The C540n is the best printer for small workgroups this month. Not only is the cost of the unit bearable at less than $367, but it's also network capable, quick, and offers excellent quality.
Workgroup features run throughout the printer. The paper tray, for instance, has the joint highest capacity on
test at 250 pages, and the single-pass engine means sheets need to run through its cavernous interior only once, no matter whether they're printed in full colour or black and white.
The Lexmark hovered at a steady 20ppm in all our tests. The only time we saw a significantly slower speed was with our 24-page DTP document, whose complexities resulted in a 5ppm drop in speed. Still, at 15ppm for this demanding document, the Lexmark remains the fastest printer on test.
It also produced the most elegant text in our tests, and was superb when printing business documents. Colours appeared as they should and text on a coloured background - always tricky for cheap laser printers - looked great.
With all that power, it doesn't come as a shock that the Lexmark is a little more expensive to run than some of the other printers this month - but not by much.
After just a few thousand pages it's been overtaken by the rising costs of most rivals, and it remains lower than most as the page count soars. These costs will be higher, incidentally, if you intend to print on the C540n from an Apple computer - Lexmark's driver currently doesn't support monochrome-only printing.
But that problem aside, the Lexmark is incredibly fast and produces great quality prints. It's also network-ready, well built and reasonably thrifty.
The huge 250-page paper tray means you can set it up and leave it, and the initial pain of buying it is less than with more expensive printers. The Lexmark is beaten in the all-round stakes only by our lab