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 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 105 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 that we've tested is the Brother MFC-J1205W. It uses Brother's INKvestment Tank, a hybrid tank–cartridge system, for good page yields at an outstandingly low cost-per-print. This means you'll have to replace the tanks less often, and you also won't have to spend too much on ink in the long run.
It feels very well built, with easy access to potential paper jams and the 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 everyday use. The connectivity options are decent, including Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print Service, and you can use the Brother Mobile Connect app to perform print, scan, and 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.
The best affordable printer with laser technology we've tested is the Brother HL-L2370DW. This simple printer-only unit warms up decently quickly to print out the first page and prints black text documents exceptionally quickly, so you won't have to wait. Its black page yield is superb, at a fantastic cost-per-print, meaning you won't have to replace the toner too often.
It feels very well-built and easy to use, with easy access to the toner cartridge and potential paper jams. The connectivity options are great, including an Ethernet port and Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print Service. The companion app is incredible, and you can use it to print the most common file types, check the toner level, and order new toner online.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have any scanner, which could be a dealbreaker for some. Also, because it's a monochrome laser printer, it produces black-and-white-only photos with terrible quality. You'll also need to replace the drum unit separately from the toner, which will cost you extra. That said, it's an excellent choice if you need something for black-and-white printing, and it's among the best laser printers we've tested.
If you need a scanner, check out the Brother HL-L2390DW. It has a lower black page yield and higher cost-per-print compared to the Brother HL-L2370DW, but it has a flatbed scanner with a great scan resolution, so you can digitize photos with excellent quality. Although it's a bit slower at printing, it's still amazingly fast and should be fine for most people. Sadly, it doesn't have a sheetfed scanner or duplex scanning automatic document feeder, so manually processing multi-page documents might be a hassle. Also, it doesn't have an Ethernet port.
If you need a cheap laser printer and don't need a scanner, go with the HL-L2370DW. However, if you need to scan things and don't mind a few compromises, the HL-L2390DW is the better option.
The best inexpensive printer for photos that we've tested is the Canon PIXMA TR4520. It's an all-in-one inkjet that produces impressive-looking photos with clear details and decently accurate, vibrant colors. While its color document page yields are poor, the cost-per-print for photos is decent, so you shouldn't spend too much over time.
It has very good scanning features, with a flatbed scanner with hinges that can lift slightly for scanning thicker items like magazines, an automatic document feeder, and built-in fax. The connectivity options are decent, including Ethernet and a direct connection to your computer, and wireless options like Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service.
Unfortunately, it has a terrible black page yield at a poor cost-per-print, and it prints at a disappointingly slow speed overall. Since there's only one color cartridge, you'll need to replace it if you run out of only one color. Also, its automatic document feeder can't duplex scan, so processing double-sided, multi-page documents could be cumbersome. That said, this printer is a good choice if you're looking for a cheap unit that prints great-looking photos.
The best budget printer we've tested is the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820. This very well-built printer feels sturdy and solid, with easy access to paper jams in the back, and the ink cartridges under the flatbed scanner. The touch-sensitive display screen is easy to navigate, and you can access how-to diagrams by pressing the Help button.
There's a high-resolution flatbed scanner so you can digitize delicate photos, an automatic document feeder for multi-page documents, and even built-in fax. It prints very quickly overall, so you won't have to wait even for long essays or reports to finish up. Photos have decent quality, with very accurate-looking colors that appear distinct from each other. Also, you can print from an outstanding variety of options, including Apple AirPrint, Mopria Print Service, and directly via USB flash drives.
Unfortunately, its automatic document feeder can't duplex scan. Also, it has a poor black page yield, so you might have to replace the cartridge often if you print frequently. On the bright side, it has good color page yields and a great overall cost-per-print, so you won't have to spend a fortune just to print. Overall, this is one of the best value printers that we've tested and a great choice if you're on a budget.
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.
Sep 13, 2021: Made the Brother MFC-J1205W 'Best Inkjet' thanks to its far superior page yields, and moved the Canon PIXMA MG3620 to Notable Mentions. Removed the Canon PIXMA TR8520 from Notable Mentions. Verified availability of picks.
Jul 16, 2021: Added the Canon PIXMA TS3520 to Notable Mentions. Verified availability and accuracy of picks, and updated text for clarity.
Jun 18, 2021: Added the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820, Canon PIXMA TS6320, and Canon PIXMA TS6420 to Notable Mentions. Verified availability and accuracy of picks, and updated text for clarity.
May 21, 2021: Replaced the Canon PIXMA TR8520 with the Canon PIXMA TR7520 for 'Best Budget Printer' since the TR8520 is discontinued. Moved the TR8520 to Notable Mentions.
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.