Five myths about using clones over original HP printer cartridges

June 20, 2022

We often look to purchase non-original cartridges for our printers because they save costs and do not seem to affect the overall operation of our printers. But this is far from the truth. The low price of non-original cartridges is nothing more than a clever advertising ploy to sell as many of these as possible. In the short run, we may think we are saving money however the long-term hidden costs could be fatal. Original ink and toner cartridges are indeed more expensive than compatible variants, although they have several unique advantages that fully justify their price.

Myth #1: You can save money by buying compatible cartridges

At first glance, this is a perfectly reasonable conclusion given how much money you could save if you are printing a lot of documents in a large office. But there is something fundamentally wrong with it. The unreliability of the materials used in non-original cartridges often leads to significant hidden costs. According to a study conducted by SpencerLab in 2019, clones are approximately 25% more expensive than original cartridges due to more frequent printer maintenance, breakdowns and reprinting.

Interesting, another study by Buyers Laboratory concluded that printers with original cartridges print an average of 50% more pages than devices that have clones installed. So ultimately, while you save on purchasing cartridges, you will only be able to print half as many documents with some potentially requiring re-printing. As a result, the cost of one printed page via a clone cartridge will be higher.

Myth #2: Clones cartridges are just as reliable as the original ones

The most common myth about a non-cartridge is based on its reliability. Once again, a study conducted by SpencerLab in 2019 tested the reliability of cartridges for black and white printing, during which it compared the original HP cartridges for HP Pro 400 M402 printers and M521dn MFPs (HP 26A and 55A models) with cartridges from five other brands. The result was that 49% of non-original cartridges fail during operation or immediately after installation with almost half of them being unsuitable for printing.

Another study commissioned by HP in 2018 by Market Strategies International found that companies using non-original cartridges were 4x more likely to contact customer support due to failures in printing procedures. Research from Buyers Laboratory in line with this also suggests that four out of five printers that were continuously used with compatible cartridges suffered from irreversible breakdowns.

Myth #3: Clones reproduce the same print quality as original cartridges

We tend to think that the type of print depends not on the cartridge but on the printer being used. However, this is not the case. Approximately 70% of print quality is dependent on the design of the cartridge. Going by the SpencerLab study mentioned earlier, printers with clones produce 19% fewer usable pages because of poor print quality. This subsequently forces users to reprint documents which leads to lower productivity. To avoid this hassle, the best solution is to install original cartridges which will guarantee print quality and save time.

Myth #4: Over time, all cartridges regardless of them being compatible or original dry up

The ink in original ink cartridges does not dry out, even if you do not use your printer for a long time. Due to the cartridge design and the unique composition of the ink, an original cartridge can be stored for up to 90 days without compromising on print quality. Compatible cartridges on the other hand tend to dry out and become clogged if there are not used for a long period of time.

Myth #5: The ink formula between original and compatible cartridges in identical

The quality of printing ultimately boils down to ink. It is important that ink is manufactured correctly with the right composition so ensure good quality prints. The inks in original cartridges are made according to a unique composition. They are water resistant, resistant to markers and allow you to create clear high-quality prints throughout their entire service life. While quality of ink matters for your prints, durability plays are important role too. We often tend to store certain documents for a long time therefore only original cartridges allow you to get prints that will keep their original appearance for many years.

To cut costs, manufacturers of compatible cartridges violate the manufacturing process and change the ink composition. As a result, clones are cheaper than original cartridges however they cannot compete in terms of printing quality. And often, they end up disrupting the operation of your printer.


Considering the impacts of using compatible ink cartridges, it becomes clear that the purchase of original ink cartridges is what you should do, because you end up protecting your home or business printers from hidden costs while also ensuring print quality and reliable operation. One-time savings on the purchase of compatible ink cartridges may be tempting in the short run, but you will almost certainly face additional costs in terms of maintenance and disruptions in the long run.

For more information, please visit the HP Website


by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: