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What is the difference between genuine and compatible printer ink and toner cartridges?

Today, compatible printer ink cartridges and toners are so advanced that the only difference most people will notice is the money you can save. This guide will cover everything you need to know so you can make an informed choice: saving money without quality compromise.

The first step is to understand the terminology. A genuine/ branded/original ink cartridge or toner is made by the printer manufacturer itself. For example, if the brand of your printer is Epson, a genuine printer cartridge would be an Epson cartridge. You can often verify genuine printer cartridges as they are branded with an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). On the other hand, a compatible/unbranded/third-party ink cartridge or toner is not made by the printer manufacturer. Instead, compatibles are made by a third-party company.

When delving into the world of genuine vs compatible cartridges, you may also come across the term ‘Remanufactured cartridges’. Unlike genuine or compatible cartridges, which have never been used before, remanufactured cartridges have been used, returned, cleaned and refilled to produce a ‘new’ cartridge. Often a remanufactured cartridge is referred to as a ‘compatible’ cartridge.

Are compatible printer cartridges any good?


The biggest difference between original and compatible printer cartridges and toners is the price. This is because well-known brands have substantial overheads, such as marketing and branding. Compatible manufacturers do not incur these costs, meaning they can afford to charge much less.

Our top tip is to make sure you find out about the company that manufactures the compatible cartridge first, before hitting buy. Especially if the price seems too good to be true. Check their Trust pilot and Facebook pages: do they feel like a company you can trust?


So why are people still buying genuine cartridges and toners? One of the main reasons is perception. People often perceive own brand as better quality but this is not always true. Results show compatible cartridges often have the same printing quality as the genuine cartridges, with compatible cartridges much lower in cost.

The quality of your printing does not have to decrease alongside the price. Compatible cartridges are a cost-effective way of fulfilling your printing needs; on average an office worker will print 10,000 pages per year so by switching from genuine to compatible ink and toner cartridges, the savings made can be huge!

Trouble using compatible cartridges?

There is a common misconception that using compatible cartridges can affect your printer and its warranty. However, if your machine breaks or becomes faulty within warranty and you were using a compatible cartridge, you would have just as much of a right to technical assistance as a person using a genuine cartridge.

If you are having trouble using compatible cartridges, there could be numerous reasons why:

  • Cartridge protection is enabled: Some printers have ‘cartridge protection’ enabled, meaning any compatible cartridge is prevented from working. This is a feature that can be switched off and will allow a compatible cartridge to be used.
  • The cartridge has not been inserted correctly: There is a slim chance your ink cartridge was not inserted into the printer correctly. Simply lift the cartridge cover, ensure your cartridge has been properly clicked into place, close the cover and try once again.
  • Internal memory reset needed: When a new cartridge is inserted into your printer, it should be automatically recognized and reset the printers’ internal memory; meaning full ink and toner levels are displayed. If this has not happened, an internal memory reset will be needed.

As previously mentioned, saving on the cost should not come at the cost of compromising the quality of your printing.