Whether you’re a parent, a student, or a professional, chances are that you’re going to need a color laser printer at some point or another. For offices, a color laser printer can be a necessity. For more casual users, the convenience of having a color laser printer available is worth the relatively small investment. But regardless of your circumstances, there’s likely to be a color laser printer that fits your budget and your needs.
HotRate wants to help. We’ve put together analysis on 10 of the best color laser printer models available with an eye towards presenting the diverse printer market of 2020. After that, we’ll help you understand those more complex specs while also offering you some advice you can use to improve your shopping experience.
TL;DR - 10 Best Color Laser Printers:
- Brother HL-L3210CW Digital Color Laser Printer
- HP Color LaserJet Pro Laser Printer
- Lexmark C3224dw Color Laser Printer
- Brother Business Color Laser Printer
- Xerox WorkCentre Color Multifunction Printer
- Canon Color imageCLASS MF634Cdw Laser Printer
- HP LaserJet Pro M254dw Color Laser Printer
- Canon Color imageCLASS LBP622Cdw Laser Printer
- Ricoh M C250FWB Digital Color Laser Printer
- Oki Data C531dn Digital Color Laser Printer
1. Brother HL-L3210CW Digital Color Laser Printer
The Brother HL-L3210CW is priced low enough to be affordable to home consumers, but it packs in the sort of efficiency and quality that meets the demands of small to mid-sized offices. The paper tray can hold up to 250 sheets at once, and this color laser printer promises a respectable speed of up to 19 pages per minute. The high yield toner cartridges mean that you'll be saving money in the long term too.
And the wireless printing options here are some of the best and most varied as well. The Wi-Fi capabilities allow you to not just print directly from your phone or your computer but to also have ink automatically delivered when the reservoir gets low thanks to Amazon Dash. If you prefer to do things the more traditional way, there's a dedicated USB port that you can use to print files from as well.
2. HP Color LaserJet Pro Laser Printer
Where the first entry on our list of the best color laser printer models straddled the line between consumer and professional printers, HP's offering sits squarely in the latter category. The asking price for the HP Color LaserJet Pro is $600, but this color laser printer definitely delivers on the best expectations for such an expensive model. The print speeds on the HP Color are about one and a half times that of the Brother HL-L3210CW, and the HP Color LaserJet Pro is built with energy efficiency in mind.
The HP Color LaserJet Pro also includes some of the best features for professionals. You can automate longer print jobs by creating workflows as complex or as simple as the situation demands, and Wi-Fi Direct allows for mobile printing without even needing the HP Color Laserjet Pro to be connected to the internet. The color touchscreen on the HP Color Laserjet Pro is bright and expressive while also giving you plenty of room to work without making any mistakes.
3. Lexmark C3224dw Color Laser Printer
Lexmark is confidently targeting the budget consumer market with the C3224dw color laser printer. You can pick this printer up for less than $150, but it should more than match the needs of most households. The form factor is designed to fit even in smaller places, so it won't be too intrusive. And the tray can hold up to 250 pages at a time, so you shouldn't find yourself having to swap out the paper too often.
And the software at work here is pretty impressive too. You can set up print jobs over Wi-Fi, and getting it connected wirelessly is pretty easily. This color laser printer is built off of Lexmark's security architecture - some of the best in the business - so you don't need to worry about your information being compromised. 256 MB of memory further ensures your print jobs will remain unaltered and consistent.
4. Brother Business Color Laser Printer
If you're looking for laser printers that can churn out massive print jobs reliably and consistently for months at a time, Brother's printer focused on the office might be one of the best laser printers for you. This printer can easily support a duty cycle of over a thousand pages a month without having to worry about anything breaking down on you. The print speeds approach a ppm in the mid 30s, and the Gigabit ethernet connection allows you to nimbly and responsively handle print jobs from just your phone.
The expandable paper tray will be especially useful for large office environments where you have multiple users running jobs concurrently. And despite its focus on the professional business environment, this printer is a complete breeze to use. The touchscreen is intuitively designed and large enough to facilitate easy navigation, and duplex printing is already assigned as the default printing mode.
5. Xerox WorkCentre Color Multifunction Printer
Xerox has been a pioneer in the world of printing, copying, and faxing since essentially the beginning of printing, copying, and faxing, but they aren't just resting on their laurels. Not only does this printer come with a host of other office functions, but it supports an innovative alternative to the traditional printer Laserjet and Inkjet options. Instead, it uses LED lights to map out the surface and make the impression of your color image on it.
