What Is the Best Printer With the Cheapest Ink Cartridges? Top 7 Reviewed

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Replacing your printer’s ink cartridges can be more expensive than the printer itself! This refers to the upfront costs of cartridges and how efficient they are (in terms of cost-per-page metrics).

One of the biggest mistakes that you’ll ever make is opting for a cheap printer: They waste ink and result in a higher cost per page. Instead, spend a little more on a quality printer that uses cheap ink cartridges efficiently.

But what is the best printer with the cheapest ink cartridges? In this article, we’ll discuss why the Brother Inkjet MFC-J6945DW Printer is our top pick while exploring other trustworthy products’ overall build quality, advanced features, print speed, and design.

Our Top Picks in 2024

Overall Best

Best Value for Money Great for Heavy Usage
Brother Inkjet MFC-J6945DW Printer Brother MFC-J1010DW

HP OfficeJet Pro 8210 Ink Printer

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  • All-in-one inkjet printer
  • Supports wireless printing
  • Up to 22 ppm for mono
  • Up to 20 ppm for colored prints
  • Up to 30,000 pages maximum duty cycle
  • NFC-enabled
  • Internal ink storage tank
  • All-in-one inkjet printer
  • Supports wireless printing
  • Up to 17 ppm for mono
  • Up to 9.5 ppm for colored prints
  • Up to 2,500 pages maximum duty cycle
  • With automatic document feeder
  • Duplex printing
  • Print-only inkjet printer
  • Supports wireless printing
  • Up to 22 ppm for mono
  • Up to 18 ppm for colored prints
  • Up to 30,000 pages maximum duty cycle
  • Supports HP Instant Ink subscription
  • Duplex printing

What to Consider When Picking the Right Printer

If you’re spending hundreds of dollars on a printer, you want to ensure that it’s worth the money. Some factors to consider include the technology that a printer uses, the colors it can print, the advanced functions it has, and its durability

Printing Technology

For office and home use, you’ll typically choose between an inkjet printer and a laser printer. These two types of printing technology use different principles to apply images and texts to paper.

  • Inkjet Printers – The most common printer type on the market. These printers use ink cartridges and tanks to spray the ink on your paper, supporting multiple colors.
  • Laser Printers – Bigger than inkjet models and don’t use ink. Instead, they use toner cartridges and are primarily intended for printing black and white pages.

If you’re looking to do casual printing, an inkjet printer should suffice. It’s also the more common choice when printing colored pages.

Meanwhile, a laser printer would be great to have for printing high volumes of monochrome documents. Recently, some laser printer models also support colored prints (but cost a lot more than a monochrome laser printer).

Colors

By default, most printers are capable of monochrome printing. However, since not all models have a colored printing function, contemplate whether the latter is an important requirement.

Choosing between a black-only and color printer is also essential when it comes to forecasting ink costs. After all, replacement ink cartridges for color printers are a lot more expensive than black ink.

Apparently, this is because you would also need to purchase separate ones for colors like cyan, magenta, and yellow. If you’re expecting to print a large number of pages, the costs for colored inks can really add up.

Printer Features

Each brand manufactures its printers differently, meaning that available models’ features can vary. However, there are a few general attributes that you might like to be present on the one that you buy. Here are some of them:

Good Paper Tray Capacity

Depending on your printing habits, you might want one with a large paper tray capacity.

Wireless Connectivity

Being able to connect your printer to your devices without the need for cables and cords is also a must-have feature. This allows you to freely place your printer anywhere in your room (as opposed to having it fixed due to wired connections).

Scan, Copy, and Fax

While you’re technically buying a printer, some models come in all-in-one configurations (e.g., scanning, faxing, photocopying). It might be worth shelling out a bit more money, especially if you need these features.

Note: The features listed are indispensable for typical printing needs. But if you’re ready to take your printer game to the next level, you might also find features like two-sided printing, touch-screen user interfaces, and automatic document feeders worth looking for in a printer.

