Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.The RundownBest Overall:Canon Pixma iX6820 at Adorama.com"This wireless printer is a great option for anyone looking for a business-oriented solution."Best for Photos:Canon SELPHY CP1300 at Amazon"Helps to select, edit and print photos from a memory card or directly from a USB cable."Best Laser:Brother HL-L2350DW Printer at Adorama.com"Can zip out a speedy 32 pages per minute."Best Splurge:Epson Expression ET-2650 at Amazon"Includes two years of ink, or the equivalent of 20 printer cartridges."Best Portable:Epson WorkForce WF-110 at Amazon"If you need to tote around your printer, the Epson WorkForce WF-110 is our pick for the best portable printer for college students."Best Black and White:Brother HL-L2300D at Amazon"The Brother HL-L2300D cranks out up to 27 pages per minute."Best All-in-One:Brother MFC-J895DW at Amazon"Printers that have more functions than just printing are valuable space-savers."
Finding the best printer for college students can be challenging. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Do you want to be able to print wirelessly? What kind of network will the college dorm have? Will your student need black and white only or color? What about multi-functions?
Because of the wide variety of considerations, we have a wide variety of suggestions for you. We cover all features, budgets, and size considerations. Once you know what you're looking for, we'll have an option for you down below. These printers will allow your new student to be creative and productive in their new environment.
Best Overall:Canon Pixma iX68204.3 Buy on Adorama.comWhat We Like
Great print and photo quality
Individual color cartridges
High resolutionWhat We Don't Like
Take up a lot of room
No screenCanon Pixma iX6820 Review
Our best overall printer prints the best overall documents and photos. The Canon Pixma iX6820 prints exceptionally sharp photos and text every time. It has a maximum print resolution of 9600x2400 dpi for color print and 600x600 for black print. Those are both very high. It uses five separate ink cartridges, with individual colors for each. The benefit is that you can just purchase the color you need, without wasting the rest of the colors you don't.
Keep in mind, though, this printer is only a printer. There's no copy/scan/fax functionality that you see on a lot of other printers these days. Plus, the printer, itself, takes up a lot of room due to the angled paper trays off the front and back of the device. Plan for an extra foot or so of space around the printer. Finally, this printer has no screen or GUI, which can often leave you guessing if something goes wrong.
"The Canon Pixma iX6820...produces high-quality results quickly and can connect to most computers and mobile devices easily."— Chadwick, Product Tester
Best for Photos:Canon SELPHY CP13004Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like
Multiple connectivity options
High quality prints
SmallWhat We Don't Like
Battery sold separately
Limited to 4x6 or 5x7 sheetsCanon Selphy CP1300 Review
Photo printers are items that generally fill a certain niche—printing photos. With so much of college mow happening digitally, however, the need for a paper printer is becoming less of a necessity and more of a nice-to-have. But college life is all about fun and photos and living in a dorm that can be short on space, which makes the Canon SELPHY CP1300 a great device to have. Of course, being small also limits the photo printer to 4x6 or 5x7 prints.
You would expect a photo printer to be portable, and it is to an extent. The printer fits into a backpack or over-the-shoulder bag, but the battery that would make it truly portable is sold separately. As it is, you can carry the plug with you too, but we'd like to see a photo printer be more portable than that. All the same, with the multitude of connectivity options and high-quality output, you can print your photos from almost any device, and they'll come out looking great.
"Lots of features and really good print quality make this a good fit for consumers who want to get their photos off their mobile devices and computers and into their hands."— Theano Nikitas, Product Tester
Best Laser:Brother HL-L2350DW Compact Monochrome Laser Printer4.5 Buy on Adorama.comWhat We Like
Low per page costWhat We Don't Like
Low per page cost
MonochromeBrother HL-L2350DW Review
Brother is one of the best names in printing and the HL-L2350DW is a workhorse in the category. This is a laser, monochrome printer, so you won't be printing any photos. But if you're cranking out term paper after term paper, you can't ask for a better value. The benefits of a laser printer include low toner costs, speed, and reliability. This printer will print, print more, then print even more.
It also has a fairly small footprint. The paper feeder on the bottom and the output tray on top ensure that you don't need any extra space around the printer, which is valuable in a cramped dorm space. There's also no scanning, copying, or faxing here, which can be inconvenient at times, but if all you need to do is print black and white, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option.
"Simply put, you won't find a better value for this entire line of printers from Brother. If basic black and white prints are all you need, the HL-2350DW is a buy-it-for-life printer."— Gannon Burgett, Product Tester
Best Splurge:Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTankBuy on AmazonWhat We Like
Comes with two years of ink in the box
Fillable ink trays instead of cartridges
Built-in SD card slotWhat We Don't Like
If you have a little extra money and you want a printer that is easy to use and maintain, the Epson Expression ET-2650 might be a good choice for you. This printer uses a cartridge-free method of ink storage, opting instead to use ink reservoirs. Plus, the printer comes with about two years of ink in the box, based on consumer estimates. When the printer runs low on ink, you buy ink bottles and use them to refill the ink reservoir. This is a lot cheaper than ink cartridges that typically include electronics in them.
