How we pick our products
Welcome to our big printer cable test 2023. Here we present all the printer cables we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.
We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best printer cable for you.
You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a printer cable.
- Printer cables establish a connection between a computer and a printer or multifunction printer.
- Printer cables are divided into parallel, serial, USB and adapter cables. Which cable is right for you depends on your connections to the PC and the printer.
- When using printer cables, you should make sure that they are long enough to avoid kinks or cracks and breakage.
The Best Printer cables in the United Kingdom: Our Choices
Guide: Questions to ask yourself before buying printer cable
What does a printer cable look like?
USB cables can be recognised by their familiar rectangular shape if they have a type A plug. A type B plug is usually approximately square.
An adapter cable is a combination of these connector types.
How long is a printer cable or how long should it be?
There are many different lengths of printer cables. They are available from a length of 20 cm up to a length of 15 to 20 m.
How long the cable should be depends on where the printer and computer are located. If the two are relatively close to each other, a short cable of less than 1 m is sufficient. If the two devices are further apart, you will need to use a longer cable.
What alternatives are there?
Connection via a LAN cable
A LAN cable can be used to connect a printer to a network. The connection is also called an Ethernet connection.
By connecting the printer to a network with the help of the LAN cable, several people can access this printer in the network. Since the printer is then available to several people as a network printer even without a WLAN connection, this connection variant is often used by companies in their offices.
Connection via WLAN
If you connect the printer to the WLAN, you can send print jobs to a computer that is in the same WLAN network, or the printer can send error messages to the PC, for example.
You can print wirelessly via a WLAN connection and are therefore not tied to a specific location.
Decision: What types of printer cables are there and which is right for you?
Printer cables are cables that can be used to establish a connection between a printing device and a computer. You can distinguish between four types:
- Parallel printer cables
- Serial printer cables
- USB printer cables
- Adapter cables
Depending on the type, these cables are used more or less frequently. In the following, we explain what the specifications of each type of cable are and what advantages and disadvantages they have. The type of cable you need depends mainly on the type of connection your printer or PC has.
What is a parallel printer cable?
A parallel printer cable is used to connect devices that have a parallel interface. This interface is rarely available nowadays, which is why parallel printer cables are also rarely needed and used.
When using a parallel interface, data is transmitted in parallel and not one after the other, hence the name. Synonymously used names for this cable or type of data transmission are LPT and IEEE 1284.
With the advent and spread of the USB interface, the use of the parallel interface declined. Some devices still have such an interface, but it usually remains unused, so that many manufacturers even omit it completely from modern devices.
The advantage of this cable over other cables is that it can be used up to a cable length of 10 m without any problems.
You usually only need such a parallel (printer) cable if you have a relatively old printer or computer. If only one of these two devices to be connected is somewhat older and therefore has a parallel interface, you should resort to an adapter.
Parallel printer cables are rarely used these days. You only need it if your printer or computer is relatively old.
What is a serial printer cable?
A serial cable connects devices with serial ports. These interfaces are also not so common nowadays.With a serial cable or a data transfer via serial interfaces, the data is transferred serially, i.e. one after the other. The interfaces are also called COM ports, especially under Windows.
This cable works up to a cable length of 4 metres. The special advantage of this cable is that it is protected against any kind of interference.You only need a serial (printer) cable, as with the parallel printer cable, if you have a relatively old device with just such an interface. Adapters are also available to connect an older device to a newer USB interface.
What is a USB cable?
The USB cable has become the standard cable for data transfer. There are many different types. However, we would only like to briefly discuss the most important ones here.
A USB connection basically also works with serial data transmission. There are various USB standards, each of which uses slightly different technology. The most common at present are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 or 3.1, whereby USB 3.0 is the successor to 2.0.
USB cables also differ in terms of their connectors. The most widespread are the type A and B plugs, but there are also type C and micro and mini USB plugs. The plugs differ in their shape.
For the connection between printer and computer, mostly only the type A and B plugs play a role.
A type A plug is the rectangular plug that most people know as a normal USB plug, for example USB sticks have such a plug. This type of plug is usually inserted into the host device, i.e. the device that is to send the data. In the case of printers and computers, this would be the computer.
