Top five cheapest printers to run [Updated]

by , Technology Researcher Printers 24/02/2012
Top five cheapest printers to run

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.

Find out more about how Which? tests printers.

1. HP Laserjet P2055dn

HP LaserJet P2055dn

If you’re looking for a mono laser printer this HP LaserJet P2055dn may appeal

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

Kodak Hero 7.1

This mid-range model from Kodak is worth considering

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)

HP Officejet Pro 8500 eAIO A910a

You can download apps to this HP ePrint printer

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

Epson Stylus Office BX635FWD

This Epson BX635FWD can copy and scan double-sided

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

Canon Pixma MG3150

This Canon Pixma MG3150 is a low cost all-in-one printer

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.

42 comments

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mr norman linklater

i have a Epson P50 inkjet printer,that will will not accept compatable cartridges, i have taken it to many computer shops that were saying they could fix it, and it came back still not working, so be careful when buying oem cartridges,i will not buy Epson cartridges that will cost me more than my printer costs me to buy,at the moment i run a cheap HP that cost me about 40£, and the cartridges are not to expensive to buy i will stay clear of Epson printers. Nutty Norm

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Moudi

I have an Epson Stylus Sx235W. It’s makers ink is ridiculously expensive and does not print half the number of pages it claims. I have now purchased three different generic cartridges but only one single cartridge was accepted once by the printer, but only for a couple of weeks before it was rejected. None of the others were accepted. Waste of another £25 pounds. Had identical problem with the last two HP printers (HP F380 and F2280).

Time for the regulators to wake up and put a firm end to this unfair pricing and gross exploitation. I would rather pay more for the printer and less for the ink but do we have a choice?

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Mick

Mr Norman, the P50 uses specific photographic dye based ink, which is researched and designed for use on photographic purposes. if you are printing photos then use the oem inks, non oem inks are not designed with the printer in mind so be prepared for your printer to break sooner rather than expected. rocket fuel is cheaper per ml than HP ink bear that in mind.

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Chapster

At this moment in time I am having a nightmare with my Epson P50, It just rejects compatible ink yet when I first got the printer it did work with compatible inks then after a while it started to reject the black, every now and then I would have to try and insert the black up to ten times before it worked, then all of a sudden it just rejected all color’s so I just gave up with the printer.

After leaving it off for a couple of weeks I thought I would go and buy some inks and decided on Tesco’s own, now these still are not cheap £43 for a set or £54 for genuine Epson so I thought for that price they should be spot on with working in the printer even though they are Tesco’s own.

I got home and placed all inks inside the printer and it worked!
Then after one print would you believe it the printer stopped and rejected all the inks inside the printer, took them all out, shoved them in all at the same time and it worked! Then rejected the yellow after one print, took it out then put it back in a few times and then it worked, so lets see how long it takes for it to go nuts again.

ALL I can say is what a nightmare Epson printers are. Not only have I bulk bought compatible inks which are now useless I have another Epson printer that does the same (Epson BX305F) which will not accept compatible inks either. At £36+ for BX305F inks and individual inks at £11+ I swear Epson inks are shockingly high priced and for running a business they are a high costly overhead.

I have used internet sites to buy genuine inks but still had the same problem with ink cartridges not working and was loosing quite a bit of money having to just chuck them out, I would have sent them back but it costs me to do so. :(

Moral of me writing this: EPSON lower your prices you money grabbing BLEEEEEPPPPP

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sdj

try a catridge resseter

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johny bravo

who pays to repair a printer….just throw it away sad truth they don’t build shit to last anymore sorry

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Cappy

Use your printers original cartridges and fill them yourself. This solves any compatibility issue and practice makes perfect, it is easy to do.

I have done this with laser printers and inkjets that give me trouble with compatible, AND i provided extra service for my clients for this service too.

There are many options.
Cappy

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Minimemo

It’s because their ink cartridges are chipped so your printer knows if you have inserted a genuine overpriced Epsom or a cheaper non-branded ink cartridge.. Lexus are the same..I think they are all doing it :( Should be legislated against to prevent them holding us to ransom!

