A high-quality printer for proofs and submissions is a necessity for graphic designers. They are the ones who probably use printing the most out of all other creative professions like artists, painters, photographers, etc. They need high-quality prints on a day to day basis to prepare their portfolio and submit proofs to show it to their customers and potential clients. It is important to show your client the best quality proofs that you can get so they understand what the final product to expect. While it is possible to use commercial printers for your printing uses, it becomes less and less efficient as your business starts to expand and grow, and your need for fast and timely prints increases.
While you don’t need to print out the final product at your own home, you don’t have to wait for the commercial printers to give your proofs which you’ll need to show to your clients. And these proofs will need to be high-quality in order to give the clients at least an idea about the final product. Without this accurate visual representation of the final product, the customer might not be willing to entertain further business with you or in the case that they don’t like the final product, there will be no recourse to change all the prints that you have received from the commercial printer, leading to wastage of precious time and money for both you and your customer.
Best Printers for Graphic Designers – Buying Guide
Before you decide which printer to buy there are a few important factors that you need consider in order to determine which printer will be the best for you and your particular use. Keep in mind that not all of these factors are of equal importance, and it will be dependent on your use to determine which of these factors are the most important for your particular needs. For example if you need a lot of line work but not at much color or perhaps you need properly differentiated colors to properly see the proofs. All of these factors will have an effect on your choice and what will be considered best for you.
With that, let’s look at the various factors that you need to be aware of before setting out to buy a printer.
Type of Printer
There are various types of printers out in the market currently, but we only will be looking at 3 of those; inkjet, laser and LED.
Inkjet printers are those printers that create images on paper by propelling droplets of ink onto the printing medium. These droplets are a series of tiny dots. Inkjets printer are the most common printer in the world currently. A lot of the quality of the print depends on the quality of the paper used since if the paper absorbs too much of the ink then the print may appear blurry. A lot also depends on the type of ink in the inkjet printer as well.
Laser printers use toners to print images. Toner is a static charged colored powder which is fused to the paper fibers using hear during the printing process. The process makes it so that the image printed will not be blurry and can’t get smudged and doesn’t need to dry out.
An LED printer is similar to a laser printer but instead of the laser which heats and fuses the toner to the paper fiber, it uses light-emitting diode array. Laser printers usually are better for quality printouts than LED printers.
While there used to be a massive difference between laser and inkjet printers’ quality and image resolution, in recent times with technological advancement, most of the difference has been caught up. However if you’re looking for proofs which are nearly as good as your final prints then inkjets will be the one that you need to look it. Inkjet printers will be necessary when you want high quality images. Inkjets are usually cheaper than Laser printers in terms of upfront cost but ink is more costly than toners for a laser printer.
Laser printers are better when you have need a lot prints in terms of volume and speed. Laser printer don’t keep up in terms of image quality and resolution when you compare them to even mid-range inkjet pictures. Laser printers are much sturdier than inkjet printers and more efficient. Their print speed is also much higher than inkjet and they can deal with a lot of print volume. Laser printers are more expensive than inkjet printers but over time their cost is less since while a toner is more expensive than an ink cartridge, it lasts for much longer and the cost per print is much lower than with an inkjet printer. Laser printer is good for those who need a lot of prints throughout the month and are more concerned with print volume and efficiency.
LED printers are similar to laser printers with the only difference being that an LED printer is sturdier since it has less moving parts inside it but that comes at price of fixed image resolutions and generally inferior quality prints when compared to other laser printers.
Ink Tanks and Page Quality
If you’re looking for great quality prints for your proofs then you need to look for a printer which has individual tanks for every color. If all the three colors are in the same cartridge then that increases the chance of the colors bleeding onto each other in the print or even having a cast on the print (a magenta or cyan tint on the print), or the cartridge might even get stuck and clogged out. This would happen since all three colors are trying to be released at the same time, so if you’re taking very complex color prints then this is a very serious problem.