Budget

One of the best ways to filter your choices is by asking how much money you’re willing to dish out. Note that modern printers with many advanced features can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Aside from the upfront expense, it’s essential to determine your expected printer operating costs, like a printer’s cost per page (calculated by dividing the price of the ink cartridge by its total page yield).

This would determine ink efficiency and how frequently you’ll have to buy new ink. Compared to low-priced printers, higher-priced printers that are efficient in ink usage will generally save more money in the long run.

Monthly Duty Cycle

A printer’s monthly duty cycle refers to the total number of pages that a printer can produce in one month without maintenance or repair. Put simply: It’s a printer’s durability rating.

By ensuring a solid monthly duty cycle, you’ll save on maintenance costs in case your service warranty expires. This also matters if you plan to do occasional high-volume printing.

What Is the Best Printer With the Cheapest Ink Cartridges?

The word “best” is subjective and depends on your current printing needs and preferences. But when considering their technical features, here are our picks for the top seven printers with the lowest ink cost:

1. Brother Inkjet MFC-J6945DW Printer — Overall Best

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Pros

  • Equipped with an efficient internal ink storage tank
  • NFC-enabled
  • Uses high-capacity cartridges
  • Page Gauge system

Cons

  • Large body

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Inkjet
  • Printer Type: All-in-one
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Paper Size: US Letter, US Legal, US Executive, Ledger, A3, A4, A5, Com-10, C5, etc.
  • Print Speed: Up to 22 ppm for mono, up to 20 ppm for colored prints
  • Maximum Duty Cycle: Up to 30,000 pages

Cartridges Used

  • Brother LC3037 Cartridges (Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow)

Average Ink Costs Per Year

  • Varies depending on usage, with each LC3037 set costing around $105

The Brother MFC-J6945DW is durable enough to handle around 30,000 pages per month without breaking down. We liked its redesigned ink storage tank that can store high volumes. This translates to less frequent ink cartridge changes.

Another aspect that we think is great is its paper-handling design. You can place your paper in multiple ways, including a 50-page automatic document feeder. Its tray can store up to 500 sheets too. This printer also supports two-sided printing, copying, and scanning, which is definitely a time-saver.

Perhaps, the highlight of this printer is its Page Gauge system, which tracks your ink levels and displays an estimated number of pages that can still be printed. This makes for on-time ink cartridge replacements.

Speaking of ink, each branded cartridge that the Brother MFC-J6945DW uses has a cost-per-page rating of $.01 for black and $.05 for colored prints. Apart from its large body (which might not be suitable for some people’s tastes), this is the best all-in-one printer for home use with cheap ink.

2. Brother MFC-J1010DW — Best Value for Money

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Pros

  • Multiple connection types
  • Mobile printing
  • Cheap per-page cost when black only
  • Comes with an automatic document feeder

Cons

  • Lacks duplex scanning
  • No Ethernet connectivity

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Inkjet
  • Printer Type: All-in-One
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Paper Size: US Letter, US Legal, US Executive, A4, A6, C5, DL, and Monarch
  • Print Speed: Up to 17 ppm for mono, up to 9.5 ppm for colored prints
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: Up to 2,500 pages

Cartridges Used

  • Brother LC401 Cartridges (Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow)

Average Ink Costs Per Year

Owing to the low upfront cost of the Brother MFC-J1010DW, it’s one of the entry-level home printers with the lowest ink costs. We love that it’s an all-in-one printer and also comes with a 1.8” display (which is already great at its price point).

In terms of paper handling, its 20-sheet automatic document feeder is great for both scanning and copying. Its 150-page paper tray is also excellent for a home printer, supporting automatic duplex printing, too.

The primary reason to buy this printer is its compatibility with Brother’s ink supply subscription (a great way to save money on ink costs). It’s also equipped with a page gauge.

Even though it supports wireless mobile printing, one of the biggest deal breakers is its lack of Ethernet-wired connectivity.

