Articles Printers

Original Vs. Compatible Vs. Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

If you have ever spent enough time looking for ink cartridges then the terms Original cartridge, remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges are not unfamiliar to you.

The biggest difference you may have noticed is perhaps the prices of these devices. For a particular printer model, the original cartridge will tend to be significantly more expensive than the other two.

Printer manufacturers inflate the prices of their ink cartridges because that’s how they make most of their profits. They sell the printers affordably then balance most of their profits from the sale of ink and toners.

Keep reading to find out about these three kinds of ink cartridges. Here we will talk about the difference between original vs compatible vs remanufactured ink cartridges.

That said, you can benefit a lot from buying a remanufactured or compatible ink cartridge. Of course, there are dangers associates with third party ink cartridges so you have to be careful.

Related: How To Get The Most Possible Ink From A Cartridge

Difference Between Original vs Compatible vs Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

Let us first look at their definitions. This should give you a much clearer idea about their purpose and quality already.

Original Ink Cartridge
original ink

An original ink cartridge is a one that is manufactured by the same company which creates the printer that uses it. For example, if you use an HP printer and buy an HP ink cartridge, then that cartridge counts as an original.

Such a cartridge is also known as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) cartridge.

Remanufactured Cartridge
recycling ink cartridges

Once the ink from an original cartridge runs out, you can recycle the cartridge, add new ink, test it and if it’s still good it gets sold. Basically, a remanufactured cartridge is a recycled genuine cartridge.

This is not to say that they are inferior since some brands guarantee that the recycled product will work just as well as the original. This is one of the main alternatives to buying an original product as they are much cheaper and work just as well.

Compatible Ink Cartridge
compatible ink cartridges

While the first two kinds usually start their lives the same way, a compatible ink cartridge is manufactured by a third-party company.

The products are built with similar specifications to the originals and are meant to work with the same printers that the originals work with.

They mimic the originals in certain aspects but are significantly cheaper and in some cases also come with more ink than the OEM versions they replicate.

How Do They Compare?

On paper, you may find that the devices are pretty much the same in terms of performance and other features.

They may look the same and work the same but there are some slight differences between them, some of which will be addressed here.

1. Price

Price is a very important factor to consider since it will in many cases determine what product you end up purchasing.

Genuine ink cartridges are usually more expensive than both remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges. Technically, the two kinds of cartridges came to be for the very purpose of combating the high prices of the OEM cartridges by providing cheaper alternatives.

Compatible cartridges are usually very cheap. They are made by third parties and this may be a cause for concern but they usually perform almost as well as the originals.

What makes them cheaper is that they sometimes use a different manufacturing process and also because they are not sold at sky-high prices for big profits.

Remanufactured cartridges are also cheaper than the originals because they are recycled. They are usually inspected for damages, cleaned, get their ink refilled and are tested for quality and then get sold if they are still good.

2. Quality

OEM cartridges will in many cases be superior to both remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges. Some OEMs patent their designs making it difficult for compatible ink cartridge manufacturers to replicate them.

Since recycled brands are made from the same chassis as the originals, they will in many cases perform just as well as the originals.

These days, many companies that make remanufactured ink cartridges invest in producing high-quality devices that are just as good as the originals. They use the same or better materials in the construction of their ink cartridges and have great quality control standards.

3. Reliability

With high quality remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges, you can expect the same reliability and performance as you would with an original cartridge.

Modern ones are built well and have undergone rigorous testing and radical improvements to ensure that they perform well.

Common scare tactics are used by some manufacturers to discourage users from buying aftermarket ink cartridges. They say that the cartridges may clog your printheads or that they will damage your printers in some way.

It’s important to understand that there is high competition in the ink cartridge market and quality may vary. Some really cheap cartridges may not be well built some people have faced problems with theirs.

To ensure you get a good deal, look for a product that is backed by many positive reviews and ensure that the company offers a strong guarantee for the product.

4. Warranty

You may have been wondering whether using a non-OEM cartridge on your printer will void your warranty. The short answer is no.

You will not be penalized or lose your printer’s warranty if you choose to go with either a remanufactured or a compatible cartridge. This is one of the benefits that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act offers printer users.

Therefore, with all these devices, you will still get your warranty, but with aftermarket cartridges, you also get to enjoy better prices.

5. Page Yields

You may be worried that the quoted page yields on your compatible or remanufactured ink cartridge are not genuine. Well, let’s put those worries to rest.

If you buy a non-OEM cartridge from a well-known and trusted manufacturer, you will most likely get page yields that are similar to those of the original cartridge.

Furthermore, some compatible ink cartridges also come with slightly more ink than the originals do which in essence means that you pay less and get more.

Where Can they Be Used?

Genuine products will always be your best bet when you want strong guarantees. The manufacturers behind OEM cartridges will work on the quality of their products to ensure their customers find value in buying them.

Aftermarket cartridges are best for cheap printing as they are more affordable but still retain almost similar quality and page yields as the originals.

If you do a lot of printing then you should consider a good aftermarket brand.

You may be unfortunate enough to get a defective ink cartridge. This can happen to an original brand just as well as an aftermarket brand.


Original, remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges may differ in a few ways but in most cases, they will perform the same. Originals have for long been the superior option. However, this is changing as some aftermarket cartridge companies are working to create cartridges that match genuine ones in quality.

As we have seen, remanufactured ink cartridges are recycled versions of original ink cartridges meaning that they will benefit from the OEM’s technology and still be cheaper for the consumer.

Compatible inkjets themselves are designed by third parties and are much cheaper. If you buy one from a reputable company, you will get OEM-level quality and performance.

This competition is great and the customer is going to be the biggest beneficiary. Getting to print at high quality for an affordable price is a great deal.