If your business does a lot of printing, it may be in your best interest to ditch the inkjet printer and invest in a laser printer.  Sure, if you are only printing a few pages here and there throughout the month, investing in color laser printers may be overkill. But if you’re tired of slow print jobs, constantly running low on ink, and smudged print jobs, we’ve got some great options for you.

How Does A Laser Printer Work

Before investing in a new laser printer, it’s probably a good idea to understand how a laser printer works and why it will benefit you. Laser printers offer faster print speeds, more crisp text quality, and much better paper handling.

Without getting too technical, laser printers use technology that’s very similar to photocopiers.  When a new print request is sent to your printer, an electronic circuit activates something called a “corona wire”.  This wire gives a static electric charge to the photoreceptor drum and also activates the laser.

Once the laser is active, it draws whatever is about to be printed onto the photoreceptor drum.  Once the image has been drawn using a positive charge, an ink roller coats the drum with powdered ink particles, also known as toner, which sticks to the negative charge.

Finally, a piece of paper is then given a positive charge by the corona wire, which will then attract the negatively charged toner particles off of the drum. Once the toner particles have been transferred to the page, the ink is then passed through the fuser unit which uses heat and pressure to permanently fuse the ink to the paper.

Choosing The Best Color Laser Printer For Your Office

Even though color laser printers have become much more affordable in recent years, these printers are still going to be a bit more expensive than your average inkjet printer. That being said, it’s a great idea to first outline your needs and common uses before purchasing.

Some things to consider would be how often you print, how many pages you typically print in each job, whether you’ll need duplexing features, and what kind of paper capacity you may need.

To help with your decision making, we’ve put together 5 of our favorite color laser printers for your consideration.

Lexmark C3326dw

Lexmark C3326dw color laser printer

The first color laser printer on our list is the Lexmark C3326dw. This compact printer is ideal for a home office or small business.  With dimensions of 9.6” x 16.2” x 15.5” and a weight of only 35 lbs, this unit will not take up very much your valuable office space.

Although it’s not large in size, this printable is definitely durable. Constructed with a steel frame and long-life imaging components, this printer is built to last. It also features a simple LCD display for easy configuration.

This printer is capable of outputting up to 26 color pages per minute and has a tray capacity of 250 pages. The printer also has wi-fi for wireless printing, gigabit ethernet, and it works with high-yield toner cartridges.

The printer also has great print resolution with 4800 color quality and printing at 600 x 600 dpi. You can produce rich, vibrant prints in a fraction of the time it would take with an inkjet printer. The standard color toner will yield up to 2500 pages before it needs to be replaced.

This printer can also help you cut down on costs. For one, you can save on printer paper costs with automatic two-sided printing (duplex printing). The Lexmark C3326dw is also Energy Star certified and has a built-in energy-saving mode, which will cut down on your power bill.

Retailing at only $278.99 with free shipping, this printer lets you dip your toe into the “laser printer pool” without too much of an upfront investment on your part.

Brother HL-L3230CDW

color laser printers - Lexmark Brother HL-L3230CDW

The next color laser printer on our list is the Brother HL-L3230CDW. This is another entry-level laser printer that is perfect for small businesses and home offices.

Similar to the Lexmar C3326dw, this printer also has a 250-sheet capacity tray and can output 25 pages per minute.  It is also a compact laser printer, making it ideal for smaller offices and workspaces.

The printer measures in at 9.9” by 16.1” by 18.1” and weighs just under 40 pounds. So while it is slightly larger than some other laser printers, it’s still a very compact option.

There are a number of features that set this color laser printer apart.

Unlike the Lexmark printer, this is actually an LED laser printer. While LED laser printers and traditional laser printers are very similar, LED does have some advantages over traditional lasers.

First, LED arrays are smaller and less expensive to manufacture. This means that your initial investment costs, as well as ongoing repair and maintenance costs, can be a bit lower. LED printers will also use less power than traditional lasers bringing down your energy costs.

This printer also features Wi-Fi direct mobile device support. This means that you can easily print from smartphones and mobile devices.  It does not support Brother’s cloud apps, however.

This printer retails at just $227.99 making it an extremely affordable color laser printer for just about any office. It is also eligible for free shipping when you order on BlueDogInk.com

HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dn

HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dn laser printer

The next color laser printer on our list is a small step up from the previous two models we looked at. The HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dn was created to let business owners spend more time doing business and less on worrying about printer problems.

