hen shopping for printer supplies, it is important to know the correct cartridge your printer uses. If you don’t, you will find yourself frustrated in the time consumed to locate the suitable one. It’s no surprise that you’ll find not only the originals, but there are variety of alternatives or the so-called compatibles out there in the market; and there are more than few types of compatibles which you may be somewhat confused about what all there is out there and what to choose.

Thus, we have put together some facts and information about the differences between types of cartridges.

5 Different Types of Ink & Toner Cartridges in the Market

First of all, let’s talk about the categories of printer cartridges. Generally, there are four types in the market:

  • Original/Genuine
  • OEM/Compatible/Generic/Remanufactured
  • Do-it-yourself Refill Kit
  • CISS (continuous ink supply system)
  • Counterfeit/Fake (which it’s illegal!)

1. Original/Genuine Cartridges


Original or genuine ink & toner cartridges are the products you purchase from resellers that has entered into a contractual relationship with authorizing brands (e.g. HP, Canon, Fuji Xerox, Epson, OKI and etc.) to sell genuine products. Typically, brands’ website maintains lists of authorized corporate resellers and Internet resellers.

We are HP PPS (Printing & Personal Systems) Preferred Partner

2. OEM/Compatible/Generic/Remanufactured Cartridges


OEM toner cartridge is basically an original product manufactured by the same company as the printer. Lets take HP for instance, if you are an owner of a Hewlett-Packard printer, then the Hewlett-Packard brand is the OEM cartridge for your printer. Although costing less than genuine alternatives, OEM cartridges are generally fail-proof and provides sheer quality in performance wise.

So, you have bought a third party cartridge, that does not mean that it is not an OEM cartridge. The term OEM cartridge means that no matter the manufacturer, be it HP or another company out there that is selling legal and certified cartridge, they are also labelled as selling original and OEM cartridge of their own brand. However, the above is only applicable when for instance, if you are purchasing from ABC company who manufactures their own cartridge under their own brand, and is a certified and legal cartridge retailer, then they are labelled as OEM genuine cartridges.

Compatible printer cartridge is just like generic car parts. It is manufactured by third party companies that have no connection to the original manufacturer. Every part found in the compatible cartridge are all made up of new compatible parts. As you might expect, some compatible inks are inferior to OEM inks. Even so, the quality of these compatible cartridges are similar to genuine cartridges.

This is why it is important that you take your time identifying compatible ink cartridges that offers high quality and manufactured by trusted sellers. So for those who are looking to save on cost, you should keep an eye on good quality compatible cartridges as it does not only saves you money but compatibles would give you more than what you have paid.

A cheaper alternative to an original cartridge. From what its’ called, I guess you can already guess what kind of cartridge is a re-manufactured cartridge. Re-manufactured cartridge is made when a manufacturer acquires an original and genuine cartridge, disassembles it, tests and & replaces any worn parts, fills it again with ink and it is as good as new. Keep in mind however, the quality of the re-manufactured cartridge depends hugely on the manufacturer, whether good or bad.

Unfortunately, there are companies out there that labels their cartridges as “re-manufactured” when all they did was simply refilling the empty cartridge with toner. Therefore, it is vital for you to buy re-manufactured cartridges from trusted manufacturers.

One other advantage of using a re-manufactured cartridge is that it is sort of a similar practice on using recycled brown paper bags rather than plastic bags when you are shopping. To simplify it, this process is basically recycling old cartridges for better and cheaper use rather than increasing waste to the environment.

3. Do-it-yourself Refill Kit


An even cheaper option to a OEM cartridges, refilled cartridges are simple refueled with new ink/toner and resold. Being a cheaper alternative to most cartridges, it does comes with many flaws. The most notable flaw in a refilled cartridge would be its quality and also quantity. If you have empty cartridges or you do not want to spend that extra amount for a new cartridge, there is an alternative to refill your own ink. Just like you how you would normally refill your shampoos or detergents, all you simply have to do is buy a refill pack and do it yourself. Keep in mind that different brand of cartridges require a different method in refilling.

One vital fact or disadvantage of a refilled cartridge is that it will most probably fail you. By definition, you get less for what you have paid. Refilled cartridges are known to not providing you with what is described whereby the cartridge stops working before the toner even runs out.

Having said so, purchasing refilled ink is sometimes worth the risk IF it works well since the price of these cartridges are far below of that of genuine/OEM cartridges.

