These days, printers come in all different price ranges, but if you're on the hunt for something more affordable, it can still be a little challenging to find the best printer 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 Recommended Retail Price (RRP) 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 85 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.
The best cheap printer we've tested is the Canon PIXMA MG3620. It's an all-in-one inkjet model that is fairly compact and shouldn't take up too much space on a small desk. It features a high-resolution flatbed scanner with hinges that can be raised to scan thicker documents, like a textbook or manual. Paper jams and ink cartridges are easy to access, and the power cable is removable in case you need to replace it.
Thanks to its reasonably-priced ink cartridges, its cost-per-print is very good, especially for color and photo prints. While its color accuracy is mediocre, it prints good-looking and detailed photos, although there's some banding in gray areas. It offers a few connectivity options, letting you connect via Wi-Fi and USB cable, plus it supports Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service in case you don't want to install drivers on your device.
Unfortunately, since it lacks a sheetfed scanner, any multi-page documents that you need to scan need to be done manually. Also, its cartridge system is quite bad, with very low page yields for both black and color pages, so you may need to replace the cartridges often. On the bright side, high-yield cartridge sizes are available and should last you longer, although we haven't tested them. All in all, this is a decent printer if you need something for occasional prints and don't want to pay too much money upfront.
The best cheap printer for photos we've tested is the Canon PIXMA TR4520. This all-in-one inkjet model produces impressively detailed photos with colors that look vibrant and decently accurate. It's a relatively compact model, so you shouldn't have a problem finding a place to store it on a desk, especially if you have limited space.
It offers great scanner features, including a flatbed with high resolution and color depth and a sheetfed scanner that can automatically process multi-page documents. Its input tray has a width slider to accommodate different paper formats, including most common photo sizes. It has decent connectivity options, like Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB cable to computer, and it also supports Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service.
Unfortunately, it has a disappointing build design since paper jams and ink cartridges are difficult to access. Also, the page yields for both black and color ink are very low, so you may need to replace the cartridges often if you print fairly frequently. Because of its poor cartridge system, the cost-per-print is also quite disappointing. That said, if you're looking for a cheap option for photos, this is a good option, and it's one of the best printers under $100 that we've tested.
The best inexpensive printer we've tested that uses laser technology is the Brother HL-L2370DW. It's a simple monochrome laser printer that's well-suited for high-volume printing. It's designed to provide easy access to the toner cartridge and paper jams, and its compact design doesn't take up too much space. You can connect the printer with a wired or wireless connection through Wi-Fi, and it also supports printing from mobile devices through AirPrint and Mopria.
The cartridge system is exceptional. Its high page yield means you don't have to replace the toner cartridge as frequently, leading to a superb cost-per-print. On top of that, there are higher-yield cartridges available, and it also accepts third-party cartridges. However, note that the drum isn't built into the cartridge, so you have to replace it separately, which is an added cost that isn't factored into the cartridge's price. It's a bit slow at getting the first page out, but it gets much faster once it's warmed up, pushing out 36 pages per minute.
Most common paper sizes are supported, and the input tray can hold up to 250 sheets of paper. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a scanner, and as is expected of a monochrome laser printer, it's terrible for printing photos, not to mention that it can't print on glossy paper. On the upside, Brother's iPrint&Scan mobile app is superb and allows you to print, scan, and make copies. If you want a simple printer that can handle big print jobs at a low cost, then check this one out.
If you need a scanner and don't mind paying a bit more, then go with the Brother HL-L2390DW. Like the Brother HL-L2370DW, it's a monochrome laser printer. It has a flatbed scanner with a high scan resolution, although it lacks an automatic document feeder, making it more time-consuming to scan long documents. Its black page yield is lower but still outstanding, resulting in an outstanding cost-per-print. Unfortunately, it lacks an Ethernet port, so it might not be ideal for offices that rely on a wired network connection.
Overall, the HL-L2370DW is a better choice because it has a higher page yield and lower cost-per-print. However, if you need a scanner and don't mind a few compromises, then go with the HL-L2390DW.
The best budget printer for home use that we've tested is the Canon PIXMA TR8520. This all-in-one inkjet model is great for families, thanks to its impressive scanner features and low cost-per-print. It has a flatbed scanner to help you digitize fragile old photos or scan your notes, and it also has a sheetfed scanner to automatically process multi-page documents. Photos come out with excellent detail, and although colors look a little oversaturated and inaccurate, it shouldn't be a deal-breaker for casual color printing.
Although its page yield isn't very high, the cost of the ink is relatively affordable, which results in a low cost-per-print. The cartridges are also available in a higher yield version, which should last you longer, although we haven't tested them. It has fantastic connectivity options, including via Ethernet, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPrint, and Mopria Print, as well as directly from an SD card. It's also compatible with the Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY app, from where you can print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance tasks on your phone.
Unfortunately, it prints quite slowly, which may be frustrating if you don't like waiting long for your documents or photos. Also, it's only decently well-built, with some parts feeling quite flimsy. You need to lift the display panel before printing anything, which may not be very intuitive to most people. That said, this is an impressive option for its price point, and it's one of the best photo printers we've tested.
Feb 23, 2021: Minor text and structure changes. Removed Canon PIXMA TR7520 due to price increase.
Feb 05, 2021: Updated text for clarity and structure, no changes in product picks.
Jan 08, 2021: Moved the HP DeskJet 3755 to Notable Mentions and made the Canon PIXMA TR4520 the 'Best Cheap Photo Printer' since it has more features for a relatively similar price. Moved Canon PIXMA TR7520 to the alternative to 'Best Cheap Printer' and made Canon PIXMA MG3620 the 'Best Cheap Printer' due to lack of availability; we'll swap the picks once the Canon PIXMA TR7520 is more easily available again.
Sep 02, 2020: Moved the Canon PIXMA MG3620 as an alternative to the 'Best Cheap Printer', made the Canon PIXMA TR7520 the 'Best Cheap Printer'. Moved Canon PIXMA TS5320 to Notable Mentions and bumped the HP DeskJet 3755 to 'Best Cheap Photo'. Added Brother HL-L2370DW, Brother HL-L2390DW, and Canon PIXMA TR8520 as picks.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap printers for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's a list of our cheap printer reviews. 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.