The Best Color Laser Printer for 2020 – Buyer’s Guide
It’s no secret that color laser printers are not cheap to run in the long term, but sometimes you need to work with a good laser printer for colorful output.
Making that choice can be a bit of a tough task as you want to find the optimal combination between the affordability of running costs and high performance.
On this list, we’ve gathered the best color laser printers on the market to facilitate deciding for you.
Number of Ink Colors
LCD Preview Screen
HP LaserJet Pro M281FDW
HP LaserJet Pro M254DW
Canon imageCLASS MF644CDW
HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW
The 6 Best Color Laser Printers for 2020
1. Brother HL-L8360CDW
Maximum Resolution: 2400 x 600 DPI. Sheet Capacity: 250 sheets. Connectivity: USB 2.0, Ethernet, WiFi, NFC. Weight: 48.1 pounds. Maximum paper size: 8.5 x 14 inches.
With the Brother HL-L8360CDW, you’ll easily be able to handle any print job with no issues.
It has a print speed that reaches 33 PPM and can print at a resolution of 2400 x 600 DPI in full color.
Not only that, but it also has automatic duplexing and a wide range of connectivity options. This includes built-in WiFi, NFC, and a lot of mobile printing options.
You can also set up a wired connection through the USB 2.0 or Ethernet ports.
As for the paper handling, the Brother HL-L8360CDW has a 250-sheet input tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose one.
That’s why it can work with many types of media ranging from a size of 3 x 5 inches and up to 8.5 x 14 inches.
Moreover, the 2.7-inch color LCD touchscreen makes it easy to use.
The Brother HL-L8360CDW has a monthly duty cycle of 60,000 pages with a recommended 4,000 pages per month –a number which is quite superior to rivals.
With the toner saver mode, you’ll be able to reduce your running costs and save up a lot in the long run.
The printer is also Energy Star-certified and EPEAT Bronze-rated, which means that its power consumption is reduced to the minimum.
- Great overall print quality
- Quick performance
- Expandable paper capacity
- High-yield toner cartridges
- Photo quality isn’t the best
The Brother HL-L8360CDW is quite a well-rounded wireless color laser printer. It’s fast, prints with good quality, has low running costs, and expandable paper capacity.
2. Brother HL-L3210CW
Maximum Resolution: 2400 x 600 DPI. Sheet Capacity: 250 sheets. Connectivity: WiFi, USB Type-B Weight: 37.8 pounds. Maximum paper size: 8.5 x 14 inches.
The Brother HL-L3210CW is a very suitable choice for home use or a home office.
It is quite compact, with a footprint that measures 16.1 x 9.9 x 18.1 inches and weighing 37.8 pounds.
With a 4-cartridge system, the HL-L3210CW is able to produce documents of 2400 x 600 DPI resolution at a speed of 19 PPM.
Moreover, it can maintain a smooth workflow thanks to its 250 sheet capacity. On top of that, the manual feed slot can handle various media types, including card stock, envelopes, and more.
As for the connectivity options, you get USB and WiFi, which enables the printer to handle multiple office setups.
Through Apple AirPlay, Google Cloud Print, Brother iPrint & Scan, Mopria, and WiFi Direct compatibility, you can easily utilize mobile printing.
- Prints texts and photos of good quality
- Supports mobile devices via WiFi Direct
- Ample paper capacity
- Lacks Ethernet connection
- Doesn’t have auto-duplexing
- Graphics are substandard
Although the Brother HL-L3210CW is quite a basic printer, it does offer enough features to make it useful for small offices on tight budgets.
3. HP LaserJet Pro M281FDW
Maximum Resolution: 600 x 600 DPI. Sheet Capacity: 250 sheets. Connectivity: WiFi, RJ45, USB Type-B Weight: 41.2 pounds. Maximum paper size: 8.5 x 14 inches.
The HP LaserJet Pro M281FDW packs many features in a compact package measuring only 16.5 x 16.6 x 13.2 inches and weighing 41.23 pounds.
It prints at a speed up to 22 PPM at a resolution of 600 x 600 –not the best resolution in its class, but the speed is definitely a plus.
Being an all-in-one printer means you’ll also get faxing, scanning and copying –the latter two made available thanks to the automatic document feeder.
