Best printers of 2024

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Looking for the best printers? Our team of reviewers put top models for the office and home to the test to find out which ones are best for business, photos, running costs, and more. 

Printers come in all shapes and sizes, from basic inkjets that tuck under your desk to freestanding laser printers for busy office environments. Some, like the best inkjet printers, excel at printing highly detailed and vivid photographs and images, while the best laser printers are capable of printing thousands of documents that are crisp, clear, and professional. But which is best for you? 

Our review team tested out a large range of the best small business printers and home office printers, measuring print speeds, comparing print quality and performance, and exploring long-term printing costs.  As part of our review process, we've analyzed dpi, resolution, and extras like automatic document feeders (ADF) and auto-duplex mode. When it comes to the best all-in-one printers, we also assess scanning, fax, and copying capabilities.  


Reader offer: Save $5 on Brother MFC-J1170DW Wireless Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer

Reader offer: Save $5 on Brother MFC-J1170DW Wireless Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer

The inkjet printer comes equipped with two-sided printing, rapid inkjet speed (17 ppm black, 16.5 ppm color), and a 2.7” color touchscreen for easy navigation. Suitable for mobile printing. Use code Save5Bucks.

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The quick list

What are the best printers in 2024?

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Best printer overall

Canon MAXIFY GX4020 unboxed on a desk next to cables and bottles of printer ink

(Image credit: Future)
Media friendly MegaTank offers true flexibility

Specifications

Category: 4-in-1 color ink tank
Print speed: 18ppm (mono)
Paper sizes: up to A4
Paper capacity: 250 + 100
Weight: 9.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
High ink/paper capacity
+
Prints on card
+
Lots of inbox ink
+
Three paper trays

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow print speed 
-
No USB Host or NFC

There’s a lot to like about this all-in-one office inkjet. From its robust, yet compact design to its vivid print quality, Canon has hit the sweet spot with this mid-priced MegaTank printer.  

We appreciated, for example, that there's plenty of room for paper and ink with a 250-sheet main paper tray, and that it holds enough bottled ink in the tanks to print 6,000 mono and 14,000 color pages. Plus, the output quality was always crisp and colorful during our tests. And thanks to the rear flat tray that compliments the 250-sheet main tray and 100-sheet rear tray, it can handle almost any kind of printable media including 0.7mm thick paperboard. 

Having said that, we were a little disappointed to find that it's not as fast as a laser printer. It also lacks a couple of premium features such as duplex scanning and a USB Host port. However, if you're prepared to make those trade-offs, we found it has everything else that a small business or home office might need.

If the asking price seems high, the total cost of ownership is actually very low making this a sensible choice for the small business with big print demands. Though, if we're being honest, it's for less money than you'd expect.

Read our full Canon Maxify GX4020/GX4050 review 

Best budget printer

Epson EcoTank ET-3850 on a wooden desk during our testing

(Image credit: Future)
Home office EcoTank with few features but plenty of ink

Specifications

Category: 3-in-1 color inkjet printer
Print speed: 15ppm (mono)
Paper sizes: up to A4
Paper capacity: 250
Weight: 6.7kg

Reasons to buy

+
High ink capacity
+
Plenty of ink in box
+
Strong app support
+
Great print quality

Reasons to avoid

-
No touchscreen
-
No USB Host port
-
No dual scan
-
Flimsy build quality

This three-in-one ink tank printer is pitched perfectly for family use or as a home office device. Given its high capacity for ink and paper, it’s commendably compact, which means it can fit just about anywhere. 

What's more is that it comes with all the essential functionality of a home-based printer such as an auto duplex mode, high resolution scanning and inbuilt Wi-Fi with AirPrint compatibility. Most importantly, it printed well during our time with it, and that goes for both documents and photos. It wasn't the fastest inkjet we've tested, but it did its job quite quietly and smoothly. If we could change anything, it would be the build quality, that isn't up to scratch compared to other office printers

During our review, we did feel it was a pity there’s no touchscreen, USB Host port or dual scanning - essential features for many users. However, Epson's companion app really impressed us. It was ever-so-simple to preview prints and scans, and set the printer up with its next job. So long as you don't mind using your phone as a second screen, you'll hardly notice the lack of touchscreen.