However, if most of your design and print is going to be monochromatic and/or black and white then you might just look for ink that gives high quality black and white prints without the added need of providing color prints which will be much cheaper and efficient than just normal ink.
If you choose an inkjet printer, then you need to see whether you want a printer that uses dye-based inks or pigmented inks. Dye based and pigmented inks have a stark difference in their quality, color saturation, and lifespan. Dye based inks are less expensive while also being much more vibrant. However, the downside is that they tend to fade incredibly quickly. And since it’s not really possible to swap out the type of ink your printer uses, you have to be sure about what exactly you need from your printer in order to decide which kind of ink based printer will be best suited to you. If you need to print proof which don’t need to stay for a long period of time anyway, then a dye based ink printer seems well suited for you. If you are, on the other hand, printing materials which need to be able to weather time and not fade away then the more expensive pigmented printer should be your first choice. While you can buy ink cartridges from a 3rd party manufacturer, it is usually recommended that you use the ones that are sold by the manufacturer of the printer since those will be best suited to your particular printer and have the least amount of risk of causing some adverse effect.
A laser toner is usually more expensive than an inkjet cartridge but provides a cheaper cost per print since it tends to last so long. It is much more efficient than an inkjet cartridge and print more pages than a comparable inkjet ones but will not give as much vibrancy or depth of color as an inkjet one.
The last thing one should be looking at while considering the ink type is to consider the type of paper you’ll be using as your medium to print. Using an inkjet printer will necessitate the use of high grade slightly waxy bonded paper which will prevent the paper from absorbing too much of the ink and then subsequently blotting or getting blurred. The brighter the paper is, the better the resultant print of an image will be as well. A high quality smooth, waxy paper could even have two layers of ink imprinted on it so that it creates a much higher resolution picture. So for best results with an inkjet paper, a high quality, smooth, waxy and bright paper is best. For laser printers the quality of paper, while still a factor, isn’t that big of a deal when compared to an inkjet printer. Paper weight is another important factor that is often overlooked and not paid any heed to. Paper weight will determine the rigidness, feel and foldability of a print. Make sure your chosen printer can handle the paper weights that you will be preferring to print on. Usually manufacturer also provide paper stock that is appropriated according to the kind of use it and the kind of ink a printer uses.
In general terms, the bigger the printer – the better it will be since it opens up the possibility of printing a large variety of sizes of print that might be needed as per the occasion. But again you need to think about what size you’re going to be printing regularly and what size you want the option of printing to be possible for you. Not every individual will need a 44 inch wide format printer and not every proof or print might be well suited for a standard A2 size either. Another thing to consider is that most laser printers can’t take paper that’s wider than the normal A4 or standard legal paper. While not every individual will require a printer that can handle A2 size but generally a flexibility to print different sizes of paper will not be remiss for a graphic designer.
Your printer should also be able to accept different sized, or weighted paper easily. You need a printer to accept light stock paper to print your drafts and high grade stock paper for your final proofs and prints. Most colored laser printers are very specific about the paper weight that they can handle. The same is true for most of the cheaper models available on the market currently. These kind of printers mostly are not able to accept or handle heavy, high grade stock paper which makes them an inferior choice when it comes to choosing a printer which you’ll be using to print out proofs and such.
Also consider what additional feature a printer might have. Some printers have wireless capability, greatly reducing wire management and clutter that you would have had to deal with. While other printers have the capability of directly printing from a camera or a memory card/stick without interfacing a computer in between. A few printers also have all-in-one capabilities and can also scan and copy as well. Consider these features and whether they’re useful or important for you before deciding to buy a printer.
With that, we come to the end of the factors which will help one determine which is the best printer on the market currently, or to be specific which printers are the best printers for graphic designers.
Best Printers of 2019 for Graphic Designers
Now we have done the legwork for you and made a list of the best printers of 2019. Here they are:
#1 The Canon Pixma iP8720 Inkjet Printer
- Don't get stuck in an 8 inches x 10 inches world; Print your favorite photos up to 13 inches x 19 inches
- With a 6 color ink system including gray ink and 9600 x 2400 maximum color dots per inch, the results are incredible quality and amazing detail in...
