From small businesses to people who love to print, the best printers under $500 cover a lot of ground. This price range is right where consumer products begin to move into the professional class, and there are thousands of options to choose from.
Whether you want to print something in 3D or with a toner cartridge, the following list features five of the best systems in this range:
- Best Overall: Epson EcoTank ET-3850
- Best Laser Printer: HP Color LaserJet Pro M255DW
- Best Wide Format Printer: Epson Expression XP-15000
- Best All-in-One Printer: Brother INKvestment MFC-J5845DW
- Best 3D Printer: ANYCUBIC Photon Mono M5 Resin Printer
Best Overall Printer Under $500: Epson EcoTank ET-3850
- Wireless color printer, scanner, and copier
- Automatic document feeder
- Cartridge-free Supertank printer
- High-capacity ink tanks and easy filling with Epson’s EcoFit ink bottles
- PrecisionCore heat-free technology produces sharp text
- Stunning color photos and graphics on nearly all types of paper
The Epson EcoTank ET-3850 is one of the best printers under $500 for home office use, and it’s even cartridge-free. It’s one of the company’s Supertank printers and is ideal when you need an intelligent printer that can keep the cost of ink down.
Epson’s EcoTank series is a cartridge-free system that doesn’t need refilled often, thanks to the design. Their EcoFit bottles make refills a breeze, and there’s around two years of ink in every box. It’s a duplex printer with an auto document feeder and a flatbed scanner. The tray holds 250 sheets of paper, and the black print speed is excellent at 15.5 pages per minute.
Color is 8.5ppm, which is a decent speed, but it’s nothing spectacular. What it lacks in speed, however, it makes up for in features. Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port allow you to print wirelessly. You can print using Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistants as well. Borderless images look great on this printer, even if they take a while to complete.
The ET-3850 is the successor to the popular EcoTank 3760, but the new model is a bit faster than comparable printers in the series. It’s also the type of system that will save you loads of money on ink if you’re a high-volume printer. Check out the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 All-in-One Cartridge-Free Printer on Amazon.
|The cost per print is fantastic.||Photo printing is just mediocre.|
|It has dual-sided printing and an ADF.||The color print speeds aren’t the best.|
|You can print with Siri, Google, or Alexa.|
|The scanner is excellent.|
Best Laser Printer Under $500: HP Color LaserJet Pro M255DW
- Easy-to-use smartphone application
- Prints up to 22 ppm
- Affordable option
- Features Alexa voice controls
- Wireless printing
Laser printers are a fantastic alternative to inkjet machines, and the HP LaserJet Pro M255DW is the best printer under $500 that utilizes toner cartridges. This efficient printer is ideal for home office use and small businesses looking for a system that won’t break the bank.
HP’s printer isn’t going to wow you from a design standpoint, although it’s well-built. This rather plain-looking printer is fast at around 22 pages per minute in color or black. It can power through material with efficiency and holds 250 sheets of paper. This LaserJet printer automatically prints on both sides and has voice-activated printing and other high-tech features.
Wi-Fi Direct allows you to print from any smartphone or slate, but there’s also an Ethernet port and a front-facing USB port. It’s easy to operate from a mobile or through the small color touchscreen on top of the printer. While there’s no scanner on the M255DW, the HP Smart app and shortcut system allow users to scan from a phone and print with ease.
The JP LaserJet Pro M255DW is an excellent alternative to ink-tank systems for users who need a high-capacity printer. It’s smaller than other printers from the LaserJet Pro line and only outpaced by systems like the HP M479FDW. Some users felt the printer was a little loud, but it provides an excellent value for the price. Check out the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw Wireless Laser Printer on Amazon.
|It provides a lot of bang for your buck.||You can only scan through the app.|
|The printer has smart features and is easy to use.||It’s not as quiet as other Laser printers.|
|HP has a customizable shortcut system.|
|It has fast print speeds and full duplex printing.|
Best Wide Format Printer Under $500: Epson Expression XP-15000
- Print up to 13 by 44 inches
- Sprint speeds of 9.2 ISO ppm (black) and 9.0 ISO ppm (color)
- Print on a variety of different media including double-sided and transfer paper
- Ultra-wide color gamut
- Can order ink automatically
The Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 is the best large format printer under $500 when you want to produce oversized prints. Epson’s system produces beautiful images in a variety of sizes but is cheaper than comparable systems and leaves a smaller footprint behind.