The touchscreen is fully color and comes out to nearly 5 inches in size, while the inclusion of Wi-Fi Direct means that you don't even need a stable internet connection to start lining up print jobs from practically any device you own. It doesn't top the charts in terms of either fast speed or resolution, but it's very impressive for the price.
6. Canon Color imageCLASS MF634Cdw Laser Printer
If you're seeking out a fast printer, the Canon Color imageCLASS MF634Cdw might not be the choice for you, but it offers a very high resolution print quality at a fair price. And as you might expect from a Canon, it really sings when it comes to printing out professional photos.
The automatic document feeder on this printer supports single pass duplexing, and it's especially rich in terms of security features. The ability to track up to 300 departments will be a huge boon for larger and more complicated office environments, but this laser printer also sports a small form factor making it appropriate for smaller environments.
7. HP LaserJet Pro M254dw Color Laser Printer
In our guide below, we'll talk about finding laser printers with the right balance between print speeds and resolution. The HP Laserjet Pro is one of those laser printers that falls much farther to the latter. The graphical and text quality here really is unreal for laser printers priced at $200, and this is an especially capable choice both for home use and for the studios of artists and photographers.
One thing to keep in mind is that the text quality is better than photos, so it can be a valuable choice for people who mostly work with traditional documents. The JetIntelligence technology built into HP laser printers helps you get more efficiency out of the HP Laserjet Pro too. In addition to supporting Wi-Fi printing from your phone or your computer, it also provides seamless compatibility with multiple cloud streaming services.
8. Canon Color imageCLASS LBP622Cdw Laser Printer
Laserjet printers excel at producing photos at high resolution, and that's especially true of the models Canon offers. And while this produces some complex images at a high resolution, the real selling point of the Canon color is its efficiency. The first print time can complete pages in right around 10 seconds, with relatively reliable performance beyond that. And it also happens to be one of the most cost effective solution - just so long as you aren't looking to do large batch printing on a regular basis.
As befits a printer targeted at professionals, this model comes with some serious security features. Administrator login gives you the opportunity for controlling how much access everyone in your company has to the printer, and since your information is only stored in the short term memory, you don't have to worry about something you print jeopardizing your privacy.
9. Ricoh M C250FWB Digital Color Laser Printer
Ricoh may not be a name you recognize, but if you're a professional in search of a printer, you should probably be paying attention. This is a multifunction printer through and through, providing you with a flatbed scanner, copier, and fax machine in a single package. And there are a number of compatible third party apps that can streamline the process of printing out photos or documents from your mobile device or computer.
If you connect this device over Wi-Fi, you can activate automatic ink and toner fulfillment so you'll never have to worry about making a run to the local office supply store. In addition to the standard Wi-Fi connection, NFC is also included. Support is available for Linux as well as Mac and Windows machines, so you won't have to jump through hoops to make it work with your computer.
10. Oki Data C531dn Digital Color Laser Printer
If the specs of the Oki Data C531dn alone aren't enough to grab your attention, the fact that it's currently available for almost half its standard retail price certainly should. Monochrome prints can come out at a max of 30 ppm with black and white documents and nearly that when working with full color materials. The input tray can hold up to 250 sheets, but that's further improved by a 100 sheet multipurpose tray. Combine that with a fast printing speed, and you're left with a high volume printer suitable for more professional users.
And while this is a serious worker, it doesn't take up a lot of space. Relatively small dimensions let it squeeze even into tighter spaces and give it a huge advantage over the massive laser printers that are so prevalent in the professional business space. Full duplex printing is also supported.
Color Laser Printer Buyer’s Guide
Looking for the best color laser printers of 2020 but not sure where to start? Your blueprint is below. We’ll guide you through all the important specs and features so you can get the ideal print quality and fast speeds appropriate for your home or office. And we’ll even address some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from people shopping for color laser printers.
At HotRate, we generally swear off the notion of making decisions based off brand loyalty. There are a lot of minor players that are doing some great work in the fields we cover, but there’s a reason why some laser printer brands are universally recognized and others are barely known. Here’s what you need to know about the big players.