- Print wirelessly from any Wi Fi enabled computer around the house; Ink droplet size: 1, 2 and 5
Canon printers are one of the best printers in the market currently. The Pixma iP8720 is one of the best that Canon has made. With its 9600 dpi print resolution, it offers crystal clear images in print. It has a six color cartridge including the color grey, letting you get the perfect details of the color that you seek to print. It is on the cheaper end of things but still a great choice for most graphic designers looking for high quality prints for their proofs. It also comes with the Canon print app which lets you print anything with any device which is compatible with the app.
- Variable Print Size
- Canon Print App for wireless printing
- High resolution
- Varied 6 colour cartridge
- Not very fast
- Very noisy
- Screen less so computer is necessary to set up
- Manual paper feeding
#2 Epson Expression Photo XP-8500
- This printer is designed for use with Epson cartridges only, not third party cartridges or ink. Cartridges described as Compatible, Remanufactured,...
- Ultra powerful small-in-one — Fast, quiet performance in a compact, space-saving design.
- Professional-quality, borderless photos up to 8" X 10" — 6-color Clarian photo HD inks deliver smooth gradations and amazing skin tones.
The XP-8500 is a great product from Epson and is one of the fastest illustration printers on the market. It comes with a special paper tray feeder and can easily accommodate special grade paper like cardstock. It has a 6 HD ink cartridge with Amazon Dash Replacement, a system when activated, will keep track of your ink levels and automatically order a replacement from amazon when it’s empty. It features built in USB, and memory card slots and an integrated screen for easy computer free printing when required. It also comes with an app that lets you print wirelessly.
- Small and compact
- Can scan and print
- Variable print size
- Dedicated photo tray with rear specialty paper feeder
- 6 colour HD ink
- Integrated screen and memory slots make it PC free
- Can print in as fast as 10 seconds
- No battery to work off of mains
- Cannot copy
- Only compatible with Epson brand cartridges
#3 Brother HL-L2300D
- Prints Up To 27 ppm, Automatic Duplex Printing
- 250 Sheet Capacity Paper Tray. A4 2 sided print speed 13. A4 standard print speed 26. Automatic 2 sided print. Recommended monthly volume 250 to 2,000...
- Windows 10 Compatibility: If you upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, some features of the installed drivers and software may not work...
This printer from brother is a fantastic monochrome laser printer which comes with a 250 sheet tray capacity. It can print up to 27 pages per minute and easily prints two sided documents. It also has a rear paper exit so that no print gets damage. It has a recommended monthly volume of up to 2000 pages. It prints sharp monochrome pictures at up to 2400 dpi.
- 27 ppm printing speed
- Up to 2000 pages monthly volume
- 250 sheet tray capacity
- 2400 dpi
- 1 year warranty
- Manual paper feeder
- Laser drum might be hard set to only print up to a certain number of pages
#4 Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
- This printer is designed for use with Epson cartridges only, not third party cartridges or ink; Cartridges described as Compatible, Re manufactured,...
- Professional ultra HD photo quality get brilliant border less prints up to 13 inches X 19 inches
- Individual 6 color Claria photo HD ink includes red and gray inks for an ultra wide color gamut and enhanced black and white prints
The XP-15000 is wide format printer which still retains the classic Epson sleek and compact design, making it one of the best printers in the market currently. It has a 6 ink HD cartridge that includes Red and Grey inks for enhanced black and white prints and an impressive range of color prints. It includes a 50 sheet special paper rear tray that can accommodate a variety of paper styles and sizes. It supports 2 sided auto printing and has a 200 sheet front tray. The XP-15000 also comes with Amazon Dash Replacement. It feature a LCD screen for easy setup and navigation and comes equipped with wireless and Ethernet capabilities.
