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Inkjet vs Laser: Which Printer Is Right For You?

Inkjet vs Laser: Which Printer Is Right For You?

You’re stuck at a crossroads asking: should you get an inkjet or laser printer? Many consumers have asked the very same question and this article serves to answer it. First, let me give you the short of it.

The biggest differences between inkjet and laser printers is that an inkjet printer uses ink, is suitable for low volume printing, and is the traditional choice of home users, while a laser printer uses toner, is ideal for high volume printing, and is mostly utilized in (but not exclusive to) office settings.

Printer Types Comparison

Inkjet printers are generally cheaper, smaller, and have the versatility to print both text-based documents and high quality images, especially photos.  BUT be wary of cheap inkjet printers as those will end up costing you a fortune later on.

Laser printers, on the other hand, may be expensive upfront and uses pricier toner cartridges but still offers an overall lower cost per page, faster print speeds and typically involve a lower total cost of ownership.

Let’s take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of laser and inkjet printers so you can make your next purchase with confidence.

What Will You Use The Printer For?

If you’re looking for a home printer for occasional printing, most people would advice you to get an inkjet printer. However, a common complaint with inkjet printers is that the ink dries up if you don’t use it often. With that said, if you have the budget for it, I strongly suggest you get an affordably priced laser printer instead; the toner used by laser printers doesn’t dry up.

But if you’ll be printing a small volume of documents and colored images regularly, inkjet printers will get the job done. Laser printers are known to be more durable and can print large quantities of black and white and colored documents frequently. Though laser printers were originally built for office use, they are now growing in popularity as a home printer for economical reasons.

Color laser printers are good for everyday color printing but if you’re looking to print professional high resolution photos, go with a photo inkjet printer. High quality photo inkjet printers are particularly engineered for printing out vividly detailed photos with the tonal variety and deeper blacks that photographers need. Many professional photo inkjet printers use pigment-based ink which is more fade-resistant and works with a wide variety of art paper types as well as a range of paper sizes.

Inkjet vs. Color Laser Printer – One of the most popular questions we get from buyers is: should I get a color laser printer or an inkjet printer? It boils down to what you need color printing for. If you need gallery quality photos, get a photo inkjet printer.  But if you need to print medium quality colored images that don’t require color depth and tonal range, we recommend color laser printers over inkjet printers for two reasons: first – laser toner does not dry up if left unused, and second – you print more pages from laser toner cartridges than inkjet cartridges.

Technology (How It Works)

Inkjet printers spray liquid ink through microscopic nozzles onto paper as pictured below.

On the other hand, laser printers have a drum unit that fuses toner powder onto paper with heat.

So, one printer type uses ink, the other uses powder. With this difference in application between the two inkjet and laser printer types, it’s a common belief that smudging is more common with inkjet printers than laser. That’s not to say all inkjet printers do. Inkjet printers that use pigment based ink aren’t likely to smudge whereas dye-based ink require a longer drying time for the ink to set. And this also depends on what paper you’re printing on. Some paper types absorb ink better while some don’t.

Print Quality

Print quality depends on the output you need. If you need to print vivid exhibit-quality photos, look for a good professional photo inkjet printer that produces high resolution images. If what you need is a reliable printer that can keep printing sharp documents, a laser printer is what you need. A common perception is that inkjet printers are better with colored images, and laser printers are best for black and white. New color laser printer models in the market today beg to differ. Advancements in printer technology have allowed color laser printers to now produce pretty impressive colored photos as well. Although inkjet printers still win over laser when it comes to highly detailed and perfectly-toned photographic prints, color laser printers are now an option to consider for those looking to print medium-quality colored images while enjoying the reliability, endurance, and economic benefits of a laser printer. In a nutshell:

  • Monochrome Laser printers: Excellent for text and documents
  • Color Laser Printers: Excellent for text, documents, and can print medium-quality color images (ie. family photos for personal use).
  • Photo Inkjet Printers: Great for printing high quality photos with wide color range and tonal depth. Best when printing photo gallery prints.

Print Speed

Laser printers are built to accommodate the demands of a workplace so they are engineered to print faster (between 15 to 100 pages per minute, or ppm), while inkjet printers print slower at about 16 ppm. Since laser printers are faster, they are able to produce more documents compared to inkjet printers and therefore have a higher monthly print volume.

  • Laser Printers: 15 to 100 pages/minute
  • Inkjet Printers: 16 pages/minute

Print Volume

Print volume refers to how much your printer can print at a given time. A laser printer is considered to be the workhorse of the office because of its capability to quickly print large amounts of documents. Given that inkjet printers are meant for home use, it’s print volume is significantly smaller. For comparison, let’s take a look at the HP LaserJet Pro M401n’s print volume and speed alongside the Canon’s inkjet PIXMA MX922.

HP LaserJet Pro M401n Canon PIXMA MX922 (Inkjet)
Pages Per Minute 35 ppm 7 ppm
Monthly Print Volume 750 – 3,000 pages 250 – 500 pages

Notice the stark contrast between the print speed and print volume between the two printer types. Maximum Monthly Duty Cycle vs Recommended Monthly Print Volume It’s often confusing to consumers which number to follow when it comes to how much they should really print with their printers to keep their printers in optimal running condition. Let’s take this opportunity to clarify the difference between maximum monthly duty cycle and recommended monthly print volume.

  • The maximum monthly duty cycle is how much your printer can print in a month without causing damage to its parts.
  • The recommended monthly print volume is the amount you should print monthly to keep your printer at optimum performance.

Printing at maximum monthly duty cycle can result in your printer calling it quits much sooner than you expect. Try to stay within the recommended monthly print volume instead to keep your printer around longer.

Printer vs Cartridge Cost

The upfront cost of a laser printer may seem like its biggest weakness. After all, inkjet printers have a much lower upfront cost with newer models priced as low as $29.99 while laser printers are significantly more expensive with the cheaper ones priced at around $59.99–still twice the price of the cheapest inkjet.

