4 Types of Toner Cartridges – Which Is Right For You?


Today, you have more toner cartridge choices than ever before for your copier. Choosing the right cartridge to meet your needs can be a challenge. In this post, we’re going to explain your options and give you information that can help you make an informed decision.

The Four Types of Toner Cartridges

You have four choices when it comes to toner cartridges for your office machine. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Here is an explanation of each type, along with their pros and cons.

1. OEM Toner Cartridges

OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer” and is made by the company that manufactured your copier or printer. They are manufactured specifically for your device and are reliable as well as high-quality.

They typically have low failure rates, produce high-quality output, and are often guaranteed or warrantied. Manufacturers recommend that you use these cartridges, and some claim that you may have problems if you don’t.

The Pros 

They are manufactured specifically for your device, are typically reliable, offer high-quality output, and have extremely low failure rates.

The Cons

OEM cartridges are significantly more expensive than other options.

Ideally, if you can afford the cost and you want a high-quality colour output for things such as design proofs, colour brochures, or sales sheets, OEM cartridges offer the most reliable output, but they come at a significant price.

2. New Compatible Cartridges

New compatible cartridges are made by a third-party manufacturer using all new compatible parts and can be used in a variety of devices. New compatible cartridges offer good output quality for a lower price than OEMs.

The Pros

New compatible cartridges are less expensive than OEM cartridges and offer good quality prints while working in multiple brands of printers.

The Cons

With so many new compatible cartridges on the market, if you don’t do your research, it’s easy to buy an inferior product inadvertently. Find a reputable distributor and make sure to ask about any warranties on their products.

New compatible cartridges are a good choice if you are looking to get your print costs under control. Their output is comparable with OEM cartridges at a much lower cost-per-page.

3. Remanufactured Cartridges

Many manufacturers offer cartridge recycling programs. The empty cartridges are sent back to the plant where they are taken apart and inspected, and any worn parts are replaced before the cartridge is refilled, tested and then sold.

The Pros

Remanufactured cartridges offer good value for the cost, which is a little less than new compatible. The quality is good, many claims they offer higher yields than some OEM cartridges, and most come with a warranty or guarantee. Quality remanufactured cartridges also have low failure rates, and they are an environmentally-friendly choice.

The Cons

When buying any remanufactured cartridge, make sure that it has been “re-chipped.” This chip is used to track the number of print jobs done and estimate how many copies you have left before your cartridge needs replacing.

If the chip has not been replaced, your “low-toner” warnings may be unreliable. Quality can vary greatly, so make sure anyone your work with offers a guarantee that their product will work.

If you output a high-volume of copies, remanufactured cartridges might be a good choice. They are the least expensive of the three types discussed. When purchased from a reputable dealer, they offer good print quality and reliability.

4. Refilled Cartridges

By far, refilled cartridges are the cheapest option and are also the lowest quality. Refilled cartridges are exactly what they sound like. They have used cartridges that have had their toner refilled. There is no inspection, and cartridge parts aren’t replaced.

The Pros

They’re cheap.

The Cons

You get what you pay for!

Refilled cartridges are rarely a good idea. They can and do, fail often. They also can leak, causing damage to your copier or MFP.

While we do not actually ever recommend using a refilled cartridge if you are going to use them be sure you use it on a convenience device and not one that is essential to your business!

So Which Cartridge Is Right for Your Copier?

Basically, it depends on a few factors – your budget, the volume of copies and prints your office generates and the level of quality you need. Many organizations have multiple printers and copiers throughout the office and buy several different types of cartridges. 

For example, a marketing department typically needs to produce high-quality documents, so it may be worth the cost to use OEM cartridges for these users. They’re the most reliable and produce the highest-quality output. 

Your accounting department prints large volumes of documents, but most don’t need to be “client-ready” quality. Remanufactured cartridges are a good choice in this situation.

The shared office multifunction printer produces high-volume and typically requires higher quality, so new compatible cartridges can save money, handle higher volume and offer OEM comparable quality.

Low on toner? Now that you know which toner is right for you, we are here to help you get it!

Cody Turner
Digital Content Specialist
Office Interiors

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