Moreover, its input tray capacity reaches up to 250 sheets, and the operations can smoothly be handled through the 2.7-inch color touchscreen.
The HP LaserJet Pro M281FDW enables you to print from your mobile device by directly connecting your Android or iOS device to the same network. Or you can use WiFi direct and skip the networking.
Besides the USB and Ethernet connectivity, you also get a dual-band WiFi connectivity.
Finally, the HP LaserJet Pro M281FDW’s monthly duty cycle is a reliable 40,000 pages, although the recommended is 2,500 pages.
- Great output quality
- Compact design
- The color touchscreen is easy to navigate
- USB thumb drive support
- High up-front price
- Doesn’t support NFC
- Substandard photo and graphics quality
If you’re looking for a machine that will satisfy all your office needs without breaking the bank, the HP LaserJet Pro M281FDW can easily be considered the best all-in-one color laser printer on the market.
4. HP LaserJet Pro M254DW
Maximum Resolution: 600 x 600 DPI. Sheet Capacity: 250 sheets. Connectivity: WiFi, USB Type-B, NFC, WiFi Direct, RJ45, Ethernet. Weight: 32.63 pounds. Maximum paper size: 8.5 x 14 inches.
The HP LaserJet Pro M254DW will provide you with high performance and smooth wireless operation to maximize the productivity of your workspace.
It provides you with full-color printing at a resolution of 600 x 600 DPI.
Moreover, it is equipped with automatic duplexing and support for many printing protocols, including HP ePrint, Mopria, and Apple AirPrint.
The connectivity options extend to include an easy-access USB slot at the front of the printer, which allows you to print directly from a flash drive or external hard drive.
Furthermore, the HP LaserJet Pro M254DW can work with a variety of paper types and sizes ranging between 3 x 5 inches and up to 8.5 x 14 inches. This means you can print on A4 and legal.
All this printing can be done at an ample speed of 22 PPM.
The HP LaserJet Pro M254DW’s tray can handle 250 sheets at a time, and the 2.7-inch touchscreen control panel on the right side allows you to check the printing status and adjust printing settings.
When it’s up and running, the HP LaserJet Pro M254DW measures 15.4 x 16.5 x 9.7 inches and weighs 32.63 pounds.
Finally, the monthly duty cycle is estimated to be 40,000 pages. However, the recommended is between 150 to 2,500.
- Prints from both WiFi and the cloud
- Supports USB memory key
- Fast performance
- Wide connectivity options
- Print resolution isn’t the best
The extensive connectivity options and mobile support that the HP LaserJet Pro M254DW has to offer makes it an ideal candidate for shared use.
5. Canon Color imageCLASS MF644CDW
Maximum Resolution: 600 x 600 DPI. Sheet Capacity: 250 sheets. Connectivity: USB 2.0, WiFi Direct, WiFi, RJ45. Weight: 48.94 pounds. Maximum paper size: 8.5 x 14 inches.
The Canon Color imageCLASS MF644CDW is an incredible multifunction color laser printer that offers you printing, scanning, copying, and faxing.
It can produce prints as small as 3 x 5 inches or as big as 8.5 x 14 inches (legal-sized) at a speed of 22 PPM and a 600 x 600 resolution.
Moreover, it can handle 250 sheets at a time to minimize the number of times you have to refill the tray.
As for the connectivity options, you can connect to your Canon Color imageCLASS MF644CDW through USB Type-A, WiFi, and WiFi Direct.
This allows you to print from services such as Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Mopria Print.
On top of that, the 5-inch intuitive touchscreen makes interacting with your unit a breeze.
When it’s set up, the Canon Color imageCLASS MF644CDW measures 17 x 16.6 x 16.6 inches and weighs 48.94 pounds.
- All-in-one unit
- Many connectivity options
- Handles various paper types and sizes
- Not the best print quality
- High running costs
Like most AOI color laser printers, the Canon Color imageCLASS MF644CDW doesn’t have the lowest running costs. It does give you solid connectivity and printing speed, however.
6. HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW
Maximum Resolution: 600 x 600 DPI. Sheet Capacity: 300 sheets. Connectivity: USB 2.0, Ethernet, WiFi, NFC. Weight: 51.15 pounds. Maximum paper size: 8.5 x 14 inches.
