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Lexmark T430 printer review: Lexmark T430 printer

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MSRP: $1,114.00

The Good Excellent text and graphics output; peppy speed; built-in duplexer, pleasant and sturdy design; great drivers; rich features.

The Bad Extra memory is outrageously expensive; maximum paper capacity limited to 1,100 sheets.

The Bottom Line Excellent print quality, speed, and add-ons make this a great monochrome laser printer for a fast-paced office.

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8.1 Overall

The $850 network-ready Lexmark T430dn delivers the speed, the efficiency, the excellent output, and the expandability essential to workgroups. Plus, it has well-designed drivers and makes two-sided prints.

Compact for a serious business printer, the Lexmark T430dn measures 10 by 16 by 16.7 inches (HWD) and weighs only 31.5 pounds with its toner installed, about 5 pounds less than comparable machines. The attractive-looking control panel on top is festooned with shiny silver, red, and green navigation buttons, along with a backlit LCD that covers many of the software driver's functions and menus for making adjustments to things such as PostScript emulation and networking settings.

The T430dn comes with the standard array of trays, including a main, 250-sheet cartridge on the bottom; a 100-sheet multipurpose tray for manual feeds, envelopes, and special media; and room for 150 pages of output on top. A back door opens to provide a straight paper path so that heavier pages won't get stuck or crinkle. The 350-sheet capacity is skimpy if you're going to subject this equipment to a several-person work flow; an office quad might want to add another 250-sheet tray for $163 or double that amount for $216.

This printer ships with 64MB of RAM, which can be upgraded to 320MB total. You may want more RAM if you plan on printing complex documents, such as those using PostScript 3 and PCL 6 languages, but consider buying this from a third party: Lexmark charges an insane $1,257 for a 256MB DIMM. The printer is compatible with various operating systems, including Windows 98 and up, Macintosh 8.6 and higher, plus Linux and Unix.

Setting up the T430dn on a network is simple: just follow the manual, and you'll be up and running in minutes. The two CDs that come with the printer contain documentation and a great set of software drivers. These drivers follow the usual tab format, where you can tweak the page layout and the number of copies and set the printer to collate multipage documents. Along the right side of the interface, icons of the printer and a page change as you adjust the settings.

In the driver window, your settings show up as a clickable list, so you can jump directly to any item without searching through the tabs. The software also has more print-quality settings than on most monochrome lasers. You can set the resolution manually up to 1,200x1,200dpi or to an enhanced 2,400dpi, and you can adjust the toner darkness, contrast, and dithering.

On the Other Options tab, the great print job management settings include account tracking, which is ideal for lawyers, design firms, and others who bill by the hour. If you enable this feature, a screen pops up asking you for an account number every time you try to print. Then you can print a report that divides jobs by account. The Print And Hold feature lets you proof a copy before releasing the rest of the job manually, and a confidentiality option in the control panel requests a PIN before the job will print.

The T430dn's performance in CNET Labs' tests was excellent across the board. Text and graphics sped out of this printer at a fast clip of 22.58 text pages per minute (ppm) and 21.74ppm for graphics, placing it just behind the Xerox Phaser 4500B.

But speed isn't this printer's only strong point. Text prints were sharp and very dark in our tests, and graphics looked surprisingly good for a laser printer; the T430dn handled gradients, line drawings, and shaded backgrounds with aplomb, and even photographic images were remarkably smooth and detailed.

CNET Labs laser printer tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Black graphics speed  
Black text speed  
Xerox Phaser 4500B
Lexmark T430dn
Brother HL-6050D
HP LaserJet 1320

CNET Labs laser quality  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Graphics quality  
Text quality  
Lexmark T430dn
HP LaserJet 1320
Brother HL-6050D
Xerox Phaser 4500B

Click here to learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.

A replacement high-yield toner cartridge for the T430dn costs $237; it is estimated to print 12,000 pages. This works out to just less than 2 cents per page, about an average value; the penny-per-page output from the modest Samsung ML-2250 is the cheapest network laser estimate we've seen, but many other printers ring up 3 cents or more worth of toner per sheet, depending on the size of your toner cartridge. You can save $30 on toner by participating in Lexmark's cartridge-return program.

The printer comes with a standard one-year warranty, which you can upgrade to two years for $79 or three years for $149. Two years with onsite service costs $149, or $279 for three years, good prices. Toll-free phone support is available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays ET.

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