Brother HL-L9310CDW review

A good value colour printing factory with great output quality, low running costs and easily managed security features

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£432
  • Excellent set of connectivity options; Great value; High-quality output
  • Some printing tasks require GDI driver to achieve maximum speeds

Brother's flagship HL-L9310CDW A4 laser has all the connection options you could possibly want, making it a great choice for businesses that don't want to worry about future upgrades. It can't run them simultaneously, but the printer is Gigabit and 11n wireless-ready plus it offers WiFi Direct and AirPrint services, with NFC for secure tap-to-print mobile operations.

It looks very similar to Brother's cheaper HL-L8360CDW and offers the same 31ppm colour and mono print speeds. It's a different story inside as with 1GB, the HL-L9310CDW has twice the memory, its 6,500-page starter toner cartridges are over three times as capacious and its 6,000-page recommended monthly duty cycle is a third higher.

There are no differences between them for real-world print speeds, with the HL-L9310CDW also producing a 31-page Word document in 60 seconds at the driver's 600dpi and interpolated 2400 x 600dpi Fine settings. Duplexing the same document dropped speed to 15.5ppm and the time to first page from ready status was never more than 12 seconds.

Oddly, it had the same problems with our challenging 24-page colour DTP document, as speeds for each driver setting dropped to 27ppm and 25ppm. The cure for this is to download Brother's GDI driver as this pumped colour print speed up to 32ppm at both resolutions.

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The GDI driver uses the host PC to do most of the rasterizing work but we could see no discernible differences for colour quality. In fact, regardless of the driver choice, we found output quality to be particularly good with razor sharp text down to 6pt font sizes.

The best results for mono photos were produced at the Fine driver setting with our tests showing high levels of detail in darker areas. Colour photos are equally impressive with good contrast and bright colours translating to punchy marketing reports with almost no banding in large single-colour areas such as skies.

Brother is pitching this printer at high volume printing environments and only offers its 9,000-page ultra-high yield toner cartridges. Combining these with the image drum tray, transfer belt and toner waste box deliver acceptable running costs of 1.1p and 7.8p for mono and colour pages.

The base unit comes with a single 250-sheet drawer and paper capacity can be expanded up to 2,380 sheets. You can add three 250-sheet trays or two 500-sheet trays or go for the high-capacity base unit with four 520-sheet cassettes.

Along with a handy local status monitor, the drivers let users assign an account name and PIN to confidential documents so they can only be released by entering these codes at the printer. Access and usage can be precisely controlled with Brother's Secure Function Lock 3 which we used to limit public access, create lists of local users and assign privileges.

Configured from the printer's web interface, this uses restricted function profiles to allow or deny access to colour printing, the local USB port or web connect and limit the number of pages that can be printed. The profiles are then assigned to up to 200 local accounts which use the logged-in user name at each PC to enforce security.

We had no problems using AirPrint on our iPad while Brother's iPrint&Scan iOS app discovered the printer and allowed us to access it directly. It provides good cloud features; we logged into our iCloud, Google Drive, Evernote, OneDrive and Dropbox accounts and printed selected files from them.

Brother's expandable HL-L9310CDW combines plenty of standard connection choices with easily managed access and print security features. It's well suited to busy SMBs as it delivers reasonable running costs, good output quality and decent mobile printing apps.

Verdict

Brother's expandable HL-L9310CDW combines plenty of standard connection choices with easily managed access and print security features. It's well suited to busy SMBs as it delivers reasonable running costs, good output quality and decent mobile printing apps.

600dpi A4 colour laser 31ppm colour/mono 800MHz CPU 1GB RAM 6.8cms colour touchscreen Gigabit Ethernet 11n wireless NFC 2 x USB 2 duplex 250-sheet drawer 50-sheet MPT rec. monthly duty cycle -- 6,000 pages 441 x 486 x 313mm (WDH) 22.2kg 1yr limited warranty. Options: 2yr warranty extension, £302 4 x 520-sheet input tray, £523 (all ex VAT)

RUNNING COSTS Ultra high yield: K toner (9K), £73 C, M, Y toner (9K), £202 each drum unit, (50K), £90 transfer unit (130K), £39 waste cartridge (50K), £15 Overall cost per A4 page: mono, 1.1p; colour 7.8p

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