But beware of dirt cheap inkjet printers. These cheap models have a high cost per page and use cartridges that can print only a few hundred pages that you’ll end up having to replace cartridges frequently. Before you know it, you’ve already spent more on ink cartridges than the printer itself.

When compared with laser printers, inkjet printers have a lower price partly because —

  • inkjet printers have a minimum life span of 3 years,
  • whereas laser printers have a lifespan of at least 5 years

— and this is all depends on frequency of use. A more important factor to consider when shopping for a printer is its cartridge price. In the same way that inkjet and laser printers widely differ in price, cartridge prices for a laser and inkjet printer also widely differ — and for good reason. Laser printer cartridges, also known as toner cartridges, can print significantly more pages than any inkjet cartridge! Using the two printers we used previously as an example, the HP LaserJet M401n uses the HP 80x high yield toner cartridge which can print at least 6,900 pages while the Canon MX922 inkjet printer uses the Canon PGI-250 high yield ink cartridge (250XL) which prints at least 500 pages. Compare 6,900 pages vs 500 pages! An HP 80x cartridge costs $196.99 (as of 9/4/2018) and the Canon PGI-250XL cartridge currently costs around $24.99. Although the HP toner is priced 87% more than the Canon cartridge, since you get 92% more pages out of the toner, the HP laser cartridge has a more economical cost per page. Check out the table below.

HP LaserJet Pro M401n Canon PIXMA MX922 (Inkjet)
Cartridge HP 80x Canon PGI-250XL
Page Yield 6,900 pages 500 pages
Cost $196.99 (*as of 9/4/2018) $24.99 (*as of 9/4/2018)
Cost per page 2.8 cents per page 4.9 cents per page

**If the price of laser toner is too steep for you, consider trying more affordable toner cartridge alternatives in the market.

Non-OEM compatible ink and toner cartridges are widely available at much better prices and print just as well as expensive branded cartridges.

For comparison purposes, let’s take the pricing of an original HP 80x cartridge and compare it with a compatible HP 80x cartridge. Original HP 80x Cartridge: $196.99 Compatible HP 80x Cartridge: $34.99 That makes the compatible HP 80x cartridge 82% cheaper than the original. You can get big discounts on compatible ink cartridges as well. Thanks to aftermarket options, expensive printer cartridges is now a thing of the past.

The upfront cost of an inkjet printer might seem the more economical (and attractive) choice at first but when you take into account the price of ink cartridges AND how often you’ll have to replace them (considering it’s low page yield), the running cost of replacing cartridges will easily get much more expensive than the initial cost of the printer.

On the contrary, laser printer cartridges can print more pages so it will be months or even years before you’ll need replacements, again depending on how much you use your printer. Mind the Drum Unit Laser printers always come with a drum unit that transfers the toner powder onto paper. The toner and drum unit are the two consumables required for a laser printer to work. Sometimes they come together as one piece and sometimes there are models where they come separately. When shopping laser printers, make sure to check if you’ll be needing to replace the toner cartridges AND the drum unit (though you only need to replace the drum unit a lot less frequently than the toner).

Alternatives to Ink Cartridges

In an effort to make the cumbersome and expensive replacement of ink cartridges easier, printer manufacturers have alternatives to buying ink cartridges.

HP’s Instant Ink Subscription Program: HP has the HP Instant Ink program which is a subscribe-and-forget-it service for ink cartridges. There’s a good mix of reviews for the service so be sure to read them before signing up.

Ink Tank Printers: Brother and Epson have created a series of printers that can hold bigger volumes of ink so that users won’t need to replace cartridges for awhile. Such printers utilize a CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System). Some downsides to larger ink tanks are:

  • That it’s much more expensive than the average inkjet printer and
  • It doesn’t change the fact that if you don’t print often, ink still ends up clogging your cartridge nozzles and printheads.

So be sure to consider your frequency of use before investing in a pricier CISS printer.


Here’s a summary of the differences between an inkjet and laser printer.

Inkjet Printers

PROS

  • Inkjet printers are usually smaller and lighter – making it ideal for a bedroom or home office where space saving is valued.
  • Great at producing photo quality prints and image-heavy documents, as inkjet printers do a better job of blending and producing vibrant colors than laser printers.
  • The price of an inkjet printer is less than most laser printers.
  • No warm-up time needed before printing.
  • Can print on a variety of paper types, including glossy photo paper, textured art paper, and fabrics.
  • Can accommodate larger paper sizes.
  • Ink refill kits can reduce the cost of printing.

CONS:

  • Ink is expensive, especially for users who print on a regular basis who are continually forced to repurchase more cartridges because ink cartridges can only print a few hundred pages.
  • Much slower than laser printers.
  • Low-capacity paper trays of 50 to 100 sheets, which can be frustrating for a user who prints a lot.
  • Low monthly duty cycle (the maximum amount of prints possible in a given month without causing damage to the printer).

Laser Printers

PROS:

  • Most laser printers print much faster than inkjet printers. This isn’t and shouldn’t be a strong selling point for casual printers, but high volume users will notice a huge difference.
  • Laser printers produce sharp text. If you’re a high volume printer that only requires text documents, laser is the way to go.
  • Higher monthly duty cycle means they are better prepared to handle high-volume jobs.
  • A price-by-price comparison favors laser printers over inkjet printers if you print on a frequent basis and aren’t producing documents that are graphically complex.
  • Toner, on average, is cheaper in the long run for high volume printers because their cartridges can print out thousands of pages in comparison to ink cartridges.

CONS:

  • Can handle simple graphics, but complex images and photos are a challenge.
  • Although there are some compact laser printers on the market, they are generally bigger and heavier than inkjet printers.
  • Laser printers can’t handle the same variety of paper that inkjets can.
  • The upfront cost of a laser printer is usually more than your average inkjet printer.

