What is the best laser printer? Laser Printer Purchasing Guide Fall 2018
What is the best laser printer available this fall? What has the speed, efficiency, quality, and ease of use? What will not take up half of my dining room or require a second mortgage on my house?
When asking what the best laser printer is, we need to be cognizant of what its use will be. I have customers come into my store all of the time looking for laser printers. When I ask them what they are looking for, the reply is almost always, “What’s your best printer for the least amount of money?”
Ignoring that they are answering a question with another question, the idea that any printer is the best for everyone is absurd. Don’t go to Footlocker and ask what the best shoes are. That would be dumb. Don’t go to Joe’s Printer Buying Guide and ask what the best laser printer is.
Actually, do do that. But prepare some background information.
What you need to know to pick the right printer.
Are you buying for a home or for a business?
Home users tend to print much less than businesses and have different needs. Businesses print a large amount of text, may have multiple users, and need advanced network and security features. Home users tend to have only a few users, less frequent printing, less consistent printing needs, and more images. For these reasons, along with cost, typically manufacturers will sell different printers for home and business.
How much do you print per month, on average?
This is a huge one that people somehow never seem to know. How much do you print? Do you turn your printer on once a month to print a bill, or is it printing text documents almost constantly? This is a huge factor, and my customers can never tell me for sure how much they print.
A good rule of thumb is how often you go through paper. If you print two cases per month, that’s 10,000 pages, which is a lot. If you don’t remember the last time you bought a ream of paper, which is 500 pages, you probably aren’t printing very much.
If you print off and on, seasonally, or a very low volume, a laser printer is still a great investment for you. You may not need the best laser printer on the market, but a simple laser printer will save you the cost of ink drying out.
If you are printing thousands of pages per month, reports and graphics or documents for clients, then you probably do want the best laser printer for your needs. We’ll find out which one that is, just a little further below.
Do you need to copy and scan, or just print?
I, however, like to self-publish comics in my spare time. I need scanning and copying features. So the best laser printer for me has a large flatbed scanner and auto document feeder.
Will you be printing in color, or just black and white?
This is another one that sounds obvious but doesn’t always turn out to be. Every now and then, someone will come into the store who doesn’t want any help, and just goes and picks out a printer. Then, two days later they bring it back because it doesn’t print in color. Some people just don’t know; they assume all printers print in color.
In the example from above, my dad doesn’t print any color for his invoices. So, the best laser printer for him is a monochrome printer that just prints. Nothing fancy.
For my comic books, I need the option to print in color, so a monochrome printer wouldn’t be the best laser printer for me.
Once you’ve answered all the above questions, you should be able to choose the best laser printer category for you. So, for each of the categories below, I’ve chosen the best laser printer, plus a few honorable mentions.
Monochrome Laser Printer with No Scanning
This is the option if you need a printer with no scanning or copying features, that only prints in black and white.
Our winner for a home monochrome laser printer is the Brother HL-L2350DW. This is the printer I bought my dad above to use for printing his business paperwork, and he loves it. It’s cheap, prints up to 32 pages per minute, works great wirelessly, and the TN730 toner is very affordable. Brother also has a TN760 toner cartridge available if you find your printing needs increase. This printer includes automatic duplex printing and is the best laser printer for anyone printing less than 1,000 pages per month with no scanning.
Our honorable mention for a home monochrome laser printer is the HP M203dw. It is slightly slower than the Brother HL-L2350DW but shares most of the features. One downside to this printer is the paper tray is open when paper is inserted, not covered like the brother. Also, while the printers are similarly priced, the HP 30A cartridges are quite a bit more expensive. However, you should note that HP laser printers do not reuse a drum unit, so that is one less thing you expense down the road. Overall, this is a great basic printer, but not our choice for the best laser printer for home use.
Our choice for the best laser printer for businesses is the Brother HL-L6200DW. Reason number one, this thing is fast. 48 pages per minute fast. Reason number two is the Brother HL-L6200DW has a paper tray that holds over a full ream of paper. It has a bunch of security and enterprise features, can print on envelopes and cardstock, and is rated for up to 100,000 pages per month. The ultra-efficient TN850 cartridges print up to 8,000 pages each. The Brother HL-L6200DW is wireless and networkable, making office integration seamless. Basically, this printer is a workhorse. It doesn’t need all the fancy extras, it just cranks out prints fast so you can get back to more important things.
Just like the home printers, HP takes runner-up for the best laser printer for businesses with their M402dw. Like the M203dw, the HP M402dw is a little slower than the Brother HL-L6200DW at 40 pages per minute. The toner is a bit more expensive per page with no dedicated drum unit. The HP M402dw has a 350-page paper tray, and prints wirelessly with ease using the HP print app.
These are the best laser printers for customers who only print in black and white, but need copying and scanning capabilities.
If you haven’t noticed by now, this list will feature a lot of Brother printers. Sorry, but they many of the best laser printers ever were built by Brother. And they are still going strong.
