The HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 MFP M525f (which retails at £1,540) is a massive multifunction printer (MFP) with some neat features, including a large touchscreen and a built-in hard drive. It's reasonably fast and has good text quality, though it stumbles a bit with graphics and photos. If your office is looking for a richly featured monochrome MFP for heavy duty text printing, it's worth a close look.
The M525f can print, scan, copy, and fax; it can scan to e-mail, a network folder, USB drive, or an FTP server, and it can print from a USB stick. It offers secure, password-protected printing.
It measures 515 x 550 x 575mm (WxDxH), making it much too large to share a desk with, and the M525f weighs 30kg. It has the bells and whistles you'd expect on a monochrome MFP at its price, starting with a gorgeous 8in colour touchscreen and a built-in encrypted hard drive. A 50-sheet reversing automatic document feeder (ADF) can copy, scan, and fax two-sided documents, flipping each sheet over in the process.
The M525f 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.
There are two other models in HP's M525 line. The 500 MFP M525dn (£1,280) does not include fax capabilities, and lacks the hard drive and the stapler. The flow MFP M525c (£1,870) has the M525f's features plus a larger (100-sheet) ADF, a duplexing scanner with ultrasonic miss-feed detection, a pull-out keyboard, send to SharePoint, and embedded OCR.
The M525f can connect via USB or Ethernet (including Gigabit Ethernet), and an optional Wi-Fi adapter is available. For mobile printing, 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.
I timed the M525f on our business applications test suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at an effective 12.2 pages per minute (ppm), a decent speed based on its rated speed of up to 42 pages per minute. (Rated speeds are based on text-only printing, while our business suite combines text pages, graphics pages, and pages featuring both text and graphics). The HP LaserJet Enterprise M4555h MFP was slower at 10.6 ppm despite a rated speed of 55 ppm, while the OKI MB471, rated at 35 ppm, tested at 9.5 ppm.
Overall output quality for the M525f was slightly sub-par, with above average text quality, slightly sub-par graphics, and below-par photos. Text quality is good enough for any business use except perhaps desktop publishing applications using very small fonts.
With graphics, some backgrounds appeared blotchy, and subtle differences in shading were lost in several illustrations. Some thin lines were invisible. Graphics showed dithering in the form of fine dot patterns. Graphics are fine for most in-house use or informal reports, though I'd hesitate to use them for, say, PowerPoint hand-outs.
Photos also showed dithering, and detail in bright areas was often lost. You can print out recognisable images from web pages or files, but that's about all.
At 1.8 cents (1.1 pence) per page, the M525f's running cost is reasonable but not particularly low for a mono laser in its price range. In fact, it matches the per-page cost of the far more modestly priced OKI MB471. The HP M4555h has a running cost of 1.2 cents (0.75 pence) per page.
The M525f has a wealth of MFP features and a gorgeous 8in colour touchscreen. It costs less than the HP M4555h yet adds fax capabilities, and proved faster in our testing despite a lower rated speed. The HP M4555h, however, costs less to run, and boasts more paper-handling options.
The much lower priced OKI MB471 (it’s just under £400, in fact) lacks much of the M525f's paper capacity (being limited to 350 sheets standard, 850 max) and goodies like the touchscreen and hard drive. However, it has a very capable feature set, solid speed and output quality, the same running cost, and a slightly lower maximum monthly duty cycle (60,000 pages, as opposed to the M525f's 70,000). It's geared towards small and micro offices, while the M525f is targeted more to SMBs and workgroups. The MB471 may have fewer frills, but it's a solid and cost-effective performer.
Overall, however, the HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 MFP M525f is a respectable choice for larger offices looking for a full-featured monochrome MFP.
Manufacturer and Product
HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 MFP M525f
Laser Printer, Copier, Fax
Direct Printing from Cameras
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)
Color or Monochrome
Technology (for laser category only)