The 5330dn is rated at 50ppm, one of the highest speeds of any machine we’ve tested, but only if it reaches the figure in the spec. Our five-page document took 18 seconds to complete, which equates to a speed of 16.7ppm, exactly a third of the rated figure.
Printing in draft mode was only marginally quicker, increasing the speed to 17.7ppm, but when we printed in normal mode on our longer, 20-page job, the speed increased to 34.3ppm. While this is still quite a bit slower than Dell rates the printer, it's still among the fastest machines we've tested.
Duplex print is standard on this machine and printing our 20-page document on both sides of the paper took 49 seconds, giving a speed of 24.5ppm. This is again a good speed, well up with the best we’ve seen and a good reason to print most documents duplex.
The normal resolution of the printer is 600dpi, but it can also print at 1,200dpi and from our tests, there's little difference in print speed. Our 15 x 10cm photo on an A4 sheet took nine seconds at both resolutions, and although the dot pattern in the 600dpi version is slightly more noticeable, both are quite acceptable for general-purpose use.
Banding is a bit more obvious in the lower resolution version but, if anything, shadow detail is better. Variations in greys are reasonably smooth and there's good contrast.
Greyscale graphics are also well reproduced, though as with several mono laser printers we’ve tested recently, some colours are converted to very similar greyscales, making it hard to distinguish between them.
Black text is clean, though a little light on the page, but is ideal for general-purpose business correspondence. Draft mode text is very similar and you don't lose a lot of quality if you set this machine to print draft by default.
The two combined drum and toner cartridges, rated at 10,000 and 20,000 pages, cost £106 and £159, respectively from Dell, so the cost per page with the high-capacity cartridge comes out at 1.6p, including 0.7p for paper. It's unusual to see a cost per page of less than 2p and, although we've seen costs as low as 1.2p, from the Kyocera Mita FS-3920DN, this is still a very economic printer to run.
You always do pay a lot for high-speed print, but Dell’s price of £739 for the 5330dn doesn't buy quite the throughput the spec sheet implies. A top speed of 34.3ppm is still very impressive, though, and the print quality doesn't suffer because of the high speed. Fast duplex print is a bonus and the expandability of the machine is another. Shop around, though, and you can find it for cheaper.