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Top 5 laser printers for refilling
January 2017

  • Is it easy to refill?
  • Is it free of anti-refilling booby traps?
  • Forget generic specs like "22ppm". Will it get your print jobs out through thick and thin?

Brother HL-L8250cdn

Best value colour printer for refilling

link to HL-L8250cdn how to refill video Unplug and pour refilling:
a rare luxury in 2017

tick Refill by "unplug and pour", the simplest method there is

tick No need to waste money buying chips

tick Delay or avoid buying Brother original cartridges by resetting and refilling the "inbox" toner cartridges that arrive with your new printer

tick use all the toner you ever pay for by using our reset until fade out method ... Learn how in this video

tick Refill tolerant. Tried and tested: 14,969 pages of our own production done on this printer

Approx. price of the HL-L8250cdn printer: £112 ex VAT
(Source:, 4th January 2017)

See HL-L8250cdn refill products and prices

On the down side, it could have been more robustly engineered and the over-elaborated choice of original cartridges is as confusing as it is patronising. I.e. 2.5K yield black cartridge for £43 and a 4K yield black cartridge for £46 ....DUH!

That notwithstanding, only Lexmark makes a robust laser printer in this price range and they're - let's just say for the sake of avoiding a lawsuit - not favoured by us on "other grounds". Furthermore, Brother's thus far refusal to use lock-out chips and this model's old-style unplug and pour refilling make it the best colour printer we've had for semi-production use in the last 4 years.

For you whipper-snappers that like a multi-functional, the DCP-L8400cdn is an exact work-alike of the HL-L8250cdn.

For those that want all of the above plus faxes, check out the MFC-L8650cdw. It's a toner twin of the HL-L8250cdn, but you need to kick off with my special L8650 Starter Kit here.

Brother DCP-9015cdw

Best cheap colour multi-function

link to HL 3140CW toner refill video The Brother DCP 9015cdw. Superfluous, annoying reset wheels, but the bottom line is you can bend it to your will

tickno wasted money on chips

tickuse all the toner you ever pay for - Brother's or ours - by using our reset until fade out method ... Learn how in this video

tickdelay, or even avoid buying original cartridges altogether, by refilling the starter cartridges (that arrive with the new machine)

tickno waste-overflow issues associated with refilling

tickautomatically print on both sides of the paper

tickBattle tested. Over 15,000 pages of our own production done with this engine (although in the HL-3150dcw laser printer)

Brother original prices (Source:, 4th January 2017)
Brother DCP-9015cdw printer £ 124-00 ex VAT
TN241BK black cartridge 2.5K yield £ 50-60 ex VAT
TN245C cyan high capacity 2.2K yield £ 71-12 ex VAT
See DCP-9015cdw refill bottle prices

From: Dave ||
Sent: Fri 14/08/2014 16:02
Hi, Doc!
Early in July, I followed your recommendation and bought a Brother 3150CDW. I had to shop around to get the price you quoted, but it was there!
Since then, I have been very pleased. I ordered your Black Starter Kit with the reset wheels and other bits, and also the rainbow kit so that I had refills for all colours. I have now had to reset the black cartridge twice, all the others once.
The printer itself is excellent - quite a step up from the Samsung CLP-315, for not much more money.

We are deeply critical of the timing of the "Replace toner" message on the HL-3150cdw in our experience, which would leave people wasting around half of the toner they paid for. But this - let's call it "anomalous behaviour" - can itself be nullified by our "reset until fade out" method ... See how in this video

Brother HL-L2300d

Best "cheap and cheerful" mono

Brother HL-L2300d toner refill how to Brother HL-L2300d : forget chips, forget fiddling with reset wheels

tickdelay or avoid buying new cartridges by refilling the "inbox" toner

tickdoesn't need chips

tickno dis-assembly or fiddling with reset wheels

tickno waste-overflow issues associated with refilling

tickautomatically print on both sides of the paper (duplex)

