Clearly designed as a workhorse monochrome printer for a small to midsize office or workgroup, the Ricoh SP 4510DN ($725) delivers a suitable level of paper handling for the job and better output quality than much of the competition. Although it uses LEDs rather than a laser for drawing the image of each page on its drum, it uses the same technology otherwise, making it fully comparable to laser printers. It was a little slower in our tests than you might expect for the 42 page-per-minute (ppm) engine rating, but for offices that are more concerned with how good the pages look than with how quickly they print, it’s an excellent choice.
The SP 4510DNBest Price at Amazon is essentially in the same class as the Dell B3460dn$549.99 at Dell, which is our Editors’ Choice monochrome laser for heavy-duty use in a small office or moderate use in a midsize office or workgroup. The Dell model delivers significantly better speed, but the Ricoh printer delivers better output quality. Assuming you connect it to a network, it also offers support for printing through the cloud and for both printing from and scanning to Android and iOS devices through an access point on the network.
The Dell B3460dn offers the higher paper capacity of the two, but the SP 4510DN’s paper handling is good enough to count as a strong point. The printer comes with a 500-sheet main tray, a 100-sheet multipurpose tray, and a duplexer (for two-sided printing) standard. You can also add up to two additional trays with capacities of either 500 sheets ($305 each) or 250 sheets ($169 each) in any combination. The maximum total of 1,600 sheets is easily enough for most midsize offices, but less than the Dell B3460dn’s 2,300-sheet maximum.
One other notable option for the SP 4510DN is a hard drive ($300), which wasn’t in the review unit. According to Ricoh, adding the hard drive adds private printing, letting you send a job to the printer, but not print it until you enter a PIN code at the front panel. The drive also lets you store forms you use repeatedly on it, so you can print them on demand from the front panel.
Setup and Speed
The SP 4510DN is a typical size and weight for the category, at 12 by 14.6 by 15.4 inches (HWD) and 34.2 pounds. Setup is absolutely standard, with a choice of USB or Ethernet connections and the option to add a parallel port ($134) or Wi-Fi ($400). For my tests, I connected it to a wired network and installed the driver on a Windows Vista system.
The rated speed of 42 pages per minute (ppm) is what you should see when printing a text file, with little or no formatting in simplex (one-sided) mode. On our business applications suite, however (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), I clocked the printer at 6.9ppm in its default duplex setting and 8ppm in simplex (one-sided) mode. That makes it a lot slower than the Dell B3460dn at 15.3ppm in its default simplex mode.
It’s not even hard to find less expensive printers with faster speeds. For example, the Dell B2360d$149.99 at Amazon, which is our preferred pick for medium-duty use in a small office, managed 15ppm on our tests (also in simplex mode). Overall, the SP 4510DN’s speed is acceptable, but a little slow for both the price and engine rating.
A key saving grace for the SP 4510DN—but not the only one—is its output quality. Text and photo quality are both a step above par for a monochrome laser printer, and graphics quality is at the top of a tight range that includes the vast majority of monochrome lasers.
For text, that translates to highly readable, well-formed characters even at small font sizes, although the output is just short of being suitable for high-quality desktop publishing. Graphics output is easily good enough for any internal business use, including PowerPoint handouts, assuming you consider black-and-white output acceptable at all. Photo output is equivalent to good-quality photos in a newspaper.
Also in the SP 4510DN’s favor is its low running cost. Its highest-capacity cartridge offers a 12,000-page yield and a claimed cost of just 1.1 cents per page—a savings of 0.5 cents for each page compared with the Dell B3460. That may not sound like a lot, but it adds up to a $50 savings for every 10,000 pages. Print just 20,000 pages per year, or 80 pages per working day—which isn’t much for a workhorse printer in a medium-size office—and you’ll save $500 over five years compared with the Dell B3460.
If you don’t need particularly high-quality output, be sure to consider the Dell B3460dn for its fast speed and high paper capacity along with output that’s easily suitable for most business needs. But also consider whether the speed and paper capacity outweighs the Ricoh SP 4510DN’s low running cost. Beyond that, if you need the SP 4510DN’s high-quality output, it will almost certainly be the better fit in any case.