Understanding Page Yields
A page yield is the number of pages that you can print with a single printer cartridge. It is sometimes also known as ink/toner cartridge page yield. The page yield is one of the most important factors you should consider when purchasing a new ink cartridge. Some printer manufacturers will use a general term such as ‘standard yield’ or ‘high yield’ to describe their cartridges. Each printer cartridge model should have a page yield (the number of sheets it can print under standard conditions). It gives the customer an estimate of the cost per page on each of their print outs. Other than page yield you should also consider factors such as price, print quality, reliability and warranty.
Manufacturers list the yield of their cartridges on their websites to help the customer judge before purchasing a cartridge. Yield is generally expressed as a certain number of pages based on a certain amount of text coverage per page. For example, “1000 pages at 5% coverage”. The coverage figures are generally 3% to 5% for normal text documents. You must remember that printing a text page is very different from printing an image. A 5% yield might work for a text page but not for a graphic heavy page. When you print out a photograph, the ink will cover almost all or almost all of the paper. Whereas, a page of text is mostly white space with a very small area covered in ink.
How do I find the page yield of my cartridge?
It is very simple to find the page yield of an ink cartridge, see below.
- Go to the website of the ink cartridge manufacturer
- Go to the description page for your printer
- Look for and click on the printer specifications
- There should be a category called Yield or Cartridge Life, click on it.
Page yield can be affected by many things such as the content or the size and colour of the image you print, your printer settings, the type of paper, size of paper and frequency of use. So how exactly is page yield tested?
Traditionally different manufacturers use different tests to measure page yield, so it can be difficult for customers to compare the page yield of two different brand cartridges. Nowadays, most printer manufacturers use the same standard established by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) to evaluate the page yield of a given cartridge.
ISO has established two standard testing methods, ISO/IEC 24711 and ISO/IEC 19752 for measuring ink cartridge yield and monochrome toner cartridge yield respectively.
ISO standard for testing inkjet cartridge yield (ISO/IEC 24711)
- The tests are all conducted using default setting on plain white paper.
- A suite of 5 ink cartridges are printed consecutively until the ink cartridges reaches the end of its life.
- A cartridge is considered at the end of its life when the printer shows a signal that the ink has been depleted or the test page shows discoloration or a significant increase in lightness.
- A total of 9 cartridges should be tested on 3 different printers (i.e. 3 cartridges on each printer) not including the 1st set of installed cartridges and the average result is taken.
- The tests are conducted under controlled conditions (temperature and humidity) similar to home and office conditions.
ISO standard for monochrome toner cartridge yield (ISO/IEC 19752)
- The tests are conducted with printer default settings on plain paper.
- A standard text page is used (represents approximately 5% coverage)
- A total of 9 cartridges are tested, 3 cartridges on each of 3 different printers, and the average yield is measured.
- Almost continuous printing with normal breaks for changing or adding paper.
- Printing stops when the cartridge reaches the end of its life, which is determined, based on the manufacturers recommendations in handling the toner cartridge (e.g. how many times the toner cartridge should be shaken.)
- End of the cartridge life is defined as the printer reports “replace toner” or “replace supply”.
- The tests are conducted under controlled conditions (temperature and humidity).
As you can see, page yield or cartridge yield is measured by vigorous testing. This information is very useful to determine the value of different types of ink cartridge (OEM vs. remanufactured vs. compatible, standard yield vs. high yield) Next time when you shop for a replacement ink cartridge, remember to compare the page yield and cost per page.
The ink cartridge with a higher page yield will be more expensive but in the long run it will be cost effective because of the lower cost per page!