Best Printer Ink in 2020 (October Reviews)

Choosing the best printer ink is no easy task. At least the best 3D printer doesn’t need ink to do its jobs. Since there are multiple types of inks and fluids, each one suited for a particular printing job, finding the best one that fits your budget and needs can be challenging. That’s why we spent 24 hours printing, testing, and reviewing a dozen ink cartridges. From a dozen options, we chose the most cost-effective solutions that could deliver high-quality, long-lasting results.

Of all the items we reviewed, our favorite was the HP 61 ink, which is engineered mainly for a wide array of HP printers. It is a multipack that yields over a hundred pages per cartridge, nearly two times more than refill cartridges. It was also consistent in its delivery of high-quality, long-lasting prints. Keep on reading to learn more about it, as well as our six other favorites.

Top 7 Best Printer Ink Compared

 #1  HP 61 Ink Cartridges

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: The HP 61 pack comes with a single color black ink and a tri-color ink cartridge that yields up to two times more prints than refill cartridges, allowing you to save money without sacrificing quality. As it’s designed primarily for HP printers, it’s the best printer ink to use for HP Deskjet, HP Envy, and HP Officejet printers.

Pros
  • 2x the ink
  • Fade-resistant and long-lasting
  • Best for HP printers
Cons
  • Some consumers have received older stock
  • Some consumers encountered problems with fast printing
  • Issues with customer support

HP 61 comes with a black ink cartridge and a tri-color cartridge. If you want reliable, high-quality printing for your HP device, this set makes an excellent choice as it’s engineered mainly for HP printers. The set is compatible with the HP Deskjet printer series from 1000 to 3512, HP Envy 4500 to 5535, and HP Officejet 2620 to 4632. Once you’ve upgraded your printer, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to the best printer paper too.

The set yields up to two times more prints compared to refill cartridges. To be specific, the black cartridge can print up to 190 pages. The tri-color cartridge, on the other hand, can yield roughly 165 pages. Whether you’re printing texts, graphics, or pictures, you get unrivaled quality every single time, making it the best printer ink in our list.  It can be used in many printers.

 #2  Canon PG-245 Black Ink

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: The PG-245 is a genuine Canon ink built with FINE technology and the ChromaLife 100+ system, which not only makes every print sharp and high-quality but also makes it longer-lasting. Its dye-based formulation produces a rich smudge-proof black hue, perfect for printing professional documents.

Pros
  • Quick-drying formula
  • Crisp, smudge-resistant prints
  • Ideal for select Canon Pixma printers
Cons
  • Not suited for heavy-duty printing
  • Some consumers have received half-filled cartridges
  • Installation can be challenging

Built with Full Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering technology, the Canon PG-245 black ink cartridge produces crisp, dark prints that dry quickly, making it smudge-resistant. If you want professional-quality documents, the PG-245 is worth considering.

It’s compatible with select Canon printers, including the Pixma iP2820, MG2420, and TS202. Thanks to its ChromaLife 100+ system, it can deliver long-lasting color. As a genuine Canon product, it contains more ink than the average ink cartridge and offers you more opportunity to produce sharp, high-quality prints. However, it’s not meant for heavy-duty use. You can also check out the best inkjet printer.

 #3  HP 63 Ink Cartridges

Award: Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: As you can expect from an HP original ink cartridge, this multipack offers excellent resolution, premium color saturation, and no-smear printing, giving you crisp results for various printing needs. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the HP 63 multipack is the one for you.

Pros
  • High page yield
  • Rich, smudge-resistant prints
  • High-resolution and color saturation
Cons
  • Some consumers have received older stock
  • Some customers have reported inconsistent ink quantities
  • Issues with setup

The HP 63 comes with two ink cartridges: one pigment-based black ink and one dye-based tri-color ink. Its black ink yields up to 190 pages’ worth of rich, smudge-resistant prints, while its tri-color cartridge can produce up to 165 pages’ worth of vivid, sharp colored prints using the best printer for home.

Unlike the HP 61, it’s not compatible with a wide range of HP printers. That’s why it didn’t land on the top spot on our list. It only works with the DeskJet 2130 and 1112, Envy 4520, and OfficeJet 5255, 3830, and 4650. As an HP original ink, it delivers premium printing performance and unrivaled consistency.

 #4  E-Z Ink Cartridges

Award: Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: The E-Z ink multipack contains 15 cartridges, each one capable of producing crisp results for a variety of paper types, rivaling the quality of the Canon PGI-250XL without the hefty price tag. This multipack is an incredible budget-friendly alternative for penny pinchers.

Pros
  • Best for Canon printers
  • High yields: 300 for color, 500 for black
  • Ideal for heavy-duty printing
Cons
  • Difficult to install and set up
  • Some customers have reported compatibility issues
  • Some customers have reported leaks

The E-Z ink multipack comes with 15 ink cartridges: three large 250XL cartridges in black, three small 251XL cartridges in black, three 251XL cartridges in cyan, three 251XL cartridges in magenta, and 251XL cartridges in yellow.

Boasting a high page yield, you can print up to 500 pages per black cartridge with this multipack. The colored inks, on the other hand, can yield around 300 pages per cartridge. It’s a budget-friendly alternative to the Canon PGI-250XL. It can produce clear accurate colors and crisp texts without the hefty price tag. Not to mention, it’s compatible with a wide array of Pixma printers. Check out best printer for your computer and compare models.

 #5  HP 61 CH561WN

Award: Best for Office

WHY WE LIKE IT: This HP 61 multipack has two black ink cartridges that work well with a diverse range of HP printers, which should enable you to meet all printing requirements of non-color projects. Each of the two black ink cartridges yields up to 190 pages, making it ideal for office use.

