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There’s a perception that laser printers are conspicuously more expensive than their inkjet counterparts and are, therefore, unaffordable for thrifty small- and medium-sized businesses. On the contrary, however, laser printers not only represent a huge price premium over inkjets but also are better for many businesses on a budget with heavy printing needs. Laser printers produce more professional-looking documents and are cheaper to operate long term thanks to far lower per-page costs than inkjet models.
When looking for a laser printer, it’s important to consider features and specifications such as copy, scan, and fax options, paper tray capacity, automatic document feed (ADF) capabilities, print speed, combined printer and print costs, and, of course, print quality.
To help finalize your options, here are the best laser printers that will fit most workplace needs.
Best Overall: Canon Canon Color ImageClass MF743CDW
Cost-effective and speedy, the Canon Color imageCLASS MF743Cdw is a jack-of-all-trades for small- and medium-sized businesses with heavy and varied printing needs. It’s capable of performing a plethora of operations, including two-sided (duplex) printing, duplex automatic document and image copying and scanning via its 50-page ADF, and special paper printing via a 50-page bypass tray that supplements its 250-sheet primary paper cassette.
As your business grows, you can add an optional 550-page paper cassette ($199). Your per-page printing costs also drop the more you print—from 19 cents to less than 13 cents per color page—when you opt for Canon’s high-yield color cartridge. While the printer is easy to operate from its 5-inch color touchscreen, make sure you give it plenty of clearance: You’ll need around an additional 20 inches above the printer, which is already 18.4 inches tall, to lift its lid for individual document scanning or copying.
Best Value Color: HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw
If your printing needs consist primarily of presentations, reports, and correspondence, then this print-only HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw is inexpensive to both buy and operate. Black-only pages cost less than 4 cents each, while color pages will run you a smidge over 16 cents each, and it’s easy to swap out cartridges to help keep your per-page costs down. The printer maximizes not only your budget, as long as your color printing needs are moderate, but also your space at a compact 15.4 × 16.5 × 9.7 inches.
But low costs don’t mean you sacrifice speed—this printer reportedly churns out 22 pages per minute (ppm), with the first page out in less than 12 seconds. You can also keep your network safe with Wi-Fi Direct, which wirelessly connects your device to the printer.
Best Value Monochrome: HP Laserjet Pro M118dw
Economic in both price and space, the HP LaserJet Pro M118dw is a great solution for quickly churning out black-and-white point-of-sale receipts, internal documents, or correspondence and short reports. Each page will run you around 3.4 cents each—an acceptable cost as long as you’re not printing more than a couple of hundred pages a month. The monochrome printer also automatically prints on both sides to save paper and turns off by itself when not in use, saving you on energy costs.
Measuring a mere 14.6 × 16 × 8.8 inches, this printer doesn’t take up a lot of counter or tabletop space but can reportedly deliver a speedy 30 ppm. Its 250-page paper cassette means you won’t have to worry about constantly reloading it, and its output tray will hold a hefty 150 sheets.
Best for Home Offices: Lexmark MC2535adwe
Lexmark’s MC2535adwe all-in-one color laser printer can print, copy, scan, and fax. Its features will meet both business and personal document needs, including its paper-handling capabilities: You can supplement its 250-page main paper cassette with add-on 550- or 650-page trays to create a printer holding up to 1,450 sheets. The printer’s 50-page reverse-duplex ADF is capable of scanning up to 50 ppm, according to the company, and it’s equipped with a 4.3-inch touchscreen and a front USB direct-print jack.
Best of all is the printer’s high speed combined with comparatively low printing costs, which the company claims is around 35 ppm running less than 2 cents a page for monochrome and less than 12 cents for color. Its black cartridge can reportedly yield 8,000 pages, while its three-color cartridge should yield 3,500 pages, which makes this perfect for businesses with moderate to medium printing needs.
Best for Lawyers: Brother HL-L6200DW
This monochrome, print-only Brother HL-L6200DW claims to spit out up to 48 ppm so you won’t keep clients or anyone else waiting. Plus, you won’t have to worry about needing to constantly refill the paper cassette: If you find this printer’s already-copious 520-sheet tray insufficient, then you can add more trays to increase its capacity to a total of 1,610 sheets (not including its 50-sheet multipurpose tray).
Its high-yield toner cartridge also claims to produce 12,000 pages before needing a replacement, and the printer auto-prints on both sides to help save paper costs. Since it’s enabled with Amazon Dash Replenishment, you can enable the system to order new toner cartridges automatically when it detects low toner levels, and built-in device, document, and network security keeps out unauthorized users.
