Toner vs. Ink: Output, Longevity & Quality

Toner vs. Ink: Output, Longevity & Quality

In your search for the perfect wireless laser printer, you ve likely come across the toner vs. ink battle. Here at Top Ten Reviews, we re acutely aware of this conflict, so we ve assembled some useful information here to help you find your position on the issue.

Toner vs. Ink

When considering the differences between toner and ink, first know that you re talking about different printers. Toner is the printing material used by laser printers, and ink by inkjet printers. There are pros and cons to both ink and toner, so let s dive into them now.


Toner is a largely powder-based printing agent used by laser printers, using organic compounds and polymers to make up the majority of the material.


#1: Toner means faster printing.
Toner cartridges   and laser printers on the whole   operate more quickly than their ink-based cousins. This is largely due to the precision that s possible with a laser over a spray of ink. Each must travel across the paper and either etch a pattern (laser) or apply ink (ink), but a laser is far more precise than even microscopic droplets of ink can be.

#2: Toner means higher picture quality.
Again, because of a laser printer s precision, images come out clearer and more defined. This may not always be the case with a photo-grade inkjet printer, but when you re comparing similar printer models, the laser will give you a slight edge on photo quality.

#3: Toner means greater longevity.
Compared to a similar inkjet printer, you ll be able to put out a higher volume of pages with a laser printer, both due to its speed as well as the functional differences of the laser printer and how it can siphon off and reuse extra toner.


#1: Toner refills are messy and expensive.
Toner cartridges are more expensive than ink. Refills are also incredibly messy if you re doing them yourself with toner, since you re dealing with a microscopic powder instead of a liquid.

#2: Laser printers are larger and more expensive than ink.
In general, laser printers are bigger and more expensive than their ink-based cousins. The difference in cost is usually made up for in higher print yields and longevity, but if space is a concern, the size could be an issue.


Ink is contained in small tanks or cartridges and sprayed out in a microscopic mist over the designated print pattern.


#1: Ink printers are inexpensive by comparison.
Ink printers generally don t cost as much as laser printers do. This initial cost is often offset by the increased frequency with which you ll be replacing the ink cartridges, but if you aren t too hard on your printer, that may not be an issue.

#2: Ink prints are cleaner and less prone to smudges.
Though it seems counterintuitive, ink-based printed pages are actually more resistant to smudges and smears than toner. Both are generally safe if you give them time to dry, but ink will be more resilient overall.

#3: Ink cartridges are small and easy to replace.
Ink cartridges are much smaller and less expensive than toner cartridges, which also makes them easier for the end user to replace or refill.


#1: Ink offers a lower print yield for the price.
While you ll save money on ink and the printing unit itself in the short term, ink-based printers churn out fewer pages than their toner-filled relatives.

#2: Ink cartridges are prone to clogging.
If you leave an ink cartridge unused for a period of time, the ink may dry and clog the print head. Generally, ink-based printers have print head cleaners built into the device.

Armed with this information, we hope you ll be able to settle on a printer that meets your needs. If you re looking for more information to help you decide, take a look at our recent reviews of the best wireless laser printers.

What do you think, ink or toner?

Search Computers

Popular in Computers

Connect with Us


Why Are Home Computers a Better Buy Than Laptops?

In recent years, laptops have become cheaper to produce and purchase, and for many, they are the best computer option. Those who favor portability...

Lenovo Miix 700 Review

As one of Lenovo’s entries in the tablet PC market, the Miix 700 benefits from strong construction. With dimensions of 11.5 x 8.3 x 0.35 inches...

Best Budget Computer Speakers

  Choosing the Best Budget Computer Speakers for Your System You don’t need to set aside a lot of money when you start looking for a good quality...

Best Computer Speakers Under $100

Adding a set of computer speakers to your desktop or laptop doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive. In fact, if you’re looking to add some speakers...

Best Computer Speakers Under $50

There was once a time when external computer speakers didn’t even exist – mostly because computers weren’t used for what they are used for today...

All Reviews

More Top Stories