Now for that speed claim, which has to be the main factor in Epson putting a retail price of over £2,500 on the AcuLaser M8000N - still over £2,100 at Internet prices. There's little doubt this is a fast printer. Our five-page text print completed in 17 seconds and the text and graphics print even quicker than that, in just 14 seconds. This equates to a speed of 21.4ppm, but when we moved to a 20-page document, the speed rose by almost a third to 30.8ppm.
Okay, this isn't the rated 44ppm, but it's still one of the fastest printers we've tested. Even when printing a 15 x 10cm photo image, at the printer's highest quality and resolution, a page came through in nine seconds, which is impressive. A3 prints, as you might expect, take longer than A4, but a five-page A3 text print still completed in 24 seconds, which is 12.5ppm.
The quality of the prints this machine produced is also very high, with crisp, clean text looking almost like letterpress, thanks to the machine's default resolution of 1,200dpi.
Greyscale graphics are also good, though there's some sign of banding in some of the tones. This is also apparent in high quality mode when printing photo images and can be quite distracting in areas of smooth tone, such as sky. Detail in this mode is pretty good, but bear in mind it has to be specifically set, as the default mode prints at a much lower resolution, leaving the whole of the graphic looking as if it's covered in fine chicken wire.
Epson runs a return programme, where it offers a considerable reduction in the price of a cartridge, if you undertake to return the empty and not try to have it refilled. There's a high-yield product also advertised, but this turns out to be two of the 15,000-page cartridges in a single box.
This is the cheapest way to buy consumables, though, and using the cheapest prices we could find gives a cost per A4 page of 1.59p, including 0.7p for paper. While this is good, it's not the lowest cost on the block and comparing it with the Kyocera Mita FS-1350DN, which we tested recently, you're paying more to run this machine.
In fact, it's well worth reading the review of the Kyocera Mita machine alongside this one and comparing feature sets, speed and most especially the prices of both machines.
What it comes down to is whether you'd rather pay over £2,100 for an A3 laser printer which can print a 20-page A4 document in 39 seconds and a five-page A3 document in 24 seconds, or under £900 for one which takes 55 and 40 seconds, but can also print duplex and costs 0.26p per page less to run. If you really need the extra speed, we guess you have to consider the AcuLaser M8000N, but it looks like an excessive premium to us.