We Tested the 5 Best Printers for College Students

Print your term paper before you head to class

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The best printers for college students come with robust printing performance and feature straightforward connectivity (both wired and wireless) with mobile devices, all without costing a fortune. Our product experts tested and reviewed some of the top printers from well-known brands such as Epson, Brother, and Canon to help you pick the best option.

Whether you're planning to go to college soon or are already attending classes online, you need a printer to deal with all those study materials, reference notes, and homework assignments. And although there's no shortage of options on the market, choosing the right printer depends on a number of factors like monthly printing volume and the setting you intend to use it in.

For example, Canon's Pixma iX6820 features great print quality and separate ink tanks that are easy to replace, but it's not the most compact option. On the other hand, Brother's HL-L2350DW is a monochrome printer that comes with fast print speeds and an elegant design. You can also go for all-in-one devices like Brother's MFC-J895DW, which have scanning and copying functionalities.

Here are some of the best printers for college students you can buy.

Best Overall

Canon PIXMA iX6820

PIXMA iX6820 Wireless Inkjet Business Printer

Courtesy by Amazon

What We Like
  • Amazing print quality

  • Individual ink tanks for easy replacement

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat bulky and heavy

Canon's printers are among the finest in the business, and the Pixma iX6820 is no exception. With a maximum output resolution of up to 9600 x 2400 dpi (color) and up to 600 x 600 dpi (black), it lets you print high-quality documents and photos with little to no effort.

Our product reviewer Danny Chadwick thought the print quality was excellent during testing, with vibrant colors and well-defined edges. The inkjet printer is rated for print speeds of approximately 14.5ppm/10.4ppm (black/color) and supports a variety of paper sizes (for example, 8 x 10 inches, letter). It also uses five separate ink tanks, making it easier to replace an individual color's ink when it runs out. Other noteworthy additions are a 150-sheet feed tray and auto power on functionality.

The Pixma iX6820 includes Wi-Fi 802.11bgn, Ethernet, and USB. You also get Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print support for effortless remote printing. It measures around 23 x 12.3 x 6.3 inches and weighs about 18 pounds.

Type: Inkjet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB | LCD Screen: No | Scanner/Copier/Fax: No

"Color, text, and graphics were bold and smooth, and there was no hint of print lines or uneven ink." — Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick, Product Tester

Canon Pixma iX6820

Lifewire / Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick

Best for Photos

Canon SELPHY CP1300

Canon SELPHY CP1300 Wireless Compact Photo Printer


What We Like
  • Direct printing from a wide array of devices

  • Built-in photo editing and layout options

What We Don't Like
  • Battery has to be purchased separately

College is all about making memories, and Canon's SELPHY CP1300 allows you to turn those memories into frame-worthy pictures. It comes with a maximum output resolution of 300 x 300 dpi and supports direct wireless printing from smartphones and tablets (using the companion iOS or Android app), as well as digital cameras (via PictBridge).

You can also print photos from SD cards and USB flash drives. The SELPHY CP1300 supports a number of photo sizes and formats (such as 2 x 6 inches, 4 x 6 inches, ID photos, and mini stickers), taking a little less than a minute to print a postcard size photo. A 3.2-inch LCD screen lets you make basic edits (for example, color correction) to your photos before they're printed. While this feature works well, our product expert Theano Nikitas found it to be a tad slow.

Although not as compact as some of its rivals (like the HP Sprocket 2nd edition), the SELPHY CP1300 is still quite portable. That said, you need to buy the battery pack separately to use this thing anywhere.

Type: Dye-sublimation thermal transfer | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Wi-Fi and USB | LCD Screen: Yes, without touch support | Scanner/Copier/Fax: No

"Lots of features and really good print quality make this a good fit for consumers who want to get their photos off their mobile devices and computers and into their hands." — Theano Nikitas, Product Tester

Canon Selphy CP1300

Lifewire / Theano Nikitas

Best Laser

Brother HLL2350DW Monochrome Compact Laser Printer

Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer HL-L2350DW


What We Like
  • Great value for the money

  • Automatic duplex printing

What We Don't Like
  • Unintuitive buttons and controls

Offering a bevy of practical features at an exceptional price, Brother's HL-2350DW is one of the best laser printers out there. It's worth noting that it's a monochrome printer and can't be used to print color documents or photos. However, it's perfect if you need a reliable solution for printing all your classroom notes, homework assignments, and whatnot.

Boasting a maximum output resolution of 2400 x 600 dpi and a print speed of 32ppm, the HL-L2350DW supports many paper sizes and media types (including A4, letter, envelopes, and labels). You also get a 250-sheet input tray and a manual feed slot for improved flexibility. Our product reviewer Gannon Burgett found during testing that the printer is a consistent performer, with no paper jams (or other issues) encountered during the entire review period.

The HL-L2350DW packs in Wi-Fi 802.11bgn and USB for connectivity, and it supports direct wireless printing (via standards like Apple AirPrint and Mopria) from smartphones and tablets as well. Other features include a one-line LCD panel and a monthly duty cycle of up to 15,000 pages.

