Which Thermal Label Printer Should I Buy?

October 9, 2018

ShipStation is all about efficiency. Which comes in handy as the holiday rush ramps up. This is the time of year to make order fulfillment as streamlined as possible. And one way to fulfill orders even more effortlessly is to invest in a thermal label printer.

The initial cost may be a bit higher than you’d pay for a standard laser printer, but this can be offset over time. There’s not even any toner cartridges to replace. It simply uses thermal heat transfer to print everything out! You can even use fanfold labels instead of label rolls. Unlike label rolls, they feed directly into the printer to drive your cost per label down even further!

If you are looking for a recommendations on a laser printer, check out these great recommendations from The Wire Cutter and TechRadar.


ShipStation’s Thermal Label Printer Picks

If you’re in the market for a new printer, we’ve got a couple of suggestions: The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL & Zebra ZD420. These are models we’ve either tested, used around the office, or have been praised by users. All three work with both Windows or Mac computers and work seamlessly with ShipStation Connect. Read about each model’s specs below.



DYMO LabelWriter 4XL

The DYMO LabelWriter® 4XL is one of the most well-known thermal label printer be e-commerce sellers. It’s a breeze to set up and unlike most other label printers, label misalignment is not an issue that you will likely encounter. It produces crisp, clear labels every time.


  • The most user-friendly thermal label printer that we recommend
  • Doesn’t require you to calibrate the printer to realign the labels.
  • DYMO 4XL print quality rivals that of the Zebra ZD series.


  • Slowest print speed
  • Doesn’t support fan-fold labels
  • Is restricted to specific label rolls (must have perforations between each label)


Zebra ZD420 Direct Thermal Printer

The Zebra ZD420 is a workhorse of a printer. It is a bit more pricey than the DYMO, but it can be fine-tuned to print exactly to your preferences. It also is a bit more powerful and initiate print jobs more quickly. So if you’re using something like Scan To Print, it can print out the labels as quickly as you can create them. If you are looking for something that can handle the pressure of printing labels all day, the Zebra ZD420 may be the best thermal label printer for you. Unlike the other two models being reviewed, the ZD420 also supports wireless and bluetooth connectivity. (Note: Though Zebra no longer manufactures the GK series printers, they are still great printers that we also highly recommend.)


  • Quickest at sending print jobs to printer
  • Supports fanfold labels
  • Prints clearly at top speed, making it more ideal if you’re a high-volume seller


  • More expensive (typically around $365)
  • More involved setup process
  • Standard Zebra driver is not ideal when printing shipping shipping labels on PC. We’ve found it works best with the third-party Seagull Scientific Driver
  • Currently, ShipStation doesn’t support the model’s wireless printing technology. You would need to use ShipStation Connect to accomplish this.

Side-By-Side Comparison


DYMO LabelWriter 4XL

Zebra ZD420 Thermal Printer

Label Types Supported

Only supports DYMO-specific label rolls

Supports both rolled and Fanfold labels

Setup Difficulty

Easiest setup, however offers the least customization

Setup is very detailed, but allows for greater customization

Print Speed

88mm per second

152mm per second

Print Resolution

Max. Resolution

300 dpi

Max. Resolution

203 dpi

Bottom Line

DYMO LabelWriter 4XLs are the easiest label printers to set up, but only allow certain labels.

Zebras are ideal if you want a more customizable experience, but are better suited for larger volume (50+ shipments a day).






Where to Buy




PC Nation

*Works best if kept under 100mm per second




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