Brand Printer Cartridges vs. Generic Printer Cartridges

Printer cartridge prices may be decreasing, across the board, and people may be becoming more selective about what they decide to print, but ink and laser printers are still a vital tool for business communication.

As such, one’s selection of printer cartridges are an important business decision, from both an accounting and operational perspective. One of the biggest questions we get is, what is the functional difference between branded printer cartridges, supplied by that printer’s company such as: HP, Epsom, Lexmark etc. and generic printer cartridges, which are made by third party companies.

While there are various individual organisational factors than can affect the desirability of either one, we’ll quickly explore a broad comparison of the two types of cartridge. It should be noted that cartridge refills do not fall under either of these categories.


Whenever there’s a question the value of brand versus generic, the most obvious advantage for generic is price. After all, it’s the only reason they exist in the first place. Many generic printer cartridges are as much as fifty percent cheaper than their branded counterparts.

There are two reasons for this dynamic. Brand printer cartridges are produced using stricter control methods which generate high operating costs and printer companies use a business model that involves selling their initial product at low price and then using the supplies for the that product as a primary revenue stream.

On that note, it’s also worth checking if using a generic cartridge will void your warranty. Some printer manufacturers have this policy.


The quality control standards used during production give branded printer cartridges the advantage in this area. However, in the majority of cases, it’s only noticeable if you print photos or artwork. Text quality is rarely noticeable between generic and brand. These are also a lot less likely to fail on installation or preemptively deplete before reaching their projected print limit.

Brand print cartridges also tend have a have higher quality consistency over a thousand prints. So there’s a decreased likelihood of illegible copies.


One of the lesser known advantages of generic cartridges are that they can be used in several different printer models, as opposed to just the one they’re purchased for. However, this can run the risk of the ink itself not being very good for your specific printer head, causing clog and colour residue that affect later prints. However, most reputable printer cartridge suppliers should be aware of this, and list their compatibility options accordingly.


We’ve all heard the saying “Memories may fade but a picture lasts forever.” However standard longevity tests reveal that this isn’t quite true. UV light, heat, ozone and printer material degradation means that they do have a lifespan. While these are often much longer than the average human lifespan, it can be a factor if these prints are going to be on public display or passed on to future generations.

Branded printer cartridges have a significantly longer lifespan than generic, due to the quality of the materials used in the ink. However, this can be a non-factor for those who use prints for short-term information exchanges, like memos or user-manuals.

In conclusion

There is no clear winner between the two. It all depends on what your organisation needs from its printing facilities. If they’re being used for printing drafts and high-volume copying, then generic cartridges are probably the ideal option. However, if you need your prints to last and have highest possible level of print quality (such as design and marketing firms), then you may want to stick to brand.

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