How many pages should I actually get from a cartridge?

One of the important aspects to think of when choosing a printer or buying a replacement cartridge, is how much ink or toner that cartridge actually contains. Amount of ink or toner in cartridge is usually called cartridge yield or page yield.

When you turn to see what the yield of a cartridge is, you will see a number of pages the cartridge is enough to print. For instance, HP Q5942X toner cartridge has a declared yield of 24,000 pages, while HP C6657AN ink cartridge capable of printing 400 pages.

But printed pages differ from one another. One time you print a to-do list, next time it’s 10-page report. For the purpose of cartridge yield measure, almost all printer manufacturers base their black ink/toner cartridge yields on 5% coverage. This means only 5% of the whole page is covered with ink or toner. 5% coverage implies basic type with no bold characters, no graphics and no pictures.

CMYK toners for color laser printers and copiers base their cartridges yields on 20% to 35% coverage (5% to 7% per color). In reality, if a document had a 100% fill, there would be 400% coverage. Tri-color inkjet/toner cartridges base their page yield on 15% coverage (5% per color).

Now take the last two paragraphs above and place them on a Letter-sized sheet of paper. Congratulations! You have created a sample 5% coverage page:

Filling up the page, I managed to repeat the two paragraphs as many as 6 times, which gives us 30% coverage. This seems more like a commonly printed page:

It’s clear that given a definite amount of ink in a cartridge, this would mean fewer pages to be printed and demonstrated.

ISO/IEC Test Procedures

Monochrome toner cartridge yield

The ISO/IEC 19752 test procedure requires a standard test page with approximately 5 percent coverage to be printed continuously until the cartridge reaches end of life. Manufactures have used this methodology to test monochrome print cartridge yields since 2004, when the standard was introduced, and has applied it retroactively to products introduced after 2000.

Color toner cartridge yield

The ISO/IEC 19798 test procedure requires a standard set of five test pages to be printed continuously until the cartridge reaches end of life. Manufactures have used this methodology to test its color toner cartridge yields since 2006.

Toner Cartridge Declared Yield vs. Actual Page Yield

In actual use, customers are not likely to replicate the exact file content and test parameters and conditions required in the ISO/IEC tests. In addition, their printers and MFPs may not always use the default drivers and settings required by the ISO/IEC test standards. As a result, the actual page yields that customers will experience can vary considerably higher or lower. Here are the leading factors that can impact affect actual page yield performance in laser printers and MFPs:

• Page coverage

• Image type

• Job size

• Duplex mode and paper tray/ exit bin selection

• Environmental conditions • Cartridge handling at end of life

• Calibration

• Power on time without printing

• Spot color

• Copy and fax mode for MFPs

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