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Lexmark C540n review

Lexmark C540n

Verdict

Fast, top-quality prints, good running costs and a competitive price make the Lexmark our new favourite colour laser printer

Review Date: 27 Nov 2009

Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson

Price when reviewed: £180 (£207 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £390
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

The C540n is the best printer for small workgroups we've seen. Not only is the cost of the unit bearable at less than £200 before VAT, but it’s also network capable, quick, and offers excellent quality.

Workgroup features run throughout the printer. The paper tray, for instance, has the joint highest capacity on test at 250 pages, and the single-pass engine means sheets need to run through its cavernous interior only once, no matter whether they’re printed in full colour or black and white. It’s a major part of the reason we’re recommending it.

The Lexmark hovered at a steady 20ppm in all our tests. The only time we saw a significantly slower speed was with our 24-page DTP document, whose complexities resulted in a 5ppm drop in speed. Still, at 15ppm for this demanding document, the Lexmark remains a very fast machine for the money.

It also produced decent quality. Text looked elegant, and it was superb when printing business documents. Colours appeared as they should and text on a coloured background – always tricky for cheap laser printers – looked great.

With all that power, it doesn’t come as a shock that the Lexmark is a on the expensive side to run initially. But after a few thousand pages those costs will remain lower than cheaper printers. These costs will be higher, incidentally, if you intend to print on the C540n from an Apple computer – Lexmark’s driver currently doesn’t support monochrome-only printing.

But that problem aside, the Lexmark is incredibly fast and produces great quality prints. It’s also network-ready, well built and reasonably thrifty. The huge 250-page paper tray means you can set it up and leave it, and the initial pain of buying it is less than with more expensive printers. The Lexmark is our well-deserved Recommended award.

Author: Dave Stevenson

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User comments

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By xiongyn on 27 Nov 2009

Lexmark C540n review

a.There appear to be mistakes in the review.
Dimensions and max paper weight do not agree with the spec from Lexmark.
B. The full review will not print-Only Page1.
sblackadder@ntlworld.com

By SBlackadder on 4 Jan 2010

Envelopes?

Will it print DL & C5 envelopes without chewing them up?

By stephen_elms on 6 Jan 2010

Wast toner costs

Beware! I see that replacement waste toner bottles are available. This may well mean that the printer wastes toner every time it warms up, so if you just do occasional prinitng, this will incur a lot of wasted toner (and costs). This is my experience with a Samsung CLP-500 I own. Better to choose a colour laser that doesn't produce waste toner. A colleague has an OKI C3200 that is much more economical than my printer.

By soundfriend on 29 Jan 2010

Slow photo print

Having just purchased the C540n I found it unbelievably slow at printintg 7x5 photo (about 1.5MB)

By Denis on 16 Feb 2010

Slow photo print

Never having had a laser colour printer before I was keen to see how it prints photos. To my horror it took 3 min 45 seconds to print one 7x5 photo (1.5 MB) On reducing the resolution to 1200x1200 it speeded up to 2 mins . Is this

By Denis on 16 Feb 2010

Expensive!

I am shocked at how much toner this printer is going through. I am on my 3rd full set in 6 months and they aren't cheap! (haven't even printed one photo on it)

By Jon2010 on 2 Jun 2010

Eats Toner! Beware!

As previous comments - spending 2-3 times as much on toner as old (Epson Acculaser 900) printer - and it is slow to warm up and print. Does make me question the reviews!

By fearnfarm on 20 Jan 2011

Wastes 90% of toner

I've had a C544dn for ~ 15 months. The 544 was a better buy than the 540 because it was only a few pounds more, did duplex *AND* comes/came with high yield toner carts. 2500 pages black, 200 page C, Y & M.
I typically switch on, print 1-5 pages, turn off as not needed again for some days.
After printing around 300, yes, three *hundred*, pages, it is reporting my high-yield black toner is low.
Unbelievable.

