The Best Color Laser Printer in 2021 – Life is Better With Colors

Printers are becoming something of a relic from a bygone office age, especially with the advance of 3D printers,but we still need them. Brochures, contracts, flyers, photographs, presentation and training materials – many things need to be put down on paper, both at home and in office settings.
We’re well aware that most users don’t have an intimate knowledge of the laser printer market in the back of their heads. To help out, we compiled the list of the top home and office color printers. After all, if you still haven’t gone fully digital, you should find the best color laser printer for your analog needs.

HP Color LaserJet Pro M225dw

Hewlett Packard

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Function: printer-only
Printing speed: 22 ppm
Tray capacity: 250
Duty Cycle: 150 – 2,500 recommended, 40,000 maximum
Cost per page (monochrome): $0.04
Cost per page (color): $0.16

The LaserJet Pro series is HP’s famous printer line that includes everything from compact monochrome models to bulky AIO color devices. From these, the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw is regularly found on many best homeoffice color laser printer lists. It brings substantial printing speeds, low per-page costs, an excellent touchscreen interface, and various connection options.

Capabilities

Thanks to its compact build – only 15.4 inches wide and 16.5 inches deep – and stylish design, you will easily find a place for it on your desk.

The M225dw is not an all-in-one system: It can only print documents and photos without scanning, faxing, or copying capabilities. The printing speeds are decent, though they might seem lackluster compared to other bestvalue color laser printer options. For both monochrome and color prints, the speed is an underwhelming 22 ppm. This HP LaserJet printer takes 12 seconds on the first black-only page, but it quickly picks up the pace after that. Printing photos will take 30 seconds per page, on average.

One of Pro M255dw’s main advantages is its affordable CPP. Monochrome printing will set you back only $0.04 per page, while color printing quadruples the cost, at $0.16, but this is still significantly lower than almost any best color laser printer from 2020. These low prices are possible thanks to high-yield toners, but even those can’t help much when printing out photographs when the CPP rises to about $0.4. The HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw scores high on color accuracy tests, but photos will inevitably turn out grainy. However, the printer will perform admirably for multicolor documents and graphs.

It contains Ethernet and USB ports, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct. You can also print directly from camera storage or Apple AirPrint. The sheer amount of connectivity options can put any best-rated color laser printer to shame. Finally, the input tray capacity is 250 sheets, while the output tray can store 100 sheets.

Pricing

The current price for the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw is $299 on the HP website, with similar pricing on Amazon – fairly affordable, as far as color laser printers go.

Final Thoughts

Compact, quick, and affordable, the Pro M255dw will be more than enough for home and small office use. However, the low speed and small paper tray make this relatively cheap printer less than ideal for extended use.

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Brother HL-L9310CDW

Brother

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Function: printer-only
Printing speed: 33 ppm
Tray capacity: 250 + 50, scalable to 3,380
Duty Cycle: 6,000 pages per month, 80,000 maximum
Cost per page (monochrome): $0.01
Cost per page (color): $0.07

Brother printers count themselves among the most capable and robust devices on the market. The Brother HL-L9310CDW is no different, currently presenting one of the best office color laser printer choices on the market. It boasts superb high-volume printing speeds, cheap CPP, expandable paper trays, and a multitude of connections.

Capabilities

The Brother HL-L9310CDW is a beefy machine: 48.9 lbs in a 12.3 x 17.4 x 19.1-inch frame. Both its price and capabilities suggest it’s aimed at medium and large offices, where space shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re looking for something that can handle your office’s high printing demands, this Brother printer has got you covered.

However, if you’re looking for the best color laser printer with all-in-one capabilities, you’ll need to look further, as the Brother HL-L9310CDW is a single-function device. But it performs this function more quickly and cheaply than most competitors. Monochrome prints will pop out at 33 papers per minute – enough to satisfy even those companies that have constant printing needs. The quality is superb: The text is always clear and crisp, and the colors are bright and accurate. Surprisingly enough, photo-printing is also HL-L9310CDW’s forte, rare as this may be for a laser printer.

What makes this possibly the best smallbusiness color laser printer is its high tray capacity. The default is 300 papers in the input tray, but this can be expanded many times over, up to around 3,400 sheets – impressive by all standards. This Brother laser printer also comes with a duty cycle of 80,000 pages, with 6,000 as the recommended monthly limit.

