Best cheap printers to buy and run
By Andrew Laughlin
Some inkjet printers waste a lot of ink during cleaning cycles, meaning you'll need to constantly order pricey new cartridges.
An inefficient printer could cost you £100 more a year to print the same number of pages as an economical model.
So you'll be glad to hear that Best Buy printers won't cost you a fortune to buy or run, having aced our expert and in-depth tests.
If you're not sure what type of printer you need, here are three key questions to consider when buying a new printer:
- What will you use your printer for? If you often print colour documents and photos, your should consider an inkjet printer as ink is much better at reproducing colour than laser toner. However, if you frequently print letters, documents and office spreadsheets, then a laser printer could be the better - and more economical - choice for your home.
- How frequently will you print? If you print only occasionally - such as around 30 pages per month - a Best Buy inkjet printer under £50 should be fine. If you print regularly, potentially more than 100 pages per month, you should consider increasing your budget. More expensive printers come with useful features such as an automatic document feeder.
- How much will the cartridges cost? Laser toner cartridges are expensive to buy, but generally last longer than ink cartridges. The price of ink will depend on whether you go for original ink (made by the printer brands) or cheaper third-party alternatives. See the ink and toner brands matching high quality with low prices in our in-depth printer inks guide.
Cheapest inkjet printers to run
This affordable printer gives you excellent print quality and useful wireless options, including Apple AirPrint. Printing costs are low, too. Discover what printer we’re talking about by signing up or logging in if you’re already a member.
If you’re on a tight budget, this cheap Best Buy should be on your shortlist. As well as producing good-quality prints, it scans and has wi-fi built in. Discover more by signing up or logging in.
Cheapest laser printers to run
Almost a small office printer, this A4 mono laser turns out fantastic-looking black-text prints and it benefits from rock-bottom printing costs. If you print regularly and don't want to make constant trips to buy toner, it will be right up your street.
Although it's nearly double the cost of the other printers featured here, this big-brand laser printer is outstandingly efficient with your toner. It's among the most economical lasers we've tested, and it's pretty good at printing, too.
Not only is this mono laser printer superb at printing in black text, but it does so without using excessive amounts of toner. It lacks wi-fi and some useful features, such as automatic double-sided printing, but overall is a good, cheap all-in-one last printer to run.
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-year 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.
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 bargains they may first appear.
Three expensive printers to run
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.
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. This is a printer to avoid.
This model doesn’t have much going for it. Print quality is hit and miss, and copies didn’t impress us. Worst of all, it will drain your cash with extremely high printing costs – we estimate they’re about £450 per year.
You can easily spend hundreds of pounds on a printer, but the fantastic cheap printers we've featured below, including Best Buy inkjet printers, are available for less than £100, with some even under £50.
Go for a budget printer if you just want a basic machine to churn through office documents and coursework. If you want a more fully featured office printer to do a range of tasks, it's better to spend a bit more.
More premium printers come with additional features and functions, such as an additional paper cassette or an automatic document feeder that makes it easier to copy, scan or fax multi-page documents.
Best budget printers
If you don't want your printer to take up too much space on your desk, this big-brand laser printer will be right up your street. It can't copy or scan, but is superb at printing black-text documents.
There's a lot to like about this all-in-one inkjet; from its crisp print quality to low ink running costs. It has wi-fi, along with AirPrint and Cloud Print compatibility for printing wirelessly from various devices.