The Best Canon Printers for 2023


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May 12, 2023

The Best Canon Printers for 2023

You're probably familiar with Canon printers, but you may not appreciate the

You're probably familiar with Canon printers, but you may not appreciate the full range they cover. Canon offers inkjets aimed at every level, from inexpensive models that cost less than most laser printers' toner cartridges, to pricey choices that deliver output suitable for gallery-grade prints. The imaging giant also has a wide range of mono and color lasers for everything from home offices to enterprise-level printing, which won't surprise anyone who knows that Canon's laser engines were in all the early desktop laser printers, regardless of manufacturer. And other Canon printers fill smaller niches, including portable printers using Zink technology for printing photos from your phone.

Canon also offers floor-standing, large-format printers for posters and signs, as well as production printers that wouldn't even fit into most home offices. But for this overview, we'll ignore those categories, focusing only the types of printers we usually review, and you're most likely interested in. We'll start with a selection of our favorite Canon printers for a variety of applications, based on our test-centered reviews, and follow that by sorting out the different Canon sub-brands, the related lines within those families, and the range of printer capabilities in each, to help you find the category or categories that fit your needs.

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The Pixma G7020 inkjet all-in-one delivers some of the lowest running costs available in a consumer printer, making it a great value for families and home offices.

A workhorse single-function printer, the Canon Maxify GX5020 stands out for its low cost per page, paired with print speeds and paper capacities that actually let you take full advantage of the potential savings.

The Canon Maxify GX4020's low ink costs make it a solid AIO printer for a busy small or home office that needs heavy-duty printing and moderate-duty scanning, copying, and faxing.

The Canon Pixma TS9520 is a wide-format printer that's rich in features and connectivity, and produces excellent output for low-volume homes and offices.

The professional-grade Canon Pixma Pro-200 produces beautiful borderless photos and artwork on cut sheets up to 13 by 39 inches.

Canon's Selphy CP1500 cranks out quick, high-quality dye-sub snapshots, with operating costs low enough to make its optional battery and sticker-paper adapter reasonable add-ons.

Canon's improved IVY 2 Mini prints good-looking photos and stickers at competitive running costs, making it an excellent smartphone companion for little on-the-go pics.

The portable, single-function Canon Pixma TR150 prints well (especially graphics and photos), making it a good choice for home offices and families.

Canon's ImageClass LBP236dw, a workhorse mono laser printer, fills that role well, delivering speed, paper capacity, and output quality suitable for a busy small-to-midsize office or workgroup.

The Canon ImageClass X LBP1238 II's speed, paper capacity, and output will satisfy even the busiest small office or workgroup. Plus, this monochrome laser offers some unexpected extras, including printing from select cloud sites.

The imageClass MF455dw laser all-in-one printer delivers everything a small-to-midsize office or workgroup needs: top-tier monochrome print quality, snappy output, and robust paper handling.

Canon's Color imageClass LBP664Cdw is loaded with features, including enterprise, fleet, and strong security options, and it prints well, making it a good bet for a low-volume node in a larger organization.

Canon's Color imageClass MF746Cdw all-in-one laser prints well and comes with a strong enterprise-oriented feature set, making it a good bet for larger organizations.

At first glance, Canon seems to have just two inkjet lines: Pixma and Maxify, with no obvious difference between them. All the Maxify printers are tank-based, but so are some Pixma models. And the Pixma printers (unlike the Maxify models) cover a wide range of features and capabilities, with some suitable for only light-duty home use, some designed for much heavier-duty use in a small or home office, and some that can serve nicely for both home and home office

The best way we found to sort them out (for the Pixma models, at least) is by the designation that sits between "Pixma" and the number in the model name: MG, TS, TR, G, or Pro. The Maxify model names include two designations, but there there's no need to separate them out.

The Pixma MG, TS and TR models are all cartridge-based, which means they have a low initial price for their capabilities but a relatively high running cost. For those who print few enough pages over a printer's lifetime, they can cost less in the long run than equivalent tank-based printers that offer a low running cost, but a high initial price. The three lines offer ascending levels of capability for home use, but they also overlap in price and capability. So, depending on the printer you need, you may or may not want to look at more than one of the categories.

