As we’ve often said, you pay heavily for speed in a printer and the 3330dn is certainly a fast machine. It’s rated at 38ppm and while we didn’t see quite that speed, it did manage over 30ppm on our 20-page text print, 30.77ppm, in fact. Part of this excellent result is due to the very fast start-up time, where pages start to flow after about seven seconds.
Shorter documents aren’t quite as quick, but we still saw our five-page text print appear in 17 seconds (17.65ppm) and the five-page text and graphics job finish in 16 seconds (18.75ppm). Printing our 20-page document in duplex mode also saw a healthy result of 16.67 sides per minute, so for most work you could set this printer to duplex by default. A 15 x 10cm photo at the highest, 1,200dpi print quality, completed in 29 seconds, though it’s faster at the default 600dpi resolution.
Text print is virtually faultless, with almost letterpress quality characters looking crisp and very professional. There’s no sign of any spatter or jagged edges to curves and diagonals.
Greyscale tones are also very good, with minimal banding and a good range of different greys, so even quite subtle colour shades in an original can be differentiated from its mono output. Detail levels are also good in our photo test piece, though some darker shades are lost to black.
There are two main consumables for the 3330dn: drum and toner cartridges. The toner cartridge is available in two different yields: 7,000 and 14,000 ISO pages and in either return programme or non-return programme variants. The return programme cartridges are cheaper, as long as you are prepared to return them to source at the end of their life. Dell can provide assistance with this, in a similar way to Lexmark.
The imaging drum is rated at 30,000 pages and when you do the maths using the high yield, return programme toner cartridge, you come out with a cost per ISO page of 1.84p, including 0.7p paper. This is an extremely good figure, normally only equalled by laser printers costing considerably more.
There are two factors preventing the 3330dn receiving a recommendation. We think designing a 200 to 250-sheet paper tray into a fast, workgroup printer is a fairly cynical way of selling optional second paper trays and even with the machine’s excellent print quality and speed, £500 still seems a lot for this class of printer. It’s hard to see why there should be quite such a premium on print speed, among all the attributes required of a modern office printer.