Ink-Capabilities - What is Page Yield and Why Does it Matter?
By Simon Williams · October 10, 2018
When buying a printer, or replacement printer ink cartridges, there are a lot of factors to consider. Whether you print mostly photos or dense text documents, you can expect a different page yield according to the brand and the type of ink cartridges. Page yield is a handy number that tells you how many pages, on average, a single printer cartridge will allow you to print before you have to replace it. When comparing prices between brands and estimating the running costs of having a printer - which requires maintenance and replacement parts across its lifetime - page yield is an essential piece of information.
It’s tough to compare products between brands when there isn’t a global standard. If each brand is only comparing its page yield consistently within its own set of printer cartridges and no other brand is testing theirs with the same rules, then shopping between brands is impossible, unless you take each cartridge home and test them out yourself. Even then, for the results to be meaningful and not a fluke, you’d need to test the same cartridge a dozen times to get a helpful average page yield.
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is comprised of representatives from 157 different countries and forms a basis for the standardisation of a lot more than just printer cartridges. Global industries take advantage of the ISO standards to present their products with honesty, which ultimately helps the consumer to know what they’re buying.
Buying cartridges from Original Cartridge Manufacturers ensures that the page yield number is an accurate representation of how many standard pages a printer cartridge can print, comparable between brands, whereas Compatible Cartridge Manufacturers don’t adhere to the ISO standards, so you can’t appropriately assess the costs of running a printer with those cartridges. To adhere to the standards costs money, both in testing and in learning the precise standards, so the cheaper cartridges are costing you more in quality. Although Compatible Printer Cartridge manufacturers will quote a page yield it is not to the ISO standard. Because they have copied the Original Cartridge they have just copied the Page Yield.
Tests and Trials
What are these page yield standards exactly? Well, in a testing environment, each printer and cartridge are subjected to an identical test. There are different standards for inkjets, laser, and other printers, but for an inkjet printer, a 5 piece set of 8.5 x 11 inch documents are printed non-stop until the ink runs out. Then, the pages are counted, averaged across multiple tests and multiple printers, and a standard page yield number is determined. The tests are slightly different for composite colour ink cartridges than for individual colours, but the end goal is for all colours to have the same page yield so you don’t find yourself constantly replacing the magenta.
Page Yields and You
So what does this mean for you, the consumer? Taking the page yield at face value and reporting back angry to the store after your 300 page cartridge only gives you 299 isn’t the best idea. The actual number that page yield gives you won’t be the exact number of pages you print for a variety of reasons. You might print very dense text or your photos might be very high in magenta and low in yellow, plus ink can dry up over time, especially for a printer that’s rarely used. What page yield can tell you, is how well one ink cartridge from one brand will perform as compared to another ink cartridge from another brand.
Obviously there are a lot of other factors to consider, like whether a cartridge is even compatible with your printer, as well as whether you’re likely to be using more colour printing or more black and white. Price and quality don’t always go hand in hand either, so getting the right cartridge for your needs could be a lot cheaper than you think.
If you’re really worried about page yield and want a lower cost per page, some companies offer large versions of their standard cartridges, which will fit in your printer the same way. But keeping all of this in mind, the real purpose of page yield is to compare different cartridges. So as you venture out into the world of printer cartridges, keep page yield standards in mind and buy from Original Cartridge Manufacturers to ensure you’re getting a quality cartridge.