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Dell E525w review

Front side view of the Dell E525w
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £263
inc VAT

The results are good, but Dell's boxy E525w is more expensive to run than much of the colour laser competition


Technology: Not stated, Maximum print resolution: 600x600dpi, Maximum optical scan resolution (output bit depth): 1,200×1,200dpi (24-bit), Dimensions (HxWxD): 353x410x398mm, Weight: 16.4kg, Maximum paper size: A4/legal

Modern printers are all curves, touch panels and tactile delight, but it seems nobody told Dell. This new colour laser multifunction peripheral (MFP) remains obstinately black and square. You could describe it as business-like, but why shouldn’t businesses have nice-looking things too.

It’s not pretty, then, but the E525w feels solidly built and has a good specification: it can print, scan, copy or fax, and you can connect it via USB, wired or wireless networking. The biggest omission is automatic double-sided (duplex) printing, but the driver talks you through it manually.

Manual duplex printing with help from the driver, Dell E525w

We’d prefer automatic duplex printing, but at least there’s help to do it manually

This is a particularly easy printer to set up, with little packing to remove and an excellent installer that asks the bare minimum of questions. Unusually, there’s the choice of IPv6 or IPv4 drivers, while the default options will ensure that you can still use the printer if either IP address should change – a common scenario that catches out a surprising proportion of drivers. Dell’s new Printer Hub software integrates local print and scan features with cloud services, but this didn’t detect the scanner when we tried over a wired Ethernet. Fortunately, the TWAIN driver had been installed and worked correctly.

Dell Printer Hub showing no scanner detected, Dell E525w

Dell’s Printer Hub software didn’t detect the scanner, but its TWAIN interface worked fine

Dell’s PC scan interface could do with an auto-exposure setting, but it’s otherwise simple and effective, as is the print driver. Using the printer’s own control panel is like travelling back to the 1990s, however: the backlit, four-line mono display seems wilfully dated, and for some operations it’s needlessly clunky. At least it’s easy to print from or scan to a USB drive inserted into the front panel port.

Screenshot of a document scan preview, showing a blue colour bias in the white background, Dell E525w

Dell’s scan interface could do with an auto-exposure feature; we had to manually correct this blue bias

A single black or colour copy was lethargic at 27 seconds, but multi-page copies made using the 15-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) were more competitive: 10 black pages took 51 seconds. Scan speeds were quite reasonable at all but high resolutions, with a 150 dots-per-inch (dpi) A4 scan needing 18 seconds. Print speeds fell a little short of Dell’s claimed 18 pages per minute (ppm) in black or colour: we measured 15.8ppm for the former and a competitive 12.6ppm for the latter.

Colour photocopies were just a tiny bit drab, but it was hard to fault the E525w elsewhere. Scans were reasonably sharp, with surprisingly good dynamic range ensuring that light and dark details were preserved. Printed text and graphics were excellent, while photos were also unusually good.

Laser printers in this price range are increasingly under attack from inkjet alternatives, particularly when it comes to running costs, and again it seems nobody has told Dell. With replacement black toner costing £46 and lasting for 2,000 pages, and the three colour toners each costing £49 and rated for 1,400 pages, costs work out at a disappointing 12.8p for an A4 page. Most rival lasers would be cheaper to run, but instead we’d opt for HP’s OfficeJet Pro X476dw inkjet. Its ink costs are less than 4p per page, and thanks to a cashback offer running until the end of July, it’s currently cheaper to buy, too.

TechnologyNot stated
Maximum print resolution600x600dpi
Maximum optical scan resolution (output bit depth)1,200×1,200dpi (24-bit)
Number of colours (cartridges)4 (4)
Standard interfacesUSB, Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, USB host
Optional interfacesNone
Dimensions (HxWxD)353x410x398mm
Duty cycle (pages per month)30,000 pages (maximum)
Paper handling
Maximum paper sizeA4/legal
Maximum paper weight163gsm
Standard paper trays (capacity)1 (150)
Maximum paper trays (capacity)1 (150)
Automatic Document Feeder capacity15
Supported operating systemsWindows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.6 or later, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11.3, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.4 Desktop, Ubuntu 12.04 or later, Android, iOS
Other featuresFour-line backlit LCD screen
Buying information
WarrantyOne year advance exchange
Price£263 inc VAT
Consumable parts and pricesH3M8P black (2,000 pages) £46, VR3NV cyan, WN8M9 magenta, MWR7 yellow (1,400 pages each) £49 each (ISO/IEC 19798).
Quoted life of supplied black toner700 pages (ISO/IEC 19798)
Quoted life of supplied colour toner700 pages each (ISO/IEC 19798)
Cost per ISO/IEC 19798 A4 page inc VAT12.8p
Cost per ISO/IEC 19798 A4 page inc VAT (colour part)10.5p
Cost per ISO/IEC 19798 A4 page inc VAT (mono part)2.3p
Capacity of supplied drum/s (pages)N/A
Part code305 – e525w