The MG models are low-cost three-in-one AIOs (print, scan, and copy), designed for decidedly light-duty use only. Along with their low cost, they offer low paper capacities and slow print speeds. They also use tri-color cartridges for color ink, which tends to drive up the running cost versus using a separate cartridge for each color.

TS models are aimed primarily for low-volume use for home and school work, and for applications that include crafting, photo printing, scanning documents, and serving as a dorm-room printer. Models range from inexpensive printer-only models and three-in-one AIOs to fairly pricey three-function AIOs that can print on, but not scan, paper up to 11 by 17 inches. Most of the inexpensive models use an ink system with one tri-color and one black cartridge. The higher-cost models that handle the larger paper size use a five-color ink system for boosting quality for photos and graphics, and separate cartridges for each color.

The TR models are meant for both home and home office. The only single-function printer is the TR150 Wireless Portable. The rest of the models are either three-in-one AIOs, or four-in-one models that add faxing. Some TR models, including the TR150, use tri-color ink cartridges. Others use individual cartridges for each color.

Most Pixma models with a "G" before the number add the word "MegaTank" after the number. But even those that don't are referred to as MegaTank printers on their individual pages, and all are tank-based, using low-cost ink that comes in bottles and pours into the tanks.

The MegaTank printers cost more than otherwise equivalent cartridge-based printers, but they have lower running costs, which means they can have a lower total cost of ownership in the long run. However, that's true only if you print enough to save more in ink than the extra money you spend in the initial cost. (Read our feature How to Save Money on Your Next Printer: Weighing the Cost of Tank vs. Cartridge Ink.) The G models range from a single-function printer to both three-in-one and four-in-one AIOs, including one three-function AIO that uses a six-color ink system to boost photo quality: the Pixma G620 Wireless MegaTank Photo Printer.

There is only one Pixma Pro model on the Canon website at this writing, the Pixma Pro-200. It offers an eight-color ink system for boosting photo quality, and although Canon calls it a "Professional InkJet Photo Printer," it's inexpensive enough to be of interest to serious photo enthusiasts.

Canon's Maxify line is similar to the Pixma G MegaTank line. They both share a tank-based design that translates to having a high initial price and a low running cost, thanks to inexpensive ink. Here again, the ink comes in bottles, so you can pour it into tanks in the printer. They also share essentially the same capability as the Pixma G printers, making either one appropriate for the range from home office to small office. So, if you're considering one category, you'll also want to look at the other.

The Maxify model names include either a "GX" or an "MB" before the model number, but that indicates a difference in physical design rather than functionality. The Maxify models include both three-function and four-function AIOs, along with one single-function printer at this writing.

So much for the inkjets; onward to Canon's lasers. Almost all of the Canon laser printers of interest for purposes of this overview are in either the imageClass or Color imageClass lines. As the names suggest, the difference between the two is that imageClass lasers are all mono printers, while Color imageClass models print in color.

Both lines include single-function printers as well as three- and four-function multifunction printers (MFPs)—a term that is essentially interchangeable with "AIO," but more common when talking about lasers. Somewhat unusually, Canon includes "All-in-One" as part of the name for most of its four-function lasers, and "multifunction" in the name of most of its three-function lasers, which can help you spot which are which, when you're looking through a list. However, the naming convention isn't consistent, so be sure to check the specs, as well. And note that Canon doesn't make the same distinction for its inkjets.

Both the imageClass and the Color imageClass families include models suitable for the range from home office to small-to-medium-size office. Within either line, single-function printers include an "LBP" before the model number. Most multifunction models use an "MF" designation before the number, though some use a "D" instead. Letters added after the model number include "d" (for duplex, or two-sided printing), "w" (for Wi-Fi), "n" (for Ethernet), and "C" (for color).