- Rapid printing
- Compact size
- Wide print format
- 6 HD ink cartridge
- Auto 2 sided printing
- Wireless capability
- Amazon Dash Replacement
- Varied printing sizes
- No integrated display
- No memory slots or USB slots
#5 Canon PIXMA Pro-100
- 8 Dye based inks for amazing gradients and color, 3 of which are dedicated grayscale inks for beautiful black & white prints
- The Optimum Image Generating System reproduces colors as you intend them by logically selecting the optimum ink combination and placement; Output Tray...
- Compatible with Individual CLI 42 Ink Tanks (Black, Gray, Light Gray, Cyan, Photo Cyan, Magenta, Photo Magenta, Yellow); Save Even More On Value...
The Pixma Pro-100 features an impressive array of 8 dye based inks, of which 3 are different grayscale inks, resulting in amazing black and white prints. It can print any size up to 13”x19” and offers an incredible 4800 dpi. It also comes equipped with Optimum Image Generating (OIG) system which determines a variety of printing factors based on the type of paper, the printing mode and the result required to offer the image printed exactly as it was envisioned. It comes with two way paper feeding, a rear tray for most supported paper type and a manual feeder to help load in thicker papers in to the printer. It has WiFi capabilities so that being manually connected isn’t necessary and even comes with a PictBridge connection which lets you print photos directly from a compatible phone, camera or camcorder. However, it still does offer high speed USB connections for reliable and efficient transfer of data.
- 8 dye based inks
- 3 grayscale inks for great monochrome prints
- 4800 dpi
- Varied printing sizes and supported media
- Computer free printing
- Wireless and wired functionality
- OIG system for great end result prints
- No setting for Vellum paper
- Big and bulky
#6 HP Envy 5055
- Limited time offer: 4 MONTHS OF INK FREE, when you sign up HP Instant Ink service during printer setup; offer ends 5/2/2020
- Step up and create projects at home – Print, scan, and copy borderless, high-quality photos and documents with crisp, sharp text using this...
- Our most powerful printing app ever – The HP Smart app allows you to easily set up your wireless printer, scan documents with your camera, and print...
This printer from HP comes with multi-functional capabilities, being able to print, copy and scan in a single device. It has a fast printing speed, up to 7 colored pages per minute. It can automatically print on both sides of the paper. It comes with various wireless capabilities like, WiFi, Bluetooth and the HP Smart app. It features a 2.2” touchscreen to copy and scan easily. It can print up to a 1000 pages a month. It also comes with HP instant ink and compatibility with optional high yield ink cartridges.
- Optional high yield cartridges
- Fast printing speed
- Manual feeder
- No computer-less capability
- No wired capability
- No separate photo tray
#7 HP Envy 7855
- Limited time offer: 4 MONTHS OF INK FREE, when you sign up HP Instant Ink service during printer setup; offer ends 5/2/2020
- Stunning photos for less than 5 cents – Features of this photo printer include print, scan, copy, fax, borderless & wireless printing, SD card slot,...
- The power of your printer in the palm of your hand – Mobile printing from your device such as iPhone with AirPrint, or print without a network using...
This top of the line printer from HP is all decked out with features. It has multi-functional capabilities, being able to print, scan, copy, and fax from a single device. It has quite a fast printing speed when it comes to inkjet printers, with a speed of 10 ppm when taking colored printouts and 15 ppm when taking monochrome prints. It also has a 35 sheet automatic feeder and automatic two sided printing. It can print borderless images, print wirelessly, print from a USB slot or a memory card slot. It also comes along with Ethernet slots for wired networking. The Envy 7855 has 2.7” color touchscreen that allows the paper tray to automatically adjust to the print settings and paper type. Finally it is also provided with a year-long hardware warranty.
- Wide variety of printing sizes
- Automatic paper feeder
- Wired and wireless printing
- Comes with Amazon Dash Replacement or HP Instant Ink
- Multifunctional capabilities
- Automatic two sided printing
- One year warranty
- Can’t print 13”x19” sizes
#8 Lexmark CS410dn
- The small and quiet Lexmark CS410dn network-ready color laser printer with 2-sided printing standard, a 800 MHz dual-core processor and 256MB of...
