The 10 Best Printers for College Students of 2020

Print your term paper right before you head to class

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The Rundown

Best Overall: HP Envy 5055 at Amazon

"One of the big draws of this printer is HP's optional Instant Ink replacement service."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Xpress C430W at Amazon

"On-the-go students can print straight from their mobile devices."

Best Value: HP Envy 4520 at Amazon

"Combines the ability to print, scan, and copy in color with an affordable price."

Best for Photos: Canon Selphy CP1300 at Amazon

"Helps to select, edit and print photos from a memory card or directly from a USB cable."

Best Color Printing: Canon Pixma TS9120 at Amazon

"Adds six individual color inks to help produce some of the best color quality available."

Best Laser: Brother Monochrome Laser Printer at Amazon

"Can zip out a speedy 32 pages per minute."

Best Budget: HP Deskjet 3720 at Amazon

"Be able to print up to 480 pages before needing to repurchase an ink refill."

Best Splurge: Epson Expression ET-2650 at Amazon

"Includes two years of ink or the equivalent of 20 printer cartridges."

Best Smart Printer: HP Tango X at Amazon

"Print and scan directly to and from your favorite cloud services."

Best Portable: Epson Workforce WF-110 at Amazon

"The printer measures just 12.2 inches long, making it perfect for slipping into a laptop bag or backpack when it isn't needed."

Best Overall: HP Envy 5055

HP Envy 5055

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Auto duplex printing

  • Cloud printing capabilities

What We Don't Like
  • Touch screen isn't very responsive

The HP Envy 5055 offers an optimal balance of quality and price, designed with a number of conveniences to make your life easier. One of the big draws of this printer is HP's optional Instant Ink replacement service, which automatically reorders ink cartridges when your printer is running low. Their most popular subscription plan offers 50 pages of ink for a low flat fee per month, saving you money and eliminating the hassle of replacing the ink yourself.

The Envy 5055 is well-equipped to handle any printing job, but photo-printing is where this product really shines — its printed photographs are borderless, crisp, and brilliantly-colored. This printer supports a variety of paper sizes, from 4 x 6-inch photo paper to 8 x 10-inch letterhead and No. 10 envelopes. It also features wireless printing and connects to a wide range of sources like your phone or tablet, as well as to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud. As an added bonus, the Envy 5055 is compatible with Amazon Alexa, so you can set it up to operate by voice control.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Xpress C430W

What We Like
  • Excellent quality prints

What We Don't Like
  • Replacement toner is expensive

  • Slow performance

Simplify one aspect of college life with the Samsung Xpress C430W wireless laser printer, which allows students to print text or high-quality images as they juggle classes and extracurriculars. Using the free Samsung Mobile Print app, on-the-go students can print straight from their mobile devices, and Android users can take advantage of the NFC capabilities to tap their phone against the Xpress C430W to start printing. There are also many other printer apps available for Android. Students can save time thanks to a quick and easy set-up process and a 400 MHz processor, which can print up to 19 pages of black-and-white text per minute. The one-touch eco button is designed for cost- and environmentally-conscious users, with settings that include skipping blank pages and printing multiple pages on one sheet.

Measuring 12 x 15 x 8 inches, it can be an unobtrusive addition to even the most cramped dorm rooms and can accommodate a versatile range of needs, whether you have to print out traditional 8.5 x 11-inch essays or want to swap in 3 x 6-inch cardstock to create note cards. Whatever you’re printing, the Rendering Engine for Clean Page (ReCP) technology is designed to create crisp, high-contrast text and images for a professional, clean appearance.

Best Value: HP Envy 4520

What We Like
  • Excellent print quality and speed

  • Can potentially save you money on replacement ink

What We Don't Like
  • Finnicky touch screen

  • No ethernet connectivity

Buying a printer for college shouldn’t cut into your ramen budget. The HP Envy 4520 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer combines the ability to print, scan, and copy in color with an affordable price. Measuring 17.5 x 14.5 x 5 inches with a matte black finish, it’s inconspicuous in a dorm room or small apartment, and you can send print jobs from iOS devices and Google Chrome Web browsers. The touchscreen HP Envy 4520 can produce borderless photos and print double-sided pages to match your needs. Capable of printing up to 9.5 pages per minute in black and white, it is efficient and fast, perfect for days when you’re running behind.

For more potential savings, the inkjet printer also includes an Instant Ink delivery service, allowing HP to track your ink levels and send you a replacement in the mail when needed. The monthly cost varies between free (if you print less than 15 pages a month), to $9.99 (if you print 300), and HP says this service can help you save up to 50% in printing costs. 

Best for Photos: Canon Selphy CP1300

4
What We Like
  • Great print quality

  • Versatile

  • Low operating cost

What We Don't Like
  • No touchscreen

  • Slow printing

  • Requires a separate battery to be portable

Canon’s Selphy CP1300 Wireless Compact Photo Printer might not get students to give up Instagram for print, but it will provide a compact photo printing solution that’s similar in size to a college textbook. At 7.1 x 5.4 x 2.5 inches and weighing only 1.9 pounds, the Selphy is around half the weight of an average laptop computer. Offered in both white and black color choices, the Selphy adds wireless printing through the company’s PRINT downloadable smartphone app for Android and iOS. A 3.2-inch display helps to select, edit and print photos from a memory card or directly from a USB cable. The Selphy offers a variety of printing choices from postcard-sized to square label prints, as well as traditional 3 x 5 and 4 x 6 prints.

