Five Best Printers for College

A successful college student invests plenty of time and money in their future. In general, anything that makes their lives a bit easier is a welcome tool. And while there are plenty of things that give students a bit of an edge, one of the easiest of them is also one of the most underappreciated: the printer. Finding the best printer for college dorms can be a bit of a trial, but it’s one that is important to undertake.

Buying a printer for yourself (or your student) might seem a bit old-fashioned given the increasing prevalence of digital technology and online workspaces. It’s important to note, however, that many courses will require students to print their assignments and turn in hard copies as well as digital copies. Access to a reliable printer is a necessity, in other words, and can be a surprisingly rare commodity. Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of waiting in a computer lab for a station to open up so they can print their essay before class begins can attest to this.

Instead of waiting around for an available printer, why not bring your own? Whether you’re shopping for a printer to sit in your dorm room or even one to take with you from class to class, there is an option for you. In this review, a variety of printers will be reviewed to find the very best printer for college students. Take a look below at five of the best options on the market.

Best All in One Printer for College Students

Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank [$199.99]

It’s important to keep in mind that not any printer can handle the rigors of college life. Some of them might print papers well enough, but falter when it comes to photos. Others might scan particularly slowly, limiting their ability to quickly turn hand-written notes into digital documents to be saved and annotated. That's why investing in an "all-in-one" printer can be such a good idea – and that's precisely where the Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank comes in.

When it comes to offering solid performance in almost every category of printing, the Epson’s EcoTank is hard to beat. While not overly compact at 20.8 x 17.5 x 11.9 inches and weighing just under 11 pounds, this printer offers plenty of features to keep students happy. True to its name, it is a real winner when it comes to ink conservation, with the printer shipping with enough ink to last students about two years – 6,500 pages of color printing and 4,000 pages of black printing, to be specific. Even once that initial supply has run out, you won't have to worry about spending a lot of money on replacement cartridges thanks to the printer's cartridge-free design. Instead, you can simply buy refill bottles of ink and quickly pour them into the machine.

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Best Wireless Printer for College Students

Brother MFC-J480DW [$109.70]

If you’re hoping to find a wireless printer that will fit right into your dorm room and look great in the process, the Brother MFC-J480DW is the printer for you. This machine can handle a variety of tasks without faltering, including faxing documents. And its wireless abilities will prove useful to any student, enabling printing directly from mobile devices and offering an easy-to-use network setup. 

This printer is a great size, measuring 15.75 x 13.43 x 6.77 inches, and should fit in even the smallest of dorm spaces. You get all of the benefits of a fully-featured printer at a fraction of the space that more traditional office printers might take up, in other words, and will have more desk space as a result. The 1.8” color display is a great touch that makes printing the right pages and documents in vibrant colors easy. The real downside to this printer is the price of the ink refills, which can be reasonably expensive. And unlike the Epson printer above, Brother's option doesn’t come with enough ink to print thousands of pages right off the bat. It’s still a great printer, but if you do a lot of printing and are hoping for an economical solution, this might not be the best choice.

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Best Laserjet Printer for College Students

Brother Compact Monochrome [$84.95]

Sometimes you don’t need fancy extras, just a solid core performance. That’s where Brother’s Compact Monochrome printer shines. Students spend less time refilling the machine and more time actually using it thanks to its high capacity, holding 250 sheets of paper at any one time, as well as its optimization to provide fast and quality printing. It offers duplex printing, too, which might not be a revolutionary feature but is still one that is much appreciated by the budget and eco-conscious alike. 

True to its name, the Brother Compact Monochrome printer measures just 14.2 x 14 x 7.2 inches. You might notice that this is actually a bit larger in two respects than their first offering on this list, the MFC-J480DW. As noted in the review above, however, the printer is a great size for small dorm rooms, and that holds true for the Compact Monochrome as well. Unlike the other printers on the list so far, this machine only prints in black and white. Depending upon your needs, this might seem like a negative rather than a positive; however the color restriction increases print speed and ink efficiency while also cutting down on the cost (and frequency) of ink refills. It's a better option for students who plan to do a lot of basic printing.

