How to find the cheapest printers

If you are looking for the cheapest printers, there are lots to choose from as they can be a very inexpensive piece of kit. Most manufacturers make little or no money from selling budget printers, preferring to make regular profits through the sale of the ink cartridges.

Even though you may be drawn to the cheapest printers, they can be deceptively expensive to run. For example, if you print more than a hundred pages per month, your overall printing costs may work out much higher than a more expensive printer that has cheaper cartridges.

After a year, you could find the cost of replacement cartridges has surpassed the cost of the printer several times over.


In simple terms, the cost of the printer itself does not make it the ‘cheapest printer’. The real way to find the cheapest printers is to work out the ‘cost-per-page’. This is the most important factor when working out the true cost of your device. How much does it actually cost to print out a single page from your printer? Well it’s not very difficult to work out, so read the next bit carefully and you’ll see for yourself.

Cartridges are designed to print a certain number of pages before they run out. The number of pages printed out from a single cartridge is called the page yield.

You can find out your cartridge’s page yield very easily. Just look for it on the side of the cartridge box or have a look in the printer’s user manual.

To find out the cost per page, simply divide the cost of the cartridge page-yield by the cost of the printer cartridge. The smaller the cost per page, the more ink-efficient your printer is. Understanding cost-per-page will help you make a smart buy the next time you are shopping for a brand-new printer.

Questions you need to ask to help find the cheapest printers

If you’re looking for cheap printers for students or just a budget printer for your office, the questions you need to answer are: How much do you print? How much are the ink cartridges? And what type of things do you print? (Photos, documents, images etc). You also need to ask yourself if you need a built-in scanner or not? These can be particularly helpful if you are running a home-office.


It’s a good idea to buy a printer which has an option for XL (High yield) as these cartridges print double the number of pages a standard cartridge, for just a little more money. The savings over a year are big.


Generally speaking, the more features the printer has, the more it will cost. If you’re a home user then you probably won’t need the high-speed, high-capacity performance of a business printer. So, if a cheap printer has features you just don’t need, then give it a miss.

Monthly volume

Each printer has a rating for how many pages it can reasonably print out per month. This figure is especially relevant for businesses who are selecting a printer for the workplace. Or even for students who have a heavy workload.

If you go over your monthly print load (see figure with your manual), it can put extra stress on the mechanics of the printer and it could break-down prematurely. You need to get a printer that can handle your monthly requirements.

Inkjet Printer v Laser Printer

When you work out the cost-per-page value, then Laser printers win every time. Laser Printers use toner cartridges which have much higher page-yields compared to ink cartridges. They are usually more expensive than inkjet printers, but in the long-term, they work out cheaper.

Inkjet printers use liquid ink sprayed through microscopic nozzles onto the paper, while laser printers use a toner cartridge (filled with fine powder) and a heated fuser. It’s worth noting that budget laser printers are only capable of printing black-and-white documents. You’ll have to pay more for a colour laser printer.

If you’re after a printer that can effectively handle a range of tasks, then an inkjet printer is best. The best inkjets can churn out text-heavy documents easily, are excellent at printing out photos and are generally cheaper to buy.

If you’re focussed on productivity, then laser printers are probably the better choice. They are known as the ‘office workhorses’ and can handle a heavier workload than inkjets. They are also faster at printing and are excellent at printing black-text. Even though the cartridges are more expensive to buy for laser printers, they print a lot more pages than inkjets, so running costs are much less.

A slight negative is that Laser printers are usually bulkier and noisier – you’ll have to balance out the pluses and the minuses.

You can make ANY printer be less costly by taking advantage of a few simple tips:

Print things in draft mode

Save precious ink and set your printer setting to ‘draft’. You’ll still be able to read everything OK, even though this uses much less ink. If you are printing an important document for use, then switch it back off ‘draft’.

Use ‘print-preview’

Take a good look at what your printer is going to be printing, before you press ‘print’. Then proofread your work, and you’ll save those endless reprint costs when you spot silly mistakes.

Compact your text

It’s pointless printing pages that are so white you’ll get snow-blindness staring at them. Have a look at the text and scrunch it up a bit. It’s a complete waste of paper to have one line on the last page.

Print on both sides

Take a second to work out how to do this. It really isn’t rocket science, and do you really need to have everything on a facing page? Don’t be lazy, turn pages over to read them.

Keep spare cartridges

This isn’t really a cost saving exercise, although if you see cartridges for sale at a really great price, why not take advantage while the price is low? Plus, the most annoying thing that can happen to you is that you run out of ink when you really need it. So, have a spare cartridge on hand for that emergency. You’ll be glad you did.

Original or compatible ink?

This is always one of the big talking points. Compatible (or third party) inks are definitely cheaper than the original inks, but there are several downsides. Firstly, the original inks are much better quality than compatibles. Secondly, manufacturers regularly do ‘automatic updates’ to your printer – and when they do, the compatible inks will not be accepted by your printer, which means you’ll be stuck with inks you can’t use, thus losing you money. Additionally, the warranty may not be accepted by the manufacturers if you have been using inks which are not developed for your particular printer, so think very carefully about which ink to buy.


If you’re not really sure what you want from a printer, then it is probably best to go for one that is affordable and has multiple connectivity options. Wireless connectivity is the way to go, so you can print from any device or gadget around your home. A USB connection on the side is also important - and try and get one with an easy set-up process – so all you have to do is connect and print.


Hopefully you’ll have now realised that the cheapest printer to buy probably won’t be the cheapest to run. You need to have a rough idea of how many prints you’ll need. Then work out the cost-per-page. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to work out which is the cheapest printer for you

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