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Best cheap printers

Top five cheap printers to run for 2017

By Andrew Laughlin

Article 1 of 3

A cheap printer may seem a bargain, but that soon sours if it quickly drains your ink. These Best Buy printers match top quality with cheap ink costs.

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Is that cheap printer really a bargain?

It’s all too easy to buy a low-priced printer, only to get caught out by high ink costs. Some printers waste a lot of ink cleaning their print heads, meaning you'll have to be constantly ordering pricey new cartridges.

An inefficient printer could cost you £100 more a year to print the same number of pages as a cheaper-to-run model.

However, the Best Buy printers in the table below won’t hit your wallet, having achieved a very low cost-per-page in our unique tests.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?.

Top five cheap printers to run

Today's best price £83.53
Which? score 80%
Reviewed Sep 2013
Best Buy
Printing:
4 out of 5
Black text quality:
5 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

Both compact and affordable for a laser printer, this big brand machine produces fast, good quality black and white documents at a budget-friendly cost. It lacks wi-fi, but you can still print from a range of devices by using a network cable.

Today's best price £88.39
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Feb 2015
Best Buy
Printing:
4 out of 5
Black text quality:
5 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

This compact and affordable mono laser printer is a fantastic choice for a small office or study. It produces good-looking prints and won't cost a fortune to run. It lacks copy or scan functionality, but with built-in wi-fi you can easily print from a range of devices using a free mobile app.

Today's best price £263.60
Which? score 71%
Reviewed Oct 2016
Best Buy
Printing:
4 out of 5
Black text quality:
4 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

This big-brand printer uses an innovative new approach to ink that's designed to remove the hassle of having to buy cartridges. The cost of printing black text and office graphics is incredibly cheap, and the printer will save you money over the long-term. Thankfully, what it prints is pretty good, too.

Today's best price £49.99
Which? score 71%
Reviewed May 2014
Best Buy
Printing:
4 out of 5
Black text quality:
4 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

This Best Buy all-in-one printer can print, copy, scan and fax. It turns out great colour office prints and does so cheaply. Find out which printer we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial for £1.

Today's best price £34.00
Which? score 71%
Reviewed Feb 2016
Best Buy
Printing:
4 out of 5
Black text quality:
4 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

This printer's a steal – not only is it a sub-£50 Best Buy all-in-one wi-fi printer that turns out cheap prints, it produces stunning colour copies and scans, too. If you're on a budget, make sure it's on your shortlist.

Not found the product for you? Browse all of our printer reviews.

And here’s three printers to avoid

While the printers above match top quality prints with affordable printing costs, not all models reach such levels of excellence.

Some printers cost a fortune to buy, underwhelm in terms of their print quality and then, to make matters even worse, will drive up your bills with high printer ink costs.

Below, we've picked out three printers that aren't the bargain they may first appear. 

Three expensive printers to run

Today's best price £250.42
Which? score 53%
Reviewed Feb 2017
Print quality:
4 out of 5
Photo quality:
5 out of 5
Print costs:
1 out of 5
Print Technology:
Member exclusive
Automatic Document Feeder:
Member exclusive
Auto duplexing:
Member exclusive

The technology this printer uses is cutting edge, but it doesn’t cut it when it comes to ink efficiency. We run occasional printing tests to reflect how most people print, and this model has eye-watering running costs under that scenario.

Today's best price £348.09
Which? score 51%
Reviewed Jul 2015
Print quality:
4 out of 5
Photo quality:
4 out of 5
Print costs:
1 out of 5
Print Technology:
Member exclusive
Automatic Document Feeder:
Member exclusive
Auto duplexing:
Member exclusive

If you pay more than £300 for a printer, you'd expect it to be firing on all cylinders. Yet this model not only underwhelms with its quality, but it could also cost you almost £140 a year to run. Mediocrity shouldn't cost this much.

Today's best price £275.00
Which? score 46%
Reviewed Jul 2014
Print quality:
3 out of 5
Photo quality:
2 out of 5
Print costs:
1 out of 5
Print Technology:
Member exclusive
Automatic Document Feeder:
Member exclusive
Auto duplexing:
Member exclusive

Although this printer is aimed at photo printing, it sadly isn’t up to scratch on that score. Photos look light and under-saturated - certainly not the quality you’d expect from a printer costing this much. Worst still, it will cost you a fortune to run.

Don't get stung with high printing costs

We know that there’s more to printer running costs than manufacturers’ figures may let on. Many printers automatically clean their print heads every so often, using up precious ink that never makes it to the paper. This makes a big difference to how much you’ll end up spending on printer ink.

Our unique occasional printing tests take this extra ink into account, so we can give a more realistic idea of printing costs. 

We’ve found that the worst offenders use up to six times as much ink as the best when you leave time between print jobs, which can more than double the amount you spend on ink.

We also set our printers up to run almost continuously, printing as many text, spreadsheet and photo pages as we can from three new sets of ink cartridges. This is much like the method manufacturers use to come up with the page yield figures displayed on the box of the printer

To give you an idea of how much a printer will cost you to run, we give one, two and three running cost estimates for all tested printers in the Tech Specs. Or, to find the best value printer ink, head over to our expert guide to the best cheap printer ink.

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