A3 Printer vs. A4 Printer: What’s the Difference? 

Submitted by Mary Shamburger on Wed, 12/14/2022 - 09:00
Person opening up a printer while pressing a button

Office printers/copiers are divided primarily into two categories: A3 and A4 machines.​ 

What are the differences between the two types of machines? And why should you be aware of them? 

To get the right printer in place for your company, you need to understand whether you need an A3 or A4 machine because there are clear distinctions between the two. 

As a vendor that has sold office printing equipment for almost 40 years, we’ve gathered the expertise necessary to inform you of the differences between A3 and A4 machines and summarize who would and wouldn’t be a fit for each. 

Let’s dive into the blog, starting with A3 machines first: 

What Is an A3 Printer?  

A3 printers are larger floor-standing units that can print or scan up to (11” x 17”), which is tabloid-sized paper.  

This differs from A4 machines, which can only print letter or legal-sized paper (8.5” x 11” or 8.5” x 14”). 

A3 machines tend to be more advanced since they are larger, and subsequently, more expensive than A4 machines. 

Because of this, A3 machines tend to have more accessories and the ability to add features like finishers (i.e. folding or hole punch) or larger paper trays. 

They are also built to handle higher print volumes than A4 machines, meaning they have the capacity to print or copy more documents than A4 machines. 

Examples of A3 printers include:  

Here is a look at the Canon iRA DX C3830i, an A3 machine (courtesy of Canon): 

Who Would Be a Fit for an A3 Printer? 

Now that you know what an A3 printer is, who would be a fit for one? The following are some of the main workgroups that would be a fit for an A3 machine: 

  • Medium-to-large-sized workgroups that need a bigger machine to handle high-volume printing/copying (usually more than 5,000 pages per month).  

  • Workgroups that need to print tabloid-sized prints or above; if you need to print specialty media, like brochures or calendars, you will need to get an A3 machine. 

  • Workgroups that need accessory options like extra paper trays, a stand or a finisher. 

  • Workgroups that desire advanced features in a machine, such as apps for your printer or more stringent security measures.  

If you fall into one of these categories, it is likely that an A3 printer would be your best option.  

Let’s now transition to the other type of machine, A4, so you can see how they differ from A3 units: 

What Is an A4 Printer?  

A4 machines are smaller, often desktop-styled, printers that only print letter/legal-sized paper (8.5” x 11” or 8.5” x 14”).  

Although they are smaller machines, A4 units can also come with multifunction abilities (print, copy, scan and fax), as well. However, they tend to be more limited in the configuration and accessory options you have to choose from. 

For instance, most A4 machines will not come with the ability to add a finisher like folding or hole punch. 

They may also be limited in some of the features that come standard with the machine. Depending on the particular model you’re looking at, certain things like apps for your printer or advanced security features may not be included with A4 machines. 

However, most A4 printers will still allow you to do tasks like print from your phone or scan a document to your email address. 

Here are a few examples of A4 printers: 

Here is a look at the Xerox VersaLink B405, which is an A4 machine (courtesy of Xerox): 

Xerox VersaLink C405 Color MFP for New Ways to Work

Who Would Be a Fit for an A4 Printer? 

Let’s summarize who would be a good fit for an A4 printer: 

  • Individuals that need a desktop printer for their home or office needs. 

  • Small workgroups that print/copy less than 5,000 pages per month. 

  • Workgroups that only need to print on letter/legal-sized paper. 

  • Workgroups that don’t require finishing options or extra accessories.  

If you fit into one of these four categories, you will likely be a fit for an A4 printer. 

How Do You Decide Which Type of Printer Is Right for You? 

Now that you’ve learned what the differences are between an A3 printer and an A4 printer, you should be well on your way to deciding which type of machine is best fit to handle your printing requirements. 

But it’s important to reiterate the factors that go into deciding what type of machine you need to look for. Here are the three main things to consider before purchasing:

  1. What’s Your Monthly Print Volume? 

The number one thing you need to consider before choosing the type of machine to go with is your monthly print volume. 

Your monthly print volume is how much you print or copy in a given month, and it will be the primary indicator of getting the right machine in place for your company. 

Read our blog on the importance of print volume to see a more detailed explanation of its significance and how to check your current volume so you know what to look for.  

  1. How Many Employees Do You Have? 

Next, figure out how many employees will be using the machine on a daily basis. This will also serve as another indicator of which type of printer you need to get. 

Remember: The more employees you have using the printer, the more likely you will need an A3 machine due to its ability to print at a higher volume.  

  1. What Are Your Business Needs? 

The last thing to consider is a very broad category, but it’s one of the defining features of getting the best machine possible for your company. 

What do you require in a printer? Do you need to print specialty prints? Do you need extra accessories? Do you want the latest technological features? 

All of these questions (and a lot more) will ultimately go into deciding which type of machine you will want to purchase.  

For a more detailed look at all the factors you need to consider before purchasing a machine, download your free copy of Our Complete Guide to Purchasing Or Leasing a Printer for Your Business to use as a resource as you begin to search for a new office printer. 

How Should You Pay for Your Next Printer?   

Knowing the type of printer/copier you need, either A3 or A4, will help you narrow down your options and ensure that the machine you’re buying will be able to handle your print volume safely and efficiently. 

Our almost four decades of experience in the industry have taught us that educating yourself before you buy is the best thing you can do to get the right office machine for your business.  

Now that you understand the type of machine you will need for your office, the next step you need to figure out is how you’re going to pay for it. 

There are two primary options you have to pay for your next printer: You can either choose to lease the machine or pay for it in full upfront. 

There are pros and cons to each option and it’s critical you understand both before moving forward on your journey to better office printing equipment. 

Read our blog on leasing vs. purchasing a printer so you can begin to decide how you want to pay for your next office machine when the time comes.