This laser printer measures in at 16.2” x 18.5” x 11.6” and weighs in at just about 42 pounds, so it’s a bit larger than the entry-level models. It also will only work with original HP toner, so you don’t have to worry about your printer breaking due to counterfeit toner.

From a print speed standpoint, this printer can output up to 28 pages per minute at a print resolution of 600 x 600 DPI. It also supports duplex printing and can also hold up to 850 pieces of paper in the paper tray, allowing for much higher volume prints.

The printer features 1 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port,  1 host USB on the rear side, and a built-in Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Base-TX network port. The LaserJet Pro M454dn also works with wireless connectivity so it can be used to print from mobile devices.

This printer typically retails for $429, however, you can save more than $130 when you buy at BlueDogInk.com.

Brother HL-L8360CDW

Brother HL-L8360CDW

Up next is the Brother HL-L8360CDW. This laser printer is another step up in quality, size, and performance to the M454dn.

To start, this printer measures in at 17.4″ x 19.1″ x 12.3″ and weighs 48 lbs. While quite a bit larger than the entry-level printers, this unit can still easily fit in most offices.

When considering print speed, the HL-L8360CDW prints 33 pages per minute which is much more appropriate for high-volume printing.  It also has a max paper capacity of 1300 sheets, allowing you to quickly get through large print jobs without having to reload paper.

The printer also features a 2.7” touchscreen display for easy navigation and direct printing from popular business cloud services.

From a quality standpoint, this printer is another step above the entry-level printers. With a print resolution of 2400 x 600 dpi, you can produce high-quality, crisp prints quickly.

The printer features 2 USB ports for easy connectivity. One high-speed USB 2.0 port for a normal PC connection and the front USB host port for simple plug-and-play printing with a USB drive.

Like most other printers in its class, it is wi-fi enabled. This means you can connect this printer to your network with built-in Ethernet or wireless LAN. Once the printer is on the network, you can print from a mobile device with the Brother iPrint & Scan app. The printer can also use Apple AirPrint for use with iPad® and iPhone® printing.

While a bit more expensive than the previous printers, this color laser printer is still very reasonably priced at $390 and qualifies for free shipping when you buy at BlueDogInk.com.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn

The last printer on our list is an enterprise-level laser printer, the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn. This printer has a streamlined design which makes it reliable and hassle-free.

This printer is by far the largest on our list, weighing in at 99 lbs and 21.9 x 23.2 x 15.7 in.  This printer is typically best suited for medium to large-sized offices. If you have a smaller office make sure to take some measurements first.

This printer is also considerably faster than the others on our list, outputting your documents at a lightning-fast 40 pages per minute for both color & black and white. It also has a maximum paper capacity of 4,450 pages. That means it can print 8900 total pages before needing to be refilled if you’re printing double-sided.

Best of all, the duty cycle, or the total number of pages that can be printed in a month, is 150,000 pages per month.  It goes without saying that this color laser printer is designed for high-volume.

The M751dn doesn’t compromise on quality either. With a 1200 x 1200 dpi print resolution, this machine produces crisp, high-quality prints. It also comes with HP Dynamic Security so counterfeit toner won’t be able to compromise your printer or print quality.

It has both standard and optional connectivity options. The standard ports are:

  • 1 Hi-Speed Device USB 2.0
  • 2 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 rear host ports
  • 1 walkup USB 2.0 host port
  • 1 Gigabit/Fast Ethernet 10/100/1000 Base-TX network port
  • 1 Hardware Integration Pocket 2nd generation (HIP2)

The optional connectivity options are:

  • HP Jetdirect 3100w BLE/NFC/Wireless Accessory 3JN69A, (Dual-band Wireless Station and Wi-Fi Direct functionality);
  • HP Jetdirect 2900nw Print Server J8031A (Dual-band Wireless Station)

It also has a WiFi connection so you can print via a variety of services and devices. These include:

  • HP ePrint;
  • Apple AirPrint™
  • Mopria™ Certified
  • Google Cloud Print™
  • HP Roam

This printer is fast, reliable, energy-efficient, and cost-effective. This makes it an all-around great solution for just about any business that is printing documents at a high volume.

From a cost perspective, this laser printer is quite a bit more costly than our other options. Starting at $2688.99, this machine is truly an “enterprise” option in every sense of the word.

However, if your business is one that does a ton of printing, the investment will be a drop in the bucket compared to how much you will save in the long run. With the cost per page at just about $0.025 per page, you can reduce your printing costs by more than 10 times compared to an inkjet option.