Deciding on whether you should go with an inkjet or laser printer comes down to what and how much you print. Inkjet printers are best suited for small, image-heavy documents, like photos and school projects. But, if you’re looking for a printer that can handle heavy volumes of text-based documents, a laser printer is the more efficient and economical choice. It also pays to think farther down the road. Do you project your print needs to change? Will your kids be needing a more reliable laser down the road or should you stick to an inkjet printer? Our needs change and taking them into consideration can save us potentially hundreds of dollars in the future. Happy Shopping!

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112 Comments

  • What do you recommend for the consumer who doesn’t use a color printer frequently but still needs one to print color documents and/or photos? We constantly have issues with ink jet printer cartridges drying out and having to replace them when we rarely print color documents or photos. When we go to print a color document or photo we are consistently getting messages that ink cartridges are low and need replaced. Would Laserjet printers be a better choice for infrequent color printing?

    • Yes, you got it! What you do need is a color laser printer. Check out the Brother HL-3140CW color laser printer. It’s very reasonably priced at around $169-$179. Original Brother laser toner cartridges for the HL-3140CW are priced between $57.49 to $69.99 but you can get cheaper alternatives that print just as well for only $19.99 each at http://www.ldproducts.com/Brother/Laser-Toner/HL-Printers/HL-3140CW/8549-Printer.html. Feel free to do more research on other color laser printers that suit your budget. HP laser printers run on the more expensive end while Dell and Brothers are more affordable.

  • Yes, you are 100% right, I was sick and tire of HP inject ” ink sucking machine”, also the inkjet printer give me lot of trouble with ink system problems, so I bought a Brother laser printer, boy, I wonder why I was so stupid, and I didn’t do it long time ago,the laser printer work better and the cartridge last 10 times longer and cheaper per page.

  • I don’t use a color printer at all. I mostly print black and white documents but would also like to be able to scan and copy. Faxing seems to be on it’s way out so what do you recommend. I hardly print anything out more than once a week and it’s usually only a couple of pages at most.

  • what types of jobs are best for inkjet

    • If you’re particular about color image clarity, tonality, and brilliance, inkjets are the best. Inkjets used to be the go-to for home printing but consumers have realized that these machines are expensive to maintain for a number of reasons and so more people are shifting to laser printers even for home use. A good rule of thumb when it comes to inkjets – AVOID THE CHEAP ONES. The more expensive perform a bit better and have higher page yields so you don’t keep replacing ink cartridges often.

  • I print proposals from home as an independent consultant. I need good quality graphics and high speed printing. My current model (HP Office Jet x576dw MFP) isnt the greatest at printing graphics on the same page at the b&w text. Plus, supplies are almost $500 a pop to buy every color. Do you have any recommendations on how I can get better quality at a reasonable price before I buy another round of printing supplies? I want to stay with the all-in-ones.

    • You can try the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M476 dw 21PPM. It’s an all-in-one printer that produces good graphic output quality at the same time uses HP 312X toner cartridges. If you want to save on toner cartridges, you can get a set of compatible color cartridges for the HP 312X for just $80 – https://www.ldproducts.com/HP/Compatible/Laser-Toner/4-pack/CF440AM/74773-Product.html. I hope this helps!

  • On more question, what do those HP PageWide printers do that most others dont?

    • The typical inkjet printer uses a printhead that scans across the page from left to right to produce a print. HP PageWide printers are different in that they use a stationary printhead that’s designed to print across the entire page in a single pass, which makes for a much faster print speed.

  • I own a dog boarding place. I print out the contracts and such for new clients, daily report cards for the dogs & their pictures on the first day & then I laminate them. My laser printer I’ve had for almost 8 yrs just literally took it’s last breath. I am torn on what to get next. I need one that does printing, copying, scanning & fax. I am all different machines right now & would love to consolidate. HELP!

    • Hi Karissa,

      Glad to help! Before I jump into recommendations I’d like to get a better understanding of your printing habits. About how many prints do you run a month? How many of those prints are in color versus black and white? How much do you want to spend per month on printer cartridges? Look forward to your reply.

  • How about if I want to use it at home and I will occasionally use color. I think I will not use it everyday but at one time I will need to print out a lot. I don’t like it when the ink dry up on me. Can you recommend which laser printer for me?

  • I found this article very interesting, loved that it’s recent and covers so many bases. I’m in the market for a printer and your article has me leaning towards a laser printer because of the long term savings BUT we still need to be able to scan/copy and print the occasional photos for schools projects and such.

    My 10th grader has to print homework assignments daily and I feel Ike we’re constantly purchasing ink.

    My 6th grader has school projects and such and does need the occasional color print job.

    We were looking at an HP inkjet for $200+ so we’re willing to spend more than $60 for a printer.

    I do love crisp clean print jobs and I’m wondering if we should use FedEx printing for color projects and buy a laser printer for day to day homework assignments.

  • My husband is in college and will be going to med school in the future. We need a printer that will last that can print off all of his power points he will need for class for a good price. So a printer that can print large amounts and have the ink last forever. It would also be nice to be able to print a photo occasionally! What should we get?

    • Definitely a color laser printer. The Samsung Xpress C430W is an affordable wireless color laser printer that might be a good fit for your needs.

  • I use my printer daily for my tutoring business, church and personal uses. I print both black and white and color, text and graphics/pictures, all on regular paper. I want a printer that can print good quality color graphics/pictures on regular paper, that is not grainy. I use duplex printing often. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks!

  • I have a Lexmark Orevail 705 that I LOVE! I have had it a long time. I need a comparable printer for my office work and family photos that I like to print. What is a good option, since I can’t buy Lexmark in stores anymore?

    • Hi, Mamie! If you are looking for cartridges for your Lexmark Prevail 705, we sell both compatible cartridges and original Lexmark cartridges here: https://www.ldproducts.com/Lexmark/Ink-Cartridge/All-In-One/Prevail-Pro705/4149-Printer.html

      If you are looking for a new all-in-one inkjet printer, we like the Brother MFC-J985DW. It uses four separate cartridges like your Lexmark and has many of the same features, including automatic duplex printing and print, scan and fax features. The cartridge page yields are very generous too, the black cartridge prints 2,400 pages and each color cartridge prints 1,200 pages. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Hi, i need ur suggestions. I work in company that need to do the printing for our promotions tool such as flyer or poster. We have such an old A3 printer that can’t work properly (it’so slow) and we think it’s time to get a new printer for our business. And also i think we’ll use more art paper for the printing material.

