There are all sorts of reasons you might want an A3 printer, from proofing pages for editors to photographers printing photos large enough to be seen across a room. Even for the home user, there are plenty of calls for poster-sized prints. However, most standard printers cannot handle anything larger than A4.
The main disadvantage of A3 printers is that they are much larger. Most full-size printers take an A4 sheet over a path barely wider than the paper itself. A3 printers do the same thing, but the printer needs to be much wider – the width of an A3 sheet being the same as the length of a normal A4 page.
This also tends to increase the price of the printer, not to mention that printing larger pages will inevitably consume more ink. However, in return for using a specialist printing service every time you want to produce an A3 print, you may find that it will soon pay off.
All of the printers we have listed below have been tested by a member of the Expert Reviews team. We run the same set of tests that we run on our A4 printer reviews, so we can compare these A3 models against each other while making sure they keep up with their A4 counterparts.
READ NEXT: The best printers you can buy
Best A3 printer: at a glance
How to choose the best A3 printer for you
A3 printers come in all types, with inkjet and laser models widely available. Since A3 pages are twice as large as A4 pages, printing A3 pages is likely to run through ink faster. They’re also likely to be slower to print for the same reason – there’s simply more space to cover on an A3 page.
Inkjet printers store their ink in cartridges and work by spraying thousands of tiny dots of ink onto paper. When ink cartridges run out, they must be removed and replaced with new cartridges, which are simply snapped into place.
A3 printers are also available as ink reservoir models, which use large wells to store ink rather than keeping it in a disposable cartridge. These can be more economical to use than standard inkjets because replacement ink is supplied in basic bottles, rather than complex cartridges with built-in electronics. The reservoirs can also hold significantly more ink, so you can keep printing for longer between refills. This is particularly useful in A3 printing due to the extra ink needed to print larger pages.
Laser printers tend to be faster, especially with larger prints. They electrically fuse the ink from their cartridges to the paper, which is more efficient than the inkjet printing process. Toner cartridges for A3 laser printers are larger than their A4 counterparts, so they can hold more ink and tend to last longer.
Should I buy a printer with more than four inks?
If you’re likely to print a lot of photos, especially on photo paper, it’s worth looking at printers that have additional inks as well as the usual black, cyan, magenta and yellow. Additional colors vary by printer, but are often more subtle nuances of existing colors. If most of your printing is for standard office documents rather than photos, the basic four colors should suffice.
Can I get an A3 MFP?
Multifunction printers, or MFPs, have a built-in scanner and can function as a printer, scanner, and copier. Many A3 printers come with all of these features, especially if they are designed for an office or home office. However, make sure your MFP has the right size scanner for your needs, as some cheaper A3 MFPs only have A4 scanner beds; if you want to do A3 scans as well as printouts, you will need a model with an A3 scanner.
To do drafts, you don’t necessarily need an MFP anymore. Most printers come with a smartphone app that you can use with your phone’s camera to make simple copies. Although the quality is not as high as a flatbed scan, you might be surprised at how well your smartphone performs as a scanner.
Are A3 printers economical to use?
This can vary from printer to printer and follows a similar pattern to regular A4 printers, in that inkjets with ink tanks tend to be the cheapest to run, while inkjets cartridge ink are the most expensive. Laser printers generally fall somewhere in between, although economies of scale may also apply, and a good business laser printer will be more cost effective in a busy office that prints hundreds of pages a day.
How we test
Expert Reviews subjects each printer to a rigorous series of tests. These are designed to measure the speed of the printer and produce prints that we can use to compare the print quality of each model against printers we have reviewed in the past. Speed tests are run with multiple copies of a monochrome letter, a color business document, and a selection of photos of varying sizes.
When reviewing MFPs, we also test the speed and quality of copy and scan functions.
READ NEXT: Our pick of the best photo printers available
The best A3 printer to buy in 2022
1. Canon Pixma PRO-200: The best A3 photo printer
Price: £449 | Shop now at Wex Photo Video
If you want to produce superb A3 photo prints, you have to consider the Canon Pixma PRO-200. This inkjet printer uses eight colors – the usual suspects plus gray, light gray, photo cyan and photo magenta. This combination, when used on Canon’s A3 photo paper, produces beautiful photos worth hanging on the wall.
The downside is that printing isn’t cheap (we calculated it at around £2.19 per A3 photo), so you may still need a regular printer for general printing. The printer itself is also quite large, especially when the input and output trays are fully extended, which increases the depth from 379mm to 837mm, so it definitely needs a desk of its own. But the rear-loading input tray can hold 100 A3 sheets at a time.
Read our full Canon Pixma PRO-200 review for more details
Key Specs – Technology: thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi; Scan specifications: N / A; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 200 x 639 x 379mm; Lester: 14.1kg; Maximum paper size: A3+
Shop now at Wex Photo Video
2. Epson EcoTank ET-8550: The best A3 ink tank printer
Price: £679 | Buy now from John Lewis
The Epson EcoTank ET-8550 has a lot to offer, but at a steep upfront cost. It uses ink tanks instead of the more common cartridges, which means it’s cheaper than most, especially if you intend to use your printer a lot.
It also uses a six-colour ink system, which is designed to deliver good results when printing photos and while the colors aren’t as vibrant as on the best cartridge-based A3 photo printers, they aren’t far behind. . However, with each print costing significantly less than most A3 rivals, it can also be used as a regular home office printer, without having to worry about paying too much.
Read our full Epson EcoTank ET-8550 review for more details
Key Specs – Technology: thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi; Scan specifications: 1200 x 4800 dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 169 x 523 x 379mm; Lester: 11.1kg; Maximum paper size: A3+
Buy now from John Lewis
3. Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000: The most affordable A3 photo printer
Price: £279 | Shop now at Park Cameras
The Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 sits perfectly between professional A3 photo printers, with their higher prices, and consumer wallet-friendly A3 printers, better suited for general print jobs. It still does a great job of printing large-scale photos on A3 paper, but at a more affordable price.
It uses a six-color ink system – adding gray and red inks to the usual black, cyan, magenta and yellow – which, combined with the crisp 5,760 x 1,440 dpi print resolution, produced superb prints on photo paper during our tests. .
It has a generous 200 sheet paper tray for A4 paper but can only store A3 paper in the rear feed. While it’s not as adept at printing on plain paper as you might hope, it will certainly do if your main goal is large photos and you don’t want a second printer for all your other print jobs.
Read our full Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 review for more details
Key Specs – Technology: thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 5660 x 1440 dpi; Scan specifications: N / A; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 159 x 479 x 370mm; Lester: 8.5kg; Maximum paper size: A3+
Shop now at Park Cameras