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Arthur Webb

Webout bought an Epson photo stylus 720 WD last year. Initially it was great but as soon as the supplied ink ran out and we had to change cartridges it was never the same again. Photo prints were always striped and missing colours. We might occasionally get a reasonable print one immediately after cleaning and aligning the heads but the next usage would give a bad one again. We always bought the (exorbitantly priced) Epson cartridges, followed the instructions for cleaning and alignment and changed the setup to match the various papers we tried, but it was a losing battle. Further, it recently rejected a brand new Epson cartridge. I contacted support and they decided it was a bad cartridge and I had to go out and buy another because the printer old not even print plain text without it. I complained to Epson who said I needed to contact the supplier as it is under guarantee. The supplier was very good about it and has agreed to a refund. We won’t be replacing it with another Epson. It just shouldn’t be this hard or expensive, given how long inkjet technology has been around.

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d j evs

i will never have another epson printer even as a gift they are nothing but trouble, i have had nothing but bother from the time the supplied ink ran out. i have tried various compatible inks with no success.so gave it up as lost cause and purchased kodak printer instead.what a difference

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John Knox

I’m afraid I agree with the three previous comments. I have an Epson Stylus Photo R200. Epson printers are great until something goes wrong which will inevitably happen as they are designed to fail after so many prints. It then costs you more to get it serviced and repaired at one of their repair centres that it doesn’t make it economical to do so. These are for parts etc that should be user servicable and also for known built in design flaws like the ink counter fault. Contacting Epson for Support only results in them soliciting to you and giving sales pitches for their latest printers or to try and sell you ink when that was never even mentioned or an issue. I’m quite happy with the Jet Tec ink which isn’t a ripp off like the Epson. In the end this poor treatment of customers by Epson such sends them away and to buy HP or Canon products instead.

My trouble now is how do I find a good photo inkjet printer that also can print well onto cds, dvds, blu ray discs? There aren’t many that can do this. I may have to settle on a Canon model now.

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Geoff Uttley

I too have used JetTec cartridges for years on a succession of Epson printers. Usually OK, but occasionally have had problems. I refuse to pay Epson’s exorbitant prices for 5ml (one teaspoon) of ink! And why should I not be able to print a black and white copy without having a full set of colour cartridges in place? I have not, however, had mechanical problems despite heavy usage, as reported by some users.
Problem encountered with Jessops matt double sided photo paper (which gives amazingly bright colour prints); it fails to feed after a few prints as the coating seems to cover the feed wheels. Any alternatives?

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Brian Packer

I own an Epson SX515W which I purchased 2 to 3 years ago, I have never been able to use compatible cartridges, I have just purchased and installed an Epson T0711 black cartridge and it will not print, I have done all the maintenance procedures and nothing, this is the 5th time it has happened and each time I have had to take it to a Epson repair centre. I am now just about to throw it away it is just not worth the hassle.

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Mick

HI Brian, the sx range is very consumer orientated for users who print very irregularly. like all manufacurers, a cheap printer will cost you more in ink (or toner) as the printers themselves are sold at a loss. if they are making a loss, dont expect the built quality to be mightily impressive.
i believe Epson have very strict patents and legislations against the manufacture of compatible inks.

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chrisjefferson@blueyonder.co.uk

I find it quite worrying that an organisation such as Which can recommend a brand of printer which has serious customer satisfaction and reputation issues such as those outlined in the earlier comments. Oh, and the use of an English (UK) spell checker would be helpful for your contributors.

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Alan Ashmore

I have used Epsons for a couple of years and find them excellent. Buy a CISS system and printing becomes so cheap its amazing. I only buy the cheap printers SX235 x1 and SX25x2 and have had them 2 years with no problems, excellent prints and cheap if you use CISS. I agree they can be fiddly at times but follow the head cleaning and alignment services and they work well and last well, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.

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alans wife

alan ashmore works for epson uk ltd

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donna wheat

I have an HP Officejet Pro 8500 the printer will not print black copies if one of the color cartrages is out of ink…. I replaced the very expensive color and having NEVER printed anything in color it is now telling me the color cartrages AGAIN need to be replaced……these are pressurized and very hard to refill…..

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Andy

Im looking for a new printer as The Epson I got for last christmas only printed a handful of pages before it ran out of black ink – now I have wasted money on cartrges that are not compatible – cannot afford epson as they have chips in the ink cartriges ( allegedy or apparently) they have some circuitry on the side that that i can see which maybe tells the computer that the ink has finished.

