The 7 Best Laser and Laser-Class (LED-array) Printers to Buy

Speed, typesetter-quality text, no clogging nozzles

The first laser printers hit the business world back in 1969, or better yet, the first desktop laser printer (that made laser printers more mainstream) was HP’s first LaserJet in 1984, and it’s been a wild ride ever since. The first machine to silence state-of-the-art (noisy and homely printing) dot matrix and impact printers, that first LaserJet was black-and-white, it had a print speed of 8 pages per minute (ppm), and sold for $3,500.

The good news is that today you can buy machines that print three or four times that fast for around $100, and color laser printers, some of them multifunction (print, scan, copy, and fax), about 10 percent ($350) of the cost of the first black-and-white LaserJet. Today’s laser printers range from entry-level black-and-white or color single-function models, to high-volume monochrome and color multifunction printers (MFPs), and everything between.

At first, all of these copier-like printers deployed only laser technology, but over the past few years we’ve seen another type of tech, light-emitting diode arrays, or LED arrays, that span the width of the printer path. LED arrays are small, lighter, and cheaper to make than laser printer apparatus. Some businesses and government entities require laser output for a number of reasons, including the longevity of laser toner and its resistance to cracking when folded and fading or running when wet.

Best Single-Function Monochrome: Brother HL-L6200DW

Brother HL-L6200DW Monochrome Business Laser Printer
Brother HL-L6200DW Monochrome Business Laser Printer. Photograph courtesy of Brother

 Single-function (print only) monochrome laser printers are great for environments that need to print black-and-white documents on-demand. What I like about the Brother HL-L6200DW is that it’s inexpensive for as robust as it is, it’s relatively fast, and it provides an excellent cost per page, or CPP, allowing you to print thousands of pages month after month without breaking the bank.

At 14.7” across, by 15.3” from front to back, by 11.3” high, and weighing a light (for a laser machine) 26.3 pounds, it’s small enough to set beside you on most desktops, but this is a workgroup printer with a 100,000-page monthly duty cycle (the number of pages Brother says you can print each month without undue wear on the hardware). If it will have coworkers stopping by all day to pick up their print jobs, that could certainly impede you’re getting any work done.

It’s not every day that you find a printer with a 48 pages per minute (ppm) rating $250, especially one that doesn’t cost a fortune to use.

Best Single-Function Color Laser: OKI Data C831n Wide Format Color Laser

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OKI Data C831n Wide Format Color Laser. OKI Data

 We’re recommending this OKI because it’s unusual in the laser printer world; it can print in wide-format, ledger (11x17 inches) pages. Granted, that makes it a little more expensive than standard letter-size, or 8.5x11-inch, machines—to buy and use, but having the ability to print wide-format in house can save a lot of time effort taking your oversize spreadsheets and artwork to the local Kinkos.

The OKI Data C831n is an LED array printer of which we spoke earlier. In addition, it’s not big on mobile and other features. It prints. It prints a lot very quickly, and it prints very well, pages up to 11x17. This is a great little printer if all you want to do is print—and a lot of it.

Best Monochrome Multifunction Laser: Canon ImageClass MF419dw

Canon ImageClass MF419dw monochrome MFP
Canon ImageClass MF419dw monochrome MFP. Canon

 Canon ImageClass MF419dw Black and White Printer churns out good-looking, fast, copious monochrome pages with Canon’s ImageClass MF419dw Black and White Multifunction Printer, all-in-one, or AIO printer. All-in-One, of course, means the machine can print, copy, and scan, and, in the case of business-oriented AIOs like this one, fax. As with the majority of monochrome laser printers, the MF419dw prints great-looking text and passable black-and-white graphics at reasonably fast speeds

With a 50,000-page duty cycle, a somewhat large, expandable paper input capacity options, and a 50-sheet auto-duplexing automatic document printer, the MF419dw is built for business. In addition to its initial paper capacity of 550 sheets (split between the main cassette and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray) you can add two 500-sheet cassettes, for a total of 1,550 sheets. With the auto-duplexing ADF and auto-duplexing print engine, you can copy 50 two-sided originals (100 sides on 50 sheets) without your having to flip anything manually. Also supported are several mobile connectivity options, including Wi-Fi Direct, or you can print from just about anywhere with Canon Print Business.