In any case, we would gladly swap those features for running costs as low as this. Epson’s bottled ink is around 80 percent cheaper than its cartridge ink. And with so much ink in the box, the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 more than justifies the high price tag.

Read our full Epson EcoTank ET-3850 review 

Best laser printer for the office

Brother MFC-L9670CDN in a home office next to a vase of flowers

(Image credit: Future)
An expensive yet economical choice for enterprise

Specifications

Category: 4-in-1 color laser printer
Print speed: 42ppm (mono)
Paper sizes: up to A4
Paper capacity: 520
Weight: 36.9kg

Reasons to buy

+
Very fast duplex printing
+
Intuitive 7-in touchscreen
+
100-sheet ADF with dual scan
+
Low ongoing toner costs

Reasons to avoid

-
Wi-Fi costs extra in some territories
-
Bulky design
-
Can be noisy in operation

Don’t be put off by the price tag. If you run a business with heavy and varied print demands, the Brother MFC-L9670CDN could serve you well and save you money. It comes with all the security and features you would expect from an enterprise-class multifunction printer and some impressive specifications. 

When we tested out this laser printer, we found it printed out very quickly in duplex mode, with the quality colorful and consistent. Capacity is another strong point - we were impressed to see space for 520 sheets in the main paper tray, with scope to upscale to 2,600 sheets. But we feel the toner capacity that makes the Brother MFC-L9670CDN so competitive. Like most office printers at this price-point, it has a large footprint, and we did find it's not the quietest machine you'll find.  

However, there's a generous amount of toner in the box while upgrading to Brother’s super high yield cartridges ensures that you are paying less per page for toner than any other Brother product. Consider also the user-friendly touchscreen and NFC connectivity, and the Brother MFC-L9670CDN looks more like a bargain.

Read our full Brother MFC-L9670CDN review

Best printer for WFH

HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e/9010e (US/UK) in a home office against an interior brick wall

HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e/9010e (US/UK) (Image credit: Future)
Prompt home office printer with HP+ appeal

Specifications

Category: 4-in-1 color inkjet printer
Print speed: 22ppm (mono)
Paper sizes: up to A4
Paper capacity: 250
Weight: 9.3kg

Reasons to buy

+
Duplex print and scan
+
Strong app support
+
HP+ eligible
+
Rapid print rate

Reasons to avoid

-
No multipurpose tray
-
Duplex mode is slow
-
Visible horizontal lines

We found this stylish inkjet printer presents all of the key features a small business could need in a compact and keenly priced package. It can duplex scan from its ADF (automatic document feed) as well as duplex print, which makes it an efficient photocopier. There’s a tilting touchscreen for easy operation and room for 250 sheets of paper in the main tray. 

With a rapid 22ppm print rate and features such as Private Print and customizable keys, it would suit a home or shared office well. We didn't find it particularly great at printing photos on photo paper, with images showing visible horizontal lines. But in all other areas, our test results were impressive. It printed consistently crisp printed pages at a good speed. And in photocopier mode, the scan resolution perfectly matched the print resolution. As with Epson, HP's own remote companion app is, in our experience, an excellent way to control print jobs without fiddling with the touchscreen. 

Inkjet refills are never cheap. However, this model is eligible for an HP+ subscription which will discount the cost of your cartridges by around 70 percent.  

Read our full HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e/9010e review

Best printer for photos

Epson EcoTank ET-8550 on a wooden desk against a brickwork wall

(Image credit: Future)
The 6-ink EcoTank is ideal for A3 images

Specifications

Category: color AOI inkjet printer
Print speed: 22ppm
Paper sizes: up to A3
Paper capacity: 300
Weight: 16.9kg

Reasons to buy

+
Motorised out tray
+
Cheap bottled ink
+
Vivid print quality
+
Large touchscreen

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow duplex print speed
-
Scanner is not A3 size
-
High initial cost

By offering Epson’s tried and tested six-color Claria system in a refillable EcoTank format for the first time, this is in many ways the best printer for photos. During the testing phase, we were delighted to find the ink tanks integrate perfectly in this refined, low-profile design, and the touchscreen really makes it easy to use. 

