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To find the best ink-efficient printer, we researched over 20 different inkjet color printers for four days. We examined the ink systems of each printer in detail, including the type of ink it used, the print head technology, processing speed, and efficiency over time. We narrowed it down to the ones with the lowest running costs and longest-lasting ink. This is it if you have been looking for a guide to the best printers.
The best ink-efficient printer is the Brother INKvestment MFC-J985DW. This super-efficient printer yields thousands of pages from its high-capacity ink cartridges before needing to replace them. It also proved to be very reliable and still produces at a high level while being so cost-efficient. Keep reading about this, and our other top picks to learn more about the best printers available for purchase.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: In spite of the INKvestment play on words, you won’t have to invest a lot into this Brother printer that uses ink cartridges with an extraordinary 2,400 and 1,200-page yield for black and color ink, respectively. That kind of efficiency is virtually unheard of at this unit’s price point.
What makes the Brother INKvestment MFC-J985DW our top pick is its outstanding running cost achieved by its super-efficient, high-capacity ink cartridges. Even better, though, the unit also has a low cost of entry, making it a very cost-efficient option for printing. The printer comes with four high-yield cartridges included. You can print up to 2,400 pages from the black cartridge and 1,200 pages from each of the color cartridges. In this case, having three separate color cartridges is super efficient, as you can replace them as needed.
In addition to being able to print directly from your mobile device via Wi-Fi, AirPrint, and Google Cloud Print, you can also easily monitor your ink levels and usage from the Brother iPrint&Scan mobile app. The unit also has an Ink Save Mode you can switch on to ration your ink use and automatic duplex printing. And with the best duplex printer, you can also conveniently scan double-sided pages directly to your cloud services, like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneNote, and more.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Canon has evolved from typical ink cartridges with a printer that uses three refillable ink tanks instead. This system holds over 30 times the amount of ink that a standard cartridge does.
One of the most convenient features of Canon’s ink tank system on the PIXMA G5020 is that you can physically see the ink tank levels through clear panels on the front of the unit. This saves you a step or two from having to go into the app or control panel to look at ink levels.
There’s also a reason that Canon has branded the tanks as MegaTanks, as you can print up to an astounding 6,600 black print pages and 7,700 color print pages per tank. The printer initially comes with four ink bottles with specialized nozzles that make it easy to fill the tanks without spilling. This printer is designed for high-volume printing without having to constantly replace ink and maintains one of the lowest running costs of any printer. The large 350-sheet paper feeding tray is also great for that purpose. Another option is the best large format printer that features two 250-sheet high-capacity paper feeding trays as well as a rear input tray.
Award: BEST FOR HOME OFFICE
WHY WE LIKE IT: Home offices need versatility from a printer, and this one delivers with its feature-packed, all-in-one printer design. It’s also highly efficient, using ink that delivers up to a year of printing.
This is a reliable machine designed for the office that can handle a high volume of printing. Its maximum monthly duty cycle is 5,000 pages — much more than you’ll likely need. Brother’s patented INKvestment System also gives you more pages out of each cartridge than you’re used to, with up to 6,000 black and white pages or 5,000 color pages before having to replace the cartridges.
You can also easily monitor ink levels directly from the printer’s LCD screen. It indicates the levels of each of its four cartridges at all times on the screen. That provides users with great control of their ink consumption and, ultimately, very competitive running costs. Considering the printer’s lower initial cost, the Brother MFC-J805 is the most efficient and best-value printer for a home office. Compare this to the best printer for the home, which comes with a 35-sheet auto-loading feature and a clear, responsive touch screen.
Award: BEST LARGE FORMAT
WHY WE LIKE IT: Printing big doesn’t have to cost big money, as proven by this Epson that can produce 13 x 19-inch borderless prints from maximum-yield ink cartridges that keep you from replacing ink frequently.
Feature-packed is an understatement for the Epson WF7710 Workforce. Everything is accessible from a slick-looking, tilt-out control panel with a large 4.3” touch screen and physical buttons. From there, you can connect to almost anything wirelessly via WiFi, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Epson’s proprietary apps. It also has a USB, USB thumb drive, and ethernet connection options.
The Epson handles wider formats than most printers of its class, with borderless printing up to 13 x 19”. Even more unique, you can scan and produce copies of documents up to 11 x 17”. Though they don’t come standard, you’ll want to use Epson’s extra-large capacity ink cartridges. For black ink, you can buy a cartridge that yields up to 2,200 pages and up to 1,100 pages for color. The DURABrite Ultra pigment ink is smudge, water, and fade resistant for up to 84 years, giving you great print quality and longevity with its efficiency. Just like with the best printer ink that will get you unrivaled quality every single time. If you’re a big Apple fan and, aside from Apple AirPrint, you use a Mac for a computer, we also recommend you consider the best wireless printer for Mac to ensure compatibility between all your devices.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: This HP’s efficient print head technology manages surprisingly good color print quality at as much as 50 percent less cost per page than laser printers. It also offers a ton of modern features for a lower-budget option, like Apple AirPrint and wireless direct connectivity.
This printer’s HP Thermal Inkjet print technology delivers impressive color printouts up to 600 x 1200 dpi resolution. The printhead utilizes four cartridges, one black, and the rest color. It’s especially efficient if you print a lot in color when you opt for HP’s Instant Ink subscription. The program delivers ink automatically as needed based on your usage and results in lower running costs for color printing.
These wireless printer features are impressive, with copy, scan, and fax capabilities and an automatic document feeder. The unit has a large 225-sheet input tray and a 60-sheet output tray for its compact size. Its 500 MHz processor is responsive to print requests and can reach speeds of 30 ppm when printing in monochrome draft mode, which is comparable to laser printers designed for speed. Compare this to the best laser printer on the market today.
