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's 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 raise to scan thicker documents, like a textbook or manual.
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 need to be scanned manually. 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. High-yield cartridge sizes are available and should last you longer, though 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 Canon PIXMA TR4520 is the best inexpensive printer for photos that we've tested. This compact all-in-one inkjet model is a good choice for photos thanks to its great photo printing quality and decently low cost-per-print for pictures. Its color accuracy is decent enough for casual color prints, but it may not be good enough for professional use.
It features a flatbed scanner with high resolution and color depth, which is great for scanning or copying photos and retaining small details. There's also a sheetfed scanner to process multi-page documents. You can connect to it in multiple ways, including Ethernet, USB-to-computer, Wi-Fi, and through Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service.
Unfortunately, while its cost-per-print for photos and color documents is decent, it's bad for black-only prints because of the very low black page yield. While the cartridges are relatively cheap, you may need to replace them quite often, which quickly adds up over time. Also, the printing speed is disappointingly slow, with the first page taking a very long time to come out. That said, if you're looking for a printer for occasional photo and color printing, this is a good choice.
The best cheap laser printer we've tested is the Brother HL-L2370DW. It's a simple, monochrome model that provides easy access to toner cartridges, paper jams, and the drum unit. It offers a great range of wireless and wired connection options, and it's compatible with the Brother iPrint and Scan mobile app, from where you can print, check toner levels, and order new toner.
Its cartridge system yields an amazing number of black pages, which helps to keep the cost-per-print remarkably low. There are also two higher yield toner options available if you want your ink to last you even longer, though we haven't tested them. While the first page of a black-text document takes a decent amount of time to print out, subsequent pages are significantly faster.
Unfortunately, since the drum unit is separate from the toner cartridge, you need to replace it eventually, which adds an extra cost down the road. Also, it doesn't have a scanner, which is a problem if you need to do anything more than print. Like most laser printers, it prints terrible photos, and as a monochrome model, it can't print in color. Overall, this is among the best laser printers we've tested, and it's an amazing option if you only need to print in black and white.
If having a scanner is important to you, the Brother HL-L2390DW may be a better choice. While its page yield is lower and its printing speed isn't as fast as the Brother HL-L2370DW, it has a high-resolution flatbed scanner. It doesn't have an Ethernet port, but it still offers a decent range of wireless connection options, and it's also compatible with the iPrint&Scan app. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an automatic document feeder, so scanning documents may be tedious since you need to flip over each page.
If you value fast printing speeds and don't need to scan, the L2370DW is an excellent choice, but if you need a scanner and don't mind a few compromises, get the L2390DW.
The best budget printer for home use that we've tested is the Canon PIXMA TR8520. While it's a bit over our usual budget limit, this all-in-one inkjet model has excellent photo printing quality and decent color accuracy. It has a flatbed scanner to help you digitize fragile old photos or scan your notes, and it has a sheetfed scanner to process multi-page documents.
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'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 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 have to lift the display panel before printing anything, which may not be 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.
Apr 23, 2021: Checked picks to ensure we're still recommending the best products and that they're in stock.
Mar 25, 2021: Verified that product picks were still available and relevant.
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.
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.