How to Choose a Printer for Your Budget and Business Needs

Submitted by Mary Shamburger on Wed, 10/20/2021 - 15:11

If your business or organization is looking for a new printer, then it’s likely that you’ve compiled some sort of budget together. Maybe you have a rough idea of how much you’re willing to spend upfront, or if you choose to lease, how much you can afford to pay monthly.  

The problem is, those who aren’t familiar with the copier/printer industry aren’t usually aware of copier/printer prices, and the variables that go into calculating them.

Unless you go buy a printer from your nearest Walmart, which is definitely not a good idea, then it’s likely you’ll be entering a service agreement with a print vendor and paying for a certain amount of color and black/white prints per month. 

We’ve served as a print vendor in the North Texas area for over 30 years, and we’ve seen a lot of different budgets, some attainable, and some not at all. So, to help you get a good idea of what to expect, we’ve broken down exactly what to know in order to get an accurate estimate and we've given you some examples of the kinds of machines you’ll be getting within certain price ranges.  

Because we're an authorized Xerox vendor, we'll only be referencing Xerox machines as examples, since they're what we know best. However, most major printer brands will have options that are comparible to the printers we'll talk about.

First- How Much Are You Printing?

One of the most important metrics that you need to know before buying a copier or printer is how much you are currently printing or expecting to print. It’s pretty common for a customer to have a higher print volume, think 10,000 pages per month, and their expectation for a budget is to pay around $100 a month.

Then when presented with a machine that’s capable of supporting that print volume, they’re surprised at the monthly price, because it’s usually higher than what they expect.  

The irony is, it’s likely that they’re already spending far over $100 a month when you look at how they’re currently getting their documents printed. It’s often either an in-house machine that they buy toner and supplies for themselves at an outrageous price, or they’re outsourcing all of their printing, giving them no flexibility or room for error, and is expensive as well. Both of these scenarios are usually overlooked in the buying process.  

Being realistic with your printing needs and expectations is the best way to get the right printer for you, so you don’t have to worry about running over your recommended print volume, or paying more in the long run.  

Wait, How Do I Know My Monthly Print Volume?

There are three main ways to figure out how much you’re printing per month. If you’re under a service contract or maintenance agreement, then check your most recent invoice, it should list an exact number for you to see.  

You can also take a look at the meter reads on your machine. This is the number of overall prints that that device has completed, so once you find it (either in machine settings or on a printed report), then divide it by how many months you’ve owned the machine for a rough estimate.  

If neither of those methods are available to you, then you can get a rough estimate by analyzing how much paper you’ve utilized in the past month, by counting the number of paper reams that you’ve gone through.  

What Are Your Budgeting Expectations?

Because copiers and printers are a form of technology, prices are constantly changing with the introduction of new features, updates, etc., so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much you are going to pay, especially without factoring in upgrades or accessories.  

To get a general idea for budgeting purposes, expect to pay between $10-$40 per month on your maintenance agreement, an average of $0.009-0.02 for each black/white click, and $0.069-0.17 for each color click. These costs range depending on which machine you choose- the bigger and higher the upfront cost, the lower the click rate.  

If you choose to forego a maintenance agreement, then you won't receive the auto-toner shipments or free service, but you will save that additional $10-$40 per month. We have an article that explains the benefits of a maintenance agreement for those who are curious. 

This means that if you are printing in the high-volume range, it’s important to get a machine compatible with that workload so that your click rate is low. For example, if you were to be printing 5,000 color pages on a small machine for $0.17 each, then you would pay about $850 (it adds up quick!). But if you choose a larger machine with a color click rate of $0.069, then you’re only going to pay $345- which is less than half.  

That’s why it’s important to be realistic with your printing needs and have a good grasp on how much you’ll be printing monthly.  

Best Desktop Printer for Small Workloads

If your monthly print volume is under 5,000 prints per month, or you know that you have a small workgroup that doesn’t print much, then it’s likely that a low-volume desktop printer will work nicely for you.

They can usually be bought upfront instead of leased since they’re less expensive than bigger multifunction printers (MFP), they’re still compatible with a variety of finishing options for whatever you might need, and they can still be covered for service and auto-toner shipments.  

Xerox VersaLink C405

The Xerox VersaLink C405 is an excellent example of a desktop multifunction printer, with a maximum recommended monthly print volume of 8,500 pages per month, and access to ConnectKey technology and the Xerox App Gallery, designed to automate your work processes and make your office as productive as possible.  

We have an in-depth review written on the VersaLink C405 that explores the pros, cons, and overall cost, if you’d like to find out more about it. As of now, the VersaLink C405 can be bought for about $949, not including any service agreements or added accessories.  

Best Printer for a Medium Sized Workload 

Now if your monthly print volume is between 5,000-10,000 prints per month, OR if you need to perform specific functions like printing in specialty media like tabloid (11x17”) or glossy paper, then you’ll need something a little more robust than just a standard desktop printer.  

Because these are more powerful than desktop printers, they also get a bit more expensive, so it’s more common for businesses to lease them for a monthly rate.  

The decision on whether to lease or purchase a machine can be a big one for a lot of businesses, so we’ve written an article to help: Leasing vs. Purchasing: Which is Right for My Business? 

Xerox VersaLink C7030 

When it comes to Xerox, an example of a good machine for medium-sized workloads would be a Xerox VersaLink C7030. It’s got a recommended monthly print volume of between 12,000-15,000 prints per month and is capable of being a complete workplace assistant with all of the finishers and accessories that are available for it.  

It’s larger than the VersaLink C405, and won’t fit on a desk or tabletop, so it’ll need its own designated space in the office, but it’s a powerful machine that’s perfect for those with the right-sized workload. A VersaLink C7030, without any service agreements or additional upgrades, costs around $4,650, or an estimated monthly lease price of $137 (for a 36-month period).  

Best High-Volume Office Printer

If you have a monthly print volume that’s higher than 10,000 prints per month, or you’re interested in having a machine that’s capable of fast, high-quality print outputs, with automated workflows and advanced finishing options, then you’ll want to invest in a multifunction printer that’s somewhere in the Xerox AltaLink family.

These types of machines are designed for large workloads and can get pricey upfront depending on the upgrades you choose, but they’re necessary for businesses with high monthly print volumes, and will likely save you more money in the long run. 

Xerox AltaLink C8155

The Xerox AltaLink C8155 is a good benchmark for the Xerox AltaLink line since it falls in the middle in terms of strength and power. It has a maximum monthly print volume of 30,000 prints per month, can print 55 color pages per minute, and can print in sizes up to 12.6 x 52in.  

It’s designed for the most demanding of workgroups and is compatible with a number of finishers and accessories, allowing it to perform tasks like stapling, booklet making, hole-punching, and more. It’s a large machine, especially with added accessories, so it does need quite a bit of space and won’t fit in a cubicle or very small room. 

 Because of its strength, it’s also incredibly versatile and can handle different types of media while still delivering exceptional image quality. An AltaLink C8155, without any upgrades or service agreements, will probably cost somewhere around $11,000, or a monthly lease price of about $315 (for a 36-month period).  

Ready to Learn More About Choosing the Right Printer for You?

Now you not only have an idea of how to accurately compile a budget for your printing needs, but you also know what kind of machine you can expect to get for your budget, and how it’ll suit your business.  

What’s next, you might ask? Well to provide you with everything you need to know about the purchasing process of a copier or printer, we’ve compiled a Complete Buyer’s Guide, which talks about price, leasing vs. purchasing, available upgrades/accessories, service agreements, and so much more. It’s available to you free of charge, just click on the photo below and you’ll be taken to the download screen and receive your PDF copy.    

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