Brother claims a top speed of 30ppm for the MFC-8880DN and we normally approach these headline figures with caution. Here, however, we saw a top speed of over 26ppm on our 20-page text print, which is closer than usual to the figure on the spec sheet.
On five-page prints, which are likely to be more common, we still saw 16.7ppm, which is a good speed for this class of laser. It produced the same speed on straight text and text and graphics pages and when we turned on toner save, the nearest equivalent to draft mode.
Duplex print gave 12.8 sides per minute and a 10-side, 5-page duplex copy took 1:20, a very passable speed. A single page, single-sided copy from the flatbed took 10s and a 5-page, single-sided copy from the ADF took 19s. A 15 x 10cm photo took 10s from a PC and a full A4 photo from a USB drive recorded 29s. These are all good speeds and one reason to consider paying a bit more for this machine.
Print quality is very good with sharp, well-formed text from the 1,200dpi print engine. Even in toner save mode, it's very readable and duplex print doesn't show through standard multiuse paper any more than normal.
The only slight let down is when copying greyscale graphics. Greyscale prints are fine, with little sign of banding and smooth reproduction of grey fills. There aren't quite enough shades of grey to do justice to different colours in an original, though, and a copy of this output produces some weird, patchy fills which don't look attractive. However, photo prints are better than from many mono laser printers and would be quite suitable, for example, for printing views on house particulars.
Running costs are low. Pricing the drum and toner consumables together at the best rates we could find, gives a cost per ISO page of 2.2p, including 0.7p for paper. This kind of cost, and the relatively long life of both drum and toner, mean the total cost of ownership is better than from some of its rivals.
The Brother MFC-8880DN is a proper office workhorse, which can handle all the main functions well. The bonus of being able to use duplex print and copy to save paper costs is welcome and the only real blot in the Brother’s copybook is its rather messy reproduction of greyscales in copies. This aside, it's a very good all-rounder.