4. CISS (continuous ink supply system)



Similar to refilled cartridges, Continuous Ink Supply System or CISS in short is an ink cartridge that is designed for refilling whenever it runs out. It is an inking system manufactured for inkjet printers which are consists of a large external refillable ink supply.

Do not mistaken CISS with refillable ink cartridges however, CISS cartridges are designed specifically for refilling purposes while refillable ink cartridges are not manufactured with refilling in mind. But obviously, some ink cartridges do support refills, if it is capable. One of the few manufacturers that still practices CISS in some of their printer products is Epson.

By using CISS kit, you can expect higher ink capacity and page yield than normal OEM cartridges. Lower cost of ink is also one the significant reasons for CISS that makes it a great choice for some.

While CISS is definitely cheaper than OEM or genuine cartridges, it is very much vulnerable to many factors. To name a few, ink spillage may occur while refilling, not all refills are matched with original cartridges. This means that, third party ink refills are not matched with OEM cartridges and genuine cartridges.

  • Print quality issues may occur with generic inks.
  • Generic inks can lead to waste ink and an increase in cleaning cycles for the printer.
  • Hidden cost of parts replacements.

So for those for you that really want more with lesser cost, CISS is definitely the way to go. Bear in mind that, CISS kit will most probably fail or do not work. Therefore, if you are still determined, consider purchasing a printer that is installed with a CISS kit by the vendor rather than purchasing solely the CISS kit and installing it on another printer.


5. Counterfeit/Fake Cartridges



I am sure all of you might have seen fake branded handbags, sunglasses, and many more products of a similar quality being sold around, but have you actually seen a fake toner cartridge? You might have heard of it and even stories from unfortunate people being cheated with counterfeit cartridges that claimed to be real genuine cartridges from Canon, HP and etc. The question is how do you identify a fake?

Below are some pointers about fake cartridges that you should bear in mind:

Complex duplication makes it harder to be identified. Major brands have taken serious measure in order to differentiate between a fake and a genuine one. Lets take HP as an example, in order to tackle the issue, they have incorporated a unique ID and a hologram for each and every product they have. Even so, counterfeiters are so smart that they are able to recreate a very similar product to the genuine.

Price is a useful indicator. In most issues, the best way to identify a fake from a genuine cartridge is to compare its prices. Because all OEM and genuine cartridges are strictly under price control, cartridges found in either a physical or online stores should have only a slight price differential. A fake cartridge however, does not have high-quality components and will be sold for a more cheaper price. So for your next purchase of a toner cartridge, common sense and logical thinking should be in your mind. Nothing comes free or at a ridiculously cheap price.

Search for a certified supplier. One more vital precaution you should take is to do your research and be vigilant before your next purchase. The best way is to identify a trusted and certified retailer or a company. Here at atoz2u, all our printers and consumables are certified and authorized by major printer brands.

Scroll down for more information on how to identify a genuine cartridge from counterfeits.

[READ: The Star] Fake ink cartridges destroyed


How to identify genuine/OEM cartridges

Many of you buys printer cartridge, but just exactly how many of you knows how to identify genuine OEM cartridges from the counterfeit ones? It is actually pretty easy and straightforward to identify genuine cartridges. For instance, lets take HP printer cartridges as an example.


HP Ori

Pictures above shows what does a genuine/OEM printer cartridge looks like. Every HP printer cartridge has a unique serial code which is attached together with its hologram or as known as HP Security Seal. The second picture shows the old hologram on the left and the new on the right. As the picture says, after 2010, all HP holograms will look just like in the picture above. In the new hologram, you should notice that there is also a QR code embedded in it which provides mobile access. This means by using your mobile device downloaded with either the HP SureSupply App or a generic QR code reader, you can identify the originality of the product.

On the other hand, fake security seal will most likely be similar as the genuine ones. Generally for first time buyers, the risk of you buying fake products are high because visually, it is as similar as it gets to the genuine seal. If you look closely on the picture above, Genuine HP Security Seals are designed with an image shifting technology which does not exist in a fake seal. For veteran buyers or workers at the shop, they will most likely know how to identify between both. Unfortunately, there will always be retailers that tricks their customer into buying fake products. Therefore once again, find a trusted retailer and do your research before buying.

For more information on how to identify a product, click here.


The picture above clearly shows an example of third-party cartridges that looks similar with original ones. How can you identify between them? Simple, all OEM toner cartridge are packed individually and they are not packed in groups like the picture above.