We found the broad selection of features and media compatibility, which includes A3-size paper, impressive. But the print quality really impressed us most. Whether we were printing monochrome or color photos, or plain word documents, the results were always excellent. Duplex printing wasn't as quick, although that's likely to be a serious issue for printing images onto glossy photo paper, which the where the printer really shines.

Usually, the catch with premium photo printers like this is the crippling cost of their ink cartridges, but with ink tanks, its actually very economical to run. Aside from the high initial cost, it’s hard to find fault with the Epson EcoTank ET-8550. 

Read our full Epson EcoTank ET-8550 review 

Best printer for SMBs

Brother MFC-J1170DW/DCP-J1140DW (US/UK) on a wooden table for home office use

(Image credit: Future)
Mini business printer for the micro office

Specifications

Category: 3-in-1 color inkjet printer
Print speed: 17ppm
Paper sizes: up to A4
Paper capacity: 150
Weight: 6.9kg

Reasons to buy

+
Prompt printing
+
Touchscreen interface
+
Competitive price
+
Easy set-up and operation

Reasons to avoid

-
No multipurpose input
-
No front USB port or Ethernet port
-
Small inkjet cartridges

The Brother DCP-J1140DW has a footprint not much larger than a sheet of A4 paper. There’s no fax facility, but it will print, scan and copy in full resolution and at quite fast speeds, while essential features such as an auto duplex mode, Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi Direct and AirPrint are all built in. 

This affordable 3-in-1 multifunction printer put in an admirable performance for the price during our tests. It got pretty close to its claimed print speed of 17ppm for single-side black and white pages, which means its fast enough for the needs of a home office or small business. We would've liked to have seen a front USB port or Ethernet port for extra versatility, but we didn't feel this is a deal-breaker. 

We thought it a shame that it still relies on expensive cartridge-based ink rather than refillable tanks, but were impressed that it packs in all of the essential features needed for efficiently running a small business or WFH. And we found the touchscreen interface, convenient cable management and above average all-round print quality give this all-in-one an edge at the budget end of the business printer market. 

Read our full Brother MFC-J1170DW/DCP-J1140DW review

Best budget laser printer

Brother HL-L3230CDW on a clear wooden desk, an interior brick wall in the background

(Image credit: Future)
Quick, quiet and desktop friendly

Specifications

Category: Color laser printer
Print speed: 25ppm
Paper sizes: up to A4
Paper capacity: 250
Weight: 18kg

Reasons to buy

+
Quick and quiet printing
+
Crisp print quality
+
High paper capacity
+
Robust build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
No NFC or USB flash port
-
Slow first page out time
-
Small single-line display
-
Large for a desktop model

This no-frills laser printer slots in at the affordable end of the brand’s color LED lineup and is aimed at the small office or home user. Instead of fancy features like a touchscreen interface or NFC connectivity, the print-only Brother HL-L3230CDW concentrates on the essentials. And after testing out the product ourselves, we kind of liked that simplicity and laser-focus on doing one job well. DUring our own review process, for example, we found it can auto duplex and prints quickly at 25ppm (pages per minute).

There’s room for 250 sheets in the main tray, which we appreciate, and we found it to be well-built. This strikes just the right balance between price and performance. On test, pages always appeared crisp and colorful, and we didn't experience any paper jams. On the other hand, the first-page out times were a bit slower than we're used to. 

There's no denying it's a little on the larger side for a desktop printer, but we felt it small enough to fit in a home office environment so long as you have space. That means that if you're running your small business from the office or home, and you always have massive print jobs that demand the speed and accuracy of a laser printer, the Brother HL-L3230CDW is tough to beat.

Read our full Brother HL-L3230CDW review

Best budget photo printer

Canon PIXMA G620/G650 with a sheet of paper preparing to print

(Image credit: Future)
MegaTank makes fine photo printing affordable

Specifications

Category: 3-in-1 color ink tank
Print speed: 3.9 ipm
Paper sizes: Up to A4
Paper capacity: 100 sheets
Weight: 6.6 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Six-ink color printing
+
Cheap to run
+
Lots of inbox ink
+
Wide paper compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
No auto duplex
-
No main paper drawer and low paper capacity
-
Small 2-line display

The Canon Pixma G620/G650 is a stripped-back six-tank inkjet that delivers high-quality photo printing without burning a massive hole in your pocket. 

