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Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £322
inc VAT

Excellent text and graphic prints, as well as dodgy photos, unfathomable controls and higher than ideal colour running costs

The Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn is a colour laser multifunction peripheral (MFP) with an ideal specification for a small firm, provided you don’t need a fax machine. It can print, scan and copy in colour, and connects to your network via Ethernet; there’s no built-in Wi-Fi. Its 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) can scan both sides of a sheet of paper, which means it can make professional looking double-sided photocopies, or turn single-sided originals into a duplex copy, saving paper.

Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn

Unfortunately, its control panel is one of the least intuitive we’ve encountered. Few of its buttons are labelled with text, and the icons used are baffling; the menu button looks like a speech bubble filled with a large asterisk, for example. Setup is fairly simple, but the system date defaulted to 2029 and, despite the presence of a numeric keypad, we had to use the up and down keys to change it.

Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn

The MF8540Cdn defaults to duplex printing, which will save paper. Strangely, though, this was applied to our mono letter test. Each page of the 25-page test was re-fed through the printer, but the reverse was left blank. This produced the correct result overall, but it slowed the job down. We switched duplexing off to obtain our timed results: black text was acceptably swift, at 16.5 pages per minute (ppm), while colour graphics arrived at an impressive 15ppm.

Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn

This printer produces superb text with razor-sharp outlines, and excellent graphics with a lovely glossy sheen from the toner. There was no sign of banding or other laser weaknesses. Our black and white test photo was also excellent, but colour photos exhibited exaggerated colours: skin tones were unrealistically warm and greens and blues tended toward the lurid. We had to dig deep into the print driver to find the advanced colour options, but couldn’t find a setting with which we were completely happy. Similarly, while mono copies were perfect, colours in copies weren’t entirely faithful to the originals.

Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn Print Driver
Canon’s print driver is generally well thought out …
Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn Advanced Colour Settings … but we had to dig around to find the advanced colour options, and we still weren’t entirely happy with colour photos

It has a good scanner, though, paired with one of the best TWAIN scan interfaces. Scans were sharply focused with good colour and exposure control, although their 600dpi maximum resolution isn’t suitable for advanced creative work.

Canon i-SENSYS MF8540Cdn Scan Interface
Canon’s scan interface is excellent, offering both simple and advanced modes

At 11.2p per combined (black and colour) page, this MFP’s running costs are a little high. This is more the case when compared to a business inkjet such as the HP Officejet Pro X576dw, as its equivalent cost per page is around 4.2p. The MF8540Cdn has the better print quality, but the HP trounces it for pace and ease of use.

Basic Specifications

Maximum native print resolution600x600dpi
Max optical resolution600dpi
Output bit depth24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A420ppm
Quoted speed, colour A420ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.057s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.01m 4s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfacesUSB, 10/100 Ethernet
Optional printer interfacesnone
Noise (in normal use)50.3dB(A)
Duty cycle40,000 pages (max)

Paper Handling

Maximum paper sizeA4/legal
Maximum paper weight220gsm
Standard paper inputs2
Standard paper input capacity300
Maximum paper inputs3
Maximum paper input capacity550
Duplex (code, cost if option)Yes


Printer technologysingle-pass colour laser
Language(s)PCL 5c, PCL 6
Supported operating systemsWindows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, Linux
Other laser features and optionsnone

Buying Information

Price per colour A4 page8.9p
Price of 2nd paper cassette£198
Warrantyone year RTB

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview11s
A4 document at 150dpi13s
A4 document at 300dpi51s
6x4in photo at 600dpi46s
6x4in photo at 1200dpiFail
Single 35mm negative at 2400dpiN/A

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.019s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.022s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.01m 18s

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies99
Copier zoom range25-400%
Max mono copy resolution600dpi
Max colour copy resolution600dpi

Fax Features

Fax modem speedN/A
Max mono fax resolutionN/A
Fax memory (maximum mono pages)N/A