The printer connects wirelessly to most of your devices, and also has a built-in card slot for printing photos directly from your camera. That can be very handy for photographers. This is an example of a printer that will cost you more upfront, but could end up being a great investment if used long-term. Saving money by buying ink rather than cartridges is a great way to save some money, but it's worth doing some research before making a final purchase.The 9 Best All-In-One Printers of 2021
Best Portable:Epson WorkForce WF-110Buy on AmazonBuy on B&H Photo VideoBuy on Adorama.comWhat We Like
Very small footprint
Connects to Google Assistant and Alexa
Built-in batteryWhat We Don't Like
Small input try
The Epson Workforce WF-110 is one of the smallest printers you'll find that will still accommodate full sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper. The paper tray flips down on top and in front of the printer when closed, making this a neat, portable little cuboid. The printer even has its own built-in lithium-ion battery for ultra-portability, but that comes at a cost since you can only load 20 sheets of paper at a time. If you're printing longer research papers, that will not do the job.
But this printer also connects to Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to easily print your calendars, games, or puzzles, which is a really nice touch. You can connect to the printer wirelessly with Wi-Fi, AirPrint, or an SD card or USB Drive. The small profile also makes it great for a dorm room or small desk, which means you can print whatever you want, from whatever device you want, anywhere you want. Who could ask for more?The Complete Guide to Laser and LED Printers
Best Black and White:Brother HL-L2300D Monochrome Laser PrinterBuy on AmazonBuy on B&H Photo VideoBuy on Adorama.comWhat We Like
27 pages per minute
Large capacity input and outputWhat We Don't Like
Black and white only
Our best black-and-white printer is also a laser printer The Brother HL-L2300D cranks out up to 27 pages per minute, with automatic duplex printing, which prints on both sides of the paper, saving paper. The printer has a high-capacity paper tray capable of holding 250 sheets of paper. The output tray also has a high capacity of 100 pages, so you can set it and forget it for a while if you want.
There's no Wi-Fi on this printer, but in a college setting, that might be a good thing. With so many students living close together, keeping some devices restricted to wired access probably isn't a bad idea. It's definitely limiting, though, especially after they come home from college and want to get started in the workforce. But if you need to print a lot of papers in black and white, and you usually do in college, this is a great choice.
Best All-in-One:Brother MFC-J895DW3.5 Buy on AmazonWhat We Like
SD card and USB Reader
Automatic document feederWhat We Don't Like
Slow scanning and copying
Slow color printingBrother MFCJ895Dw Printer Review
Printers that have more functions than just printing are valuable space-savers. Having one device do everything, including printing, scanning, copying, and faxing, is great. Colleges still often rely on paper documents, so having a fax machine handy can be invaluable. Plus, this printer comes with NFC for easy interaction with smartphones, an SD card reader, and a USB plug for thumb drives. All of these are key to a college student's success.
Of course, having everything in one package means it won't necessarily be the best at everything. In particular, color printing, scanning, and copying are all fairly slow on this machine, so make sure you have some extra time if you're punching up those term papers with color charts. But if you need an all-in-one solution in the dorm room, this is a great solution.
"As a light-duty all-in-one printer with a fairly lightweight price tag, the Brother MFC-J895DW impresses."— , Product TesterFinal Verdict
The best printer on the list is the Canon Pixma iX6820. It offers exceptional printing in both black and white and color, and has individual ink cartridges, keeping waste to a minimum. There is some concern about how much extra space it requires in the front and back of the machine, but if you have the room for it, this is the printer to get.
Our runner up is the Brother HL-L2350DW, which is a monochrome laser printer. Laser printers are much cheaper to maintain than inkjets, which is important. The minimal amount of space it takes up also is important. It is a monochrome printer, but college students will probably focus more on printing papers rather than photos. Besides, a computer lab can print up the occasional color page, if needed.
About our Trusted Experts
Brittany Vincent is a freelance video game and entertainment writer whose work has been featured in publications and online venues including G4TV.com, Joystiq, Complex, IGN, GamesRadar, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, Mashable, and The Escapist.
Ann-Sophie Kaemmerle has been writing and editing since 2015, covering a wide range of topics in the media, tech, and E-commerce industries, and has a wide breadth of knowledge in topics from online security, online dating, student loans, to other services.
Adam Doud has been writing the tech space for almost a decade. He's married to a teacher which means many printers have sat on his desk.
What is DPI?DPI stands for dots per inch, which is how the resolution is represented when printing. The more dots there are per square inch, the more densely packed they are and the sharper your printing will be. Higher numbers are better.
What are the advantages of laser printers versus inkjets?Laser printers use toner, which is a sort of powder instead of ink. Typically, toner is cheaper and the result is less cost per page when printing. Toner cartridges also tend to need replacement less frequently. While black-and-white laser printers are priced competitively with inkjets, color laser printers tend to be much more expensive.
Do I need copying, scanning and faxing?That depends on your situation. In a college dorm, the more functions you can pack into a single device the better. Space tends to be at a premium, so the more a single device can do, the less room you'll need for other things.
What to Look for in the Best Printers for College Students
Extra functions - When you're in a college setting, you never know what you're going to need for your next class. Sure, colleges have computer labs, but it's a lot better if you can print, scan, copy, or fax from your own dorm.
Space considerations - When you're in a dorm room, how much space your printer takes up is also important. But remember, printers also have trays that stick out the front, back, and sometimes to the side. Knowing your space is just as important as functionality.
Cost per page - Many printers will give you an estimated cost per page of printing based on ink/toner used. Obviously, lower is better, but you'd be surprised how low the number can get depending on your needs.