There are some great features in this three-in-one device. Besides being able to print, scan and copy, it boasts Wi-Fi with AirPrint compatibility built in and can print at 1,200 x 4,800 dpi through its 2,304 nozzles. But being an affordable photo printer, there are compromises here. There’s no main paper tray, touchscreen or auto duplex mode. And we did find that a little disappointing throughout our testing process, although it's not a deal-breaker.

We also noticed during testing that the soluble dye-based black it uses was not as bold as the insoluble pigment-based blacks that business printers use. This meant slightly less punchy pages. However, the monochrome test pages we did on plain paper were sharp and clear with no smudging, misprints or paper jams. More importantly, it was particularly impressive at printing photos on photo paper, achieving a wider color gamut with more natural shading. We even got a very professional-looking finish on Canon’s matt photo paper.

Read our full Canon Pixma G620/G650 review

Best ink tank printer for the home office

Canon MAXIFY GX6020/GX6050/GX6060 (US/UK/Australia) on a wooden table in a brightly lit home office

(Image credit: Future)
Maximum features and ink

Specifications

Category: Color 3-in-1 inkjet printer
Print speed: 24ppm
Paper sizes: up to A4
Paper capacity: 250
Weight: 11.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Appealing design
+
Low running cost
+
Touchscreen interface
+
All-round performance

Reasons to avoid

-
High initial cost
-
Grainy photo quality
-
No fax or NFC

This thoughtfully designed all-in-one MegaTank printer is ideal for the home office. After testing out the kit ourselves, we found it to be well-built, easy to use, comprehensively featured and has an all-round performance that’s good enough for family and business use. 

You'll find a touchscreen control panel and plenty of room for paper. The main tray holds 200 sheets, while the rear tray holds 100 and the ADF (automatic document feed) holds another 50. For us, the main attraction was those big refillable ink tanks, with Canon providing a generous amount of ink in the box. It means you don’t need to think about buying more for a long time and when you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the cost of bottled ink. 

It's not perfect. We didn't like the fact that it's missing NFC and fax - so it can't do absolutely everything required for business or home office use. And the high initial outlay for an inkjet printer may out off some, but the ink tank printer design means you should save money in the longer term.

Where it shone during testing, however, is printing, efficiently pumping out monochrome text documents quickly and handling photographs quite well - although we did feel these could be a little grainy at times. It also passed all of our tests without any paper jams, misprints, or other issues. 

Read our full Canon Maxify GX6020/GX6050 review 

Best printers compared

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ModelFunctionsDelivery systemPrint speed (ppm/mono)Paper capacity
Canon Maxify GX4020 / GX4050Print, scan, copy, faxInk tank18350
Epson EcoTank ET-3850Print, scan, copyInk tank15250
Brother MFC-L9670CDNPrint, scan, copy, faxLaser42520
HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e / 9010ePrint, scan, copy, faxInkjet22250
Epson EcoTank ET-8550Print, scan, copyInk tank22300
Brother MFC-J1170DW / DCP-J1140DWPrint, scan, copyInkjet17150
Brother HL-L3230CDWPrintLaser25250
Canon Pixma G620 / G650Print, scan, copyInk tank3.9 (ipm)250
Canon Maxify GX6020 / GX6050Print, scan, copyInk tank24250

Best printers: FAQs

Which is the best printer for home use?

Any of the best home printers are great for light home and home office tasks - we've hand-tested them to be sure.  

Home printers tend to be inkjet models, since the best inkjet printers are pretty good all-rounders, capable of printing documents and photos at high-quality. They're designed for light use, they don't print particularly quickly, but they get the job done very well. And, generally, they're quite cheap to buy. However, replacing ink cartridges can be expensive compared to laser printers and ink tank printers, which are refilled with bottled ink. 