This is another example of what a compatible toner cartridge looks like. It is manufactured by a third party company with similar capabilities with the OEM toner cartridges.

Advantages of Genuine/OEM Toner Cartridges

The most notable advantage of using an OEM cartridge is that it is manufactured to the highest quality with high precision level. OEM cartridges are usually manufactured by the printer brand itself. It is manufactured to perfectly fit and provide the best print quality on the same brand of product. Genuine cartridge usually has a much lower fail rate and brings more good than harm compared to third party cartridges.

Genuine manufacturers claimed that using their own toner cartridge is highly recommended as the printer will be affected by other third party cartridges. (Obviously, the manufacturers just want to make you buy more of their product and make you spend more money on them. LOL) The manufacturers also suggest that with the usage of third party cartridges on laser printers will shorten the printers’ lifespan.

By using OEM cartridges, you are assured of performance to the highest level. The cartridge will mostly meet the quality and information portrayed in the specifications. To summarize it, if you are a perfectionist and you demand quality more than quantity, OEM cartridges are the way to go.

Disadvantages of Genuine/OEM Toner Cartridges

You should probably know by now, the main disadvantage of buying an OEM cartridge is the high cost of the product. For first time buyers, you probably are less likely to know the effect of an OEM cartridge. However, for seasoned users, this topic proved too much to bear for some. With the trend in today’s business model, manufacturers will sell their printers at very low and cheap price and push up the cost of printer consumables (toner cartridges). For instance, you purchased a printer at a fabulous deal of RM 200. In return, you will most likely dish out more than double of what the printer may cost on the cartridges alone.

Also, genuine toner cartridges are made from all new materials which are plastics and polymers whereby it directly hinders the recycling option. If you are a green person, this may not be the best option for you.

Advantages of Third-Party Cartridges

Unlike OEM cartridges which are priced ridiculously high, third party cartridges (compatible, re-manufactured, refilled) are very much cheaper. If you are looking to save cost and doesn’t mind a decrease in printing quality, this is the best option for you. Mind you, third party cartridges can sometimes save you half the cost of the OEM brands.

Disadvantages of Third-Party Cartridges

The most notable disadvantages of third party cartridges is the quality of the products. You do not know what are the quality control measures that is used by the manufacturer during the manufacturing process. There are many manufacturers in the market that produces different level of quality. Third party printers are not only known for their cheap prices but it is also known for their high rate of performance failure. For this sole reason, it is enough and surely say that, it will be a gamble and risky move to buy third party cartridges.

As mentioned before, it is vital that you shop from a trusted manufacturer and be alert at all times.

Black & White

Lets take a look at the picture above, starting from the left to the right. Starting from the second picture on the left is a third party product as well as the third picture. The last picture on the right is an OEM toner cartridge. You can see that by using the original image as base, the OEM printout is the best printout overall between the other two in quality but not in saturation. While, the second picture from the left gives more saturation.


The picture above shows the color comparison between an OEM product and a third party. In this case, the OEM is the victor in both printing detail and color depth whereas the printout from LINKYO lacks in color saturation.


Surely, you wouldn’t want this to happen on your printouts eh? We can see clearly that the photo on the left is a perfect example on why OEM toner cartridges beats its competitors in quality wise.


We hope this article helps you in ways and you have got better understanding on genuine and non-genuine toner cartridges whilst browsing. As much as the risk present in third party cartridges, it is actually worth a try because who knows you might end up saving much more on cost with minimal quality difference. So do not let the fear of that hinders you from potentially saving more.

If you are still not sure about third party cartridges, it is very wise to consult a friend or find a trusted retailer before shopping. OR, you can try purchasing a third party cartridge on your next purchase of OEM order, this would do little harm. Try using the third party cartridge for a while and if you are unsatisfied, the option for you to switch back to OEM ones are always there. But, if the possibility of the third party cartridge actually impresses you, sit back, relax, and enjoy the savings.

All our products are genuine and certified by respective brands. So feel free to browse through our products and other consumables.

Shop Original Printer Cartridges and Get Voucher Rebate

While there are alternatives in the market that will actually bring harmful damages to the printer and its documents. By prolonging the usage of the alternatives printer supplies, eventually you will find yourself consuming more money than you should have been and also face the risk of your printer breaking down. Therefore, it is crucial to always look for original products for your machines.