When you’re looking for the best label printer, speed, resolution, and ease of use are three of the most important factors in the decision making process. There are a lot of different options out there, but not all of them make the cut in these departments. We know searching for the best label printers can be time consuming, so we did a lot of the hard work for you by narrowing down your options to the top seven black and white label printers out there. Each label printer that made the list uses thermal technology, which means there’s no need for ink or toner. After the initial investment, you’ll only be spending about one-third of a cent per label, so your cost of use will depend largely on your printing volume.
Of these best seven label printers, the Zebra GK420d Direct Thermal Desktop printer came is our #1 pick. It can handle high volume at a lightning fast speed without the need for ink or toner. The setup is also quick and easy, so you can get to work right away. To learn more about why we chose the Zebra for our top pick, and the other six viable options that made the list, keep reading.
Top 7 Compared
#1 Zebra GK420d Direct Thermal Desktop Printer
Award: Top Pick/Best Overall
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Zebra GK420d Thermal Printer is a workhorse that spits out a high volume of labels with lightning speed. Printing at a resolution of 203 dpi, the Zebra can handle shipping, barcode and binder labels as well as name tags and receipts.
- Quick, simple set up
- Fast printing speed
- Can handle high volume
- Has some trouble with Safari on iOS
- Higher price point
If you’re looking for a label printer that can handle high volume with speed, you’ll find it with the Zebra GK420d. Not only does the Zebra print crystal clear labels at a high definition resolution of 203 dpi, it also tackles them at a speed of 5 seconds per inch.
With a max diameter of 5 inches and a max media width of 4.25 inches, you can print on most standard labels, from shipping to barcode to name tags. Because it uses direct thermal technology, there’s never a need to spend extra money on ink or toner and, according to the manufacturer, the Zebra works with any thermal labels with a 1-inch core. Combine this with the best home scanner and you have a powerful office.
The Zebra is compatible with Windows, Mac OS and Linux hardware, so it’s easy to set up no matter which operating system you use; however, some users have experienced some issues when trying to print from the Safari browser on a Mac system. These problems are easily alleviated when using Chrome, instead.
#2 Arkscan 2054A Shipping Label Printer
Award: Honorable Mention/Best Label Printer for Shipping
WHY WE LIKE IT: Like others on this list, the Arkscan 205A Label Printer prints at a high resolution of 203 dpi and a rate of 5 seconds per inch. As an added bonus, Arkscan offers outstanding tech support so if you have trouble, someone’s there to help, even on the weekends.
- High resolution
- Easy to set up
- Outstanding tech support
- The included software is Windows-based only
- Difficult to configure with a Mac
- Larger body than others on the list
Like others on this list, the Arkscan 2054A is a high-resolution, high-speed label printer that produces high-quality labels at a rate of 5 seconds per inch. But, unlike some other more popular brands, the Arkscan supports any kind of thermal labels, including the free shipping labels that you can get from UPS and FedEx.
Although it does take up more desk space than other, similar models, the trade-off is worth it, especially if you’re using the printer for several different applications. The Arkscan works seamlessly with several different shipping and point of sale systems.
As an added bonus for Windows users, the Arkscan comes with a free label-maker software that provides templates and the most frequently used label print features for text and graphics. You can also check out the best all in one printer.
#3 Rollo Commerical Grade Label Printer
Award: Best Label Printer for Mac
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Rollo Commercial Grade Label Printer handles printing at speeds that are almost twice as fast (150mm/s) as some of the others on this list. It also works seamlessly with both Windows and iOS, so you don’t have to worry about losing functionality if you switch operating systems.
- 2x faster than its competitors; 150mm a second
- Compatible with most major shipping platforms
- Seamless performance with Windows and Mac
- Limited support for FedEx Ship Manager
- Some users report crooked labels
- Has trouble reading some thermal labels`
If you’re looking for speed, the Rollo Commercial Grade Label Printer has you covered. It is a handy label maker. Faster than its competitors, at a rate of 150mm per second, the Rollo printer is your best bet for high-volume commercial printing.
Although it’s compact, taking up just 7.7 x 3 x 3.3” of counter space, don’t let its small size fool you. It can handle any label that’s under 4.1 inches wide with no restriction on height.
Some users have reported inconsistent printing, with labels coming out crooked, but taking extra care to properly load the thermal labels before printing should rectify this problem. Also, see the best printer for home.
#4 DYMO 450 Twin Turbo Label Writer
Award: Best Value/Best For Address Labels
WHY WE LIKE IT: The DYMO 450 Twin Turbo Label Writer can handle 71 four line address labels per minute at a crystal clear resolution of 600 x 300 dpi. You can also print directly from Microsoft Word.
- The Dymo Labelwriter can print labels directly from Microsoft Office programs
- Prints two labels at a time at a speed of 71 address labels per minute
- Has a high resolution of 600 x 300 dpi
- Does best with brand name thermal labels
- Runs into software problems more than others on the list
Perhaps the most well-known of the bunch, the 450 Twin Turbo Label Writer lives up to its DYMO name. If you need a label printer that multi-tasks as well as you do, the DYMO has you covered. Equipped with two printing houses, the Twin Turbo can print up to 71 four line standard address labels per minute, which makes it one of the fastest on the list..
And even at that high speed, with a resolution of 600 x 300 dpi, these labels come out sharper than others on the list. Keep in mind that DYMO recommends using only brand name labels with their printers for the best results. If you use off-brand thermal labels with the Dymo Labelwriter 450 turbo instead, you may lose some of that clarity.
