Brand by Brand Comparison
One of the most common questions people ask when purchasing a new printer is which printer has the cheapest ink. This was not the case just a few years ago when the printer device itself was more expensive. Since then the cost of both inkjet and laser printers has dropped considerably.
Among the most unwelcome surprises users find themselves dealing with is the ongoing cost of printer ink refills. For many of the low cost models, expenses allocated for ink replacement far exceed the amount paid for the printer.
In this article, we set out to find which manufacturers give consumers the best printer for the money not by looking at the cost of the printing device but taking a closer look at how much ink cartridges and printer toner costs can pile up over the life of the printer.
Method of Comparing Printer Ink Refill Costs
For our purposes, we collected 10 popular printers from different top brand names to see how much one can expect to spend when using these brands’ products.
Because the sizes of both ink cartridges and laser toners often vary between makes and models, we standardize our unit of measurement to get a more accurate comparison of true costs. To do this we compute based of cost per page instead of the actual cost of the ink refill.
This way an ink cartridge that yields 5,000 pages can be compared in even terms with another ink cartridge with a smaller page yield. This way we can tell which printer has the cheapest ink.
Inkjet Printer Ink Cartridges
This section takes into consideration the costs related to running inkjet printers. Since inkjet printers let users print black & white as well as color outputs, we separate the costs of black ink with color.
HP Printer Ink
We begin our search for printers with cheapest ink with arguably the most well known printer brand, HP or Hewlett Packard.
Best known for their LaserJet printers, HP also produces a number of home and office inkjet printers that range from the budget model to the high capacity OfficeJet Pro line made for office use.
From the sample set of HP inkjet printers we come up with an average of 3.58 cents per page for black & white pages and a 7.69 cent average for color prints.
One also quickly notices that the printers under $100 have the highest printer ink cost on a per page basis, which eventually negates the cheap printer cost.
Another observation is the most economical HP models belong to the OfficeJet Pro line of products, which are made to handle high amounts of workload reaching monthly cycles of 25,000 pages.
As expected, the photo printers, namely the Photosmart and Envy lines produced the highest expenses as the detail needed to produce high quality images and photos require more ink consumption.
Epson Printer Ink
Next to HP, Epson is another brand that has good recognition when it comes to electronics. In the consumer arena, Epson focuses on inkjet printers. It produces a number of printers designed for everyday home use, photo printing and high demand office use.
From our mix of Epson printers, we get an average ink costs of 3.6 cents for black and 8.76 cents for color for each page printed. The black & white outputs are quite similar to the results seen with HP printers, with the cheaper printers coming out more expensive in terms of ink consumption. For color prints, Epson’s outputs are more than 1 cent more expensive compared to HP.
Epson’s WorkForce line can be seen comparable with HP’s OfficeJet products as the two are similar in function, and cost. More noticeable though is that on the Epson WorkForce, ink replacement costs drop with the more expensive models.
Canon Printer Ink
Next is Canon’s line of inkjet printers. In terms of ongoing costs, both the all in one office models (MX) and the all in one photo printers (MG) come out as more expensive that both the Epson and HP products.
On average, black & white printouts hover slightly over 4 cents per page, while color outputs break the 9 cents. On an individual basis, one can easily tell that Canon’s inkjets are more expensive to maintain relative to the two brands above. None of the printers in the sample was able to achieve less than 2 cents/page cost for black, and the lowest color cost came from the Canon Pixma MX452 at 6.1 cents.
A surprising revelation is that the photo printer line, those labeled MG were more economical compared to those that are meant for office duty (those labeled MX).
Two things to consider with these results. One is that the Canon Pixma MX product line produces superior photo quality printouts that easily make many of them qualify as excellent photo printers.
Next is many of the Canon’s inkjet printers make use of 5 ink cartridges, one for black and four for colors. This is one reason costs are higher for color.
Brother Inkjet Printer Ink
While better known for its sewing machines and fax machines, Brother has become very competitive in printing, producing among the best value for money printers. In terms of ink usage and cost, it also comes out as having the cheapest ink cartridges on a per page basis.
Just under an average of 2 cents a page for black & white sheets and 4.72 cents for color printouts, its costs are almost half as much as those of both the Epson and HP printers.
Also interesting to note is that for the inkjet printers that cost above $150, its black ink consumption expenses rivals those of ink efficient laser printers.
Inkjet Printers with the Cheapest Ink Summary
Summarizing the results of the average costs by brand name, Brother comes out ahead, with HP just slightly ahead of Epson and Canon behind them.
As far as inkjet printer ink cost is concerned, the budget conscious will be well served beginning their search with Brother.
It is important however, to remember that there are many other aspects involved with choosing the right printer for your needs. Aside from printer cost and ink replacement expenses, consideration has to be given on the features and performance of each individual product to get the best printer available suited for you.