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Best Portable Printer for College Students


CANON PIXMA iP110 [$149.95]

While most of the printers on this list are a fairly compact size, they're not exactly "portable." You can't pick them up, toss them in your backpack, and easily take them from class to class, in other words, and they require a bit of setup. CANON’s PIXMA iP110 is the best printer for college students who never want to be stranded without a printer again. 

Weighing in at just over four pounds and measuring 12.7 x 7.3 x 2.5 inches, the CANON PIXMA iP110 is a genuinely portable printer option. That's true even beyond its size, the printer requires little in the way of setup and can be used to easily print things from the cloud or your mobile device with ease. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that this little printer offers both color and monochrome options, and prints photos with a maximum color DPI of 9600 x 2400. You don't just get a printer that's easy to move, in other words, but one that prints incredibly detailed images from almost anywhere. Less exciting is its ink usage, which it tends to burn through reasonably quickly.

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Best Affordable Printer for College Students

HP DeskJet 1112 [$29.89]

If you need to find an affordable printer for college that offers robust functionality without breaking your budget in the process, the HP DeskJet 1112 is a great option. While this printer doesn't offer a host of comprehensive features, it does provide reliable printing, both color, and monochrome, via a USB connection to your computer. Note that unlike the other options on this list, the HP DeskJet is not a wireless printer – it requires a link to your computer to function. 

If you’re looking for a space-saving printer option, this is the second smallest printer reviewed and measures 8.49 x 16.76 x 4.89 inches. It also weighs just a bit over four pounds, meaning that you can easily move it to your liking and find the best space to stow it away when not in use. While this is the very definition of a budget printer, it's substantially less than our other picks and provides reliable performance to most customers. If you're hoping for exceptional print quality and the ability to print wirelessly or from the cloud, however, you'll want to look elsewhere.

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How to Pick the Best Laptop for College

Wondering how you can pick the best laptop for your needs? There are some important factors to keep in mind as you make your decision – let’s take a look!

Assess Your Needs

While most students attending larger universities will likely find themselves wishing for a free computer or printer at some point during their college career, others might never encounter that issue. Students at small schools, for example, or schools with an abundance of computer labs and library space might not need their own printer. In general, however, students will have plenty to print out, including assignments and presentation notes alike. You should also consider whether you'll be using the machine solely for printing out assignments or if you're mostly going to use it to print photos (or somewhere in between the two). The best printer for your needs will offer features that match your specific needs. 

Consider Your Budget

How much are you willing or able to spend on a printer? There are options available at a variety of price points, so the biggest issue is determining your budget and staying within it. Eliminating extra features you won't use is a great way to stay within your means. Sure, the expensive all-in-one looks great and even allows you to fax documents – but, realistically, when are you ever going to need to fax a document? Many students won't use the scanner or copier features of their printers, either, and cutting those out can drop the price of potential printers sharply. 

Price the Ink

Don't just price a printer and purchase it assuming it will be a one-time cost. Some printers move through ink at incredible rates and offer refills that are surprisingly pricey. If you're going to be doing a lot of printing, pick a machine that has refills at reasonable prices. Go out of your way to research all refill options and take them into account before you make your final decision. 

Size the Space

Don’t overestimate the size of your free space – dorm rooms are notoriously small! You’ll likely find yourself struggling to fit everything you brought with you on your share of the shelves, let alone bringing in potentially big electronics. The best printer for college dorms is one that is compact enough to hide away on the corner of a desk or shelf, giving students plenty of usable space around it. 

The Best Overall Printer for Students

Now that you’ve seen the various options at your disposal, the time has come to make your final decision. From the printers we’ve reviewed in this article, the offers students a powerful machine at a great price. It's not the cheapest option on the list, and it prints in monochrome, but it's an affordable machine that prints essays and notes quickly and easily with plenty of ink to spare.

Brother Compact Monochrome