Buy 2 – Save 10% + FREE SHIPPING

Buy 2 – Save 10%

Smart Blog

How to Choose Printer Ink Cartridges: Original VS Remanufactured VS Compatible

Posted byolena

Have you ever come to a store to buy printer ink and get stuck there due to a vast selection? All these OEM, compatible, and remanufactured cartridges can really cause headaches if you don’t understand the difference between them. And the price range is shocking, too. How come one cartridge costs almost as much as the printer itself? And why another one costs three times less?

To answer all of these questions and deal with any misunderstanding about printer ink cartridges and their types, we’ve decided to compile this short guide. Hope it helps you when you shop next time!

Original cartridges (OEM)

The abbreviation OEM stands for the original equipment manufacturer, which means that the cartridge is produced by the same company that supplied your printer. For instance, if you use a Canon printer, you may buy a Canon cartridge that will be genuine and will fit perfectly well.

Of course, such a combination is supposed to work perfectly well as the manufacturers know their product best and can tailor the cartridge so that it works faultlessly at all times. Yet, OEM-s have some disadvantages, too.

The biggest issue with original cartridges is probably their cost. Unfortunately, they are much more expensive than their alternatives – sometimes, the price for a genuine cartridge can even exceed the price of a printer itself. Is this fair? Not really. But as a printer is a one-time purchase and users need to visit the ink store regularly, manufacturers make more money on cartridges and, thus, set sky-high prices.

Besides, the ink supply in original cartridges is usually significantly less than in some compatible toners, even though they claim to be of the same capacity. Most manufacturers don’t even produce XL inkjet cartridges, which are an excellent way for the users to save up.

Overall, it is obvious that the value of OEM cartridges is somewhat overestimated. What about the alternatives?

Remanufactured cartridges

One of the main alternatives to original cartridges is remanufactured ones. This is actually a great way to recycle your genuine cartridge after you’ve used all the toner in it. You may send it to one of the office supply stores or online businesses that will clean it and refill with new ink. This is not only convenient and cheaper but also ecological as you reduce the carbon footprint.

The remanufacturing of ink cartridges doesn’t mean quality loss. Most of the companies providing remanufactured cartridges check them after refilling for any malfunctioning. Moreover, they may replace any faulty details, install a new sponge and fix some minor problems.

There is another major advantage of remanufactured cartridges over the original ones. As the supplier refills the toner, they usually fill them to the full capacity in contrast to the OEM-s. This way, you can use them longer and enjoy the same high quality. Yet, the performance of a remanufactured cartridge depends directly on the business that you use. If it is reliable enough, your cartridge will work as well as the original one.


Are there any risks? For sure. Some remanufactured cartridges may still be faulty, their ink may fade in time, and the colors might be less accurate than in the original toner. For that reason, we highly recommend you to check the warranty provided by the supplier. Make sure to find out if they are ready to replace the toner or the cartridge itself if anything goes wrong. For instance, SmartInk provides a 2-year warranty for all the details and workmanship. This way, our customers can feel safe and be sure that nothing will go wrong. 

In a nutshell, remanufactured cartridges are sometimes as good as the original ones but much more affordable. They may help you save up to 70% of your usual toner expenses and ensure the same flawless experience. But you need to be really careful when choosing a supplier to get a cartridge that will fully meet your expectations.

Compatible cartridges

If you are looking for cheap ink cartridges but want to get high-quality printing at all times, you will definitely come across the compatible ones. Compatible cartridges are basically made from scratch by a third party. Unlike remanufactured cartridges, they do not have the original details designed by printer suppliers, yet this doesn’t mean that they are of lower quality.

Being developed by a supplier, compatible cartridges are carefully inspected for any faults and the overall compatibility with the target printers. For that reason, they are mostly as good as the original ones, while remaining much cheaper.

It can be risky to buy compatible cartridges from unverified suppliers that don’t give any guarantee of the quality of their product or its durability. You should carefully examine the company’s return policy and terms of use before buying a cartridge from them. This will save you a lot of headache down the line. 

