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Inkjet vs. Laser Printers

Inkjet vs. Laser Printers

At a Glance

Laser printers produce high-quality text extremely quickly while tending to have lower recurring costs of ownership compared to inkjet printers. However, inkjet printers are very affordable and perform very well when printing full color content.

Printers have undergone great improvement in quality, design and technology in recent years. Today, anyone can own a high-quality printer for a surprisingly low price. Earlier printers were bulky and cumbersome; the printers also used basic technology that ended up producing fuzzy images and low quality text. Modern printers are highly sophisticated, cheap, fast and very user friendly, the printers not only produce picture perfect images as well as fine print text, but are very fast and cheaper to maintain and service. This is further enhanced by having multi-function printers which are able to offer a number of services such as copy, scan, fax and print. Though the printers have largely improved, the debate about inkjet vs. laser printers is not about to die out soon.

Initial Cost

The cost of purchasing either an inkjet or laser printer has come down drastically. This applies to both high end commercial printers as well as basic home printers. For instance the cheapest inkjets such as HP 2050C, Canon PIXMA or the Epson SX 125 go for approximately $65, while cheap laser printers such as Dell 1133 will generally cost around $120 -130 dollars. The DELL 1133 laser jet almost costs the same as the Canon PIXMA MX350 inkjet. However the inkjet printers only come with a starter pack ink kit which will only last a few runs thus the need to purchase another kit or refill the ink cartridge unlike the laser which comes complete with the toner cartridge thus no additional cost. Average cost of ink is about $20-$40 for about 100-150 pages.

Running Costs

Pictured at top: Hewlett Packard Color LaserJet Printer

Printers also incur operating costs related to refilling or replacing the ink or toner cartridges. To determine the rate of usage of ink or toner, the cost of printing an A4 page is usually used as a calculation. Inkjets generally have a running cost of around 20 cents per page for both black and white as well as color printing. Purely printing in black will attract a cost of about 8 cents for the inkjet and 6 cents for the laser printer. Color printing will be around 24 cents for the inkjet and 22 cents for the laser. Laser printers will therefore provide lower cost per page in the long term as compared to using inkjet printers; however large laser printers will more often than not require supplementary recurrent expenditure in acquiring additional fuser cartridges as well as replacing worn out parts.

Print Speed

Laser printers have an edge over inkjets when it comes to high-speed black and white printing; lasers have speeds of as high as 20 pages per minute with inkjet printers rarely exceeding 10 pages per minute for home printers. Color printing is much slower for both types of printers with laser having approximately 10 ppm and inkjets at 6 ppm in resolutions of around 300 dpi.


Resolutions of above 800 dpi will provide very slow print out rates for the printers. Text quality of around 12pt is similar in both laser and inkjet, but the laser printer stands out when printing fine text such as micro printing.┬áLaser printers produce more water resistant prints on normal paper as compared to inkjets, however, special pigment inks used in inkjets such as epson’s ‘durabrite ink’ will also produce water proof prints but the ink is very expensive.