Color Laser Printer Comparison

Lexmark C3326dw HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw Brother HL-L3230CDW Brother HL-L8360CDW HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn
Lexmark C3326dw ”HP ”Brother ”Brother HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn
Price $278.99 $227.99 $299.99 $390.00 $2688.99
Amazon Rating 4/5 4.5/5 3.5/5 4/5 5/5
Best For Home offices / Small Offices Home offices / Small Offices Small Businesses Small Businesses & Larger Print Volume Larger Businesses with high print volume
Touch Display Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Duplexing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shop Now Shop Now Shop Now Shop Now Shop Now

More About Color Laser Printers

While these printers outperform their inkjet counterparts in a number of areas, there are a few important things to understand about laser printers before making the switch.

Can Color Laser Printers Print Photos?

In, short, yes. While modern inkjet printers may produce higher-quality photo prints, laser printers still produce nice-looking photos. Photos printed on a laser printer probably wouldn’t cut it for a professional photographer, but if you’re just printing out photos from your Aunt Nancy’s Birthday BBQ, it should do the job just fine.

Before printing any photos, make sure you’re using laser photo paper. Inkjet photo paper will just melt inside of your printer, causing plenty of time-consuming, costly damage.

Do Laser Printers Use Ink

Laser printers do not use ink in the traditional sense. Instead of ink cartridges or ink tanks, these printers use ink toner. Toner is essentially ink powder that is given a charge. Instead of printing ‘onto’ the paper like ink, toner is actually fused to the paper with pressure and heat.

LED Vs. Traditional Laser – Does It Matter?

One of the main reasons that companies have begun using LED’s in color laser printers is so that they can produce smaller, more inexpensive color laser printers. When it comes to print quality and print performance, the two are pretty much the same.

Inkjet Vs. Laser – What’s The Better Deal?

Inkjet cartridges cost far less than toner cartridges, so if you don’t print much, inkjets are going to be the lower-cost option.  However, if you’re a high-volume printer, a color laser printer is going to save you a lot more in the long run.

On average, an inkjet printer will cost you about $0.20 per page. Comparatively, a laser printer will cost you about $0.02 -$0.05 per page.

Choosing The Right Laser Printer For Your Needs

Now that you know more about laser printers and how they work, hopefully choosing the right printer for your office will be a bit easier.  However, if you’re still on the fence here are a few final thoughts that may help narrow down your choices.

Know Your Typical Print Volume

The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out just how much you’re actually printing. Depending on the printer model you’re using and the software you have installed, you may be able to look up the exact amount you’ve printed in the past 30 days or the past 12 months.

If you don’t have a printer that will provide you with this information, estimating will work too.  Start by thinking about just how much you will print in an average week and then multiply by four to get your average monthly print volume. It may also be a good idea to add 100 pages on top of the estimate just to be safe.

Establish A Budget

If you’re still on the fence about switching from an inkjet printer to a color laser printer, it’s a good idea to “reverse engineer” your budget.  Figure out just how much you’ve spent on inkjet refills in the past 12 months as well as how much you’ve spent on printers and maintenance.

Once you have a number, you have a starting point for your yearly printing budget. Research some printers that fall within your budget and then look up what toner replacements would cost for each printer. Also, look into just how many pages can be printed with each toner cartridge to understand the price per page.

While toner cartridges will have a higher upfront cost, they last considerably longer than inkjet cartridges.  Using the monthly print volume you figured out in the first step, you can now get a better idea of how long each toner cartridge will last.

Consider the Printer Duty Cycle

Another important consideration when shopping for color laser printers is the duty cycle.  The duty cycle is essentially the max number of pages that a printer can handle within a given month.  Most entry-level laser printers will have a duty cycle of 50,000 to 60,000 pages

As you move up the ladder of printer quality, that duty cycle number will scale up accordingly. For example, the enterprise-level laser printer we mentioned above has a duty cycle of 150,000 pages.

If you were to exceed the duty cycle once or twice, it likely wouldn’t cause any major issues with your printer (although it could). If you consistently exceed the duty cycle though, chances are your printer is going to start having costly problems.

So once you’ve established the average number of pages you print each month, make sure that the number falls well within the duty cycle limits of the printers you’re considering.

Investing In Color Laser Printers

So now that you’ve done the research, you should have all of the information necessary to pick the best color laser printer for your office. However, if you still have questions, or just want to bounce a few ideas off someone with a little more experience, feel free to contact our customer support team.

BlueDogInk.com support will be able to assist with any questions you may have about specific printers, toner costs, laser printer warranties, and anything else that you may be curious about.