Tired of leaving the house for a print? We've tested over 100 printers of different varieties since 2017. In this latest iteration, we purchased the best available printers on the market at full price and put them through a rigorous set of tests. Our tests included testing printers' ease of use, operating cost, capabilities, text, and photo quality. This guide is the accumulation of our findings and can help you find the best printer that fits your needs and budget.
If you are looking for an office printer that is able to perform well with worded documents, check out our best home printers review. Perhaps you are trying to unleash your photography skills and need a device that does your work justice; we recommend checking our best photo printers review. Or you may be interested in 3D modeling and want a machine that can bring your creations to life. Whatever it is, our comprehensive printer review has what you need.
Editor's Note: We updated this comprehensive printer review on May 30th, 2023, to include the Elegoo Saturn 2 3D printer.
If you need a home printer that can deliver a variety of services at an elite level, then look no further than the Canon Color imageCLASS MF741Cdw. This unit is exemplary in every metric, from image quality to speed and ease of use. In particular, we found that the speed at which this machine can print is jaw-dropping. In our nine-page composite color image and document test, we clocked an extraordinary 24 seconds per print. Despite the fast print time, each print produced stunning, high-resolution color images. Combining speed and quality is a duo that cannot be beaten. We were particularly impressed with the large touch screen, which has built-in adjusters that allow you to easily change the characteristics of your print jobs, such as sharpness and saturation.
Although this device boasts some of the best features and quality in its category, it comes at a high cost. The MF741Cdw is not a portable unit you take on a business trip. This behemoth of a printer weighs around 64 pounds, making it best suited for more permanent workspaces. If you are looking for a budget device that will not break the bank, you are better off looking elsewhere. Even with these drawbacks, this device is top of its class.
Earning one of our higher scores in our best home printers category, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4820 weds excellent performance with affordability. The WF-4820 can print high-quality photos with a great color display and wide textural range. This quality does not come at the price of printing speed, scoring relatively high in our speed test at ten duplexes/simplex pages per minute. This unit also boasts a large intuitive display that allows users to navigate through the menus and apps effortlessly. Additionally, the interface hosts an array of troubleshooting capabilities that allow the user to solve problems seamlessly.
The most pressing issue with the WF-4820 comes from a recent update that only allows Epson ink cartridges. These cartridges are more cost-effective when printing documents with color photos and text but not when printing large volumes of solely black-and-white text. Another minor gripe we have about this unit is the rather cumbersome WiFi setup. The setup was not difficult, but compared to other models, it was unintuitive. Notwithstanding these small complaints, the WF-4820 is an excellent device that can reliably print high-quality documents or photos for a small office.
The HP DeskJet 2755e is a high-grade printer that can deliver quality prints at a reasonable price. This unit rivals some of the best models in our home printer category in terms of print quality, ease of use, and speed despite being a fraction of the cost. The DeskJet 2755e produces prints that feature crisp text accompanied by a clean color profile. It is perfect for everyday printing, but we do not recommend this device for those who want to print images suitable for framing. Lastly, the DeskJet 2755e also comes with easy-to-follow instructions that make setup a breeze.
The initial price is the most attractive feature of this device; however, in the long run, operating costs are expensive relative to other products on the market. Even so, the DeskJet 2755e can be paired with other manufacturers' ink cartridges, making this unit more cost-effective, especially for those who print often. The most glaring issue with the DeskJet 2755e is that it does not come with automatic duplex printing. We recommend that those who print large volumes of double-sided documents look elsewhere, as this unit might cause more frustration than relief. Overall, this device is excellent for those who want consistent quality print jobs at an affordable price.
If you are looking for a reliable and affordable black and white printer that is capable of fast printing speeds, has low operational costs, and produces good print quality, then the Brother Monochrome Compact Laser HLL2350DW deserves your consideration. This model has automatic duplex printing that will keep your jobs moving at an average 13 pages per minute, so those last minute adjustments to documents you need at your next meeting will get printed in time.
As a black and white printer, it has some limitations when printing high quality photos and business graphics due to losing the fidelity that colors create in a representative grayscale. But overall, the Brother HLL2350DW is a great and economical choice for black and white printing that will satisfy most people's home printer and small office needs.
