Are Printer Ink and Toner the same thing? (11 Differences)

There are a lot of printer types and among them, the most popular models are inkjet and laserjet printers. Both use different methods to print and use different ink types. Some use cases prefer inkjet whereas others need LaserJet printer.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. But you must know the differences between them to choose the best one for you. Primarily you need to know the difference between their inks so that you can get to know about their printing speeds and the quality of print.

Are Printer Ink and Toner the same thing

Are Printer Ink and Toner the same thing? (Ink Vs Toner)

No, ink and toner are totally different mediums. Here is a list of differences between them and you can understand their use cases easily.

Ink Toner
Made up of liquid medium It is a dry powdery substance
Has one Black ink cartridge and has either three different color cartridges or a single tricolor cartridge Mostly prints black and white but there are color options also in some models
The printer sprays the ink over the paper in the desired area and gives the required print The printer has a printing drum which contains the toner. The drum is charged to melt the powdered ink. Now the paper is heated and the melted ink is delivered onto it.
Takes some time to dry and can produce smudges if not dried properly Doesn’t need any time for drying and produces print instantly
Produces high-quality print with greater color accuracy Best for printing high volume of prints in black and white
Compact size printer and doesn’t take up much space on your desk Has a bigger size printer and occupies a large area on the desk
Most desired for color and photo printing Most desired for high precision print
Printing speed is very low and takes up time to produce high-quality print Faster printing and can produce a large volume of prints at a shorter time
Printer and ink cost is low Printer and ink cost is high
The ink will dry out when not used continuously Toner doesn’t dry out and doesn’t require daily usage
Best for Photographers, Small offices, and firms that require high color accuracy in their prints Best for busy offices and large firms that print continuously large volumes of prints. Also, best for home usage that doesn’t require daily printing.

These are the differences between ink and toner. They are not the same and the printers they are used in also differ in technology used. 

Which is better ink or toner?

Both ink and toner have their advantages. You cannot place one over the other without considering the use cases. 

If you are seeking a printer for official usage with the heavy printing business, then you have to go for a printer that uses toner. In large firms, a single printer is connected with multiple PCs and you need a toner-based printer.

Because toner dries up fast and the printer technology produces super-fast prints when compared to ink-based printers.

On the other hand, if you are seeking a printer to print high-quality photos and color-accurate pictures, then you need a printer that uses ink.

Because liquid ink can mix colors accurately and reproduce the color required for your print. This is the best choice if you need such prints continuously.

Similarly, there are distinct use cases for both ink and toner. According to your requirement, you can choose the printer type and ink.

But if you know the cons of ink and toner you will be able to decide which is better.

Cons of Ink

  • Ink cartridges have to be replaced often since they dry out pretty soon. Especially if you don’t use it frequently the liquid ink solidifies and has to replace them.
  • You have to buy individual cartridges for each color and sometimes there are refilling options too for some models.
  • Ink takes some time for drying after the print comes out. Today many printers have improved and give a smudge-free print. But still, there is a risk of bleeding and smudging soon after the print comes out of the printer.
  • Clogging is another disadvantage of using ink-based printers. The head clogs frequently and you have to clean the printer head periodically.
  • The amount of ink used per print is more when compared to toner. So, you need to refill the ink periodically to maintain the ink status in the printer. 
  • The absence of colored inks also leads to poor print quality and having to maintain them regularly. 

Cons of Toner

  • Toner-based printers are usually large in size and require separate space. Mostly you cannot accommodate them at your desk.
  • Color printers are usually not found and don’t produce high color accuracy when printed. If you want to print color, you have to go for ink-based printers.
  • When running out of ink, refilling the toner powder requires expertise and sometimes you have to change the drum altogether.
  • This is what makes toner-based printers high in maintenance. Even though they have a long life than ink, they are costlier when it comes to maintenance.
  • Toner-based printers usually get a lot of paper jams in them. You have to remove the paper stuck in the printer and it might be quite frequent too.
  • Color toners are quite expensive and the printers are also very costly. You have to spend a lot of money to buy and maintain them.

With these pros and cons, you can easily choose the best for your requirement. In general, they both are better in their own terms and usage.

Which is cheaper Printer Ink or Toner?

Ink is cheaper than toner. Ink is usually replaced often and is available more abundantly than toner. Toner is replaced after long periods and is very costly. Sometimes you have to replace the toner drum along with the powder which makes it slightly high in price than ink. Ink can be refilled and only certain models require cartridge replacement.

What is the average cost of Printer Ink and Toner?

Printer Ink is a consumable material that is used to create images on paper. It is also the most expensive part of owning a printer.

It can be a little low cost compared to toner and people often wonder how much they cost. The price of printer ink can vary from $60 to $150 per bottle depending on the printer, brand, and type of ink.

The cost of printer toner depends on the brand, model, and cartridge size. It is also important to take into account what type of toner you are looking for. Because, while some printers use black toner, others use color toner.

Printer cartridges range in price from $60 to $200+. The more expensive ones tend to last longer and offer better quality prints.

Also read: Best Printer for Printing Labels and Stickers


The difference between ink and toner must be known so that you can choose the best type for your requirement. Printer manufacturers use laser technology for toners and ink-based printers for liquid ink. With these guidelines, you can easily understand each advantage and disadvantage of ink and toner. 

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