Override HP Smart Chip on Toner Cartridges


I just stumbled across the answer of how to easily get around the
problem of some of HP's newer printers forcing a cartridge change when
the print quality still looks good.

First, a little background for those who may not be aware of the
On some of HP's printers (for example, mine is a Color Laserjet
4600dn), the toner cartridges include a "smart chip" or are called
"intelligent cartridges". That allows the cartridge to keep track of
how many pages have been printed on it and provide estimates of
remaining pages and suggest when you should reorder cartridges and
snazzy stuff like that. Well, as I and other owners of these printers
have painfully found out, these "smart chips" are more of a pain than a
help. As soon as the printer decides that the cartridge is empty, it
refuses to print any more pages with it, even if in reality there is a
lot of toner left.

The solution I have just found, at least on the 4600, is to go into the
menus on the front panel and under the "Diagnostics" menu, select
"Disable Cartridge Check". Although that menu option is mentioned in
the user manual, it is never once mentioned as a way to get around the
cartridge limits. That was conveniently left out of the manual.
Officially, it is intended to allow you to run the printer with one or
more cartridges removed so you can determine which of the four
cartridges is leaving streaks, etc. But, it works quite well to get
around the toner limits and everything else works exactly as normal, at
least for what I've done so far.

The down sides of running with that option are:
1) None of the cartridge life information is available while in that
mode, so the printer will not prompt you to order new cartridges, etc.
I'm not sure whether the usage is internally still tracked in that mode
or not. In other words, if you put in a new cartridge, Disable
Cartridge Check, then run off 8,000 pages, then exit the Disable
Cartridge Check mode, I'm not sure whether the cartridge will display
as full or empty.
2) When print quality truly does become a problem due to low toner or
worn drum, you'll have to catch it manually rather than the printer
automatically stopping the job.

I know there are also replacement smart chips available, usually from
places that offer toner refills, so that you can continue to use a
refilled cartridge. They're usually available separately, so using one
of those, even if you don't actually do a refill, should be another
option, although I haven't tried it. Disable Cartridge Check is
cheaper and easier!

I know HP certainly doesn't go out of their way to let people know
about that option, so I wanted to post it here for those who are
interested. In some situations, like if you rarely use one particular
color, that option could save you many hundreds of dollars over time.