When it comes to choosing a printer, there are lots of options available to you. From inexpensive single-function inkjet printers to expensive multi-function enterprise-grade solutions, you’ve got plenty of choices. All you need to do is assess your needs and make an informed decision… But this isn’t always as simple as it sounds.

When choosing a printer, you have to think about functionality. How does it help your team? Does it meet all their printing needs? You also have to think about printing costs. Which brand gives you the best value for money?

But cost-choices aren’t always easy to make… Most people choose a reputable brand and buy the model that best fits the organization’s printing needs. After all, the big brands have been making printers for years, and people think they’re all about the same cost-wise. But that’s not strictly true.

There are several hidden costs involved in owning a printer. That’s why we’re going to look at five of the leading printer brands and compare the strengths and weaknesses of each one, as well as the unit cost. To make this as fair a comparison as we can, our list covers offerings from the top five printer manufacturers. The numbers are based on a mid-range multi-function printer that would be suitable for small to medium businesses.

1. HP and the Officejet Pro 9025 printer

HP is the current leader in market share for global printer sales. So it stands to reason that they’re doing a pretty good job when it comes to cost control for their consumers.

The truth is that HP’s price per page costs are quite high when taken as an average across all types of printing. Their colorjet range comes at about 8.6 pennies per page in US dollars.

On the plus side, this number does weigh all printing equally, including color, so your business might come in quite a bit lower than HP’s numbers if you primarily print in black and white. At the same time, HP’s printers are incredibly reliable, and they’ve earned BLI’s prestigious line of the year award for 2020. HP also offers a one year warranty on all their products, in line with industry standards.

2. Canon and the MB5120 printer

Once the market leader during HP’s 2015 restructure, Canon now holds second place in global printer sales. Canon has some of the lowest price per page numbers in the industry: some units print for less than a third of a penny. We should point out that while this seems dramatically cheaper than HP, HP’s methodology for print cost seems unusually high when compared to actual print costs.

When it comes to reliability, Canon places in a similar position to HP. They were recently by Tom’s hardware in a head to head with Epson and HP in the multi-function category. Canon came out the winner in those tests but by quite narrow margins. This shows just how difficult it can be to determine the true cost of each printer brand.

3. Brother and the Inkjet MFC-J5945DW printer

Unlike Canon and HP, Brother doesn’t offer much in the way of cost estimates for their printer fleets on a price per page format. Their estimates of 6000 pages from a single black cartridge and an average cost of $37, leads to an impressive $0.006 per page cost for monochrome printing. Though, of course, if your business does a lot of color printing, your mileage may vary.

The downside of Brother printers and their overall cost is definitely in service and repair. Brother units get impressive print yields at the expense of overly complex and fragile internal components that are difficult and expensive to replace and maintain.

4. Epson and the WorkForce WF-7720

Epson has been gaining ground in the commercial space over the last five years. It’s not hard to see why. Just like Brother, Epson doesn’t have any official statistics you can view on their website. However, their price per page hovers around the $0.006 mark for monochrome printing depending on where you source your black ink.

Price per page is a little higher than similar units made by Brother, but that can be a small price to pay for reliability and the knowledge that repairs on Epson printer units tend to be significantly less complicated than their more frugal counterparts. In essence, you’re paying for peace of mind.

5. Xerox and the WorkCenter 6027

Once the print juggernaut of the ’80s and ’90s, Xerox was so synonymous with printing that much like Hoover and later Google, the company’s name became interchangeable with the output of their printers.

However – up until quite recently- Xerox has been in a terminal decline from highs reached just before the Millenium. Partly due to this fall from grace, Xerox machines tend to be on the more affordable end of the spectrum in terms of initial unit cost. The cost of printing is quite a bit higher and more in line with HP’s cost per page.

The main downside to Xerox machines is the unusual nature of their supply chain. Like Brother, Xerox tends toward complex internals and unique solutions to problems that don’t necessarily exist.

So how do I choose the right printer brand for me?

Choosing the right printer is more complicated than picking the cheapest unit or going with the lowest price per page. You have to think about your team’s printing needs. Do they tend to need color prints? Do some departments use the printer more than others? Is a mid-range printer like the ones we mentioned good enough for your organization? Or do you need access to more advanced machines – like the ones you can use if you opt-in for a managed print service?

Answering these questions will help you decide which type of printer, or printing service, is best suited to your needs.