Type: Laser | Color/Monochrome: Monochrome | Connection Type: Wi-Fi and USB | LCD Screen: Yes, without touch support | Scanner/Copier/Fax: No

"It's worth noting I didn't experience a single jam throughout my more than 500 pages printed, even with the less-than-premium recycled paper I was using." — Gannon Burgett, Product Tester

Brother HL-L2350DW

Lifewire / Gannon Burgett 

Best Portable

Epson WorkForce WF-110

Epson WorkForce WF-110


What We Like
  • Compact and lightweight

  • Rechargeable battery with dual charging options

What We Don't Like
  • Not for heavy-duty printing

Measuring around 12.2 x 9.1 x 8.5 inches and weighing a mere 3.5 pounds, Epson's WorkForce WF-110 is compact and portable enough to be carried anywhere. But don't let that small size fool you; it packs quite a punch.

The inkjet printer has a maximum output resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi and comes with a built-in rechargeable battery that lets you print documents and photos anytime and anywhere. You get decent print speeds of 6.7ppm/3.8ppm (black/color) with an external AC supply and 3.5ppm/2.0ppm (black/color) when the printer is using battery power.

The WorkForce WF-110 supports a number of paper sizes and media types (such as 8.5 x 11 inches, 5 x 7 inches, A4, and envelopes), and its 1.4-inch color LCD panel makes controlling and managing the unit's functions an effortless task.

It comes with Wi-Fi 802.11ac and USB as connectivity options. Some other noteworthy features are remote printing support (via Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print) and voice-activated printing that works with all popular virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.

Type: Inkjet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Wi-Fi and USB | LCD Screen: Yes, without touch support | Scanner/Copier/Fax: No

Best Black and White

Brother HL-L2300D Monochrome Laser Printer

Brother HL-L2300D Monochrome Laser Printer


What We Like
  • Affordable price

  • Toner Save mode

What We Don't Like
  • No wireless connectivity

Brother's printers are renowned for their dependable performance, and the HL-L2300D is no different. If your printing needs are limited to black and white documents such as homework assignments and classroom notes, this is one of the best printers you can buy.

With a maximum output resolution of 2400 x 600 dpi and a print speed of up to 27ppm, it's ideal for high-volume printing jobs. Measuring around 14 x 14.2 x 17.2 inches, it has a cuboid-like design that makes it suitable for small spaces like dorm rooms. It supports a wide array of paper sizes (including legal, executive, A5, and envelopes) and comes with a maximum monthly duty cycle of up to 10,000 pages. Also included in the package are automatic duplex printing and a 250-sheet input tray with a manual feed slot.

One area where the HL-L2300D is certainly lacking is connectivity since there's nothing else except USB onboard. This means there's no way to wirelessly print from devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Type: Laser | Color/Monochrome: Monochrome | Connection Type: USB | LCD Screen: No | Scanner/Copier/Fax: No

Final Verdict

As awesome as all of the printers detailed above are, our top vote goes to Canon's Pixma iX6820 (view on Adorama). Even though it's a bit bulky, goodies like wireless printing support and separate ink tanks more than make up for it. If you don't care about color printing and would rather go for a laser printer that can handle high-volume tasks, Brother's HL-L2350DW (view on Adorama) is an excellent choice.

What to Look for in the Best Printers for College Students

Extra Functions

When you're in a college setting, you never know what you're going to need for your next class. Sure, colleges have computer labs, but it's a lot better if you can print, scan, copy, or fax from your own dorm.

Canon Pixma iX6820

Lifewire / Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick

Space Considerations

When you're in a dorm room, the amount of space your printer takes up is important. But remember, printers also have trays that stick out the front, back, and sometimes to the side. Knowing your space is just as important as functionality.

Cost per Page

Many printers give you an estimated cost per page of printing based on ink/toner used. Obviously, lower is better, but you'd be surprised how low the number can get depending on your needs.

Canon SELPHY CP1300

Lifewire / Theano Nikitas

  • What is DPI?

    DPI stands for dots per inch, which is how the resolution is represented when printing. The more dots there are per square inch, the more densely packed they are and the sharper your printing is. Higher numbers are better.

  • What are the advantages of laser printers versus inkjets?

    Laser printers use toner, which is a sort of powder instead of ink. Typically, toner is cheaper and the result is less cost per page when printing. Toner cartridges also tend to need replacement less frequently. While black-and-white laser printers are priced competitively with inkjets, color laser printers tend to be much more expensive.

  • Do you need copying, scanning, and faxing?

    That depends on your situation. In a college dorm, the more functions you can pack into a single device the better. Space tends to be at a premium, so the more a single device can do, the less room you'll need for other things.

About Our Trusted Experts

Rajat Sharma is a technology writer and editor having more than seven years (and counting) of experience and has tested and reviewed numerous gadgets over the course of his career so far. He is an expert in computers and their peripherals, including printers.

Danny Chadwick has published hundreds of articles, reviews, and videos on Top Ten Reviews since 2008. He's an expert in consumer technology, including printers.

Theano Nikitas' interest in technology grew from her love of photography and keeps her ever-curious about the latest products and software that fill both practical and creative needs. She reviewed the Canon SELPHY CP1300, our pick for the best photo printer.

Gannon Burgett is a photojournalist and sports photographer. His work has appeared on Gizmodo, Digital Trends, Yahoo News, PetaPixel, and many other sites. He is an expert in computers and their peripherals, including printers.

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