Most and Least Reliable Printer Brands

CR's exclusive survey reveals wide differences in reliability—especially among inkjet printers

A Brother printer, one of the most reliable printer brands in multiple categories.
Photo: Chris Philpot

There’s a lot to consider when you’re shopping for a new printer. To help you make an informed choice, Consumer Reports runs each model through a battery of tests to determine how new printers will perform out of the box, covering print quality, speed, ink costs, and more.

But it’s also important to know how reliable a printer will be once you get it home.

Every year, Consumer Reports conducts surveys of our members to gather data about printer reliability and owner satisfaction. To derive our predicted reliability ratings, CR analyzes the data we collect using a statistical model to estimate how likely a particular brand and type of printer is to experience problems by the end of the fourth year of ownership. That’s about halfway through the life span that people say they expect from their printers.

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“Reliability is important,” says Rich Sulin, who leads CR's printer testing program. “The last thing you want is to find yourself back on the market because your last purchase turned out to be unreliable—and it turns out, when it comes to printer brands some are far more likely to cause problems than others.”

In our most recent survey, CR members told us about their experiences with 113,959 individual printers. One key finding is that predicted reliability for any brand can vary from one type of printer to another.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of who makes the most and least reliable printers in each major model category, from all-in-one inkjets to single-purpose black-and-white laser printers.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers are the most popular type of printer among our members, making up 79 percent of the units in our study. They are versatile, and are typically far better at printing photos than laser printers.

But in general, inkjet printers are less reliable. None of the eight inkjet printer brands in our survey merit a high reliability rating.

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