The interface is contained within a 2.7-inch touchscreen, and unlike some of the printers we reviewed, we found it very responsive and easy to use. Additionally, you can control the printer via its web-based portal. Connectivity is another thing we’d like to mention in our color laser printer reviews: Besides the regular Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections, you can access the printer through Wi-Fi Direct or NFC.

Pricing

Thanks to its huge toner yields, the per-page printing costs are relatively low. Monochrome pages cost around $0.01, while printing in color costs upward of $0.07. While there are more cost-effective printers out there, this is very cheap for such a high-volume. The printer itself will set you back by $754.

Final Thoughts

Companies looking for a device to handle a colossal printing volume at a reasonable CPP look no further than the HL-L9310CDW. The only real downside of this bestrated color laser printer is its single function for a relatively high price – you could get an AIO printer for the same amount.

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Lexmark MC2535adwe

Lexmark

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Function: All-in-one
Printing speed: 35 ppm
Tray capacity: 250 + 50, scalable to 1,500
Duty Cycle: 1,500 to 8,500 pages per month, 85,000 maximum
Price per page (monochrome): $0.02
Price per page (color): $0.12

The Lexmark MC2535adwe is among the best color allinone laser printer options to be found on the market. Its speed and quality of print make it ideal for use in both home and office environments. However, it does lack connectivity, and the running costs stack up quickly.

Capabilities

The Lexmark MC2535adwe is an all-in-one system. Besides printing, it can also scan and copy, which is often an invaluable asset for company use. This machine is quite heavy, around 60 pounds, and its dimensions are 18.2 x 17.4 x 23.1 inches, but it’s nowhere near the bulkiest device of its kind.

As with any best multifunction color laser printer primarily suited for company use, you can access settings through its web-based portal. You can also see the status of the printer’s expendables, so you’ll know when the toner needs replacing. The printer itself has a touchscreen and a number pad for manual use.

Printing speed, tray capacity, duty cycles, and per-page costs are the essential aspects of a good office printer. The Lexmark MC2535adwe is definitely quick, rocking a sweet 35 ppm for one-sided documents and dropping to about half that speed for double-sided prints. What makes this possibly the best color laser all in one printer is the incredible scanning speed of 50 ppm.

The default tray capacity is 250 sheets of paper, but that can be expanded to 1,500 with additional drawers. The maximum duty cycle is 85,000, while the recommended monthly amounts are between 1,500 and 8,500 – well above the competition.

Connectivity is one department where Lexmark MC2535adwe is lacking. It has Gigabit Ethernet, USB-to-PC, Wi-fi, and Apple AirPrint, but no Wi-fi Direct and NFC for a direct connection. The best allinone laser color printer should have those options, but this isn’t an insurmountable issue. 

Pricing

The other major drawback of this printer is how expensive it is to use: Monochrome printing will cost you around $0.02 per page, while color pages are nearly $0.12 a pop. The printer itself is currently priced at $599 on Amazon – pretty standard for an AIO printer.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for an ultra-fast versatile color printer for your office, the Lexmark MC2535adwe could be the best allinone printer for you. Just be prepared to shell out a bit more for toner over time.

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Brother MFC-L8900CDW

Brother

General’s choice
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General’s choice
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General’s choice
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Function: All-in-one
Printing speed: 33 ppm
Tray capacity: 250 + 50, scalable to 1,300
Duty Cycle: 4,000 pages per month, 60,000 maximum
Cost per page (monochrome): $0.02
Cost per page (color): $0.10

We’ve already covered one Brother printer in this article, but with the MFC-L8900CDW, Brother Industries has introduced another best color multifunction laser printer contender. The Japanese company is more than capable of producing great AOI machines with decent printing speeds, low maintenance costs, and a sizeable Automatic Document Feeder capacity.

Capabilities

Before you decide to purchase the Brother MFC-L8900CDW, be aware that this is one big machine. The printer’s dimensions are 21.6 x 19.5 x 20.7 inches, and it weighs 63 pounds. Still, an all-in-one printer is always expected to be bulkier than its single-function counterparts. Like some of the other best color laser printer devices we’ve covered, the Brother MFC-L8900CDW comes with an LCD touchscreen and a numerical keypad, and you can fine-tune the settings from its web-based portal.

Let’s start with the capabilities: This all-rounder can print, scan, copy, and fax documents. The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is commendably quick, maintaining a 33 ppm speed for both monochrome and color printing. The printer also comes with automatic double-sided printing for the conservation of both paper and toner. The scanning speed of 58 ppm is impressive even for the best office color laser printer.

