Samsung rates the ML-4050ND at 38ppm printing on A4 paper, which is fast. Needless to say, we didn't see these speeds under our test regime. Our five-page text print took 19 seconds, which is a speed of 15.8ppm and on the 20-page document it returned 26.7ppm. Our five-page text and graphics print gave 13.6ppm.
These speeds are all quite reasonable for this class of printer, though not as fast as we might have expected, given the usual markdowns from claimed to actual results.
The printer has a built-in duplexer and uses a good interleaving technique to increase the speed of any two-sided print job. It takes in two sheets at a time and interleaves printing of the second side of one with the first side of the next. Printing our 20-page document as a 10-side duplex job finished in 1min 6secs, a speed of 18.2 sides per minute.
Although we always measure print times with printers in a ready state, not in any form of sleep or suspend, this was more tricky with the Samsung machine, as it falls into sleep mode after only around 30 seconds, by default. It takes a while to wake from sleep too. While a quicker time to sleep mode reduces the printer’s energy use and running costs, it also means you’re more likely to have to wait for it to warm up.
The default print resolution of the machine is 600dpi, though it can print at up to 1,200dpi, when set. Print quality is good, with dark, clear text and no sign of spatter to upset the appearance.
Toner-save print is lighter than normal, but still eminently readable and would be fine for most documentation. It doesn't increase the speed of print but should save you quite a bit of toner.
Graphics print is quite smooth, but there aren't enough greyscales to cope with a wide variety of different colour shades in an original. Several of the fills in our test document came out with very similar greys, where other mono printers differentiated them more.
The photo print was much darker than it should have been and a lot of definition was lost. You can, of course, adjust for this, but in an office environment, most people just print.
The drum and toner cartridge is available in 10,000-page and 20,000-page versions and given the comparatively small increase in price of the high-yield component, we would recommend using this, if possible. It gives a cost per page of 1.6p, including 0.7p for paper, which we've seen bettered by few printers, bar the occasional Kyocera Mita.
The ML-4050ND must be a strong candidate for anybody in the market for a robust, hard-working, workgroup laser printer. It's fast, and can handle a decent amount of paper in one go, even without the copious paper tray options. Print quality is generally good – though graphics are less so – and running costs are better than most in its class.