The Best Printer Buyer’s Guide – Fall 2023
Do You Still Need a Printer? Of Course You Do!
Despite everyone’s move to digital paper, digital photos, and the cloud, we still all need to print a few things once in a while, whether it’s a concert ticket, a mail-in form, a school assignment, or a work document. To help you find your way through the maze of printer options available, we’ve compiled this guide to the best inkjet and laser models.
As a rule of thumb, inkjets are great for small-volume printing that requires color, and are the only printers to consider for album-worthy photographs. Meanwhile, laser printers are vastly superior for large-volume printing, with color laser models suitable for business presentations.
Our Latest Recommendations
For Fall 2023, we’ve updated this guide with the top picks currently available. While printer tech doesn’t change all that often, every brand regularly refreshes its lineups with new features and designs.
The Inkjet Option: Go Canon Megatank, but with a Caveat!
We really like what Canon has done with its Megatank line. Megatank printers hold enough ink to print at least 6,000 pages, as opposed to 500 pages per ink cartridge in traditional inkjets. And even better, replacement ink costs next to nothing. Yes, Megatank printers are more expensive than traditional inkjets, but we believe transparency in pricing is important for consumers, and the high introductory price of this printer is offset by running costs of about half a cent per page, rather than the 25 cents most inkjets cost (yes, we do mean 50x higher!).
Alas, even good ideas can have a hidden flaw, and after our expose of Canon’s first-gen MegaTanks in the most popular video we ever published on YouTube (see below), we now only recommend models released since 2020 with user-replaceable waste ink cartridges. The original models released between 2016 and 2019, and still sold widely, have a fatal flaw: in order to keep the long ink tubes flowing, ink must be consumed to flush them regularly, but this ink has to go somewhere. In those older models, it went into a non-replaceable sponge that literally would overflow within a year or two.
The Laser Option: Go Brother for High-Volume Printing on a Budget!
Anyone needing ultra-fast or high-volume printing should absolutely go with a laser printer, available in both black and white (monochrome) and color models, as well as printer-only or multi-function models. Across the board, Brother offers the best value here, both for the printer and the toner. Keep in mind that color lasers are not for photo printing, so think twice before you jump up to one of these models, because they tend to be quite a bit bulkier and more costly than monochrome models. They are intended for business color printing, for example flyers, brochures, and presentations.
We provide links to Amazon throughout this guide, and the links will auto-convert for readers in Canada, the UK, and parts of Europe. Please help support continued development of this guide by using our links if you decide to purchase one the printers we recommend.
Home Office Multi-Function Inkjet –
Canon PIXMA G3270 MegaTank$230The G3270 is a true multifunction workhorse at a great price. It provide multi-function capability (print, copy, scan), along with wireless connectivity, including printing from mobile devices. And with four huge ink tanks, this machine can print up to 6,000 black and white pages or 7,700 color pages before running out of ink! Adding another 7,700 pages worth of ink will only cost around $15 per bottle, and a full set around $50. With printing costs around half a cent per page, this is absolutely the cheapest printer to operate on a per-page basis. We highly recommend purchasing the user-replaceable MC-G04 ink maintenance cartridge at the same time, as this will almost certainly come in handy to keep this printer up and running, and the G3270 is one of the few Megatank printers that can use it.
To keep this printer, or the one below, functioning, you need to print some sort of color content at least once a week. The huge tank reservoirs are connected to the print heads via long tubes, which can get jammed with dry ink if left unused. Unjamming them requires a lot of ink waste, so trust us - it's cheaper, easier, and more fun to use this printer regularly to print photos or other color documents than to let it sit unused!
The Home Office Photo Inkjet –
Canon PIXMA G620 Photo Printer$249The G620 is among Canon’s top-selling printers, and often impossible to find in stock. The reason: unbeatable photo printing quality. If that’s your thing, this is your printer. It uses six dye-based inks that make photos pop, and being a Megatank-series printer, the inks last for thousands of pages (up to 3,800 4″x6″ photos), and are inexpensive to replace. We highly recommend purchasing the user-replaceable MC-G02 ink maintenance cartridge at the same time, as this will almost certainly come in handy to keep this printer up and running, and the G620 is one of the few Megatank printers that can use it.
To be clear, all MegaTank printers we recommend, including this one, have a user-replaceable maintenance waste ink cartridge, which is critical to keeping these printers running.
Monochrome Laser –
Brother HL-L2350DW$150 The Guru’s Tip
As you skim through this guide, notice the codes used to indicate features in printer models: "D" is for duplex, "N" is for wired networking, "W" is for wireless plus wired networking, and "C" is for color.
Multi-Function Monochrome Laser –
Brother HL-L2395DW$220 The Guru’s Tip
While you do pay extra for scan/copy, we think it's a very valuable add-on for most people, versus the simpler print-only model above.
Home Office Multi-Function Color Laser –
Brother HL-L3290CDW$300 The Guru’s Tip
Keep in mind that color printers have four toners instead of one, so this is quite a bit bigger than the monochrome models above.
Small Office Multi-Function Color Laser –
Brother MFC-L8905CDW$700 The Guru’s Tip
This model has the same basic functionality as the one above, but is designed for the office setting, with far more robust printing limits, higher speed, and amazing touchscreen controls.