With the HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW, you’ll be able to finish all your office work from one machine –printing, scanning, copying, and faxing are all available features.
The standard 600 x 600 DPI resolution can be enhanced to reach 38,400 x 600 DPI to add fine details to your documents.
With a speed of 28 PPM, a 50,000-page monthly duty cycle, and automatic duplexing in all modes, the HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW guarantees its convenience.
The 8.5 x 11.7-inch flatbed and 50-sheet automatic document feeder work together to make scanning, copying, and faxing an easier task. It works at an optical scan resolution of 1200 x 1200 DPI to produce the sharpest images.
Moreover, it has a 50-sheet multipurpose tray beside the standard 250-sheet input one to be able to handle 300 sheets in total.
Although this number beats many options on the list, it’s still too little for a multifunction printer.
Moreover, operating your HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW will be easy with the 4.3-inch color touchscreen on the front panel.
And as for the connectivity options, you get USB 2.0, Ethernet, and WiFi with NFC for multiple connection options.
If you’re looking for a color laser printer for Mac, you can pick the HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW easily as it’s compatible with multiple operating systems including iOS.
Finally, when it’s up and running, the HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW has a 16.8 x 25.7 x 16.3-inch footprint and weighs 51.15 pounds.
- Quick performance
- Good graphics quality
- PostScript and PCL drivers
- 50-sheet ADF supports two-sided one-pass scanning
- Photo quality isn’t the best
- High running costs
The HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW AOI printer is another great choice for an office or shared use as it provides the user with all the functions they may need and performs incredibly fast. However, it does have high running costs.
What to Look for When You’re Buying a Color Laser Printer?
1.running costs of the machine.
This means you should calculate the cost per page and the cartridge’s yield and compare them together before you make your purchase.
Duplexing is another important feature as it can save you a lot of money that you’d otherwise spend on paper.
Duplexing means printing (and sometimes scanning and copying on an AOI) the two sides of the paper in a single pass.
3. Networking and Compatibility
If your printer is limited to wired or wireless set up, they may restrict your productivity. Especially if the machine is going to be shared with multiple people.
Moreover, how compatible the printer is with various devices can also make or break the machine’s utility. So make sure you get a unit with lots of connectivity options.
4. Sheet Capacity
This is another factor that plays a major role when it comes to shared printers.
The higher the capacity, the less often you’ll have to refill the tray and the less often your printing will be interrupted.
5. Printing Speed and Resolution
Needless to say, these two aspects are important to how efficient your printer will be.
Measured in PPM (Pages per Minute) and DPI (Dots per Inch) respectively, you should look for the higher numbers.
Who Makes The Best Laser Printers?
It wouldn’t be very accurate to answer this question in brief, as different brands focus on different aspects such as speed, resolution, paper capacity, duty cycle, compactness, and connectivity.
But all-in-all, Brother, HP, and Canon (in that order) are the ones that try to combine all the features on their printers without compromising their affordability.
How Does a Color Laser Printer Work?
In brief, the laser built into the printer beams the image or text onto a specially-coated cylinder with the effect of heating a corona wire to give the cylinder a positive static charge. This cylinder is known as the drum unit.
The reason color printers take more time to warm up is that they heat four drums for each color: cyan, yellow, magenta, and black.
The carbon toner particles carrying an opposite negative static charge to the one coating the drum stick onto the drum when it rolls around.
This is done with the help of a series of mirrors against which the laser beam reflects to produce the specific shape you want.
This transfers your image or text onto the paper as it passes through. Afterward, it gets heated to fuse the toner to the page.
While all the previously mentioned printers can be considered the best color laser printers on the market, each one meets a different priority.
The HP LaserJet Pro M281fdw gives you the best value for your money. But if you’re looking for the most budget-friendly option with an excellent resolution, then go for the Brother HL-L3210CW.
If you’re looking for good output quality, the big duty cycle for handling large-volume jobs, and quick performance, then the Brother HL-L8360CDW is the perfect candidate.
The HP LaserJet Pro M254DW is another excellent budget choice that also plays on portability and compactness of design.
On the other hand, the HP LaserJet Pro M477FDW provides you with the largest paper capacity, a sufficient duty cycle, and speed.
If you’re looking for the widest variety of connectivity options, then the Canon Color imageCLASS MF644CDW should be your choice.