Best Ink Cartridges In 2021
Whether you have to print your mid-term paper or colorful artwork, only the best quality ink can guarantee the success of your project. From third-party suppliers to branded inks, how could you pick the right cartridge that brings the utmost value for money?
To help you find the best ink cartridge refills for your printer, we spent over 35 hours reviewing the most popular inks and printing 8,000-plus pages. Check out our top picks below.
The Best Ink Cartridge
Designed for various HP ENVY and OfficeJet printers, the HP 62XL Ink Cartridge delivers long-lasting prints and impresses with a high yield of around 600 pages. The cartridge won’t fit non-HP printers, but it’s an excellent choice if you have an HP and want to use the real deal with your device.
The HP62XL comes in either black or tri-color options and works perfectly with the brand’s Prem Plus photo paper, should you want to print photographs. Easy to replace and impressing with its pigment quality, it is one of the best ink cartridges you can find. If you are looking for a new printer, too, check out our selection of the best large format printers on the market.
Cartridge yield of 600 pages
Compatible with HP Envy, HP Officejet, and HP OfficeJet Mobile
Vibrant and reliable
Cartridge color is black
- Weight0.81 ounces
Ideal for high-volume printing, the HP 902XL Ink Cartridge boasts a yield of over 800 pages, impressing with outstanding ink quality. This cartridge is designed specifically for HP printers and is compatible with a range of OfficeJet and OfficeJet Pro models.
From office memos to contracts and flyers, this ink is up to anything. The quality pigments work with both matte and glossy paper, allowing you to achieve professional results every time. Affordable and available in black or colored options, it is an excellent choice for offices, schools, and other professional settings. Make sure to browse our selection of top laser printers, as well.
Outstanding print quality
Consistent page yields
Compatible with HP Officejet
- Weight2.86 ounces
Moving forward with our list of ink cartridges for printers, the HP 65 Ink Cartridge is an excellent choice for home users owning a DeskJet or ENVY series printer. We particularly like the cartridge’s compatibility with the HP AMP 100, a printer designed to connect wirelessly to your mobile device, allowing for seamless mobile printing.
Similar to most HP inks, it comes in black and tri-color options. The pigments work with all kinds of paper, and you can expect a yield of approximately 120 pages. If you are looking for a lightweight printer you can easily carry with you, any of these portable printers would be an excellent choice.
Yields up to 120 pages
Includes one black ink cartridge
Suitable for HP Deskjet and HP Envy printers
- Weight1.6 ounces
The Canon PG-245 XL / CL-246 XL Pack Ink Cartridge refill combo makes an excellent choice for artists and photographers who want to print in more than black and white. This pack comprises one black and one color cartridge, both of which are XL in size.
Printing fewer pages than the extra-large cartridges from HP, but standing out thanks to the pigment quality, these inks are perfect for a wide range of professional and hobby projects. If you love printing out photos, any of these quality photo printers will be a great buy for you.
Sharp, black text
Economical with maximum performance
- Weight4 ounces
Containing five ink tanks, the Canon PGI-280XL/CLI-281 5 Color Pack Ink Cartridge combo color pack is another excellent choice for artists and hobbyists alike. Its greatest highlight is the presence of separate cartridges for the primary colors – yellow, magenta, and cyan – a solution that provides higher color clarity and accuracy on printer paper.
These cartridges are compatible with the PIXMA series printers, but they could also work with printers from other brands. If you’re a photographer, pair them with Canon’s Genuine photo paper for the best results.
5-ink tank value pack
Protects photos from fading
Includes ChromaLife100 system
Includes photo paper
- Weight5.6 ounces
Whether you own a printing business or are tired of changing the cartridge over and over again at the office, the HP 952XL Ink Cartridge is the best ink cartridges refill for you. It has sufficient ink for printing a whopping 2,000 pages and comes at a price that won’t break the bank.
This cartridge is primarily designed for use with HP’s OfficeJet Pro series printers, although it could work with other brands, too. Like most ink cartridge models, it also comes in tri-color or cyan versions to satisfy the artist in you. For more handy office devices, take a look at these reliable laminators.
