Genuine VS Compatible VS Remanufactured Toner Cartridges

Many owners of printers that use toner cartridges often see the names “OEM”, “genuine”, “generic”, “original”, “refilled”, “remanufactured”, being used as a description for toners sold online.

However, the majority are not very clear what these descriptions actually mean.

Most people know that original, genuine, or, OEM toners are generally priced higher when compared to refilled, remanufactured, or generic and compatible, but why?

The Main Types Of Toner Cartridges

  • Genuine OEM Toner Cartridges
  • Remanufactured or Refilled Toner Cartridges
  • Compatible or Generic Toner Cartridges

Each of these toner cartridge types come with their own set of pros and cons.

Before we discuss the specific weaknesses and strengths of each toner cartridge type, here is a brief introduction to remanufactured, compatible, and genuine OEM toner cartridges:

Genuine OEM Toner Cartridges

The OEM Genuine toner cartridges are produced by original brand manufacturers of printers they are used for.

OEM is the abbreviation for Original Equipment Manufacturer.

For example, the HP genuine toners are produced by HP, and the genuine Canon toners are produced by Canon.

These toners are specifically designed for printer models and the type of paper used by these printer models. They are also brand new and original.

Compatible Toner Cartridges

The compatible cartridges are the toners produced by third-party manufacturers.

These toners also go by the name of generic toners. These toners are not affiliated with the original manufacturers in any way.

The top “generic” toner brands and the top “compatible” toner manufacturers strive to replicate the toner design of the original without encroaching on the product patent of the original manufacturer.

These processes are similar in a way to how the pharmaceutical companies manufacture generic prescription medications that also replicate the original name-brand drug.

Similar to generic prescription medications, most compatible or generic toners are extremely close replicates when compared to the original toners. However, there are also just as many that are far off when compared to the original.

Even when using a compatible toner that almost resembles the original, it is important to keep in mind that you are using products in your printer that can cause a problem.

The toner quality is usually inconsistent across various generic models, which means you don’t really know what you are getting.

Remanufactured Toner Cartridges

These are used toner cartridges that are refilled. Also known as refilled toners, these products are purchased by companies that empty the cartridges, clean them out, and then refill them.

Around 90% of the used toner cartridges can be used again for remanufacturing purposes, while the other 10% are usually broken down and recycled.

Similar to the inconsistencies related to compatible toners, the remanufactured toner laser cartridges are also inconsistent when it comes to quality due to remanufacturing processes that fluctuate between the different remanufacturers.

The toner quality between different brands that are remanufactured also typically fluctuates with some companies remanufacturing “compatible” toners and some remanufacturing “genuine” toners, and just as many that remanufacture both.

As a consumer, it is not possible to determine the actual quality of these products


Factors for comparison overview of Geniune, Remanufactured and Compatible toners

Page Yield

The genuine toners usually produce the highest rates of page yield.

Save for a few very rare cases, remanufacturer and compatible toners won’t be as long-lasting as OEM genuine toners. They also have a much lower page yield.

Genuine toners are also more durable while maintaining print quality even when printing high volumes of pages.

Most of the genuine toners offer a page yield of up to 20,000 pages, that the remanufactured and compatible toners cannot match.

Print Quality

The cartridges in printing processes are pivotal components that have a direct influence when it comes to the printing quality of your printer.

If you are expecting the highest potential from your printer for image quality and text, it is vital that you only use the best quality toner.

When talking about print quality, the OEM genuine toners greatly surpass the remanufacturer and compatible toners.

Genuine toners always deliver the image quality and text that is crisper, sharper, and brighter with a lot more accurate colouring.

When you use a remanufactured or compatible toner, the quality of the printing can be lacking, while the colours may be inaccurate.

One of the other important aspects involving print quality relates to how long your prints will last.

Prints that are produced by genuine toners usually retain their integrity, which means they won’t fade over time. Prints produced from remanufacturers and compatible toners won’t have this type of longevity, which means they fade at a lot faster rate.

Malfunctioning Risks

The official website for HP states that the company highly suggests that owners of HP printers should only be using genuine HP toner cartridges and/or HP drum units. Each of the HP laser printers is designed to operate at a pre-set temperature that exactly matches each individual toner formulation.

All the individual components work together to guarantee reliability and quality. Using supplies that are not HP can affect the performance of the hardware, machine reliability, and print quality. The limited warranty provided by HP, won’t cover any issues caused by using third-party toner cartridges, toners, or drum units.

Problems that often arise when using compatible toners stem from various factors including melting points, particle sizes and pigments, and variations in the electrostatic qualities. These factors often do and can result in damage to the printer and toner leaking.

When it comes to remanufactured toners, paper debris and waste toner may still be present inside the cartridges from previous print jobs. This can result in a background issue that can cause the toner to become contaminated.

OEM genuine toners are only manufactured by a manufacturer that produces the same brand printer, and they don’t carry the malfunctioning risks associated with remanufacturers and compatible toners.


Genuine OEM cartridges are high-quality products that translate into a higher price tag. However, when considering the high page yields and improved durability, they usually end up becoming a more cost-effective option over time.

At the same time, when factoring in legitimate risks of the damages that could arise when using a remanufactured or compatible toner along with “potential” repair costs, paying more for a genuine toner will usually be a safer and more cost-effective choice.

Office Tech Express is a wholesaler that helps to narrow the price gaps by providing OEM genuine toners at a much lower price when compared to most of the big-box retailers such as Hunt Office and Viking Direct. Some of the price reductions on offer are as much as 40%.

In addition to this, there are also other dangers involved when it comes to using compatible or refurbished cartridges and toners.

Bad For The Environment

Research has proven that most imitation cartridges land up in landfills. If you already worry about plastic entering our oceans, you should also be worried about imitation toners and cartridges making their way into landfills.

Many of the non-genuine or imitation brands of ink cartridges don’t have the services for the correct recollection as well as recycling of used cartridges. The companies that do recycle only recycle up to 31% of their total volumes that are collected. While more than 50% goes to a landfill.

Void Warranty

On top of the risks of damages to printers, you can also lose your warranty when any damage was caused by using imitation toners or ink cartridges. Most of the warranties for printers won’t cover any damages that are caused by a third-party part, and you may end up paying a high price to repair your printer. With close to 30% of fake toners and cartridges failing straight out the box, this can turn into a costly and long expenditure for a small short-term gain.

Not Good For Your Health

This might be an oversight when it comes to many consumers, but fake ink cartridges are known for emitting harmful substances that you could end up breathing in. Test lab studies have shown that fake ink cartridges emit very harmful chemicals including ink particles, styrene, and TVOC (total volatile organic compounds), that exceed the acceptable limits. These are toxic chemicals and high volumes can even cause cancer. Since many of the third-party brands aren’t regulated, it is not easy to know if these ink cartridges are safe or not.


Nothing will ever beat an original.

Genuine OEM toners are products of better quality and perform better and more efficiently than remanufactured and compatible toners.

Overall, genuine OEM toners produce premium image quality and text that won’t fade easily, high page yields, more accurate colouring, and also carry no risks relating to malfunctioning or damaging your printer whereas remanufactured and compatible toners carry unpredictable risks.

Genuine toners are high-quality products which are why they cost more.

For these reasons, companies like HP work with law enforcement local authorities to try and combat fraud and counterfeits in the toner and ink supply chain. HP has an ACF (Anti-Counterfeiting and Fraud) Program that assists when it comes to arrests and raids on offenders that protect consumers and businesses from these potential risks.

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