Award: BEST TECH FEATURES
WHY WE LIKE IT: This OfficeJet Pro 9015 is packed with fabulous tech features at every level, like its Smart Tasks automation and voice-activated printing. You’ll get things done faster with this speedy printer designed for modern usage.
Connecting to this printer is a breeze, whether you do it through Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, Mopria, or the HP Smart App. Setup is easy enough to print up to 32 ppm within minutes, which is pretty fast. You can also use voice-activated commands through Alexa or Google Assistant.
The Smart App is extremely functional when it comes to accessing files from your most-used programs and cloud services, like Quickbooks and Google Drive. You can create shortcuts in the app to make printing more efficient. Its four ink cartridges can produce 4800 x 1200 dpi color-resolution documents and photos. If you print mostly in monochrome, HP’s high-yield cartridges offer the best value for running costs. For a lot of color printing, the HP Instant Ink program is more efficient. Compare this printer to the best photo printer that uses Polaroid’s innovative ZINK Zero Ink method, meaning it doesn’t need ink cartridges.
Award: BEST STARTER KIT
WHY WE LIKE IT: Get printing on this efficient HP printer that starts printing in as little as 13 seconds at speeds up to 29 ppm, with eight months of ink included with the unit.
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 is the best ink-efficient starter kit option, as it provides users with an extremely useful mobile app, HP software for their laptop, and an eight-month subscription to its HP Instant Ink program, which will yield about 100 pages per month of color and black prints at no cost. Setup is easy right from the box, with almost instantaneously Wi-Fi connecting.
The unit uses four cartridges applied with HP Thermal Inkjet printing technology with a 1.2 GHz processing speed that enables you to print up to 29 ppm. It also allows you to scan, copy, and fax documents quickly and easily. HP’s intuitive, energy-efficient design and included software offer the best starter package with low running costs. And for quality printing, it is important to invest in the best printer paper on the market.
Award: BEST FOR SMALL BUSINESS USE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Epson is a highly efficient printer with speeds comparable to much more expensive laser printers and 30 percent lower running costs, making it one of the best printers for a small business.
If you need a printer that performs like a laser printer for your business, you’ll be very pleased with the Epson WF3720 Workforce’s comparable printing speeds and performance. You’ll be even more pleased to learn that it can be 30 percent more efficient, especially when you use Epson’s high-yield ink cartridges that produce 1,100 black and white or 950 color prints before needing replacement.
The range you can achieve from this printer is pretty outstanding, as you can produce high-resolution color prints when quality is paramount or reach up to 20 ppm speed for higher volume printing jobs. This unit also has a myriad of connection options useful for small businesses, including those offered by iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, and smartphone. It also has Wi-Fi Direct and NFC capabilities. Another quality model is the best printer for crafting that uses Claria Photo HD Ink that is vibrant and long-lasting.
Award: BEST COMPACT DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: With only a 17.3 x 13.8” footprint, the Canon PIXMA TR8520 delivers outstanding print quality and efficiency in a sleek, compact package, with the capability to integrate with XXL ink cartridges.
This little, do-it-all printer is highly functional for its size. It handles a wide range of paper, such as standard size, envelopes, photo paper, and more. With impressive clarity, you can produce borderless photo prints with up to 4800 x 1200 dpi resolution. That clarity carries over to text and graphics too. This is because this unit has two black inks, one of which is dedicated to dark text and dark areas in images. The result is a great color range in all of your printouts.
This printer prints using five ink cartridges applied through a total of 4,096 nozzles for fantastic detail and crisp lines. That’s even more amazing, considering this unit’s lightweight and compactness. While it comes with a full set of standard ink cartridges, purchasing the XXL yield cartridges as your replacements are recommended. With those larger cartridges, you can get up to 6.1 times more prints than the standard size. And if you’re a student, you will want to invest in the best printer for students that offers convenient management of printing functions and monitors ink levels. On the other hand, if you want to check out printers that use inkjet technology, read our best inkjet printer guide.
Award: BEST FOR COLOR
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Canon Wireless TS8120 produces exquisitely sharp, detailed color photos and documents from its advanced six-color ink system while maintaining great efficiency with the option to use high-yield cartridges and its auto-replenishment service.
This printer was designed to produce stunning, vibrant colors, especially in photos. Of the six ink tanks used, one is a specialized blue photo ink cartridge that achieves a depth and range of color that other printers can’t. Ink is applied by an advanced print head using a total of 6,656 nozzles. This is a fantastic photo printer.
The option to use Canon’s XXL cartridges allows you to replace your cartridges less often and keep your running costs lower. You can also opt for Canon’s auto-replenishment service that monitors your ink levels and usage, and automatically delivers ink only when needed. You can also control your print settings and monitor your ink usage from the large, intuitive 4.3” LCD touchscreen on the front of the unit. Compare this to the best printer for heat transfers, which features six ink cartridges that produce unparalleled color quality.
In identifying the most ink-efficient printers, we looked at several aspects of the printer, the first being the ink. All ink cartridges are labeled with an estimated page yield under normal use. We looked at the standard yield for the standard cartridge of each printer. We then took the cartridge’s price and made a price comparison based on the cost per page (calculated by the cost of a cartridge divided by that cartridge’s page yield).
This printer cost-per-page comparison helped us identify the cartridges that offer the lowest cost per page. We also considered if the unit has high-yield cartridges available and did the same calculation with those. Often, we found that although the high-yield toner cartridge may have a higher sticker price, the printing costs per page were lower than when using the standard size.
From there, we examined printer efficiency, ink monitoring, and ink controls. This was a process of looking at a printer’s ink monitoring features and how easy they are to access and use. We also considered how much manual control the printer gives you over ink usage. We only included printers that offered easy monitoring, as that gives you more control of a printer’s running cost.