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 still remain very affordable picks.
We've tested over 30 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 Canon PIXMA MG3620 is the best cheap printer that we've tested so far. Although it has a somewhat cheap and plasticky build, its simple design is surprisingly cost-efficient. It has a low cost-per-print, so whether you're printing off work documents or photos, this printer keeps it affordable.
This printer can produce good quality photos and while colors are a little oversaturated, they still have good detail. It's fairly compact so you can store it when it's not in use, and it even comes in three different colors so you can find the right look for your space. Thanks to its flatbed scanner, you can also scan more fragile items like old family photos.
On the downside, it doesn't have a sheetfed scanner, which can make things more difficult if you need to process multiple pages at a time. As it only uses one black and one tricolor ink cartridge, it doesn't really yield a lot of pages either. Luckily, there are higher yield cartridges available, which is great if you're always running print jobs.
If you're looking for something that can help streamline your workflow and you don't mind paying a little more for it, consider the Canon PIXMA TR4520. While the Canon PIXMA MG3620 has a much better cost-per-print as well as a slightly quicker print speed, this printer has an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), which means that you can process multiple pages in one go. It also has an integrated fax feature so that you can easily send your documents wherever they need to go. It has great photo printing quality, too, resulting in vibrant, detailed pictures. On the downside, its page yields are extremely disappointing, and there's no duplex scanning.
Get the MG3620 if you're looking for a printer that's affordable, both in its upfront cost and as you start replacing the cartridges. However, get the TR4520 if you regularly copy, fax, or scan a lot of pages.
The best cheap printer for students that we've tested to date is the Canon PIXMA TS5320. This fairly compact printer can easily fit most desks or sit on a shelf when not in use. It also has Bluetooth support so you can easily connect to it with your mobile devices, or you can use its companion app to print, scan, or copy directly from your phone.
It has a decent cost-per-print for photos as well as black and color documents, which is great if you're on a budget. If you like to print photos to put on your walls, it can also print great quality photos that are vivid and detailed. Although it only has a flatbed scanner, the scanner lid can raise slightly to accommodate larger items like books or journals. You can even use this printer to add a splash of color to your dorm as it comes in pink and mint green, as well as more traditional colors like gray and white.
It's not the quickest printer, though, and print jobs can take a while to finish, especially if you have a lot of pages. The cartridges don't yield a lot of pages either, but luckily there's an XL cartridge available. All in all, it's versatile enough for student life and is one of the best cheap printers for student use that we've tested to date.
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 the list of all our 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.