The most recent revolution to rock the world of inkjet printing is the advent of the refillable ink tank and it’s easy to see why. By moving away from expensive ink cartridges to bottled ink, you can save up to 90% on your consumables cost. Whether you are printing photos at home, color documents at college, or monochrome manuscripts in the office, we have rounded up the best supertank printers money can buy.
Ink tank, or ‘supertank’ printers are simply inkjet printers (opens in new tab) that have swapped their disposable cartridges for onboard ink reservoirs that you can fill up with bottles of ink. As well as being much cheaper to buy, you can fit more of this bottled ink in the tank, which means less printer downtime. Canon’s MegaTank, Eposn’s EcoTank and HP’s Smart Tank systems all work in the same way and though the inks are incompatible between brands, they are all very easy to top up and all offer similarly dramatic savings. They all reduce the amount of waste plastic to the same degree too.
In this rapidly expanding category, we have tested color and monochrome printers and included models deigned for home and business use. Large and small, affordable and expensive, our list considers all of the best refillable cartridge-free ink tank printers available.
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The Canon MAXIFY GX6020 (known in the UK as the GX6050) is a premium 3-in-1 device and it comes with all of the features you could need in a small business printer. It’s also one of Canon’s MegaTank models with large refillable ink reservoirs onboard and plenty of bottled ink in the box – enough for 6,000 monochrome pages and 14,000 color. There’s ample room for paper in the front and rear paper trays too, so it can meet high print demands in a busy office. Duplex printing, duplex scanning, Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi Direct and a rapid print rate combine to make this well-built inkjet an attractive alternative to laser printing. It’s not quite as fast as your average laser, but the print quality is generally higher and the consumables cost is lower.
Read the full Canon MAXIFY GX6050 review.
As part of Epson’s Ecotank Pro line, the ET-580 is built for high productivity and aimed at the busy medium-sized office. There’s room for more than a ream of paper on board and it prints almost as quickly as a laser. It comes with plenty of ink (enough for 4,500 mono pages and 2,800 color) and laden with features. The robust ADF (automatic document feeder) can hold 50 sheets of A4 and photocopy both sides of the page automatically. Wi-Fi is built in with Wi-Fi Direct, AirPrint and every other wireless connectivity option covered. It’s all controlled by a user-friendly touchscreen interface that will save you time spent standing at the printer. In short, the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 offers everything you could need in an office printer with the added attraction of rock-bottom running costs.
This refillable inkjet printer costs several times more than HP’s cartridge-based inkjet models, but bottled ink is so much cheaper that you will soon make your money back. It also comes with five bottles of ink in the box which will give you thousands of printed pages before you need to buy more. In other respects, it’s a typically well-specified all-in-one HP printer with auto duplex printing, auto duplex scanning and excellent wireless connectivity. There’s no touchscreen and it is somewhat slow at printing, but there is a 35-sheet ADF and room for a decent amount of paper in the main input tray. The print resolution is high enough for photo printing making it a great choice for the home office.
The Canon PIXMA GM4020 is a fully featured black and white all-in-one aimed at the small office. Where a monochrome cartridge printer would not make economic sense, a MegaTank printer does because the running costs are so low and the purchase price is also made more competitive by streaming the design. It is actually upgradable to color, by adding a tricolor cartridge, but if you can get away with printing only in mono and you you don’t ever use a Mac (opens in new tab) (it’s not at all Apple-friendly) then this competent printer will save you money.
Read the full Canon PIXMA GM4020 review (opens in new tab).
It looks a little ungainly with the refillable ink tanks ruining the symmetry of this otherwise compact A3 all-in-one, but it’s the refined EcoTank system that sets this model apart from the competition. If you can swallow the high price tag, your ongoing ink costs will be very low and Epson’s five-color printing guarantees excellent image quality, especially with photos on photo paper. The box includes a remarkably generous ten bottles of ink which will keep you printing for the next 3,600 photos.
Read the full Epson EcoTank ET-7750 review (opens in new tab).
Canon’s cartridge-free printers are particularly easy to top up whenever you see the ink in the window getting low and they come with plenty more ink in the box, enough to print 7,700 full color images, or 18,000 in black and white. The Canon PIXMA G6050 is small enough to sit on a desk without taking over and big enough to hold 250 sheets of paper. Wi-Fi is built in, auto duplex printing is covered and both the print and scan resolutions are good and high. It prints a beautifully bold photo and crisp text that won’t run, thanks to the use of a pigment black ink.
Read the full Canon PIXMA G6050 review (opens in new tab).
The Epson EcoTank ET-M3140 is a well designed and fully featured all-in-one cartridge-free inkjet for the small office. It cannot print in color, but that means there’s more room for black ink on board and the box includes three bottles giving you a total yield of 18,000 pages. Bottled ink costs around 90% less than cartridge ink, so your TCO (total cost of ownership) is very low, despite what might seem a high purchase price. It prints quickly at 39 pages per minute and can auto duplex (print both sides of the page), while the ADF (automatic document feeder) can dual scan. It’s also very well connected with Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and NFC all available.
Inkjet printers with refillable tanks are usually expensive, but that’s not the case here. The HP Smart Tank Plus 559 is a compact all-in-one aimed at the home office with an exceptionally low TCO (total cost of ownership). There's enough ink included in the box to print up to 12,000 black and white and 8,000 pages of color so you won’t need to think about buying more bottles for some time. It is also particularly well connected with Bluetooth built in as well as dual-band Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct. The print speed is a little slow, but this high-resolution printer and scanner ensures decent quality photocopies.
The Canon PIXMA G3560 is an affordable all-in-one aimed at the home office and sporting the latest evolution in Canon’s refillable MegaTank system. The four ink reservoirs are incorporated seamlessly into the compact body and the bottles themselves are an improved drip-free design. Wi-Fi is built in with Wi-Fi Direct and AirPrint compatibility available. Unfortunately, duplex printing is manual only, but it can print onto a wide variety of media including photo paper, envelopes, stickers and even banners up to 120cm long. It ships with five bottles of ink, which is enough for 12,000 black and white pages, or 7,700 color.
The Epson EcoTank ET-2760 (known as the ET-2756 in UK) costs considerably more than Epson’s cartridge based all-in-one printers, but in the long term, the refillable tanks promise to reduce your consumables cost by up to 90%. This is a well specified and fully featured three-in-one device with Wi-Fi, duplex printing and a rapid monochrome print rate. What really sets it apart from the cartridge crowd though, is the generous amount ink included in the box — enough for 7.500 black and white pages, or 6,000 color.
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