Skip to main content

Genuine OEM or original branded toner cartridges never seem to get discounted anywhere close to the prices of many compatible or generic versions. Manufacturers like HP® and Brother usually set a minimum price to keep the profit up on toner, even if the printers themselves might seem fairly inexpensive by comparison. It is for this very reason that many people have wondered if they can expect good results from those compatible or generic cheap toner cartridges.

For example, a popular Brother toner cartridge is the TN-750, which typically sells for more than $83. NeweggBusiness offers a Rosewill® (house brand) compatible cartridge with the same 8,000 page yield (5% page coverage) for less than $26 as of this writing. The savings of more than $57 is enough to make people think there is no way the lower priced compatible could be near as good as the Brother version. Keep in mind though that for printer manufacturers, the profit is in the repeat sale of toner.

Name brand printer manufacturers go to great lengths to make doing business difficult for compatible cartridge suppliers. For example, they may design their toner cartridges or printers with patented parts so that a compatible would be difficult to manufacture without violating the patents or copyrights. This doesn’t stop the many manufacturers of compatible cartridges from trying. They often alter the design or manufacturing just enough to avoid violating the intellectual property rights of the original manufacturer. The cartridge is still built to be compatible and fit properly in the printer, even if it might look slightly different.

Another approach original printer manufacturers use is publishing warnings that generic or compatible toner cartridges could damage the printer or void its warranty. This is highly unlikely however. Any damage to the printer is usually caused by users and not generic toner cartridges themselves.

Some people have had inferior results from generic cartridges. When this happens, many conclude that all compatible cartridges are inferior. However, there are many different manufacturers of compatible toner cartridges in various countries and the quality can vary from one company to another. For example, some compatible cartridge manufacturers seek to deliver quality products and others sell by having the lowest price. When trying to cut costs, some cartridge manufacturers have been known to use inferior plastic or toner mixtures. These inferior products create a bad reputation for compatible cartridges in general since they all seem to be generic and it is difficult to tell the product of one manufacturer from another.

When a compatible or generic cartridge does not produce quality output, it may actually be defective, which happens to all brands. It is also possible that the cartridge was produced by an inferior manufacturer and it could be difficult to tell who made it since they are often made to look generic. In fact, some generics are labeled or branded by other companies as their own brand. They will typically do this with better quality product though, since they want the toner cartridge to reflect well on their brand.

Even among compatible toner cartridges, there are brands which take great pride in producing a quality product at a fraction of the price that name brand manufacturers charge. Print quality and page yield will typically equal that of the original brand and a wise customer can save significant expense using the quality compatible toner cartridge instead.

Finding reliable compatible toner cartridges needn’t be difficult. Smart shoppers check reviews and purchase from reputable resellers like NeweggBusiness. Top-quality results can be had using good compatible toner cartridges, even though they are cheap toner when compared to the price of original OEM cartridges from the big printer manufacturers.

Image by Iwan Gabovitch, taken from Flickr Creative Commons
Cheap Toner: Compatible Versus OEM Toner Cartridges
Article Name
Cheap Toner: Compatible Versus OEM Toner Cartridges
Compatible, generic printer toner cartridges are far less expensive and can be just as good as name brand toner cartridges if you know what to look for.
Scott Roy Smith

Author Scott Roy Smith

A visionary and creative online media product manager with extensive experience in interactive multimedia and online product strategy, design, and development. Scott has spearheaded successful products such as webinars, blogs, and recording of entire conferences for immediate webcasting and podcasting. He was instrumental in rapid Web site traffic growth and sales growth of digital products.

More posts by Scott Roy Smith

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Fantastic read, Great stuff keep it up.

    I run a doctor surgery and use around 8 brother printers, all laser jet toner ink. My main machines are HL5440 5450 and we use loads of tn3280,tn3380,tn22010.tn325bk and the relevant brother drum units.

    i found this article with funny videos and actully an amusing yet factual read.. hope it helps

    keep up the work, i save ALOT of money switching to compatible brother printer toners.
    Has anyone had bad experiences?
    are bad compatibles bad for my printer?

  • William W says:

    As someone who actually fixes printers and copiers after compatible toner has been used in them. This article is very misleading, yes the toner cheaper, But there are other variables to look at.
    Some toners don’t melt at the right temperatures and gum up the works damaging you fuser roller, some overfill your the drum units and eventually scratch and damage your drum unit, and some mist inside your unit getting in the drive systems causing very high repairs or a need to replace the whole thing.
    You may find a toner that seems to work and find out they don’t reach yields and you buy them more often.
    If someone offered you compatible gasoline for your car would you by it at a third of its price

  • Alan Watkins says:

    Some very important considerations not discussed here are re-manufactured vs compatible, and toner powder quality. (IE) Crushed or pellet and the size. So, it’s implied that there are good re-manufactured and compatible toners, yet no one seems to discuss spec details. Mentioned above is the Rosewill brand and the yield is covered but no mention of critical specs. In addition the omission is made by one that will gain from the sale.

  • Scott Roy Smith says:

    To be sure, the underlying specs are the key to quality—including in re-manufactured toner cartridges (not the subject of this article). Yet, the average user would not know what to look for in the specs and most manufacturers do not present them in product descriptions anyway. So, the suggestions for the average user are to check reviews and buy from reputable sellers.

  • Tai Liu says:

    well written, good article, can’t cover all aspect in one article for sure.

  • Bob says:

    While a lot of what you say is true keep in mind that if you save $40 to $50 on each toner cartridge in a short period of time you saved enough money to purchase a brand new printer if it should get jammed. Printer companies practically give away printers just to make their profits on the ink and toners. However, they have gouged the public for too many years on ink and toners. It’s time for the independent companies to get a stronghold on this marketplace to bring major printer company pricing (HP, Brother, Canon, etc.) back to reasonable levels. All of this is very old technology and usually this results in lower prices with time. However, this has not been the case with ink and toner pricing. So I say buy off brand products to keep the pressure on the big boys.

  • Carl says:

    Maybe I have to go back and read the reviews again. I (sadly) stopped looking for Rosewill replacements for my Brother machine when I saw mostly 1-3 star reviews on them by customers. That being said, I did have a positive experience when I purchased compatible cartridges (don’t recall the manufacturer) for a Konica-Minolta Magicolor printer several years ago.

  • Sigmund Silber says:

    I put a new Brother printer into storage because of problems I had with the existing printer which suddenly would not accept non-Brother toner and would give me a toner low error. I understand there are ways around that but decided to abandon Brother even though they make the best produce in the business. But I use a lot of toner.

  • DGVDK says:

    When I bought my laser printer I forgot to check the price on original toner before I bought it, which means, that the toner is very expensive, around $100 for the small ons. The unoriginal toner are only a fraction cheaper in my country, but enough to buy them. They will cost around $80. My laser printer is only 4 months old, but I have a lot of issues with it so now I am looking for another one and this time I am checking the price of the original and unoriginal toner prior to buying.

What's your take?