Brother original prices (Source:, 4th January 2017)
Brother HL-L2300d printer £ 66-95 ex VAT

See HL-L2300d refill products and prices

Samsung M3320nd

Bangs out the black all day long

M3320nd link to how to refill video The Samsung M3320nd's almost an "unplug and pour"

tickdoesn't need chips

tickstarter cartridge (arrives with new machine) can be refilled

tickhuge waste compartment is not an issue until you get into a fourth refill of an individual cartridge

tickautomatically print both sides (duplex)

On the down side, you do have to roll up your sleeves and drill out 3 plastic rivets. But if you can take that on board, the extra intricacy is more than compensated for: once the rivets have been drilled, that cartridge is an "unplug and pour" for the rest of its life.

Samsung original prices (Source:, 4th January 2017)
Samsung M3320nd printer £115-00 ex VAT (claimed to be £65 + VAT after a "cashback" offer)
MLT-D203L cartridge 5K yield £84-35 ex VAT

Samsung M3320nd refill products and prices

17,337 trouble free test prints can't be wrong. The M3320nd has kept us going when other printers literally bit the dust. A no-brainer if you're "whackin' the black" in semi-production quantities.

Didn't make the cut

  • Brother HL-3150cdw: previously a "Top 5" pick. But in January 2017, only about a tenner cheaper than the far superior HL-L8250cdn. So unless you desperately need wireless or you're short of desk space, you're better off stepping up to the HL-L8250cdn.
HP Pro 125a waste streaks HP Pro 125a waste overflow marks
  • HP Laserjet Pro M125a: minuscule waste compartment - particularly on the "introductory" cartridge - leaves you wondering whether it was coincidence. Forget it and its inflated price tag.
  • Brother HL-1110: too light-weight for serious users. You're better off with the Brother HL-L2300d
  • Samsung M2825nd: was a recommendation last year, but now there's no reason not to step up to the M3320nd and get a better printer for the same price
  • HP M252 family : Again, tiny waste compartment, awkward hole position and (adding insult to injury) the addition of a totally weird "toner sack" inside the cartridge. Run a mile. Then keep going.
  • HP M451dn : expensive and cursed by tiny waste compartments, awkward refill positions and booby starter cartridges
  • Lexmark CS310, CS410 Series : prefer not to comment in detail for legal reasons
  • Ricoh SP 201N: has been sold at rock bottom price but tricky to refill and offers nothing you can't get from our recommended mono printers
  • Samsung C1810 : in our opinion, a pile of pooh. Don't waste your money.
  • Samsung C430W : no viable refills at the time of writing and looks to be from the same stable as the awful CLP-360 / C1810
  • Samsung CLP-415 : quality was iffy from the word "go" printing with original cartridges. We might have just been unlucky with our machine, but this is a page of recommendations based on our experience. And on our experience, we can't recommend it.
  • Samsung CLP-680nd : much more of a faff to refill than the Brother HL-L8250 and doesn't offer you anything that the Brother doesn't

Doc Toner's last word (for now)

As we stand on the foot hills of 2017, once again, apologies that my top "5" is still stuck at 4. Back in the day, I did used to be able to scrape together 5 half-decent printers. But the combined effect of "chips with everything" and "tiny waste compartment syndrome" really thins out the runners and riders.

test printersAll recommendations are based on our experience of refilling the printer in the lab and while printing our own stuff for business

I've named and shamed the worst offenders plenty of times in the last 25 years. I've offered to publish responses from manufacturers and withdraw my comments where appropriate. But alas, I've never had a return message. Although the blizzard of generic specs and meaningless alphabet-soup model names never abates.

So please bear with me. Hope springs eternal that consumer choice will bring the executives down from their ivory towers, but in the meantime, the "Top 4 refill-friendly laser printers" would surely be the worst Country & Western song title ever.

Keep refilling in the free world

Doc Toner

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