Whatever your needs, buying a new printer can be a bit of a confusing process. Not only do you have to worry about the upfront cost and whether it can print a good photo, you've also got to consider print speeds, ongoing costs, and a host of potential additional features.
It's all a bit confusing, so here'll you find not only our recommended printers (with links to our full reviews) but also some advice for what to look for if you're shopping for a printer.
It's worth bearing in mind that the printer market moves slowly, and the latest printers aren't always the best. Some of the reviews you'll find below were written as long ago as 2014. This doesn't mean you should discount them from your shortlist. Each and every printer here is available to buy in the UK today. We know because we checked.
Also see: Best Printer Deals
There's no single printer that will suit everyone so while the list below is ordered, it's best not to worry too much about the number beside it. We've mixed together home and business printers, multifunctions, colour and mono. They're all good.
Your priorities and environment will determine which ones you discount, and which are best for you. With that in mind, here are a few tips on choosing the right printer.
Printers come in two main forms: inkjet or laser, with colour and mono flavours of each (although the mono inkjet is only found in business printers). Lasers tend to be more expensive to buy, but provide better quality output, particularly where lots of text is involved. And they can be faster. Notice we said 'tend' - lasers aren't always best.
As a basic rule, if you need to print only text, and a lot of it, a mono laser printer will offer the crispest text output and the best combination of fast page-per-minute output and low ink costs. If, however, you need to print photos - even if only sometimes - choose an inkjet printer. A dedicated photo printer with individual cartridges for each colour (rather than a single combined colour cartridge) will suit those who print only photos, but if photos form only part of what you need the printer for, a decent inkjet will usually do the job adequately.
Printer tech hasn't evolved much recently, which is why we can still happily recommend printers from a few years ago. If we were talking smartphones, this would be ancient history.
What has happened over roughly the last five or so years is that inkjet printing has started to make more sense for businesses. The best models are as fast and cheap to run as lasers, but with the benefits of better quality in colour. It's also possible to buy an A3 inkjet printer more cheaply than laser, so if you need to print larger than A4, it's certainly something to bear in mind.
Colour lasers still have their place (and can be cheap to buy and run even for home use), but inkjets are encroaching on their territory.
What's the total cost of ownership?
When buying a printer, remember that the price you pay in the store is just the beginning. Be sure to consider TCO (total cost of ownership), or the cost of replenishing toner and other consumables over the lifetime of the printer. This is particularly important if you print a lot. A set of toner cartridges can easily approach the cost of a colour laser printer (complete with starter cartridges, which many come with).
Most manufacturers quote a 'page yield' estimate for their ink cartridges, which is the typical number of pages you can expect to print before the cartridge runs out of ink. You can use the page yield to calculate the average cost per page and you'd be surprised to find how much this can vary from one printer to another.
Of course, if output quality matters more to you than cost, scoot over to the other end of the cost spectrum where there are more specialised printers that use five or even six inks for printing photographs. Those additional inks can produce excellent results for your photo prints, but they add to the cost, sometimes pushing the cost for photos up to 10p or more per page.
See also: home printing vs online printing
Do I need a multifunction printer?
Most modern printers are multifunction 'all-in-one' devices that include a scanner too. This allows you to scan photos and other documents and convert them into digital files that you can store on your computer or share with friends or colleagues. You can also print copies of your scanned documents, allowing the printer to stand in for a photocopier too. Some models even include a fax machine (remember them?) as well. If you require a scanner and a photocopier as well as a printer, you'll save money by buying in all-in-one - but if a standalone printer suits your needs, you may be able to spend less.
It's easy to connect a printer to your computer with an ordinary USB cable, but that means you can only use the printer with just that one computer. For home use, it's well worth opting for a printer equipped with Wi-Fi as it's convenient to be able to print from any device in the house - including your phone. Look for AirPrint compatibility if you have an iPhone or iPad. Wi-Fi also means you won't need to connect the printer to a PC and leave that computer turned on in order to share the printer with everyone else in the house.
Printer speed is another issue: the speeds quoted by manufacturers are almost never matched by real-world performance. If you often need to print in a hurry, look for independent reviews when choosing your printer. Other useful features to look out for include additional USB ports and memory card slots that will allow you to print photos direct from a digital camera. High-capacity paper trays capable of holding hundreds of sheets of paper, or an automatic document feeder that can handle scanning and copying work while you go and do something more important, may also be worth looking out for. Double-sided printing is also handy for everything from printing school reports to marketing brochures. Or simply to halve your paper usage: if you make duplex the default setting, you'll use both sides of the paper.
It's also worth thinking about the bundled software that comes with your printer. Some printers include software that provides basic editing features, such as red-eye removal or adjusting the colour balance – in fact, some even allow you to perform simple editing tasks using controls on the printer itself, so you don't even need to turn on your computer.
Best printer reviews
Hopefully by now you have an idea what you're looking for. So without further ado, here are our latest recommendations.
- Reviewed on: 2 October 14
- RRP: £143
We've tried to find fault with this printer, but it really has been difficult. Print quality is strong, the design is generally fantastic, and all of the features work exactly how they should. When a laser is this effective and this thoughtfully put together, it seems churlish not to give it our highest accolade.
Read our Samsung Xpress M2835DW review.
- Reviewed on: 30 July 14
- RRP: £658, US$895
For middle to larger businesses needing a speedy and sturdy colour printer which can churn out good volume and quality with all connectivity options covered without costing the earth, Brother's HL-L9200CDWT ticks all the boxes.
Read our Brother HL-L9200CDWT review.
