Original Lexmark Cartridges
When it comes to printer performance and reliability, nothing beats the original manufacturer. Lexmark has been steadily developing their toner units to deliver the best results with their range of printers, and their trademark Unison Toner, in particular, enhancing print quality and the longevity of printers.
An independent comparative evaluation was carried out by Buyers Lab LLC, to assess the performance of original toner units against remanufactured ones. A remanufactured cartridge is one that has been cleaned, refilled and sold by a 3rd party organisation, often at reduced prices.
The comparative study tested 9 cartridges of each colour, from each brand. They were split into groups of 3 across 3 Lexmark C534 Colour Laser printers, to control for possible printer anomalies. The units were used until they either ran empty or failed, printing a 5-page colour test sample representative of typical customer usage. At the end of each brand test, the printers were fully serviced to control for any roll-over effects.
Over the 410 000 pages printed during the test, original units were “consistently superior” across the 3 test categories of reliability, image quality and page yield.
Reliability: While no reliability problems were encountered with the original cartridges, 37% (80 out of 216) of the remanufactured units had failures. A majority of these failures were out-of-the-box, meaning that not a single good page was produced.
Page Yield: For monochrome black printing, the Lexmark units had a claimed page yield of 8000 pages, and on average these original cartridges produced 8614 pages of black print. The average for 3rd party units, however, was 5754 pages, even though these also carried the claim of an 8000 page yield.
For colour printing, the averages of original and 3rd party units were quite similar, though the range of results from one to the other was of interest. While Lexmark units ranged between 7158 pages and 7654 pages (vs a claimed 7000 page yield), 3rd party brands ranged from 2472 pages to 9857 pages. The 3rd party units displayed highly variable and unpredictable performance.
Image Quality: Another clean result was observed from the Lexmark units, with zero image defects observed across all the tests. This is in contrast with the other brands, in which 88% of the samples had some form of defect, such as toner streaking, banding, messy toner application and extra marks on the page.
Overall, the original toner cartridges outperformed the 6 3rd party brands by a wide margin, and proved that there is no better choice for quality and performance than OEM cartridges.