What Is The Difference Between Tri-Colour And Single Colour Ink Cartridges?

11-08-2014 by

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In our ongoing quest to simplify printing, we’re going to be taking a look at the difference between tri-colour ink cartridges and individual ink cartridges. We’ll also take a look at how cost effective the two types of ink cartridge are and which one is the best to buy for your printing needs.

What is the difference?

The difference between tri-colour and individual ink cartridges is very simple. Tri-colour cartridges are a single unit that contain all three ink colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) while individual ink cartridges contain only a single printer ink colour.

Tri-colour ink cartridges also typically have an integrated printhead (like HP ink cartridges and Lexmark ink cartridges), while individual ink cartridges, like Canon ink cartridges and Epson ink cartridges, slot into the printhead inside the printer. Tri-colour ink cartridges usually have lower page yields than individual colour cartridges.

Which type of cartridge is best?

Most tri-colour cartridges can’t provide the same depth of tone and shade for photo printing that individual colour cartridges systems can. If you want professional looking photos, stick to individual colour cartridge systems.

Tri-colour cartridges are also not good if you’re going to printing in colour a lot. Because there is less ink in the cartridge, you’ll need to replace the cartridge more often. Tri-colour cartridges are useful if you mainly print in black and white and only need to print in colour occasionally.

Are tri-colour ink cartridges more cost effective?

You may think that because you only have to replace one ink cartridge that tri-colour ink cartridges would be more cost effective. This is not always the case. As soon as one colour has run out, you’ll have to replace them all. This means that you’re potentially throwing away a colour printer cartridge that still has two full colour tanks.

Most printer manufacturers make tri-colour cartridges for their cheaper printer models. It’s a general rule that the cheaper the printer, the more expensive it will be to replace the printer cartridges.

Individual ink cartridges give you the option to only replace the colour you need to replace, making them more cost effective in the long run.

If you still have any questions or need any help, please feel free to contact us.

Nic Venter

About the author

Nic Venter+

 is the founder and director of He started the business in 2009 with the idea to sell ink and toner cartridges online and to provide you with a quality product, value for money and convenience. He regularly blogs on about printing and technology. Part of his philosophy is having fun and making sure that he and his team think everything ink, so you don't have to.

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