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Toner Printers vs. Inkjet Printers: What’s the Difference?

Toner Printers vs. Inkjet Printers: What’s the Difference?

Jan 14th 2020

If you’re in the market for a new printer, there’s one important decision you have to make: toner or inkjet? If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, don’t worry. We’re here to break them down for you as well as compare and contrast their selling points.

Toner Printers vs. Inkjet Printers

Generally speaking, inkjet printers are preferable for home use, while toner printers are favored in offices. However, this isn’t that cut and dry.

The best printer is the one that’s going to meet your individual needs. Choose your printer based on the following factors:

  • How often you print
  • What type of documents you print (text vs. images)
  • Your budget

Comparing and Contrasting: Toner Printers vs Inkjet Printers

Toner printers and inkjet printers are built differently. As a result, they offer unique capabilities, drawbacks, and price tags. Once you understand these elements, you’ll be ready to make an informed purchase.

How Do Toner Printers Work?

Toner printers, also known as laser printers, work by melting toner powder. A laser shines onto a light-sensitive metal drum, which heats up toner powder and stamps it onto the page. This is similar to how a photocopier works.

How Do Inkjet Printers Work?

Inkjet printers work by shooting liquid ink through tiny nozzles. The resulting ink droplets are microscopic in size. Since ink is liquid, it is slightly more prone to smudging on the paper.

Toner Printers vs. Inkjet: Which is Cheaper?

In terms of upfront costs, inkjet printers are cheaper. Similarly, ink cartridges are less expensive than toner cartridges. If you’re looking for a bargain, inkjet printers may seem like the obvious choice.

However, the upfront cost is only one factor. In the long run, cartridges make all the difference in the ultimate cost of owning a printer. Here are the respective page yields from a single cartridge:

  • Toner cartridge: 2,000 – 10,000 pages
  • Ink cartridge: 135 – 1000 pages

As you can see, toner cartridges offer more bang for your buck. Ink printers, on the other hand, require more frequent cartridge replacements and can dry up over time. As a result, toner printers have a lower cost per page throughout the course of their lifetime.

Toner Printers vs. Inkjet: Which One is More Durable?

In terms of durability, you get what you pay for. Toner printers last longer than inkjet printers, on average. Their respective lifespans are as follows:

  • Toner printers: 5 years
  • Inkjet printers: 3 years

Toner vs. Inkjet: Which One is Faster?

When it comes to printing speed, toner printers are much faster:

  • Toner printers can produce 15 to 100 pages per minute.
  • Inkjet printers can only produce 16 pages per minute.

If you’re printing a couple of pages here and there, printing speed is irrelevant. However, if you print large quantities of documents, the difference is night and day. This is one reason why toner printers are advantageous for businesses.

Note: Toner printers take time to warm up, whereas ink printers are ready to go immediately.

Toner vs. Inkjet: Which One Has a Better Duty Cycle?

Duty cycle is the number of pages a printer can print in one month without causing damage. It’s smart to pay attention to this metric when you’re shopping. Choose a printer that’s equipped to handle your monthly volume requirements. Otherwise, your printer may give out on you.

As you can see, toner printers can handle greater volumes than inkjet printers:

  • Toner printers: duty cycle of 750 – 3,000 pages per month.
  • Inkjet printers: duty cycle of 200 – 500 pages per month.

Toner vs. Inkjet: Which One Produces Better Images?

Image quality varies notably between toner and inkjet printers. If you need to print high-quality images, get an inkjet printer. They can produce gallery level images, utilizing a full color range and tonal depth. They’re also compatible with a wide variety of papers, from glossy to fabric.

Color laser printers print simple graphics at an average resolution. For personal use, this may be all you require. However, toner printers are better-suited for text documents.

Toner vs. Inkjet: Which One is More Compact?

Inkjet printers are smaller and lighter than toner printers. That’s why they’re great for home use. You can move them around and fit them comfortably within a home office.

Toner printers, on the other hand, are bulkier and better left stationary. They may be too large for your home office.

Choose The Printer That’s Right For You

In summary, when choosing between these two types of printers, it’s all about meeting your personal needs. Both printers have their time and place.

If you want high-volume printing that is fast, durable, and capable of producing thousands of documents each month, a toner printer is the way to go. If you print a smaller volume or require high-quality images, an inkjet printer has you covered.

No matter what your multi-function printer needs are, Supplies Outlet can offer you remanufactured cartridges at low prices, keeping your printing costs in check.


Explain That Stuff. How do laser printers work? How Inkjet Printers Work.