    Ps. I dunno about the budget for buying a new printer. My boss ask me to find some references about the printer first then we can talk about the budget xoxo

    Hope you can help me!

    • It sounds like what you need is a wide format inkjet printer based on your size and paper requirements. Check out HP Pagewide as well as Epson Artisan printer models. You can also look into the Canon PIXMA Pro 100–price is good and it’s a highly rated inkjet printer. Best of luck!

  • Hello. I need your advice. I need a printer for stickers, A4 posters, postcards (around 200-300 gsm) and 2-sided business cards. I am an artists and I print a lot of my artworks to sell as merchandise. I will also be printing copies of my group’s fully-colored comic soon. And for stickers, we’d prefer if it was at least water-resistant. What would you recommend?

    • Inkjet printers that use pigment ink is what I would recommend. Check out the Epson SureColor P400 or P600 printers, and also the Canon PIXMA Pro-10: these are all top quality inkjet printers that use pigment ink and if you’re going to be printing on various paper media, pigment is the way to go. Pigment ink is also water resistant so it would work well with your printers.

      One last tip: make sure not to use pigment ink on a printer that uses dye ink as this might damage the unit.

      I hope I was able to help. 🙂

  • Hello, I need your advice. I have two inkjet printers but I haven’t use them since the cartridge ink is over since last year.
    Canon Pixma MG2920
    Hp Officejet pro 6230

    I bought first one and when the ink was over instead of buying cartridge I bought another printer. But now both are out of ink.
    This is for home use, I bought specially for black and white prints and on an average I need to print 100-150 pages per week.
    Do you think I should buy the new cartridge or refill the cartridge or go for laser printer?
    I am confused what to do

  • Hello, I need a printer that can print on both sides of one piece of paper. I need it to be mobile as I run my own business and my office is my car. So the printer will be in the trunk.

    I will be printing papers with just text, flyers with graphics on the front and back of the page and the paper will be of a waxy type but not picture paper, excuse my ignorance on this subject because I really don’t know the names of these features and so on. So the other documents I’ll be printing is contracts as well as merchant applications. If you can give me some advice on what printer I need it would be massively appreciated. Thanks and have a wonderful day!

    • Hey Jake! For portable printers, check out the Canon PIXMA iP110 or the Epson WorkForce 100 printer. Both uses pigment ink which will work beautifully on your matte / lustre flyers. You can totally print double sided with these printers–most printers have this functionality now. The price for either printers is very reasonable too! I hope I was able to help. Cheers!

  • Hi! Can you please suggest a printer for me? I have three kids in high school who print about 5-10 pages each a day. I have a business where I print about 30 pages at a time but only occasionally. We rarely print color but need to have the option to do so. The problem is that we have printer jams frequently and sometimes our printer does not work for no apparent reason. We need a printer that is extremely reliable. I almost don’t even care about the price. I just want a printer that is going to make our life easier. Thanks!

    • Hi Wendy,

      We have a few different suggestions on family friendly printers here: https://www.ldproducts.com/blog/best-inkjet-printers-for-families/
      The Brother MFC-J985 that we mention is a good option for your needs, it prints both in black and color and the cartridges offer a high page yield, which is great if you print regularly. Hope this helps!

  • Hii i am a student i occasionally use color printout but more frequent in b and w printouts what kind of printer should i buy ?? And it should hav scanning , copying ,Xeroxing facilities and must be affordable

  • Which printer type is better when you have long periods between printing. Our sporadic printing needs seem to tax the ink jet heads requiring regular cleaning which expends ink and delays printing. Does this same issue exist with laser printers? Can they sit for a long period between printing without consequence?

  • Hey Techies,

    Love this forum and hoping for a recommendation. I currently use a small HP all in one but not cost effective to print 1000 BW or color flyers I need for local schools. I have to get these at a local copy business but inconvenient to drive 15 mins. each way and have them quote me each time. Much cheaper than Staples – just a hassle running all over to get copies.

    Plus

    I would love to be able to use color in my flyers but BW fine just wanting color for a little more “pop” as my biz is art classes! I do not want to spend more than $300 – $400 initial set up for toner/Laser printer. Looking to do all ( and more ) myself as I probably have 10K or more each school year.

    Please help with suggestions? I have always been HP loyal – but not “married” Mostly looking to stop paying copy shops, and spending time, effort, gas, etc. running back/forth!

    HELP and Thanks!! haha!

  • Thank you for your information on this site.
    I am looking for the following:
    —————————————————-
    Laser Jet Color Printer..
    Color printing on occasion for proposals..
    All-in-1 (PRINT, COPY, SCAN) no real need for FAX..
    WIFI..
    Print 11×17
    2-sided printing..
    ———————————————–
    I currently have a Brother MFC-J6920DW. It works okay but It seems to print quite slow, I have not figured out how to print automatically out of the 2 paper trays (I have to change the paper size out manually) and the ink is costly. Any suggestions for me?

    • Check out the HP LaserJet Enterprise M553n Color laser printer; it has a print speed of 40 pages per minute. You can also check out HP’s Pagewide line of printers if you want speed. No need to worry about toner cartridges, you can get cheaper alternatives that print just as well. Let me know if you have more printer questions or want to try out more affordable toner alternatives, I’ll be glad to help. Best of luck!

  • i am occasionally use back and white print please suggest me cheap printer

    • You can get the Brother HL-L2300D Laser Printer. It’s a no-fuss monochrome laser printer that’s been proven to deliver. No need to worry about occasional printing and dried up ink since it uses toner powder. It may not be the cheapest printer but it certainly is one of the cheapest laser printers. Worry not about toner, you can get more affordable toners at half the price. Best of luck!

