Is Compatible Ink as Good as Original Ink?

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Updated November 11, 2022

Even if you have a premium printer, you’ll need to perform an ink cartridge replacement at some point. That said, if you’re concerned about the cost of printing, you may wonder about generic printer ink vs name brand. So, is compatible ink as good as original ink?


  • Original ink cartridges come from your printer manufacturer, and they are the official way to refill your printer ink.
  • Compatible ink cartridges come from third-party manufacturers, and they are usually cheaper than first-party ink.
  • If you are a printing professional, you should get genuine ink cartridges. That said, casual printers should save money and go with compatible ink.

While printer manufacturers do not intend for you to use aftermarket cartridges, many find it a more cost-effective option. That said, some justify the cost of printer ink from the original manufacturer because they want the best print quality possible. Whether you want the lowest price or the highest quality print, there’s a compatible ink cartridge to meet your needs.

Comparing Generic Ink Cartridges and Name-Brand Printer Cartridges

Each printer brand requires a specific ink or toner cartridge, whether you own an ethernet or wireless printer. Most models can take either alternative printer cartridge options or genuine products.

Insider Tip

If you’re unsure how to find a compatible cartridge for your machine, reach out to your original equipment manufacturer for information. That said, you can also contact a third-party company that deals in printer equipment.

Every printer needs a replacement cartridge as your ink or toner runs out over time. While your device’s manufacturer offers their name-brand printer ink cartridge, you can usually find generic versions. The generic print cartridges are typically much cheaper than the original ink. Still, they are not produced by the same company that makes your printer. So, the biggest difference between these cartridge types is who produces them and their cost.

Before making your final decision, you should understand the difference between printer drums and toner cartridges or Ecotanks vs cartridges. OEM or not, you can guarantee you’re buying genuine cartridges if you learn how your printer model works.

Image Quality

There is little difference between genuine or aftermarket cartridges for basic printing needs like text documents and black-and-white images. Many professionals value accurate ink levels and lack occasional compatibility issues from most cheaper cartridges. That said, if you work in photography or produce color images, you might prefer first-party equipment.

Cartridge Prices

As stated earlier, compatible cartridges can reduce ink costs significantly compared to OEM ink. But some consumers value the quality ink from their machine’s manufacturer. Luckily, there is little difference between ink quality, so generic toner or ink makes sense to save money. Either way, ensure you buy from a reputable company and look for positive reviews before purchasing your third-party ink. But, when considering laser printers vs inkjet, be assured that laser ink will cost more.

Cartridge Ink Life

You also shouldn’t notice a difference in cartridge life between OEM and non-OEM ink cartridges. While ink runs out faster the more you print, unused cartridges have a long shelf-life of up to three years.

With that said, now it’s time to get a printer. You can start with our comparison of the HP DeskJet 2742E vs 2752E.


Some printer companies have restrictive policies around aftermarket printer cartridges. Look at your product manual to ensure you will not void your printer warranty by using third-party cartridges.


Do remanufactured or compatible printer cartridges track ink or toner levels?

A compatible or remanufactured cartridge should track how much ink you have left. That said, cheap cartridges may not have this feature.

What is a remanufactured ink cartridge?

Remanufactured toner and ink are recycled products. Often, manufacturers refill an original ink cartridge and replace any damaged parts on the unit.

What is a Non-OEM cartridge?

A non-OEM or third-party ink cartridge is an ink refill for your printer that the original printer brand does not make. Generic cartridges are much cheaper than first-party ink or toner, but ensure you buy from a reputable supplier to avoid counterfeit cartridges.

STAT: According to IDC, there were 14% fewer pages printed in the United States during 2020. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image