Dell 5210n review

Price when reviewed

Dell’s mission to become a one-stop shop for all things network related now extends to printing. The launch of the 5210n shows the company has moved its focus away from basic mono lasers, as this machine is aimed at medium-to-large workgroups looking for high-speed printing.

Dell 5210n review

At only £499, the 5210n looks to be offering a good deal: it claims a top print speed of 38ppm and a maximum resolution of 1,200 x 1,200dpi. The integral network server also makes it better value than much of the competition.

The printer is geared up for heavy usage in the region of 1,500 to 6,000 pages per month. Two choices of toner cartridges are on offer, with the standard model good for 10,000 pages at 5% coverage, and the high-yield version doubling longevity to 20,000 pages. Printing costs look good, as the high-yield cartridge can dish a page out for a mere 0.6p, while a standard cartridge can do the same job for 0.9p. Naturally, Dell wants to get you spending as soon as possible, so the printer ships with a standard cartridge. Note that the 5210n is designed only to accept Dell’s cartridges, so you can’t shop around for a better price on consumables.

The base memory contingent of 64MB is a bit stingy, but it can be increased to a maximum of 576MB. This is easy to carry out, as a door at the side provides swift access to the spare memory socket. There’s also a PCI slot for an optional wireless network card. The printer comes as standard with 500-sheet base and 100-sheet multipurpose trays, but there are plenty of options to expand your printing operations. A duplex unit slots in underneath the printer and you can add up to four more 500-sheet base units.

Dell delivers in the performance department, as we watched a 38-page basic Word document complete in precisely one minute. The first page appeared after 12 seconds with the printer already warmed up. It also handled our 24-page test DTP document well, with this landing in the output bin in 38 seconds for another tidy 38ppm. These were both printed using the driver’s Normal mode, but move up to Best and speed drops as the same DTP document took 85 seconds for an average of only 17ppm. The wait wasn’t worthwhile, as there’s little difference in quality between the two modes. Text was pin-sharp across a range of fonts, while charts and graphs with text on coloured backgrounds were also good enough to pass muster. But photographs suffered from a general lack of detail in darker areas and particularly unsightly banding. Strangely, even though the 5210n is actually built for Dell by Lexmark, the latter’s own C500n produced far smoother results for mono photographs.

The 5210n delivers in a number of areas. The base price and general running costs are low, expansion options are extensive and overall speed is as quoted. For high-volume production of mainly text-based documents it will certainly do the job, but look elsewhere if you want high-quality graphics and pictures in your reports.

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