In general, compatible cartridges are a smart solution for the ones who need high-quality stable printing but at the same time don’t want to spend a fortune on original cartridges. Among all the available solutions, compatible cartridges are probably the best one, so you should definitely consider them the next time you run out of ink.

SmartInk solution

Smart Ink provides customers with both remanufactured and compatible cartridges for the most popular printer models. We ensure high quality of printing and affordable pricing, so that you can enjoy every single printout and photo you make.

Here, at Smart Ink, we think quality first, so we only use new high-quality details. Afterward, we run our compatible cartridges through all necessary tests to make sure that they are of the same quality as the original ones. Besides, we ensure 100% compatibility by regularly checking a smart chip to be of the latest model.

Another significant advantage of Smart Ink cartridges is the cost. Our fair prices help you save over 50% of what you used to spend for the original toners. We do our best to make the products as affordable as possible so that you could save some money for your hobbies, friends, or loved ones. 

When it comes to Smart Ink guarantees, our clients can be absolutely sure that they will get exactly what they want. All our products fall under a 2-year warranty, which backs up both materials and workmanship. Besides, we have a 30-day return policy and the possibility to exchange products damaged during the delivery or sent to you by mistake. All of the mentioned above makes it absolutely safe to order at Smart Ink. Give it a try and see for yourself!


Are original cartridges better than their alternatives?

Not necessarily. As they were specially designed to fit a certain printer, they are supposed to work flawlessly. Yet, even original cartridges can malfunction from time to time. On the other hand, a lot of compatible cartridge suppliers manufacture the product of the same quality as the genuine ones.

Why are compatible and remanufactured cartridges cheaper than the original ones?

It all depends on the business model of a particular company. The manufacturers of the original cartridges don’t make much money on printers as this is always a one-time purchase. For this reason, they set unreasonably high prices for cartridges, which are the main source of their income. Other brands have a different situation, thus, a different business model with lower prices. Here, at Smart Ink, our main focus is to provide customers with high-quality product at reasonable prices.

Will my printer warranty be affected if I use a compatible cartridge?

No, if you use Smart Ink cartridges, your printer warranty will not be voided. As there are no patents to prevent third parties from manufacturing compatible cartridges, you may easily use them and feel safe.

Where is it best to buy ink cartridges?

It depends on the type of cartridge you’d like to buy. There are plenty of offline stores and online businesses that provide original, remanufactured, or compatible cartridges. You may pick any of them, but please make sure to check their warranty and return policy, so that you can fix, change, or return a cartridge if necessary (and of course, you can buy cartridges at

How can I be sure that a compatible cartridge will fit my printer?

All you need to do is check what types of cartridges are compatible with your printer. For instance, on Smart Ink website, you may search a cartridge by a printer model as well, which makes it much easier to choose a suitable one. Besides, some businesses, including Smart Ink, allow you to change the cartridge if you have accidentally ordered the wrong model.

What should I do if there is a problem with my cartridge?

You should turn to your cartridge supplier. Most trusted companies, such as Smart Ink, provide a warranty for all their products. You can turn to our customer support anytime 24/7 and they will be happy to help.


4 thoughts on “How to Choose Printer Ink Cartridges: Original VS Remanufactured VS Compatible

  1. I am finding it difficult to select a xerox black toner as there are so many varieties of products around me. Thanks for briefing out these different types and how these products manufactured, this information helps me to understand the process of making toner and cartridge now and brings in clarity in my thought .

    1. Dear Sam.
      Thank you for sharing your experience with me.
      Unfortunately, so far, we do not have supplies for Xerox devices. However, you can contact us via LiveChat, and I’ll do my best in helping you to choose the proper toner 🙂

      Looking forward to hearing from you,
      Antony – Smart Ink customer support manager

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recognized instantly

Cartridges work immediately upon installation

2-Year money back guarantee

Buy with confidence!

Free shipping

No minimum order sizes or special exceptions!

Contact us anytime

We are always ready to help!

Shopping cart

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.

More info

Is there anything holding you back from purchasing at this point?