Best Color Printing: Canon Pixma TS9120

4.6
What We Like
  • Excellent value

  • High print quality

What We Don't Like
  • Feels a bit flimsy

  • No document feeder for copies

When it comes to best-in-class print speeds for both text and photos, you'll want to look at the all-in-one Canon Pixma TS9120. Available in three different colors to bring some extra style to your dorm room, the two-tone gray, gold or red Canon adds six individual color inks to help produce some of the best color quality available at this price point.

Scanning and copy functionality are here, too, plus it's compatible with Apple’s AirPrint and Google’s Cloud Print wireless printing technology. The five-inch LCD touchscreen adds an enhanced user interface for quick setup and extras such as adding creative effects to photo prints prior to printing. For even more utility, the TS9120 supports CD/DVD and Blu-Ray disc printing, business card printing and support for loading files or images directly from a memory card.

Best Laser: Brother Monochrome Laser Printer

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Toner lasts a long time

  • Easy setup

What We Don't Like
  • Big and bulky

  • Monochrome only

The Brother Monochrome Laser Printer HLL2350DW measures 14 x 14 x 7.2 inches and can zip out a speedy 32 pages per minute. The 250-sheet capacity paper tray helps to eliminate the need to often refill trays for both legal and letter- sized papers. Dual-sided printing combines with Brother’s own high-yield ink cartridges to cut down on the number of ink refills. Brother adds additional printing options such as card stock or envelopes to round out a full suite of printing capabilities. Available wireless printing makes it easy to print directly from a laptop, smartphone or tablet without any messy cables or plugs.

Best Budget: HP Deskjet 3720

What We Like
  • All-in-one

  • Wireless connectivity

  • Photo and document printing

What We Don't Like
  • No borderless printing

  • Reports of bad scanning beds

The HP Deskjet 3720 is an all-in-one printer option that is perfect for college students on a very tight budget. This unit gives you the capabilities to print, scan, and copy both photos and documents so you can stay on top of assignments and keep in touch with professors without having to fight your way into the campus computer lab. Along with the standard USB wired connection, you can wirelessly print from your computer, smartphone, or other mobile device; there is even a direct wireless connection option so you can print when your WiFi is down.

HP offers high-yield options for ink cartridges to help keep your printing on budget, spend less time shopping for ink, and spend more time tackling your coursework. The printer features a super compact design that is great for keeping on a desk or printer cart without sacrificing space for other things you may need.

Best Splurge: Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank

Ideal for students who print a nearly endless stream of term papers, assignments or syllabi throughout the school year, the Epson Expression includes two years of ink or the equivalent of 20 printer cartridges, so it's probably worth ponying up some extra money. To put things into perspective, 20 printer cartridges is enough ink to print to 4,000 pages in black or up to 6,500 pages in color. 

The Epson incorporates built-in wireless printing from mobile devices and Wi-Fi direct technology to print even when a wireless signal is not available. A 1.44-inch color LCD helps to easily navigate the menu for quickly setting up the printer and connecting to a wireless network. The Epson incorporates an SD memory card slot for printing documents and photos directly from the printer without the need for a phone or computer.

Best Smart Printer: HP Tango X

What We Like
  • Compatible with home automation services

  • Borderless printing

What We Don't Like
  • Occasional connectivity issues

  • Slow print speeds

The HP Tango X is a printer designed for students who want to optimize their workflow through tech. This printer is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana for easy voice controls for both printing and scanning. If you use the HP Smart app, you can print and scan directly to and from your favorite cloud services as well as monitor your ink and paper levels.

The Tango X supports borderless printing for 5x7 photos as well as crisp and professional documents. The entire unit is made with an ultra-compact design meant to fold up for discreet storage; it also features a designer cloth cover to prevent dust build-up and add a touch of chic style to your dorm or office. HP offers a one-year limited warranty as well as 24/7 web support for troubleshooting issues.

Best Portable: Epson Workforce WF-110

What We Like
  • Rechargeable battery

  • Compact

  • Auto power off

What We Don't Like
  • Prints heads susceptible to clogging

  • Reports of connectivity issues

If you're a commuter student, check out the Epson Workforce WF-110 mobile printer. This model is designed specifically for students and professionals alike who need to print on-the-go. It features a built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery that gives you plenty of power to print assignments and reports whenever and wherever you need to. The printer measures just 12.2 inches long, making it perfect for slipping into a laptop bag or backpack when it isn't needed.

The 1.4-inch LCD control panel gives you quick and easy access to print and connectivity functions. You can connect a laptop, smartphone, or other mobile devices via a wireless network or WiFi Direct for printing when it isn't possible to set up a computer network. Epson offers quick-drying inks for this printer so your documents always come out crisp and clean. The printer also features an automatic off function so you don't accidentally drain the battery when it isn't in use.

What to Look for in Printers for College Students

Inkjet or laser - While laser printers typically use less ink, contain longer-lasting cartridges, and print faster, inkjet printers are more affordable. Inkjet printers are a great option for those who are simply looking to print out their essays before racing off to class.

Color or monochrome - Do you need to print photos or color graphics for your assignments? If you don’t need color, then you might want to consider a black and white printer. Fewer ink cartridges for the machine to use means less money out of your pocket.

Wireless connectivity - The world is wireless, and you’ll want to be able to print from your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Seek out a printer that offers wireless connectivity to avoid tripping over a printer cable in your dorm.