The Brother MFCL2710DW is probably the most popular home all-in-one laser printer I’ve sold. It prints 32 pages per minute, so it is plenty fast for home use. It takes the same TN730 or TN760 cartridges as the HL-L2350DW. This means low-cost printing and an easy upgrade from a lesser model. You can scan or copy easily with the flatbed or auto-document feeder. You can print wirelessly and send or receive faxes if you are old or work for the government.
Here’s a curveball; Canon is officially on the list. Sorry to say, but it was hard to fit them in. Brother and HP just own the space.
While Canon is more known for inkjets and photo printers, they do manufacture a few laser printers. The imageCLASS series are great for home users, particularly if you print any type of images in your documents. Their print quality is amazing. The Canon imageCLASS MF244dw prints up to 28 pages per minute, has a lower monthly output of 3,000 pages, and a 250-sheet paper tray. It’s alright, but it’s not the best laser printer of all time.
Look at this beast. How could anything be better? If I had one of these I’d park it in the driveway so my neighbors would hate themselves for not having one.
The Brother MFC-L6800DW prints up to 48 pages per minute. It takes a TN880 cartridge that yields up to 12,000 pages. You can add an additional paper tray and hold two full reams of paper at once. It can print wirelessly over WIFI or with NFC technology. It’s fast, efficient, secure, and just amazing. For printing black and white only, this is the best laser printer on the market, bar none.
If you need a monochrome laser for your business, but you don’t want to invest in the best, I’d still recommend getting a Brother. The Brother MFCL2750DW is a much lesser model than the MFC-L6800DW but will still suffice for many business purposes. 36 pages per minutes with a 250-sheet paper tray, and the high-yield cartridge prints up to 3,000 pages. It’s a cheaper model, but I think the investment in the MFC-L6800DW is worth it.
Color Laser Printer with No Scanning
This is the option for those who need to print in color, but don’t need to scan or copy.
Now usually when I have customers come in looking for color laser printers, they want to have copy and scan features as well. However, if you don’t need those things, there are options for you. For home users, I would recommend the HP M254dw.
The HP M254dw prints up to 22 pages per minute of stunning black or color and has a 250-sheet paper tray. And you’ll love this, it’s compact. Home users tend to love being able to hide their printers in little cabinets and things, and this is a great printer for that. That’s about it. Sleek, simple, and easy to forget when not in use.
I’ve sold a ton of Brother HL-3170CDWs in the past. They hold up well and it’s a great printer. The specs and costs are nearly identical to the HP M254dw, but it’s almost twice the footprint. If you’re partial to Brother, as many are, this is a great choice.
I’ll say it, HP makes some sweet color laser printers. Feel how you want about them as a company, but their color laser printers are compact, well-built, and not having to replace four drum units at a time is a huge plus.
The HP M452dw prints up to 28 pages per minute of black and color, holds 300 pages of paper and has a bypass for envelopes and checks. It has a three-inch color touchscreen, and the high yield cartridges print up to 6,500 pages of black and 5,000 pages of color. That will keep your employees working instead of shaking toner.
Brother gets another honorable mention, for the HL-L8360CDW. The main reason it gets the honorable mention is that it’s super new; I haven’t had enough time to use it much yet! It has some good reviews on Amazon, and it’s getting some buzz for its mobile/cloud printing capabilities. It is fast, printing 33 pages per minute of full color, and will most likely take over this spot for best laser printer after a few months of proving itself.
Color All-In-One Laser Printers
If you need everything, this is where you’ll find your best laser printer.
Roll those drums, because we have the best laser printer in the color all-in-one category for home use. The HP M281fdw prints 22 pages of color per minute, scans and copies up to 1200 dpi, and has auto duplex printing. The best feature of this printer is, again, the size. You will not find a more compact color laser all-in-one with this level of performance. If this is the category you fall into, this is the best laser printer for you.
For another home use option, we have the Canon imageCLASS MF733CDW. This printer has probably the best color image quality of any color laser printer I’ve seen. However, it is still a Canon laser printer, which I personally have a slight bias against. However, the Toner cost is good, it prints 28 pages per minute, and has single pass duplex scanning. So that’s cool.
In my humble opinion, the Brother MFC-L8900DW is the best laser printer on the market; period. You can check out my full review on the Brother MFC-L8900CDW here, where I’ve listed all the specs. In short, it is fast, efficient, sexy and awesome. It’s just the best laser printer there is.
For a final honorable mention, we have the HP M477fdw. Single-pass two-sided scanning, scan to email, and NFC printing are all included features. It prints up to 28 pages per minute, which is slightly slow at this tier, but still fast overall. It has most of the same specs as the HP M452dw, with the scanning unit added on top. If you want a sweet all-in-one color laser printer that is a bit on the smaller side, the HP M477fdw may be the best laser printer for you.