Single Function And Multi-Function Printer: Which one is the Best?

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Printers are a must in every workstation, and so are fax machines, scanners, and copiers. Some businesses may just need printing while others may need more functionalities.

If you are evaluating the options between single function and multi-function printer, then this article is for you.

In this article, we outlined the differences between single and multi-function printers. Based on this information, you can choose one that is suitable for your business and requirements.

What is Multi-function Printer?

As the name suggests, a multi-function printer is a device that consolidates the functionality of a copier, scanner, fax machine, and printer in a single machine.

Let us say your workstation has all four devices in a room with wires and cables scattered on the floor. Doesn’t that complicate things when you have to use different equipment for different tasks?

Do you have to print a crucial document and fax it to your client while having a few copies of the same for your report? A multi-function printer can effectively get all the work done in one place and on the go. No matter what the function, this printer caters to all your office needs effortlessly.

What is Single Function Printer?

Let us talk about the single-function printer. As the name says, it is a device that can perform only a single function. Unlike a multi-function device, it only prints the documents and cannot scan, fax, and copy them.

Single Function Vs. Multi-Function Printer

Let us consider the different features that determine the efficiency of both devices:

1. Necessary Functionality

Are you planning to buy a printer for your home or office? Are you confused between choosing from a single function device or a multi-function one? You should always consider certain things that will evaluate the degree of requirements.

Depending on how often you send and receive the faxes, scan documents, and make their copies, you can go for a multi-function device. You can save huge on the multiple types of equipment and cut the costs incurred on them.

If the task is only limited to taking prints and nothing more, a single-function printer is all you need.

You might say that your workstation has different equipment for individual functions. If that is the case, it is up to you to take the call whether you want to have several devices or want to consolidate all of the functionalities into a single device.

However, it is essential to note that not all multi-function printers available in the market come included with all the features, as mentioned above. While some offer all the functionalities some may not.

Verdict: Multi-function printer

2. Space

The next crucial point to consider when determining which one to choose is the space factor. Multiple machines occupy more space in the office, making it congested. If you want to save the room and prevent overcrowding, you better have a printer, fax machine, and a copier consolidated into one. Moreover, an MFP consumes the same amount of space as a single function printer.

Verdict: Multi-function printer

3. Centrality

Imagine having centralized access to multiple functions in a single place! Doesn’t that feel stress-free! Redeem yourself from the hassle of switching the locations for different tasks. No more running between places for scanning, and printing documents or sending faxes. Get all your work done from just one device with a multi-function printer. And, what more! You can be contributing to increasing the productivity of your busy employees. Now, is this possible with a single-function printer? The answer is a straight NO.

Verdict: Multi-function printer

4. Power Consumption

Utility bills can be a significant concern for workplaces. If you try calculating the power consumed by four different equipment that runs almost continuously every day, that will blow your mind away. Now, let us assume having a single device plugged into a single electrical unit. The electricity costs would be way lesser than having four devices plugged into four different sockets. If you want to save on the additional power bills, a multi-function printer is the best bet.

Verdict: Multi-function printer

5. Upgrade Barriers

Upgrading a single-function printer is much easier when compared to a multi-function device. The upgrading part is as simple as replacing the machine.

In a multi-function printer, if you want to upgrade just the printer alone, it is not possible. You will have to replace the entire unit with a new one.

For example, you are not happy and satisfied with the quality of the scanner or the fax. You cannot upgrade the machine but replace it with new equipment.

Verdict: Single function printer

6. Quality

When it comes to quality, a multi-function printer does not offer the expected quality as that of a single-function printer. Since an MFP is a combination of different elements and functionalities, the quality and efficiency might not be at par. If you are a large business that seeks high and precise quality, an MPF is not a suitable option. This is one drawback of a multi-function printer that you should be aware of.

Instead, invest in a single-function printer that comes with the best printing capabilities than a multi-function device.

Verdict: Single function printer

7. One function at a time

Although a multi-function printer offers integrated functionalities in a single device, you cannot perform all the functions simultaneously. You can only execute one task at a time, and this is yet another disadvantage with an MFP. This can make people wait for the device if it is functioning (scan, print, or fax) continuously all through the day.

In a single-function device, you do not have to worry about anything as such. Since it does the only job of printing, you can remain stress-free.

Verdict: Single function printer

8. Printing Type 

With a plethora of models available for single-function printers, you can select from among them based on your requirement and preference.

You can choose from a wide range of dye-based ink to a pigmented ink, depending on your need. Specialized printers from the single-function printer are also available that are a little expensive.

When it comes to the multi-function printers, they are available in just two models. The first type is inkjet, and the other is the laser. Both have merits of their own. While a laser printer is perfect for producing high-volume prints, an inkjet model is famous for quality colour prints. Most offices prefer multi-function printer types for use. The inkjet printer is more expensive than the laser printer.

Verdict: Both single and multi-function printers seem to have an equal edge.

9. Technical Problems

Another determining factor for choosing between a single function printer and a multi-function one is the technical problems that may arise. When you encounter a technical glitch when using an MFP, it nullifies your chances of performing any of the functions on the device. If you are relying entirely on that machine for different tasks like sending and receiving faxes, you are in a mess because of the huge downtime. You should, rather, prefer separate equipment for that task to save your time, in case of hardware failure. Additionally, running short of your MFP’s ink can hamper the activities.

Since a single function printer does only a single job, a technical issue will affect only printing functionality.

Verdict: Single function printer

10. The Durability 

Durability is yet another crucial factor of consideration. Undoubtedly, a single-function printer is highly durable than a multi-function device because of its single operation. In an MFP, if one unit fails, it damages the entire device, hampering all the functionalities.

For example, let us say the scanner failed in your MPF. You cannot use the printer, fax, or copier until you fix the entire machine.

Verdict: Single function printer

11. Speed

Talking about the speed, a dedicated machine can perform at high speed, when compared to a multi-function device. It can provide clear prints at an incredible pace than an MPF.

Verdict: Single function printer

13. User Experience

Analyzing the user experience is equally important for choosing a suitable printer. In those terms, MFP has a greater audience than a single function printer. Over the years, a multi-function printer made huge progress in attracting people with its flexibility to use. It has fewer settings and buttons for performing any function, making the task uncomplicated.

Verdict: Multi-function printer

14. Price

Price is the key deciding factor for purchasing any device. An MPF has a higher upfront cost than a single function printer. However, it is very less when you combine the individual prices of the multiple devices. Besides that, you should also take into consideration the maintenance costs of all the machines, which are an added burden to your wallet.

Rather than spending massively on several devices, you would want to invest in a single machine that performs multiple tasks. A multi-function laser printer is the best option you may want to consider than opting for a single function printer.

Verdict: Multi-function printer


To conclude, a multi-function printer offers a host of benefits over its single-function counterpart. However, choosing the right device is entirely dependent on personal preferences, requirements, and the extent of usage.

Multifunction printers offer you the perfect balance of functionality, allowing you to copy, print, scan, and fax all in a single device. Streamline all the duplicate and cumbersome document processes without a hitch using an MFP.

I hope this article gave you ample information that will assist you in the decision-making process. Write to us in the comments section below what will you choose for your home or business. You can also let us know if this article is helpful to you. We would love to hear from you.

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