These days, printers come in all different price ranges, but it can still be a little challenging to find the best printer when you're on a budget. However, you don't need to break the bank to find good-performing printers at a reasonable price. Although printers often go on sale, we've chosen printers that have a low Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) rather than a low sale price so that even when there isn't a discount available, they remain very affordable picks.
We've tested over 125 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best cheap printers you can buy. You can also check out our recommendations for the best printers with cheap ink, the best wireless printers, and the best home printers.
If you're in the market for a standard inkjet printer but don't want to spend a fortune, the best cheap printer we've tested is the Brother MFC-J1205W. It uses Brother's INKvestment Tank, a hybrid tank–cartridge system, which produces over 1,000 black-only pages, and over 700 color pages before needing replacing. Thanks to its high page yields, its cost-per-print is extremely low, saving you money in the long run.
It feels very well built, with easy access to potential paper jams and ink cartridges. You can also push the output tray all the way in to make the printer more compact if you're low on space. Photos look decent and have passable color accuracy, which should be fine for printing casual photos to hang on the fridge or spruce up a workspace. It also has decent connectivity options, including Apple AirPrint, Mopria Print service, or Brother's mobile app, which allows you to print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance tasks from your phone.
Unfortunately, documents are slow to print, and it doesn't support automatic duplex printing, so you'll have to wait for long print jobs. There's no automatic document feeder, so scanning documents might get tedious. That said, its cheap cost-per-print makes it a good choice if you're on a budget, and it's also one of the best printers for college students we've tested.
If you prefer a laser printer, consider the Brother HL-L2370DW. This printer-only unit produces only black and white pages, but it has one of the fastest black text document print speeds we've measured at 36 pages per minute (PPM). That said, it's a great choice if you need high-volume monochrome prints done quickly or need to get your essay printed on the spot.
Its toner cartridge has an outstanding page yield at a superbly cheap cost-per-print. The printer is also compatible with high-yield and third-party cartridges, which give you more flexibility when choosing ink that suits your budget range. Connectivity options include an Ethernet port and direct-to-computer USB input, as well as support for Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service.
Unfortunately, it lacks a scanner, which might be a dealbreaker if you need to scan forms or digitize notes. It uses only a single-line dot matrix display, making it difficult to tell the printer's status at a glance. Also, like most monochrome laser printers, it isn't a good choice for making photo prints. That said, it's an excellent choice if you need a cheap option for black and white printing, and it's also among the best laser printers we've tested.
Need an all-in-one laser printer with a scanner? We recommend the Canon imageCLASS MF242dw. Like our cheap laser pick, it's also an affordable monochrome laser printer; however, it has a flatbed scanner on top, and it's only available at Walmart as it's a retailer-exclusive model. It feels well-built and sturdy, and it has many connectivity options, allowing you to connect via a wired Ethernet or USB connection or wirelessly over Wi-Fi. It also supports Apple AirPrint and Morpia Print Service, so there's no need to worry about installing drivers.
This model can print very quickly, up to 28 pages per minute, and it can wake from an idle state and get a single page out in under nine seconds. A single toner cartridge yields almost 4000 pages, which means you won't have to replace it often unless you regularly print in bulk, and it accepts third-party toner, which may help you save money. As you would expect, the cost-per-print is exceptionally low, and you don't even have to worry about replacing the drum unit because it's in the cartridge.
As for the scanner itself, it's functional but not the most feature-rich. It can only scan up to a resolution of 600 DPI, and it doesn't have an automatic document feeder, so you have to scan each page manually. However, it does have an optical character recognition feature built into the software, which allows you to scan documents into text files for quick editing. Overall, if you need a cheap laser printer with a scanner, this is a great option to consider.
The best value printer for photos we've tested is the Canon PIXMA TR4520. It's specifically for home office use, but it performs well for everyday photo prints, thanks to its great photo printing quality. There's a bit of banding on monochrome gradients, but colors are vibrant, and you can clearly make out small details.
It also has a great array of scanner features. Its high-resolution flatbed scanner is great for digitizing cherished family photos, whereas its ADF makes quick work of converting multi-page documents into a digital format. There's even built-in fax if you need it. There are also decent connectivity options, including an Ethernet port, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print Service.
Unfortunately, it only has one tri-color cartridge, so you need to replace the entire thing even if just one color runs out. Also, the printer has poor page yields, a disappointingly high cost-per-print, and poor printing speed. It supports automatic duplex printing, meaning you don't have to manually flip pages over. All in all, it's a good choice if you're on a tight budget but still want something that can produce great-looking photos.
If none of these other options fit your price range and you're looking for something more affordable, the best budget printer we've tested is the Brother MFC-J4335DW. It's at a higher price point than the other options here, but it has outstanding page yields thanks to its INKvestment Tank ink system. Its cost-per-print is superb, so you can print a lot even if you spend a little.
It prints very quickly, getting both multi-page black text documents and color documents out with little wait. Additionally, it has a good array of scanner features, including a high-resolution flatbed, a fast-scanning automatic document feeder, and built-in OCR to turn your notes or documents into searchable digital files. The connectivity options are great, as it includes an Ethernet port, wireless network connectivity via Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print Service, among others.
Sadly, it prints mediocre-looking photos with lots of grain and washed-out blacks, and since its color accuracy is only alright, photos will look noticeably different from their originals. It's also very slow when printing photos. That said, its overall printing performance and the longevity of its ink cartridges make it a great printer at a budget price, and it's also one of the best inkjet printers we've tested.
May 06, 2022: Minor structure change; no change in recommendations.
Mar 09, 2022: Made the Brother MFC-J4335DW 'Best Budget', and moved the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820 to Notable Mentions. Removed the Canon PIXMA TS5320 and Canon PIXMA TS6320 from Notable Mentions since they're now typically more expensive.
Feb 07, 2022: Replaced the Brother HL-L2390DW with the Canon imageCLASS MF242dw as 'Alternative With Scanner' due to availability.
Dec 09, 2021: Verified availability and accuracy of picks, and updated text for clarity.
Oct 12, 2021: Made the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820 'Best Budget' and moved the Canon PIXMA TR7520 to Notable Mentions. Verified availability of picks.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best affordable printers for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you'd like to do the work of choosing yourself, below is a list of our cheap printer reviews, sorted by price from lowest to highest. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no printer is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.