3. HP OfficeJet Pro 8210 Ink Printer — Great for Heavy Usage

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Pros

  • Supports Apple AirPrint™ and ChromeOS for mobile access
  • Good for heavy usage
  • Automatically prints on both sides of a page when needed

Cons

  • Solely for printing

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Inkjet
  • Printer Type: Print only
  • Connectivity: Wired, wireless
  • Paper Size: US Legal, US Letter, US Executive, A4, A5, B5, C5, C6, etc.
  • Print Speed: Up to 22 ppm for mono, up to 18 ppm for colored prints
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: Up to 30,000 pages

Cartridges Used

  • HP 952 OfficeJet Ink Cartridge (Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow)
  • HP 952XL OfficeJet Ink Cartridge

Average Ink Costs Per Year

  • Around $300 per year for printing 700 pages per month (via HP Instant Ink)

When it comes to high-volume printing, the HP OfficeJet Pro 8210 Ink Printer is a great choice. While it only supports printing, it does redeem itself with its monthly duty cycle of 30,000 pages (which is a good rating in terms of durability).

We appreciated its high-capacity ink cartridges, often designed to ensure high page yield. Its ink can also be relatively economical as it’s configured to support HP Instant Ink (the ink subscription program of the brand).

An excellent purchase driver is its accompanying HP All-in-One Printer Remote app, which lets you control it from virtually anywhere. It also supports AirPrint™, making it an ideal choice for Apple users.

4. HP Envy Pro 6452 All-in-One Printer

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Pros

  • Comes with an auto document feeder
  • Equipped with self-healing dual-band Wi-Fi technology
  • Can be accessed through a mobile app

Cons

  • Bluetooth® technology could be better
  • Slow

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Inkjet
  • Printer Type: All-in-one
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Paper Sizes: A4, A5, A6, B5, C6, and DL
  • Print Speed: Up to 10 ppm for mono, up to 7 ppm for colored prints
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: Up to 1,000 pages

Cartridges Used

  • Available in regions of North America and Asia Pacific
    • HP 67 Black Original Ink Cartridge 3YM56AN
    • HP 67 Tri-Color Original Ink Cartridge 3YM55AN
  • Available in Europe, Middle East, and Africa
    • HP 305 Black Original Ink Cartridge 3YM61AE
    • HP 305 Tri-Color Original Ink Cartridge 3YM60AE
  • For other markets
    • HP 805 Black Original Ink Cartridge 3YM73AA
    • HP 805 Tri-Color Original Ink Cartridge 3YM72AA

Average Ink Costs Per Year

  • Around $72 per year for printing one hundred pages per month via HP Instant Ink

The HP Envy Pro 6452 All-in-One Printer is a great player when your priority is connection security. This is mainly brought about by its self-healing, dual-band Wi-Fi technology. It automatically detects connection issues and resolves them to keep you connected seamlessly, allowing you to do tasks as intended.

When it comes to paper handling, this printer also performs well with its 35-sheet automatic document feeder. It also supports duplex modes for US Letter and Executive paper sizes, and its paper tray can handle up to 80 sheets.

Another reason to opt for this printer is its mobile printing capabilities. This one supports AirPrint™ and Mopria™, in addition to an accompanying app developed in-house. Its wireless printing function (via Bluetooth®) can be quite unreliable, but this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker with its Wi-Fi feature.

That said, it’s quite slow at 10 pages per minute for black and 7 for colored prints. If you’re dealing with a lot of printing work, this can feel like forever to finish. While its monthly duty cycle is also low, it’s not durable enough for bulk printing. We believe it’s more suitable as a low-cost printer for home use.

