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Best large format printers of 2021: wide-format printers for every budget

PRICE
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Included in this guide:

Large format printer
(Image credit: Image Credit: Pixabay)

Investing in any of the best large format printers on this page can be a great move for your businesses, allowing you to create eye-catching and vibrant promotional materials, such as posters and flyers.

While many businesses can get by with a standard printer for printing out documents, the best large format printers are ideal for when you need to print out much larger documents.

Of course, by printing out larger documents, you don't want to lose out on image quality, and these specialised large format printers can ensure you're able to produce stunning results at large sizes. These devices can be quite expensive, so in this guide we don't just list the top models; our price comparison tool can automatically find the best prices as well.

Large format printers are used not just for marketing and promotional materials like posters, but also for blueprints, plans and technical data as well. They work much like normal printers - but on a much larger scale.

Large format printers aren't simply about scaling up the technology as much as preserving detail and making sure this remains crisp and clear, no matter how big the paper size you're working with.

However, once you start getting into ANSI F and A0 paper sizes to print, this takes you into a generally more expensive market than desktop. 

So to help you out, here we'll list the best in large format printers, starting at the lower end of the budget range and building our way through to the more expensive models - with the caveat that we're focusing on large format printers for paper printing, rather than wide format printers that use vinyl for signage printing.

  • Don't need something that can print as big as ANSI F or A0 size? Then check out our buying guide for the best A3 printers  

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HP DesignJet T230

(Image credit: HP)

1. HP DesignJet T230

World’s smallest large-format plotter

Reasons to buy
+Conveniently compact+East to use+Auto paper switching

HP’s latest pair of 200 Series DesignJet plotters are the smallest yet. They’re also the most affordable and easiest to use. The HP DesignJet T230 is the entry-level model costing as little as US$899, or £756. At less than a meter wide, it can print onto A4, A3 , A2 and A1 size paper, or you can attach a roll for 24-inch banner printing. It can even switch between different sizes of pre-loaded media automatically with the addition of an inexpensive accessory. You can also send multiple print jobs at once by using HP Click software, while the HP Smart app makes it easy to print from anywhere using your smartphone. It prints relatively quickly too, turning out an A1 sheet in as little as 35 seconds. T

his is an inkjet printer at heart and its four cartridges are located at the front for easy access. They have a fairly high page yield with 20ml of ink giving you around 101 A1-size prints. This impressively compact device is small enough to sit on a desk, but a dedicated stand is available from HP. 

(Image credit: HP)

2. HP DesignJet T650

Premium plotting at a fair price

Reasons to buy
+Fast print speed+Sheet and roll compatible+Includes a stand

At the premium end of HP’s comprehensive line of large format inkjet plotters sits the HP DesignJet T650, a 36-inch plotter for printing up to A1 sized documents, or 36-inch roll paper. It claims to be the smallest wide format printer with an integrated stand and it’s ideal for use in an architect’s office, a design studio, or other shared office environment. This top-end model has a very fast print speed of just 25 seconds for an A1/D-sized document and a full gigabyte of memory for processing sizeable image files. 

The HP DesignJet T650 is a thermal inkjet printer using dye-based C, M and Y color cartridges and a pigment-based K to make up the image. It has an automatic feed for A4 and A3 sheets and a manual roll feed for A2 and A1 paper with an automatic horizontal cutter built in. It would suit any AEC, GIS, and MCAD professionals who need to print maps, technical drawings, posters, and renders. 

HP DesignJet Z9+44

(Image credit: HP)

3. HP Designjet Z9+ PS 44" Large Format Colour Inkjet Printer

Large format printing with all the niceties

Reasons to buy
+Exceptional colour control+Excellent speed+Secure wireless connection

The HP DesignJet Z9+ leads the next stage up in large format printers, being able to handle prints of up to 44". It also comes with a touchscreen, 500GB harddrive, automatic rollfeed and cut screen feeder, and a set of 9 ink colors.

While the number of ink types isn't as high as the Canon above, HP cover this through advances in printhead technology and HP Pixel Control, which aims to ensure that print quality is rich and sharp in both color and detail. It also has its own in-built built-in spectrophotometer to reduce the need for reprints. The HP DesignJet Z9+ really does deliver on exceptional high-resolution prints.

However, the main aim of the DesignJet Z9+ isn't just to work with quality, but also work at faster speeds. It advertises a rate of 185 square feet per hour (71.4 m²/hr), which is much higher than earlier DesignJet series from HP and many competitors, though of course print speed will depend on print mode and media type. It also offers both wired and wireless printing, the latter through a secure connection.

