Color Laser Printers: Fast and Affordable!

Lexmark C522n

While the C522n is a success esthetically and ergonomically, it has many shortcomings. In particular, its performance is not up to the manufacturer's claims.

Ergonomics And Functions

Ergonomics is one of this printer's strong points. Its large LCD display makes for easy navigation in the menus, and it can graphically display information on the location of a paper jam or a consumable that needs replacing. Its housing is large but vertically oriented, so the footprint is reduced. At around 57 lb (26 kg), it's also fairly light (relatively speaking!)

Printing Speeds

Lexmark claims a speed of 19 ppm in monochrome, but our tests showed that actual performance was far below that level. The printing engine itself is capable of attaining such speeds, but the printer executes a color recalibration procedure that sometimes takes more than a minute, considerably increasing printing times. The best speed we clocked was 6.4 ppm, or barely faster than a multi-pass model. The driver's calculation time is also very long, which results in a time to first page that's well in excess of the other models tested in this article. It took over a minute to print our Photoshop document - three times as long as the Color LaserJet 3600.

Print Quality

Like the Magicolor 5430DL, the Lexmark C522n had trouble convincingly displaying details in the images. Small white dots on a red background didn't show up, and certain lines on our Excel graph were barely visible. On the other hand, with documents that were a mixture of text and graphics, it did fine.

Cost Per Page

Lexmark's policy regarding its cartridges can result in wide variations in cost per page. The manufacturer offers two types of cartridges: standard ones, and ones recycled from the Lexmark Return Program (LRP). These latter cartridges are 30% to 40% less expensive than the standard cartridges, and they're the ones we used to calculate the cost per page for this article. At 3 and 14 cents in black and color, respectively, that cost was relatively high, but with standard cartridges it would have been around 5 and 20 cents. Note that high-capacity cartridges aren't available for this printer, while they are for its big brother (the C524n), which uses exactly the same printing engine.


Despite its handsome looks and standard network port, the C522n has too many faults. Lexmark really needs to work on its warm-up procedure and its driver so that this printer's engine can fulfill its great promise.

  • gorbehnare
    This is a good comparison. I found this information very much more useful.
  • wahaha
    You're also forgetting one thing, LOWER DPI.

    You do NOT need to print random obtuse documents at 300DPI. That's a waste of ink/toner, and speed. Is it even worth it to save half of 1 cent though? Who knows.

    And I bet they base the speed claims of these lasers off of 150 DPI settings. You only use 300+ DPI for business appropriate letter head.
  • alfredjr18
    Yup. Nice Post. Try to see this one too

    Best Cost Per Page HP Color Laser Printers

  • Inkjets will dry up if not used for months: TRUE. Lasers are the best choice if you rarely print stuff.

    Inkjets try to waste as much ink as possible: TRUE. They love to spray a LOT of ink when running very frequent cleaning cycles.

    All printer companies try to rip you off: TRUE. Chipping should be illegal from the environmental perspective. I've seen HP printers expire an entire set of 90% full color toner cartridges because they were too old, printers that refuse to print using a refilled cartridge. Some OEMs for medium-heavy duty printers require that you give them the used cartridges to get preferred pricing. That's to keep used cartridges from getting to re-manufacturers.

    Printing photos at home is a waste of money: True. They cost like a dollar for 4x6, and if you botch one, it's now $2. Photo lab is under $0.25, they pay for their mistakes, and the print is much more durable and fade / water resistant.

    For most economical, trouble free printing for a home user, get an old HP 4/5. Built like a tank, tones of re-manufactured cartridges available (if you ever need one)
  • Do you own a laser or inkjet?
  • Its time to end the stereotype of THIS article, cause its BS.

    1) Inkjets have alternative ink, that cuts down printing costs to less than that of lasers. Example: 1L color from Inktec - over 10k pages at 5% - cost 20$. ONE liter. UV resistance included.
    2) It is possible to buy as little as 20ml of ink if you dont print often
    3) Inkjet head can be rinsed with distilled hot water and vacuumed for 10 years period, if you don´t print.
    4) Inkjets do produce better quality photo. 4800x4800 vs 600x600, go try it out. The only paper where they are on parity is normal 80g which makes no difference.
    5) Printing costs: The only laser capable of at least 1200x1200 is lexmark 5xx series, with supplies costing 300$, drum 200$, drying element 250$. All this comes to page costs, somehow everyone forgets that and calculates only toner cost, which is WRONG.
    6) Inkjet consumes only 50W at printing, where lasers are up to 2KW. But thats not a major factor.

    So inkjets weight less, cost less, running costs are less, prints better. What is real problem with inkjets?
    1) You have to use alternative ink, but not just some, but special for your model. Forget about original ink - it costs more than parfume.
    2) It can get messy - if you set wrong settings - because printer dries and stores excessive ink INSIDE of itself, it can pretty much mess everything. You will need lots of paper and/or Q-tips to clean.
    3) Remember 15 minute max on air time for printing heads and catridges. A head which is dried up ins near impossible to recover if it uses pigment ink.
    4) Hardly a photo is water resistant. Due to nature of ink, its impossible. It will not dissolve from water drops, but merging a photo in water - and you can forget it. There are printers which are better here - the sublimation printers. But they are ONLY good for photo and printing costs are high, but thats labor quality.
    5) Unlike laser, you will sometimes need to clean your inkjet. It is a very messy process, and remember never to use alcohol cause it can dry ink up an you can forget the printing head.

    All in one, inkjets are ideal for less than 1000 prints in a month, or in situation where photo printing is needed, but not on large scale. Starting from 1000 prints pro year you should get CISS system on your inkjet, but still laser will be a bit more efficient, because of raw printing speed (1pass laser) and outage times(cleaning head etc).

    Overall inkjet costs way way less with alternative ink, alone the cost of supplies for laser (toner set+drum+fixer) can overweight cost of laser printer itself by factor 200%. This is why you find empty laser printers on sale at ebay for 20$.