Most and Least Reliable Printer Brands

Laser printers tend to be larger than inkjets and are often more expensive, but they have distinct advantages. They churn out pages of text much faster, generally with better quality. They don’t have ink nozzles, so clogs aren’t a problem. Plus, they don’t waste toner on maintenance cycles, unlike most inkjets, which use ink just to keep the nozzles clean. Toner cartridges don’t dry up like ink cartridges do, either, which means many people wind up spending less money on replacements.

You can choose between black-and-white and color laser printers, and then between all-in-one models and single-function printers. Consumer Reports has reliability data for each of those four categories. 

Printers that use inkjet cartridges are the most popular among CR members, making up 73 percent of the units in our study. They’re versatile and typically far better at printing photos than laser printers. They tend to be cheap to buy, and companies are aggressive in marketing these models because they make money on the back end by selling expensive replacement ink cartridges to their customers.

The bad news is that in general, inkjet printers are less reliable than laser printers, which is why we advise consumers to consider laser printers. None of the inkjet brands in our survey merit a high reliability rating.

Below, we’ll break down the most reliable brands for each type of printer, as well as highlights of some of the best models from CR’s printer ratings.