Lexmark C530 review: Lexmark C530

Lexmark's C530 series is part of what Lexmark is calling its "green machines," that is, printers that reduce their impact on the environment. The most obvious such feature is the built-in duplexer that comes standard on all but the C532n model. Duplexing, or automatic double-sided printing, reduces the amount of paper consumed, which is good for both the environment and your wallet. Lexmark also is touting its new laser scanning units (an internal component in laser printers), which are smaller and have fewer moving parts than traditional units, allowing for less power consumption. Finally, Lexmark has separated the toner cartridges into two units: one piece is simply the toner and the other is the photoconductor. Most vendors use a single-unit toner plus photoconductor cartridge. Lexmark's C530 series photoconductors are generally good for about 20,000 pages and the toner cartridges that ship with the C530dn will last for about 1,500 pages, so clearly, the photoconductor will outlast the toner. By separating the two units, you don't need to waste a still-good photoconductor unit. All this should save you some cash and ease your mind somewhat about your contributions to landfills.

Lexmark's toner cartridge options are a bit convoluted, but you do get a lot of choices. The C530dn ships with starter 1,500-page black and color cartridges, while the C532n and C532dn models ship with 4,000-page black and 3,000-page color cartridges. Replacing the cartridges is where your choices may get confusing. Lexmark has a return cartridge program: It offers a price discount to consumers who agree to use the cartridge only once and return the spent cartridges to Lexmark for recycling or manufacturing. For the C530dn, the regular 4,000-page black cartridge costs $131 and the regular 3,000-page color cartridges cost $144 each. Under the return cartridge program, the same units cost $105 and $119, respectively. The situation gets even more convoluted when dealing with the C532n and C532dn models. Lexmark offers the above stated prices for the black and color cartridges (both with and without the return cartridge program) and then adds the option of high-yield color cartridges (5,000 pages, $180 each) and high-yield return program cartridges (5,000 pages, $155). Lexmark does not offer a high-yield black cartridge for these models. Cost-per-page varies greatly due to all the toner options, but overall, the prices are reasonable and in line with the competition. Naturally, the high-yield cartridges result in a lower cost-per-page, right around two cents.

Among the color laser printers we've reviewed in the $400 to $600 price range, the Lexmark C530dn made an impressive showing. It was fast across the board and made high-quality prints. It printed black text at a speedy 17.02 pages per minute, behind the more expensive Oki C5500n (17.92ppm) and Lexmark's own C500n (19.86ppm). It was quick with black graphics prints, too: 16.36ppm, again, behind only the Oki and the Lexmark C500n. It really impressed us with its fast color prints, though. Even printers that excel at mono prints usually slow way down with color, but not so with the Lexmark C530dn. It cranked out color text at 15.94ppm and color graphics at 13.56ppm.

CNET Labs' color laser speed tests (pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color graphics  
Color text  
Black graphics  
Black text  
Lexmark C500n
6.43 
6.88 
19.8 
19.86 
Oki C5500n
14.85 
11.37 
18.41 
17.92 
Lexmark C530dn
13.56 
15.94 
16.36 
17.02 
Oki C3400n
11.92 
8.38 
16.01 
15.55 
HP 2605dn
6 
6.75 
9.04 
9 

Sometimes, you get fast prints at the expense of quality, but the C530dn delivered in both areas. The black text was clean, sharp, and dark--everything we expect from a laser printer. The same goes for the color text. Even better, the color text suffered only minimally from the cross-hatching that often plagues color text. The black graphics print showed excellent grayscale handling, sharp details, and again, minimal cross-hatching. The color graphics print also showed sharp detail and smooth color gradients, though we saw some banding in what should be a smooth grayscale. The colors were also overly red, resulting in a ruddy skin tone among other things, but that was the only issue we found with the print. Overall, we liked the Lexmark C530dn's print quality better than both the HP 2605dn and the

CNET Labs' color laser quality
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color graphics  
Color text  
Black graphics  
Black text  
Lexmark C530dn
Good 
Excellent 
Excellent 
Excellent 
Oki C5500n
Good 
Excellent 
Excellent 
Excellent 
Lexmark C500n
Good 
Good 
Excellent 
Excellent 
HP 2605dn
Good 
Excellent 
Good 
Excellent 
Oki C3400n
Fair 
Good 
Good 
Excellent 

Lexmark backs the C530dn with a one-year warranty. Free and toll-free phone support is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. Eastern time for the length of the warranty. Lexmark's Web site includes a knowledge base, downloadable drivers, and a resource center to help get you started on new printing projects.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Lexmark C530dn

Part Number: C530DN Released: Nov 30, 2006

MSRP: $629.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov 30, 2006
  • Interface USB
  • Connectivity Technology wired
  • Printer Type Workgroup printer - laser - color
  • Max Resolution ( Color ) 1200 dpi
  • Max Speed 22 ppm
    24 ppm
    22 ppm
    21 ppm