  • Hi, I volunteer for a dog rescue organization and we do adoption events regularly. We print out the dogs pictures with some bio information for our adoption events. We print out about 1000 pages a month. Right now we are using a LaserJet printer that was given to us and is around 5 years old. The rescue is looking to get a printer that can handle the workload and also produce vibrant pictures at a reasonable price. What would you recommend?

  • all of the questions and answers are great but one area I did not see any discussion on is with the support from the various companies. Regardless if you get a laser or injet at some point you have to call for support. I always bought HP in past as it was the cheapest printer and I rarely print things. Now I am looking at getting a laser because I rarely print, but when I do I tend to need to print couple hundred pages in a few days and my ink has always dried out. I just bought a new injet cartridge and now the printer wont turn on. Of course I am 1 month past the warranty, and customer service is completely overseas and cannot think beyond the script in front of them.
    So who has a good laser printer with US based customer service????

  • I have always used inkjet not expensive one since. I printed occasionally maybe 50 to 75 pgs a month. I liked Epson I had 1 for 1 yr it had ink but wouldn’t print, it had me replace ink about $65 and never worked. Unable to find printer to use same ink so purchase another pd a bit more. I will be printing more often and maybe 100 pgs a month or more for next 2 years at least. Need a reliable good color quality.. Was considering just printing on inkjet and making copies at ups, or getting a color laser. If it’s similar expense I will just use inkjet it’s a new one so working well. What do you advise I am really confused and if laser is best I can use info on a good mid priced option. Thanks

    • Hey Betsy! Depending on the quality you need color prints to be, you may be better off with a color laser printer. Check out our article on color laser printers to see which models we recommend. We’ll be updating this article with newer models in a few months too! https://www.ldproducts.com/blog/best-color-laser-printers-for-2017/

  • I want to print product labels that do not run or bleed but do also want the images to look clear, which printer should I use ?

    • You can either use an inkjet printer that uses pigment-based ink OR a color laser printer. Pigment ink bleeds much less if at all compared to dye-based ink. Most inkjet printers use dye based ink. Only downside to pigment inkjet printer is that it’s usually more expensive. You can also look at color laser printers. Most of them produce pretty impressive color prints though not at the same level as professional photo inkjet printers but more than good enough for printing labels.

      Here are some of our recommendations for color laser printers: https://www.ldproducts.com/blog/best-color-laser-printers-for-2017/
      And here’s something you can check out to learn more about dye vs pigment inkjet printers: https://www.ldproducts.com/blog/photo-inkjet-printer-buying-guide-which-one-should-you-buy/

  • This isn’t a reply, but is a question. I’m looking at a home use printer. I print in both color and black and white, but no photos. I like to print on 3 x 5 cards in both landscape and portrait mode, and on both sides. And would like to do the same on 4 x 6 or 5 x 8 cards. As a matter of fact I do a lot of printing on both sides regardless of size of paper. On my old HP6500 I could also make custom size pages, i.e. I’d use letter size paper, but could set a size of paper like those to fit in DVD jewel cases. I scan like crazy often with multiple pages and like the functionality of being able to resize and rotate scanned images until it fits my needs and then save it. I scan from books and magazines most often. I currently have an HP Officejet 5740 that I would love to toss out the window because it often freezes up on multi page scans. . I have no brand loyalty. I’m totally dazzled by all the options out there and get confused by the jargon they use. Can you help? P.S. Money is not the most important issue here – my sanity is.

  • I really like the Qs & your As here. I’m looking for a high quality photo printer but my use will be sporadic. Can you provide any guidance for someone stuck between two hard places: inkjets (HQ but periods of non-use) and color lasers (reliable but lower quality photo printing). Recently retired, I have limited use for color docs and have a Brother HL-2270DW for B/Ws.

  • I need to print labels that are “indelible” pretty sure my ink jet can’t do this. Also does not like coated or glossy paper as it smudges badly. Is a laser printer better for this, or should I just upgrade my ink jet?

    • You can either get color laser printers or get an inkjet printer that uses pigment ink. Both can give you more long-lasting fade-resistant prints.

  • This is a question, I am starting a business with a friend, doing multiple things, but looking into printing pictures for mugs, t-shirts, hats etc.. so far I think I need a inkjet printer that uses pigment ink?, but I’m looking for one that has more than 4 inkwells.. I need one that has more, as I want the pics as perfect as possible.. already have the heat press etc.. Help please lol

  • Wow, this is an awesome site! I’ve had an HP Deskjet F380 printer FOREVER, and I’m finally fed up with its insatiable appetite for ink. I’m a music teacher, and mostly make b and w copies for my students, or print off chords/lyrics and such. I’d love to be able to print color flyers occasionally, as well as some photos (usually pay a premium at a local shop)…I’ve just gotten super used to no color. I don’t print a whole lot (go in spurts), nor do I have much space up here in this loft. I’m leaning towards a Brother laser printer of some sort having read through thoughts here, would you agree? Is the ‘drum unit’ a big concern?Thanks so much!!!

  • I also was contemplating the Dell C1760NW. It’s very reasonably priced, which almost makes me nervous. No duplex printing…which would be nice, but uncertain why it was so cheap.

  • I understand new color laser printers are 1. improved and 2. less expensive.
    My old Brother color laser brother that died a few years ago. Phone service was fantastic but I didn’t want to spend that much again. That Brother’s color was just fair on plain paper.
    I’m a low volume color home user but want the capability. I don’t need multi function.
    Machines vary widely in price – how do I know how far up the range to go?

    • Hi Ed,

      You might consider a color inkjet printer that uses extra high capacity cartridges. The Brother MFC-J985DW printer is relatively inexpensive. It’s black ink cartridge prints approx. 2,400 pages and the color cartridges print approx. 1,200 pages. They are a lot cheaper than your typical toner cartridge and you still have the option to print at a high volume if need be.

  • Anna, amazing article and forum! Love your knowledge!

    I hate my recent inkjets because of all the dried out and low yield cartridges. So I am finally naking the switch to laser!

