Xerox Phaser 6121MFP/N review

Kat Orphanides
22 Apr 2010
Xerox Phaser 6121MFP/N
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Despite brilliant colour and mono print quality, this MFP fails with poor scans and wince-inducing print and ownership costs.



four-pass colour laser, 20ppm print speed, USB, 10/100 Ethernet, 405x427x432 mm

It's not exactly what we'd call a compact colour laser MFP, but the Phaser 6121MFPM is smaller than most of Xerox's colour printers, thanks largely to the design of its cartridge system. Four shallow toner cartridges are loaded into a rotating holder behind a front panel flap. Only one is accessible at the time, but they're rotated every time you open and close the flap, which makes it easy to change them. It has plenty of features, with both USB and 10/100 Ethernet ports, along with a full set of scan, copy and fax capabilities.

Although the installer is supposed to detect the printer on our network, it was unable to do so. Fortunately, an alternative installation option allowed us to manually enter the printer's IP address, which we obtained by printing its Configuration Page. Between the printer's menus and front panel buttons, you can control every feature with ease, from sending a fax to configuring email alerts, but it's easier to configure these settings via the Phaser's web interface. The administrator password isn't clearly printed in any of the quick start guides, but is conveniently set to blank by default.

While the scanner interface provides a number of colour, brightness and sharpness controls, resolution can only be selected from a handful of fixed options. Scan Dashboard made it easy to scan multi-page documents into a variety of file formats, including PDF. Unfortunately, scans take ages, even at low resolutions - we had to wait 31 seconds for a 150dpi A4 scan - and the results are murky, with greyish patches on white areas and poor contrast, particularly on darker shades. If anything, our 600dpi photo scan looked even worse, with dull colours and extremely visible graininess on lighter areas.

Mono copy quality is similarly poor, with dark areas that fade into one another, although text is sharp. Colour copies look better, although a white page was printed with a grey background. Fortunately, both mono and colour print quality from the Phaser were excellent – colour illustrations and photos were smooth, glossy and clear and mono text was sharp. Print speeds were a reasonable 17.6ppm for mono text and 4.2ppm for colour documents.

Despite its poor scan and copy quality, this MFP's biggest problem is its running costs. A page of mono text isn't too bad at 2.8p, but colour costs 12.2p, leading to a massive mixed black and colour print cost of 15p per page. The Total Cost of Ownership is similarly high at £667 for three years' light use (a very modest 67 mono and 33 colour pages per month) and a painful £2,135 for three years' medium use (500 mono and 250 colour pages monthly).

These figures are among the highest we've ever seen and mean that, in financial terms, even light users will be better off with practically any other printer on the market. Epson's Aculaser CX21N is a better buy in every respect. There's even a fax version available if you need one (the Aculaser CX21NF).

Basic Specifications

Maximum native print resolution600x600dpi
Max optical resolution600x1,200dpi
Output bit depth24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A420ppm
Quoted speed, colour A45ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.01m 18s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.01m 24s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfacesUSB, 10/100 Ethernet
Optional printer interfacesnone
Size405x427x432 mm
Noise (in normal use)51.3dB(A)
Duty cycle35,000 pages

Paper Handling

Maximum paper sizeA4
Maximum paper weight209gsm
Standard paper inputs1
Standard paper input capacity200
Maximum paper inputs1
Maximum paper input capacity700
Duplex (code, cost if option)Yes


Printer technologyfour-pass colour laser
Supported operating systemsWindows 2000/XP/XP 64-bit/Vista/Vista 64-bit/7/7 64-bit, Mac OS X 10.3+
Maximum printer memory128MB
Other laser features and options2,600 page Black 106R01469, £74; 2,600 page Cyan 106R01466, £105; 2,600 page Magenta 106R01467, £108; 2,600 page Yellow 106R01468, £105; 20,000 impression imaging Unit 108R00868, £67

Buying Information

Price per colour A4 page12.2p
Price of 2nd paper cassette500-sheet 097S04030, £160
Warrantyone year onsite

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview27s
A4 document at 150dpi31s
A4 document at 300dpi1m 17s
6x4in photo at 600dpi32s
6x4in photo at 1200dpiN/A
Single 35mm negative at 2400dpiN/A

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.025s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.059s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.01m 11s

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies99
Copier zoom range50-200%
Max mono copy resolution600x600dpi
Max colour copy resolution600x600dpi

Fax Features

Fax modem speed33.6Kbit/s
Max mono fax resolution203x392dpi
Fax memory (maximum mono pages)380