I’m a printer repair specialist with Techn4All, and over the years, I’ve had my hands on just about every printer you can imagine. From the modest home inkjets to the behemoth office lasers, I’ve seen, repaired, and understood them inside out.

One question that frequently pops up, especially among those setting up their new purchase is, “Do printers come with ink?”.

And trust me, it’s a more intriguing question than you might think. As we journey through this article, I’ll provide a clear answer, peppered with insights from my own experiences. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Quick Answer

Yes, most printers come with ink. Specifically, new printers often include what’s known as “starter” cartridges. These cartridges are typically provided by manufacturers to ensure users can start printing immediately upon setup. However, it’s essential to note that these starter cartridges may have a lower ink or toner volume than regular replacement cartridges, leading to fewer printouts before requiring a refill or replacement.

Types of Printers and Their Ink Inclusions

1. Inkjet Printers

These are some of the most popular printers for home use, known for their ability to produce high-quality images and texts. Inkjet printers spray tiny droplets of ink onto the paper to create an image. When you buy one, they often come bundled with starter cartridges.

These cartridges are there to give you a kick-start, allowing you to print right out of the box. However, be aware that the volume of ink in these starter cartridges is usually less than what you’d find in standard cartridges, which means they’ll run out quickly.

2. Laser Printers

A favorite in many offices, laser printers operate using toner (a powder) instead of liquid ink. They work by using a laser to charge certain parts of a drum, which then attracts the toner, transferring it to the paper.

New laser printers typically include a starter toner cartridge. This cartridge, similar to the inkjet’s starter cartridge, often has a reduced toner volume. It’s great for initial printing tasks, but you’ll need a full-size replacement sooner than you might expect.

3. Dot Matrix Printers

These are a bit of a throwback! Dot matrix printers work by striking a ribbon with tiny pins to transfer ink to the paper, creating characters or images. Instead of cartridges or toners, they use ink ribbons.

When you buy a dot matrix printer, it usually comes with an ink ribbon installed, but the considerations and replacements for these ribbons differ significantly from modern cartridge systems.

4. Photo Printers

Designed specifically for photo printing, these printers prioritize image quality above all. They often employ more ink colors than the typical cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) you find in standard inkjet printers.

When you get a new photo printer, it will generally come with specialized starter cartridges tailored to photo printing. The quality and longevity of these cartridges are crucial, as they play a direct role in the vibrancy and longevity of your printed photos.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Printer with Ink Included

When shopping for a new printer, one of the primary considerations is whether it comes with ink or toner. While the inclusion of ink seems like a no-brainer advantage, there are both benefits and drawbacks to this. Let’s explore them in detail.

Pros Of Buying A Printer With Ink Included

Ready to Use

When your printer arrives with ink or toner already included, it’s a hassle-free experience. You can unbox, set up, and start printing without the need to run to the store or order cartridges online. It’s particularly useful for those urgent printing tasks that can’t wait.

Initial Cost Savings

Buying cartridges separately can be pricey. With the ink or toner included, you’re getting an initial cost advantage, even if it’s just for a short while. It can be seen as a discount on your printer purchase, allowing you to allocate funds elsewhere.

Testing the Printer Immediately

Having ink included means you can instantly test the printer’s functionality and print quality. It’s a quick way to ensure you’re satisfied with your purchase and that everything is running smoothly.


Cons Of Buying A Printer With Ink Included

Shorter Lifespan

The cartridges that come bundled with printers, often labeled as “starter” cartridges, tend to have less ink or toner than standard ones. This means they’ll run out faster, so while you might be up and printing quickly, you’ll be looking for replacements sooner than you’d like.

Potential Need for a Replacement Sooner

Given the shorter lifespan of starter cartridges, you might find yourself shopping for new cartridges sooner than anticipated. This can be an inconvenience, especially if you were expecting the included cartridges to last as long as standard ones.

Understanding the pros and cons of having ink included with your printer purchase helps make an informed decision and sets the right expectations for your printing journey.

Whether it’s the immediate convenience you seek or longevity in your printing solutions, knowing what to expect can save both time and money in the long run.

Tips for First-Time Printer Buyers

Stepping into the world of printers for the first time can be a mix of excitement and overwhelm. There are so many models, features, and considerations to bear in mind. But fear not, first-time buyer! Here are some essential tips to guide you in making a wise purchase:

1. Check Ink/Toner Inclusion in Product Details

While many printers come with starter cartridges, it’s not a universal standard. Before adding that printer to your cart, always verify if ink or toner is included in the package. It’s mentioned in the product details or specifications section of most online listings or on the box for in-store purchases. This ensures you won’t be caught off guard when you’re ready to print.

2. Read Reviews About Ink Longevity:

User reviews can be a goldmine of information. Pay close attention to what people say about how long the included ink or toner lasts and how many pages they managed to print.

This gives you a real-world idea of what to expect and helps you determine if the printer meets your volume needs. Moreover, longevity insights can also hint at the overall quality and efficiency of the printer model.

3. Consider the Cost of Replacement Cartridges

The price of the printer is just the beginning. Replacement cartridges can sometimes cost as much as, if not more than, the printer itself over time. Before committing to a purchase, research the cost of the printer’s specific cartridges.

Consider factors like price per page, third-party cartridge compatibility, and any subscription services the manufacturer might offer. Remember, a cheaper printer that requires expensive cartridges might end up costing you more in the long run.

Alternatives to Manufacturer-Provided Ink

It’s no secret that manufacturer-provided ink cartridges can sometimes be a significant expense. Over the lifespan of a printer, you may find yourself spending more on ink than you did on the printer itself! As a result, many printer users seek alternative sources of ink that offer savings, convenience, or both. Let’s explore some of these alternatives:

Over time, refillable systems can save money as buying bulk ink tends to be cheaper than purchasing new cartridges. Additionally, they generate less waste, making them a more eco-friendly option.

1. Refillable Ink Systems

These systems consist of cartridges that you can refill using ink bottles once they run out. Some printers are designed specifically for this, known as Continuous Ink Supply Systems (CISS).


Over time, refillable systems can save money as buying bulk ink tends to be cheaper than purchasing new cartridges. Additionally, they generate less waste, making them a more eco-friendly option.


While cost-effective, refilling can sometimes be messy, and there’s a learning curve to get it right. Ensure the ink you use is compatible with your printer model to avoid potential damage.

2. Third-Party Cartridges

Cartridges manufactured by companies other than the original printer manufacturer are designed to be compatible with various printer models.


They are often less expensive than the original manufacturer’s cartridges, offering potential savings.


Quality varies among third-party manufacturers. While many offer products comparable to the original, others might compromise on print quality or cartridge lifespan. It’s essential to research and choose reputable brands.

Also, using third-party cartridges might void your printer’s warranty, so it’s wise to check the terms beforehand.

3. Subscription-Based Ink Services

Services offered by some printer manufacturers where they automatically send you new cartridges based on your usage, usually for a monthly fee.


These services ensure you always have ink when you need it, eliminating the hassle of last-minute cartridge shopping. Over time, they can offer cost savings compared to buying cartridges individually.


This model might not be cost-effective for infrequent printers. Ensure you select a plan that aligns with your printing habits to get the best value.

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