Buying the best printer your budget will stretch to is an incredibly important purchase for digital creatives – especially in these times when many of us are now working from home.
Regardless of whether you want to print out the odd photo using a photo printer, or you're an artist or designer after an A3+ printer that will give accurate test proofs of your poster designs or large-scale vector art, or even if you're after a great all-in-one for the home office that will allow you to print, scan and copy documents, our list of the best printers can help.
In this guide we feature the very best printers on the market right now for a range of budgets and use cases. Every printer on this list offers superb image quality, and there are some brilliant budget printers as well that will really impress you with what they are capable of.
Choosing the best printer for you
Of course, the best printer for you depends on what you’ll be using it for. Anyone looking to print professional-quality photos, prints or banners, for example, will need a high resolution inkjet model.
If you'll be doing high-volume business printing instead, a laser printer might be better-suited. And look out for Duplex printing – automatic double-sided printing, which will save time, paper and money if you do a lot of printing.
Happily, most printers today have all the mod-cons, including AirPrint (which lets you print wirelessly from Apple iOS products), Google Cloud Print (wireless Android device printing) and SD card readers.
The main thing to remember is that a cheap printer doesn’t always mean a good value printer, so check the ink technology and costs of cartridges before you make a purchase. If you print a lot, it can be worth purchasing a more expensive printer to buy into a cheaper line of cartridges.
Whatever you need though, we’ve got you covered here. Read on for our list of the best home printers available now.
The best printer overall
Category: All-in-one inkjet printer | Print speed: Black: 15 ISO ppm, Color: 10 ISO ppm | Paper capacity: 100 sheets | Paper size: up to A4 | Weight: 6.6 kg
The Canon Pixma TS9120 is in our view the best all-round printer money can buy in 2020. It's especially good at printing photos, making it an ideal pick for budding photographers. This is thanks to its 6-colour individual ink system.
The Photo Blue ink feature helps make this a brilliant photo printer, and you can add creative filters to your photos directly from the printer, rather than having to load up a photo editing app.
It's also got a great range of connectivity options, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which means you can wirelessly print from mobile devices, and means you can be a bit more flexible with where you set up this printer.
02. HP Envy 5540 All-in-One printer
A brilliant budget printer for low-volume home printing.
Print technology: Inkjet Colour | Features: Print, scan, copy, photo, Wi-Fi, Airprint, | Max Print Resolution: 5,760,000 ppi | Print Speed: 22ppm (B&W), 8ppm (Colour) | Paper Sizes: A4 | Weight: 6.8kg | Best for: Home workers on a budget
With impressive print resolution and a raft of features on top of the usual scan, copy and print functionality, the HP Envy 5540 is one of the best budget all-in-one printers for home use you can buy.
Print quality is excellent, and although it can only hold one cartridge at a time, the ink it takes is cheap and, says HP, could save you up to 70 per cent on your printing costs. There’s also no faffing around with this model: it features AirPrint and e-printing, as well as Wi-Fi connectivity to print from any of your devices. The compact design makes it a popular choice for home offices, and while it isn’t designed for demanding workplaces, if you print a modest amount of documents and photos the HP Envy offers you the best of both worlds. It’s great value for money: this is one of the best budget colour inkjet printers on the market right now.
Refillable ink tanks for crisp and cost effective printing
Print speed: 13ppm | Paper sizes: up to A3 | Paper capacity: 100 sheets | Weight: 10.5kg
We're big fans of Epson's EcoTank printers, thanks to their ink-efficient designs which means you don't burn through ink cartridges so fast. and the refillable ink system means it's affordable to run in the long term - as well as being good for our planet.
While the running costs of this second-generation Epson EcoTank ET-7750 are lower than many other printers on this page, it does quite a bit of cash upfront. This is because it comes with two sets of ink bottles in the box, which is enough to print 3,600 photos. If you've got a large digital photo collection, then, this is a brilliant investment. Crucially, it offers fantastic photo quality, though it is a bit slow compared to other printers in this list.
Superb A3 photos
Print speed: 8.5ppm | Paper sizes: up to A3 | Paper capacity: 100 sheets | Weight: 8.7kg
This brilliant photo printer can produce printouts up to A3 in size, making this one of the best printers for photographers who really want to show off their work. It's also ideal for artists who want to print large poster-size printouts.
It also manages to dispel the notion that an A3 printer needs to be big and bulky - the compact design of the Epson Expression Photo XP-960 means it's not that much larger than a regular A4 printer. It'll fit easily into a home, office or studio, then. Even better, it's also a scanner as well, meaning this is a versatile all-in-one. Photo quality is also excellent, thanks to Epson's six-ink system.