Pros
  • 190 pages per cartridge
  • Best for HP Printers
  • Fade-resistant and long-lasting
Cons
  • Some customers have received dried up ink
  • Some customers have reported inconsistent ink quantities
  • Some customers have reported compatibility issues

Much like our top pick, you can expect this HP 61 multipack to offer professional-grade no-smear printing results. This, however, has two black ink cartridges instead of one black and tri-color cartridge. That means you can only do non-color printing applications with this multipack. Nevertheless, it does produce crisp results on a variety of paper types.

This HP 61 multipack can print up to 190 pages per cartridge, making it an excellent addition to your home office. You can fulfill all printing requirements of non-color applications. With its high yield, you won’t have to make frequent replacements. The best label printer is even better with good ink.

 #6  Canon PG-245 XL and CL-246 XL

Award: Best Canon Multipack

WHY WE LIKE IT: This Canon multipack contains a PG-245 XL black ink cartridge as well as a CL-246 XL color ink cartridge, both of which deliver smooth, consistent results that won’t smear or bleed through. Due to its large capacity, you can save money and produce a lot of color and non-color prints without having to replace the cartridges too often.

Pros
  • Best heavy printing
  • Accurate, crisp colors
  • Smooth printing performance
Cons
  • Some consumers have received older stock
  • Some customers have reported compatibility issues
  • Some customers have reported inconsistent ink quantities

The Canon multipack can fulfill a variety of printing needs at a small office as it consists of two high-capacity ink cartridges. Its black ink can deliver dark, crisp results, ideal for printing text-heavy documents on plain paper. Meanwhile, its color cartridge can deliver vivid, accurate hues, ideal for printing photographs and graphics.

Canon’s XL multipack lets you save a lot of money and energy as you won’t need to replace the ink cartridges ever so often. By optimizing ink usage and reducing waste, it’s also good for the environment. You may also like the best printer for Chromebook.

 #7  Greenbox 63XL Ink Cartridges – Best Eco-friendly

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Greenbox multipack is a remanufactured ink cartridge alternative for the HP 63XL, which allows you to fulfill every printing need, save money, and reduce your impact on the environment all at the same time. It’s an ideal choice for consumers who want to do their part for the environment and practice green printing.

Pros
  • Best for HP printers
  • Safe and eco-friendly
  • Cheaper alternative to HP 63XL
Cons
  • Can be difficult to install and set up
  • Some customers have received defective stock
  • Some customers have reported compatibility issues

Greenbox 63XL is an affordable alternative to the HP 63XL. That’s why it’s also compatible with a diverse range of HP printers—from their OfficeJet and DeskJet to Envy models.

The Greenbox multipack has an XL black cartridge that yields up to 480 pages and a tri-color cartridge that yields up to 330 pages. Aside from meeting heavy-duty printing needs, its patented ink formula should exceed your expectations in terms of quality. It will neither smear nor bleed through any type of paper. Its colors should be vivid and bright, while its black ink should be dark and crisp. Also have a look at our all in one printers list. For 3D jobs, see the best 3D printers.

How We Decided

There’s a myriad of inks and fluids for printing on the market these days. To narrow down our search for the best printer ink, we opted to focus on aqueous inks, which are known for having either dyes or pigments as colorants and water as their primary liquid carrier.

Value and convenience were two important factors in our search for exceptional ink cartridges. Since we wanted ink cartridges that could help you save money and time, we selected high-yield ink cartridges as well as convenient multipacks. Of course, high-quality and long-lasting prints are ideal for any printing job. We, therefore, favored ink cartridges that produced exceptional quality prints. Last but not least, we gave bonus points to brands that are doing their part to save the environment.

Best Printer Ink Buying Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Compatibility: Before buying ink cartridges, always make sure that they’re compatible with your printer. It doesn’t have to be the same brand as your printer. As long as the ink cartridges are compatible with the kind of printer you have, you should be able to use them.
  2. Printing needs: Do you print in black and white? Or do you print in color more often? Determining your printing needs can help you select the right type of ink in the right amount so you can save a lot of money in the long run.
  3. Warranty: A product with a warranty doesn’t make it any less effective than those without one. It does, however, mean that the manufacturer cares about customer satisfaction. In case you encounter any issues with the inks, a warranty ensures that you get replacements without having to spend more money.

Printer Ink FAQs

Dye vs. Pigment-based ink: What’s the difference?

Most inkjet printers use either dye or pigment-based inks. The former uses colorant that’s fully dissolved in a liquid carrier. As for pigmented ink, it gets its color from finely powdered colorant particles that are suspended in a carrier liquid. Dye-based ink comes in a wide range of colors. It’s the most common type of ink used by inkjet printers. Compared to pigment-based ink, it’s more vivid in color. Thus, photographs tend to look more realistic when dye-based inks are used. However, pigmented ink tends to last longer.

Tri-color vs. Single-color cartridges: Which one is better?

As the name suggests, tri-color ink cartridges have three ink colors—cyan, yellow, and magenta—in one unit. Tri-color cartridges are more affordable than single-color cartridges, but they also have less ink. Thus, they aren’t very cost-effective, especially if you do a great deal of colored printing. Once one color runs out, you’ll have to replace the entire cartridge, even if the other two are nearly full. Tri-color cartridges are ideal for those who need to print in black and white more often than they need to print in color. Since single-color cartridges, in terms of quality, offer more depth of tone, they are better for printing high-quality photographs.

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Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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