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Best cheap printers

Top five best cheap printers to run for 2018

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.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

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, join Which? to get instant access.

Top five cheap printers to run

Lowest price (in stock) £169.95
Which? score 82%
Reviewed May 2016
Printing:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Black text:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 55 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

Although you may baulk at the price of this all-in-one laser printer, you’ll be won over by its rock-bottom printing costs. It is one of the cheapest printers to run we’ve ever tested. Plus, it is also a near perfect multi-function printer – printing, copying and scanning to a high level.

Lowest price (in stock) £133.53
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Jul 2018
Printing:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Black text:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 55 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

If you aren't bothered about printing in colour, this laser printer is a fantastic choice. It can copy, scan and fax, as well as print, and the cost of printing is really cheap. You won’t need to make frequent shopping trips for new toner with this affordable Best Buy.

Lowest price (in stock) £179.98
Which? score 71%
Reviewed May 2017
Printing:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Black text:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 55 out of 5
One year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

This is what we call a ‘refillable tank’ printer. It has built-in ink tanks that you refill with black and colour ink when they get low. This helps it have printing costs that are cheaper than even the best laser printers. Thankfully, its print quality impresses, too.

Typical price £45.00
Which? score 71%
Reviewed May 2014
Printing:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Black text:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 55 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. Plus, it has an automatic document feeder on the top that can make it easier to copy and scan multi-page documents.

Lowest price (in stock) £29.99
Which? score 71%
Reviewed Feb 2016
Printing:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Black text:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Print costs:
5 out of 55 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. It is a budget Best Buy wi-fi printer that turns out cheap prints, and stunning colour copies and scans. Plus, it won’t cost you much in printer ink. If you're on a budget, make sure it's on your shortlist.

Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct at September 2018.

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

And here are 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

Lowest price (in stock) £39.00
Which? score 55%
Reviewed Aug 2016
Print quality:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Photo quality:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Print costs:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Print Technology:
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
Member exclusive

Available in various different colours, this budget printer won’t set you back much to buy. However, it will leave you flabbergasted at how much it costs to run. We estimate you’ll be spending around £60 per year in ink just for average printing.

Lowest price (in stock) £253.99
Which? score 53%
Reviewed Feb 2017
Print quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Photo quality:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Print costs:
1 out of 51 out of 5
Print Technology:
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
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.

Lowest price (in stock) £309.99
Which? score 51%
Reviewed Jul 2015
Print quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Photo quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Print costs:
1 out of 51 out of 5
Print Technology:
Member exclusive
Three year running cost (£):
Member exclusive
Ten black text prints (£):
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.

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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