A brilliant and affordable laser printer
Category: colour laser 4-in-1 printer | Print speed: 18ppm (mono) | Paper sizes: A4 | Paper capacity: 150 | Weight: 14kg
If you're looking for a colour laser printer that doesn't cost a fortune, then the HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw is an excellent choice. As you'd expect from a laser printer, print speeds are very fast, and while this isn't the best photo printer, it's a fantastically versatile device, with print, scan, copy and fax functionality, all in an incredibly small design.
It's also got Wi-Fi built in, and the price is very competitive, making it a great choice for small businesses or busy home offices. The only drawbacks are a relatively small capacity 40-sheet automatic feeder, and no auto-duplex mode. However, they are sacrifices worth making for such an affordable little laser printer.
06. Epson SureColor SC-P800
The best printer for pro photographers and artists.
Print technology: Inkjet Colour | Features: Paper roll media unit, Wi-Fi, Nine-colour ultra chrome HD inks | Max Print Resolution: 2880x1440 | Print Speed: 3ppm | Paper Sizes: A4, A3, A2 | Weight: 19.5kg | Best for: Professional prints; A3+ printing
The Epson SureColour SC-P800 is a professional A2+ printer that’s particularly well-suited to illustrators, artists and photographers who need to produce large, limited-edition prints for exhibition or sale. Print quality is superb – its nine-colour UltraChrome HD ink cartridges deliver impressive detailing and vivid colours – and the model can handle card.
In addition, not only does the SureColour SC-P800 print at A4, A3 and A2 sizes, it features a paper roll unit as well so you can print large banners. Connectivity is good: you can print wirelessly from your phone or any other device. And the touch screen system is intuitive to use, but bear in mind that you’ll need a fair amount of desk space to allow room for the large paper trays. For us, the two biggest downsides are that the print speed isn’t overly impressive (still 3ppm), and it’s expensive. But with a wide range of features and professional colour calibration on offer, the SureColour SC-P800 is one of the best printers you can buy if you make a living from your images.
07. Brother MFC-J5330DW
The best A3 printer for your larger documents.
Print technology: Inkjet colour | Features: Print, scan, copy, Wi-Fi | Max Print Resolution: 1200 dpi | Print Speed: 35ppm (B&W) 20ppm (Colour) | Paper Sizes: A4, A3 | Weight: 16.9kg **Best for:** A3+ printing; high volume printing
Brother printers are loved for their speed and reliability, and the workhorse Brother MFC-J5330DW is no different: when it comes to printing documents on mass, it’s one of the best A3 printers out there. Well-suited to small businesses or busy freelancers working from home, the MFC-J5330DW boasts a deep 250-sheet paper input, rapid duplex (two-sided) print speeds, a 50-page automatic document feeder and zero warm up time, so you can print a high number of pages with no hassle at all.
It’s larger than some models but not unreasonable for a printer with A3 capabilities, and once it’s set up, it’s super easy to print your documents from any device using Wi-Fi. This is a four-colour inkjet printer, so it can handle graphics and photo prints as well, and running costs are average.
08. Canon Pixma PRO-10S
This printer has stunning accuracy and pigment for A3 photo prints.
Print technology: Inkjet Colour | Features: Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint, | Max Print Resolution: 4800x2400 dpi | Print Speed: Varies depending on size and document | Paper Sizes: A3+, A3, A4, A5,B4, B5, custom sizes | Weight: 2.5kg | Best for: A3+ prints; photo printing
You can expect excellent quality photos with the mid-range Canon Pixma PRO-10S, which boasts a 10-ink jet system. Able to print at a whole range of sizes, from 10x15 to A3+, the printer produces grain-free, gallery-worth images in your home. Ink can become expensive, and it doesn’t come with a scanner – so this printer is best-suited to a photographer or artist who mainly wants to use it for large print jobs.
Speed is impressive: you can have an A3 borderless image in front of you in less than four minutes. The Pixma PRO-10S is also incredibly convenient to use, with AirPrint letting you print directly from any Cloud-based platform – think Facebook, Dropbox or Flickr – saving you both time and storage space on your desktop.
How to choose the best printer for you
The printer market is bursting with different options. If you’re not sure exactly what you want, it can be confusing. Here, we’ll answer some typical questions to help you make sure you’re investing in the right printer for the job.
