Even though this is a comparatively inexpensive printer, Brother claims a top print speed of 30ppm. We ran both our five-page and 20-page text documents and produced speeds of 17.64ppm and 23.53ppm, respectively. The second speed in particular is unusually close to the claimed throughput and is very respectable for a machine in this class.
Printing text and graphics is slower than straight text print, but we still saw 13.64ppm from our five-page test print. Switching to duplex and printing the 20-page text document as a 10 page, 20-side job produced a speed of 12.5 sides per minute or 6.25 pages per minute. This is roughly half the speed of an equivalent single-sided job and is close to what you would expect.
Our top-resolution photo print took an extended 28 seconds to complete, but printing at 1,200dpi quality brought the time down to 12 seconds and printing at 600dpi knocked another two seconds off it, for a 10 second print.
Comparing the three different photo prints shows a surprising result, as there's very little to choose between them. The HL-5340D does well in all three, with surprisingly good shadow detail, something you don't often see in a mono print. There's also good detail in light areas of the image and smooth gradations of grey in the sky of our test image. There's very little sign of any banding and the only real frustration is an obvious dot pattern, when you look closely at any of the photos.
As we said, there's a choice of two different toner cartridges and, using the higher capacity 8,000 page cartridge, you should only need to change the drum once for every three toner cartridge changes. When we worked through the costs, we got a figure of 1.79p per page, including 0.7p paper cost. This is a good figure for a mono laser printer at this price and is usually only found on machines costing £100 or so more than this Brother.
The HL-5340D is a great, day-to-day workhorse of a printer for the home or small office and offers reliable printing at low-cost, from a machine which has a purchase price a good deal lower than some of its rivals. Its built-in duplex print is a useful extra, and you can make significant paper savings by setting the machine to default to double-sided print. There's really nothing major you can level against this printer, which even manages to get reasonably close to the print speeds Brother quotes for it.