For the most part, the lack of any of these trailing letters means that the particular printers don't have that feature, so knowing these details can help you find the right printer quickly. However, keep in mind that, as with the MFP vs. AIO naming convention, this isn't entirely consistent. For example, we found one model with a "D" instead of "MF" before the number that duplexes, but doesn't have the lowercase "d" after the number. As of this writing, there's also a single model with "VP" after the model number, which stands for Value Pack. In this case, the VP signifies it comes with more toner than the same model without the letters.

Finally, do not confuse the imageClass and Color imageClass lines with Canon's two lines that share the imageClass name, but add an "X": imageClass X, and Color imageClass X. Most models in both groups are floor-standing and meant for enterprise use, mostly in large departments. Canon also offers other lines for even higher-end, heavier-duty printing, including imageRunner and imageRunner Advance DX.

That said, a few imageClass X monochrome printers, like the imageClass X LBP1238, are aimed for work-from-home use "as part of an organization's extended print fleet," which also makes them suitable for a home or micro office. If you can make use of their extra features. like the LBP1238's unusually large 5-inch color touch-screen control panel, and the printer's ability to print from the cloud, you might find them worth considering. However, if you don't need the extras, you can get the same core features for less with non-X imageClass models.

Canon's photocentric printers range from small enough to serve as a phone accessory for 2-by-3 inch prints to big enough for giant gallery prints.

At the low end of that scale, the Ivy line uses Zink technology, which embeds dye crystals in the paper to serve as ink—or "zero ink," which gives Zink its name. The 2-by-3 inch Zink peel-off-and-stick paper is a suitable size for wallet photos or sticking on lockers or laptops. The small print size also keeps the printer itself small, lightweight, and as easy to carry as a cell phone, while the built-in battery and ability to connect by Bluetooth to print from Android or iOS mobile devices (but nothing else) turns it into a phone accessory.

There's only one Ivy standalone printer model at this writing, but Canon also offers Ivy Cliq+2 Instant camera printers, which are the photographic equivalent of AIOs that happen to have a camera instead of a scanner. You can connect to them by Bluetooth to print from your phone, or take a picture with the camera and print it (which is basically what a copier does). Note that Canon also has Ivy Cliq cameras (without the "+2" in the name); these do not offer Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and cannot print from a phone.

Canon Selphy models, meanwhile, are all portable printers that use what's commonly called dye-sublimation, or dye-sub, technology (though it's really using thermal dye transfer). All offer internal rechargeable batteries or attachable battery packs for greatest portability, either in the base price or as an extra cost option.

The CP models support printing photos in several sizes up to 4 by 6 inches. Connection options, which depend on the model, allow printing from a variety of sources, including PCs and mobile devices. The Square QX model (there's only one QX printer at this writing) supports printing images in a square format only, at up to 2.7 inches square on its roughly 2.8-by-3.4-inch paper, which has a peel-and-stick adhesive back. It prints only via Wi-Fi from iOS, iPadOS, and Android mobile devices, and it includes the battery in its base price.

The Selphy and Ivy lot: Those are all small. Meanwhile, the giant imagePrograf models are mostly aimed at professional photographers and graphic artists, including those who need wide-format, floor-standing models that are well beyond the scope of what we review. However, a few models at the low end of the line, including the imagePrograf Pro-300, are inexpensive enough to be of interest to serious enthusiasts.

Finally, note that Canon offers a bunch of additional printer lines—including imagePress, DreamLabo, VarioPrint, ColorStream, ProStream, Colorado, and Arizona—that are meant for commercial- and production-level printing, but don't include any models of interest for this overview.

Given all the printer choices Canon offers, it helps to start your search by selecting which printer lines to focus on. In addition to our descriptions of those lines here, we've included our favorite Canon printers for a range of use cases, based on our tests and overall evaluations. For other choices—from both Canon and others—take a look at our picks for best printers overall. For more focused picks, also check out our guides to the best photo printers, business printers, wide-format printers, and cheap printers. If you're solidly in the Canon camp, though, we've laid out the specs for our top Canon picks below.

$69.00 $249.89 $349.00 $81.67 $679.00