The standard paper tray capacity is 250 sheets, while the Automatic Document Feeder can host 70 sheets. This capacity is greatly expandable and can hold up to 1,300 sheets. The multipurpose tray can house 50 sheets.

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is big on security. It ships with ample security software warning you of any malicious threats, allows you to limit certain types of printing for specific users and prevents unauthorized users from accessing the printer via NFC.

This contender for the best allinone printer title also includes Ethernet, USB, Wi-fi, and Wi-fi Direct connections. You can print directly from cloud services through Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Another great ability lets you automatically send scanned documents to multiple emails.

Pricing

Running costs stay low: Monochrome CPP is $0.02, while color printing is $0.10 per page – pretty cheap for AOI devices. With smart use and double-sided printing, these costs can be brought down even further. However, the printer itself is currently $696 on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is probably the best MFC color laser printer for offices with medium printing needs. It offers top-class security, quick printing, low running costs, and expandable trays. Its major downside is the sub-par color printing quality, particularly for photos.

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HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw

brand

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Function: Printer-only
Printing speed: 28 ppm
Tray capacity: 250 + 50, scalable to 850
Duty Cycle: 750 – 4,000 pages per month, 50,000 maximum
Cost per page (monochrome): $$0.03
Cost per page (color): $0.18

Another candidate from the LaserJet series, this printer is a single-function device best suited for smaller offices, with high output but potentially high CPP.

Capabilities

The LaserJet Pro M454dw could be the best color laser printer for home office setups, taking up just 11.6 x 16.2 x 18.5 inches and weighing 41.7 lbs. HP didn’t skimp in the design department, so this remains a sleek machine, despite its hefty weight. You can set up your printer manually via its 2.7-inch touchscreen. If you prefer remote access, this LaserJet model includes an app for every OS as an alternative way to control the printer.

We were pretty happy with its speed, too: On par with any best all-in-one color laser printer from 2020, this LaserJet clocks in at 28 ppm for both monochrome and color printing. There’s a 9.3-second wait for the first black-and-white page, or 11.1 seconds if you’re printing in color. Photographs, on the other hand, will each take around 27 seconds to be printed out.

The printer ships with a 300-sheet tray – 250 for regular paper and 50 in the multi-purpose tray. If you need more, you can purchase another 550-sheet drawer, which should be enough for most small offices.

The best small color laser printer should include versatile connection options, and the LaserJet Pro M454dw certainly does. Besides the standard Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections, it supports printing from external storage via Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, and more. No NFC, though.

Pricing

The main drawback of this printer is the CPP. A single monochrome page will set you back $0.03, which is on the cheap side, but color printing costs $0.18 per page, and printing out a photo costs around $0.47. However, the black toner has a high yield, so you won’t have to replace cartridges often. The current price of this printer on the HP website is $499.99.

Final Thoughts

While this may not be the best color laser printer for photos, it does provide an impressive monochrome volume for a low CPP, superb connectivity, and a compact frame – all in all, a great choice for small settings.

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Inkjet vs. Laser Printers

Inkjet and laser machines use different technology to perform their function. Before you start looking for the best laser color printer, you should familiarize yourself with each type’s features to ensure the laser is what you want.

Inkjet printers, as the name suggests, spray microscopic ink droplets onto paper. These printers are superior to laserjet models in terms of photo and image production and have much lower up-front costs. They’re also generally physically smaller than their laser counterparts. However, an inkjet printer can be much more costly to operate in the long run. Printer ink is expensive, and the costs can easily pile up with frequent use. However, the initial investment is much lower than for any best color laser printer for home use and is an excellent choice for printing high-quality photographs. Do note that printer ink can dry up if unused for extended periods of time, and you’ll need to replace the bottle.

Laser printers utilize toners: The laser creates an electric charge to transfer the toner to the paper. The main advantage of laser printers is their ability to print out huge volumes of documents on a daily basis, with a very low per-page cost of printing. In general, even the best budget color laser printer options are much better for printing textual documents and achieving crisp lettering. And you can’t smudge the toner like you can ink, either. Inkjet printers are better suited for printing out photographs, but laser printers are unparalleled for printing documents in large quantities. They are often the go-to choice for office settings with regular printing needs, even though they are more expensive in terms of purchase price. Low maintenance costs, high printing speeds, and quality text prints more than make up for that.