What’s the difference between a laser and inkjet printer?
The main difference between laser and inkjet printers is that inkjets use ink, while laser printers use powdered ink (toner). Laser printers are generally quicker, and designed for more frequent and demanding office use. They work by melting the toner in the paper so the print is less likely to smudge or run, and are best suited to black and white documents and high-volume printing.
Inkjets produce better quality colour prints, and even the budget models can print decent photos. They’re usually initially cheaper too (although ink cartridges can need replacing more frequently than laser cartridges) and in recent years have become a lot faster. If you’re looking for an all-round printer for home, an inkjet is a solid bet.
Which ink type is best?
For inkjet printing on paper, the main choice is between dye-based and pigment-based inks. Dye-based inks are traditionally cheaper, brighter and offer a wider range of colours, while pigment-based inks are more expensive and fade-resistant. Both will run when wet. Where it can become confusing is that printer specs don’t always highlight which ink the model takes. As a rule, black inks are usually pigmented, and colour inks dye-based – the best photo printers will use pigment-based inks, though, so that the photos don’t fade.
Do I need an all-in-one printer?
All-in-one printers offer a scanner, copier and printer – and occasionally still a fax – to give you everything you need for home printing. Higher-end printers will also have duplex printing, where the printer is able to print on both sides of the paper. You can get both inkjet and laser all-in-one printers.
Whether you need one or not depends on what you need it for. Are you just looking to print documents or photos, or do you have a range of office needs you could hit with one purchase?
Which extra features should I look for?
Network connectivity – via a cable (Ethernet) or Wi-Fi – is the most useful extra feature to consider when you’re choosing your printer. Wireless printing in particular is handy, letting you connect your laptop or computer to your printer using your home WiFi network and access it anywhere in your house, so you don’t even have to be in the same room to print.
If you want to wirelessly print from your tablet or smartphone, you’ll need to look out for a printer that features:
- AirPrint – lets you print directly from Apple iOS products
- Google Cloud Print – lets you print from Android tablets and smartphones
- Email printing – provides wireless printing from any email-capable device, and is available on selected HP printers
A card reader, too, is handy for anyone looking specifically for a photo printer. And if you choose printer with PictBridge, you’ll be able to 'talk' directly to certain cameras.
What paper do I need?
Paper plays an important role in determining print quality. With the right kind of premium papers, even a basic printer can produce good results, so if you’re planning on printing your CV, say, choose better quality, thicker paper. If you have a lot of black-and-white documents, a basic paper stock will normally do the job; or for photo printing, choose a glossy photo paper.
Manufacturers tailor their paper stock to their printers, so using own-brand paper is a simple way to guarantee good results. However, using printer profiles allows you to achieve equally good results with paper from different manufacturers – useful for more creative projects for which you need a special stock.
I'm an artist/designer/photographer – what printer features should I look for?
If you're looking to produce professional-quality prints of your work, or generate accurate proofs, then the larger and higher-quality your printer, the better. Larger printers let you reproduce a wider range of work, and also give you the option to produce art prints on canvas to order (selling these is a good way to help the printer pay for itself).
Also, the higher the print quality, the more accurately you will be able to reproduce fine details – and, crucially, colours. Colour reproduction is the single most important aspect of print management. Proofs must be as accurate as possible, and contain the widest possible range of colours.
This is particularly important for projects using Pantone or similar standardised colour-matching systems. It isn't always possible to achieve perfection, as anyone who has had a run-in with a commercial print shop knows, but some of the newer Epson printers achieve 98 per cent Pantone colour coverage, certified by Pantone itself, so look for this in the specs.
In practice, for really accurate proofing, you will probably need a 12-ink system capable of generating at least A3 prints: ideally, A2, A1 or larger. While high-end printers represents a significant initial outlay, the more you use a printer, the better value it becomes.
Paper and ink typically become cheaper when bought in volume, so if you use your printer heavily every day, it may be cheaper in the long run to buy a larger unit – even if you never use its maximum print size.
Some printers now track the cost of each job using built-in cost-management software so you can calculate your ROI, but realistically, you won't get a good estimate of running costs until you've been using the printer for a while. Ask around. If studios, designers or photographers similar to you have a printer they like, find out which model it is and how much it costs them to run.
Finally, remember to check whether you have space for the printer you're thinking of buying: models capable of generating A2 or larger take up a fair amount of room. Check the printer's dimensions with all the extras fitted, including roll feeders and trays. Remember that a big printer can be noisy too, and weighs around 50kg.