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. Also, our picks aren't always the absolute cheapest options, as those tend to have extremely low page yield, meaning you'll likely end up paying more over time for replacement ink.
We've tested over 120 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best value 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 budget printer we've tested is the Brother MFC-J1205W, an all-in-one color inkjet model designed for general home use. We chose this printer because it has a high page yield, which is usually the compromise you have to make with lower-end models. Printers with low page yields results in more maintenance and can increase running costs over time, so you end up paying more. This printer, on the other hand, yields around 1100 black and 750 color prints, meaning you won't have to replace the ink cartridges often unless you print a lot.
It produces high-quality documents as well as detailed and reasonably color-accurate photos. You can connect to the printer via Wi-Fi or USB, and it supports Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service. The scanner captures a good amount of fine details, making it suitable for digitizing photos, and its lid hinges can extend to accommodate thicker items like books and magazines. It lacks an automatic feeder, so scanning multi-page documents might take a while. As for printing speeds, it doesn't print particularly fast, but it takes no time to wake up from sleep and get a page out.
If you want a model with an ADF-equipped scanner or faster printing speed and don't mind spending a little more, the Brother MFC-J4335DW might be a better choice. Otherwise, if you are firm on your budget, the MFC-J1205W is a great option that'll satisfy most people's needs.
If you find our budget pick too expensive, check out the Canon PIXMA MG3620, the best cheap printer we've tested. It's a simple all-in-one inkjet printer designed for people who only print occasionally. We say 'occasionally' because this model has a black and a tri-color cartridge. It still produces high-quality black and color prints, but it runs out of ink quickly, so you'll have to replace the cartridges often. Also, you'll have to replace the tri-color cartridge even if only a single color runs out. It isn't so much a cost issue, as the ink cartridges are fairly cheap; it's just a lot of maintenance, and you might end up with lots of faded or incomplete prints.
The scanner performs well and produces very detailed scans; however, it lacks features like an automatic feeder and duplex scanning. You get Wi-Fi and USB connectivity as well as support for Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service, allowing you to print from iOS and Android devices without installing drivers or third-party apps. Overall, if you only print once in a blue moon for those one-off projects, this model can get it done. However, if you print more than that, you'll be better off with a printer with a higher page yield, like our budget pick.
If you only print black and white documents, a monochrome laser printer might be a better option. We recommend the Brother HL-L2350DW, a variant of the Brother HL-L2325DW we've tested. There's nothing wrong with the HL-L2325DW; it's just a little hard to find right now, so the HL-L2350DW is your best bet since it performs almost identically. It has the usual Wi-Fi and USB connectivity and is compatible with Brother's mobile companion app, which you can use to print or perform maintenance tasks right from your smartphone.
It feels very well-built and produces sharp-looking documents quickly at up to 32 pages per minute. The toner cartridge yields about 1200 prints and is cheap, so you won't need to worry about high maintenance costs. Plus, since it's a monochrome model, there's only one cartridge to replace. You have to spend extra to replace the drum as it's a separate unit, but the drum usually lasts about 12,000 prints, so you won't have to do it all that often. The drawback is that it's a print-only unit, so you have to be sure you won't need to scan anything.
If you want something cheaper than the Brother HL-L2325DW, get the Pantum P2502W. Like the Brother, this is also a print-only unit, so there isn't a scanner. Its document print quality is outstanding, and its toner cartridge yields a little over 2000 pages. It prints pretty quickly at 23 pages per minute; however, it takes a while to warm up and doesn't support automatic double-sided printing.
Unfortunately, this printer tends to push printed sheets off the output tray, which can be inconvenient as you'll have to rearrange your prints into the right order. This issue can also cause misaligned prints, wasting more time and paper. It doesn't happen all the time, but it's an inconvenience nonetheless. If you want to save yourself the hassle, the Brother is a better choice. This model can get the job done; just be aware that you might run into some problems occasionally.
Jan 12, 2023: Minor text changes to improve readability. Replaced the Brother HL-L2325DW with the Brother HL-L2350DW variant due to low availability.
Nov 14, 2022: Minor structure change. Replaced the Brother HL-L2370DW with the Pantum P2502W because the Pantum is cheaper. Replaced the Brother HL-L2390DW with the Brother HL-L2325DW because the HL-L2325DW is cheaper.
Sep 15, 2022: Restructured article to better match user expectations. Removed the Canon imageCLASS MF242dw, the Canon PIXMA TR4520, the Brother MFC-J4335DW, and the Brother MFC-L2710DW. Added the Canon PIXMA MG3620 as the 'Best Cheap' pick, the Brother HL-L2370DW as the 'Best Cheap monochrome' pick, and the Brother HL-L2390DW as the 'Best Budget Monochrome' pick.
Jul 12, 2022: Minor structure change. Removed the Brother HL-L2370DW. Added the Brother MFC-L2710DW as the 'Best Budget Laser' option.
May 06, 2022: Minor structure change; no change in recommendations.
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.