To make things even easier, there’s no fancy software required as with other label makers; you can print labels directly from some of the most popular Microsoft Office programs, like Word and Excel. The DYMO is also compatible with Quickbooks and iOS systems. Check out the best printer for computer for more options.
#5 MUNBYN Label Printer
Award: Best Label Printer for Crafters
WHY WE LIKE IT: The MUNBYN Label Printer makes things easy, even for someone who isn’t that technologically savvy. With an innate ability to detect label size and an automatic pause function, it’s one of the most user-friendly options on the list.
- Has an automatic pause function to prevent overheating
- Automatically detects label size
- Compatible with Mac and Windows
- Font is small
- Occasionally prints blank labels
- User guide can be confusing
The thing that makes the MUNBYN Label Printer stand out the most for us is its ability to automatically detect label size. Once you insert a label into the printer, there’s no need to change any settings, since the printer will do that work for you. The label printer also has an automatic pause function that helps prevent overheating when you’re using it for big jobs. The best inkjet printer will handle other jobs.
With a resolution of 203 dpi, the MUNBYN Label Printer is on par with others on this list, but the 150mm per second printing speed puts it on top as one of the fastest printers in the group.
#6 Brother QL-820NWB Professional, Ultra Flexible Label Printer
Award: Best for Standalone Use
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a 300 dpi resolution, the Brother QL-820NWB prints the sharpest labels of the bunch. It also has a monochrome LCD screen that allows you to design your labels directly from the device.
- Equipped with LCD screen designed for standalone use
- Has a high resolution of 300 dpi
- Bluetooth, wireless and ethernet connectivity
- Available for Windows, Mac and Android systems
- Print head is only 2.75 inches
- Doesn’t accommodate standard 4 x 6” shipping labels
- Only prints directly from Brother app on wireless
The Brother QL-820NWB has the highest resolution of the bunch so if you’re looking for labels that are crystal clear, your search ends here. Unlike the others on this list, it also comes equipped with an LCD screen that you can use to print labels directly from the device, without the need for a computer. The best 3D printer may be cool, but it can’t do that.
With bluetooth, wireless and ethernet compatibility, the Brother label printer offers several connectivity options; but if you want to utilize the wireless features, you’ll have to download the free Brother app. There’s an added benefit to the app though, as it provides print label templates that you can take advantage of, if you want.
However, one of the most important things to pay attention to here is the size of the printer. The print head is only 2.75 inches, so this label printer can’t accommodate the standard 4 x 6 inch shipping labels. This from the company who innovated the market with the Brother P-Touch.
#7 NETUM Portable Bluetooth Label Printer
Award: Best Budget/Best for Bluetooth
WHY WE LIKE IT: The NETUM Portable Label Printer puts printing right at your fingertips. Because it’s fully portable, you don’t have to wait until you get back home or to your office, you can print your label right from your phone.
- Lightweight and portable
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Can print from your smartphone (both iOS and Android)
- Smartphone app can be faulty
- Slower than other printers
- Only prints labels up to 1.97” wide
If you’re looking for something that you can take with you on the go, the Netum Portable Bluetooth Label Printer has got you covered. The printer is lightweight and fits right into the palm of your hand, so you can make labels in a snap.
And if that wasn’t convenient enough, you can connect your smartphone to the label printer using its Bluetooth technology, so you can literally print labels on the go. While you’re at it, you may want to grab some of the best printer paper for your full-size printing needs.
Keep in mind, though, that you’ll have to sacrifice some speed for portability. The NETUM prints at a rate of 30mm per second, which is five times slower than other printers on this list. Don’t forget to buy the best printer ink.
How We Decided
When choosing a label printer, it can be difficult to cut through all the noise to find one that’s fast, clear and compatible with your devices. Because we know readers have different preferences when it comes to operating systems, we included label printers that work with all kinds of different software (and some that work with several). We narrowed it down by only including options that could perform several different printing tasks at a minimum resolution of 203 dpi. Each label printer on our list also comes equipped with advanced technology and utilizes thermal printing, which eliminates the need for ink and toner. Bonus points were given for iOS/Android compatibility and label printers that offer Bluetooth and WiFi printing.
Label Printer Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
When choosing a label printer, most people want the ideal combination of speed, clarity and compatibility.
- Connectivity and compatibility
The performance of a label printer relies heavily on its compatibility with your operating system and shipping or shopping platform. Printing labels should be easy and fast. When choosing a label printer, check to make sure it works with your hardware and that you can print easily from your preferred platform (i.e. Shopify, eBay, Quickbooks). You also want to consider how the printer connects to the printing device. Is it wireless or Bluetooth compatible or does it need a wired connection, like USB or ethernet? The best choice for you depends on your preferences. And does it have an AC adapter?
A label is only as good as it’s clarity. If you can’t read it, it’s useless—and that’s where resolution comes in. The higher the resolution, the sharper your labels will be. The average consumer can get away with lower resolutions, but if you’re using your label printer for professional use, you may want to consider a higher dpi.
- Printing Speed
If you’re only printing the occasional label, printing speed might not be the most important factor for you. But for those of you using your label printer for commercial use or high-volume shipping, every second counts. While some label printers operate at a speed of 30mm per second, others pump out labels five times faster, so keep that in mind when making your choice and look at the 10 best available. Also read about the best photo printer.