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What Should I Consider When Buying a Laser Printer?

By Donna Hentsch
Updated May 16, 2024
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Buying a laser printer for your unique printing needs requires that you take a number of factors into consideration. Some important considerations are: monochrome versus color, cost of toner replacement, printable paper size, resolution, speed, memory and network capabilities. By evaluating each option, you can easily find the best laser printer to meet your home or office printing needs.

If you print primarily in black and white, then buying a laser printer that is monochrome is likely the best and least expensive option. While a monochrome laser jet printer can be purchased fairly cheaply, a color laser jet will be significantly higher in price. Color laser printers are generally used by businesses and individuals who print lots of high-quality graphics, advertising, and other promotional materials. If you need to frequently print high quality color documents then a color laser printer might be the right option for you.

Another consideration when buying a laser printer is the cost of the printer's toner cartridges. The largest cost of a laser jet printer often lies in the toner replacements. Toner cartridge prices vary widely and finding a printer with a lower cost for toner can save you money over time.

When buying a laser printer it also pays to assess whether or not the printer has a separate toner and drum unit. Some printers allow you to replace just the toner, while others require that you change out both the toner and the drum. Having to change out the drum and toner can get costly.

The type of paper that can be printed on should be another consideration when buying this type of printer. Many of the less expensive laser printers can only print on standard-size, medium weight paper. If this is all you will need to print on, then a less expensive laser printer will likely meet your printing needs. However, if you need to print on larger-sized or heavier paper, you'll need to be sure that your potential printer's specifications. This need may require that you buy a larger and higher priced model.

Resolution refers to how many dots per inch (DPI) a printer can print. The higher the DPI rate, the higher the resolution. For lower resolution, text only printing, a printer with a 600 x 600 DPI rating is generally thought to be fine. Buying a laser printer with a resolution of 1200 x 1200 DPI is a perfectly acceptable resolution for most printing needs. A higher resolution printer such as one with 2400 x 2400 DPI is the likely your best option if you expect to be printing a lot of graphics.

like computers, laser printers have internal memory chips. The amount of memory in a printer affects print resolution and print speed. A laser printer with at least 4 megabytes (MB) of memory and a page rate of 20 pages per minute (PPMs) should meet most printing needs. If you want to print very large documents or a lot of graphics, with high speed, then you will want a printer with a higher PPM rate.

If you will need multiple computers to access a single printer, then another consideration when buying a laser printer is to check it's network capabilities. Some lower-cost printer models can only be connected to one computer at a time. Many higher cost models, however, come with internal network cards, making them “network ready” printers.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you'll be able to more easily determine the best printer given your printing needs and price requirements.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon303258 — On Nov 13, 2012

Excellent article. Very informative. Excellent for both pro and novice users on what to consider before buying a printer.

By MrSmirnov — On May 23, 2011

If you have a home business and are considering buying a printer, a laser one is a great way to go. I like that you can get high quality graphics off of it quickly and some come with the ability to print off of flash drive, meaning that you don't even have to start up your computer to get it printing PDFSs and other files.

I think that spending a bit extra and getting the ability to print on various sizes of paper is a good idea if you want to create your own flyers etc. I think that with the savings you will get from being able to do this kind of printing makes the extra cost of the printer worth while.

By animegal — On May 22, 2011

If you are a student I recommend buying a laser printer for your school work. Generally they can print text much faster than ink jet printers and the quality is much better. This is great for important essays that need to look their best and get out quick.

Also, with my experience, the laser printer doesn't run out as fast as with ink jet printers. For anyone who has ever owned an ink jet, I am sure you know that the replacement ink is ridiculously expensive.

While a laser printer may be more expensive up front, I still feel better buying one knowing that I won't have to buy ink every two months.

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