Brother HL-4040CN review

Price when reviewed

Compared to most of its rivals, the Brother HL-4040CN is the Rolls Royce of colour lasers. It’s not just the price or weight – although at £221 and 29kg it’s at the expensive and heavy end of the scale. It’s beautifully built. Every user-accessible part feels precisely machined, from the smooth printing engine to the steel cables used to support the fold-down flap on the front that gives access to the toner cartridges.

Brother HL-4040CN review

The superlatives continue with its paper handling. The main tray can hold 250 sheets, which matches the most capacious in its class. You also get networking as standard, and there’s a PictBridge-compatible USB port on the front for printing documents directly.

The benefits continue with best-in-class print speeds. The 4040CN averaged 17ppm across all our tests. It isn’t quite the fastest monochrome laser we’ve seen, but its colour print speed was far more impressive. Its single-pass colour engine means colour copies printed at exactly the same rate as in monochrome, and 22ppm for 20 copies of the standard ISO test document is an excellent result for those who use colour regularly.

We only experienced a significant drawback with our complex 24-page DTP document, whose difficult mixture of text, graphics and photographs proved demanding for the Brother’s 300MHz, 64MB electronics. 7ppm is a surprisingly poor result – it’s not significantly worse than most of its rivals, but it’s disappointing nevertheless for one of the most expensive colour lasers around.

At least we can’t complain about quality. The Brother produced highly respectable results in our business graphics test. White text on a red background printed accurately, and we were pleased with our monochrome photographic test as well, which produced smooth gradients. The only disappointment was our colour photo test – the Brother’s test page was pale and badly lacked vibrancy.

But it’s a minor failing. The Brother is a cheap printer in the short-term until a huge leap at around 4,000 pages – where the TCO rockets from under £300 to nearer £600 – but if you and your small band of co-workers will be frequently producing colour prints it’s a decent choice. We’re particularly fond of its excellent design. It doesn’t quite scoop an award thanks to its high eventual TCO, but it’s a still a solid choice.


Speed ratingN/A

Basic Specifications

Resolution printer final2400 x 600dpi
Rated/quoted print speed20PPM
Maximum paper sizeA4
Duplex functionno


Drum life17,000 pages
Transfer-belt life50,000 pages
Standard mono toner life2,500 pages
High-yield mono toner life5,000 pages
Standard colour toner life1,500
High-yield colour toner life4,000 pages
Supplied mono toner life2,500 pages
Supplied colour toner life1,500

Power and noise

Dimensions419 x 475 x 317mm (WDH)
Peak power consumption510W
Idle power consumption20W

Performance tests

Mono print speed (measured)22ppm
Colour print speed22ppm

Media Handling

Input tray capacity250 sheets
Output tray capacity150 sheets


USB connection?yes
Ethernet connection?yes
Bluetooth connection?no
WiFi connection?no
PictBridge port?no

OS Support

Operating system Windows 7 supported?yes
Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Windows 2000 supported?yes
Operating system Windows 98SE supported?yes

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