Original and Compatible Inks – The Differences

“Spend a fortune on original inks… or risk breaking my printer with compatible inks…”

The internal monologue of someone shopping for a cartridge, based on some fact and some fiction that they’ve likely heard through friends.

We wanted to clear up any questions or doubt surrounding the different cartridge options, and save all of you that decision headache.


Areas Of Interest:



The different types of cartridges:

Before we start, what is the difference between the cartridge types…


This is a brand new cartridge made by a third-party manufacturer. They have no affiliation with the original manufacturers of the printer, and the cartridges have not been used before.

Remanufactured / Refilled

These are original cartridges which have been used once, returned, cleaned and refilled to max capacity then tested for reliability.


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Quite simply – Compatibles are always cheaper. However, sometimes it is worth looking into more than the unit cost.

Many providers will source sub-standard compatibles, charge pittance, and laugh as a print of your new born child comes out looking like London Bridge. With cost in mind then, you must limit your browsing to quality-assured websites.

  • One with testimonies citing a good service,
  • Who state a returns policy if ANY issue is encountered
  • That actually give evidence of testing procedures their cartridges go through to assure you.

You won’t be surprised to learn that StinkyInk is one of them. If cost is all you are interested in, then compatibles are the way to side.

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The Quantity that you Print:

Most users fall into two areas for quantity; some or lots.

If you print alot…

…compatibles will save you a huge amount of money. They typically contain more ink than originals, at a lower price, so your costs drop considerably.


If you don’t print that much…

Your main concern is ink drying out and blocking the print heads.

Original cartridges contain a chemical designed to protect the printer head from clogging up, so if you print LESS than once every few months we’d advise sticking to originals, otherwise compatibles are perfect.


No matter what you print we recommend using one original cartridge every 3-4 compatibles, to clean and lubricate the print heads and guarantee no blockage building.

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What Are You Printing?


Compatible inks perform excellently for text with brilliantly sharp prints, and we struggle time after time to correctly select which prints came from an original or compatible cartridge.

Most of our best sellers are compatible blacks, and if text printing is the majority of what you do you should try a compatible asap.



Original cartridges with original photo paper will always give you the best results, they’re designed to work in tandem.

However compatibles are brilliant for photo printing, we use them for all our home photos, and telling the difference is nigh on impossible for the majority of printouts.

Simon Williams, who does articles for many websites and magazines, actually ran a test involving the 4 major brand original cartridges and paper and 4 competing third party cartridge and printer brands.

The printed images were given to a panel to evaluate on a rating scale, and staggeringly the results favoured compatible cartridge outputs in pretty much every result!

If that doesn’t give you the confidence to try them, nothing will.

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How long you need your prints to last:

Compatible images deteriorate slightly faster than originals in the same conditions, but if you’re putting photos in frames or books they will last more than long enough.

This didn’t use to be the case, but large steps have been made in the past few years in compatible quality that make this possible.



Now, most visual tests show very little fade, and it’s hard to tell the difference between compatibles and originals.

If you take care of the images you print, and store them correctly, there is no reason a compatible cartridge can’t give you a picture that you will enjoy for a long time to come.

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My Printer is Old:

As long as you’ve taken care of your printer and it’s still functioning fine, compatibles are perfectly viable.

The only consideration for older printers is the supply level – are the cartridges still available?

When a printer is brand new you may have no choice but to buy originals, as the market for compatibles will not have been established yet.

This is particularly relevant with refilled cartridges, which obviously rely on a supply of used original cartridges before they can be produced.

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Environmental concerns:

Sadly, we have not made this comment up.

‘A compatible will break your printer. You will have to replace your printer more often. So more printers are made. So more things go in the landfill.’

A compatible is no more likely to break your well maintained printer than an original cartridge.

Recycling compatibles is also the same process as an original! Couple that with the possibility of refilled cartridges and you’re looking at a much better environmental choice.

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Optimum performance:

We thought we’d finishh with the simplest section, one to limit the  abusive mail through my door from manufacturers with court summons in abundance.

Original brand cartridges, used with the correct printer and manufacturer’s quality paper, will always beat compatible prints.

Third-party producers strive to minimise this difference, and the gap has closed dramatically, but you won’t beat the quality of the 3 original components (printer, cartridge, paper.) being used together.

However, your wallet will be consistently empty, and in most cases the average user will not require or even notice the difference in quality switching to compatibles.


We hope you have found this article helpful, and feel more confident whilst browsing.

Compatibles really are worth a go, so do not let past experiences hold you back, third party cartridges have advanced hugely in the past few years, with outstanding quality and reliability now being seen across hundreds of models.

We offer a 100% guarantee on our products, so if you are not happy with its performance we can offer you a refund or replacement cartridge.

If you are still paranoid, try a purchase of a compatible with your next originals order, a risk-free test! If it does not meet expectations, you have your new original cartridge to put in and print happily away with and you can contact us about returning the compatible…..

….but if they do impress, well now, just sit back and enjoy the savings, compliments of Mr StinkyInk himself.

Back to the list of interest – Or Relax, Celebrate finishing, and go save money in our Shop :-)