Differences Between Inkjet and Laser Printers

by Chelsea Camper | Last Updated December 30, 2015

inkjet vs laser printerShopping for a new printer? One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to look for an inkjet printer or a laser printer. Whether you’re buying the printer for your home or your office, it’s best to consider your printing needs to decide which type of printer to buy.

Laser printers use heated fusers and toner cartridges filled with fine ink powder to print images on paper. Inkjet printers, on the other hand, spray liquid ink through tiny nozzles onto the paper. In general, laser printers are better at printing black-and-white text while inkjet printers print more vibrant color images, but these aren’t the only differences. We’ve assembled a list of pros and cons to help you discover which printer is best for you.

Inkjet Printers


  • Lower initial cost than laser printers. In general, you’ll spend less on the initial cost for an inkjet printer. Keep in mind, however, that inkjet printers usually come with starter cartridges that must soon be replaced.
  • Superior color printing. If you plan on printing many color images, you’ll get better results with an inkjet printer. The liquid ink results in very vibrant colors.
  • Compact size. If your desk space is limited, an inkjet printer will fit better than a laser printer.


  • Higher ongoing costs. Inkjet printers go through more ink cartridges. To compare the costs of cartridges, compare the price per page, which is calculated by dividing the price of the cartridge by the number of A4 pages it can print.
  • Slower print time. If you plan on printing in quantity, you may get frustrated with an inkjet printer’s slower print time.

Laser Printers

  • Lower ongoing costs. Laser toner cartridges generally last much longer than inkjet cartridges, resulting in lower ongoing costs.
  • Fast printing time. Most laser printers can print around 20 pages per minute, ideal for business printing.
  • Crisp black-and-white printing quality. Heat-fused fine powder toner is ideal for producing clean black-and-white text.


  • Higher initial cost. Low end laser printers are usually more expensive than high-end inkjets.
  • Larger size. Laser printer toner cartridges are large, and if you need color as well as black cartridges, the printer itself will take up a lot of desk space.

As you can see, both types of printers offer appealing benefits. By evaluating your printing needs, you can decide whether an inkjet or a laser printer is best for you.

Image: brokenarts