- Reviewed on: 23 February 17
- RRP: £190.90, US$199.99
It’s not the most elegant printer we’ve ever come across, but its strong performance, low running costs, and that handy option for A3 printing combine to make the MFC-J5330DW a good workhorse printer that will really earn its keep in any small office.
Read our Brother MFC-J5330DW review.
- Reviewed on: 30 January 17
- RRP: £179.99
The initial cost of the TS8050 is quite high, but its impressive photo printing will justify that price for people who are serious about photography. We’d avoid the standard size ink cartridges, as they’re not great value for money, but if you buy the high-yield XL cartridges then the TS8050 can provide top-quality photo-printing with very competitive running costs.
Read our Canon Pixma TS8050 review.
- Reviewed on: 24 April 15
- RRP: £258
If you're looking for a high-quality photo printer then inkjet printers still have the edge there. However, the M277dw provides excellent text quality and business graphics, and will make a good workhorse printer for smaller offices that need to produce high quality business documents.
Read our HP Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw review.
- Reviewed on: 28 July 15
- RRP: £129
Many low-cost printers end up saddling you with high running costs because of the high price of replacement ink cartridges, but that isn't the case with the OfficeJet 7510. It's not the fastest printer around – and designers who need to meet tight deadlines may prefer a faster, more specialized A3 printer – but its high quality, low running costs and versatile A3 printing option make the OfficeJet 7510 a great choice for any small business that needs to produce occasional A3 posters and brochures.
Read our HP OfficeJet 7510 review.
- Reviewed on: 11 January 16
- RRP: £229.99
If you only need a printer for occasional use at home then you might be better off opting for one of the many conventional inkjet printers that are now on sale for less than £100. But if you need a reliable workhorse printer for daily use at home or in a small office then the exceptionally low running costs and three-year warranty of the Ecotank ET-2500 ensure that it will save you money in the long run.
Read our Epson Ecotank ET-2500 review.
- Reviewed on: 13 January 17
- RRP: £119.99, US$149
The strength of the XP-640 is its five-ink printing system, which makes it a good choice for people who want to print high-quality photos on a regular basis. However, its running costs are a little higher than average, and there are more affordable options if you simply need an inexpensive printer for basic text and graphics documents.
Read our Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review.
- Reviewed on: 28 October 16
- RRP: £150
The M130nw will be a good option for any small office that needs a fast, mono multi-function printer that you can share with a few colleagues or family members. Print quality and speed are both superior to comparably priced inkjet printers, and the only caveat is that you should shop around to see if you can save some money on the replacement toner and drum cartridges.
Read our HP LaserJet Pro MFP M130nw review.
10. Ricoh SP 150SUw
- Reviewed on: 4 November 16
- RRP: £129.99
The SP 150SUw is a neatly designed compact multi-function laser printer that provides very good performance and quality for homes or small offices that only require straightforward black and white printing. The initial purchase price is certainly competitive for such a fast printer, but toner is expensive if you pay Richoh's recommended prices. Fortunately, you can find discounts on the high-yield cartridges if you look around online.
Read our Ricoh SP 150SUw review.
- Reviewed on: 25 December 15
- RRP: £61.99, US$74.49
The high cost of Canon’s black ink cartridges means that the MG3650 isn’t a good choice for people who mostly just need to print simple text documents. Fortunately colour printing is far more competitive, so it’s worth considering if you need a versatile printer that can handle colour graphics, or printing photos from your mobile devices.
Read our Canon Pixma MG3650 review.
- Reviewed on: 21 July 15
- RRP: £60, US$59.37
The initial purchase price of the OfficeJet 3830 is obviously very attractive, and will appeal to many home users and smaller offices. Its running costs are also quite good when printing in colour, so it will be a good option for printing photos, or reports and presentations that contain colour graphics. However, simple mono printing is more expensive, and the OfficeJet 3830 could prove expensive to run if you print a lot of simple text documents. If you don't need to print all that much, though, this is a great-value all-in-one printer
Read our HP Officejet 3830 review.
- Reviewed on: 29 November 16
- RRP: £399, US$399.99
The high purchase price of the ET-3600 means it’s obviously not suitable for home users who simply need an affordable printer for occasional use. And at its high price it could also be a bit faster. However, the Ecotank’s low running costs are unmatched by most conventional inkjet printers, and will offer genuine savings for office users who need a workhorse printer that can handle hundreds of pages every month.
Read our Epson EcoTank ET-3600 review.
14. Lexmark CS410dn
- Reviewed on: 3 July 14
- RRP: £268
The running costs do hurt an otherwise very competent printer. The CS410dn does everything well, without excelling for its price range. If you want a sturdy page churner that can also slip to high quality colour for the odd big splash, the Lexmark will serve you well. Colour freaks may want to consider paying a little bit more upfront for a higher-priced model that can offer superior long-term running costs.
Read our Lexmark CS410dn review.
- Reviewed on: 16 February 15
- RRP: £69
The 5640 looks brilliant, and has some very nice features. Its performance, though, doesn't quite match up to the exterior. Compared to the cheaper Canons, its output isn't quite as glorious, and its running costs marginally higher. It's a beautifully turned-out device, but it falls short of inspiring true envy.
Read our HP Envy 5640 e-All-in-One review.
16. HP DeskJet 3720
- Reviewed on: 15 July 16
- RRP: £55
We like the compact design of the DeskJet 3720, and its print quality and performance are good for a printer that costs just £55.00. However, its running costs are pretty high even if you commit to HP’s Instant Ink scheme, so the DeskJet 3720 will only be a good deal for people who have very light printing needs for the occasional letter or school report.
Read our HP DeskJet 3720 review.