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What’s the difference between name brand and compatible printer cartridges?

What’s the difference between name brand and compatible printer cartridges?

Compatible printer cartridges have been around for decades, saving budget savvy printer owners hundreds of dollars a year on printing costs.  We’ve been selling affordable compatibles at 4inkjets for almost that long (twenty years!) and many first time customers always ask us the same question…how are your cartridges different from buying the name brand?  In this article, we will break everything down for you so you can make an informed decision before you buy.

Let’s get started!

What is a name brand cartridge?

Name brand or original brand cartridges are designed and built by your printer manufacturer. Also known as OEMs (original equipment manufacturer), these are the cartridges that come with your printer and they can be found in every office supply store.  They also tend to be very expensive.  Most major printer brands charge a lot for their ink because they factor in the cost of the printer and other marketing fees into the sales price.  Known in the industry as the “razor and blade” business model, many printers are priced to break even or sell at a slight loss so the manufacturer can later overcharge for cartridges that actually cost very little to develop.

What are compatible cartridges?

Compatible printer cartridges are aftermarket cartridges sold by a third party cartridge manufacturer like 4inkjets.  These cartridges are much cheaper than buying name brand ink because we don’t have to worry about the additional costs that hinder printer manufacturers like new printers or major marketing expenses, which lets us keep prices low.  There are two types of aftermarket cartridges: remanufactured and compatible.  Most printer owners use these terms interchangeably but there are actually a number of important differences between the two.

A remanufactured printer cartridge is an original brand cartridge that has gone through one cycle of use.  After an original cartridge runs empty it gets recycled and is acquired by a remanufacturing facility so it can be refurbished.  During the refurbishing process the cartridge is disassembled, thoroughly cleaned and tested for quality. It’s then carefully refilled, tested again and brought back to life.  Remanufactured cartridges aren’t just an excellent way to save money on printing costs, but they also help to reduce your carbon footprint and prevent additional landfill waste.

A compatible cartridge is a brand new cartridge that’s built by a third party supplier.  Buying a compatible cartridge is like buying a generic version of the original brand.  These cartridges are built entirely new from the ground up and are designed to fit and function the same way as the original.  In order to avoid infringement on a patented design, some compatibles might have minor design differences, for example, the cartridge shape could look a little different, but they will print a full yield and deliver great print results too.

You might be wondering…why are there two types of aftermarket cartridges?  It all comes down to cartridge availability.  Some printer manufacturers have patents on their cartridges which make it difficult for third party suppliers to create a compatible version, so in those instances, the remanufactured version is the only option.  Depending on what printer you own, it might use remanufactured cartridges or compatible, it varies across printer brands.  For example, the HP Officejet Pro 6978 printer uses remanufactured HP 902XL cartridges and the Canon PIXMA TR-8520 uses compatible PGI-280XL / CLI-281XL cartridges.

No matter which version your printer uses, aftermarket cartridges from 4inkjets are a great way to save money.  We have a huge selection of high quality remanufactured and compatible cartridges for almost every printer model and all are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  Our cartridges deliver amazing print results too, printing the same number of pages as the original at a fraction of the price!

5 Reasons to Buy Compatible Ink from 4inkjets

  • Affordably priced – save up to 70% off the original brand price
  • Easily installs into your printer
  • Every cartridge is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee! If you are not wowed by our ink, we’ll replace your cartridge or provide a refund.
  • Prints the same number of pages and offers the same great print quality as the original for so much less.
  • Need help finding the right ink? Our team of ink and toner experts is here for you 6 days a week. Just contact us!

Ready to start saving? Make the switch to 4inkjets today!




  • HP recently updated its firmware and now my compatible cartridges from 4inkjet are no longer accepted. Do you have a workaround?

    • Hi Michael, I am sorry you are having trouble with our cartridges due to a firmware update. It looks like you purchased our 952XL cartridges earlier this year. I will have one of our customer support team members reach out to you via email to assist you with this. Thanks!!


    • Hi Robert, yes, all our cartridges are backed by a lifetime guarantee. If you have any issues, just contact our customer service team. We can provide some simple troubleshooting tips to help resolve any error messages and either send out a replacement cartridge or set up a return, if needed.

  • You left out one other very important component, the INK or TONER within these cartridges. The output from one’s printer is the final and best proof of ‘compatibility’. Whether remanufactured or refurbished sometimes the ‘color’ ink or toner does not match the OEM color values resulting in pictures or graphics not having the same intended colors. Flesh tones may look sunburnt, reds may look pinkish or yellowish, greens may look turquoise, etc. 4inkjets is no exception based on personal use of 4inkjets products in a Brother laser printer and an Epson inkjet printer. I have been a long-time user and continue to use 4inkjets as an economical source for toner and ink when output color is not critical and when the inks/toner color values are same or close to OEM. When it comes to reproducing what the color photographer or artist intended with the original image, apparently it is hard to beat OEM ink…not the cartridge.


    • Hi Don, HP recently issued a firmware update that blocks some compatible 902XL cartridges from working in their printers. Fortunately, we have an updated version of the cartridge with a new chip that will work in your printer. I will reach out to you via email and have a member of our customer support team assist you with replacing your cartridges.

  • Do you have ink for a Canon PIXMA TS3322 ? The ones I now get are Color 244 and Black 243 .
    And at what price.
    Thank you

    • Hi Don,

      You can find ink for that printer model here:

      The PG-245XL and CL-246XL ink we sell is the high yield version, so it actually has more ink than the 243 and 244. Both cartridges will work in your printer.

  • I need two or three HP45 Cartridges for my HP Office Jet G-85 used now only as a work-horse Copier.
    It has features such as Reduce/Enlarge. Lighter/Darker, Qality settings, etc. not available on my HP Office Jet 4635. Black #61 ink ordered for this one through Amazon were faulty and had to be discarded. Now, both printers are unsupported by HP, but they still market the toner.
    I have the empty cartridges.

  • […] What’s The Difference Between Name Brand & Compatible Printer Cartridges […]

  • Do you supply ink for the Epson Econo-Tank printers

    • Hi Tom, we do supply ink for the Epson Econo-Tank printers. Which Epson ET model do you need ink for?

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