We’ve tested this print engine of Brother’s twice before, in a standalone printer (HL-2140) and a business multifunction, with all the extras for fax and wireless connection (MFC-7840W). This machine, although simpler in design, shares very similar performance with these other models.
Brother claims print speeds of up to 22ppm for the DCP-7030, but the test machine took 22 seconds on each of our five-page test documents – straight text and text with business graphics. This equates to 13.6ppm, some way off the quoted figure.
We normally assume the manufacturer’s quoted speeds are derived from print tests in draft mode, but Brother doesn’t include a draft mode, as such, in the driver. We tried reducing the resolution to 300dpi, turning on toner save mode and selecting Office Document (ie no graphics) as the print type, but this made no noticeable difference to the speed we saw.
A single page, A4 copy took just 12 seconds, which gives the machine a copy speed of 5ppm, a bit faster on larger copy jobs. That’s pretty good going for a digital, laser printer-based device, particularly one costing under £120. The time to print a 15 x 10cm photo, 14 seconds, is also impressive for a machine in this price band.
Print quality, as from the other machines using this engine, is very good, with clean black text showing no signs of spatter or other print irregularities. Even small point sizes look clean and evenly printed, using the printer’s default resolution of 600dpi.
Moving onto greyscale graphics still shows the machine as capable of clean, smooth output, clearly defined and with good registration of black over grey. The test photo print reinforced this opinion, as areas of grey showed little sign of banding. There was some loss of detail in shadow areas, but generally the photos would be good enough for general use in office documents.
The only drop-off in print quality is when copying documents with areas of greyscale fill. The greys then start to look very patchy and not nearly as regular as the originals from which they’re taken.
There are just two costs to running the DCP-7030: toner and the drum unit. Using the high-capacity toner cartridge, which should provide 2,600 ISO pages, and the 12,000 page drum gives a page cost of 2.83p, which sits in the middle of the range for mono laser print.
This is a very serviceable multifunction printer, built around a solid print engine that should give good service without costing the earth to run. Print quality is excellent for a laser printer in this price range and maintenance is commendably simple. A complete multifunction printer for SOHO use at just over £100 has to be a good buy and the DCP-7030 matches up to several, more expensive devices.