Ask LH: What’s A Good Cheap Laser Printer For A Student?

Dear Lifehacker,
Dear Lifehacker, I am a first year university student in need of a new printer that better suits my needs as a student. Ideally the printer would be around the $100 budget, have a high page per minute output and relatively cheap toner. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks, Printing Profusely

Dear PP,

You know that old axiom about having things good, fast or cheap, but you’ve got to pick only two? It totally applies here, and arguably within this category you can’t really have fast anyway. Even within the laser world (although some of them are more accurately LED printers now), cheap printers are built on the razor blades model; the replacement inks/toners are more expensive than the comparatively more costly ones, if only because it’s expected at the cheap end of town that you’ll be using them for lower-impact printing that a small to medium sized office might.

But if budget is your primary consideration, Brother’s standalone monochromes are a good bet in this regard; for whatever it’s worth I’ve got a cheap Brother HL-2150N in my office right now, and while it’s been complaining for a while that the toner is low, it continues to chug along. That’s an obsolete model right now, but the slightly more current HL-2130 can be had for around sixty bucks. You won’t find too many really budget-priced single function mono lasers with really cheap toner, but careful use of draft mode (which shouldn’t be a concern for most University students unless you’re producing a lot of very fine drawings or such) should also keep your toner costs low.

As always, I’d be interested to hear what other Lifehacker readers think. Are cheap laser printers a good buy, or do you prefer a more expensive model with better toner performance?


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