This article was last updated on June 11, 2020 by Digital Trends editor Luke Larsen.
Based on our extensive experience,is the best color laser printer you can buy. We consider it our first choice because it offers fast print speeds, uses high-capacity toner, and works with almost every available wireless printing standard. The LaserJet Pro M255dw even has an NFC card reader for customers who want a little more security. We have tested and verified dozens of printers. Based on the knowledge we have acquired, we believe that there is no better price-performance ratio.
However, if you find that our top selection is not suitable for your specific needs, you should take a look at other color laser printers. If you want an all-in-one that can scan, copy and fax documents, or just need a cheaper model, be sure to check out the other printers we've included on this list.
The best color laser printers at a glance:
The best color laser printer: HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw
Why should you buy this: It is the best color laser printer you can buy.
Who is it for: Small business owners who have a home office.
Why we chose the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw:
Just because you want a powerful, feature-rich color printer at home doesn't have to be bulky. The HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw has a simple, modern design, including a helpful 2.7-inch color touchscreen for control. Compared to larger, more business-capable printers, the LaserJet Pro M255dw weighs only 30 kg and can easily be stowed in a corner of your home office.
At 22 pages per minute, it is not quite as fast as some larger printers and does not offer all-in-one functions such as scanning and copying. The LaserJet Pro M255dw offers support for Mac and Windows as well as a bypass slot for printing odd materials and is extremely versatile.
The best affordable color laser printer: Brother HL-L3270CDW
Why should you buy this: Fast full-color laser prints at an affordable price.
Who is it for: Private and small office customers with moderate print volume requirements.
Why we chose the Brother HL-L3270CDW:
Laser color printers are not cheap. Without buying an older printer, this affordable Brother is a great addition to a home office or small business. It has many of the same features that are available for expense models, such as: B. A 2.7-inch touchscreen for controls, a wireless NFC connection and a compartment with 250 seats.
The HL-L3270CDW does this without being too big or cumbersome like many other printers. At 40 pounds, it's fairly compact, making it a great option for small offices and desks.
The best business color laser printer: Brother HL-L8360CDW
Why should you buy this: High capacity toner, very fast print speeds and a variety of wireless connection options.
For whom it is: Offices with a large print volume or anyone who needs fast, colorful prints.
Why we chose the Brother HL-L8360CDW:
If you need to take your Brother printer to the next level, the HL-L8360CDW is a fantastic upgrade. At 48 pounds, however, the Brother HL-L8360CDW is not a lightweight. It is only intended for business premises and offers impressive print speeds (33 pages per minute) and high-capacity toner cartridges that are suitable for 4,500 prints.
For larger companies with security concerns, the HL-L8360CDW has an integrated NFC card reader with which employee ID cards can be scanned to authorize access, among other things. The printer is controlled via the 2.7-inch touchscreen and can be linked to your company's Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive accounts. For home or office use, you can easily print wirelessly using Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print 2.0. Other WLAN standards include Wi-Fi Direct, Cortado Workspace, Mopria and Brother's iPrint & Scan app.
The best color laser photo printer: Canon Color imageClass MF644Cdw
Why should you buy this: Excellent color print quality in a multifunction printer.
For whom it is: Anyone who needs to print or copy photos and graphics quickly.
Why we chose the Canon Color imageClass MF634Cdw::
Laser printers are not photo printers per se, but models like the Canon Color imageClass MF644Cdw significantly blur the lines between them, which makes sense from a company like Canon, which is known for its cameras. We wouldn't recommend it to photographers, but the MF644Cdw is hard to beat for the office that needs to create or reproduce documents that contain graphics and photos.
While the 22ppm print speed is not the same as the HP M281fdw, it does offer automated duplex printing, copying, and scanning from the 50-sheet document feeder. With a maximum monthly duty cycle of 30,000 prints and a recommended cycle of 200 to 2,500 prints, it can also meet the standard printing needs of small to medium-sized offices.
In addition to USB, print jobs can be sent wirelessly via Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria, Wi-Fi Direct and Canon's Print Business app.
