Review: Inside The HP 97 Tri-Color (Color) Inkjet Print Cartridge (C9363W) – Cracked Open

Inside the HP 97 Tri-Color (Color) Ink Cartridge:

Retail price for the HP 97 tri-color ink cartridge.

Retail price ( for the HP 97 tri-color (color) ink cartridge.

A good cartridge from HP, but alas, it only works in a very few printers.  Another illustration why it is important to know the cartridge, before you get to fond of a particular printer.  The HP 97 is a good value cartridge – it contains a good amount of ink, is easily refilled, and compatibles are readily available.  Look for printers that use this cartridge to avoid getting ripped off on cost per page.

Hewlett Packard (HP) inkjet print cartridge HP 97 tri-color, color, opened up to expose internal structure

Internal structure of the HP 97 ink cartridge.


Color: Tri-Color (Color)
Part Number: (C9363W), HP 97
Ink Type: Dye based color ink
Ink Volume: 14ml
Page Yield: 460 pages – or 160 photos (a different HP estimate of 560 pages)

Ink Drop Size: 5pl

Retail price: $39.99
Street price: $33.99

* that 460 page estimate is (impressive) from HP and based on 5% coverage (see what 5% coverage really looks like) – needless to say, manufacturer estimates are on the “high side.”

This is probably the best “value” color cartridge (of this type) HP has to offer.  Current printers do not take advantage of this cartridge.

This cartridge is often paired with the HP 96 black inkjet print cartridge (which we cracked open here), or the (smaller) HP 94 black inkjet print cartridge.

Hewlett packard (HP) 97 color ink cartridge for the HP photosmart and deskjet inkjet print cartridge

Notice how the sponges are saturated to the top. This means they are "full" of ink.

For Refillers:

Refilling is easy if you know where to fill.  There are five (5) holes in the cartridge lid.  As you can see from the other images, there are three (3) different chambers, one for each color. Also, keep in mind that the holes are already there on this cartridge, no need for drilling. Refill kits can be a hassle, but are worth it if you are on a tight budget.  This cartridge is very easy to refill.

Refill hole locations for the HP 97 ink cartridge

Refill hole locations for the HP 97 ink cartridge. Holes are there, no need to drill.

Contact! – Contact!

These solder points, or contacts help make up the print head.  Printers that use these types of cartridges do not have an internal print head – rather the print head is located on the cartridges themselves.  If print quality declines to the point where the cartridge is no longer usable, simply try another cartridge (it’s like getting a new printer).  If your cartridge cannot be recognized, give the contacts a quick clean with a damp cloth, or other device and try again.  If the contacts are harmed, the cartridge may not function at all.

Hewlett Packard (HP) 97 inkjet print cartridge print head contacts

Cartridge can become un-usable if contacts are damaged.

The Print Head:

Unlike Epson, which makes the printhead part of the printer, Hewlett Packard (HP) puts the print head technology on the cartridge (for most of their consumer printers).  This means every time you buy a new cartridge, it’s like getting a new printer.  This is why these type of HP printers (that use this cartridge style) last forever in our opinion.  As long as the mechanics of the printer keep working it will last forever since the print head can simply be replaced by installing a new cartridge into the printer.

Not all HP printers and cartridges use this style (print head on the cartridge) of build, but a large majority of the ones you will find at Wal-Mart, Target, and other discount (online) retailers use these cartridges.

Notice the 2D UPC code on the print head ribbon.

Hewlett Packard (HP) 97 ink cartridge print head.

This HP 97 ink cartridge can become un-useable if the print head is damaged or becomes clogged.

Is this an embedded expiration date?

Yet another 2D UPC code on the outside front of the cartridge.  So that is 3 total on a single cartridge.  If (HP) Hewlett Packard went to the trouble of putting them on there, you can bet they are there for a reason.  HP claims there is no built-in “self-destruct” expiration date for their cartridges.  Read more about it here…

Hewlett packard (HP) 97 ink cartridge expiration date silkscreened on the cartridge itself.

HP 97 ink cartridge expiration date. On the actual cartridge itself.

Compatible with:

Specifications for the HP 97 inkjet print cartridge here:

Information about page yields here:,st=cartridge,ss=97

Overall this is a decent cartridge choice.  As mentioned earlier, it contains a good amount of ink, is easily refilled, and compatibles are readily available.  Look for printers that use this cartridge to avoid getting ripped off on cost per page.  If your printer can use this cartridge, you should buy it.

Compare prices here.


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