Best for Occasional Printing: Brother MFC-L2710DW
The Brother MFC-L2710DW is perfect for those who only need to occasionally print, copy, scan, or even fax a document. Despite its low price, this all-in-one claims it can print up to 32 ppm from its 250-sheet paper tray with the first page out in just 8.5 seconds. Along with an output tray that holds up to 100 pages, you get automatic duplex printing, a 50-page ADF, and a manual feed slot for special one-off printing jobs.
The included toner cartridge reportedly yields only 700 pages, which is low for a laser printer but probably will last for years if you’re only printing fewer than a dozen pages a month. And even though this is a monochrome laser printer, it will scan in color.
Best for Large Offices: HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553x
Designed for busy offices with varied printing needs, the print-only HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553x is capable of completing nearly every type of print job. This printer is not only fast, with claimed speeds of up to 40 ppm for both color and black and white, but also can produce anything from simple text documents to sophisticated sales materials, thanks to its included PCL (Printer Command Language) and PostScript drivers.
This printer can access up to 1,200 sheets from three trays, expandable to five that hold up to 2,300 sheets, and its toner cartridge is reportedly capable of producing up to 6,000 pages. It’s equipped with automatic media sensing so you don’t have to constantly tell it what type of paper it’s printing on. Best of all, the printer’s monochrome output costs just 1.7 cents a page, with color pages less than 11 cents apiece—ideal for handling heavy-printing businesses.
Most Compact Monochrome: HP LaserJet Pro M15w
Measuring a mere 13.6 × 7.5 × 6.3 inches, this monochrome laser printer is ideal for those working with both a tight space and budget. At just 19 ppm, this printer isn’t exactly speedy, but the pull-down paper tray can hold 150 sheets or 100 printed pages and handle varying paper sizes as well as envelopes and labels.
Despite its small dimensions, this printer produces surprisingly high-quality documents. And if you’re constantly moving your office around, it weighs just 8.4 pounds, so you can easily tote it to different locations.
Most Compact Color: HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M283fdw
HP has managed to squeeze an all-in-one that prints, copies, scans, and faxes into a package measuring just 16.6 × 16.5 × 13.2 inches—a surprisingly compact footprint for a laser printer. Still, the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M283fdw doesn’t skimp on features, offering decent claimed speeds of 22 ppm output with automatic duplex printing, a standard 250-sheet paper cassette, a 50-sheet ADF, and a 2.7-inch color touchscreen.
While this printer produces high-quality text and color graphics, it’s admittedly designed for light to moderate print output. Its four included toner cartridges reportedly yield 700 to 800 pages, which translates to around 3 cents per black-and-white page and 11 cents for each color page printed. As with all laser printers, though, higher-yield cartridges are available that help save on ongoing printing costs.
While your printing needs will determine which printer is right for you, our best all-around laser choice is Canon’s Color imageCLASS MF743Cdw (view on Amazon), especially if your business cranks out documents all day long. It provides high-paper capacity flexibility, low per-page printing costs when you use high-yield toner cartridges, and flexible paper handling with two-sided printing and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF).
How do I choose between a laser or inkjet printer for my business?
With their near-offset text quality and perceived higher prices, laser printers usually are associated with business and probably are most appropriate for document-heavy operations. But laser printers cost far less to operate and require much less maintenance than even newer tank-based inkjet models.
“The real decision point tends to be around what and how much you print,” advises Stephen Baker, vice president of data analytics firm The NPD Group. “If you do a lot of printing, often the economics of the laser products win out.”
How do I determine the true ongoing cost of a laser printer?
The price that you’ll pay for your printer represents only a fraction of your actual ongoing costs. According to Keith Kmetz, program vice president of imaging, printing & document solutions programs for market research firm IDC, you’ll want to consider amortized hardware costs over time and the cost of service and parts such as $100-plus laser toner cartridges over the life of the product.
NPD’s Baker says it may be best to enroll in a managed printing service through your printer reseller. “While that may add some costs in service,” he admits, “it removes the challenge of trying to corral all this information and can help you in just managing the overall costs.”
How important are security features in a printer, and what features should a small business look for in a printer?
Seeking vulnerabilities, hackers have increasingly used wirelessly connected printers to gain access to data. Security for your printer should include making sure that users are correctly authorized to use the equipment and ensuring that wireless connections are protected with strong passwords. And, of course, since printers produce physical documents, “the biggest security hole in a printer is the output and who can print and what they can print and how it is tracked,” notes NPD’s Baker, “and that is not a cyber issue.”
Why Trust Investopedia?
Stewart Wolpin has been writing about consumer electronics for nearly 40 years. Over that time, he has tested and written about a steady stream of printers from all major vendors. In addition to hands-on experience with numerous printers, we consulted with all the major printer vendors on their most popular and newest models, varying printer retailers on what functions and features that customers looked for, and printer reviews from a variety of online retailers. Our top consideration for the models we chose was value: how many useful features, functions, specifications, and operating costs are included versus the printer’s retail price.