Generous standard paper capacity. Color touch-screen display. USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct connectivity. Good output quality, led by above-average text.
Relatively high running costs. ADF does not support single-pass two-sided scanning.
- Bottom Line
The Canon imageClass MF515dw provides good output quality, solid speed, and voluminous paper capacity for a monochrome laser all-in-one, but at a relatively high cost per page.
By Tony Hoffman
The Canon imageClass MF515dw ($999), a new high-end monochrome laser all-in-one printer, has the chops for heavy-duty printing in a small office. It combines voluminous standard and optional paper capacities with a high monthly duty cycle and a strong feature set. It delivers solid speed, and its good output quality is led by above-average text. But although the MF515dw is built for high-volume printing, a relatively high per-page cost for toner—which quickly adds up if you print many thousands of pages—makes it more suitable for medium-duty print loads.
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Design and Features
Measuring 19.9 by 17.9 by 18.8 inches (HWD) and weighing 53.6 pounds with cartridge loaded, the MF515dw is a large and heavy printer that requires a table or bench of its own, and you will want two people to move it into place. Its front panel includes an alphanumeric keypad for entering fax numbers and other information, a 3.5-inch color touch-screen LCD, and buttons identified by both words and icons, including Home, Back, Start, Stop, Reset, and Energy Saver. The port for the USB thumb drive is just to the right of the output tray, below the front panel.
Standard paper capacity is 600 sheets, split between a 500-sheet main paper tray and a 100-sheet multipurpose feeder. An automatic duplexer enables printing on both sides of a sheet of paper; the printer is set by default to duplex printing as a paper-saving measure, but can easily be switched to simplex (one-sided) printing. You can add up to two additional 500-sheet paper trays ($299 each), for a maximum paper capacity of 1,600 sheets. A maximum monthly duty cycle of 100,000 pages—the most the printer can print in a month without risking damage—pegs the MF515dw for heavy-duty use. The duty cycle of the Editors' Choice Xerox WorkCentre 3615/DN is slightly higher, up to 110,000 pages. Its standard (700 sheets) and maximum (2,350 sheets) paper capacities are also somewhat higher than the MF515dw's.
Atop the printer is a flatbed with a legal-size platen, and a 50-sheet duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) that lets users copy, scan, or fax both sides of multipage documents, also at up to legal size. It first scans one side of a document, flips it over, and then scans the other side. The Xerox WorkCentre 3615/DN has a similar 60-sheet duplexing ADF. The 70-sheet ADF on the Brother MFC-L6700DW's scans both sides of a two-sided document at once, a much faster procedure.
The MF515dw offers Ethernet, USB, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity. It also supports making a direct peer-to-peer connection with a compatible device via Wi-Fi Direct. Mobile protocols and services supported include Apple AirPrint, Mopria Print Service, Canon Print Business, and Google Cloud Print. Printer drivers include Canon's host-based (UFR II) driver and PCL6. I tested the printer over an Ethernet connection.
In its default duplex mode, the MF515dw averaged 23 pages per minute (ppm) in printing the text-only (Word) portion of our new business applications suite, slightly exceeding its rated speed of 20.5ppm. In printing the full suite, which includes PDF, PowerPoint, and Excel files in addition to the aforementioned Word document, it averaged 11.5ppm. The MF515dw is overall a bit faster than the Canon imageClass MF416dw, rated at 17ppm, which we clocked at 17.2ppm on the text document and 11.1ppm for the entire suite.
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In simplex mode, the MF515dw printed our text document at 41.2ppm, in line with its 42ppm simplex speed rating. We clocked it at 17.2ppm in printing our full business suite. These speeds were short of the faster-rated (48ppm) Brother MFC-L6700DW, which averaged 47.1ppm on the text document and 23.8ppm across our full test suite. And although the MF515dw was considerably faster than the Canon MF416dw in text-only printing, their times were nearly identical over the entire suite.
Overall output quality was good for a mono laser, with slightly above-par text, and average graphics and photos. The MF515dw's text should be fine for any use except perhaps for those requiring tiny fonts.
Although most graphics looked reasonably good, the MF515dw had trouble handling very thin lines in a couple of figures. It also did poorly in handling a gradient, and occasionally had problems in differentiating between zones of similar tone. Photos are fine for printing out images from webpages.
Price and Running Costs
Do not be dismayed by the MF515dw's seemingly stratospheric list price, as most retailers slash that at least in half. Two of the three online dealers in Canon's imageClass Premier Partner network that carry this printer sell it for around $750, and it can be found at a similar price at other e-tailers.
Running costs, based on Canon's price and yield figures for toner, are 2.3 cents per page. Although lower than the Canon MF419dw (3 cents), they are higher than the 1.6 cents per page we saw from both the OKI MB562w and the Xerox WorkCentre 3615/DN. The Brother MFC-L6700DW's costs are even lower, at 1.5 cents per page. Running costs are particularly consequential with high-volume printers such as these; a half-cent higher per-page cost, for example, would amount to $100 higher toner costs for each 20,000 printed pages.
The Canon imageClass MF515dw is a beast of a printer, with voluminous paper capacity and the durability that comes with a high duty cycle. It offers a wide range of features, good speed, and solid output quality. But although it is built to print at high volume, its per-page cost for toner is higher than that of many comparable systems. The Editors' Choice Xerox WorkCentre 3615/DN, which can be had for a similar price, offers even larger standard and optional paper capacities, and shaves off 0.7 cent per page in toner cost when you use its highest-volume cartridges.
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As Analyst for printers, scanners, and projectors, Tony Hoffman tests and reviews these products and provides news coverage for these categories. Tony has worked at PC Magazine since 2004, first as a Staff Editor, then as Reviews Editor, and more recently as Managing Editor for the printers, scanners, and projectors team. In addition to editing, Tony has written articles on digital photography and reviews of digital cameras, PCs, and iPhone apps Prior to joining the PCMag team, Tony worked for 17 years in magazine and journal… More »
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