600 dpi vs 300 dpi. What is dpi?

600 dpi vs 300 dpi. What is dpi?

Before we can get into the difference between 600 dpi and 300 dpi, I think a good place to start is clarifying ‘what is dpi?’ DPI stands for dots per inch and the more dots per inch the higher the print resolution. In short, a 300 dpi ID card printer can print 300 dots per inch of ID card space, but a 600 dpi ID card printer can print double that amount and thus produce a higher quality print.

However, a higher quality print is not always required, and we would always encourage our customers to think about which print resolution would best fit their ID card printing needs.

What benefits does 600dpi offer over 300dpi?

Due to the enhanced quality 600dpi is commonly used for Government and Corporate applications. Usually where fine detail and high security applications are critical. 600dpi ID card printers offer:

  • Higher definition
    • No scale effect
    • Better character edge definition
  • Micro-text capability
    • Invisible without a lens to offer enhanced security
  • Finer detail
    • Enhanced design options for richer drawings
    • Potential for invisible security embedded within pictures
  • Exceptional Image Quality
    • Enhanced depth, contrast, and brightness

What are the best 300dpi printing options? 

Firstly, it comes down to the expected quality from your print finish and the anticipated cost per print you are looking for. If you are requiring a more intricate design with a professional finish we would automatically recommend a 600dpi Retransfer ID card printer 

Commonly we find the 300dpi direct to card printers (DTC) are more than adequate for those requiring a cost-effective print solution with high print speed, lower cost per print and not dictated by intricate designs and imagery. This can often be seen in smaller businesses where the print demands are more ad-hoc and schools and colleges where print demands are high, but quality and detail are not paramount.  

However, the market offers a number of 300dpi Retransfer ID card printers. Retransfer printing offers an alternative for those looking for improved finishes not available on DTC 300dpi printers such as over-the-edge printing (learn more about the differences here), improved durability, reduced fraudulent potential and flexibility to print on access control cards. Retransfer printing at 300dpi is often well suited for National ID cards, Resident permits, driver’s licenses, and tachograph cards.  

Our recommended 300dpi ID card printers  

Matica MC DTC Series (MC110, MC210, MC310) 

Key Stats:

  • Direct-to-card single and dual sided printer
  • 100 input capacity
  • Full colour print

Best Features:

  • User friendly, ‘plug & print’ operation
  • Upgradable from single to Dual-sided
  • Encoding options


Zebra ZC DTC Range  (ZC100, ZC300 and ZC350)


Key Stats: 

  • Direct-to-card single sided printer (dual option for ZC300 and ZC350) 
  • 100 input card hopper 
  • USB, ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity 

Best Features: 

  • Ultra-slim design that fits anywhere 
  • Easy to set up with no configuration required 
  • Simple user interface makes printing a breeze 

Matica XID 8300 

Key Stats: 

  • Retransfer single or Dual-side printing  
  • Lockable 200 input card hopper  
  • Multiple encoding options  

Best Features: 

  • User friendly, ‘plug & print’ operation 
  • Compatible lamination module  
  • Prints over the edge designs on plastic cards  

When would I require 600 dpi printing? 

600 dpi is not often available with Direct-to-card printers. However, 600 dpi is more commonly seen with retransfer printers. This is largely due to demand for a DTC printer at 600dpi and the limited number of applications that would require this quality of print. 

As mentioned earlier in the article 600dpi is often used for applications were fine detail and high security applications is critical. 

Why should I choose 600dpi over 300dpi? 

Most customers choosing to print 600dpi over 300dpi are either card bureaus or system integrators looking to add additional built in VSE (visual security elements) to their government ID application; such as national ID cards or driving licences. The card bureau clients choosing 600dpi are looking to produce short run card jobs at the highest possible quality, to try and match that quality of a digital press or litho print quality from a production process. Often this is done to offer customers a faster turnaround at a competitive price.  

Whilst 300dpi is sufficient for most card bureaus, the 600dpi allows the card bureau to offer additional security levels not often available on a 300dpi printer. It is also advisable if you are looking for the best print quality possible, to choose a retransfer card printer, as this type of product offers a high-definition print quality and design for high volume production. We would recommend either the Matica XID8600 or Matica MC660 which are both 600dpi retransfer card printers. 

Is DTC (direct-to-card) 600 dpi printing the same quality as retransfer 600dpi printing? 

There isn’t a significant difference between the 600dpi DTC ID printer and the Retransfer ID card printer. However, the DTC and Retransfer ID card printer follow different print methods and as a result create a different print finish. Our product guide explaining edge to edge (DTC) v over the edge (Retransfer) explains the print quality and difference between retransfer and DTC.  

Further to the print finish it needs to be noted that DTC only prints on PVC plastic cards, however retransfer ID card printers can print on PVC, PET and ABS to name but a few. Therefore, it’s worth considering what plastic ID cards you wish to use prior to buying your 600dpi ID card printer. 

What is 600dpi Pigment ink and is that as good as dye sublimation technology? 

Retransfer printing with Pigment ink delivers quality printing. When combined with the retransfer printing process, 600dpi colour pigment ink technology can produce higher quality images with true colour that matches the image on the computer screen. Furthermore, the pigment ink creates UV fade-resistant cards that does not diminish at the same rate of typical dye sublimation printing.  

The Entrust CR805 ID Card Printer uses this innovative technology and creates ID card with brilliant colour and image quality, as well as providing ID card longevity.  

To learn more, look at the whitepaper by Entrust here.  

Need more advice? 

Contact us – Each member of our friendly team has a vast amount of knowledge on the topic if ID card software and would be delighted to offer you some no-obligation advice. 

The Top 20 ID card printers of 2023– Struggling to decide on which printer is right for you? A great place to start is our list of the best ID printers of 2023. 

What is Edge-To-Edge and Over-The-Edge printing? – This guide breaks down the difference between ETE and OTE printers and why this is a key consideration for buyers. 

Where to print ID cards – Another key question for potential ID printer buyers is whether they should invest in the printer in-house or outsource printing to a third party. 

Cards-X offer a comprehensive selection of printers from the world’s finest manufacturers, as well as a low-price promise across our range. We can also offer a next day delivery service and free delivery on all orders over £250.