You can print thousands of pages before an ink tank needs to be refuelled. Inkjet cartridges, on the other hand, usually last for only several hundred pages before they need to be replaced.

With the likes of the HP Smart Tank and Epson EcoTank range on the market, we'd recommend an ink tank printer for home printing. These printers are more expensive to buy than inkjets. But they offer all the benefits of inkjet printing with reduced running costs and reduced waste. 

However, both inkjet cartridges and ink in tank printers can clog if not used regularly, meaning you may have to do some maintenance to get them in working order again if they remain unused for a period of time.  

Laser printers, on the other hand, require little maintenance as they use a dry toner, and can also print pages with great speed compared to ink tank and inkjet models. The toners can print thousands of pages before needing replacement as well, and despite the high upfront costs for the cartridges, their lifespan means they are ultimately economical.

The downside of laser printers is that they are generally quite expensive, with high prices for both the units themselves and their cartridges. They are also usually limited in the types of paper they can print on, with paper used for photos and the like unsuitable. 

Speaking of which, if this applies to you, then an inkjet printer is the preferable option, as they generally provide a better quality printout. And unlike laser printers, they can handle different paper types, including the high quality photo paper you’ll usually opt for when printing pictures. 

If you have multiple people printing from different locations around the house, then a printer with Wi-Fi is a must. Fortunately, most printers on the market today are equipped with this feature. But even more convenient are those with NFC connectivity, which allows for instant, setup-free connection between your device and printer when in close proximity, making it even faster to print what you need. 

Which is the best printer for office use?

Laser printers are typically considered the best for office use. With a delivery system that creates sharp, crisp text documents at a fast speed. 

For an office with regular printing needs, a mono laser printer, which only prints in black and white, should be enough. 

If your office is printing photos and graphics, inkjets are considered the best choice. And one with a large ink capacity is even better. Ideally, look for a model with quicker than usual print speeds (at least 30ppm) to rival laserjet printing. 

The best ink tank printers are great in this respect, as you purchase bottles to fill the tank, which you’ll only need to do after thousands of pages. Subscription plans for refillable ink are available, because of course there are. 

Office printers are best when they pack plenty of features, too. Ideally, choose one of the best all-in-one printers, with print, scan, copy, and fax capabilities. Make sure it features an automatic document feeder (ADF) and auto-duplex mode for double-sided printing and scanning. 

These are good features for heavy home-users. But for businesses, they're essential. It just makes using the printer more efficient, more productive. 

Security is another aspect you should consider when using your printer in the workplace. Printers can be exploited by hackers to gain access to your whole network if they are connected to it, so look out for products that detail their security specifications. 

What are the best printers for photos?

Inkjet printers are considered the best photo printers, due to their multiple nozzles providing precise printouts. They can also come with special cartridges especially designed for reproducing photos with maximum color accuracy. 

That’s not to say that other types of printers can’t handle photos, and conversely, we found that some inkjet printers, such as the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e featured in this list, don’t perform well when printing photos. 

Regardless, you should look out for those that have a high GSM limit. This stands for grams per square meter, and refers to the thickness of paper. Photo paper is generally in the area of 150gsm and above, whereas standard A4 paper for documents is around 74-90gsm.

Most laser printers have a maximum limit of 220gsm, so they should be fine in this regard.

Our favorite for printer for printing photos, especially those in a large size, is the Epson EcoTank ET-8550, a tank printer as the name suggests. We were impressed with the integration of the brand’s six-color Claria system in this form factor, and its ability to accommodate paper sizes up to A3 and print photos of all colors in great detail. 

Also, as it is an ink tank printer, the costs of refilling are well below that of other premium printers specializing in photo production. However, the initial outlay is fairly steep, but we think it is worth it for those keen on photography. 

Which laser printer is best?

This depends on what you want from a printer. Some of the best laser printers, for instance, only offer black and white printing with the upshot being a cheaper purchase price, so these are all you'll need if you only print documents.

The top laser printers are capable of high-quality, high-output printing demands, and even include security features that are essential for firms to stay protected. Generous page and toner capacity is a major factor when determining the laser printer that's right for your print jobs. Ideally, too, is an easy-to-use touchscreen and NFC connectivity to let users print wirelessly from compatible devices, such as most modern smartphones and tablets.