By markv on 2 Apr 2011

Wastes 90% of toner

I've had a C544dn for ~ 15 months. The 544 was a better buy than the 540 because it was only a few pounds more, did duplex *AND* comes/came with high yield toner carts. 2500 pages black, 200 page C, Y & M.
I typically switch on, print 1-5 pages, turn off as not needed again for some days.
After printing around 300, yes, three *hundred*, pages, it is reporting my high-yield black toner is low.
Unbelievable.

By markv on 2 Apr 2011

Big price drop since review

Just thought I'd mention that this printer is currently being sold for just under £100 inc vat & del by oyyy.co.uk (don't know if its a temporary offer or just a result of the models age)

With this new low price and the fact that its still on the A-list (at the old price) I was extremely tempted, but the previous comments about running costs have put me off somewhat.

By Paul_ on 13 Apr 2011

Slow and Expensive

I purchased one of these last year and wish I had looked elsewhere. It is unbelievably slow to print any complex job, and I have had to purchase several toner cartridges costing me £240 even though it is only lightly used. Can anyone help solve the speed issues?

By DavidMcDonald on 14 Apr 2011

Remove this review?

Apart from being an out-of-date review from the end of 2009, a cursory glance at user comments around the internet will reveal that toner use and costs are off the chart.

Colour toner is also used in monochrome printing so you're toast either way.

Toner costs of around £65 per cartridge means only magazine reviewers will be able to afford to run it.

Reliability also appears suspect.

By rip_tractorboy on 19 Apr 2011

A List?

Does anyone from the magazine look at these comments? In view of the negative posts above, shouldn't the A list status be reviewed, or at least answer the criticism ?

By adamgashead on 4 Jun 2011

high toner consumption

thinking that reviews are meaningful, I purchased the lexmark, a C543dn to get duplexing. While I agree with the reviewers comments on output quality, I now have to agree with other comments on the rate of toner use! When I got a warning that the waste toner bottle was full and had to be replaced I was a bit disappointed, with the cost of toner at over £70 a shot, it felt like I am throwing money away! I feel that the toner use estimates @ 5% coverage should be complimented with real world use estimates of maybe 20% 30% and 40% coverage. Lexmarks estimates of hi yield is frankly laughable in my experience.

By ravit on 9 Jul 2011

PC Pro Reviews Reliability

As a long time PC Pro reader I've gone through several opinions re the quality of journalism and in particular the reviews. The early phase was one of pure bliss at finding a quality magazine with articles relevant and up to date. In particular I found the reviews consistently reliable and a safe way to buy on recommendation.

However, for too many years now I've found the reviews erratic at best and sometimes 180 degrees south of the truth.

I think I'm entering a new (and probably terminal)"Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" phase when I come across stuff like this.

On the lookout for a NEW laser printer I came across this A-List review. Just looking at the make and model surprised me, but the age of the review coupled with the reader comments just gets me foaming at the mouth.

I don't believe for one minute that all the comments can be mistaken, so why is it still A-Listed and why no author's response?

The cynic in me would say that if I bothered to buy a paper edition from around Christmas 2009 I'd find some lovely colour ads from Lexmark in there.

Whatever the reason, I won't be the owner of the "current" PC Pro A-List printer.

By Binaa on 8 Sep 2011

Price variability too

Earlier comment about spec being wrong for dimensions and max paper weight but why the huge price variability? When reviewed £180+VAT, one correspondent suggested it's less than £100 BUT current price £750 upwards. Pardon??

By keithach on 29 Sep 2011

Where did you get your prices from?

You quote a minimum of £639 for this printer. This is pure fiction. It can be obtained from Printerland for £114 including VAT and delivery. I was thinking about buying one at that price. But then I read the readers' comments above...

By nedsram2 on 3 Oct 2011

Thanks for the comments

I'm looking to replace my 4 year old Dell colour printer as it's starting to streak.
This looked like the ideal printer until I read the comments - thanks all.
For the record, my Dell 2130cn has had one set of toners for 3 years, printing 2500 pages. Yellow is now at 5%, others are all at 40%.

