Although color printers are relatively affordable these days, many people only print in black, especially in the commercial environment. A lot of offices only need to print invoices and receipts, so why pay more for a color printer? Monochrome printers often have room for a bigger ink or toner cartridge, giving you a higher page yield, so you don't have to replace the cartridge as frequently.
Laser printers are usually the preferred choice for black and white printing, as they typically print faster. That said, inkjet printers are more versatile, and those with an ink tank system can often match or surpass the page yield of their laser counterpart. The main downside of a monochrome printer is that it's severely limiting, as you can't print in color even if it's just occasionally, so you need to be sure that you won't need color printing in the future.
We've tested over 75 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best black and white printers you can buy. You can also check out our recommendations for the best all-in-one printers, the best laser printers, and the best printers for small businesses.
The best laser printer for black and white printing we've tested is the Canon imageCLASS MF445dw. It's an all-in-one monochrome model with an incredibly high page yield and an outstandingly low cost-per-print. It feels very well-built, providing easy access to toner cartridges and paper jams. It also accepts high-yield cartridges that should last even longer, though we haven't tested them.
It prints remarkably fast, so you shouldn't have to wait long for a 30-paged document. Its two input trays hold up to a total of 350 sheets, and they support most paper sizes. There are multiple ways to connect to it, via Ethernet, USB cable, or Wi-Fi, and you can even print directly off a USB thumb drive or through AirPrint or Mopria Print. Also, it has both a flatbed scanner and a sheetfed scanner, and it can perform duplex scanning.
Unfortunately, the scanner flatbed's resolution maxes out at 600 DPI, which is lower than other options, but it should still be high enough for most office uses. Also, it doesn't have Bluetooth support or a slot for SD cards. The display screen sticks out and isn't removable, so you can't place it flush to a wall. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic black and white printer, and it's among the best office printers we've tested.
If you want a printer with an even faster printing speed, check out the HP LaserJet Enterprise M507dn. While it doesn't have a scanner and it has fewer connectivity options than the Canon imageCLASS MF445dw, it has a lower cost-per-print, and it prints faster. Plus, its input tray can hold up to 650 sheets, which is almost double that of the Canon. It yields more pages, and it has two high-yield toner cartridge sizes, but it doesn't accept third-party cartridges. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an app, it doesn't support Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and you can't print via AirPrint or Mopria Print Service.
If you want a monochrome printer with an excellent scanner, go with the Canon, but if you want a printer that can print incredibly quickly, get the HP.
The best inkjet printer for black and white printing we've tested is the Epson EcoTank ET-3760. Its supertank ink system yields an incredibly high number of pages, so you shouldn't need to refill the tanks often, and this helps to keep the cost-per-print exceptionally low. It has good printing speed, with the subsequent black-only pages coming out even faster than the first page.
It has a flatbed scanner with high resolution and an automatic document feeder to quickly process scans. It provides a great variety of connectivity options, letting you connect wired or wirelessly. You can also print directly from your mobile device via Apple AirPrint or Mopria Print Service. It's also compatible with the incredible Epson iPrint app from which you can print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance tasks with the press of a button.
Unfortunately, the display screen is only okay, and there's some significant lag between pressing a button and the action being performed. Also, there's no Bluetooth support and you can't print directly off of a USB thumb drive. It can't automatically scan double-sided pages, which can be tedious if this is a task you do often. Nonetheless, this is an impressive printer for black and white printing, and it's among the best office printers we've tested.
If you want a cheaper option, consider the HP OfficeJet Pro 9025. While its page yield isn't as high and its cost-per-print isn't as good as the Epson EcoTank ET-3760, it can automatically process double-sided scans and it costs cheaper upfront. For the most part, it feels excellently built and provides easy access to paper jams and ink cartridges. It has a responsive display screen that's easy to navigate, and it can print directly off USB thumb drives. Unfortunately, the HP Smart app isn't as good as the Epson iPrint app.
If you want a printer with a lower cost-per-print and you don't mind spending the extra money for it, get the Epson; however, if you want a less expensive option that can perform duplex scanning, go with the HP.
The best black and white printer in the budget category that we've tested is the Brother HL-L2370DW. All of the parts on this laser monochrome model feel well-built and sturdy, and it has easy access to the toner cartridge, drum units, and paper jams. You can print via Ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi, and even directly from your mobile device using Apple AirPrint or Mopria Print Service. It's also compatible with the Brother iPrint&Scan app, letting you print and check its toner level with the tap of a finger.
Its cost-per-print is exceptionally low thanks to its outstanding cartridge system. The black page yield is remarkably high, with higher yield options available that are expected to last even longer, though we haven't tested them. Although the first page takes a little longer to come out, the subsequent pages print out incredibly fast. Its input tray can hold up to 250 sheets, and it has a width slider to accommodate most common paper sizes.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a scanner, so this may be an issue if you occasionally need to scan documents or photos. Also, its drum unit is separate from the toner, which means it's an extra cost down the road when it needs to be replaced. It also doesn't have Bluetooth support and you can't print off of an external storage device. Nevertheless, this is an excellent black and white model, and it's among the best cheap printers we've tested.
01/08/2021: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
11/06/2020: Replaced the Lexmark B2236dw with the Brother HL-L2370DW for the 'Best Budget Black and White Printer'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best black and white 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 our monochrome 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.