Cost per print: $0.37 | Maximum Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
REASONS TO BUY
10-color ink palette
Relatively easy operation
Multiple connectivity options
REASONS TO AVOID
Slow to print
Big desktop footprint
The Epson SureColor P700 is a top-notch photo printer that delivers high-class photo prints with unparalleled color accuracy and resolution. Easily the best in our photo printer review, the P700 gives much freedom and control to the user. Each print can be customized to fit specific needs, such as adjusting to the desired saturation or contrast level. The P700 can do much more than color photos — it can also print quality grayscale images that are on a level of their own. Each grayscale photo test showcased the P700's technical ability to produce well-defined images that incorporate a high level of attention to border definition, dynamic range, and neutral color renderings. At an astonishing $0.37 per 4" x 6" color photo, this device's operating costs seal the deal for us. There is nothing better than having a reliable photo printer that can crank out high levels of photos at a small cost.
Not surprisingly, a high-performance photo printer like the P700 has its downsides, mainly the upfront cost. Casual users may benefit from steering clear of the P700 and choosing a more budget-friendly device. In addition to the cost, the P700 is an enormous machine and takes up a considerable amount of desk space. An overcomplicated setup process is one of the most annoying aspects of buying a highly technical product. Fortunately, this device's setup isn't too bad, aside from lifting it out of the box. With these considerations in mind, we recommend this device for professional photographers, as you will likely not find a better unit on the market.
Cost per print: $0.50 | Maximum Resolution: 400 dpi
REASONS TO BUY
Sticker photo paper
REASONS TO AVOID
One print size
Relatively low resolution
In our digital landscape, it may be difficult to remember a time when taking a picture would immediately produce a physical copy on the spot. With the Canon IVYportable printer, you can re-live the nostalgia of polaroid cameras of the past in the present. This device is the size of a smartphone that can be carried in your pocket. Although the pictures are not as top quality as a desktop printer, the IVY produces the best photos out of any other mini printers we have tested. The setup is easy and straightforward. As long as you know how to download a phone app and make a BlueTooth connection, you'll be fine. The ZINK instant film used for this unit has an adhesive back that turns the photos into stickers — a great way to turn memorable moments into quick decorations for your home or office space.
Portability and convenience do come at a price. Compared to desktop alternatives that can print bigger pictures at a lesser cost, $0.50 per photo is not cost-effective. There is no way to get around this cost barrier since the IVY only accepts the (2" x 3") ZINK papers. The printing capabilities are not very remarkable, given its simplistic design. The camera can only hold up to 10 images per tray, and each print takes around 40 seconds. The main selling point for this product is not its absolute relation to other printers but its relative comparison amongst mini printers. In this respect, there is no better option other than the IVY.
Cost per print: $0.45 | Maximum Resolution: 1440 dpi
REASONS TO BUY
Capable of 13" x 19" prints
REASONS TO AVOID
Sepia tones in grayscale
Some skin tone issues in large formats
The Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 is the perfect middle ground between performance and price. The XP-1500 boasts a solid color profile that spans many printing dimensions, notably performing quite well with 13" x 44" prints. We felt that the black and white renderings were respectable, with a few shortcomings. However, we were impressed with these renderings, given the generous price point of this unit. The capabilities of this product are also worthy of recognition. Some features include the ability to print glossy and adhesive paper, as well as iron-on transfer sheets for making t-shirts. The XP-1500's most attractive feature is its initial and long-term costs.
Overall, we think the print quality of the XP-15000 is solid, but we have a couple of critiques. Our criticisms primarily relate to the grayscale output, which sometimes produces images with poor transitions from light to dark. Even with these slight issues, the XP-15000 prints grayscale output better than most printers but just not better than the top-shelf items. Lastly, we noticed that this unit had more difficulty connecting with our device than other models. Considering these criticisms, the XP-15000 will satisfy most photographers.
Cost per print: $0.58 | Maximum Resolution: 1200 dpi
REASONS TO BUY
Good dynamic range
Decent print format options
REASONS TO AVOID
Some color issues
Microbanding increases with print size
The Canon PIXMA TR4520 is a cheap photo printer for those who want decent-quality photos. For the price, this device is a great alternative to the more expensive units in the market. It covers a wide range of papers and can also double as a home printer. The setup is fairly easy, and operating costs are reasonable. The TR520 is mid-sized and compact, perfect for a small office.
