9 Best Color Laser Printers | April 2017

We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you're looking to attain unparalleled quality in your hard-copy materials, a top-tier color laser printer is likely the answer. We've evaluated models designed for intermittent use in the home, as well as units intended for use in a busy office, and have ranked them by efficiency, clarity, connectivity, and value. Skip to the best color laser printer on Amazon.
9 Best Color Laser Printers | April 2017
Overall Rank: 5
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 4
Best High-End
★★★★
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
★★★
9
With its diminutive footprint and efficient energy-saving mode that uses only four watts of power, the Canon LBP7110CW is ideal for use in the home, or in an office setting where it might not see a tremendous amount of use.
  • quality is clean and crisp
  • free mobile app
  • relatively slow production speeds
Brand Canon
Model 6293B003
Weight 50 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
8
The Ricoh SP C250DN has a simple design, but it's efficient and precise, offering 2,400 x 600 dpi resolution. It has a 250-sheet capacity that results in a less frequent need to refill the tray in most mid-range professional settings.
  • wireless functionality works well
  • warranty includes in-home service
  • toner is very expensive
Brand Ricoh
Model 407519
Weight 59 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
7
If you're working in a setting that requires three or more employees to sync production, you will appreciate the connectivity of the HP M452dw LaserJet Pro. It is powerful, compact, and reliable, and its touchscreen controls are exceedingly simple.
  • receives easily from smartphones
  • ideal for mid-sized teams
  • no mac drivers included
Brand HP
Model M452DW
Weight 48.4 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
6
The Brother HLL8250CDN features one-pass two-sided printing to get you through jobs much more quickly. It is Energy Star compliant and extremely fast when working in black and white, with the ability to churn out 30 pages per minute.
  • automatic shutoff
  • ethernet or usb connections
  • toner depletes rapidly
Brand Brother
Model HLL8250CDN
Weight 51.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
5
The HP LaserJet M477fdw is a compact all-in-one option that can scan directly to a number of different storage devices, including USB drives, specific email addresses, and cloud servers. The company's ColorSphere 3 toner is fast and efficient.
  • groups up to 10 users
  • puts out 28 pages per minute
  • fans make too much noise
Brand HP
Model M477FDW
Weight 59.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
4
The Canon LBP7780Cdn offers an efficient printing experience with exceptionally fast speeds. It produces up to 33 pages per minute, and it has an unparalleled response time, commencing its jobs just a few seconds after you send them.
  • good mobile functionality
  • colors are vibrant and crisp
  • accepts high-yield toner cartridges
Brand Canon
Model 6140B006AA
Weight 105.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
3
The Dell C2665dnf is an all-in-one solution that can print, scan, and share files with ease, and the documents it creates are top quality, whether it's outputting photos, PowerPoint decks, or simple text sheets. It also has a large, 4.3-inch color touchscreen.
  • sleek professional appearance
  • links to cloud-based data
  • high-capacity trays
Brand Dell
Model C2665dnf
Weight 82 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
2
With its ability to print from a variety of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, the HP LaserJet M252dw is a cutting-edge workhorse that means fewer trips across the office and easier access for multiple users.
  • security management features
  • long-lasting toner blend
  • color touchscreen interface
Brand HP
Model B4A22A#BGJ
Weight 33.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
1
The HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn can wake from sleep mode and begin printing in as little as nine seconds. It can produce double-sided pages as quickly as it does single, at a rate up to 40 sheets per minute. It also features built-in security measures.
  • connects outside of its main network
  • no app required for mobile interface
  • 24-hour web-based support
Brand HP
Model B5L25A#BGJ
Weight 70 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

A Brief History Of The Laser Printer

The history of the modern printer arguably begins with the development of the first viable paper, which was developed in Ancient China, likely in the first century of the Common Era. Early papers were made not from wood pulp, which wouldn't see common use in the paper-making process until hundreds of years later in the 1840s. Instead, ancient paper was made primarily from hemp fibers or from repurposed scraps of linen, cotton, or other types of cloth.