I was amazed to see Epson in this line up- I need to print only a few documents – i had a cannon years ago and that seemed to print a few hundred per cartidge , I thought that was bad ! Im stuck with a pile of junk – i need a good printer !

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Robert

I agree with all the comments re Epson ink jets. Bought two SX435Ws and both have malfunctioned. Yellow just will not print despite following cleaning routines umpteen times. Worked ok initially with generic cartridges but cannot do that now and pathetic EPson rip off has kicked in. Ridiculous that a pack of inks which last no time at all costs nearly as much as the printer. Never again Epson.

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Genifer

I was recommended many years ago to buy the Epson Stylus Photo RX 420 3 in 1. I have never regretted it. He also said to buy compatibles from a particular firm. I always use them they are marvellous and always replace if any don’t work ( only happened twice) and will send a complete set. The cost of them varies but my last set I bought in October 2012 were only 98p each. The printer is used all the time as I make cards, do letterheads for people and the photocopier is often on the go. So cannot understand the adverse comments.

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mark

I have a epson DX8400 all in one,it also does not like cheap compatable inks i throught that i would have to get a new printer, as the page print was rubbish, then after changing back to orginal cartridges and playing with the set up i have now got it to print like new again.
I am thinking of buying anouther printer with cheaper ink cartrige replacments £36 for full set of inks the printer only cost £50
i think that these inks are a rip off at this cost

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Mike Hall

When will everyone wake up?? The printer manufacturer’s are only interested in selling replacement ink. They are prepared to make losses on printer costs in order to get customers hooked up to regular inks, this is where they make their money.

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John

I bought a Kodak Hero 5.1 on the strength of the then Which? review and because it did auto-duplex printing. I’ve been disappointed as it frequently has paper jams and now seems to be failing to print black clearly despite running all the maintenance options possible. Kodak suggest a new printhead could cure the problem (no guarantee though) and now I’m really annoyed as they offer that for $32 in the U.S. and Canada and want £32 here in the U.K. I’ve never seen the $-£ exchange rate at 1-1 so what are they playing at? I don’t think I’ll ever buy a Kodak printer again.

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Geoff Uttley

Everything UK/US is £/$ We are totally being ripped off. iPhones and iPads even worse!

Bought a TomTom car kit in US some years ago for my iPhone in iStore for $59.99 in UK was £99.99. And take in an iPhone with a cracked screen!

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Gavin

I’m running a old HP Deskjet 895c from 1997, when I was at collage!

I did buy a new printer about 2 years ago but the ink cartrages kept clogging, and I had to do several cleaning cycles and he ink was gone, recon only printed about 30 pages of text.

Went to buy some new cartrages for it reluctantly and it would of been £15 for black ink alone. Noticed the drivers for my old printer had been released so perched a ink cartage for that for £5 and it still going now! I get color photos done online as I think it’s cheaper.

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biswanath

i have epson style c45 printer.,printer’s carteges are very chip but unfortunately only 20 to 30 print out can be made with 1 set of cartage., this is getting too expensive for me., any suggestion for printer that , with 1 set of cartage 100 of print out can be made., cos i m seek of buying cartage that only can print upto 20 print out ( epson c -45)

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Adri

Where did Lexmark go on this list. I have my Lexmark for years and it is sooo economical! Buy black ink every 6 months… Print about 20 pages a day, do the maths…

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bablish

hi. all of your comments are discouraging when it comes to using epson printers. i promise you, once you get attached to continous inking system, you will all feel different at how much money you will save with epson printers. am using epson stylus p50 for heavy duty printing with ciss and i earn very good money. contact me on advise and you would not regret. i dont sell any printer or ciss so not to worry about me earning anything from anyone. google ciss on epson p50 and learn more. thanks

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Bob

Huh! I have been using CIS system and although the ink is relatively cheap by the 5l, the cost of replacement heads is hundreds. Try buying a HP11 based printer and watch it eat heads. Every 12 reams of paper you are onto another head and at over £30 each (and there are 4), it gets very expensive! Aren’t there any really cheap to run secondhand inkjet printers out there?
The cheapest printing ever must be the old HP4500 lasers where bits on ebay are give away. They are massive heavy beasts but go on and on. I have done flyers on one and left it running for a whole week 24/7.I would prefer something a bit faster now – say 30ppm rather than 4.
As for mono lasers…aren’t the toners on those HP’s now all chipped? I keep a HP4+ running and the carts on that are refillable and no chips. One cart can use up to 0.5kg of toner before it is u/s. You can also buy new rebuild kits and put new doctors and drum into them.

