Comparing Genuine Toner & Ink Cartridges to Compatible Cartridges

We often get asked:

  1. What is the difference between Genuine OEM Toner and Compatible toner or
  2. What is the difference between OEM Ink and Compatible Ink.

So in today’s blog post we will discuss below what the difference is: 

Background OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer - so these are toners or inks manufactured by HP, Brother, Epson, Canon, Fuji Xerox etc for their own Printers. Compatible inks or toners are those that are new but made by a 3rd party - they are made by another company specifically for specific Printers. Remanufactured Ink or Toners - which we call Eco Cartridges - are a used OEM cartridge that has been cleaned and refilled by a non-OEM company.

I will call Compatible and Remanufactured cartridges Compatibles for this blog.

Computer Food has a policy of being independent on selling OEM versus Compatibles. Unlike many other resellers, we do not accept incentives from OEM manufacturers to sell their products at the expense of the Compatible equivalent. We let the customer decide. 

  • Price This is where the advantage lie - Compatible inks and toners are always cheaper - sometimes by as much as 80%. Where possible we offer both OEM and Compatibles for printers but in some cases Compatibles are not available and with some older printers the OEM's are discontinued meaning only compatibles are available. Check out your printer for comparisons. 
  • Capacity With Compatibles, you get at least the same amount of ink or toner as OEM cartridges so you shouldn't lose out here. 
  • Quality We recommend if quality is important to you - for example with important business documents or high quality photos, use OEM ink or toner. Compatibles will usually be very close to the OEM quality but with some types/brands of printers the quality is not as good. For example some Colour Laser printers produce lower quality output with Compatibles - Ok for home or internal use but not, for example, ideal for presentations to Clients. Also Compatible Inks may fade if used for Inkjet photos. 
  • Reliability Most of our Compatibles have a very high reliability rate - nearly as good as OEM. Mono Toners and Ink tank style Inkjet cartridges are very reliable. If we have problems with specific cartridges we discontinue them or change suppliers. We use several overseas suppliers to help ensure we have the most reliable stock available.
  • Warranty Contrary to a popular myth, warranties are not necessarily voided by using generic cartridges. For example if the paper feed ceases to function, using a compatible cartridge should not affect most warranties. However if the generic cartridge might have caused the problem, it is certain the manufacturer will decline the warranty claim. If that happens our Computer Food warranty will cover it. An exception at the time of writing, is where Brother offers an extended 3 year warranty for free in return for using only genuine Brother Cartridges. Using compatible cartridges will invalidate this warranty extension - whether the extra cost is worthwhile is up to you but it is certainly an appealing warranty and is way better than extended warranties that some Retail Stores push when selling printers.

One of the most common questions we get asked is “will non genuine cartridges damage my printer?” In over 20 years selling cartridges this has only happened for certain once - and we replaced that printer.

There has however been a small number of other cases over the years where the Compatibles were suspected of being the issue - again in all cases we replaced the printer. So the chances of any damage to your printer (with our cartridges at least) is almost zero.



We have tried to weigh up the Pros and Cons of Buying Compatible or Remanufactured Ink or Toner with an impartial view. The decision is up to you - the difference in price and your priorities in terms of quality are the main considerations. Be aware that if you have any problems with compatibles, just return the cartridge and we can fully refund you. See our Guarantee here.