    What is your best recommendation for the following:

    I don’t do very much color printing. Almost all prints are b&w text (I do real estate part time, and mostly only use my printer to print copies of offers, amendments, text documents).

    Having color might be a nice option, since I could completely get RID OF my inkjet printer lol!

    I don’t print frequently, I am a new agent, and only work with about 1-2 buyer clients per month. (So that’s why my ink always dried up)

    My wife prints all quality photos and holiday cards at a local Walgreens, or used Vista Print. So we have no need for high quality color printing at home.

    Wireless printing is a must. AIO multifunction is a must also, because of the real estate work, I scan/copy a lot of hand-signed client documents. I don’t need fax. But copying and scanning I definitely need.

    So….. Let’s recap:

    What is your BEST recommendation for the following:

    -AIO Scan/Print capable
    -ADF and automatic 2-side duplex printing.
    -Possibly around $120 or so (give or take a little)
    -Available low cost compatible toner (aftermarket)
    -Color is a maybe (but would give more versatility)
    -Wireless printing via network is a MUST

    I’m ready for your amazing wisdom and recommendation!!!!
    Thanks so much!

    -Alex

  • Oh .. And also,

    Please provide me with a few options. Maybe 2 color laser options. And 2 monochrome options.

    Whichever you think would best suit my needs.

    I like the feature set of the Brother DCPL2540DW.
    But would like to know other options and laser printers that may be similarly priced, but offer color.

    • For monochrome all in one, the DCP L2540DW is a good option for your budget. You should also consider the Brother MFC-L2740DW printer which sells for $169.99 on Amazon.

      Unfortunately, most multifunction color lasers printers are way more than $120. A more affordable color laser printer is the Canon imageCLASS LBP612CDW Color Laser Printer for $169.99 but it’s not multifunction.

      A more affordable multifunction color laser printer would be the HP LaserJet Pro M180nw AIO Wireless Color Laser which sells for $249 on Amazon.

      I hope this helps and best of luck!

  • Thanks for these information. Would you please advice me about the best options for printing books (more than 100 books x 200 pages monthly)?
    there are these options for used printers I was thinking to buy: canon pixma pro 1 (for book covers) and xerox workcenter 7556 (for inside) or epson workforce 8590 (for both)
    By the way, what are best paper options for book covers do you have?

  • Am looking to print text on background art first name almanacs and i will b using mostly black ink but some color at times.

  • […] more details on the difference between both printers, have a look at Ldproducts […]

  • Hello, I am considering a Canon, but could not make up my mind between inkjet or laser. Which one do you recommend to be used with Mac, Canon Maxify MB5420 or Canon Imageclass MF 634cdw? By the way, I print 20 to 40 color documents (mostly from internet) in a week. Print quality and scanner quality is important for me.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Definitely get a laser (imageClass) if you only print color docs from the internet.

  • Hi I’m looking for a laser printer which can print, copy and scan in both monochrome and colour and won’t be too expensive. I don’t mind if the colour printing quality is average but obviously nothing too bad. Any suggestions?

  • I have a Hp laserjet (Black and White). I need to print color documents. which printer I should have to buy ?

  • Hello,
    My projects require me to print high-quality color images that are decoupaged onto items. My inkjet printer prints very good quality color images, but the ink tends to smear and run when the decoupage medium is applied. Would a laser-jet printer be better suited for my needs? Or is there a different type of ink used by inkjets that would eliminate this problem?
    Thanks!

    • Elaine,
      I am a mixed media teacher and artist. I only use laser copies in my artwork, as the inkjet prints do smear, and are not necessarily lightfast.
      Hope that helps!
      LV

  • Hello, thanks for your very informative site.

    I am a research consultant / professor with a need for text and professional looking color documents for presentations. The kids also love to print photos from their mobile devices on occasion. I also do a lot of scanning and copying as well. I also have a wife who is currently in nursing school and does a lot of color printing for her exercises / homework.

    So, decided to get an all-in-one system, with a good (but desirable) photo printing capabilities as well as ability to print volumes of B&W text about 100 pp per month)

    I am considering these two printers:
    Inkjet: Brother Printer MFCJ6935DW
    Laser: Brother MFC-9330CDW

    I would very much appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.

    Thanks – MN

    • Hello,

      Looking at your needs, I would recommend going with the Brother MFC-J6935DW. If you compare the page yields and price point of the cartridges used in both printers, the LC3029 XXL super high yield ink cartridges used in the MFC-J6935DW actually give you more prints for a cheaper price than the TN221/TN225 laser toner used by the MFC-9330CDW,so you’ll get a lot more value there. Plus, with an inkjet printer, you will be able to get decent looking photo prints.

      Brother Printer MFCJ6935DW

      LC3029BK XXL Super High-Yield Black Ink Cartridge: 3,000 pages
      LC3029BK XXL Super High-Yield Cyan Ink Cartridge: 1,500 pages
      LC3029BK XXL Super High-Yield Magenta Ink Cartridge:1,500 pages
      LC3029BK XXL Super High-Yield Yellow Ink Cartridge: 1,500 pages

      Brother MFC-9330CDW

      TN-221 Black Toner Cartridge: 2,500 pages
      TN-225 Cyan Toner Cartridge:2,200 pages
      TN-225 Magenta Toner Cartridge: 2,200 pages
      TN-225 Yellow Toner Cartridge: 2,200 pages

  • Thanks very much – I just ordered the Brother Printer MFCJ6935DW.
    with much appreciation ~ PS

    • Glad to help!! 🙂

  • thanks printer working well.
    one problem, in duplex mode, the first page only prints single-sided, while other pages are double-sided.
    searching for a solution online, but if you have some ideas, please let me know.

    thanks – PS

  • Hi Anna,
    Thanks a lot for your kind recommendation for Canon imageClass Laser all in one printer on Jan 09. One last question before buying the laser printer, do you recommend Canon imageClass MF 634Cdw or HP Laser Jet Pro MFP M281fdw(or M277DW)? I have used Canon inkjet AIO printer in the past and was very happy, but never had an experience with laser AIOs.
    The reason of my question is that scanner resolution is also important for me and I will be using this printer connected to my iMac(USB or ethernet) and wireless for my wife’s Mac Pro laptop.
    Thanks in advance for your kind helps.
    Levent

    • When it comes to the scanning output of the imageClass vs the LaserJet Pro printers you mentioned, the LaserJet Pro comes out more superior with a scanning resolution of 1200dpi x 1200dpi against the Canon imageClass’ 600dpi x 600dpi. Between these two printers, toners for the HP model is priced slightly higher but prints more pages. If you want to save on toner cartridges, it’s worth checking compatible toner versions for the printers. I hope this helps!

