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Inkjet vs Laser Printer Costs for University Students

5 October 2011 No Comment

Now that I am a student again I have a compulsive need to print things. A professor sends out class notes in pdf? I need to print it. Solutions to assignments? I need to print it. An email sent out saying this week’s class is cancelled? I need to print it. The digital world only exists to please the senses of the analog world.

I previously owned an inkjet printer from high school through undergrad, but later sold it once I started working full-time at BC Hydro. This time around I thought it would be wiser to do some economical analysis on the three options I had available:

  • Buy an Inkjet Printer
  • Buy a Laser Printer
  • Use a UofT Printers for 15 cents per page

My roommate belongs to the philosophical camp that says buying a printer is not worth the money since you have to constantly buy new cartridges. It’s true that you have the cost of purchasing expensive cartridges, not to mention an expensive printer, but I wanted to find the printing usage that made sense to buy a laser and inkjet printer relative to using UofT’s 15 cents per page printers. I compiled a list of the cheapest printers at Futureshop (the HP inkjet and Samsung laster printer were both on sale at the time of analysis), along with the cost of OEM cartridge replacements.

HP DeskJet 1055 All-In-One Inkjet Printer (CH347A)
Printer Cost: $39.99
Cartridge Cost: $21.31
Cartridge Yield: 190 pages / cartridge
Samsung Monochrome Laser Printer (ML-1675)
Printer Cost: $51.29
Cartridge Cost: $75.65
Cartridge Yield: 1500 pages / cartridge
Brother Monochrome Laser Printer (HL-2240D)
Printer Cost: $140.57
Cartridge Cost: $74.57
Cartridge Yield: 2600 pages / cartridge


Buying an inkjet or laser printer is economical when you print at least 9 pages per week. This assumes you are enrolled in class for the entire year. If you are only using your printer for 8 months in the fall and winter the threshold number gets raised to 14 pages per week. At 10 pages per week, Samsung’s laser printer becomes more economical than inkjet printers – the maximum price difference being 5 cents per page.

In the end, I bought the Samsung printer. An inkjet might make sense if you want to print photos or colour pictures, but the reality is I am only looking to print boring text. My only problem with my printer is that now I have less hesitation about printing stuff, which wasn’t the case when I was using UofT’s printers. We will see if this changes when I have to buy my $75 cartridge.


The calculations are based on a 2 year life span, with no discount rate, and no salvage value.
You can get a lower price curve for inkjets if you were to have them refilled or buy non-OEM cartridges.
The printer costs include Ontario’s $5.40 environmental handling cost.
The calculations include a paper cost of 1 cent per page.
The pricing curve for the laser printer assumes the initial cartridge yields 500 pages, not 1500.

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