It's 2021; why would you be looking for the best black and white printers? They're the exception rather than the rule these days, and while black and white printers used to be a lot cheaper than colour printers by far, there's really not very much in it now.
The question is: what do you really use your printer for? If it's mostly for printing out letters and documents, or if you largely work in mono, a black and white printer could serve you a lot better. It'll do the job, it's a lot less high-maintenance than a colour printer as you don't have to worry about multiple cartridges, and it's probably faster – particularly because black and white printers are almost exclusively laser printers rather than inkjets.
If you need a machine for printing out high-quality artwork, you don't want to be running it most of the time on office print jobs; it makes sense to have a black and white printer for those, and a more specialised colour printer for work you'll want to show to clients (check our guide to how to choose a high-end printer to find out more).
We've picked out eight of the best black and white printers at a range of price points; some of them already rank among the best printers we've seen, so whatever your needs, you'll find the perfect monochrome machine for you below. If you want something you can cart around with you, see our best portable printers, and for super-fast printing, see our selection of the best laser printers.
The best black and white printers in 2021
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If what you need is a reliable multi-function black and white printer that'll do pretty much everything you want, this model from HP is up to the job. It'll pump out page after page at a decent rate and in beautiful quality, it has a built-in scanner and it features a handy touchscreen that works really well for getting the results you need.
There's also fantastic software for your computer or phone to make your life even easier. Incredibly, it'll even work as a fax machine too, if you need to communicate with people from the Stone Age.
This wireless model from Brother – the Brother MFC-L2750DW – is a great alternative if you're tempted by the HP model above but want to keep your options open. It prints slightly faster than the HP and can handle heavier paper (up to 230gsm compared to the HP's 163gsm), and it has double the horizontal DPI (but half the vertical DPI; swings and roundabouts).
Like the HP, the Brother MFC-L2750DW has an easy-to-use touchscreen and can even be used as a fax machine for some reason; it's also bigger and heavier than the HP, though, which might put some people off. Realistically, though, either of these would make a great all-round black and white printer.
Need those pages fast? The Brother HL-L5100DN mono laser printer can spit them out at up to 40 pages per minute, making it the speediest printer you can get without having to check out the super-fast, super-expensive print beasts at the bottom of this roundup.
There's an optional parallel connection, and its print quality is nice and crisp. There's no scanner, but if all you want is a simple printer that'll chuck out pages as fast as your computer, or your phone, can send them, this one's hard to beat.
Short on desk space? This dinky little Xerox B210 has a reasonably small footprint, and while there are smaller black and white printers to be had (see below), with this one you don't have to compromise on quality.
Despite its reduced size, the Xerox B210 has a respectable output rate and the same 1,200 x 1,200 print resolution most of the more expensive models in this roundup, and you can connect to it wirelessly. Best of all, Xerox toner cartridges tend to come in cheaper than other brands, so this one will cost you less over its lifetime.
The cheapest black and white printer we can find is also the smallest and lightest; however the price and size are about the best things going for this compact HP. If you value sharp, high-resolution prints then this is probably going to be a hard pass as it only prints at 600 x 600 DPI, and it takes its time about it too, with a maximum output of 20 pages per minute.
That said, if all you need is something for printing out the occasional letter that won't take up too much room, this LaserJet's a total bargain; just don't expect miracles from it.
The specs for this black and white printer aren't exactly going to set anyone's heart racing; it'll print at pretty much the same resolution and speed as the HP LaserJet Pro M15w above, but it at least has the advantage of a built-in scanner.
However it has one trick up its sleeve that'll endear it to anyone who needs to do a lot of printing and knows how much toner cartridges cost. The HP Neverstop has a high-capacity toner tank and will print 5,000 pages out of the box; when you need more toner you can save up to 60 per cent on standard toner cartridge prices, making it the perfect choice for the cost-conscious.
We're into serious print territory now. This Kyocera isn't really meant for your home office; it's a heavyweight black and white printer designed for banging out lots of pages from lots of users at maximum speed. It takes just 4.5 seconds to deliver the first page in a print job, and then it'll fling those pages out at a rate of 55 per minute (or 82 pages per minute if you're printing A5).
There's room for plenty of sheets of paper in this Kyocera, and it can cope with up to 220gsm paper weight. And if you're planning on printing a lot, it comes with enough toner for 10,000 pages, and you can get toner cartridges with a 25,000 page capacity.
Pricier, bigger and heavier than the Kyocera, but functionally largely similar, the Xerox Versalink B600DN is worth paying the extra if you need a shared office printer that's going to pull a lot of hours. It's just that little bit nicer to use than the Kyocera, with an intuitive touchscreen display that supports gestural input and task-focused apps, and it has more memory (as well as the option to install a 250GB hard drive) so it's less likely to get slowed down by giant print jobs.
And it'll keep going for even longer without having to install new toner; it comes with a 10,300-page cartridge installed, and if you get through a lot of pages you can even get a high-capacity cartridge that's good for 46,700 pages.