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Tom's Hardware Benchmarks Inkjet Printer Paper!

Everyday Printing

Many of us print off pages of email, school projects, packing slips, and invoices every single day. It's one of those almost-ironic relics of a world before everything started going digital.

But we're not here to debate the ramifications of burning through trees. No, we're wondering how the quality of the paper you do use affects what comes out the business end of your printer. You probably sunk a lot of time into researching the right printer to buy, but did you consider that your paper of choice matters as well?

The texture and composition of paper play a big role in output quality. When copy machines print on standard office paper, the paper doesn’t get wet. However, the composition of cheap office paper is too weak to work well with inkjet printers because ink tends to pool around the point of contact (printer head) and wick through the paper's fibers. The result is a piece of paper in which ink seeps along the fibers, creating miniature spider web-like patterns.

Inkjet paper is specifically different because it's made using a high-quality chemical-based manufacturing process. The goal of this process is to produce a paper with the right degree of absorbency to accept ink, while preventing it from wicking sideways. That's why inkjet paper tends to be heavier, brighter, and smoother than copy paper.

Ultimately, you need to understand that there are three major factors in paper quality: absorbency, brightness, and weight. Photographers often have their personal favorites when it comes to photo paper, which benefits from chemical coats that change how ink behaves once it hits the paper, but this isn't what we use on a day-to-day basis. We do know that matte paper is cheaper, but what makes the paper of one brand different from another?

In order to find out how paper affects the quality of your everyday printing tasks, we're testing six different reams of paper, with 500 pages per ream.

Price$6.99$4.99$8.99$10.99$6.99$8.99
BrandBrotherDynexEpsonHPHPKodak
TypeMultipurposeMultipurposeBright WhiteBright WhiteMultipurposeEveryday
Brightness (ISO)969296979696
Weight (lb.)202024242020
  • hmp_goose
    I'd been taught you feed an Epson Epson paper …
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    I was kind of in disbelief when I read this article. Its a good try....but far from what is seen in the real world. Speaking from a printer tech's point of view, I can tell you that using the wrong kind of paper in certain printers can give disasterous results. The ink can sit on top, smudge, bleed etc. The manufacturer designs consumer printers with presets for different paper types. The specific printer may put more or less ink, raise or lower the carriage depending on paper thickness, not to mention every manufacturer uses a different type of ink and will react differently with different paper. This article is leading people in the wrong direction. You will only get reliable results from your inkjet printer using the manufacturers correct spec paper and ink and correct settings in your printer driver. If you happen to find one that works well for you that is not stated in the manufacturers spec, then good for you, but don't complain if your prints come out like crap using the wrong paper.
    Reply
  • acku
    9514582 said:
    I was kind of in disbelief when I read this article. Its a good try....but far from what is seen in the real world. Speaking from a printer tech's point of view, I can tell you that using the wrong kind of paper in certain printers can give disasterous results. The ink can sit on top, smudge, bleed etc. The manufacturer designs consumer printers with presets for different paper types. The specific printer may put more or less ink, raise or lower the carriage depending on paper thickness, not to mention every manufacturer uses a different type of ink and will react differently with different paper. This article is leading people in the wrong direction. You will only get reliable results from your inkjet printer using the manufacturers correct spec paper and ink and correct settings in your printer driver. If you happen to find one that works well for you that is not stated in the manufacturers spec, then good for you, but don't complain if your prints come out like crap using the wrong paper.

    That's very true when it comes to Photo Paper, but there are hundreds of attributes that matter. However, it is possible for brand B photo paper to be have more color gamut on brand A printer than brand A photo paper, if they're optimizing for color fastestness or water proofing.

    This was a look at everyday paper where differences are negligible on between multiple brands. We got the same results on Epson, HP, Brother, and Kodak printers. We know there are and we have seen different results with Photo Paper. Such as Canon Photo Paper behaving differently on a Canon printer, Epson printer etc....

    I have benchmarks from about 10 more printers of varying brands that line up with the results from the MG5220. For the sake of simplicity, we only presented one.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    Reply
  • The prices of the HP Bright White and Multipurpose are switched between the first and last pages of this article. At first I thought that the Bright White was both the best of the bunch and one of the cheapest, which left me wondering if the ink fumes had made the reviewer a little woozy when I saw that the multipurpose got the recommendation.
    Reply
  • acku
    The prices of the HP Bright White and Multipurpose are switched between the first and last pages of this article. At first I thought that the Bright White was both the best of the bunch and one of the cheapest, which left me wondering if the ink fumes had made the reviewer a little woozy when I saw that the multipurpose got the recommendation.

    I think magic markers smell better. :kaola: Fixed!
    Reply
  • Dan_H
    Seriously? You are benchmarking PAPER? Does the word "obsessive" mean anything to you?
    Reply
  • acku
    9514586 said:
    Seriously? You are benchmarking PAPER? Does the word "obsessive" mean anything to you?

    Maybe more neurotic than obsessive.
    Reply
  • Does the word "KACHINGGGG" mean anything to you?
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    ackuThat's very true when it comes to Photo Paper, but there are hundreds of attributes that matter. However, it is possible for brand B photo paper to be have more color gamut on brand A printer than brand A photo paper, if they're optimizing for color fastestness or water proofing. This was a look at everyday paper where differences are negligible on between multiple brands. We got the same results on Epson, HP, Brother, and Kodak printers. We know there are and we have seen different results with Photo Paper. Such as Canon Photo Paper behaving differently on a Canon printer, Epson printer etc....I have benchmarks from about 10 more printers of varying brands that line up with the results from the MG5220. For the sake of simplicity, we only presented one.Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.comThanks for clarifying that. Just didnt want people to get the wrong idea.
    Reply
  • nebun
    ackuMaybe more neurotic than obsessive.it is good....we need to know who manufacures the best paper if we want our prints to last us a lifetime :)
    Reply