Methodology

Whether you’re looking for the best color laser printer for home use or one for your office, there are several core capabilities you need to keep an eye out for. This article focuses on color laser printers, but there’s a lot of variety in this subgroup. Most printers include some unique features, but there are several primary aspects to check out for every device:

Function

As we’ve mentioned, printers differ by their capabilities and the technology they use. Laserjets are further split into monochrome and color options. This article will stick to color laser printer reviews, but they can be divided into two groups – printer-only machines and all-in-one devices.

All-in-one (AIO) printers have scanning, copying, and – sometimes – fax capabilities. If you just plan on printing out regular documents, you don’t need the extra expense of an AIO machine, especially if you’re buying a printer for home use. However, if you’re purchasing a printer for your office, we recommend you shell out a few more bucks than you may have originally planned for an all-in-one device. The best color laser printer all-in-one option will cut your overall printing costs and save you the hassle of going to a shop for copying and scanning.

Printing Speed

Output speed is a critical parameter for any kind of printer. It’s measured in ppm – pages per minute. A color laser printer is generally much quicker than any inkjet option, at the expense of image quality. The average laser speeds for monochrome printing range between 20 and 40 ppm, and the speed is halved for color. The best color laser printer for a small business can go over 50 ppm for black-and-white and above 30 ppm for color.

Of course, speed won’t be of equal importance to all users. If you mainly need to print out single pages or small-volume documents, you can probably stick to slower printers without inconvenience. On the other hand, if you regularly have to produce multiple-page contracts, brochures, books, and other voluminous documents, you’ll definitely need quicker printers.

Printer Size and Tray Capacity

Color laser printers significantly differ in size. The best all-in-one color laser printer will often weigh around 20 kilos, while printer-only devices can be twice as light. For home use, you’d be wise to choose one that is more compact and will easily fit on your desk. Bulkier printers are not as much of a problem for office spaces, and they do usually include greater paper tray capacity.

On that note, make sure your printer’s trays support enough paper for your needs. Of course, this mainly depends on the quantities you expect to be printing on a weekly or monthly basis. The best small office color laser printer should have enough capacity for several days worth of paper, at the very least. Additional trays that can be put in the printer to increase input and output space are a welcome bonus, too.

Connectivity

The world of Internet of Things is expanding and home electronics are the next frontier. Unless you’re looking to increase your daily step count, a printer you constantly have to walk over to is far from ideal. Connection options should be examined carefully before you commit to a purchase. First of all, most modern printers come with a USB port for printing straight from a drive. The best color laser printer should also have an Ethernet port for connecting to the local or office network.

Additionally, Wi-Fi connectivity allows devices to connect directly to the printer without going through the local network. Other useful connectivity options to look out for are NFC, printing from cloud storage, and so forth.

Pricing

When approximating the cost of a toner printer, you should take two main elements into account: The initial purchase price and the maintained cost per page (CPP). Whether you’re looking for the best home color laser printer or want one for your office, it will be more costly than getting an inkjet. Even the most affordable color laser printer will set you back well over $100.

However, in terms of continued costs, laser printers are, on average, much cheaper than inkjet ones. While toner replacements are more expensive than ink cartridges, a single toner charge can pump out a much higher number of pages before it runs out. Laser toner can’t dry up like ink cartridges can, which also reduces their CPP. However, even the best cheap color laser printer CPP jumps up significantly when printing in color, especially for images.

The Best Laser Color Printer in 2021:

  1. HP Color LaserJet Pro M225dw
  2. Brother HL-L9310CDW
  3. Lexmark MC2535adwe
  4. Brother MFC-L8900CDW
  5. HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw

FAQ

What is the best color laser printer for home use?

We found the HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw and M225dw to be the best-suited for home use.

Are color laser printers worth it?

Laser models will save you time and money when printing high volumes of documents and graphs, but they’re not ideal for photo printing.

What is the best cheap color laser printer?

Our laser printer reviews show that the HP LaserJet series and the Brother devices provide great features at an affordable price.

Are color laser printers better than inkjets?

The comparison is pretty much the same as the one between ordinary and 3D pens. Laser printers are quicker; their expendables are less costly and are overall better at printing text. However, inkjet printers are still superior for printing photographs. 

What is the disadvantage of a laser printer?

To start with, they cost more up front than any inkjet printer. And whatever its other advantages may be, if it’s used for printing photos too often, even the best color laser printer uses too much toner to be considered economical.

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