Dell doesn't make dramatic speed claims for the C2130cn, quoting 20ppm for black print and 16ppm for colour. Even so, we didn't get close to these speeds during our tests. Our five-page black text document, printed with the printer warm from a previous print, still took 32 seconds, which is 9.38ppm, less than half of the claimed speed. On a 20-page document, this increased to 13.63ppm, but this is still less than two thirds of the claimed speed.
The printer claims it is ‘calibrating', though we suspect this is a euphemism for warming up, before starting to print, and this process can take up to 20 seconds. Printing a five-page black text and colour graphics document took 29 seconds, a speed of 10.34ppm, slightly quicker because of the reduced rasterisation time.
We finished our tests with a 15 x 10cm colour photo, which took 19 seconds and produces a reasonable image, with fairly accurate colours and some shadow detail, though also some slight micro-banding in areas of sky. Not bad for a photo print from a laser, though.
The quality of other prints is satisfactory, too, with bright areas of solid colour in business graphics, though less than perfect registration of black text over the top. Text itself is clean and sharp; exactly what is needed in a good business printer.
In addition to the toner cartridges, which are available in two capacities of 1,000 and 2,500 pages, the drum unit will need replacing every 24,000 pages. Dell makes very little mention of this in either the specification on its site or in the consumables price list and tries to claim it as a spare. Since you'll need to replace it after only 10 sets of the high-yield cartridges, it should be more forthright.
Working through the calculations gives a cost for an ISO black page of 3.4p and for an ISO colour page this rises to 11.5p. These costs are very reasonable for a colour laser printer in this price range, though we have seen lower black print costs from some of its competitors.
Since the 2130cn uses the same print engine as Lexmark's C543dn it produces very similar results. Print quality is on a par, page costs are within a fraction of a penny and even the asking price is within £40. However, the Lexmark machine has a duplexer fitted as standard and this is where we feel the Dell cube is let down. Resistance, in this case, might not be futile.