What’s the best ink, pigment or dye?

Inkjet printers use two kinds of ink to suit different situations. Pigment inks contain colored particles in suspension. The non-soluble particles bond quickly with the paper leaving bold prints that are less prone to smudging, running or fading under UV light. Pigment ink works well with smooth high-quality paper and is ideal for text documents. With dye-based inks, the colorant is in solution so it needs to soak into the paper and the prints are more susceptible to running and less UV resistant. Dye works well with cheap paper and also coated photo paper thereby making it ideal for photos. Many inkjet printers use both black pigment ink and colored dyes in combination.

What's the best printer type - AOI or MFP?

It’s essentially the same thing. An all-in-one (AOI) printer is one that also has a scanner built in so that it can make digital copies. The term AOI is usually applied to compact inkjet printers, whereas multifunction printer (MFP) is reserved for larger laser devices with scanners. You might also see 3-in-1 referring to a printer that can print, scan and copy or 4-in-1 indicating one that can also send and receive a fax. 

What are the different types of printer?

There are three main types of printer: inkjet, laser, and ink tank. 

Inkjets are all-rounders using liquid ink for high-quality text, graphics and especially photos. They're your classic home printer, although there are plenty of office inkjets out there. They're small, simple to use, For low-level printing jobs, they're perfect. The printers are cheap to buy, but the high price of ink cartridges make it more expensive long-term.

Laser printers use toners, providing crisp, detailed documents - they're a mainstay of offices. Instead of using liquid ink, lasers use a powder that's heated on the page. As a result, print speeds are faster - more ppm the better. They don't tend to handle photos as well as an inkjet, they're expensive to buy but the replacement toner is cheap, so they're a long-term investment, 

Ink tank printers, like laser printers, the initial cost is higher - but they offer a lot of bang for their buck. Like an inkjet, it uses liquid ink in bottles, letting you refillable individual colors as you use them. This leads to reduced running costs and reduced waste. While ink cartridges last for a few hundred pages, ink tank printers can print thousands of pages before needing to be refilled. The overall economical choice. 

But these are far from the only printers on the market, as we saw in our guide Inkjet vs Laser vs LED: What’s best for you? The category is incredibly diverse. We've seen everything from the best printers for T shirts to the best sublimation printers for businesses who need to print graphics and marketing materials on larger formats and sheets. In our experience, there's always a way to print almost anything - the difference mostly comes down to the type of inks or dyes used. 

How much should a printer cost?

The cost of a printer depends on the type and use. You can pick up a cheap inkjet printer for under $50 - ideal for casual use, and nothing too graphical on the page. You can spend thousands on an enterprise or office printer capable of printing with unfathomable speed and accuracy. There's no set price for a printer. 

There are a lot of factors that influence the cost of a printer. 

Inkjet printers are usually cheaper than laser printers and ink tank printers. Higher print speed, print quality and resolution, scan, copy, fax functionality, and productivity features like auto-duplex mode will all increase the average price. But they're essential for many offices and home office set-ups. Enterprise or office printers, with a high sheet capacity  and large footprint, can cost thousands.  

We also recommend always checking the cost and availability of replacement ink cartridges and toners before a purchase. It'll give you an idea of how much the printer really costs over time. 

What's the difference between a toner printer and an ink printer?

Toner printers apply a heat-transferred powder to the paper. They can print thousands of pages before requiring replacement. Toner or laser printers tend to be bulkier machines with larger footprints, built to handle anything up to 20,000 pages a month. Print speeds are fast, at around 50ppm, with greater consistency and accuracy when printing pages of text that won't smudge. 

Inkjet printers print liquid ink directly to the page through a print head. A colour inkjet usually has four airtight foil cartridges, but they can have more colours for a wider colour gamut. Inkjet printers are still the best way to print high-resolution images at high quality. They're the only way to print photos on glossy photo paper.