- Lexmark Named Color Replacement and PANTONE calibration make it easy to develop a consistent brand image by accurately matching your colors.
- With up to true 1200x1200 dpi resolution, images and graphics stay crisp. Lexmark's Unison Toner ensures consistent quality from the first to the last...
This product from Lexmark is a solid color laser printer which offers amazing print speeds, doling out just over 30 pages a minute. Its recommended monthly output is up to 6,000 pages. It has an automatic document feeder and can print easily on both sides. It also features the lauded LNCR and Pantone calibration system making sure that your images accurately match your print colors in clear 1200 dpi resolution.
- 1200 dpi resolution
- Fast printing speed
- Pantone colour calibration
- Automatic paper feeder
- Single function printer
- Can’t handle a lot of paper variety
#9 Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II
- Maximum 4800x2400 dpi FINE printhead technology
- Photo Lab quality 11-inchx14-inch color photo in approximately 1 minute 23 seconds
- Support for fine art paper up to 13"x19" with two separate paper paths, including front feeder for heavy-weight paper types
This Canon product prints images in crystal clear 4800 dpi, photo lab quality prints. It can support various stock paper of different weights and up to 13”x19” in size, and includes a front feeder for the heavier paper stock. It comes with 8 color ink cartridge system and an ambient light correction system which optimizes the color of print according to the lighting condition of the room you’re in. It also features an automatic image correction system that will apply changes to make the best prints possible. It comes with USB ports to connect with your PC and a PictBridge system to directly print photos from your compatible photo capturing device.
- 8 colour ink cartridge
- Varied print size up to 13”x19”
- Two paper feeders
- Ambient Light Correction System
- 4800 dpi prints
- Automatic image correction system
- USB slots and PictBridge for connecting to PC and compatible devices
- Manual Feeder
- No double sided printing
- No wireless capability
#10 Epson Expression ET-3700
- Epson strongly recommends the use of Genuine Epson inks for a quality printing experience. Non Epson inks and inks not formulated for your specific...
- Cartridge-free printing - comes with up to 2 years of ink in the box (1).
- Includes enough ink to Print up to 14, 000 pages black/11, 200 color (2) - equivalent to about 30 ink cartridge sets (3).
This Epson printer is an all in one multi-functional printer with supersized ink tanks. These supersized ink tanks come filled with up to 2 years-worth of ink right out of the box. It includes enough ink to print up 11,200 pages worth of color prints. It offers beautiful 9600 dpi resolution prints. It comes attached with an auto-stop ink bottle which allows you to fill the ink tanks without any hassles. You also get to use much more economical replacement bottles which can cost up to 80% less than the normal cartridges that you use. Its paper tray has a 150 sheet capacity and it can print double sided prints easily and automatically. The printer also has a 2.4” color LCD display and easy printing method from tablets and smartphones.
- 9600 dpi
- Comes with 2 year worth of ink
- Easy to refill and economical ink cartridges
- Automatic double sided printing
- LCD display for easy navigation and setup
- Easy wireless printing from tablets and smartphones
- 150 paper tray
- Only up to 8.5”x11” sized prints
- No automatic feeder
With that we have the 10 best printers in 2019. These printers are all great products that will help you expand and grow your business further by offering you the opportunity to get amazing prints. However, do know that this list is in no way exhaustive. There are many more great printers out there but we think that these ten printers are currently the best printers. We also have avoided printer that are above $2500+ range as those shouldn’t usually be the first printer one should be looking to buy for their personal use. Before choosing the printer that you’re going to buy, go through all the features once again and compare with its contemporary products to see if it is going to be the best choice for you, to ensure that it gives you the maximum bang for your buck.
We’re sure that with the help of this buyers guide and review, you too, shall be able to select and get the printer that you have needed for so long for your needs and satisfy your requirements.