- Brother laser printers haven’t been around as long as some of the other big players, but they’re quietly making a name for themselves for their ability to produce a great color printer at a reasonable price. They rarely score first in any one category, but they offer nice balance across the board and are especially solid choices in the consumer market.
- If you’re ready to spend a lot of money on a color laser print, Canon is the name to beat. Their luxury level laser printers are some of the best around; and as befitting their work in the camera industry, they naturally produce some exceptional photo printers as well. But in the budget and mid-range field, there are usually better options.
- Epson printers are usually reserved for the office. They aren’t the most expensive models around, but they Epson tends to offer their most substantial work in professional level models. They have a tendency to support very fast printing, although they’re sometimes known for having hardware issues.
- Hewlett Packard might be the most well known printer producer out there, and their reputation has earned them a solid reputation in the computer space as well. Hewlett Packard offers the largest catalog of laser printers for home and office around, and like Brother they occupy a comfortable space for their ability to produce reliable middle of the road models.
- Lexmark laser printers are cheap, both in terms of upfront costs and the amount of money you can expect to pay on ink and toner cartridges over the years. They also have a pretty decent variety of unique features up their sleeve. But because they aren’t super reliable, they’re better suited for the home rather than the office.
The key to finding the top laser printer for you is about finding the balance between print quality and print speeds. Fortunately, print speeds are pretty easy to calculate. All printer manufacturers worth your time are going to have a print speed listed. The standard format used is ppm, which is a measurement of the maximum pages per minute that can be printed. Since most printers can print out a few dozen pages in a minute, that won’t be a big issue for a printer you want to use in your home or in a small office.
But the need for a fast print speed becomes far more important when you begin to look at printers for use in the office or you regularly find yourself printing out complex photos or other high resolution content. If you’re really looking to print out a high volume of pages, you may want to also pay attention to the duty cycle. It lets you know the maximum amount of pages you can safely print in a month. While ppm can vary depending on the complexity of what you’re printing, it sets a nice bar for how to compare different available printers.
The other big piece of the equation is resolution: a measurement for the actual print quality. This is measured in dpi, which determines the number of dots per inch. A higher resolution will be a major factor if you tend to work with visually rich documents or photos, but the average consumer should be fine with any of the models on our list.
A 600 DPI should be a resolution that’s perfectly high enough for the average consumer or even a business that deals mostly in documents and light pictures. If you’re a photographer or you find yourself working with complex images a lot, you may want to look for something higher. 1200 DPI should be satisfying for practically any users except those looking to do incredibly large prints. If that’s what you need, you may want to turn your attention to the best photo printers of 2020.
If your office has a high demand for print jobs, finding a fast laser printer should be your first priority, but paper capacity can be an important factor in the efficiency at your office too. Most models come with an automatic document feeder so you don’t have to feed each page in manually, but being able to set up hundreds of pages and expect them to go will provide you with a fast experience in the office. Most printers can feed a few hundred pages into the document feeder, but more serious business models raise that number to 1,000 pages or more.
A lot of casual consumers will just let their printer sit in their home like new and be used to print out pages every once in a while. If that’s the case (or if you’re in a crowded workplace), finding a printer with a more compact design might be a sensible choice. The weight and dimensions shouldn’t be the number one concern when looking for the best laser printer, but it should still be a consideration.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Cheap Color Laser Printer?
The Xerox WorkCentre isn’t just a great printer. It also serves extra duty as a scanner, fax machine, and copier. And it manages all of that while maintaining a decently fast print speed appropriate for a small office. That puts it comfortably within the spectrum for the best laser printers for customers on a budget.
Which Color Laser Printer has Cheapest Toner?
If you’re trying to get the best deal on a color laser printer over the long haul, Lexmark is the brand to go with. Their laser printers are efficient and relatively cheap, and their toner cartridges and ink is an incredibly cost effective solution, especially for larger workplaces with high demand.
What is the most Reliable Laser Printer?
Brother is a manufacturer that are known for providing middle of the road laser printers, and they’re proof that fast isn’t always better. With a high duty cycle, good image quality, and a durably engineered design, it’s the best laser printer for all more serious business needs.
Do Color Laser Printers Print Good Photos?
A laser printer actually does a pretty impressive job of printing out photos. And while it won’t hit the level of quality resolution that you’d find in a dedicated photo printer, it tends to be significantly cheaper. A Laserjet printer can even be a reasonable alternative for some professional photographers.