Brother HL-3170CDW review - Ideal for those looking to step up from an inkjet printer

At just £240.00, Brother’s HL-3170CDW is a good entry-level laser printer for home users or small businesses that need to step up from an inkjet printer. 

It’s relatively compact for a laser printer, measuring about 240mm wide, 410mm high and 465mm deep, so it won’t take up too much space in a small office. However, it provides good performance for a printer in this price range, and a number of useful features.

As well as a standard USB port the HL-3170CDW includes Ethernet and wifi networking, double-sided printing, and support for AirPrint on iOS devices. There’s a 250-sheet paper tray built into the base of the printer, and the HL-3170CDW has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 30,000 pages, both of which should be perfectly adequate for most small businesses. Brother quotes speeds of 22 pages per minute for both mono and colour printing, although we actually got closer to 17ppm in our tests – but again, that’s still good for a printer in this price range, and certainly faster than most inkjet printers.

Text is clean and smooth, although smaller point sizes lack the crisp blackness provided by some of its rivals. Photo output was rather grainy, but the HL-3170CDW produces smooth, graduated colours for non-photo graphics such as business presentations. It doesn’t officially support PostScript, but the HL-3170CDW does use Brother’s BR-Script – an emulator that provides a degree of PostScript-compatibility. 

If you buy the cartridges directly from Brother then the running costs can be quite high. The standard black toner cartridge is only available in one size, costing £74.39 with a yield of 2500 pages. That comes to about 3p per page, which is a little above average for both laser and inkjet printers.

OUR VERDICT

A full set of Brother’s high-yield colour cartridges will cost £291.57 and produce around 2200 pages, which works out at just over 13p per page. That’s still relatively high, but Brother did admit that you could buy the cartridges much cheaper if you shop around online and they quote typical online prices as providing running costs of 2.6p for mono, and 11.8p for colour.

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