inkjet vs laser

Inkjet vs Laser: Choosing the Right Printer for You

When shopping for a printer, you’ve likely noticed two very different printer types: inkjet printers and laser printers. The question is, what’s the difference between laser and inkjet printers? And more importantly, which is better suited to your specific needs? Read on to learn the basics of laser vs. inkjet printers so you have the facts before you buy.

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

What is the difference between inkjet and laser printers?

There are several differences between laser printers and inkjet printers to consider before making your purchase decision.

  • Inkjet printers rely on dye or pigment-based ink to operate. They are a great option for people who want high-quality results and who print a lot of graphics. Inkjet printers are usually preferred by home users, along with home, school and small offices that print image-heavy documents.
  • Laser printers, in contrast, use toner to produce text and images. They’re generally larger than their inkjet counterparts and have fast print speeds. Larger businesses and busy offices with high print volumes often opt for laser printers due to their business-focused features, such as optional trays for additional capacity, large replacement supply yields, and advanced security features.

How do laser and inkjet printers work?

One of the fundamental differences between inkjet printers and laser printers is how they operate. Although they both produce crisp, clean text and images, how they do this is very different.

inkjet vs laser

  • Inkjet printers use small nozzles that emit ink droplets directly onto the paper. This method lends itself to brightly colored images and is a good choice if you’re looking to produce high-resolution photos, graphics, or images in your documents.
  • Laser printers use toner powder instead of dye or pigment-based ink. Laser printers produce electrostatically charged dots on a light-sensitive drum which attracts toner powder. The toner is transferred to the paper and fixed by a heating process. Laser printers deliver crisp black and white and brilliant color prints.

What factors should you consider when choosing inkjet vs. laser?

If you’re deciding between an inkjet printer or a laser printer, there are several important factors that can help you determine which is better for your needs, including:

  • Color or Black and White: If you plan to print in color, both inkjet and laser printers can provide the vivid colors and richly hued images you need. However, if you need to print only in black and white, a monochrome laser printer may be an ideal option. Learn more about Black & White Monochrome printers.
  • Price: The good news is that Brother offers both inkjet and laser printers at affordable prices to fit any budget. If copy, scan, and fax functions are not required, laser printers offer a greater range of options. Inkjet printers are typically less expensive to purchase while laser printers may cost more to buy initially, but generally have a lower total cost of ownership over time.
  • Quality: While inkjet printers are considered powerhouses when it comes to high-resolution color printing, laser printers do produce solid color and black and white results. Both inkjet and laser printers can give you clear, crisp text that’s easy to read, as well as brilliant color images and graphics ideal for business documents. Inkjet printers also offer the ability to provide borderless (edge-to-edge) printing.
  • Print Speed and Volume: How soon do you need those documents—and how many documents do you need? Laser printers can provide fast results at high volumes, making them a great choice for small businesses, larger workgroups, and mid-sized offices. Small offices and home offices that have lower print volumes find that an inkjet printer can easily meet their printing needs.
  • Page Yield: Both toner and ink cartridges are available in a range of page yield options so that you can select the best choice for your printing needs. Both inkjet and laser printers offer high- yield cartridge options that enable you to print more pages before needing replacement cartridges. This can help to reduce the total cost of ownership, regardless of the type of printer.
  • Business Features: If you’ll be using your printer primarily for business, laser printers may offer added business-centric features, such as optional paper trays, higher replacement supply yields, and enhanced security options. Learn more about How to Choose a Business Printer.
  • 11x17 Ledger Paper Size: Although most printers support a range of paper sizes, many Brother inkjet printers also offer larger 11x17 ledger, or tabloid, printing. Learn more about 11x17 Ledger Printers.
  • Support: At Brother all of our high-quality inkjet and laser printers come with At Your Side support—free online or chat support for the life of your printer.