Dell B5465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer review

Pros

  • Blazing fast printing
  • Fast scanning from 150-page ADF
  • Good paper handling

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Big, tall, and heavy
  • Sub-par graphics

The Dell B5465dnf Multifunction Mono Laser Printer is an imposing MFP geared to busy workgroups in small to mid-sized offices. It's big, heavy and tall, with lightning-fast printing and scanning speeds, a prodigious duty cycle, and an enormous touchscreen. Whether this MFP offers enough to justify the equally imposing £2,000 price tag Dell has slapped on it depends on the exact needs of your office.

The B5465 prints, copies, scans, and faxes; it can scan a document and send to any of 30 predefined network folder destinations, or send to multiple destinations including workgroup users, FTP, emails and network folders. It provides workflow solutions such as easy printing of various forms directly from the touchscreen. It supports password-protected printing, and you can remotely access the printer's display using an embedded web server.

Design

The all-black B5465dnf measures 512 x 425 x 415 (WxDxH) and it weighs 23.6kg; you'll want at least two people, and preferably three, to move it into place. Needless to say, it will need a table or bench of its own. It is so tall that it wouldn't fit on our test bench with its overhanging shelf.

At front centre is the B5465dnf's 10.2in colour touchscreen LCD. To its right is an alphanumeric keypad (which among other things lets you enter a PIN for password-protected printing), plus a handful of buttons: Start, Cancel, Pause, Backspace, Clear.

Above the front panel is the flatbed, and on top of that is a 150-sheet duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF), which lets you scan, copy, or fax two-sided documents at speeds of up to 36 pages/72 sides per minute. (Although I didn't do a formal scanning speed test with the ADF, I could tell that it was fast).

It has a 650-sheet standard paper capacity, split between a 550-sheet main tray and a 100-sheet secondary tray, and an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. Its optional paper capacity includes a 2,100-sheet high capacity tray and an additional 550-sheet tray for a maximum paper capacity of 3,300 sheets. A 160GB encrypted hard drive is also available as an option. This printer has a prodigious maximum monthly duty cycle of up to 300,000 pages, with a recommended monthly maximum of 30,000 pages.

The B5465dnf provides USB and Ethernet (including Gigabit Ethernet) connectivity; an optional wireless card is available, too. I tested it over an Ethernet connection with its drivers installed on a PC running Windows Vista.

Speed

I timed the Dell B5465dnf on the latest version of our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at a blazing 18.7 pages per minute (ppm). That's worthy of its 70 page-per-minute rated speed, which is based on text-only printing; our test suite combines text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content. It matches the Dell B5460dn single-function printer, rated at 63 pages per minute, which I recently timed at 18.7 ppm.

We timed the Dell B3465dnf, rated at 50 ppm, at an effective 15.0 ppm, and the HP LaserJet Enterprise M4555h MFP, rated at 55 pages per minute, at 10.6 ppm. The HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 MFP M525, which is rated at only 42 pages per minute, tested at an effective speed of 12.2 ppm.

Output quality

Output quality was a bit sub-par overall, with par text quality, sub-par graphics, and slightly sub-par photo quality. Text should be fine for any standard business needs, short of ones that require very small fonts, such as demanding desktop publishing applications.

Graphics quality was sub-par for a monochrome laser. The printer had trouble distinguishing between gradations in light and dark tones in one illustration, showing them as a uniformly dark shade instead. It had trouble printing very thin black lines on a white background. Several illustrations showed mild banding (a regular pattern of faint striations). The graphics are suitable for most internal business usage, though you may want to check the output to make sure the detail shows up as you intended.

Photo quality was slightly below par. Most prints were on the dark side, with loss of detail in dark areas. There was considerable dithering (graininess and/or dot patterns). You can print out recognisable images from files and web pages, but that's about all.

Running costs

Claimed running costs for the Dell B5465dnf are a cent a page (0.65 pence), among the lowest we've seen for a monochrome laser. The HP M4555h's claimed per-page costs are 1.2 cents (0.8 pence), while the Dell B3465dnf's claimed running costs are 1.5 cents (a penny). Although the B5465dnf edges these monochrome MFPs out with lower running costs, the B5465dnf is so much more expensive than the B3465dnf (almost twice as expensive) that it would take about 250,000 pages to rack up enough savings to make up the price difference. The HP M525f's running costs were somewhat higher, at 1.8 cents (1.2 pence) per page.

Verdict

The Dell B5465dnf is a speedy MFP designed for massive print volumes and high volume, high speed scanning, and it has a price to match. It lacks a few desirable features like a built-in encrypted hard drive (though this is available as an option, one comes as standard with the HP LaserJet Enterprise M4555h) and tabloid-sized printing.

Still, it does very well at what it's designed to do, and offices that require its prodigious capabilities should be able to justify its cost. For those looking for a less expensive yet still very capable MFP, the Best Buy award winning Dell B3465dnf provides much of its larger sibling's capabilities at almost half the asking price.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Dell B5465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer

Printer Category

Laser, MFP

Print Duplexing

Automatic

Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)

70 ppm

Color or Monochrome

Monochrome

Connection Type

USB, Ethernet