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Canon Maxify GX5050 review: The ink tank printer with the cheapest running costs yet

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £390
inc VAT

Canon’s business-orientated ink tank printer cuts down on frills but delivers office basics with affordable running costs


  • Affordable running costs
  • Fast printing
  • Automatic duplex printing


  • Average quality
  • No borderless photos
  • Expensive to buy

The Canon Maxify GX5050 is an inkjet printer with a similar voluminous ink capacity to the company’s Pixma G series ink tank printers. However, the Maxify GX range is aimed at office work rather than home printing. The GX5050 sits at the bottom of the range, offering only printing functions without scanning or copying, yet it still has a comparatively hefty £400 price.

Weigh up the reasons for this, however, and things start to look more reasonable. For starters, the printer is capable of the cheapest colour printing we’ve seen, even compared to other ink tank printers. And this is a printer that doesn’t compromise on core features, either.

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Canon Maxify GX5050 review: What do you get for the money?

The Canon Maxify GX5050 looks like an office printer. It’s a rectangular white box measuring 399 x 416 x 238mm (WDH) and weighing 9kg. There’s a little black trim around the screen and the paper trays and a splash of colour around the ink tanks, but it’s otherwise all business.

It has two paper trays. One 250-sheet A4 tray sits at the base of the printer, while a second 100-sheet feeder sits at the top rear. This is useful for adding in the occasional sheet of photo paper, envelopes or stiffer card.

As with Canon’s other ink tank printers, the Maxify GX5050 uses refillable tanks, one each for black, cyan, magenta and yellow inks instead of cartridges. You need to fill these with ink before using the printer for the first time, and enough is supplied of each colour in the box to print 6,000 black and white pages or 14,000 in colour. Use the printer exclusively in its economy mode and this increases to 9,000 mono pages and 21,000 colour pages.

Because the printer can’t do much more than print from computers and mobile devices, it doesn’t need much in the way of physical controls. All you get is a small control panel on the front that plays host to a simple two-line LCD and a small handful of buttons, used for accessing simple settings. This panel pulls out so you can see it more clearly from above.

To connect to the printer you can hook it up to your network, via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, or connect it to a single computer via USB if you’d prefer to keep it offline.

Canon Maxify GX5050 review: Is it easy to use?

With so few functions there’s not really enough going on for this printer to cause any problems. Setting up follows Canon’s tried and tested step-by-step procedure, which you can follow online from your computer or by downloading the mobile app. This covers everything from filling the ink tanks using the supplied bottles (which might sound daunting but is actually very simple) to sorting out the network connections.

Once the printer is operational, most of the functions are controlled from the device you’re printing from. In Windows, for instance, you can open the printer’s controls from the usual print dialog box and control everything you’d normally manage from there.

If you need to carry out a maintenance task, you can perform some of these from the software, too. There are a few options you can’t reach that need to be initiated from the built-in menu, but that’s simple enough to do using the printer’s control panel and LCD display.

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Canon Maxify GX5050 review: How fast is it and how much does it cost to run?

The running costs are the most attractive thing about an ink tank printer like this and the Canon Maxify GX5050 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. As you’ll see from the chart below, this office-focused printer is even better value for money than the ink tank printers aimed at home consumers, with both mono and colour prints working out at 0.2p each. (These figures are based on Canon’s own ink prices and volume expectations based on the ISO/IEC 24712 standard print patterns.)

For black and white printing, its price per page is fairly unremarkable; it’s the same as Epson’s ink-tank printers (the Epson EcoTank ET-1810, for instance) and the consumer-focused Canon ink tank printers. However, for colour printing, it’s a different story entirely, with pages produced by the Maxify GX5050 costing around half as much.

Compare this with the printing cost of a standard inkjet printer, such as the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e, and the savings you can make are clear, especially if you print a lot.

The Maxify GX5050 is also a speedy printer, producing the first page of a job in seven seconds, compared with 16 seconds for the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e. The consumer ink tank printers take even longer but that isn’t particularly surprising.

It isn’t quite as fast at churning out the pages as the HP, but with mono prints produced at a rate of 20.3 A4 pages per minute and colour prints at 5.7 pages per minute it outpaces the consumer ink tank printers comprehensively.

The Maxify is set to print on both sides of a sheet by default and the Maxify is quick at printing in this mode as well, outputting our colour test document at a rate of 11.5ppm. (The  Epson printer in this chart doesn’t have the option to duplex automatically, hence the zero figure).

When it comes to photo printing, the Maxify GX5050 isn’t quite as fast as the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e, but it’s a lot faster than the consumer ink tank printers we’re comparing it to.

Canon Maxify GX5050 review: What’s print quality like?

If you’re looking for the absolute best in print quality, the Canon Maxify GX5050 isn’t for you. There’s nothing particularly terrible about the text printing, but you can tell with the naked eye that it isn’t as sharp as the text output from the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e. It’s about the same as we’d expect from a consumer ink tank printer, though.

Business graphics come out well enough, too, although it starts falling behind the consumer printers when it’s working in colour. It managed a bit more subtlety in lighter prints than the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e, which can oversaturate lighter shades.

In photo printing it falls way behind the consumer models I compared it with, however, to the extent that I wouldn’t recommend it as a photo printer at all. It can’t print borderless photos either and, while the prints it produces look OK, it can’t hold a candle to those produced by the Epson EcoTank ET-1810. The Canon Pixma G650, with its six inks, is a small step up again and a huge leap in quality over the Maxify GX5050.

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Canon Maxify GX5050 review: Should you buy it?

The Canon isn’t cheap to buy and, aside from automatic duplexing, it’s short on features. It’s also not exactly the last word in print quality, particularly for photos and graphics. If these factors are important to you, choose either the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e (for sharper text and professional features) or the Canon Pixma G650 (for photo printing) instead.

However, there’s one overwhelming factor that makes the Canon Maxify GX5050 a great buy and that’s its incredibly low printing costs. If you print a lot of documents and want to churn them out as cheaply and efficiently as possible, this printer is a great way to do it.

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