5. Canon PIXMA TR8620 Wireless Inkjet Printer

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Pros

  • Supports multiple platforms for mobile printing
  • Excellent for borderless printing
  • Touch-screen interface

Cons

  • The nozzle may get clogged at times
  • Can be sluggish

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Inkjet
  • Printer Type: All-in-one
  • Connectivity: Wired, wireless
  • Paper Size: 3” Square, 5” Square, US Letter (8.5″ x 11″), US Legal(8.5″ x 14″), and US Envelope
  • Print Speed: Up to 15 images per minute (ipm) for mono, up to 10 ipm for colored prints
  • Maximum Duty Cycle: Up to 1,000 pages

Cartridges Used

  • PGI-280 Pigment Black Ink
  • CLI-281 Dye Based Inks (Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow)

Average Ink Costs Per Year

  • Around $204 per year for printing 250 pages per month using Canon PGI-280

If you’re planning to do image printing, the Canon PIXMA TR8620 Wireless Inkjet Printer is one of the best home printers with lowest ink cost. Though it’s admittedly just fine for print speed, maximum duty cycle, and similar aspects, it does do a great job with borderless printing.

It’s also ideal that users can feed paper into the printer from both the front and rear parts (each with a 100-page capacity(. Plus, it’s equipped with a handy 20-page automatic document feeder.

Perhaps the main course of this printer is its array of supported apps for mobile printing. Apart from AirPrint™ and Mopria™, it also supports other platforms like the Easy-PhotoPrint Editor app, Cloud Link, and more Canon-developed apps. Apart from wireless mobile mode, it also supports direct printing from a micro SD card.

One reason you might shy away from getting this printer is its sluggish print speed. It could also have nozzle clogging issues (a fairly common problem among inkjet printer models).

6. HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 Wireless All-in-One Printer

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Pros

  • Remote functions using the accompanying mobile app
  • Equipped with automatic document feeder
  • Security features
  • Two-sided printing and copying

Cons

  • Comes with a single paper tray
  • Slower than competing models from other brands

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Inkjet
  • Printer Type: All-in-one
  • Connectivity: Wired, wireless
  • Paper Size: US Legal, US Letter, US Executive, US Statement, L, 2L, and Envelope
  • Print Speed: Up to 20 ppm for mono, up to 10 ppm for colored prints
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: Up to 20,000 pages

Cartridges Used

  • HP 910 Original Ink Cartridge (Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow)
  • XL counterpart of the above

Average Ink Costs Per Year

  • Around $144 per year for printing 300 pages per month via HP Instant Ink

The HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 Wireless All-in-One Printer is a runner-up to our overall best printer model. It’s got a durable build with its monthly duty cycle sitting at 20,000 pages. Its output speed for black-only prints sits right below the other’s ppm too. This is a great option if you’re doing high-volume printing of purely textual documents.

Users can interact with its self-healing dual-band Wi-Fi, through its mobile app’s remote control, or via the built-in touchscreen interface. It also supports multiple platforms for mobile printing, including AirPrint™ and HP Smart.

When it comes to paper handling, the HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 Wireless All-in-One Printer unfortunately has a single paper tray. It does, however, have a 35-sheet automatic document feeder, allowing for faster paper refills.

While definitely the lowest-ink-cost printer, this one has a pretty low cost per page at $.049. It’s also compatible with HP Instant Ink (which might provide users a leeway to further lower operating ink costs).

7. Pantum P3302DW Printer

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Pros

  • Compact
  • Equipped with NFC touch
  • Drum and toner are separated

Cons

  • Only prints black and white documents

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Laser
  • Printer Type: Print
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Paper Size: A4, A5, A6, B5, US Letter, US Legal, US Executive, Folio
  • Print Speed: Up to 35 ppm
  • Recommended Monthly Volume: Up to 3,500 pages

Cartridges Used

  • Pantum TL94A Black Toner Cartridge

Average Toner Costs Per Year

  • Varies depending on usage. Each cartridge costs around $40, yielding approximately 1,500 pages.

Among competitors on the market, the Pantum P3302DW Printer is one of the best laser printers worth mentioning. It’s honestly a pretty straightforward model that supports black-only prints.

In terms of the hardware, we love its small-footprint design, making it portable and to place around the home. Its drum and toner are also separated, meaning you can change the toner cartridge freely without also changing the drum unit.

When it comes to functionality, its NFC (formally known as near-field communication) compatibility is definitely a highlight. This means that you can still print your files wirelessly even when its Wi-Fi connection type doesn’t work.