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cresta

I am more confused than ever which is best to buy. Surely there must be a best buy out there for moderate use and economical cartridges. Can anyone please point me in the right direction.

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Geoff Uttley

Try JetTec from Ink factory; watch out for special deals!

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Brian W

I bought 2 Kodak AiO printers as they were supposed to be the best for ink costs. This might well be true but within 18 months of purchase both malfunctioned. The problem was with the print heads and the only place I could purchase these was direct from Kodak at around £35 each which totally negated any savings. Decided to cut my losses and bought 2 Canon Pixmas which have proved to be totally acceptable

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Kate Benson

We had the same problem with my daughter’s Kodak printer. We were convinced by the sales assistant that a kodak printer would be more economical but after a comparatively short time the print head went wrong and we decided not to replace it considering how cheap it is to buy a new printer. personally I think it’s appalling how quickly printers have to be replaced, both from a financial and an ecological point of view.

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Krista

I love my Brother MFC-5895CW printer. It is so cheap to run because each of the inks can be replaced separately (instead of having to replace all the inks at once and having to chuck a perfectly good cartridge with loads of coloured ink left in it.) I use compatible inks with mine that only cost £5 to replace each and print 450 A4 pages, so for someone like me that mainly uses black ink it’s perfect! The printer was quite pricey at over £100 pounds but it has paid for itself due to the amount of money I have saved on ink!

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Jim West

We bought Kyocera printers at work some years ago, they were marketing on themselves on the basis of cheap per page, and we have been really pleased with them. The printer was quite expensive at the time, but the lost cost of toner meant that within 2 years or so, the savings on the toner covered the cost of the printer, so, in effect, the printer did not cost us anything.

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John Noble

Bought a HP Photosmart premium 310 3-in-one, because it seemed good value at £50, been regretting it ever since. Spent an absolute fortune on ink, have not used it for about 5 weeks and the new batch of ink that I put in, just prior, has gone, now showing low on all but one. Have tried using cheaper inks but got terrible results and the machine complained about it.
Enough is enough, now searching the web for glowing reports on others printers.

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Tony in Tokyo

Thought about refilling the manufacturers cartridge. Many specialist cartridge shops will refill for about £5/cartridge and will re-set the chip. No compatibility problems, cheaper than generic replacements and more environmentally friendly.
The ink quality can be a little less good than the manufacturers, but if there are any issues take it back to the shop and they will shove some nozzle rocket fuel through the cartridge, and maybe give you some to take back and clean the printer plate with.
No brainer.

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Ron Moore

I have a Kodak ESP C 110 I have purchased genuine replacement cartridges but after 2 prints everything comes out very dark with some colours missing I have used the maintenance on it and clean printer features on it but it still comes out the same any tips to resolve this problem please

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Ron Moore

I need advice on my Kodak ESP C 110 only prints a couple of decent photos despite using genuine ink cartridges tried the maintenance and clean print head features but no improvement help

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Hrami da putt

I used Epson and HP Inkjets for about 5-6 months, eventually I had enough hassle over cartridges I bought from ebay and decided to dump them at cash generator for 0.50p for both, some dummy will buy from them!! I settled for HP and Brother lasers and no problems – they print at 0.03p per page which is not brilliant but is ok bearing in mind the quality is crisp, best laser I discovered later where quality reliability and cost are paramount considerations was the Samsung ML-2165w it’s compact fast and cheap, I love it – it reminds me of an Oki laser I used in 1994 that could print shed loads for next to nothing but today we live in a corporatocracy!!!

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Ben

Looking at cartridges on sale, I noticed HP46 boxes are HEAVY.
Looking on the back, page yields are astronomical… normally around 480, these HP46 show 1500 pages. The weight is obviously a sign that there’s more than just a paper box and plastic cartridge, there is some ink inside…

Only one printer though – it’s not WiFi enabled, it’s the HP 2520hc
At this price I would prefer a disposable print head for (1500 mono/750 tricolour sheets) printing – the price being the same as HP standard cartridges.

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