Best Color Multifunction Laser: HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdw

HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP m477fdw
HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdw, stylish with excellent print quality. Photo courtesy of HP

 Loaded with features, HP's Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdw is relatively fast, with excellent print quality and a competitive monochrome cost per page. It comes with HP’s relatively new JetIntelligence toner technology, which reportedly increases both speed and print quality, all the while lowering the amount of toner per page and power the printer uses. As I’ve said about many HP products (not just printers), sometimes you pay a little more for the additional style and extra research, but in return you get quality prints and stylish-looking machines.

Among its many impressive features is a 50-sheet, single-pass, auto-duplexing ADF. What that means is that not only can the ADF scan both sides of up to 50 originals without your having to feed each page manually or having to flip the pages without user intervention. “Single-pass” means that it has two scanning mechanisms and can scan both sides of the page simultaneously. It supports Wi-Fi Direct and Near-Field Communication (NFC) for peer-to-peer (no router) connections to the printer, allowing you to print with your mobile device without either it or the printer being connected to a network.

Best Entry-Level Black-and-White Laser: Dell E310dw Monochrome Printer

Dell E310dw single-function monochrome laser-class (LED) printer.
Dell E310dw single-function monochrome laser-class (LED) printer. Dell

As explained earlier, a laser-class printer is essentially a similar machine in which a fixed (stationary) LED array does the job of the traditional laser mechanism—one of the reasons you can pick up Dell’s E310dw monochrome single-function printer for under $100. Mobile connectivity features include Apple AirPrint, Dell’s own Document Hub to help in connecting iOS (iPhone, iPad) Android, Windows Phone (or Windows 10,) and Google Cloud Print, among others.

This little compact printer measures about 14 by 14 inches (making it cube-shaped) is only 7.3 inches tall, and it weighs a slight 12.8 pounds. It shouldn’t take up too much room on your desktop, and if it does, its support Wi-Fi for wireless connections and Wi-Fi Direct, as well as connecting directly to a single PC via USB. Dell rates the E310dw at 27 pages per minute, and it comes with a 250-sheet input cassette, as well as an override tray for feeding one-up envelopes and other one-off sheets to the printer. The E310dw will make a highly decent personal laser printer, or perhaps as a receipt printer in a busy shop. The point is that it’s a great printer at a great price.

Best Entry-Level Color Laser: Dell E525w Color Multifunction Printer

Dell's entry-level E525w multifunction laser printer.
Dell's E525w Multifunction Color Laser Printer. Dell

A full-featured all-in-one laser-class MFP with good-looking output and decent performance, Dell's E525w Color Multifunction Printer is inexpensive for all that it does. Keeping in mind that you can purchase this laser-class (LED array) MFP for under $300, if a color laser is what you’re after, this one is worth looking into. In fact, it’s somewhat surprising how much printer you get for what this machine costs.

With all the things to consider when buying a color laser, print quality is always high on the list. The E525w’s print quality—text, graphics, photos—is above average for any laser printer, not just one that costs so little. Dell rates it at 18ppm, which is about where it tests when printing text-only documents. Like any other printer, laser or otherwise, as the document complexity increases print speed decreases, of course.

Keep in mind, though, that this is a low-volume machine with limited volume capabilities, including a small 15-page ADF and 150-sheet input drawer. It’s never a good idea to go smaller than you need, but if your print and copy load is light, this machine is worth considering.

Best High-Volume Color Laser: Canon Color imageCLASS LBP7660Cdn

Canon Color imageCLASS LBP7660Cdn Laser Printer
Canon Color imageCLASS LBP7660Cdn Laser Printer. Canon

If you’re in the market for a color laser printer that just sits there churning out page after page up to as much as 60,000 pages each month (Bother’s maximum duty rating for this printer), this Canon may be it. Canon's Color imageCLASS LBP7660Cdn laser printer delivers excellent-quality prints at about average speeds for a single-function laser in this class. Print quality, on the other hand, is slightly above average. It's been around for a while now, giving the price a good long while to ease on down to around $300.

It comes with a 250-sheet main paper drawer and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray for feeding envelopes and other media that might force you to take the printer out service to configure the main drawer. You can add another 500-sheet drawer from Brother for about $200. It supports auto-duplexing for automatic two-sided prints, and connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB. You can also print directly from USB thumb drives.

Above all else, it prints quite well, too. 

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