Brother MFC-9970CDW review

Kat Orphanides examines a multifunction printer that does everything but make the tea.

The Brother MFC-9970CDW multifunction printer
2 Feb, 2011
ex VAT
We were impressed with both the quality and performance of the MFC-9970CDW. The only qualitative point on which we were less than perfectly happy was a slight red tint on our photo prints. However, photo printing isn’t a priority for most office lasers, and neither is this issue uncommon to other, similarly priced, colour laser printers. When all else is equal, the buying decision always comes down to price, both at the point of purchase and in the long term. It’s here that Brother’s printers can be more complicated that those of rivals such as HP, which often use toner cartridges with integrated drums, reducing the number of consumables that have to be replaced throughout the printer’s life span. Fortunately, this extra level of complication doesn’t mean that you’ll be paying over the odds for consumables. It could be a little faster, but if you need one - surprisingly compact - machine to do everything from sending faxes to scanning that important document on to a thumb drive as you leave the office, the MFC-9970CDW is definitely a worthwhile choice.

Brother’s MFC-9970CDW is designed as a flexible and highly functional office workhorse, with integrated duplex printing and scanning, a fax machine, touchscreen and network printing management interface. Measuring a surprisingly compact 530x490x526mm, the MFC-9970CDW has a 250-sheet paper tray, along with a 50-sheet multipurpose tray capable of handling envelope and paper weights of up to 163gsm.

It can connect your network wirelessly or to a single PC via USB, but most offices will be using a standard wired Ethernet connection. The second USB port on the front allows you to quickly scan and print directly to and from a thumb drive. You’ll want to position this MFP a fair distance away from anyone’s desk, though, because it makes a tremendous racket when printing, loud even against the constant background hum of our testing lab.

We were immediately impressed by the touchscreen menu system, which is clearly designed and large enough to use easily without accidentally hitting the wrong icon. Thanks to the touchscreen, you can immediately connect the printer to your wireless network. A WLAN Setup Wizard in its Network menu automatically scans for local network SSIDs and lets you choose from those it finds. The display is a bit narrow for a full on-screen keyboard, so you’re instead given a mobile-phone style keypad that lets you cycle through groups of letters.

There’s plenty of flexibility when it comes to which features you install on the PCs connected to it, too. The supplied driver CD allows you to install a full driver and utility package, including the PaperPort SE document management suite, all the drivers and software except PaperPort, or just the printer driver - handy if members of your office network don’t require any network scanning ability and just want to get printing with a bare minimum of fuss and installation time. You can also use Brother’s Network Deployment Wizard to roll out drivers to your entire network, saving the effort of individually setting up each PC.


Maximum print resolution


Maximum optical scan resolution (output bit depth)

1,200x2,400dpi (48-bit)


Quoted speed, mono A4 28ppm

Quoted speed, colour A4 28ppm


First mono page from sleep 38s

First colour page from sleep 38s

Letter - time to first page 14s

25-page mono document - total time 1m 5s (23.1ppm)

24-page mixed colour document - total time 2m 21s (10.2ppm)

Two 10x8" photos - total time 1m 10s

Six 6x4" photos - total time 1m 26s


Full scan area preview 10s

A4 document at 150dpi/300dpi 13s/19s

6x4" print at 600dpi/1,200dpi 22s/1m 6s

Single 35mm negative at 2,400dpi N/A


Single A4 page, mono, default quality 12s

Single A4 page, colour, default quality 13s

10 A4 pages (many to many), mono, default quality 34s


Standard interfaces USB, 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet, 802.11b/g wireless, USB Host

Optional interfaces None

Dimensions (HxWxD) 530x490x526mm

Weight 29.0kg

Noise 69dB(A)

Maximum duty cycle (pages per month) 60,000 pages

Power consumption standby 2W

Power consumption idle 8W

Power consumption active 900W


Maximum paper size Up to A4+

Maximum paper weight 163gsm

Standard paper inputs (capacity) 1 (250)

Output tray capacity 150 sheets

Duplex Yes

Automatic Document Feeder capacity 50


Maximum number of copies 99

Copier zoom range 25-400%


Fax modem 33.6Kbit/s

Maximum mono fax resolution Not disclosed

Maximum memory capacity (mono pages) 500


Technology Single-pass colour laser

Language(s) PCL6, BR-Script3

Supported operating systems Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.4.11+

Memory 256MB

Upgrades: 500-sheet paper tray, memory


Price inc VAT £823

Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page (black part) 0.9p

Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page (colour part) 5.7p

Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page 6.6p

Capacity of supplied black toner (pages) 2,500 pages

Capacity of supplied colour toners (pages) 1,500 pages

Capacity of supplied drum/s (pages) 25,000 colour or mono pages

Estimated total ownership cost - three years' light use (2,400 mono & 1,200 colour pages) £823

Estimated total ownership cost - three years' medium use (18,000 mono & 9,000 colour pages) £1752

Estimated total ownership cost - three years' heavy use (72,000 mono & 36,000 colour pages) £2914

Warranty duration and terms One year onsite