes (standard yield, high yield and extra high yield). Two of those required cartridges contain black ink, with the larger PGI-280 pigment black cartridge handling text and the CLI-281 dye-based cartridge covering photo prints.
Frequent users will get more value from the extra high yield option thanks to its higher ink capacity. The extra high yield PGI-280XXL offers the ability to print 600 pages and the CLI-281XXL color cartridges print roughly 800 pages each.
Front and rear paper trays can handle up to 100 sheets of legal sized paper or 20 sheets of 4”x6” photo paper, offering a high output quality. Accessing the paper tray can be a bit of an inconvenience, you will need to lift up on the front printer face and keep it open for the duration of your print job.
LD Products offers low cost compatible versions of the PGI-280/CLI-281 ink cartridges at a great value. The extra high yield PGI-280XXL black ink cartridge is just $11.99 and each compatible color cartridge is $10.99, saving you over 60% off the original Canon price.
|Cartridge Model Number||Page Yield|
|Canon PGI-280XXL Extra High Yield Black Ink Cartridge||~ 600 pages|
|Canon CLI-281XXL-281 Extra High Yield Cyan Ink Cartridge||~ 820 pages|
|Canon CLI-281XXL-281 Extra High Yield Magenta Ink Cartridge||~ 760 pages|
|Canon CLI-281XXL-281 Extra High Yield Yellow Ink Cartridge||~ 824 pages|
|Canon CLI-281XXL Extra High Yield Black Ink Cartridge||~ 6,360 pages|
Best Photo Printer
Epson® Expression Photo XP-6100 – Buy on Amazon
Epson’s Expression Photo XP-6100 is an all-in-one printer designed for the home photographer, offering attractive, full color photo prints and print/scan/copy options at a compelling price.
The XP-6100 uses 5 Epson 302 ink cartridges to bring family memories to life, available in pigment black and dye-based cyan, magenta, yellow and photo black.
If you are new to photo printers, you may be wondering why there are two different black ink cartridges. The pigment based black is primarily used for printing text and the dye-based black is used for photos, providing more accuracy and improved detail.
Sold in a standard yield and high yield cartridge size, the 302XL cartridges include almost twice as much ink as their standard counterpart. The printer includes three separate paper trays, including a 20-sheet 4”x6” tray for snapshots, a 100-sheet tray for everyday prints and a 30-sheet capacity output tray for quick one-off prints.
A scanner makes archiving old photos a breeze and scans can even be shared and sent to the cloud for safekeeping. The SD card and USB drive are welcome extras, perfect for printing quick, computer-free photos.
Find lower prices on aftermarket as well as original Epson 302XL cartridge replacements from LD Products.
|Cartridge Model Number||Page Yield|
|Epson 302XL High-Capacity Black Ink Cartridge||~ 550 pages|
|Epson 302XL High-Capacity Cyan Ink Cartridge||~ 650 pages|
|Epson 302XL High-Capacity Magenta Ink Cartridge||~ 650 pages|
|Epson 302XL High-Capacity Yellow Ink Cartridge||~ 650 pages|
|Epson 302XL High-Capacity Photo Black Ink Cartridge||~ 650 pages|
|Epson 312XL High-Capacity Light Magenta Ink Cartridge||~ 650 pages|
Best Monochrome Laser Printer
Brother® HL-L6200DW – Buy on Amazon
Home offices with strictly monochrome printing needs will love Brother’s HL-L6200DW printer. This printer is built to do one thing: print black text. Sometimes that’s all you need and this printer does it very well.
Brother offers three different toner cartridge options that are designed with the heavy-duty user in mind. The TN820 standard yield prints 3,000 pages, the TN850 high yield prints 8,000 pages and the super high yield TN880 cartridge prints 12,000 pages. The TN880 cartridge is by far the most cost-effective option of the three, offering a 1-cent cost per page if you buy the original Brother brand.
At $19.99 per cartridge, LD brand compatible TN880 cartridges can bring your total cost of ownership down even further, just .16 cents! A 520-sheet paper tray keeps you printing longer with less frequent paper changes and an automatic duplexing option makes dual-sided prints in just one click.
The printer is speedy too, printing up to 48 pages per minute and first page out time of less than 7 seconds. Wireless connectivity lets you print from any device in the home, or, print directly via USB for that rare occasion when the internet gets spotty. All things considered, this is a reliable little workhorse that puts a value on your budget and your bottom-line.
|Cartridge Model Number||Page Yield|
|Brother TN880 Super High Black Toner Cartridge||~ 12,000 pages|
|Brother TN850 High Yield Black Toner Cartridge||~ 8,000 pages|
|Brother TN820 Standard Yield Black Toner Cartridge||~ 3,000 pages|
Best Color Laser Printer
HP® LaserJet Pro M180nw – Buy on Amazon
The LaserJet Pro M180nw is a multi-function laser printer that is a smart buy for any home office looking to add some color to their monthly budget reports. Designed for work teams of 1-5 people, users can easily print, copy and scan via the printer’s 2.7” color touch screen. Download HP’s smart app to print seamlessly from your phone or tablet, or print wirelessly from your home computer with Wi-Fi direct.
A USB cable and Ethernet port are also an option for customers requiring a more direct print solution. At a capacity of 150-sheets, the printer’s paper tray is a bit on the small size. However, a decent 17 ppm print speed and convenient automatic duplexing feature make it a worthy addition to your home office arsenal.
The printer uses HP 204A black, cyan, magenta and yellow toner cartridges, offering a decent yield for weekly printing needs. You’ll get roughly 1,100 prints from the black cartridge, perfect for high volume black and white prints, and approximately 900 pages per color. LD Products sells a compatible black cartridge for just $29.99 and each color cartridge for $34.99.
|Cartridge Model Number||Page Yield|
|HP 204A Black Toner Cartridge||~ 1,100 pages|
|HP 204A Cyan Toner Cartridge||~ 900 pages|
|HP 204A Magenta Toner Cartridge||~ 900 pages|
|HP 204A Yellow Toner Cartridge||~ 900 pages|
Finding the best printer requires some research, but if you take the time to map out your printing habits, you’ll end up with a machine that’s a perfect fit for your home. Resist the attractive sticker price of a printer with high operating costs…keep searching until you’ve found a printer that works for you and your budget! We hope one of the printers we mentioned here helped you in your search. If you have any questions about any of the models listed, or have a favorite home printer you’d like to tell us about, drop us a line in the comments. Happy hunting!
*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from 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 5, 2021 OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.