Lexmark C522n review

Price when reviewed

A colour laser for a small workgroup might seem extravagant, but not at this price. Mono pages whizz out, colour pages are rich and vibrant and the C522n is even fairly cheap to run. Even against one of the best colour lasers we’ve seen, the £970 Kyocera Mita FS-5020N, the Lexmark holds its own magnificently.

Lexmark C522n review

Quality is among the best we’ve seen from a colour laser, regardless of price. While text is as tight as we’d expect, it’s the vibrancy of the colour images that most impress. Our Excel test has some garishly coloured graphs and tables, and they looked as striking on the page as onscreen. We then forced some newsletters upon the Lexmark, replete with photos, high-impact graphics and everything else that colour lasers usually hate. But this is no typical colour laser; the newsletters looked fantastic, with plenty of detail in photos and vibrant colours throughout.

The C522n doesn’t skimp on speed either. In almost every test – be it 5 per cent mono coverage letters or full-page graphs – the C522n barely dipped below its quoted 19ppm speed rating. It only dropped speed while collating five copies of a complex text and graphics document, but still managed 15ppm to the Kyocera’s 5ppm.

For anyone on a tight budget the price is appealing, and Lexmark backs this up with the ability to control who can print in colour within your workgroup and reasonably priced consumables. The mono cartridge lasts for 4,000 pages and costs £60 exc VAT, working out at 1.5p per page; the colour costs around £67 exc VAT per colour (cyan, yellow, magenta) and lasts for 3,000 pages, or 6.7p per page – a little way off Kyocera’s industry-leading 0.9p and 4p respectively. As you’d expect from a unit that costs just under £350, the fuser and image drum aren’t replaceable. But then to replace the same kit on the Kyocera costs more than this whole printer at £439. However, the photoconductors can be replaced in the Lexmark, either just the black for £20 or all four for £71. Lexmark quotes their lifetime as 20,000 passes.

Ease of use is impressive too. There’s a four-line display and simple navigation panel. It isn’t merely a gimmick, as the screen provides feedback relating to the current job; useful for not accidentally cancelling other people’s work. Also useful is the 250-sheet input tray and the sturdy output paper holder. Although both stick out from the back of the unit, it still doesn’t take up a huge amount of desk space, with a footprint of 420 x 430mm.

While the Kyocera is still the top option when it comes to running costs, the low unit cost of the C522n compensates nicely. It’s difficult to differentiate between the two when it comes to quality, with both giving superbly rich and vibrant results. However, despite its low cost, the Lexmark is tangibly faster. These factors combine to make the C522n a superb buy. If you’re looking for a workgroup printer, place your order for the C522n now.

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