By AndrewBaines1 on 7 Mar 2012

Hopeless

I have a C544n - very slow but good print quality. Goes through toner like crazy but recently started to print yellow stripe down right hand of each page.
Tech support asked for about twenty pages of print reports and then said might be the toner cartridge. Told me to try changing it (it was a £90 almost new cartridge).
They then sent me instruction on how to replace the colour imaging kits (£$0 each) in case that might be the problem. I am now covered in toner as are my clothes, my desk and half the office and the printer tells me there is no Cyan cartridge when there is a full one fitted!
I won't be buying another Lexmark!

By Johnamber on 29 Mar 2012

Toner Consumption off the Scale

I bought a C540N as it was A-listed but I failed to read the comments!! I now have a £106 lump of landfill as toner usage is unuseably high. When I queried the usage with Lexmark they said "Printing small jobs like 1-2 pages is just like printing 5-6 pages.
When the printer starts and stops, the cartridges turn during this time which explains its
consumption apart from just merely printing". Yes. This was a straight extract from their e-mail! It means a 1,000 page cartirdge only gives 200-300 pages!

DO NOT BUY.

PCPRO please remove it from the A-list - as requested by many other readers. I am on the verge of cancelling my PCPRO subscription because your recommendation has cost me £106.

By ianhooker1 on 27 Aug 2012

Although you can still get this printer from Printerbase for £150, the overwhelming opinion from hundreds of users on various sites from Amazon through to general review sites, is that is eats toner for breakfast, each power on cycle wastes loads, leading to the recommendation of leaving it switched on all the time. Ridiculous. This was recommended in two sets of lab reviews in 2010 and 2011 and still remains on the A list, one highlight being the "low running costs", seriously?! This is yet another bad printer review from PC Pro. Disappointing.

By isofa on 18 Oct 2012

Unbelievable - Printer is cheaper than the Toner

The C543dn is the same as the C540 but has duplexing and networking extra and is sold with 2k high yield toner cartridges.
In January 2013 the C543dn was retailing at £118 inc VAT and delivery at Printerbase and Printerland.
The printer is fitted with 2k high yield color cartridges.
A full set of cartridges cost £232.
So for this Lexmark it is cheaper to buy a new printer each time the cartridges run out than to buy replacement cartridges.
Update - In Feb 2013 price for new printer has gone up to £154.80 inc VAT and delivery so it is still cheaper to buy a new printer each time the toner runs out.
Obviously Lexmark know this but are so desperate to sell printers that they hope noone will notice the most outrageous waste of resources on the planet.
So there you have it. When the toner runs out throw that printer away and just buy another.

By ramontague on 9 Feb 2013

Farewell PC Pro

I've been a reader and PC Pro enthusiast since the start, I still have the first issue. Ive always used the A-List as my buying bible, now in the need of a new printer I turned to the site to see whats on the list. Not only is the winner nearly 4 (four) years old, its clear from the comments that the review is at best inaccurate. What is worse is that readers have clearly been calling this out for at least three years and no one from the editorial team has taken any action. It seems that the magazine has lost it's way, I'm off!

By johncleary on 18 Apr 2013

A-list? How?

The print quality is fine, but I agree with everyone else its too expensive to run. We've scrapped ours and replaced - no thanks to PC Pro reviews!! How PC Pro think this is an A-list printer is beyond me??!!

By rossharris on 5 May 2013

Price, er, anomaly

Listed as reviewed at £207.
"Buy it now" for £660
Add this to reading the comments above makes me wonder. Does anyone take PCPro's reviews seriously?

By morethan3characters on 30 Jun 2013

last reviewed when!?

So I'm in the market for a new laser printer as our decade old OKI is coming to the end of it's natural.

And PCPro tells me it hasn't reviewed a more worth A-lister since late 2009. Er........wtf!

Rather makes one wonder about other stuff you print.

By daviddbourne1 on 31 Jul 2013

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