Best color laser printers for 2023: tested and reviewed

Author Avatar

Staff Writer

Joined: Nov 2016

The best color laser printers can be a great investment, saving you quite a bit of time and money. For shoppers worried about the long-term ink costs, you’ll find color laser printers surprisingly affordable. Laser prints use toner which lasts a very long time, delivering a low cost per page for monochrome documents and affordable color prints. That’s why you need the best color laser printer with quick performance and reliability to help run your home office or small business.

If you need to scan documents for record-keeping and photo capture or want the convenience of a color copier, the best all-in-one color laser printer is an essential tool for your small business or personal use.

Quick Overview

HP Laserjet Pro MFP M283cdw: Best color laser printer
HP Color LaserJet Pro 4301fdw: Best all in one color laser printer
Brother HL-L3230CDW: Best color laser printer for small business
Canon imageClass MF656Cdw: Best color laser printer for photos
Brother MFC-L3710CW: Best Brother laser printer for photos
Brother HL-L3270CDW: Best budget color laser printer
HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f: Best color laser printer for medium-sized businesses
Brother MFC‐L8905CDW: Best all-in-one scalable laser printer for offices

Why you should trust us

Digital Trends has been reviewing printers for 20 years, testing which offers the best quality and fastest speeds. We check the long-term value of each printer, so you’ll know in advance if a low-cost printer has outrageous toner costs.

Printers are complex machines that require a good understanding of the technology to make a solid recommendation. Reviews also highlight problems with compatibility and other details that can become deal-breakers when you depend on particular features.

Key considerations while selecting the best color laser printer for you

There are several key factors to consider when choosing a color laser printer. Purchase price matters, but long-term costs can add up quickly. Review the entire list to find the perfect printer.

Print quality and color fidelity

If you’re choosing color, you need more than a hard copy; you want your document to look great. You still need razor-sharp text but it’s essential for colors to match what you see on screen and in photos without banding or streaks.

Speed and economy

A laser printer should be fast and efficient with low running costs. Otherwise, you’d choose a more versatile and lower-cost inkjet printer.

Special features

All-in-one printers include scan, copy, and sometimes fax functions, filling multiple roles in your office. Many printers offer duplex printing (double-sided), an automatic document feeder (ADF), multiple paper trays, Wi-Fi connectivity, and walk-up printing. These details could be critically important when making a purchase decision.

HP LaserJet Pro MFP M283cdw

Best color laser printer

Alan Truly / Digital Trends

HP Color LaserJet Pro 4301fdw

Best all-in-one color laser printer


Lightning fast print and scan speeds

Good print quality

Two paper trays

Easy setup and use

Reliable operation


Color cost per page is just OK

No borderless printing

Why you should buy this: It’s a modern, eco-friendly color laser printer with great speed and quality.

Who’s it for: Home offices and small businesses that need documents printed quickly.

Why we picked the HP Color LaserJet Pro 4301fdw:

With blistering fast print and scan speeds, the HP Color LaserJet Pro 4301fdw makes short work of challenging jobs. It prints 35ppm for monochrome and color documents and scans with its ADF at 31ppm.

Color documents look great and photos come out nice even on plain paper. A USB port allows walk-up printing via a thumb drive, making the LaserJet Pro 4301fdw an excellent all-in-one printer for home and office.

HP Color LaserJet Pro 4301fdw

Best all-in-one color laser printer


Brother HL-L3230CDW

Best color laser printer for small business


Speedy printing at 25 ppm

Automatic duplex printer

Supports high yield toners


No MFP functionality

Why you should buy this: High-capacity toner, very fast print speeds, and a wealth of wireless connectivity options.

Who it’s for: Offices with large print volumes or anyone who needs speedy, colorful prints.

Why we picked the Brother HL-L3230CDW:

If you need to take your Brother printer to the next level, the Brother HL-L3230CDW is a fantastic upgrade. It has a reliable printing speed of up to 25ppm, and high-capacity toner cartridges. The printer has onboard controls and you have your choice of wireless, Ethernet, and USB connections.

It has a 250-sheet paper tray. While it’s compact, the printer can still handle a variety of papers including card stock and envelopes via its manual slot.