As expected, this is a machine strictly aimed at professional studios and offices, where large format graphics are a real concern. This is reflected in the cost of The HP DesignJet Z9+, which has a list price of $4,995, though distributors may be able to offer discounted pricing.

Epson SureColor P20000

(Image credit: Epson)

4. Epson SureColor P20000

A large format printer designed for heavy usage

Reasons to buy
+Works with huge print sizes+Heavy-duty workhorse+Excellent colors+Good speed for a printer this size

The Epson Surecolor range really excels when it comes to print quality, and the Epson Surecolor P20000 is no different. 

Designed specifically to handle mammoth color prints of up to 64", it can work with everything from cut sheets to rolls, plain papers to photographic, and even poster boards.

This is a machine that's built for heavy-duty use, and can be left all day to get a queue of jobs done. It also comes with a fast print mode for printing at 600 x 600 dpi at around 44 square feet an hour 17.5m2/hr. While not as quick as the HP above, that's fast for a large format printer of this size.

As expected with the Epson SureColor range, print quality is excellent. The machine uses Epson UltraChrome Pro nine-color pigment ink, which work through a 10-channel PrecisionCore Micro print head to work at resolutions of up to 2,400 x 1,200 dpi. It's operated through a touchscreen pad that will probably be familiar to existing Epson users, with the menu options clear and easy to use.

Overall, this is a seriously heavy-duty machine for heavy-duty print work. And if 64" sounds a little too big for you, it has a smaller sibling, the Epson SureColor P20000, which works with print sizes of up to 44".

In terms of price, expect to pay around $11,995 for this machine.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

(Image credit: Canon)

5. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

Photo printing without borders

Reasons to buy
+Individual ink carts+12 dye-based inks+Borderless A2 prints

This remarkably flexible photo printer will deliver anything from a 6x4” glossy print, right up to a borderless matt-finish A2 poster. It achieves a professional grade photo finish by utilising twelve separate inkjet cartridges. You can see and access the twelve shades from the front of the machine and you can replace them one at a time, rather than having to buy a whole new set when one runs out. Each of Canon’s LUCIA PRO ink tanks holds 80ml, so this shouldn’t be a frequent occurrence. Four of the inks are dedicated to monochrome prints, making the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 ideal for both colour and black and white photography. 

Printing is pretty slow at six minutes per A2 page, but with a print resolution of 1,200 x 2,400 DPI, printed pages appear crisp and sharp, and because the inks are pigment-based, they last longer than dye-based ink printouts too. You can connect via the USB port, or over Wi-Fi with support for Pictbridge, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and Canon’s own PIXMA Cloud Print.

Epson SureColor SC-P600

(Image credit: Epson)

6. Epson SureColor SC-P600

Premium A3+ printer strikes the perfect balance

Reasons to buy
+Vivid colours+Crisp black and white prints+User-friendly touchscreen

If you want to go large with your photo prints, but not that large, an A3+ printer could be what you need. The Epson SureColor SC-P600 is a premium quality machine that would suit enthusiast and professional photographers, or any business that relies on high quality printed media. It uses nine of Epson's premium UltraChrome HD inkjet cartridges to produce gallery-quality colour and monochrome prints. A full set of replacement carts is somewhat expensive at around £200 (about $285 / AU$350) but they produce vibrant colour images and very well shaded black and white photos. There’s Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB connectivity with a touchscreen interface that makes setup and operation easy.

Canon imagePROGRAF TM300

(Image credit: Canon)

7. Canon imagePROGRAF TM300

A compact freestanding large format printer

Reasons to buy
+Rapid printing+Touchscreen interface+Scanner module available

As freestanding large format printers go, this one is actually quite compact and aimed at the small office. It is also 60% quieter than its predecessor and it prints more quickly too. It can turn out an A1-sized CAD drawing in 24-seconds. It uses five of Canon’s LUCIA PRO pigment inkjet cartridges to produce colourful images that will not run in the rain as dye-based inks can. It can even print on Canon’s waterproof paper if you want to produce outdoor posters. It can accept rolls of paper 36-inches wide and print at a maximum resolution of 2400 x 1200 DPI. Wi-Fi is built in the interface is a three-inch colour touchscreen. 

