Dell claims 16ppm for this machine printing black and 12ppm printing colour. As usual we didn’t see these kinds of speeds, but you might get there printing in draft mode. Our five-page text document took 41 seconds and the corresponding text and colour graphics test, surprisingly, took two seconds less than this. An extended, 20-page document, took 1:56.
These times give real-world print speeds of 7.32ppm, 7.69ppm and 10.34ppm, respectively, none of which is bad, but nor are they that close to the manufacturer’s claims.
The 600dpi printed output is good in black, with well-formed characters and no spatter. Colours are bright and smooth, though there’s some haloing from poorly registered black text over coloured backgrounds. A colour photocopy did well at matching the saturation levels of the original, though the hue of some of the copy colours changed a little.
Photo reproduction gave over-intense colours, though the effective 2,400dpi resolution ensures smooth images with reasonable levels of detail.
As well as the toner cartridges, which are available in two different capacities, you’ll have to replace the imaging drum every 24,000 pages. The printer is supplied with a 2,500 page black toner and 1,000 page colour toners, but when replacing them, you can buy the high-capacity 2,500 page consumable for colour, too.
Using these higher capacity toners and Dell’s price for the imaging drum gives costs per page of 2.86p for black and 9.06p for colour. Both these prices fall in the middle of the range for colour laser machines in this price band, so you won’t be paying over the odds if you go the Dell route.
The choice to feed paper from the front of this multifunction has meant a number of departures from standard colour laser design. Tucking the toner cartridges round the side makes maintenance a bit more awkward but, generally, this is a good alternative to most of its competitors. At around £350, it’s not that cheap for a device offering the relatively modest speeds it does, but print quality is fair and it does have fax built-in.