The HP LaserJet Enterprise MFP M527dn ($1,799.99) is a fast workhorse monochrome multifunction printer (MFP) for small to midsize offices. The M527dn’s speed, good paper handling, and a low running cost are key strengths, although it’s pretty much neck and neck in all these areas with the Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer$1,099.99 at Dell Small Business. What keeps the Dell B3465dnf as our Editors’ Choice monochrome MFP for heavy-duty printing in up to a midsize office are its lower price and the inclusion of fax capabilities, which the M527dn$998.99 at Amazonlacks.
Design and Features
Although somewhat small for a heavy-duty laser MFP, the M527dn is still big enough that you will want to set it on a table or a bench of its own. It measures 19.6 by 19 by 19.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 48 pounds. It has an 8-inch color touch screen that tilts forward, and an easy-to-use menu system. This machine can print, copy, and scan (but not fax, which is available as a $299 option). It can scan to a folder, to email, to Internet fax, to an FTP site, or to a USB thumb drive (and print from a thumb drive as well).
Standard paper capacity is 650 sheets, split between a 550-sheet main tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose feeder. Up to three optional 550-sheet paper trays ($199 each) are available, for a maximum paper capacity of 2,300 sheets. The printer comes with an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper.
Built for heavy-duty printing, the M527dn has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 150,000 pages and a recommended monthly duty cycle of up to 7,500 pages. This matches the paper capacity of the Dell B3465dnf, although the latter has a higher recommended monthly duty cycle of up to 15,000 pages, with the same 150,000-page maximum.
For scanning, the M527dn has both a flatbed and an automatic document feeder (ADF). The latter fits up to 100 sheets, and can scan both sides of a document on a single pass. This compares favorably with the Dell B3465dnf, whose ADF holds up to 50 sheets and must flip each page over for two-sided scanning.
The M527dn is the base model in HP’s M527 series of monochrome laser MFPs. The HP LaserJet Enterprise MFP M527f ($2,099.99) adds fax capability, plus a 500GB secure hard drive. Although you can buy a fax module ($299) separately for the M527dn, you’re better off getting the HP M527f instead, because for the same money you in effect get the hard drive thrown in for free. The HP LaserJet Enterprise Flow MFP M527z ($2,599.99) adds workflow solutions, such as a pull-out keyboard and HP’s EveryPage ultrasonic scanning double-feed protection, plus Wireless Direct and NFC capabilities.
This MFP can connect to a computer via USB, and to a network by Ethernet. I tested this printer over an Ethernet connection with drivers installed on a computer running Windows Vista. Drivers include PCL 6, PCL 5 (available as a download), and HP’s PostScript emulation.
The M527dn is speedy, though not unusually so. I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at 14.8 pages per minute (ppm). This is in line with its 45ppm rated speed that’s based on printing text documents without graphics or photos—our test suite includes text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content. The speed is just short of the Dell B3465dnf, rated at 50ppm, which we timed at 15ppm. Some other printers are considerably slower, such as the OKI MB562w$699.99 at Amazon, rated at 47ppm, which we tested at 8.4ppm.
Output Quality and Running Cost
Output quality for the M527dn is typical for a monochrome laser, with text, graphics, and photo all falling in the average range. Even average text quality for a laser is very good, though, and suitable for any business use short of demanding desktop publishing applications that use very small fonts. With graphics, the M527dn did well in displaying thin lines, but performed poorly in differentiating between similar tones in several test illustrations. Graphics should be fine for in-office use, and basic PowerPoint handouts. Photo quality is okay for printing out images from webpages and the like, but not for marketing materials.
Based on HP’s prices and yields for consumables, the M527dn has a running cost of 1.6 cents per page. That’s reasonably low, matching the OKI MB562w’s cost, and a tenth of a penny more per page than the Dell B3465dnf.
The HP LaserJet Enterprise MFP M527dn is a strong choice as a monochrome laser MFP for heavy-duty printing in a small to midsize office, provided that you don’t need your MFP to send and receive faxes. The Editors’ Choice Dell B3465dnf has similar specs, but comes in at a lower price and includes fax capabilities. That said, the M527dn can do most anything else the Dell B3465dnf can, and has a more capable scanner. It’s a good workhorse MFP to handle the printing, scanning, and copying needs of a busy workgroup or office.