The HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn ($599) leaves off a few of the extras found in the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553x$1,199.99 at HP—the new high-end model in the company’s 500 series of single-function color laser printers—but it comes in at a much more moderate price. The M553dn$599.99 at HP is an impressive beast, combining very good speed with superb output quality and an ample feature set. It is considerably faster than the HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 Color Printer M551dn$823.47 at Mwave.com, which it is replacing, both in HP’s line and as our Editors’ Choice color laser printer for medium- to heavy-duty use in a small to midsize office.
Design and Features
The M553dn measures 15.7 by 18 by 18.9 inches (HWD), so you’ll probably want to put it on a table of its own, and it weighs 60.6 pounds. It helps to have two people to move it into place. The standard paper capacity for the M553dn is 650 sheets, split between a 550-sheet tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose feeder. The printer comes with an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. Up to three optional 550-sheet paper trays ($299.99 each) can be added, for a maximum paper capacity of 2,300 sheets.
In the M553dn’s top-right-front corner is a four-line LED, tilted for easy viewing, plus an alphanumeric keypad. On the printer’s right side, just below the top, is a port for a USB thumb drive.
The M553dn offers USB and Ethernet connectivity. It does not offer 802.11 Wi-Fi or a NFC/Wireless Direct module, the latter which the HP M553x has, although you can still print to it from mobile devices if it is on a network with a wireless access point. To that end, it supports HP ePrint and Apple AirPrint, and is Mopria-certified. Printer drivers include PCL5, PCL6, and HP’s PostScript emulation. The latter is useful because although most offices don’t need PostScript for printing, some can’t do without it. I tested the M553dn over an Ethernet connection with drivers installed on a computer running Windows Vista.
Two other models fill out HP’s M553 series. The aforementioned HP M553x adds a second 550-sheet paper tray, plus an NFC/Wireless Direct module, and instead of having a color touch screen, it has a four-line LED and keypad. The HP M553n ($449.99) is the same as the M553dn, but lacks the auto-duplexer.
I timed the M553dn on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at 12.2 pages per minute (ppm). That’s a good speed, considering its 40ppm rated speed for both color and black-and-white printing that’s based on printing text documents without graphics or photos—our test suite includes text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content. It’s effectively tied with the HP M553x, which we timed at 12.4ppm, just a single second across all the tests separating the two printers. It beat the HP M551dn, our Editors’ Choice medium- to heavy-duty color laser printer for small to midsize offices, which is rated at 33ppm and which tested at 9ppm. The Dell C3760dn Color Laser Printer$499.99 at Dell, rated at just 23ppm, tested at 7.9ppm.
The M553dn’s output quality is above average, with excellent graphics, above-par text, and slightly above-par photos. Text should be good enough for any business use, even those that require tiny fonts.
With graphics, colors are bright and well saturated. There were no significant issues in our tests, and the output should be fine for PowerPoint handouts going to clients or colleagues you are seeking to impress. With photos, one test print had slight posterization (sudden shifts of color where they should be gradual), and our one monochrome test image showed a slight trace of tinting, but the rest of the test prints approached true photo quality. Taken together, the M553dn’s text, graphics, and photos should be good enough for printing marketing handouts or trifold brochures.
The M553dn has reasonably low running costs of 1.7 cents per monochrome page and 10.9 cents per color page, matching those of the HP M553x.
The M553dn sells for much less than the HP M553x, but includes most of that printer’s features, only lacking the latter’s touch screen, second paper tray, and NFC and HP Wireless Direct connectivity. If you must have these features, you could either go with the HP M553x, or get the M553dn and buy the paper tray ($299) and/or the HP JetDirect 3000W wireless module when it is released later this year at a price yet to be announced, and probably save a good bit of money. (The touch screen is not available separately).
Even without any of the extras, the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn is a formidable color laser and a great value, a worthy successor to the HP M551dn as our Editors’ Choice. Not only is it priced to sell, and has relatively low running costs, its output quality is good enough that it can save you the cost of having to hire a print shop for most of your marketing materials.