Research and buying tips
Color laser printers compared to inkjet printers
Laser printers are better for text documents because they produce sharp lines even with very small font sizes. Over time, they are also cheaper to produce because you can get more prints per dollar spent on toner than with inkjet ink. Laser printers also offer faster print speeds and can save a lot of time on large print jobs.
However, laser printers and the toner they use cause higher upfront costs. If you don't print very often, you can buy a cheap inkjet printer – some cost only around $ 30 – and it can take a long time for the higher operating costs to reach the higher initial cost of a laser printer. For smaller print jobs, the faster page rate per minute of a laser printer is also not a big advantage.
Color laser printers can also be slightly slower than equivalent black and white versions due to the way the color toner process works. Most color laser printers use a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to produce color. They make one pass for each toner color (methods can vary here, but many use multiple rollers), which of course takes longer.
While color laser printers have gotten a lot better at handling photos, a high-end inkjet photo printer is just what you need if you want to create detailed, color-accurate photo prints that will hang on your wall, be displayed in a gallery, or be sold to customers still the right way (or just outsource work to a photo lab). In addition to print quality, inkjet photo printers can also process a wider variety of paper types and sizes than laser printers. A color laser printer processes inline photos and graphics in documents perfectly.
Are color laser printers supported with Wi-Fi or AirPrint?
Yes. As with inkjet printers, wireless connectivity is widely used in color laser printers. However, not every model supports every brand of wireless printing technology. For example, the Brother HL-3170CDW mentioned above supports both Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, but the Dell C1760NW does not, although it still offers mobile printing through its own proprietary app.
How can I print from my iPad, iPhone or Android device?
It depends on the wireless capabilities of your printer. Many printers today support Apple AirPrint, making it easier to print from an iPad or iPhone to a printer on your Wi-Fi network. Not all apps support AirPrint, but many – including non-Apple apps.
On Android, you can use Google Cloud Print to print all documents stored in your Google Drive or directly from Google apps such as "Docs and Sheets". As with AirPrint, a printer that supports Cloud Print is required.
If your printer doesn't support Cloud Print or AirPrint but has WiFi, your printer manufacturer may offer its own iOS and Android app for printing from your mobile device.
How often do I have to buy toner?
It depends on how much you print. Toner cartridges often yield 2,000 pages or more (check your printer's specifications for the specific yield of your model). For light home use, this means that many people can easily do without a toner change for a year or more. The replacement interval is shorter for office use, but the toner can last a few months.
How can I save toner?
The first step is to print efficiently. So check the page layout settings and make sure everything is correct before clicking this print button.
When it's time to reorder, you can save money by buying third-party toner cartridges. A single original toner cartridge for the Brother HL-L8360CDW costs around $ 78, while a full set of black and color toner (four cartridges in total) from E-Z Ink costs around $ 66. Buying third-party toner is probably not recommended by the manufacturer of your printer. However, as long as you make sure that it is compatible with your printer, it should work properly. However, some printers, such as the HP model above, are looking for toner that uses a special chip that identifies it as original equipment. HP warns that some other cartridges may work today, but may not work in the future.
Can I buy a color laser printer with an integrated fax?
Yes. Many all-in-one laser printers, such as the HP LaserJet Pro M281fdw above, can scan, copy, and fax documents. Note that not all all-in-one devices – also called multifunction printers – have fax modems. You should therefore check the technical data before buying.
How we test
To find the best color laser printers, we take into account criteria such as speed, price, maintenance costs and all the unique features that help them stand out from the competition.
Our selection is based on our long-term and short-term tests. Experience with previous models; Familiarity with the technologies of the companies; Consultation of industry experts, co-journalists and users; Online forums; Laboratory results; and other third party reviews. We're looking across the board – not just our own experience – to find a consensus on what we think are the most powerful printers you can buy right now. We also check list prices to see if a product is worth the cost. We even recommend printers that are not new, provided the features are still top notch.
The printer market is constantly evolving. Manufacturers are either introducing better models with new features or major upgrades. So you can assume that our selection will also change. But don't worry – the models you see here will be with you for some time. If we expect better models on the horizon, we will let you know in advance to help you decide whether to buy or wait now.