HP = Heavy-duty Printing

Everything you need to choose the right printer

HP = Heavy-duty Printing

Hewlett-Packard laser printers for Heavy-duty Printing

Sometimes you just need to print a little, and keeping the price of the printer low is important. Back to Basics gives you some options for 100 to 1,000 pages per month.

But if you are a heavy-duty user – printing from 1,000 pages per month up to 10,000 or even 20,000 pages per month – the best choices for printing change quite a bit. You may be thinking “who actually prints 20,000 pages per month?”, but that is about 1,000 pages per day, or one to two reams of paper (depending on how much printing is duplexed). If you print custom books, instruction manuals, insurance policies or many other things in a busy office, you can easily end up printing 10,000, 20,000 or even more pages every month.

Hewlett-Packard made its name producing rugged, reliable laser printers, and they have continued to do so, now in the “Enterprise” line. Some of these printers use toner cartridges that cost around $400! But those expensive cartridges actually make these printers some of the best, with the lowest Total Cost of Ownership.

We compared the TCO for all HP laser printers meeting the following criteria:

  • Base price < $3,000
  • Monochrome – Adding color increases cost and complexity – if you don’t need color, stick with monochrome
  • Duplex printing

That limits the results to 13 printers, ranging from $99 to $2,848. The printers fall into two product groups:

LaserJet Pro

The LaserJet Pro printers range from $99 to $549 and 30 to 45 pages per minute print speed (single sided). These are all nice printers, and any of them will do fine for low usage. But the key is the toner cost per page. The cost per page for these printers, using the largest toner cartridges available and Amazon’s discounted prices, ranges from 1.78 cents per page to 3.03 cents per page. That isn’t a big deal if you print a few hundred pages per month, but if you print thousands of pages per month then the cost adds up very quickly.

LaserJet Enterprise

The LaserJet Enterprise printers range from $599 to $2,848. But the cost per page of every one of these printers is less than all the LaserJet Pro printers, with a range of 0.98 cents per page to 1.73 cents per page.

Interestingly, the costs vary considerably, with the most expensive printers, the M712dn and M712xh, having significantly higher cost at 1.42 cents per page than the M608dn, M608x and M609dn at 0.98 cents per page. It pays to research actual costs, and we do that so you don’t have to!

And now, the results:

Low Usage – 1,000 pages per month

At the relatively low usage of 1,000 pages per month, the LaserJet Pro printers are the winners based on initial printer cost. However, the least expensive printers to purchase, the 30 page/minute $99 M118dw and $129 M203dw, are far from the least expensive to use. The winner is the much more powerful LaserJet Pro M501dn – 45 pages/minute, with the 40 pages/minute LaserJet Pro M404dn and the 45 pages/minute LaserJet Enterprise M507dn not far behind. Total cost for printer + toner:

M501dn + 1 CF287X toner cartridge: $871 = 3.629 cents per page
M404dn + 3 CF258X toner cartridges: $886
LaserJet Enterprise M507dn (not currently available on Amazon) + 1 CF289Y toner cartridges: $911

The M501dn and M507dn have larger paper trays and additional features, but any of these printers will serve you well for 1,000 pages per month.

Medium Usage – 2,000 pages per month

This is where the high cost of large toner cartridges – despite the low cost per page – comes into play. Due to quirks of “partial toner catridges” – i.e., you can’t buy “exactly 24 months x 2,000 pages per month” of toner, the LaserJet Pro M404dn and LaserJet Pro M404dw do better here than the LaserJet Pro M501dn and M507dn – though these are all better than the alternatives:

LaserJet Pro M404dn + 5 CF258X toner cartridges: $1,330 = 2.771 cents per page
LaserJet Pro M404dw + 5 CF258X toner cartridges: $1,460
LaserJet Pro M501dn + 3 CF287X toner cartridges: $1,513
LaserJet Enterprise M507dn + 3 CF289Y toner cartridges: $1,533

High Usage – 10,000 pages per month

Now it gets really interesting. Three of the most expensive printers – the $1,249 LaserJet Enterprise M608dn, the $1,599 LaserJet Enterprise M608x and the $1,799 LaserJet Enterprise M609dn are the big winners:

M608dn + 6 CF237Y toner cartridges: $3,650 = 1.521 cents/page
LaserJet Enterprise M608x + 6 CF237Y toner cartridges: $4,000
LaserJet Enterprise M609dn + 6 CF237Y toner cartridges: $4,200

The M507dn and M507x have a slightly higher total cost, but the cheaper (TCO) printers have them beat in speed: 65 pages/minute (M608dn, M608x) or 75 pages/minute (M609dn) vs. 45 pages/minute, and some other features. No point in spending more money to get less printer.

Very High Usage – 20,000 pages per month

Double the usage again and the difference is even more dramatic. The winners are the same:

LaserJet Enterprise M608dn + 12 CF237Y toner cartridges: $6,048 = 1.26 cents per page
LaserJet Enterprise M608x + 12 CF237Y toner cartridges: $6,398
LaserJet Enterprise M609dn + 12 CF237Y toner cartridges: $6,598

with the next best printer, the M507dn + 24 toner cartridges, costing $7,462 – more money for a slower printer!

Remember: The printer business is no longer about the “best” price on a printer. It is about the best total cost of ownership. If the TCO is the same for different printers, you may as well get the most features for your money.