The next innovation toward modern printing again came from China, where the first printing presses featuring movable type were designed sometime during the early years of the Northern Song Dynasty, which lasted from 960 to 1127 CE. Movable type was far more efficient than traditional woodblock printing, which required brand new carvings for each set of pages to be printed. Chinese is a character-based language, however, and it still made for a laborious printing process, even with movable ceramic tablets available for each character. As a result, the use of these units was not widespread.

In 1450, an innovative German blacksmith named Johannes Gutenberg devised the first printing press that can be thought of as essentially modern. It used movable type tablets made of a durable blend of three materials -- lead, antimony, and tin -- and took advantage of the Arabic-alphabet-based European languages that made typesetting much more efficient. Gutenberg's new printing press would change the nature of information dissemination across the Renaissance world, with the prolific publication of the eponymous Gutenberg Bible serving as the most lasting legacy of his achievement.

Until the advent of the printer -- an approximation of which appeared in the mid 19th century, but was used only for recording specific mathematical calculations -- the printing press remained the standard method for getting words and simple graphics down on paper. In the 20th century, as the pace of technological development and innovation quickened, myriad printers were developed and released to the marketplace. Many were successful, such as the once ubiquitous dot matrix printer, while others saw short lived use, such as the Selectric-type-based Flexowriter from IBM, which essentially used the printing technology of a typewriter hooked up to a computer system.

The first functional laser printer was conceived of and developed by an American named Gary Starkweather who worked for the Xerox Corporation. His idea for using an electrostatic printing process in which a laser created a selective charge on a drum which could then draw powdered ink toner onto a sheet of paper came to him in 1969. By 1972, after several years of development, Starkweather and several of his colleagues had created the first working laser printer.

While not suitable for creating extremely high resolution color graphics or photographs, laser printers are prized in many fields, from the professional to the academic, for their incredibly high printing speeds. If you need multiple pages printed quickly, you need to consider a laser printer. While Gutenberg's printing press could create approximately 240 "impressions"" (e.g. pages) per hour in the hands of skilled workers, today's top of the line laser printers can churn out up to 40 pages per minute (that's about 2,400 pages in an hour).

Choosing The Right Laser Printer For The Busy Office

The first laser printer specifically designed for office use was the Xerox Star 8010, a workstation released in 1981 that sold for the prohibitive price of $17,000. (That figure today has the buying power of $46,592 USD when adjusted for inflation, for the record.) Fortunately, today a commercial laser printer that is entirely adequate for even the busiest offices can be had for considerably less. In fact, you can find excellent laser printers that cost well under $1,000.

One of the most important considerations when selecting a laser printer for an office is not necessarily print speed; even moderately priced units can turn out as many as two dozen pages per minute, after all. Rather, you should look for a unit that boasts plenty of flexibility when it comes to document type. An office will likely see printing on everything from sheets of basic eight by eleven paper, to envelopes of all sizes, card stock, and more. So look for units with large multipurpose tray capacity as well as those with plenty of storage room in the primary paper tray.

Also, consider designating your office's laser printer for use only with written documents, and invest in a separate printer for printing that involves graphics, photos, and even for type-based documents with color; an inkjet printer can't match a laser printer for speed, but it will offer better quality for image printing, and many units are priced affordably.

A Laser Printer For Home Or Small Business Use

If you are looking to buy a laser printer for use at your home, in your small business, in a school or church office, or anywhere else where printing is important but not necessarily a high volume affair, a laser printer still may be a wise choice. That's thanks to the efficiency of a good laser printer's toner ink system.

Many laser printer's use toner cartridges that can produce thousands of pages before needing a replacement, so their use saves you time and might even save you cash in the long run. Toner cartridges are expensive, but they yield plenty of printed documents.

If your laser printer will be used in a school or for a small business, don't overlook the fact that these devices use much of the same technology as photocopier machines; choose one with a copier tray and you will essentially be getting two machines in one.



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Last updated on April 24 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.