Is it worth to pay extra for genuine original toner cartridges?

It's not an easy question: Printer manufacturers may tell you their story, it's their business model. Toner cartridges re-manufacturers and the so called compatible toner cartridge manufacturers may tell you a different story. As I'm not in any of the sides, let me explain you the differences so you can make your own mind and your own choice depending on your priorities.
toner cartridge

  • Do you print Black and white or color?. Which print quality do you request?
  • Reliability. Can you afford some failures every now and then?
  • Cost: How do you pay for your toner? Cost per print/ copy or you buy the whole cartridge on your own?
  • Are you concerned about legal prosecution?  (patent infringement)
  • Sustainability and Carbon foot print. What's your choice?

Genuine Original toner cartridge compared to others

Original toner: Best color quality, reliability and high price tag

  • Expect premium print quality. OEM manufacturers still use the best powder available in the market.
  • If you print brochures in color it will make a difference. If you print B&W invoices and contracts it doesn’t really matter.
  • Reliable, expect 100% failure free. Page yield will also cover your expectations
  • Price: Although it’s the highest upfront, it may be worth at the end.
  • Of course its 100% legal safe as they have their ow patents and or licenses to do so.
  • It’s a new product and can be or should be recycled after use to minimize carbon footprint.
Refilled toner cartridges good value for money

Refilled toner: Quality depends on the level of mechanical wear. Low price end ECO friendly.

  • Expect a lower quality than original cartridges. 90% of re-fillers use a lower quality powder.
  • Other parts besides toner powder, like rollers and other moving parts will not likely be replaced and may be over used. Print quality will depend much on luck. Be prepared to some leaks and complains.
  • Page yield depends very much on your supplier. You better control how many prints you do per cartridge.
  • Price: It’s the lowest upfront. It may cost extra time complaining and cleaning the leaks.
  • Although refilling it’s legal, replacing the chip that controls toner level, it’s not. So you’re never safe.
  • Carbon foot print: Low, keep recycling it.

Re-manufactured toner: A good supplier can give the most for your money. Some legal issues may occur.

  • Re-manufactured means that they replace used parts by new ones which is good for quality. So depending on the re-manufacturer, quality may be almost as good as Original.
  • This applies only to B&W, Color toner cartridges are still far from OEM quality.
  • Page yield depends very much on your supplier. You better control how many prints you do per cartridge.
  • Price: It’s a fair good price for your money .
  • Legal: Thats another thing. Most replaced parts including rollers and chips have lots of patents and it’s almost impossible to scape from them. There is no such a remanufactured cartridge that is patent safe when an OEM attorney is around you.
Compatible clone toner cartridges vs originals

Compatible toner:Patent infringement may be a real issue here. Price should be low and quality it's totally open. Who knows?.

  • It’s a complete copy or clone of an original toner cartridge.
  • The main thing here is related to quality and legal. Quality will depend 100% on the manufacturer.
  • Price can be as low it gets.
  • A toner cartridge is in fact a plastic box with powder and a 100+ patents inside(aka rollers and gears). As a compatible it’s a copy or a clone, be prepared to run if an OEM attorney comes along.


If you work in a marketing agency and look for quality color printing and reliability, you better shop for genuine original toner cartridges.
If you print black and white invoices and delivery notes in bulk and look for the best deal for your money, I would choose re-filled or remanufactured from a reliable supplier that takes responsibility when things go wrong.
Alternatively, you can forget about choosing the right toner and go sign up a contract with and MPS (managed print services) supplier. Make sure you get a good deal and they will take care of it.         

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infographic: Original Toner cartridges vs recycled and remanufactured