Do not expect to receive studio-level photos from this unit, as it doesn't always stay true to the original image and occasionally produces over-saturated blues. Black and white images were slightly better but produced micro-banding as the print size increased. Overall, the image quality had more pros than cons. This unit is a great entry product for those new to photography.
The Elegoo Saturn 2 is among the most sophisticated, high-quality 3D printers we've ever encountered. It held up throughout our rigorous tests, printing nearly flawless structures. The machine creates its impressive 3D prints through a series of very fine resin layers. The quality of this work can be measured by its XY pixel resolution — just like with regular resolution, the smaller, the more detailed. The Saturn boasts a 28.5 micrometer (μm) XY pixel resolution, which is about a third of a human hair. This, paired with its 10-inch 8K LCD screen, allows it to print detailed resin pieces with clean build lines. Out of the box, this machine is ready to start creating. Aside from a few preliminary steps, we didn't need to adjust any settings prior to running.
The Saturn lacks WiFi and mobile printing, so the only option to transport the design is through a USB thumb drive. Additionally, its resin vat is on the smaller side at 700mL. Prepare to wear PPE throughout this entire sticky process, as resin printers require an involved post-processing cleanup. That said, the Elegoo Saturn is an excellent 3D printer that won't disappoint with its highly-detailed builds.
Why You Should Trust Us
This comprehensive printer overview is the product of hundred hours of testing, comparing, and researching the best products in the industry. Our tests measure printers, operating cost, ease of use, image/text quality, and printing speed. This guide aims to give the reader a general overview of the market's best printers and their respective strengths and weaknesses.
This guide is a collaboration between Research Analysts Matt Spencer, Genaveve Bradshaw, and reviewer Jared Eastlick. Matt brings a large repertoire of skills from 3D printing to testing a myriad of other tech devices. Genaveve has also tested many of our top printers and crafts quality reviews that emphasize a high degree of attention to detail. Jared's experience as a writer, bookworm, tech enthusiast, and quality assurance specialist has allowed him to write on a variety of tech products.
How to Pick the Right Printer
Picking the right printer to fit your needs may be quite daunting. They can be expensive and deserve prior research before committing to the purchase. Luckily our experienced testers and researchers have done all of the testing for you. All that's left is to evaluate your needs and purchase accordingly. These devices can be separated into three categories: home, photo, and 3D. The following is a breakdown of each class of printer and its uses.
Home printers are the most versatile printers, satisfying a broad range of needs from printing worded documents to scanning and copying. When picking a home printer, consider the volume of printing you plan to do. Some people need to have a printer on standby in case they need to print an important document or enable their children to print a class project.
Others may operate a small business and may require a device that can perform large workloads at a reasonable price.
Ease of use can also affect your decision. A printer that you cannot easily operate or quickly set up and connect to your WiFi can slow down productivity and cause unnecessary stress.
Photo printers are great for those who desire more than low-resolution google images from their home printer. Some memories deserve to be printed, and these devices will ensure that your image comes out with the quality they deserve. Or, if you run a small photography business and want to reduce the trip to the photo lab, photo printers will save you loads of time and money.
3D printers allow printing out 3D physical objects from a digital file. The object is built by an additive process where successive layers of material are stringed together. 3D printers are perfect for hobbyists and artists looking to expand their creative boundaries while having fun. There are thousands of files online that can help you build all sorts of figures for your favorite tabletop games or help you build some basic household items. If you are creative, 3D printers can be a great way to bring your vision to life. Printing your creation can be a great way to give a meaningful gift to a loved one or a friend.
This guide aims to make the printer buying process as easy and effortless as possible. The first consideration before buying a printer is to assess one's needs. Home, photo, and 3D printers have very different purposes, and the aforementioned printers are the cream of the crop for their respective categories. Our mission at GearLab is to provide top-quality reviews of emerging products. We will ensure to continue reviewing the best printers in today's market so you can easily make an informed purchase.
Genaveve Bradshaw, Matt Spencer, and Jared Eastlick
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.