Dell quotes speeds of 33ppm for black print and 30ppm for colour on the P513w. Even if these are draft mode specs, you shouldn’t expect to get more than a quarter of this speed in real-life. Our draft mode test returned 7.5ppm and in normal mode, the same 5-page document gave 5.5ppm. The five page text and colour graphics test gave 3.7ppm.
The printer takes around 20s before starting any print job, a bit longer than with similar rivals. On a longer, 20-page document, the speed increased to 6.3ppm, but is still not in the same league as Dell’s claims. The printer handles duplex print and the same 20-page document returned 3.8 sides per minute, printing double-sided.
A colour copy took 41s and 15 x 10cm photos completed in 47s, both very respectable times.
Print quality is also above average, with surprisingly sharp black text, even in draft mode. Draft text could easily be used for general-purpose documents, as it’s close to normal mode, just lighter.
Colour graphics are solid, though not quite as vibrant as from some other inkjets at similar prices and a colour copy looks a little patchy in comparison with the original. Photos are well reproduced, with good colours and high levels of detail in light and dark areas.
There are two factors which spoil an otherwise high-valuer printer: The cartridges are expensive and they don’t hold much ink. Although they’re available in standard and high-yield versions, even the high-yield cartridges only give 360 black pages and 340 colour ones, at costs of £25 and £30 each.
Using the high-yield cartridges gives page costs of 7.8p for ISO black and 16.6p for ISO colour, which are higher than any inkjet we’ve tested in the last year. They buck the trend to lower ink costs that most other makers are following and since Dell is the only supplier of its ink cartridges, there’s little scope for shopping around for a better deal.
This is an interesting machine to compare with the Kodak ESP C310, which costs the same to buy. The Dell P513w is better equipped, with duplex print as standard and a front-panel USB socket. It’s also quicker, but where it really falls down is in running costs. The Kodak costs 1.9p and 4.6p for black and colour A4 pages; this Dell costs 7.8p and 16.6p. You pay your money…in this case lots of money for ink.