A type B plug has a roughly square shape and is usually plugged into the receiving device, in this case the printing device.
The disadvantage of the USB printer cable is that it should not exceed a length of 5 m, because voltage is lost with a longer length. If you still need a longer cable, you should make do with an extending adapter cable.
USB cables are the standard printer cables nowadays. In most cases, a connection from a type A plug to a type B plug is required.
What is an adapter printer cable?
Adapter cables are designed to connect different printer cable connectors.
For example, they allow you to connect a serial or parallel port on an old printer to a USB port on a new computer.
Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate printer cables
In the following section, we explain the factors you can use to compare and evaluate printer cables. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular cable is suitable for you or not.
In summary, these are the following criteria:
- Cable type
- Cable length and weight
In the following, you can read what the individual purchase criteria mean and what to look out for.
To find out the right type of cable, you should take a closer look at the connections of your devices. Often, the description of the multifunction printer will tell you which connection it has and which cable you need.
- Depending on the age of the printer, the connections may vary. The user manual should state which type of cable is required for your printer. (Image source: pixabay.com / preci125/)
As a general rule, you can usually connect modern devices with a USB cable. If you have an older printer or computer, you may need to use a parallel or serial cable or an adapter.
Especially with adapter cables, you have to pay attention to which connections they have and which connections you need.
Regarding the connections of a UBS cable, it must be noted that they usually have a type A plug and a type B plug. However, there are also cables that have two identical plugs.
Parallel and serial cables usually have the same connector at both ends of the cable.
If not, it is an adapter. This usually has a USB type A plug at one end and a parallel or serial plug at the other.
Most printer cables are in plain colours. The cables themselves sometimes have a different colour than the plugs.
Printer cables are available in many different colour combinations. However, they are usually black, white, grey or transparent. Sometimes the plugs are a different colour than the cables themselves. If you want to keep your office and its equipment in a consistent colour, the design could be a decisive purchase criterion.
Different colours of cables can also help you distinguish which cable belongs to which device.
Cable length and weight
Cable length is an important criterion. The length you need depends on where the printer and computer are located. Before you buy just any cable, you should consider what length you need. If the printer is relatively close to the computer, a cable less than one metre long will suffice. If the two devices are further apart, you will need a longer cable.
Make sure that the cable is not pulled too tightly, is not pinched anywhere and is not kinked. For many, the weight of a cable may not be important, but for others it can be a relevant criterion.
Since a printer cable is usually permanently connected and thus has a fixed place, the cable does not have to be moved, which is why the weight plays a lesser role. However, for those who would like to transport such a cable, for example to take it to work or similar, the weight should be a relevant criterion.
Facts worth knowing about printer cables
How do I connect a printer cable?
Connecting a printer cable is actually relatively simple and should not be a problem even for technical laymen.
Simply plug the cable into the socket provided on the printer and connect it to the correct port on the computer. As soon as the printer is connected to the PC, a driver usually has to be installed. This often works automatically. Once the driver is installed, you can start printing.
Can I use my old printer cable for my new printer?
If the new printer has the same connection for data transfer as the old one, it is possible to continue using the cable.
You should check if the connection of the cable fits to your new printer. You should also check that the old cable is still in good condition. For example, it should not have any kinks or cracks and it should not be too dusty so that it still functions optimally and safely. If these conditions are met, there should be no obstacles to reuse.
What should I do if the printer cable no longer works?
If a printer cable no longer works properly and no longer transmits data correctly, slowly or not at all, this does not necessarily mean that the cable is defective and must be thrown away. It can also be due to dirt, dust or the printer software.
To check whether the cable is defective or not, you can follow these steps:
- Turn off the printer or multifunction device and unplug all cables.
- Check the cables for dust and dirt.
- If you find dust or dirt, remove it by blowing on it or using a dry (not damp or wet!) cotton swab.
- Also check the connection itself and clean it if necessary.
- Also check that you have plugged the cable into the correct socket and that there are no kinks in the cable or anything on it.
When you have checked all the points in this checklist, you can reconnect the cable. If it still does not work, it is either the software or the cable is really defective. If it is the software, you will usually get an error message with instructions on the PC. If the cable is defective, the only option is to buy a new one.
Picture source: flickr.com / Marc Pont