How to choose the best printer for you

When choosing which printer is best for you, there are a number of factors to look into - not everyone's needs are the same. These considerations include:

Inkjet or laser

If you print photos, the answer is inkjet. With thousands of nozzles applying liquid ink dots onto plain or coated paper, inkjets achieve superior image quality, while being generally smaller and cheaper than lasers. However, the dry toner used by laser printers is more efficient and allows for faster, cleaner and more consistent printing at higher capacities. 

Monochrome or color

If you don’t need to print in color, monochrome laser printers are significantly cheaper to buy and run than their color counterparts. They’re also simpler and have more space for higher capacity black cartridges. The same cannot be said of inkjets which are able to deliver all colors via the same printhead, so there’s little advantage in having just one. 

Print-only or multifunction

The essential difference between a pure printer and an MFP (multifunction printer) also known as an AOI (all-in-one) is the integrated scanner. Naturally, this feature adds size and cost, but a flatbed scanner will capture documents more satisfyingly than an app on your smartphone and it effectively turns any printer into a photocopier. The more expensive MFPs will also offer an ADF (automatic document feeder) for passing a stack of pages over the scanner for you. 

Home or office

Printers designed for domestic use tend to be compact and affordable inkjets which can print family photos as well as work documents. In the office, printing at faster speeds and higher volumes is more important than size and operating noise, so lasers are more common. Business printers usually have stronger security and can be accessed by whole networked workgroups. 

Subscription plans

Services like HP Instant Ink provide cheaper cartridges in the mail before you run out. It makes sense if you print regularly, but it’s not always right for occasional users and getting out of the contract can be difficult.

Essential features

Most printers print on any size paper up to Letter, or A4, so if you need the best large format printers or the best A3 printers, you can expect to pay more. Most devices have Wi-Fi built in as well as an Ethernet port, but you need to check. Also consider the type of media you will be using and the quantity. If you print a lot, it will be worth avoiding inkjet cartridges in favour of refillable ink tanks. If you want to print on card, check the specifications for the maximum compatible paper weight. A printer offering manual duplex is unable to print on both sides of the page automatically, so unless you don’t mind turning over every sheet by hand, make sure it can auto duplex.  

Budget

The best cheap printers are usually inkjet models, but their expensive cartridges are the catch. Always check the price of your printer’s consumables before you buy. Bottled ink costs around eighty percent less than cartridges, so a more expensive ink tank device will give you long term savings. 

Have a preferred brand? We’ve tested, reviewed, and rated the best HP printers, the best Epson printers, and the best Brother printers.  

How we test the best printers

We’ve tested hundreds of printers from the best wireless printers and the best label printers, so we know what to look for, what works, and what to avoid when looking for the best printers. 

Our rigorous process starts from the initial set-up, which we time. We're looking for easy set-up that should take no longer than 30 minutes maximum. We use a range of wired and wireless connectivity options throughout our tests. This includes the use of remote printing companion apps like those offered by HP and Epson - both of which, across our tests, make the entire printing process much more fluid. 

For printing tests with all printers, we use the same ten-page document featuring text, images, and photos. This way, we can precisely see where print quality excels (and where it doesn’t). A separate document with a series of test patterns allows us to assess color accuracy and fidelity, contrast, and sharpness.

We use our test document to manually test print speeds - because we never take a manufacturer's claim at face value. However, in our experience, quoted print speeds from recognized brands are broadly accurate. For this test, we use a stopwatch app to time the printing process using the same ten-page test document for each printer. 

Where available, we assess additional features, from copier speeds and resolution to ADF and auto-duplex printing and scanning. We're looking for printers that make the print process less disruptive and more productlve. 

In addition to testing the output of the best printers, we also assess overall build quality - a printer designed for business use should be sturdy to accommodate daily use from multiple users, for example, although we like to see robustness across the board, whether it’s for the home or office. This feeds into a key area of our testing and evaluation: cost. As part of this aspect, we calculate not just initial outlay, but overall running costs in the long term, to make sure users really are getting value for money. 

You can find out more about our comprehensive process in our guide to how we test, review, and rate printers on TechRadar Pro

Collin Probst

Former TechRadar Pro B2B Hardware Editor, Collin has been in journalism for years, with experience in small and large markets, including Gearadical, DailyBeast, FutureNet, and more.

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