  • This article is a MUST READ for snowbirds like me. Every time I come back after being gone for several months there is an issue with printing on the ink jet. Lots of headaches. This time nothing works and I have all new ink in the printer. Have followed all of the
    hints, directions, suggestions to no end. Today I’m getting a LASER printer and ending my headaches!
    Thanks for all of the great info and links. Great article.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Margaret. Glad that we were able to help!

  • I currently have a BrotherJ430W inkjet printer which, for the most part, satifies my overall printing needs. However, I print labels for soap and skincare products that I make and sell and I have to cover the labels with tape to keep them from running, bleeding and fading with use. What recommendations do you have?

    • It sounds like you might be looking for an inkjet printer that uses pigment ink which is more bleed and fade-resistant than dye. Only downside to pigment ink is that it is more expensive. There are printers that use pigment ink only for the black cartridge with the rest using dye-based ink; and there are also printers that use pigment ink for both the black and color cartridges. The Epson XP-440 is an inkjet printer with black and color pigment ink while the Canon PIXMA iP8720 on the other hand uses pigment only on the black, the color cartridges use dye based ink. I hope I was able to help!

  • I’ve been using Epson Workforce printers for the past few years. It seems like I go through print heads every 13 months, just after the warranty expires. I print 500 – 750 pages per month, mostly black and white, mostly text, some graphics. I’m looking for a reliable, reasonably priced printer. I’m all for using off-brand toner to save money. Any recommendations on a printer would be appreciated.

  • I need an all in one in a medical office. It can be monochrome laser. Our duty cycle would be under 2000/mo. It needs be twain compatible for scanning. Our copy/printing is no frills so we want the most cost efficient in CPP considering toner replacement. Do you have a suggestion? Willing to have more cost up front to save over the long haul. Thanks

  • I am looking for a printer that can print sharp text in an 8pt font or smaller. I have a brother laser and hate it. It’s not sharp at all!!

  • I can’t decide on what printer will be best for my family’s needs. We print often for school reports, hobbies and my husband uses it to print work documents. Ink drying up isn’t a problem. Currently have HP C6180. It’s served us well, but would love to upgrade to something that does a few things this one doesn’t. Plus it’s dying.

    Need a printer that does the following:
    Regularly
    Print in B&W
    Scan

    Sometimes
    Print in color
    Print photos

    Want/Must have
    wireless connectivity for computer
    AirPrint for mobile devices
    document feeder for scanning
    duplex printing

    Would like to
    Print in B&W only

    • For your purposes, it sounds like an all-in-one color laser printer would make the most logical sense since you would only need colored print sometimes. New color laser printers provide decent quality photos if its for personal use. Though Brother is the best when it comes to fast monochrome printing, I think HP Color LaserJet printers are well worth a look. I suggest checking out the HP Color LaserJet Pro M452nw wireless color printer. It’s reasonably priced and is well-received by consumers who have similar printing needs as yours. Best of luck!

  • I need to print wedding invitations on pearlescent cardstock and vellum. Afterwards I tend to use a printer/scanner sporadically. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Hi Anna,
    Would you please give me suggestion which laser printer that I should take if I need the printer to have:
    1. All in one + fax
    2. Print 10 – 20 color images and graphics pages in a month for announcement purposes. (no need to have the photo quality)
    3. Has duplex capabilities for Scanning, Printing, and faxing.
    4. Jam-free.

    There is one in mind MF416dw, but I’m not sure if it is a good printer.

  • Hello!!! i am currently a student, and i have to print of proposals and assignments for my examination. I need a printer that can scan,print and photocopy . And i need to print things in both coloured and black and white. however, i dont really use printer often nor i need to print things often other than for school uses. So what kind of printer would you recommend?? (( I don’t mind an expensive printer but i need the ink/toner to be affordable.Because i would like to use it for a long run.))

  • Hi, im indecisive on which and kind of printer i should get.. i need a printer that can copy and print colored and blck and white. i print both pictures and documents but mostly documents for homework so i would like a printer that has a decent quality on the printing.. is there any printer that fits in that category and the ink doesnt smudge after i print?

  • […] terms of noise level and speed of printing. Q: What is print speed and why does it matter? A: The print speed of a printer is crucial because it dictates how fast your printer can produce pages per minute or […]

  • Based on your “Best Color Laser Printer” articles, I’m leaning to Brother MFC-9340 for home office but wanted to confirm. I need: color but not photo (for photos, I use Canon Pro-1000 17″ photo printer); 2-sided print and scan; reliable (current EpsonWF inkjet head is dead); low volume; speed unimportant; wireless; compact enough (18×18 preferably); cost not highly important. Recommendations please?

    One last question: I often print on filofax pages (3.75×6.75). Will the Brother or other laser AIOs do custom page sizes?

  • i want to buy a laserjet printer for home use, brand name is RICOH sp111 su. is it right choice??
    is it good one for cheap price and good result.

  • I not sure what is best for me. I’m an artist and frequently printing my work. I have a canon pixma inkjet but I can hardly get 100 pages printed before my color cartriges run out. Needless to say I conatantly buy double ink cartriges to meet my demand. My mother is also an artist, she gets her prints from office depot where laser printer is used. Their photo image quality is great for consumable art prints so naturally I’m looking into laser printers for my purposes. What would be recommended for me?

    ps. I do fan art, office depot has strict copyright policy for printing so my only option is to print at home.