High-yield ink cartridge
Can print up to 2,000 pages
Designed for the OfficeJet Pro series
Available in black or colored variants
- Weight4.3 ounces
The Epson T802XL-BCS DURABrite Ultra Black And Color is another combo pack that has made it to our list of best ink cartridges. Like most ink cartridges out there, it is designed to work with the brand’s printers – the All-in-One WorkForce Pro to be precise – but you could use this set with other compatible printers too; just make sure to check the model of your printer online to make sure this option is a good fit.
We particularly like that it includes a high-capacity black ink cartridge. The colored cartridge is standard capacity, but if you need ink for school or work purposes, this combo is perfect. It’s more expensive than other ink sets, but it delivers smudge-free printing. No doubt, a win, just like any of these quality scanners.
Minimal ink bleeding on all kinds of paper
Fade and water-resistant dyes
High-capacity black ink cartridge
Individual ink cartridges
Minimal smudging while handling
- Weight7.8 ounces
If you have an Epson or another compatible printer, but don’t really need a combo pack that comes with colored ink, the Epson DURABrite Ultra Black High Capacity Cartridge Ink could be the best ink cartridge for you. While it doesn’t have a yield as high as the HP, it can still print over 200 pages – a great number for most offices or professional purposes.
We like that it contains pigment rather than dye ink, an ink variant known for its high saturation color and minimal bleeding. It works with all kinds of paper and can satisfy students, professionals, and artists alike. For more useful office devices, here are some large format scanners that won’t let you down, for sure.
Ultra-bright pigment ink
Compatible with the Epson All-in-One WorkForce printers
Resists fade and moisture
Won’t smudge while handling
Works with glossy photo paper
- Weight2.08 ounces
This combo pack from Canon addresses artists and photographers, but can also benefit the average user looking for high-quality printer ink. Canon PGI-250 CLI-251 Color Ink Tank consists of a single black ink and a ChromaLife 100+ four-pack, both compatible with the selectPIXMA printers.
The greatest highlight of these inks is their optimization for photographic print quality. Whether it’s flyers or event pictures, you will get the best quality prints with this option. We also like that the inks dry almost instantly as soon as they come out of the printer and that they are fade and water-resistant—all you need for amateur or professional photography printing. Our buying guide on 3D printers features more amazing products to use in the office or at home, so check them out, too.
Set of five ink cartridges refill
Ideal for photography printing
Quick drying inks
Work best with Canon Photo Paper
Colors include black, cyan, magenta, and yellow
- Weight5.3 ounces
Whether you want to print black and white photographs or just need a cartridge refill for casual printing, the Canon PG-245 Black Ink Cartridge brings true value for money. This dye ink is optimized for photography, so it’s easy to understand the quality it provides for all kinds of projects.
Compatible with the Canon PIXMA printer series, it delivers a rich, saturated color that dries out almost instantly on all types of paper. Despite it being designed for glossy paper, it delivers satisfactory results and minimal bleeding on matte paper, too. It also boasts high capacity and comes at an affordable price – an excellent choice for starters and high-volume printing alike. Don’t forget to also take a look at our selection of the best-selling slide scanners, too.
LITE ink optimized for photography
Fast-drying dye ink
A yield of approximately 100 pages
- ModelPG-245 Black Cartridge
- Weight0.96 ounces
Ink Cartridge Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Ink Cartridges
There is a bountiful range of ink cartridges on the market, but not all can make the deal. From overall quality to printer compatibility and ease of use, here are a few of the most important things to consider before buying.
Quality – The most important thing to consider when buying ink cartridges is their quality. No matter what type of ink they hold, you want to invest in a product that delivers long-lasting colors and minimal bleeding. There are basically two types of inks you can choose from:
- Dye inks: Use color substances that are dissolved in a liquid (either water or alcohol); these colors are vivid and brilliant, but the ink tends to penetrate deeply in the substrate. Dye inks perform best on glossy paper and are often used for photography. However, they tend to bleed into matte paper and are also less resistant to water and UV light.
