Need to print a photo, dissertation, brochure, or just a boarding pass?
Sometimes there’s no substitute for a hard copy. That’s why there’s such a wide variety of printers to choose from. Inkjet, laser, monochrome, or multifunction, there’s something for every occasion and budget, which means choosing one can be daunting. To ensure you end up with the right device, this buying guide is here to help in two ways. Firstly, it’s a list of the best printers drawn from more than two hundred models tested by TechRadar Pro. We also have some brief buying advice in the form of seven key questions that will help you know what you need.
The best printers (March 2023)
The best printers (March 2023)
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.
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. It prints very quickly in duplex mode and the quality is colorful and consistent. Capacity is another strong point with room for 520 sheets in the main paper tray and scope to upscale to 2,600 sheets. But it’s the capacity for toner that makes the Brother MFC-L9670CDN so competitive. 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 the full review: Brother MFC-L9670CDN
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 and 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. It’s a pity there’s no touchscreen, USB Host port or dual scanning, but we would gladly swap those expendable 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. Most importantly, it prints well, and that goes for both documents and photos.
Read the full review: Epson EcoTank ET-3850
There’s a lot to like about this four-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. It’s not as fast as a laser and it lacks a couple of premium features such as duplex scanning and a USB Host port, but it has everything else that a small business or home office might need. There’s plenty of room for paper and ink with a 250-sheet main paper tray and it holds enough bottled ink in the tanks to print 6,000 mono and 14,000 color pages. The output quality is always crisp and colorful and it can handle almost any kind of printable media. Thanks to the rear flat tray which compliments the 250-sheet main tray and 100-sheet rear tray, that even includes 0.7mm thick paperboard. If the asking price seems high, the TCO (total cost of ownership) is actually very low making this a sensible choice for the small business with big print demands.
Read the full review: Canon MAXIFY GX4020/GX4050/GX4060
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 shared office well. It’s not great at printing photos on photo paper, but in all other areas the results are impressive. Inkjet refills are never cheap, but this model is eligible for an HP+ subscription which will discount the cost of your cartridges by around 70 percent.
Read the full review: HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e/9010e
The Kyocera ECOSYS P2040dw looks and feels like a premium office printer and has the specifications to match. At 40ppm (pages per minute), it’s one of the fastest lasers we’ve tested and it’ll print up to 50,000 pages per month. The 1,200dpi resolution is high for a mono laser printer and there’s room for 250 sheets of paper in the main tray. Extra trays are available for expanding this capacity to 850 sheets. The design is compact and although the initial cost is high, the TCO (total cost of ownership) is lowered by its efficient use of toner and its long-life components. This is a capable workgroup printer that can grow with your business and bring long-term savings.
Read the full review: Kyocera ECOSYS P2040dw
For a print-only device, this laser is somewhat expensive, but it’s also highly specified and it certainly justified its price during our test. The flat paper path and LED technology no doubt helped the OKI C844dnw achieve its high print speed and flawless performance. It printed perfectly on a very wide selection of paper stock from A6 cards up to heavy 256gsm A3 paper. It can also print on rolls of banner paper. It’s a pity there’s no touchscreen interface or front USB port, but the OKI C844dnw makes up for those minor shortcomings with more useful features. It can auto duplex print of course and has NFC connectivity built in for secure printing. It is supported by a range of accessories that boost its paper capacity and offer a degree of future-proofing. Being the smallest A3 laser printer on the OKI C844dnw would suite any office, big or small.
Read the full review: OKI C844dnw
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, this print-only device concentrates on the essentials. It can auto duplex and prints quickly at 25ppm (pages per minute). There’s room for 250 sheets in the main tray and it feels well built. The Brother HL-L3230CDW strikes just the right balance between price and performance. Pages always appear crisp and colorful and there were no paper jams during the test. This reliable workhorse printer would suit a shared office while its small enough to fit in a home office environment equally well.
Read the full review: Brother HL-L3230CDW
This thoughtfully designed all-in-one MegaTank printer is ideal for the home office. It is well built, easy to use, comprehensively featured and has an all-round performance that’s good enough for family and business use. There’s a touchscreen control panel and plenty of room for paper. The main tray takes 200 sheets, while the rear tray holds 100 and the ADF (automatic document feed) holds another 50. It prints monochrome text documents quickly and handles photographs quite well too. The main attraction, however, are those big refillable ink tanks and the generous amount of ink Canon has put 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. Yes, it’s a high initial price for an inkjet printer, but you’ll be saving money in the long term.
Read the full review: Canon MAXIFY GX6020/GX6050/GX6060
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 ideal photo printer. The ink tanks integrate perfectly in this refined, low-profile design and you have great ease of use thanks to the touchscreen. The broad selection of features and media compatibility, which includes A3-size paper, is impressive, but more so is the print quality. Whether you’re printing monochrome or color photos, or plain word documents, the results are always excellent. 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 the full review: Epson EcoTank ET-8550
This affordable 3-in-1 multifunction printer 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. If you find that you need to print work documents from home, the stripped-back Brother MFC-J1170DW (called the DCP-J1140DW in the UK) could be the ideal personal printer for you. It still relies on expensive cartridge-based ink rather than refillable tanks, but it does come with all of the essential features. 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 the full review: Brother MFC-J1170DW/DCP-J1140DW
How to choose
The cheapest inkjet printers can cost less than your lunch, 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.
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.
Black and white, 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.
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.
Most printers print on any size paper up to Letter, or A4, so if you need to print larger formats such as A3, 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best printer for home use?
If you’re only likely to print the occasional document on standard A4 paper, then all you’ll need is a basic, entry-level inkjet printer, as these are generally cheaper than other kinds. However, when it comes to running costs, things get a little more complicated.
Inkjet cartridges are usually much more expensive than the bottles used in tank printers, for example, but these kinds of printers are usually more expensive to buy initially.
However, the advantage of tank printers is that they only need refilling after thousands of prints, whereas inkjet cartridges usually last for only several hundred pages before they need replacing. If you’re concerned with your environmental impact as well as being more economical, then tank printers are the way to go. If you’re printing regularly, the often high cost of the printer itself will eventually be justified as you make savings on refilling less often compared to inkjets.
Beware, however, that 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 printer is best for office use?
For an office, you’ll probably want a printer that has a large page capacity, as well as a large capacity for ink so you don’t have to keep changing it.
Ink tanks are great in this respect, as you purchase bottles to fill the tank, which you’ll only need to do after thousands of pages. A subscription plan is also useful in this setting, saving your business the hassle of needing to remember to buy more ink or find you run out just as you go to print something important. HP Instant Ink is one such subscription plan, but there are others from other big manufacturers, and they can work out to be more economical in the long run for heavy users.
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.
Our number one spot is occupied by the Brother MFC-L9670CDN laser printer for its stellar performance in the workplace in all regards mentioned above.
What are the best photo printers?
Inkjet printers are considered the best for printing photos, 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 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.
Our top ranked laser printer, the Brother MFC-L9670CDN, is also our favorite printer overall, as it is perfect for businesses who have high printing demands. It has some great security features that are essential for firms to stay protected, as well as printing fast and with high quality.
The page capacity is also very generous, as is the toner capacity which makes it one of the best of any Brother offering in terms of value for money. The touchscreen is also easy to use and NFC connectivity makes it simple to 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.
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.