Printer Toner and Ink Cartridge, All You Need to Know

toner vs ink

The choice of printer consumables is the focus of every printer user, because it is related to whether your printer can print normally. The most basic printer consumables are divided into ink cartridges and toner cartridges. If you don’t have any idea about them, this article can help you fully understand the difference between them. Let’s jump in!

Let’s start with difference!

The toner cartridge is filled with dry toner powder, which is usually suitable for laser printers. The laser printer are machines that melt toner powder onto paper to create a print.

The monochrome laser printer only prints with a black toner cartridge. The color laser printer uses four separate black, cyan, magenta, and yellow toner cartridges for printing. When one of the colors is used up, it can be replaced separately, but the four colors must be applied to the printer at the same time so the printer can operate normally.

Some toner cartridges include drum units and some do not. For example, HP toner cartridges include drum units but Brother TN660, TN760 toner cartridges do not, as their toner cartridge and drum unit being sold as separate parts. This is called drum and toner saperation structure >> Drum and Toner Separation vs Drum and Toner in-one, How should I choose?

Toner cartridges usually come in three types: : original, compatible and remanufactured. Know more between them >> How to choose toner cartridge between Original, Remaufactured and Compatible?

The ink cartridge filled with liquid ink which is squirt droplets of liquid ink onto paper to form an image.

Ink cartridge is usually suitable for inkjet printers. Inkjet printers typically require four color ink cartridges to print: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Black ink cartridges are usually individually, but the color ink cartridges have two different structures. One is tri-color ink cartridge (e.g, HP 63XL), the other is individual color ink cartridge (e.g, HP 910XL). check out our blog article for more information on this topic >> Differences between tri-color ink cartridge and Individual color ink cartridges

There are also three types of ink cartridges: original, compatible and remanufactured. Know more between them >> Name Brand vs. Third-party Printer Ink Cartridges

Toner cartridge vs Ink cartridge, which is better?

Service Life

Generally speaking, the service life of the toner cartridge is longer than that of the ink cartridge. The shelf life of the toner cartridge is generally 24-36 months, and the life of toner cartridge will not be affected if it is not used for a long time.

The shelf life of ink cartridge is 18-24 months, but the ink cartridge must be used as soon as possible after opening. Once it is not used for a long time, the nozzle is easy to be dry out and clog.

Page Yield

The volume of the toner cartridge is much larger than that of ink, which means that it contains more powder and more printing pages can be provided.

Toner cartridges typically have page yields ranging from 2,000- 20,000 pages, and Ink cartridges typically have page yields of about 500 pages.


The initial cost of the toner cartridge is higher than that of the ink cartridge because they usually larger and can print more pages.

Toner cartridges are more cost-effective if you print in larger quantities.

However, if you do not print often, low output and low-cost ink cartridges will be more cost-effective.

In conclusion:

Toner CartridgeInk Cartridge
For Laser PrinterFor Inkjet Printer
Contains toner powderContains liquid ink
Higher page yieldLower page yield
Does not dry out or clogCan dry out or clog
Long Shelf LifeShort Shelf Life
Lower cost per pageHigher cost per page
Higher initial costLower initial cost

Toner and Ink Cartridge, which is right for me?

Best choice for small office and home office – Ink cartridge

Many homes, photographers and small home offices prefer inkjet printers, because inkjet printers can provide high-quality text, color images and photos. It is a good choice if you plan to print small batches regularly or need high-quality photos.

However, the cost of ink is relatively high, and if the ink is not used for a long time, the print head is easy to be blocked, and cleaning the print head requires a lot of ink, so if you want to save ink and make the ink last longer, you need to use the printer at least once a week.

Best choice for large printing demand – Toner cartridge

Consumers with large printing demand may want to use laser printers. These machines are most suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises and schools that print large amounts of text, thick documents and color prints.

However, photographers or people who need to print color images and photos may not be suitable for using toner cartridges, because the powdery nature of toner cartridges will make photos look dim. If you only need to print monochrome text, such as test papers in school, monochrome printers will save you a lot of money.


How do I know if my printer needs toner or ink cartridge?

You can check your printer manual. Generally speaking, you need toner for laser printer and ink cartridge for inkjet printer. 

You can also enter your printer model at to get the correct ink cartridge or toner cartridge model.

How often do I need to change the ink or toner cartridge?

The toner cartridge has more page yield, which means that the replacement frequency of the toner cartridge is less than that of the ink cartridge. If you use  a TN660 toner cartridge which provide 2,600 pages for daily printing, which can be used for about 3 months.

As mentioned above, if used improperly or not in time, the ink cartridges may expire, dry up and become clogged.This means that sometimes you will need to replace your ink cartridges even if it has not been used for 100%.

How to save printing costs on ink or toner cartridges?

Choosing a high-quality compatible alternative can save you a lot of money on ink and toner cartridges. V4ink provides you with high-quality printing effect and absolutely reasonable price. Choosing a compatible cartridge will significantly reduce your cost per page, for example, our v4ink brand compatible Brother TN660 toner cartridge offers the same page yield as the original cartridge for only 30% cost of the original.

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