  • It was mentioned here that you might have to purchase a drum and well as a cartridge for a laser printer. Why? And what is the cost difference if you don’t have to buy the drum? I have no idea what the drum is or why it would have to be replaced when the cartridge is empty. I’ve owned a inkjet for years but am leaning toward a laser printer now. It’s a difficult decision as the industry has made it a disposable world at least for them but not for the consumer’s pocketbook. I want to make a informed decision and your blog has been very helpful. I’m looking for something that is easy to install with no hidden functionalities that end up costing more money after the fact, i.e, I have not noticed laser printer descriptions mentioning anything about whether or not the drum also has to be replaced with the cartridge. Thanks

    • Hi Sherry,

      Thanks for reading our blog! You can find out more about the drum unit here: What’s the difference between a toner cartridge and a drum unit? The drum unit works with the toner cartridge to transfer toner powder onto the page. Most toner cartridges are designed so the drum unit is incorporated into the cartridge. So, every time you replace the toner cartridge you are replacing the drum. Some printer manufacturers (like Brother) sell the toner cartridge and the drum unit separately. So in that case, you’ll likely need to buy a new drum unit after the use of 3-4 toners. Toner cartridges that require a separate drum are generally cheaper than a toner cartridge with an incorporated drum, but you’ll eventually make up the cost difference when you need to buy the replacement. Cartridge costs vary so much across printer models there is no real apples to apples comparison when you look at pricing. The best way to determine overall cartridge costs for a particular printer is to look at the cartridge cost per page. We have a blog article about that too: How to Calculate Your Printer’s Cost per Page. Hope this helps!

  • Hmm, just read your information on aftermarket cartridges and if they void the manufacturer’s warranty. I was surprised to find out that it does not. I’ve been spending far too much for ink cartridges. Wish I’d known a long time ago. Thanks for your blog.

  • I’m in the market for an All-In-One color laser printer with faxing capabilities. I’ve narrowed my search down to four models from two makers, each maker having two models each that I’m considering. However, each maker offers similar products with similar model numbers and I can’t really tell the difference between the models within the brand. Hoping you can help.
    What’s the difference between the Brother MFC-9330CDW and MFC-9340CDW?
    And what’s the difference between the HP LaserJet Pro M281FDW and the LaserJet Pro M281CDW?
    Would you recommend one over the other for quality printing, or ease of use and set up, or cost to operate under a low volume scenario (under 500 copies/mo)? Thanks.

  • Hello, I was wanting to get some information on Color Laser Printers. We have a small business and have been using two B&W Brother All In one Laser printers for about 7 years and have had excellent success the last several years using your replacement LD toner cartridges and drum replacements. We are thinking it might be nice to have the option of being able to add some color to our invoices or just a bit of color here and there. We still would be predominantly printing B&W. On the color lasers it sounds like there are multiple color toner cartridges you need? Are there any color lasers that just use one black toner cartridge and one color toner cartridge? If so, will the unit still operate if the color toner is empty? (We had printers years ago and one would continue printing in black and white if a color was out, another printer would not print anything if any color was out, even if you asked for a black and white copy. Could you make some recommendations if there are any? Thanks

    • Yes, there are color laser printers that use tricolor toner cartridges though I personally recommend you get a laser printer that uses 3 separate cartridges for each color so you only replace the color that runs out.

      Will the printer still print in black if the color toner is empty? Unfortunately, no. Printers are built to print only when all cartridges have toner. Printing when one of the cartridges is empty can result in costly damages to your printer’s color image drum. You can also get poorer print results if you keep printing with empty color cartridges. Some printers use cyan for monochrome printing so that’s another consideration.

      You can easily get color toner replacements at really good prices at our website, so we recommend just maintaining healthy toner levels.

  • I am a small-business owner who needs to be able to print professional-looking, crisp 8.5 x 11 flyers that have large blocks of solid color. On my Epson WF3450 printer, the blocks do not print totally solid. .I don’t care about speed, but I do care about end result!
    What printer would you recommend? Thanks so much for your advice!

  • Hello i want to start a small stickers business but i’m very lost if a should go for a laser or inkjet, the main focus is durability and quality on the stickers! Any recommendations? Thank you in advance!

  • Hi,

    I am looking for a printer for home use. Need to print around 20-30 pages a day. Wi-FI connectivity and Duplex printing are my utmost requirements. Color printing is not necessary.
    Can you suggest me a good printer?
    Thanks,
    Lipsy

  • Hello, i am looking for a color printer that can scan, copy, and print with auto duplex with wifi. Sometimes i go months without printing but when i do need to scan or print, i’d like to have color and scanning both sides without inserting each page individually. Do you have any recommendations?

  • Can you advise on the best all in one printer for home. I only print a couple pages a month, sometime none. I had an Epson injet and I used most of the ink in my cartridges doing head cleaning due to non use of printer. Thx for your advice.

  • I need to print black and white prints frequently and occasionally I use colour printing very few times.I need a cheap laser printer with low cost toner and lasts longer. It will be useful if it has a photocopying facility.Can you please suggest one

  • I am a collage artist looking for a printer that will make great quality color photocopies of color graphics and photos (often from magazines). A high resolution scanner would also be nice. If I could get an all in one printer that would also print gallery worthy photos, that would be great, but I am considering a Pixma Pro-10 Inkjet Photo Printer for that purpuse. If I need two printers in order to get high quality color photocopies as well as high quality color prints, I am okay with that. But, all in one would be fantastic, if such a best exists. I will print and photocopy often but not in great volume. I would also like to be able to print on paper that is very thin (like paper magazines are printed on). Suggestions would be appreciated!

  • What would you advise for a nursing student that has to print over 1000 pages per class each semester that requires color and b/w for PowerPoint slides.

    • Based on the volume of pages you need to print and your other printing needs, you need a color laser printer. Check out the Brother HL-3140CW Wireless Color Laser Printer. You can find more color laser printer recommendations at: https://www.ldproducts.com/blog/best-color-laser-printers-for-2017/

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