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How To Buy
Before you spend money on a laser printer, also consider the type of investment you'll need to make in consumables, such as toner cartridges. Most printers use a two-piece consumables system that includes a toner cartridge and a drum, although some use integrated units that have both parts in a single case. The two-part cartridge is more environmentally friendly because it can be recycled more easily than if it were encased in a toner cartridge.
With a two-piece cartridge, you'll need to replace the drum after about 20,000 pages, and the toner (at 5 percent coverage) will last about 1,000 to 3,000 pages. You have to replace the one-piece unit when the toner runs out. However, the single-piece unit is easier to install than the two-piece cartridge.
Toner prices range from about $30 to over $70 per cartridge in a two-piece consumables system, depending on how long the toner lasts. One-piece systems usually cost more than $100. However, if you add up the long-term costs for both one- and two-piece systems and figure in the number of pages they print, both types generally cost around 2 to 2.5 cents per page.
Some printers offer a money-saving economy print mode. This mode lets you print drafts at a lower quality while using less toner, reducing per-page printing costs of drafts by up to 50 percent.