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The age-old question: choose ink or toner?

Posted bymshapovalova

In this article, you’ll find out the following:

  1. What does the ink cartridge look like?
  2. What does the toner cartridge look like?
  3. What is the difference between ink and toner cartridges?
  4. Which type of print cartridge is best?

Everyone who has chosen a printer has considered the difference between ink and toner. Ink and toner cartridges are used in printing, but they are different substances used in various types of printers. Which type will work best for you, print better, and last longer? It’s good to know because the wrong choice can cost you money. Let’s finally figure it out and dot the I’s. 🙂

What does the ink cartridge look like?

Ink is a liquid substance that is used in inkjet printers. Inkjet printers spray tiny ink droplets onto paper to create text and images. Ink typically comes in small cartridges that are easily replaced and often color-coded.


Ink cartridges come in different colors, including black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. Some printers may also use additional colors like light cyan or light magenta to produce more vibrant and accurate colors. In addition, the cartridges are designed to fit into specific printer models. Each cartridge contains a particular type of ink formula optimized for the printer it is intended to work with.

With ink cartridges, you can print economically, but you don’t have to limit yourself. In this article, we give you tips on how to save ink when printing.


When the ink in a cartridge runs out, the cartridge can be replaced with a new one. Some printers use individual cartridges for each color, while others may have a single cartridge that contains multiple colors. 

It is essential to ensure the cartridges are compatible with your specific printer model. For example, some printers may use a larger or smaller cartridge, depending on the intended usage. Some ink cartridges also have features like automatic ink level monitoring, which can help prevent running out of ink unexpectedly.

You can find high-quality replacement of ink cartridges for HP and Canon in the Smart ink shop.

HP and Canon, the most well-known brands in the printing industry, offer a wide range of ink cartridges to meet the needs of various printers. HP printer ink cartridges are renowned for their reliability, and they minimize the risk of smudging or fading. Canon ink cartridges are designed to work seamlessly with Canon printers, ensuring optimal print quality and longevity.

Ink cartridges can be purchased from Smart Ink shop, a cheaper option of the same high quality.

What does the toner cartridge look like?

On the other hand, toner is a fine powder used in laser printers and photocopiers. The toner is fused to the paper using heat for electrostatic charge inside and pressure to create text and images. 

Without going into the chemical composition of toners, let’s say that the toner powder is composed of plastic and pigment. Also, sustainable plant-based toners could be available as an eco-friendly alternative to chemical cartridges.


Toner cartridges come in black and other colors like cyan, magenta, and yellow, which can be combined to produce full-color prints. The cartridges are similarly designed to fit into specific printer models. Each cartridge contains a toner formula optimized for the printer it is intended to work with.


A new toner cartridge can be replaced when the toner runs out. Some toner cartridges also have a separate drum unit that may need to be replaced periodically, depending on the printer model. 

Toner cartridges can vary in price, depending on the intended usage and the capacity of the cartridge. Some toner cartridges are designed to last for thousands of pages, making them a more cost-effective option for high-volume printing. In addition, toner cartridges may come equipped with automatic toner level monitoring features, which can help avoid running out of toner unexpectedly.

What is the difference between ink and toner cartridges?

To summarize this section, the fundamental difference between ink and toner is:

– the type of printer they are used in. Ink is used in inkjet printers, and toner is used in laser printers and photocopiers. Here we made a detailed overview of inkjet and laser printers.

– the physical form of the substance. As mentioned, ink is a liquid, and toner is a powder. 

However, the differences continue beyond there.

Which type of print cartridge is best?

This choice depends entirely on your needs. Let’s go over the main ones.

  • Budget

In general, inkjet printers are a more affordable option for home or small office use, and ink cartridges are easily replaced and widely available. Find out how to print professional photos at the home office via the link

Laser printers and photocopiers, which use toners, are a more expensive option for home or small office use. 

  • Photo and text clarity

Printing with inkjet printers results in pages that are less likely to smudge, thanks to the ink drying relatively quickly. This precision in printing also ensures that the printed pages have high quality and are visually appealing. On the other hand, laser printers produce printed pages that display sharp and clear text and high-quality images. 

  • Print volume

Laser printers with toners are well-suited for high-volume printing. They offer faster print speeds and sharper text and graphics than inkjet printers. That is why it is a better option for large volumes of printing. In addition, toner cartridges are easy to replace and widely available, making them a convenient option for businesses and individuals who require frequent printing. By the way, HP toner cartridges are engineered to provide excellent page yield, which means you can print more pages per cartridge. 

  • Dimensions

Pay attention that laser printers are larger and take up more space in your office. Also, toner cartridges are typically larger than ink cartridges.

After all, which option is cheaper?

When it comes to the maintenance cost, it’s all about the toner and ink cartridges expenses. And here, inkjet printers are losing the battle. Since liquid ink is expensive, the cost-per-page black-and-white printouts will be around 5-10 cents, depending on the printer model. Meanwhile, the color printing will cost you even more: about 15-25 cents per page.

Laser printer maintenance is much more affordable due to the toner price. For now, the cost-per-page of black-and-white prints is below 5 cents for any laser printer. And the color printouts cost around 15 cents per page.

Overall, ink cartridges are chipper in the short term. Still, they might be more expensive than toner, considering ink lasts less and needs to be replaced more often. So toner may be more cost-effective for printing large numbers of documents.

Another thing that you should be aware of is the expiration date of toners and ink cartridges. As liquid ink can dry out quickly, after purchasing an inkjet cartridge, you must print something out regularly to avoid losing the ink. Yet, the toner is dry. Together, these factors contribute to a longer toner life.

Your decision on which format to choose will depend on more than just comparing toner versus ink cost, as each format has unique advantages and features.

Now you know the difference between inks and toners, which is best suited for your specific needs, and what’s affordable. Read the Smart Ink blog and learn all about printing.

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