This stylish printer can produce prints up to 13×19 inches in size. It can also put out a small 4×6 just as easily and can print them without borders. The print quality is significantly better than other systems on our list. The XP-15000 is designed for photos, not documents, although it can quickly crank those out as well.
Your speed will vary on this printer, but a borderless 4×6 takes less than 40 seconds. It has a 200-sheet front tray along with a 50-sheet rear tray for large and unique media like cardstock. It’s also Dash-enabled, so you can order ink when it runs low. The printer has wireless capabilities and uses the company’s vivid Claria Photo HD inks.
This printer isn’t quite as fast as some of the best printers under $500 at 9.2 ISO ppm (black) and 9.0 ISO ppm (color). However, it’s the best choice for images, whether it’s a family photo or a professional shot. The cost per print is a little higher due to the ink, but the image quality, size, and price are tough to beat. Check out the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wireless Color Wide-Format Printer on Amazon.
|The printer has fantastic image quality.||The cost per print is a bit high.|
|It can print borderless images up to 13×19 inches.||The print speeds could be better.|
|The printer has automatic dual-sided printing.|
|It’s compact with wireless printing.|
Best All-in-One Printer Under $500: Brother MFC-J5845DW INKvestment Printer
- Prints, copies, scans, and faxes
- Wi-Fi and ethernet
- Print speeds up to 22 ppm monochrome and 20 ppm color
- Duplex Printing
- Up to 50-sheet automatic document feeder
When you need a system that can do it all, the best printer under $500 is the Brother MFC-J5845DW INKvestment series printer. The MFC-J584DW can print, scan, copy, and fax and comes with a massive supply of ink to get people started.
The INKvestment lives up to its name with an internal ink tank and cartridge system designed to keep the printer going. With the included ink, this printer can deliver up to 150 pages a month for a year. It’s one of their faster INKvestment printers as well at 20 pages per minute color. The printer can print in duplex mode and handles 150 sheets of paper.
The scanner is just large enough to take on full-size documents, and the printer has ledger capabilities for 11 x 17-inch documents. If you have an Alexa-enabled device, you can use voice control with the Brother MFC-J584DW. You can print using the company’s app or use Page Gauge and Dash to order ink when the printer eventually runs out.
This Brother IKNvestment printer checks all the right boxes whether you need to print, copy, fax, or scan. It’s also one of the easier MFC smart printers to use in the business class. While geared for small businesses, it’s the perfect choice for anyone in need of an efficient printer with solid print quality and plenty of ink. Check out the Brother MFC-J5845DW INKvestment All-in-One Printer on Amazon.
|It can print, scan, copy, and fax documents.||It’s good at everything but doesn’t excel in one area.|
|The printer has a low operating cost.||The scan quality could be better.|
|You get voice control through Alexa and other smart features.|
|It comes with up to a year’s worth of ink.|
Best 3D Printer Under $500: ANYCUBIC Photon Mono M5 Resin Printer
- 11520 x 5120 resolution
- 480:1 contrast
- 10.1-inch HD monochrome screen
- Anycubic app allows online slicing, one-click printing, and monitoring
- Printing size up to 7.87 x 8.58 x 4.84 inches
You can print almost anything these days, and the best printer under $500 that produces 3D objects is the Photon Mono M5. This resin printer from ANYCUBIC is a great way to bring your ideas to life, and you’ll be impressed by the details it’s able to produce.
The Photon Mono M5 is a resin-based 3D printer with a resolution of 11,520 x 5,120. That’s 12K, and with a contrast ratio of 480:1, the details are amazing. It’s effortless to use and stable thanks to features like dual linear rails and the laser-engraved platform. It has a massive 10.1-inch mono LCD display. You can also control the system and print using the ANYCUBIC mobile app.
Software is one of the reasons we love this printer, with access to tools like Photon Workshop. You can pull up millions of models through their app or even slice your creations from a phone. The speed on the Mono M5 ranges from 20-50mm an hour, and the layer thickness is 0.01-0.15mm. The build area is larger than other models in the series but behind the Photon M3 Max at 7.87 x 8.58 x 4.84 inches.