Oki C844dnw

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

8. Oki C844dnw

Banner printing by laser

Reasons to buy
+Fast A4 printing+Low running costs+Smallest A3 printer

Don’t be fooled by its size, the world’s smallest A3 laser printer can actually print out banners up to 1.3 meters long making it a unique large-format proposition. It is small enough to sit on a desktop and large enough to hold 300 sheets of A3 paper in its main tray. You can fit another 100 in the multipurpose tray at the front, or attach the optional banner tray to the rear if you want to print multiple posters at a time. The modular design means you can add more drawers and a base unit mounted on casters. 

Oki’s LED technology means fewer moving parts and faster printing and compared to its inkjet equivalents, the Oki C844dnw is fast, efficient and cheap to run. It ships with enough toner for 2,500 A4 pages and you can replace the setup toner cartridges with high capacity carts that can yield up to 10,000 pages.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000

(Image credit: Canon)

9. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000

Professional grade printing in a large package

Reasons to buy
+Great print quality+Large number of ink colors+Good for photographers

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 is where we see our featured large format printers become really serious in terms of both quality and price. This behemoth of a 24" printer offers sharp, professional colors, not least by using the Canon Lucia Pro ink set which offers eleven colors inks and a Chroma Optimizer. 

It's also a big and heavy machine and likely to need to a couple of people to set it up in position. Once done, though, it can print from USB, Ethernet, or wirelessly. With a 320 GB harddrive, it should be able to cope with most any filesizes you need to use.

While you could probably run it directly from cold, users could probably benefit from calibrating the settings to get the most out of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000. This is especially the case for professional photographers who will need to ensure print quality properly reflects lighting and setting.

However, in general terms this really is a quality machine aimed at the professional rather than casual users. While the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 prints can print up to 24" wide, it's larger siblings, the PRO-4000 and PRO-6000, can be treated as like the same machine with greater widths, being able to work with feeds of up to 44" and 60" respectively.

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 retails for around $2,195.

Epson SureColor SC-T2170

(Image credit: Epson)

10. Epson SureColor SC-T2170 (SureColor T2100 in UK)

Compact plotter for the small office

Reasons to buy
+Small footprint+USB, Wi-Fi and LAN+Pigment ink based

The Epson SureColor SC-T2170 (known as the SureColor T2100 in the UK) is a compact low-volume plotter aimed at the small office or freelance designer. As such, it’s also quite competitively priced and the dustproof design looks rather smart. There’s a user-friendly touchscreen interface on top and easy front access to the ink cartridges. It can handle any size of sheet paper up to A1 or a whole roll of 24-inch wide format paper and switch seamlessly between sources. It uses UltraChrome XD2 pigment inks that are smudge and water resistant and supplied by four independent inkjet cartridges. The 4.3-inch color touchscreen makes operation easy and an optional stand is available that will manage larger pieces of paper for you. It has 1GB of memory built in and excellent connectivity with an Ethernet port, USB port and Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi Direct. It’s also AirPrint compatible for easy wireless and mobile printing. 

How to choose a large format printer

We've featured five of the best large format printers above, while trying to cover a good range of both print sizes and price options. And these are really key points you'll look at when choosing a large format printer: what size you need, and what your actual budget can manage.

Then there are print quality concerns - do you need the attention to detail that the Epson Expression Photo XP-15000 delivers? Or will you be find with the 1,200 x 1,200 dpi the HP DesignJet T120 offers? Additionally, is speed of print runs important to you enough to look more to the HP Designjet Z9+ over the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000?

Really, though, the most important consideration when choosing a large format printer is what support you can get. And by this we mean not from the manufacturer but from the dealer. It's critical to be able to pick up the phone or email a dealer and get a relatively fast and helpful response - and, if there's a technical problem with the printer you can't fix yourself, then you need your dealer to be able to come out and address that in a reasonable time.

Ultimately, it's dealerships that will keep your large format printer running worry-free, so it's important to be able to meet and talk with any local dealers to see which ones you may be happy to work with. Additionally, don't be scared to ask around for recommendations and don't be surprised if one or more are especially recommended as excellent.

And, also, although we've featured five of the best here, your dealer may advise a different machine. If that's the case, do listen to them, as it may be the case that certain other large format printers offer other benefits we haven't been able to cover, such as ease of technical repairs, or even comparing ink costs to actual print runs you personally require.

Brian Turner

Brian has over 30 years publishing experience as a writer and editor across a range of computing and technology titles, and has been interviewed multiple times for BBC News and BBC Radio. His specialty on Techradar is Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, covering everything from office suites to IT service tools. He is also a science fiction and fantasy author, writing as Brian G Turner.