- Pigment inks: Are made of color particles suspended in a liquid; they are softer than dye inks, although pigment inks produce a truer solid black. The pigments rarely penetrate into the substrate, but rather dry on top of it. Due to these differences, pigment ink is a better choice for black and white or high-volume printing. The greatest advantage of pigment inks is that they rarely bleed and can be used on matte paper without worries. They are also resistant to water and don’t fade when exposed to sunlight.
Compatibility – Buying new ink for your printer should be easy, but the truth is that not all printers work with all types of cartridges, even if you buy genuine refills from your brand. Before spending your hard-earned money, make sure the cartridge you want to buy is compatible with the printer you have.
Typically, the model of your device is printed on the back or side of your machine; then, simply read the cartridge label to see if your printer is listed there.
If you decide to buy from a third-party supplier, you should do thorough research to ensure full compatibility. Remember that some printers may not work with third-party cartridges, and poor quality cartridges could damage the printer. For these reasons, we always recommend purchasing genuine refills designed by the printer manufacturer, specifically for the model you have.
Odor – An easy way to tell between good and bad quality is smelling the ink. Genuine, quality ink shouldn’t have a foul odor. More often than not, quality ink has a relatively sweet smell that reminds of freshly printed newspapers. The smell should dissipate quickly, and it isn’t harmful.
If the ink has a bothering smell that gives you any adverse reactions, remember it could be potentially toxic, and you should replace the cartridge.
Bleeding – Different inks work best with different kinds of papers. If you want to find the best ink cartridges for you, consider the type of paper you use. Pigment ink is your best bet for regular, matte paper. Photographers, as well as advertisers working with glossy paper, might want to go for dye ink. As a rule of thumb, remember that dye ink is most likely to bleed, but it provides more vivid colors than pigment.
Ease of use – Manufacturers usually make easy-to-use cartridges that are easy to change and use. However, if you’re buying from a third-party supplier, you should check for ink leaks. If the ink is leaking and a mess to handle before you even placed the cartridge in its slot, perhaps you should consider replacing it with a higher quality option.
Ink Cartridge FAQ
Q: What is an ink cartridge?
A: An ink cartridge is basically a container designed to work with a specific model of inkjet printer. Depending on its type, it can contain one or multiple reservoirs filled with black or colored inks. A chip and electrical contacts ensure communication between the cartridge and the printer, allowing the cartridge to discharge the right amount of ink when printing. If it contains multiple reservoirs with various colors, the cartridge can also blend them to provide you with the right color.
Q: How can I change my ink cartridge?
A: Ink cartridges are easy to change – follow the quick steps below to change yours like a pro:
- Turn on the printer and open the tap covering it.
- Wait until the carriage moves to the right side of the printer – don’t do anything as long as the parts are moving.
- When everything is still and quiet, press down on the empty ink cartridge and remove it from the carriage. If your printer has multiple cartridges, remember the black ink cartridge usually sits on the right, while the tri-color one sits in the left slot.
- Open a new ink cartridge and insert it in the slot, positioning it with the copper strips facing toward the printer. Push gently until the cartridge snaps into place.
- Close the top covering. That’s it!
Q: How often should I replace ink cartridges on my printer?
A: Most ink cartridges will indicate a yield on their package – this is the approximate number of pages it can print, typically between 100 and 800, depending on the cartridge size. The printer will usually warn you when the ink runs out, or you could simply replace the cartridge if the colors tend to lose their brilliance.
Q: Is it cheaper to buy a new printer than ink?
A: In a nutshell, it’s very likely. Inkjet printers are cheap to buy, often costing under $60. At the same time, ink cartridges refill for the same printer could cost you in excess of $60; thus, replacing your printer altogether could be cheaper. If you don’t want to throw away an otherwise fine machine, you could consider buying high-quality ink from third-party suppliers.
Q: Which is better ink tank or cartridge?
A: The main difference between tank and cartridge printers is that the former uses refillable tanks and ink bottles while the latter disposable cartridges pre-filled with ink. A cartridge printer is an excellent choice for casual printing, and may also produce higher quality prints on glossy paper. The cartridge is also easy to change without making a mess. However, a tank printer is cheaper to run and more suitable for high-volume printing. Ink bottles are cheaper than cartridges, and you can use whatever ink you want to refill the tank. Ultimately, the choice is yours