Laser Printer vs. Inkjet Printer

HP printer

So, you need a new printer? And your uncle keeps telling you that “laser printers can’t be beat”, but you have a friend who would die defending his inkjet printer? Ok, even if your printing passion isn’t that intense, it still pays to learn a little about these printing technologies.

The Technology

Laser printers use a toner cartridge (filled with fine powder) and a heated fuser to produce images on paper. Inkjet printers use liquid ink sprayed through tiny nozzles to produce the same images. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and both can be messy if you don’t know what you’re doing…

toner explosion laser printer

A Toner Explosion. (Laser Printer)

ink mess inkjet printer

Inky Mess. (Inkjet Printer)


Print Capabilities

Laser printers specialize in printing black and white (monochrome). They can print in color as well, but the the basic (and inexpensive) laser printers will only print in monochrome. Laser printers are better than inkjet printers at printing small images and fonts, because the fusing technology of laser printers is better suited for producing small text, lines, and dots. Laser printers also print at faster speeds than inkjet printers, so that is something to consider if you need to print lots of documents quickly. Inkjet printers are able to print in color for less initial cost than laser printers, but they also print at slower speeds.

Print Costs

Entry-level laser printers and inkjet printers are very similar in up-front costs. Here are a couple basic models you can find at Office Depot: Brother HL 2240 for $79.99 (laser printer) and the Canon PIXMA MX432 for $69.99 (inkjet). The difference lies in the fact that basic inkjet printers will be able to print in color, while most basic laser printers will only print in monochrome. When it comes to ongoing costs, laser printers will usually be cheaper. Print costs are determined by cost per A4 (8.5″ x 11″) page. Inkjet printers tend to run around $.20/page, and this includes both color and monochrome pages. If you printed strictly black and white, it would be slightly less expensive. Laser printers, on the other hand, cost about $.06/page. So although laser printers are more expensive to purchase, they could end up being more cost-effective in the long run.

print money desktop printer

Which is better?

It really depends on your organization and your goals. If you don’t print a boatload of documents and want desktop printer that can print in color, an inkjet is probably a good choice for you. If you are printing lots of documents (whether in black and white or color), it would be more cost-effective to choose the laser printer. And if you ever want to run some questions by us here at Laser Resources, we have a dedicated team of print professionals that would love to help you get the most out of your money.