Brother HL-L3230CDW

Best color laser printer for small business


Canon Color imageClass MF656Cdw

Best color laser printer for photos


Solid photo and text printing quality

Large touchscreen control panel

Excellent UI and navigation


Expensive cost-per-page for color

No expandable paper input capabilities for larger offices

Why you should buy this: Great color print quality in a multifunction printer.

Who it’s for: Anyone who needs to print or copy photos and graphics quickly.

Why we picked the Canon Color imageClass MF656Cdw:

Laser printers are not photo printers, per se, but models like the Canon Color imageClass MF656Cdw go a long way to blurring the lines between them, which makes sense coming from a company like Canon, known for its cameras. While we wouldn’t recommend it for photographers, the MF656Cdw is hard to beat for an office that needs to make or reproduce documents that contain graphics and photos.

While the 22 ppm print speed of the Canon Color imageClass MF656Cdwdoesn’t match the HP M283fdw, it does offer duplex printing, copying, and scanning from its 50-sheet document feeder. With a monthly duty cycle of 2,500 pages, it can also hold up to the standard printing demands of small to medium-sized offices.

In addition to USB, print jobs can be sent wirelessly via Apple AirPrint, Mopria, Wi-Fi direct, and Canon’s Print Business app.

Canon Color imageClass MF656Cdw

Best color laser printer for photos

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Brother MFC-L3710CDW

Best Brother laser printer for photos


Solid print quality for text and photos

Mobile and wireless printing support

Great choice for home offices


No auto-duplexing capabilities

Toner can be expensive

Why you should buy this: Fast, full-color laser prints at an affordable price.

Who’s it for: Home and small office customers with moderate print volume needs.

Why we picked the Brother MFC-L3710CDW:

Laser color printers aren’t cheap. Short of buying an older printer, this affordable Brother makes for a great addition to a home office or small business. It has a lot of the same features that come in more expensive models, such as a 3.7-inch touchscreen for controls, and a 250-sheet capacity tray.

With a numeric pad for scanning and copying, this printer is ready to take on your office’s print jobs, but the space-saving design makes it versatile enough to place desk-side or in a dedicated copy and print room. You’ll benefit from the automatic document feeder, high-yield toner options, and the ability to print from and scan to popular cloud apps and services.

Brother MFC-L3710CDW

Best Brother laser printer for photos

Brother/Best Buy

Brother HL-L3270CDW

Best budget color laser printer


Supports printing from apps like Google Drive and Dropbox

Variety of connectivity options including wireless, USB, mobile

Can print on different kinds of paper like card stock or envelopes


No scanning or faxing features

Why you should buy this: It’s the best budget-friendly option for offices with limited space.

Who it’s for: Small and home offices.

Why we picked the Brother HL-L3270CDW

If all you need is a printer that prints quickly, fits perfectly in your small home office, and doesn’t break the bank, then this is the printer for you. With the Brother HL-L3270CDW you can expect print speeds of up to 25 pages per minute for both black and color pages, a wide variety of connectivity options including wireless and Ethernet, and a 250-sheet max paper tray that can support different paper sizes and types like envelopes or card stock. It’s a great, affordable option for simple, straightforward print jobs.

Brother HL-L3270CDW

Best budget color laser printer


HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f

Best color laser printer for medium-sized businesses


Compact size with loaded features

Solid security features

Smartphone app support


Higher than average cost-per-page print costs

Why you should buy this: HP’s Color LaserJet Pro MFP M480f is a speedy all-in-one printer that’s designed for printing and digital document archiving with intuitive support for cloud storage.

Who it’s for: Small businesses that need a speedy color laser printer.

Why we picked the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M480f:

Workgroups and businesses that don’t have much office space to spare to house a large printer will appreciate HP’s Color LaserJet Pro MFP M480f. The MFP M480f adds multifunctional features that will help with your office’s document needs, including a built-in flatbed scanner, automatic document feeder, and duplexing capabilities. The M480f is a well-rounded multifunction printer that can still output up to 29 pages per minute in black and white or color.

