It has always been a dilemma to choose which type of ink is good for our printer cartridges, the original or the compatibles. Thinking on that I made a research, and the appropriate results are in front of you. Hope this article would be  beneficial for you to decide….

An original cartridge is manufactured by the same brand that made your printer. e.g. an original cartridge for a HP printer is manufactured by HP.

A third party cartridge is a cartridge manufactured by a different company for your printer. e.g. a cartridge for a HP printer, but not made by HP.

Compatibles should be just as reliable as genuine cartridges, and as long as you shop from a reputable supplier they are the #1 way to save money on your printing, without impacting print quality or the performance of your machine.

Cartridge types and names

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM)

An original cartridge is a brand new cartridge manufactured by the same brand that made your printer. So an original cartridge for a HP printer is manufactured by HP.


Another name for an original OEM cartridge.


This is a brand new cartridge made by a third-party manufacturer. They have no affiliation with the original manufacturers of the printer, and the cartridges have not been used before.


These are original cartridges which have been used once, returned, cleaned and refilled. Typically ink cartridges are refilled.


These are original cartridges which have been used once, returned, cleaned, all working parts replaced and then refilled. These are typically toner cartridges, with the parts of toner that experience wear during the printer process being replaced.

Why is there such a big price difference?

Genuine cartridges are a manufacturers profit. With research and development costs the manufacturers have to make their money back somehow, leading to high consumable prices once a customer has committed to a printer. Compatible products have no such overheads so can charge much lower prices when producing cartridges en mass.

Be careful though, it’s not difficult to find sub-standard compatibles at ridiculously low prices, so always make sure to only ever buy from reputable websites with returns policies and guarantees.

Is there any difference in print quality?

The short answer is ‘there shouldn’t be’. With the ink formulation incredibly close to the genuine cartridge, you’ll often see just as good colour reproduction, accuracy of print and ease of use, all at a bargain price.

Please understand the graphs in the source blog, which is scientific testing result for print quality. Click here to go to the graphs.

Are compatibles suitable for me?

How much do you print?

No matter what you print we recommend using one original cartridge every 3-4 compatible sets to clean and lubricate your print heads.

Normal-Frequently: compatibles will save you a huge amount of money. They typically contain more ink than originals, at a lower price, so your costs drop considerably.

Very rarely: Your main concern is ink drying and blocking the print heads. Originals contain a chemical to prevent this, so if you print LESS than once every few months stick to originals.

What do you print?

Text: Compatible inks perform excellently for text with brilliantly sharp prints.

Everyday photos: Original cartridges with original photo paper will always give you the best results, they’re designed to work in tandem. However compatibles are brilliant for photo printing and telling the difference is nigh on impossible for the majority of printouts.

Professional Photos: Compatibles archival life is not as high as a genuine cartridge. They can fade within a few years, especially in harsh lighting, so we’d advise sticking to originals.

My printer is old:

As long as you’ve taken care of your printer compatibles are perfectly viable. The only consideration is the supply level – are the cartridges still available? When a printer is brand new you may have no choice but to buy originals as the market for compatibles will not have been established. This is particularly relevant with refilled cartridges, which rely on a supply of used original cartridges before they can be produced.

Hope this information is good enough to decide whether to go for compatible or original printer inks…

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