We need to buy a printer, but don't know which one to choose, because we need to decide on how much $/page is the printer costing. So:

Q: Does it means that if I fill up all 4 toners I can print 3000 pages or does it mean that I can print 4*3000 = 12000 pages?

  • Depends on your toner use. Carefully tailored prints could enable you to achieve 12k pages but for normal use i guess you will get 3000 pages with an average mixture of the four colours. If you print full page photos expect much less than that. – TheUser1024 Sep 19 '13 at 6:25

It isn't enough simply to know how many pages a cartridge can print, but also what coverage that number is for, i.e. how much of the page gets filled up with toner when printing. A typical value is 5%, which represents an "average" page of printed text, but don't assume that. So 3000 pages at 5% coverage is only about 300 pages at 50% coverage, or 150 pages when printing solid pages (100% coverage).

Additionally, colored toners are only used when actually printing colors, so they do not really follow the normal coverage numbers due to either spot or image printing.

In addition Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams' excellent answer:

The number that you see suggested as capacity on the box is tested in an environment where the manufacturer follows ISO standardization techniques, which you will not be following in your company, simply because documents are expected to vary as to what percentage of the page is covered by ink.

You can predict if it's possible to achieve this result, but you need to be aware of how close to 5% coverage are your docs.

Interestingly, businesses which are "renting" their big laser color multi functions printers are on a contract.

This means that no matter what the coverage is and how many laser cartridges they chew in a billing cycle, they are charged per page printed! Full coverage prints only cost the company the same as a 5% coverage.

So check with your company and if this is the way they are charged, maybe ask if you can do some "private" printing and pay per sheet printed.

At an individual level even a monochrome laser printer ends up being very costly. I have a Samsumg 2835DW that is cheap to buy (less than $100). It came with a start-up toner installed advertised for 600 pages at 5%. My wife uses it a lot for her master degree and we printed almost 1,000 pages on that cartridge.

We then purchased compatible cartridges which are almost 40% cheaper than the genuine Samsung. The high-capacity are advertised for a 3,000 page at 5%.

Well, it ran out after just about 745 pages! Same printing habits. Nothing fancy, no big pictures or graphics in the printed articles. We would have expected something like 4,000 from a 3,000 yield advertised!

At $55 a pop, that makes the sheet printed cost 7.5 cent/page! Ouch... Plus the drum cost per page!

Be prepared for high cost when running any laser printer (color or mono) at home.

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