Best Tank Printers of 2021

These printers can save you tons of money on ink, and there are now many models to choose from, at a range of prices

A Canon tank printer

Ever since their introduction a decade ago, tank printers (aka reservoir-style printers) have presented a tricky choice for consumers: Should they spend lots of money up front for a machine that's really cheap to maintain with ink, or spend relatively little on a printer, then drop beaucoup bucks on replacement cartridges?

Unlike traditional inkjet printers, which can be found for less than $100, tank printers generally cost a few hundred dollars, though a couple of models are available for less. But even expensive tank printers can be cheaper to own in the long run. 

That’s because traditional color inkjets use multiple ink cartridges that tend to run out fairly quickly and cost a lot—often $30 a pop or more. That cost can really add up over time, easily topping $100 a year. In Consumer Reports' surveys on printers, the frequency of ink replacement is a frequently cited pain point.

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Instead of small, individually purchased cartridges, tanks printers have big reservoirs of ink that you fill up from bottles that generally cost just $12 or so. Consumer Reports calculates that for a typical printer owner, ink replacements should cost only about $5 a year. 

There are several reasons that now is a particularly good time to buy a tank printer. First, prices have dropped. Second, performance has improved. Early on, the tank printers we tested fell short of many inkjets when it came to producing sharp text and images, but that's no longer true. And last, the tanks are much easier to refill than in the past.

“Replacing the ink on the first few generations of tank models used to be a messy affair—because the filler nozzles were just simple openings,” says Rich Sulin, a project leader for CR's printer testing program. Better design has solved the problem.

Our printer ratings currently include 22 tank models, mostly from two brands: Canon MegaTank and Epson EcoTank. Both brands earn high owner satisfaction scores in research by Consumer Reports. However, we're currently not recommending any Epson EcoTank printers because these printers receive only a Fair predicted reliability rating. Several Canon MegaTank printers are recommended; they earn a Good rating on reliability. (CR's printer reliability and owner satisfaction ratings are based on surveys of 119,853 CR members describing 150,345 printers bought new between 2012 and 2019.)

Here are three tank printers, all Canon models, that Consumer Reports currently recommends. 

The Lowest-Priced Tank Printer

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