Inkjet printers are great for colorful pictures and don’t cost much to start with, but if you print a lot, they can get pricey over time.
On the other side, laser printers are faster and better for lots of black-and-white printing, and even though they cost more at first, they can save you money if you print a ton.
In this article, we will look into the differences between inkjet and laser printers from both technical and user perspectives.
So, let’s begin.
In summary, Inkjet printers are suitable for black and color prints and initially cost low. For the infrequent usage, inkjet stands out since there is no risk of ink dry-out. However, laser printers are more suitable for small offices and larger print volumes. Laser printers usually cost more than inkjets but the cost gets low in terms of cost per page over time.
Below is a comparison table for quick understanding:
|Spray liquid ink through microscopic nozzles
|use a laser to project an image onto an electrically charged drum, then transfer toner (powder) to the paper
|USD 400 to 900
|Inks are more expensive
|Toner cartridge lasts longer that makes per page cost low
|provide superior photo quality, delivering rich colors and fine detail
|Laser printers, while excellent for text sharpness, can struggle with complex color patterns
|Requires regular maintenance
|Requires less maintenance
|Usually large with multiple trays
Inkjet printers spray liquid ink through microscopic nozzles onto paper. This method can recreate a wide array of colors and subtle gradients, which is perfect for photo printing.
Laser printers, in contrast, use a laser to project an image onto an electrically charged drum, and then transfer toner (powder) to the paper. This process works best for text and simple graphics, as it produces sharp lines and crisp edges.
Generally, inkjet printers are less expensive upfront. This makes them accessible to casual home users or small businesses.
Laser printers have a higher initial cost due to their complex internal mechanisms, but this investment can be justified by their durability and lower operating costs over time.
For instance, HP Officejet Pro 9025e costs around USD 299 whereas a laser printer for the same HP brand (HP LaserJEt MFP M4305F) costs around USD 818.
Print speed & volume
Laser printers take the lead in print speed, churning out pages much faster than inkjets, which is a significant advantage in an office setting where volume and speed are key. Additionally, they are designed to handle larger print volumes without a decrease in performance.
If you consider the HP Officejet 9025e inkjet printer, it comes with a capacity of 24 pages per minute whereas an HP laser printer would offer more than 40 pages per minute.
This means that you can support your home usage or small office requirements with an inkjet printer but for the larger demands (let’s say an office with 50 employees) it would require a laser printer instead.
A quick suggestion.
If you are interested in getting a laser printer, read the below comparison for a better understanding:
Canon vs Brother Laser Printer
Based on the different aspects, we filtered the print performance for both Canon and Brother laser printers.
Ink for inkjet printers is typically more expensive on a per-page basis when compared to the toner used by laser printers.
While inkjet printers are cheaper at the outset, their cartridges may need more frequent replacement. Laser printers offer a lower cost per page and their toner cartridges last longer, making them more economical for high-volume printing.
To illustrate, an inkjet ink cartridge of 4 colors would cost around USD 40 while each particular laser printer toner would cost around USD 50-55 which altogether counts more than $300 for the entire replacements for all pigments.
Now, if you calculate the cost per page, it would become somewhere between USD 0.02-0.08 for the inkjet printers, and for the laser printers, the cost per page would be approximately close to 2 cents considering the entire lifecycle of each toner.
For better understanding, read our comprehensive comparison of different print inks.
Inkjet printers provide superior photo quality, delivering rich colors and fine detail. The liquid ink allows for more nuanced color variation, which is ideal for images.
Laser printers, while excellent for text sharpness, can struggle with complex color patterns or high-quality photo prints.
Laser printers are not truly made for color printouts as they target high print volumes.
We made a separate article on how should you bring down the print cost without compromising the quality of the prints.
Inkjet printers require regular maintenance to prevent ink from drying out and clogging the print nozzles, which can be troublesome if the printer is not used regularly.
Conversely, laser printers are more tolerant of infrequent use. Their toner does not dry out, and they generally require less routine maintenance.
Normally, inkjet printers experience the following issues that need troubleshooting:
- Blocked nozzles lead to streaks or missing colors on prints.
- Can be prevented by regular use and may require ink-consuming cleaning cycles.
- Cartridges can be costly and may dry out if not used regularly.
- Ink spills inside the printer can create additional maintenance challenges.
In comparison, below are the laser printers’ commonly faced problems:
- Leaking toner cartridges can cause smudges or streaks on documents.
- May necessitate internal cleaning or cartridge replacement.
- Faulty fusers can result in loose toner powder on prints that can smear.
- Fusers are expensive to replace and can sometimes justify purchasing a new printer.
However, both the laser printers and inkjet printers need some regular driver updates.
These are some commonly faced issues of printers and guides for troubleshooting.
Both printer types present environmental concerns. Inkjet cartridges contribute to electronic waste and are often not recycled properly due to the ink residue.
Laser printers are better in terms of cartridge recycling but they emit fine particles and ozone that might affect indoor air quality.
Size and noise
Inkjets are typically smaller and quieter than laser printers, making them a better fit.
Inkjet printers excel in producing vibrant images and are cost-effective for low-volume printing, while laser printers are known for their fast printing speeds, efficiency in high-volume printing tasks, and sharper text quality, albeit typically having a higher initial cost and larger size.
These are the best printers for infrequent use
We tested 15 different printers based on different performance parameters such as page per minute, cost per page, maintenance costs etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better inkjet or laser printer?
For high-quality photo printing and versatile paper handling, inkjets are cost-effective initially but pricier in the long run. Laser printers excel in quick, bulk text printing, with a steeper initial cost but economical maintenance. Choose based on your print needs and budget.
Which lasts longer laser or inkjet?
Laser printers outlast inkjets due to their design for frequent, high-volume printing and longer-lasting toner cartridges.
What is the disadvantage of a laser printer?
Laser printers have a higher initial cost, are bulkier, and the toner can be pricey. They’re not ideal for high-quality photos, may require ventilation due to emissions, need warm-up time, and can consume more energy.
To summarize, inkjet printers are a great choice for home and small office use since they are affordable and do not cost much compared to ink tank printers. However, laser printers are always a great fir for large offices having tons of print demands each day.