Oki C821n review

Price when reviewed

Oki has been driving down costs for large format printing for a while, and its C821n sets a new record. A price of just over £800 makes it the least expensive A3 colour laser on the market, and an affordable option for smaller businesses.

Oki C821n review

The C821n uses the same chassis as the Recommended C810n, so it’s also one of the smallest A3 printers. For colour printing it isn’t as fast as the C810n with an A4 speed of 22ppm, but mono A4 printing is the same at 32ppm.

Although there are plenty of consumables, running costs look good: a colour A4 page costs 7.4p and a mono page 1.2p. Alas, along with most other printer vendors, Oki ships the printer with part-filled starter cartridges, making initial costs much higher.

The toner cartridges sit in-line under the lid, allowing the C821n to offer more versatile media-handling capabilities. The rear slot and multipurpose tray at the front creates a flat paper path, allowing the printer to handle 220gsm stationery and banners up to 1.2m long.

Oki C821n

Oki has a keen eye on power consumption, claiming a draw of less than 17W in sleep mode; in our tests, the printer pulled an average of only 15W in this mode.

The C821n has a faster processor and more base memory than the C810n. In our performance tests this extra power meant the time to first page was faster, rarely dropping below 15 seconds. However, the printer did come up short for A4 mono print speeds. These can vary depending on the paper orientation: with the short side towards the paper path, our 32-page Word document took 1min 32secs for an average of 21ppm; with the paper turned lengthways across the tray, the same document took 1min 6secs for a speed of 29ppm.

Colour print speeds were better, with our 24-page A4 DTP document completed at 1,200dpi in 59 seconds. The hardware came into play here too, as moving to the interpolated 2,400dpi setting saw no change in colour speeds, whereas the C810n dropped to 17.5ppm. We also found the quoted A3 speeds of 17ppm for mono and 12ppm for colour achievable at all resolutions.

Output quality doesn’t suffer in the drive to cut costs, with the C821n delivering the same vibrancy as that of Oki’s LED technology. Stepping across complex fades in our colour test chart was almost non-existent, and grey shades using different mixes of cyan, yellow and magenta showed only a slight cyan colour cast. The level of detail in photos was extremely good, with the rich colour saturation making them stand out. Our A3 posters packed a real punch, but if it’s all too much for your eyes you can play around with the various driver colour controls.

Although A4 mono speeds were slightly below those quoted, we’d be niggardly if we took the C821n to task for this. Colour speeds are better than Oki claims, output quality and running costs are very good, and no other vendor can match the C821n for value.

Printer language & OS Support

PCL level 6
PostScript level 3

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 1200 x 600dpi
Rated/quoted print speed 32PPM
Maximum paper size A3
Duplex function no

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page 1.2p
Cost per A4 colour page 7.4p


Monthly duty cycle 75,000 pages
Drum life 20,000 pages
Fuser life 100,000 pages
Transfer-belt life 80,000 pages
Standard mono toner life 7,000 pages
Standard colour toner life 7,300

Power and noise

Dimensions 485 x 579 x 345mm (WDH)
Peak power consumption 1,350W
Idle power consumption 200W

Media Handling

Input tray capacity 300 sheets


USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? yes
Other connections Parallel

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? no

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