Lexmark quotes 20ppm for both black and colour print from this machine. We got quite close to this with our 20-page print, clocking up 16.4ppm, though the shorter, 5-page document only recorded 10.0ppm. A 15 x 10 cm colour photo on an A4 sheet printed in 31s. Subjectively, the printer seems quick and this is supported by its surprisingly quiet mechanism, when printing or copying.
Copying speeds are reasonable and the machine doesn't require a long time to warm up before starting to print. We saw a single-page colour copy completing in 22s and our five-page black text document copied in an impressive 31s.
An interesting feature of the X543dn is that it has a duplexer built-in as standard, unusual for a colour, laser multifunction. Two-sided print is handled almost entirely internally, so pages arrive at the rear tray fully printed. Our 20-side, 10-page text print took 2:08, which gives a duplex speed of 9.4spm, a very reasonable throughput for this class of workgroup machine.
The printed output quality suggests the machine has been designed very much for conventional business use. Black text is dense, sharp and very easy to read at its 1,200dpi resolution. Colour graphics are some of the richest we've seen from a laser, though by default tones come through rather dark. These colours are ideal for graphs, charts and other business graphics.
Where they fall down is in printing photographic material, which comes through looking heavily filtered or touched-up, with primary colours. Doubtless, you could modify these by tweaking the images before print, but by default they look rather garish.
Consumables are marketed in a slightly strange way, with two yields of toner cartridge, two different imaging packs, which contain either just a black drum or drums for all four colours, and a separate waste toner bottle. They all require changing at different frequencies, so maintenance costs will be a little higher than those printers with integrated drum and toner cartridges.
At the best prices we could find, we calculate a black page to cost 3.6p and a colour page to cost 13.9p, both including 0.7p for paper. The black page cost is reasonable, but nearly 14p for a colour page is quite a bit more than from some of its rivals.
Lexmark’s X543dn is a novel machine, which prints quite quickly and offers duplex print as standard. Useful expansion via an optional paper tray mitigates against a slightly meagre 250-sheet standard provision. Printed output is ideal for attention-grabbing business documents, but too bright for those containing photos. Running costs, particularly for colour, are high.