The Best Color Laser Printer in 2022 – Life is Better in Color
Updated: April 07,2022
Printers are becoming something of a relic from a bygone age, but they are not gone yet. Brochures, contracts, flyers, photographs, presentation and training materials - many things still 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. 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
- Low cost per page
- Good connectivity
- Limited tray capacity
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 home-office color laser printer lists. It brings substantial printing speeds, low per-page costs, an excellent touchscreen interface, and various connection options.
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 best-value color laser printer options: For both monochrome and color prints, the rate 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 to $0.16, but this is still significantly lower than almost any best color laser printer in 2021. These low prices are possible thanks to high-yield toners, but even those can’t help much when printing out photographs, so 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.
The current price for the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw is $329 on the HP website, with similar pricing on Amazon - reasonable, as far as color laser printers go.
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.
- Scalable tray capacity
- Excellent printing speed
- Superb photo quality
- Expensive for a single-function printer
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.
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 companies with 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 small-business color laser printer is its high tray capacity. The default is 300 papers total in the input trays, 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.
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 $649.
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 best-rated color laser printer is its single function for a relatively high price - you could get an AIO printer for the same amount.
- Good text-print quality
- Scans 50 sides per minute
- Lacks connection options
The Lexmark MC2535adwe is among the best color all-in-one 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.
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 an 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 all-in-one laser color printer should have those options, but this isn’t an insurmountable issue.
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 - pretty standard for an AIO printer.
If you’re looking for an ultra-fast versatile color printer for your office, the Lexmark MC2535adwe could be the best all-in-one printer for you. Just be prepared to shell out a bit more for toner over time.
- Low maintenance costs
- Good ADF capacity
- Great security features
- Low-quality photo printing
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.
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 all-in-one 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.
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 $549.99.
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.
HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw
- Low monochrome costs
- Compact size
- Multi-platform app
- Expensive color printing
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.
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 2021, 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.
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 $489.
While this may not be the best color laser printer for photos, it does provide an impressive monochrome volume for a low CPP. Furthermore, it offers superb connectivity and a compact frame - all in all, an excellent choice for small settings that need a printer-only solution. With an affordable price mark, you can also invest in a top-performing UPS with a reasonable price mark, which will protect your printer and prolong its expected duty cycle.
On the other hand, if you need a printer for a higher printing volume, like in an office space, Brother HL-L9310CDW would be a better option.
The Best Color Laser Printers in 2022
- HP Color LaserJet Pro M225dw
- Brother HL-L9310CDW
- Lexmark MC2535adwe
- Brother MFC-L8900CDW
- HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw
Finding a great color printer is far simpler than finding the perfect 3D printer for your hobby or business needs. Traditional printers only have toners and paper to keep track of, unlike their 3D counterparts. However, things get a bit more complicated when you consider your predicted printing volume.
Therefore, if 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:
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.
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.
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, and having a great wireless router will help. Other useful connectivity options to look out for are NFC, printing from cloud storage, and so forth.
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 rises significantly when printing in color, especially for images.
If you’re handling a lot of documents, printing will be essential, but you might want to invest in a decent grammar checker, too - it will save you a fortune in both paper and toner otherwise wasted on mistyped documents.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
Laser models will save you time and money when printing high volumes of documents and graphs, but they’re not ideal for photo printing.
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