In the same way that inkjet and laser printers widely differ in price, cartridge prices for a laser and inkjet printer also widely differ — and for good reason.

Laser printer cartridges, also known as toner cartridges, can print significantly more pages than any inkjet cartridge so they are generally more expensive. In spite of this, however, you will find yourself spending less per page with a laser printer.

This all boils down to the cost per page of your printer cartridge.

What’s cost per page?

Cost per page is the best way to measure how cost-efficient your printer is. You can calculate your cartridge’s cost per page by taking your cartridge’s price and dividing it by it’s expected page yield:

cost per page = cartridge price /  cartridge page yield

Using the two printers we used previously as an example, the HP LaserJet M401n uses the HP 80x high yield LaserJet toner cartridge which can print at least 6,900 pages while the Canon TR8620 inkjet printer uses the Canon PGI-280XL high yield ink cartridge which prints at least 400 pages. Compare 6,900 pages vs 400 pages!

An HP 80x cartridge costs $196.99 (as of 12/9/2021) and the Canon PGI-280XL cartridge currently costs around $27.99. Although the HP toner is priced 87% more than the Canon cartridge, since you get 94% more pages out of the toner, the HP laser cartridge has a more economical cost per page. Check out the table below.

HP LaserJet Pro M401n Canon PIXMA TR8620
Printer Type Laser Inkjet
Cartridge HP 80X Black Toner Canon PGI-280XL Black Ink
Page Yield 6,900  pages 400 pages
Cost $196.99 (*as of 12/9/2021) $27.99 (*as of 12/9/2021)
Cost per Page 2.8 cents per page 6.9 cents per page

HP 80X has a lower cost per page of 2.8 cents or $0.028 per page, whereas Canon PGI-280XL has a higher CPP of 6.9 cents or $0.069 per page.

If the price of laser toner is too steep for you, consider trying more affordable toner cartridge alternatives in the market.

Non-OEM compatible ink and toner cartridges are widely available at much better prices and print just as well as expensive branded cartridges.

For comparison purposes, let’s take the pricing of an original HP 80x cartridge and compare it with a compatible HP 80x cartridge.

  • Original HP 80x Cartridge: ~$196.99
  • Compatible HP 80x Cartridge: $34.99
  • That’s a price difference of $162.00!

That makes the compatible HP 80x cartridge 82% cheaper than the original. You can get big discounts on compatible ink cartridges as well. Thanks to aftermarket options, expensive printer cartridges is now a thing of the past.

The upfront cost of an inkjet printer might seem the more economical (and attractive) choice at first but when you take into account the price of ink cartridges AND how often you’ll have to replace them (considering it’s low page yield), the running cost of replacing cartridges will easily get much more expensive than the initial cost of the printer.

Mind the Drum Unit

Another difference between inkjet and laser printers is that for inkjet printers you only need ink cartridges to print, while for laser printers, you need a toner cartridge and a drum unit. Laser printers always come with a drum unit that transfers the toner powder onto paper. The toner and drum unit are the two consumables required for a laser printer to work. Sometimes they come together as one piece and sometimes there are models where they come separately.

Some brands of laser printers have toner cartridges with an integrated drum unit like HP. Brother laser printers on the other hand have a toner cartridge and a separate drum unit. When shopping laser printers, make sure to check if you’ll be needing to replace the toner cartridges AND the drum unit (though you only need to replace the drum unit a lot less frequently than the toner).

Don’t let this turn you off laser printers though. You will only rarely need to replace the drum unit–usually every 3-4 toner cartridges.  Check out our other blog article, the difference between a toner and drum to learn more.