Think about ink: Generic cartridges vs. Original cartridges

by Reads (9,896)

 

Inkjet Tests: A Look at Generic Ink Cartridges for Canon and Brother Printers

We run ink tests with all inkjet printers we review with the original packing ink cartridges so you can get our page count numbers based on our print tests.

In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges; exhaustion meaning the printer will not print another “quality” document without a replacement. We print at a ratio of three pages of black and white text to one full page of color. We decided on the 3:1 ratio because we felt that the average user is printing more text than color.

Since we could only find generic cartridges for two of the initial six printers we wanted to test, we can only give a narrow view of how generic cartridges work compared to brand name cartridges.

We ran the initial ink tests with the certified standard capacity Canon ink cartridges (one Canon PGI-220 pigment black ink tank and four Canon CLI-221 standard-capacity dye-based color cartridges).

At the ratio of 3:1 in Canon’s Standard Printing mode, the Pixma MX870 printed 341 pages before the pigment black ink cartridge expired (ran out of ink) followed closely by the magenta cartridge. The Pixma MX870 will allow you to continue to print after the pigment black ink expired but the Canon status bar releases an error warning against printing due to possible printer damage. Since I was in the middle of printing a large document, I hit continue and ended up printing 360 pages even with the pigment ink expired.

We purchased all the generic ink cartridges from Abacus24-7.com. The five generic brand and model numbers compatible with the Pixma MX870 are: Premium C-PGI220 BK, Premium C-CLI221 BK, Premium C-CLI221 C, Premium C-CLI221 M and Premium C-CLI221 Y.

At the ratio of 3:1 in Canon’s printing mode, the Pixma MX870 printed about 240 pages with the generic cartridges before the printer revealed a low ink status message. The first generic cartridge expired at 280 pages. For more information about the Canon PIXMA MX870 print tests, read our full review.

When we ran the initial ink tests with the certified Brother Innobella ink cartridges (LC65HY Black, LC65HY Magenta, LC65HY Yellow and LC65HY Cyan), they were high capacity cartridges so the initial numbers were much higher than what we saw from both sets of Canon tested cartridges. 

At the ratio of 3:1 in Brother’s printing mode, the MFC-6890cdw printed about 840 pages before the printer elicited a status message alerting me that the yellow and magenta cartridges were running low.

At 904 pages, identical status messages popped up alerting me that the yellow ink was completely out and that I could change the cartridge, revert to printing in black and white or cancel the print job. I thought Brother did a good job on ink status messages, with a message about 60 pages ahead of time and the option to print in black and white once the yellow cartridge expired.

As mentioned before, we purchased the generic Brother cartridges compatible with the MFC-6890cdw from Abacus24-7.com.  The four cartridge brand and model numbers: G&C NB-OLC65 BK, G&C NB-OLC65 Y, G&C NB-OLC65 M, and G&C NP-B-0065C.
At the ratio of 3:1 in Brother’s printing mode, the MFC-6890cdw printed about 540 pages with the generic cartridges before the printer have me the low ink status message.

At 580, the generic magenta cartridge died and I got the same message about changing the cartridge, revert to printing in black and white or cancel the print job. For more information about the Brother MFC-6890cdw print tests, read our full review.

Print quality-wise, generic cartridges were as good as the original/certified Brother and Canon cartridges when printing black and white text documents and close replicas with color photos. 

Here are comparison shots of the Canon PIXMA MX870 print outs using the Canon cartridges and the generic Premium cartridges.

Canon Pixma MX870 generic
Original Canon PIXMA MX870 print out, left; Canon PIXMA MX870 print with generic cartridges, right

Here are comparison shots of the Brother MFC-6890cdw print outs using the Brother Innobella cartridges and the generic G&C cartridges.

Brother MFC-689cdw generic
Original Brother MFC-6890cdw print out, left; Brother MFC-6890cdw print with generic cartridges, right

 

Material quality-wise, the generic Brother cartridges seemed almost identical to the certified Brother cartridges. However, the Canon generic cartridges leaked slightly before installation. I’m not sure if that affected the overall page count but I know it dyed my fingers several colors.



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