Top five cheapest printers to run [Updated]
A set of printer cartridges could easily set you back £40, so it’s important to consider ink running costs when buying a printer. We’ve rounded up some of the cheapest.
To find the printers with the lowest ink costs per page, we print as many text, graphics and photo pages as possible, almost continuously, from three sets of cartridges on every printer tested in our test lab.
By combining the number of pages printed with the amount of ink used and cost of the cartridges, we calculate how many pennies worth of ink is used on each printed text, graphics and photo page.
However, these costs are the best case scenario. Inkjet printers will periodically automatically clean their print heads, using ink in the process. This impacts on inkjet printer ink costs per page. Find out more about this in our post on how much ink your printer wastes.
Below we’ve listed details of the laser printer that produced the lowest toner costs per page of those we’ve tested. We’ve also highlighted four A4 inkjet printers from different brands that achieved low ink costs per page in our ‘best case scenario’ test.
There’s more to printers than just running costs, however – quality counts, too. Click for the full reviews to see how they measure up for quality, ease of use and to which models we recommend overall.
1. HP Laserjet P2055dn
This HP is a mono laser printer, so we didn’t print any photos on it and graphics prints were in black and white.
It’s not a new model, but it’s still widely available and, of the 13 mono laser printers we’ve tested, this HP demonstrated the lowest ink costs per page.
This model is a standard printer, so it can’t scan or copy and it doesn’t have wi-fi. However, it’s equipped with an ethernet connection so you can share the printer on your network using your router.
HP Laserjet P2055dn review – find out more about print speed in the full review.
2. Kodak Hero 7.1
It’s not surprising to see a Kodak in the top five – Kodak markets its printers on their low running costs.
This model has the cheapest photo print ink costs per page of the printers here, using just 24p of ink on our A4 photo print.
This printer uses Kodak 10 ink – we used the high-capacity black cartridge in our tests, but you can only get a standard-capacity colour cartridge.
It’s a wi-fi printer with memory card slots and a preview screen, so you can print photos direct from a memory card without having to use your computer.
Kodak Hero 7.1 review – read about its print quality in the full review.
3. HP Officejet Pro 8500A eAIO (A910a/CM755A)
This is one of HP’s e-All-in-one printers – it comes with its own unique email address, so you can email prints to it from any email-compatible device and from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
As with the other HP model listed here, text prints are cheap – 10 pages printed using the best quality settings used 10p worth of ink in our tests.
Photo prints are still relatively low cost, but use an additional 8p-worth of ink compared with the Kodak model.
This printer has wi-fi connectivity, can print, copy, scan and fax as well as print directly from a memory card or connected camera. It can be set up to automatically print double sided.
HP Officejet Pro 8500A eAIO review – see the full review for our definitive verdict.
4. Epson Stylus Office BX635FWD
Text and graphics ink running costs are pretty good on this printer and even photo pages cost less than the average printer, based on our tests.
This printer is aimed at office tasks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be able to print a decent photo.
The BX635FWD includes a fax function, has wi-fi connectivity and also has auto-duplexing – meaning it can be set up to automatically print on both sides of a page.
The automatic document feeder on top of the printer makes it easier to copy, scan and fax multiple page documents. The feeder can also be set up to copy and scan double-sided – a feature not frequently seen on all-in-one printers.
Epson Stylus Office BX635FWD – read the full review for details on print quality and speed.
5. Canon Pixma MG3150
This highly affordable Canon all-in-one printer is available for around £50.
It offers plenty of features for its price, including auto-duplexing – for double-sided printing – wi-fi connectivity and the ability to print wirelessly from smartphones using operating systems that are compatible with Canon’s print apps.
It’s not the cheapest to run of the models we’ve featured here, but it produced the lowest ink costs per page of all of the Canon all-in-one printers we’ve tested.
It doesn’t have the best running costs when it comes to text – 10 pages of black text cost 29p in ink in our tests – however, if you’re planning to print photos, the 37p per print spent on ink in our photo print tests is more appealing.
Canon Pixma MG3150 – read the full review to find out about photo print quality on this printer.
Costs depend on what you print
The printer that’s cheapest for you will depend on how much of each type of document you print and how frequently you print.
Our calculations are based on test data from our continuous-print, ink-cost-per-page test. The printer with the highest ink costs per page used £81-worth of ink on printing our 310 text, graphics and photo test pages, compared with just £11 for cheapest model.
In our calculations, we used the second-cheapest ink cartridge prices we could find from a number of high street and online retailers for branded printer ink.
For more information about ink running costs see our Printer running costs and ink cartridges guide.
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