This speedy but compact number has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low-Energy, and mobile printing is supported across a number of devices and platforms. The big limiting factor on this printer is its small 250-sheet paper input tray, though larger offices with bigger print jobs can upgrade to the optional 550-sheet tray. Duplexing is supported to help save paper and the environment. A front-facing USB port makes it easy to print from a storage drive. The printer can print from or scan to a variety of cloud providers, making it easy for digital document archiving. Businesses on a limited print budget can invest in high-yield toner cartridges for a lower per-page print cost.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f

Best color laser printer for medium-sized businesses

Brother MFC‐L8905CDW

Best all-in-one scalable laser printer for offices


Fast print speeds

Duplexing supported

Economical operating costs


Large size takes up space

Why you should buy this: Brother’s MFC‐L8905CDW delivers fast printing speeds and long-lasting supplies at affordable operating costs.

Who it’s for: Small and medium-sized businesses.

Why we picked the Brother MFC‐L8905CDW :

The Brother MFC‐L8905CDW features ultra-high yield toner cartridges that supply up to 9,000 monochrome pages and 8,000 color pages, so you rarely need to interrupt a busy workday. An optional 500 sheet paper tray expands the onboard capacity of 250 sheets in the main tray and 50 sheets in the multi-purpose tray.

Print speeds of up to 33 pages per minute make short work of long documents and extra copies. This sturdy business printer offers duplex for fax, scan, copy, and print functions and can connect to any device with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB. A USB port allows walk-up operation with a thumb drive, while an NFC reader limits access to authorized personnel.

The Brother MFC‐L8905CDW has a recommended duty cycle of 4,000 pages per month but it can handle printing up to 60,000 pages in a month. For such a rugged printer, Brother didn’t skimp on convenience features. The seven-inch color touchscreen can be customized with up to 64 shortcuts to speed up frequent operations.

Brother MFC‐L8905CDW

Best all-in-one scalable laser printer for offices

Frequently Asked Questions

Color laser printers versus inkjet printers: what’s best?

Laser printers are better for text documents, as they produce crisp text even at small font sizes. Over time, they are also cheaper to run than cartridge-based inkjets. However, laser printers require a larger initial investment. If you don’t print very often, a cheap inkjet printer could make more sense and it may take a long time before its higher operational costs catch up to the higher initial cost of a laser printer. For smaller print jobs, the faster pages-per-minute rate of a laser printer also won’t be much of an advantage.

If you’re looking to save money in the long term and need to print pictures, check out inkjet solutions that rely on tanks for ink rather than cartridges, like Epson’s EcoTank series. Since the tanks are refillable with bottled ink, tank printers cost even less than toner for laser printers. Not only will tanks be better for the environment through less waste, but they will save you money for larger print jobs.

Laser printers are still more durable reducing maintenance costs if you print at high volume. Lasers offer faster printing speeds, saving time on large print jobs. That’s why businesses often choose laser printers.

Beyond print quality, inkjet photo printers can also handle a wider variety of paper types and sizes compared to laser printers. Some very large inkjets are available that can print posters and banners. A color laser printer will handle inline photos and graphics in documents just fine. Most modern color laser printers, especially those made for small offices, will be able to handle standard sizes and types of print jobs, from standard documents to labels and card stock.

While color laser printers have gotten much better at handling photographs, if you’re looking to make detailed, color-accurate photographic prints to hang on your wall, display in a gallery, or sell to customers, a high-end inkjet photo printers is still the way to go (or simply outsource the work to a photo lab).

Do color laser printers come with Wi-Fi or AirPrint support?

Yes. As with inkjet printers, wireless connectivity has become very common on color laser printers. However, not every model will support every brand of wireless printing tech. The Brother HL-3170CDW supports Apple AirPrint for iPhone and iPad users and has an app for Android users, for example, while the Dell C1760NW offers mobile printing through a proprietary app.

How can I print from my iPad, iPhone, or Android device?

This will depend on the wireless features of your printer. Many printers today support Apple AirPrint, which makes it easy to print from an iPad or iPhone to a printer on your Wi-Fi network. Not all apps support AirPrint, but many do — including non-Apple apps.

