Inkjet or laser? When researching a new printer purchase, it’s a common question. There are pros and cons to each, and the right answer will ultimately depend on how you intend to use your printer.

Inkjet printers are generally less expensive, have a smaller footprint, and have the versatility to print both text-based documents and high quality images, especially photos.

Laser printers, on the other hand, may be more expensive and use pricier toner cartridges. However, they typically offer an overall lower cost per page, faster print speeds and over the life of the device usually add up to a lower total cost of ownership.

If you usually print small runs of documents and that include color images, inkjet printers will get the job done. Laser printers, though, are known to be more durable and can print large quantities of black and white and colored documents on a regular basis.

Inkjet printers, especially high-resolution photo inkjet printers, are the bset option when image clarity and color correctness is more important than anything else. This isn’t to say that today’s laser printers can’t print office documents with acceptably high-quality images and colors intact. They can.

However, if you’re looking to print typical office documents that only require limited color depth and tonal range, then color laser printers will work just fine. A few other advantages to color laser printers are that laser toner does not dry up if left unused like ink does, and in most cases you can print more pages from laser toner cartridges than from inkjet cartridges.

Laser printers are purpose-built to accommodate the demands of an office, so they are engineered to print faster (between 15 to 100 pages per minute, or ppm), while inkjet printers print slower. Because they are faster, laser printers are able to produce more documents compared to inkjet printers and therefore have a higher monthly print volume.

Deciding which type of printer comes down to understanding what you expect to print, how much you expect to print, and how much you’re willing to spend each month on printing. Inkjet printers are best suited for smaller runs of image-heavy documents, like photos and school projects. However, if you’re looking for a printer that can handle heavy volumes of text-based documents (as most offices are), then a laser printer is the more efficient and economical choice.