Aside from the fact that it can’t produce colored prints, this printer is definitely one of the best, considering its high printing speed and relatively good monthly duty cycle. This also means that your ink costs will be cheap since you only need to buy black ink.

How We Selected the Most Economical Printers of 2024

While choosing the printer models listed above, we considered their durability, printing speed, supported paper sizes, various functionalities, and ink cartridge prices. We also looked at various customer reviews, forum discussions, and similar resources to better understand how these printers perform and save on future operating costs.

Are Printers With Cheap Ink Worth Buying?

There are a lot of negative connotations surrounding the word “cheap.” But it’s true that many – not all – “cheap” products lack quality.

As long as you purchase from credible brands like HP and Brother, there should be no problem with buying cheap and ink-efficient printer models. You’re looking for a cost-efficient printer in terms of ink usage, which isn’t necessarily a cheap, low-quality one.

Branded printers with low cost-per-page ratings are often built with good quality, not to mention the warranty services. They might also feature advanced functionalities like wireless printing, duplex modes, larger paper capacity, and faster printing speeds.

If you’re hoping to save money, using printers with cheap inks is a key consideration.  For example, you might get inks that contain impurities and clog your printer, resulting in additional maintenance and cleaning costs.

Ink Subscriptions

Some printer models are configured to support ink subscriptions, a type of service that some manufacturers offer for timely ink supplies. As opposed to buying occasional separate ink cartridges, users might save a lot through these programs.

An excellent example of this is HP Instant Ink, where fees are based on the number of pages printed per month. This is a money-saver, considering that you’re paying only for the ink you need.

Another benefit of ink subscriptions is that the cartridges come on time, helping to ensure that you don’t run out.

Ink Cartridges from Third-Party Manufacturers

If the printer you’re buying doesn’t support ink subscriptions, you can consider ink cartridges from a third-party manufacturer. In addition to ones sold by your preferred brand, there’s a surplus of compatible ink cartridges on the market.

This solution can be great if you purchase refills from trustable manufacturers. Always check consumer reviews before buying from certain sellers. While off-brand ink cartridges are way cheaper, there are a couple of potential deal-breakers to consider:

  • Voided warranty: In case your printer malfunctions, third-party cartridges may render your warranty invalid, based on your brand’s terms and conditions.
  • Inconsistent print quality: Your prints may vary in hues with uneven tones.
  • Clogged nozzles: Cheaper inks (especially those from unpopular manufacturers) may contain impurities that can clog the nozzles of an inkjet printer.

Why Trust Productivity Spot?

Printers have become a staple for office and home use, especially with the increased popularity of working from home and taking online classes from providers like Udemy.

At Productivity Spot, we aim to help our readers find technology that will boost their work efficiency at affordable prices. To guide our audience, we’ve compiled the best printers with low-cost ink, based on extensive user research.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Inkjets or Laser Printers More Cost-Effective?

While they’re not necessarily cheaper upfront, laser printers are more cost-efficient than inkjet printers. Toner cartridges are used in laser printers, which usually have higher page yield ratings than ink cartridges. Most laser printers only support monochrome printing, meaning that you’d need to buy a toner cartridge in a single color.

How Much Does It Cost to Operate a Printer?

Your operating costs are determined by your printer’s upfront purchase expenses, ink cartridge prices, and paper quality.

Is it Cheaper to Buy a New Printer Than Ink Cartridges?

When talking about cheap printers that cost less than $100, a new printer may actually be a better deal than a replacement ink cartridge. However, for high-quality brands like HP and Epson, replacing a new printer will always be more expensive than the ink (not to mention more wasteful).

Final Thoughts

Printers can be expensive – and more so when they use high-cost ink cartridges with low efficiency.  Before buying one, be sure to consider your budget as well as the printer’s technology, features, and cartridges.

So what is the best printer with the cheapest ink cartridges? We think the Brother Inkjet MFC-J6945DW Printer is the current best when it comes to overall design and durability. But for a slightly more affordable option, the Brother MFC-J1010DW might give you the best bang for your buck.

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