Android phones and tablets can also connect to most Wi-Fi printers, from Google apps like Docs, Sheets, and Chrome, as well as from third-party apps.

If your printer does not support mobile printing but does feature Wi-Fi, your printer manufacturer may offer its own iOS and Android app for printing from your mobile device. Some models even feature USB ports so you can print directly off of a USB drive without having to connect a mobile device or PC.

How often will I have to buy toner?

This depends on how much you print. Toner cartridges often have yields of 2,000 pages or more (check the specifications of your printer for your model’s specific yield). For light home use, that means many people could easily go a year or more without replacing toner. For office use, the replacement interval will be shorter, but toner could still last a few months.

How can I save money on toner?

The first step is to print efficiently; that is, double-check your page layout settings and make sure everything is correct before you hit that print button. You can also save money by preventing wasted color toner by setting a black and white printer as the default.

When it is time to reorder, you can save money by buying third-party toner cartridges. However, buying third-party toner likely isn’t recommended by your printer’s manufacturer, but so long as you make sure it’s compatible with your printer, it should work just fine. However, some printers, like the HP model above, look for a toner that uses a special chip identifying it as original equipment. HP warns that while some other cartridges may work today, they may not in the future.

Can I buy a color laser printer with built-in fax?

Yes. Many all-in-one laser printers can scan, copy, and fax documents. If you’re doing a lot of faxing, copying, or scanning, be sure to choose a printer with an automatic document feeder (ADF), and if you want to do double-sided scans and double-sided prints, a model that has a duplex ADF and duplex printing will be best. Double-sided prints can also help save money if cost is a concern. Note that not all all-in-ones — also called multifunction printers — have fax modems, so be sure to check the specs before you buy. If you need a multifunction printer, be sure to check out our best picks for all-in-one printers.

How do you test color printers?

To find the best color laser printers, we factor in criteria such as speed, price, maintenance costs, and any unique features that help them one-up the competition.

Our selections are based on our long- and short-term testing; experience with earlier models; familiarity with the company’s technologies; consultation with industry experts, fellow journalists, and users; online forums; lab results; and other third-party reviews. We look across the board — not just at our own experiences — to find consensus on what we think are the best-performing printers you can currently buy. We also look at list pricing to determine if a product is worth the cost. We will even recommend printers that aren’t new, provided the features are still best-in-class.

The printer market evolves constantly, with manufacturers either introducing better models with new features or basic upgrades. So, you can expect our picks to change as well. But don’t worry — the models you see here will be with you for some time, and if we anticipate better models on the horizon, we will state that upfront to help you decide whether you should buy now or wait.

Which is the best color laser printer for home use?

When searching for a color laser printer for home use, you probably don’t want a 100-pound beast meant to survive the rigors of a shared work environment.

A compact, budget-friendly color laser might be ideal. Printing photos is a common use for home printers and some models have good quality even on plain paper.

Is a laser printer good for color?

The first laser printers were monochrome, but most manufacturers offer several color laser printers that provide great quality for color documents.

However, some handle photos better than others. For photographic-quality color pictures, it’s hard to beat an inkjet printer that’s optimized for photos.

Are laser printers being phased out?

Laser printers will continue to be manufactured for the foreseeable future. However, there are some concerns about their environmental impact.

Epson, for example, is phasing out laser printers worldwide by 2026, citing the significant energy required to generate enough heat to fuse toner onto paper.

Meanwhile, HP has found ways to make laser printers more eco-friendly by altering toner formulations and improving efficiency.

If you find our top picks just aren’t the right fit for your specific needs, though, there are other color laser printers worth checking out. If you’d like an all-in-one that can handle scanning, copying, and faxing documents, or you simply just need a more affordable model, be sure to take a look at the other printers we’ve placed on this list.

If you’re looking for additional savings, check out our guides to the best cheap printer deals and best laser printer deals available now.

Editors’ Recommendations

9 best monitors for 2023: tested and reviewed

The best cheap printers for 2023

The best all-in-one printers you can buy in 2023

Bring your documents to life with these Prime Day printer deals

This is HP’s best printer for families and photos


0 %

User Score

0 ratings
Rate This

Leave your comment

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