HP LaserJet Enterprise flow MFP M525c review

Pros

  • Fast printing
  • Pull-out keyboard
  • 8in colour touchscreen
  • 100-sheet ADF

Cons

  • Slightly sub-par photos
  • Relatively high running costs

The HP LaserJet Enterprise flow MFP M525c, a monochrome multifunction printer (MFP) is the high-end (£1,800) model in the line that includes the HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 MFP M525f, adding some features geared to improving workflow and increasing productivity. For many small to mid-sized businesses, it will be well worth the extra cost of around £250 more than the M525f.

The flow M525c can print, scan, copy, and fax; it can scan to email, a network folder, USB stick, or an FTP server, and print from a USB drive. It offers secure, password protected printing, and has a built-in encrypted hard drive.

It measures 515 x 550 x 575mm (WxDxH), which makes it much too large to share a desk with, and weighs 37kg. Its 100-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) scans both sides of a document simultaneously, saving time over scanners like the one in the HP M525f (with a smaller 50-sheet ADF), which flips the document over to scan the other side. The M525c's scanner also incorporates some features lacking in the HP M525f's, including ultrasonic misfeed detection, auto orientation, auto page crop, and other image correction features.

Other features that the flow M525c offers over the M525f include a full-sized pull-out keyboard nestled beneath the 8in colour touchscreen (pictured below), along with the ability to send to SharePoint, and embedded OCR.

The M525c has a standard paper capacity of 600 sheets, split between a 500-sheet main tray and 100-sheet multipurpose tray. You can add up to two 500-sheet optional trays as well, for a total paper capacity of up to 1,600 sheets. An automatic duplexer lets you print on both sides of a sheet of paper. On the side of the printer is a built-in stapler, good for documents up to about 25 sheets, which you have to manually insert.

In addition to the flow M525c and the M525f, there's a third and cheapest model in the line. The M525dn (which is £1,300) lacks fax capabilities as well as the hard drive and the stapler, and all the extras the flow 525c has over the M525f.

The flowM525c can connect via USB or Ethernet (including Gigabit Ethernet), and an optional Wi-Fi adapter is available. It's compatible with HP ePrint and Apple's AirPrint. I tested the printer on a wired network with its drivers installed on a PC running Windows Vista.

Printing speed

I timed the flow M525c on our business applications test suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at an effective 13.8 pages per minute (ppm), a good result for its rated speed of 42 ppm. (Rated speeds are based on text-only printing, while our business suite combines text pages, graphics pages, and pages with both text and graphics).

This is a little slower than the Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer, rated at 50 pages per minute, which we timed at 15 ppm, and a bit faster than the 12.2 ppm turned in by the M525f. I timed the Dell B5465dnf Mono Laser Multifunction Printer, rated at 70 pages per minute, at a wicked-fast 18.7 ppm.

Output quality

Overall output quality for the flow M525c was slightly sub-par, with average text quality, average graphics quality, and slightly below-par photos. Text quality is good enough for any business except perhaps desktop publishing applications using very small fonts.

With graphics, the output failed to distinguish between differences in shading in several illustrations. Graphics showed dithering in the form of fine dot patterns. Graphics are fine for most in-house usage and maybe PowerPoint hand-outs, depending on how picky you are.

Photos tended to be on the light side, with a significant loss of detail in bright areas. One image showed banding (a regular pattern of thin lines). You can print out recognisable images from web pages or files – whether they're good enough for, say, company newsletters depends on how picky you (and your clients) are.

Running costs

At 1.8 cents (1.2 pence) per page, the M525c's running cost is the same as the M525f, and a bit on the high side for a mono laser in this price range. The Dell B3465dnf had a lower per-page cost of 1.5 cents (1 penny) despite its much lower sticker price (£600 less). Although the Dell B5465dnf is just over £200 more than the flow M525c, its running costs are a mere cent (0.7 pence) per page.

The M525c adds value over the HP M525f for a £250 premium. For that money, you’re getting some smart extras such as the 100-page ADF and scanner that scans both sides of a page simultaneously – and these justify the extra cost over the M525f. The Dell B3465dnf matched the flow M525c's speed, is built for heavier duty printing, and sells for two-thirds of the HP MFP’s asking price. The Dell B5465dnf costs more, is faster, has a larger ADF (though it can't scan both sides of a page simultaneously), is built for massive print volumes, and has a much lower running cost. Both the Dells offered better output quality than the flow M525c in our testing.

Verdict

There are many good high-end mono laser MFPs out there. Some are faster, have better output quality, a lower price, or lower running costs, but the HP LaserJet Enterprise flow MFP M525c provides a reasonably good balance between these factors, and its suite of workflow features are a nice extra that will appeal to many businesses.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

HP LaserJet Enterprise flow MFP M525c

Type

All-In-One, Copier, Fax

Printer Category

Laser

Direct Printing from Cameras

No

Print Duplexing

Automatic

Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)

42 ppm

Colour or Monochrome

Monochrome

Technology (for laser category only)

Laser

Connection Type

USB, Ethernet