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Lexmark C543DN colour laser

Fast replacement for your inkjet printer?

One of the key features of the C543DN is that it ships with 2000-page "high-yield" colour toner cartridges and a 2500-page black one. This really just shows how commonplace it has become for manufacturers to cripple their new machines with ‘starter’ cartridges, often holding only half the volume of toner of even the standard-yield replacements.

Lexmark C543DN

Simple controls and a strange, throwback LCD display

Given the cost of toner, this is a particularly cynical cut-back, as it forces you to step onto the consumables treadmill that much sooner. By comparison, a ten-year-old Lexmark Optra R Plus, admittedly a mono laser, uses a high-yield drum and toner cartridge which runs for a far more healthy 14,000 pages. That's the only consumable on the Optra R, too, where here you have a separate imaging kit and waste toner bottle to replace, as well as the toner cartridges.

The C543DN is a new model with new consumables and these are available from fewer outlets than will be the case over time. More competition means lower prices, so you can expect to see them drop from the values quoted here. That’s just as well, as we calculate page costs of 2.5p for an ISO black page and 11.3p for colour. That’s using high-yield cartridges and includes VAT.

Neither of these costs is particularly impressive and the colour page cost is high when compared to many of the machine’s rivals. For example, a Canon i-SENSYS LBP5100, costing around the same to buy, gives equivalent page costs of 1.7p and 8.3p - a full 3p less for printing colour.

Lexmark claims maximum print speeds of 20ppm for both black and colour pages and we got quite close to the black speed under test, though not to the colour. A five-page text print took 35s, for a speed of just over 8.5ppm, but on a longer, 20-page test, it achieved nearly 17ppm. Considering all runs were in a normal print mode, these speeds are reasonable.

Lexmark C543DN

The toner cartridges fit down the side

A five-page black text and colour graphics print took 29s, or just over 10ppm, and it’s hard to see that a longer print run would increase this speed substantially. A 15 x 10cm photo print on an A4 sheet took 23s, which is again a fair speed.

Next page: Verdict

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