Resin printers were once considered too expensive or exotic for the casual user. That’s changed, and the ANYCUBIC Photon Mono M5 is a prime example of that. The print quality is impressive, given the price, and it’s not as challenging to use as other resin printers. With that in mind, you may experience some technical glitches, and the documentation isn’t the best. Check out the ANYCUBIC Photon Mono M5 12K Resin 3D Printer on Amazon.
|It’s an affordable, well-built resin printer.||The instructions and documentation aren’t great.|
|It produces highly detailed prints.||You can expect the common 3D printer technical issues.|
|It comes with a solid suite of 3D printing software and tools.|
|There is a large build area and an engraved plate.|
How to Pick the Best Printers Under $500: Step by Step
The best printers under $500 can come in many forms, depending on your needs. Rest assured, there are thousands of models to choose from in this range, whether you want to print something in 3D or with ink. While we aren’t going to touch on every type of printer, we will tell you how to thin the herd so you can pick the best printer in this class.
- Type of Printers
- Operating Cost
Types of Printers
What type of printer do you need? While 3D printers are in their own class, there are several types of traditional printers to consider. Most use ink, but that isn’t always the case, as laser and thermal printers are also popular options.
Inkjet printers are familiar to most consumers. These printers spray droplets of ink on paper to make images, and they are the most affordable type of printer for general use. You can print photos, documents, and everything else on these printers, but the speed and print quality varies considerably. Laser printers are much faster but don’t use traditional ink.
These printers use laser cartridges, and while they can print photos, they excel with text. They are the best choice when you need to print a high volume of documents. Laser printers, like inkjet printers, often have other features like flatbed scanners or a fax modem. Another style of inkless printer are thermal printers.
You won’t find any of those machines on our list, but they are perfect for printing mailing labels and receipts. These printers are fast and don’t cost much to operate compared to inkjet and laser printers. There are also photo printers, large format printers, and portable systems, depending on your needs.
The operating cost of any printer depends on several factors. Every printer will require maintenance, although it’s minimal unless you have a commercial system or 3D printer. With the latter, the cost could include new parts like extruders or print beds as things break down. Laser printers can also have maintenance costs, but when inkjet printers break, they typically go in the trashcan.
Paper is a standard cost for inkjet and laser printers, but something that shouldn’t break the bank. Ink and toner cartridges are a different story. That’s where the cost per print comes into play, and you need to consider it beforehand.
If you’re buying one of the best printers under $500, it’s not going to sit on a shelf and collect dust. 3D printers will require filament or resin, depending on which type of printer you choose. Both materials affect the cost per print, although third-party manufacturers help bring the cost down.
Connected printers have become common, making it easy for anyone with Wi-Fi to avoid the dreaded printer cable. That’s a bonus, but the best printers under $500 generally have a few more bells and whistles in that department.
If you need to ensure a stable connection for faxes or wireless printing, look for a printer with an Ethernet port. They aren’t as common on inkjet printers, but they are something you can find in the midrange to premium class. Every printer will still give you the option to use a cable, however. If you want to print using your voice, that’s also possible with certain systems.
Alexa is the most commonly used voice assistant, followed by Google, but there are a handful of printers that also respond to Siri. Mobile apps can unlock interesting features, although we feel they are not something you should rely on. Issues stemming from poor printer apps can also be a problem.
What to Know Before Picking the Best Printers Under $500
Once you understand what type of printer you need and have a rough idea of the operating costs, it’s a good idea to consider the warranty. Cheaper printers typically have a one-year guarantee, but you can find plenty of laser printers and premium inkjet systems with two-year warranties.
Customer support is also important, especially if you’ve ever experienced driver issues with PC components. Do you need to print business cards? That’s not possible on every printer, so it’s a good idea to think about formats as well.
Using the Best Printers Under $500: What It’s Like
If you’ve never used a pricy printer, there are a few differences you should notice compared to cheaper models. The main one is speed, and that’s something that can really make a difference in the overall experience. Nobody wants to wait for a print to roll out, and you won’t have to wait as long with more expensive machines.
You can also look forward to more features regardless of what type of printer you choose. That includes things like Dash, which lets you quickly order ink or automatic document feeders. Just don’t become overwhelmed by features when print quality and the cost per print are more important.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©New Africa/Shutterstock.com.