Dell's Fast and Inexpensive-to-Use Monochrome Smart Printer S5830dn

Penny a page and a 300,000-page maximum duty cycle

Dell Smart Printer S5830dn
Get fast, inexpensive, quality black-and-white Dell Smart Printer S5830dn. Photo Courtesy of Dell

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Heavy duty, high-volume printing with a 300,000 duty cycle
  • Fast first page out
  • Ginormous yield toner cartridges
  • Very low cost per page
  • Highly expandable
  • Supports PCL 5e, PCL 6, and a PostScript emulation

Cons:

  • Graphics quality inferior to some competing models
  • Wi-Fi costs extra

Bottom line: Dell’s super-fast and relatively inexpensive to use high-volume single-function monochrome laser prints good-looking pages for a penny apiece.

You can’t ask much more than that.

Introduction

Not only is the S5830dn fast, but it prints good-looking documents, graphics, and images, and it’s expandable via add-on paper drawers and a “sheet feeder,” for up to a maximum capacity of over 4,000 sheets from numerous sources. Otherwise, aside from some subpar graphics printing and perhaps somewhat of a high purchase price, I found little to dislike about this printer. We've also reviewed the Dell Color Smart Printer S5840Cdn, a color version of this printer.

Design & Features

The S5840dn matte-black chassis measures 16.7 inches from side to side, by 20.1 inches from front to back, by 6.5 inches tall, and it weighs a stout 52 pounds. Do yourself a favor and get some help getting it out of the box and wrangled on to a sturdy bench or table. Out-of-the box, it supports only Ethernet and a direct connection to a single PC via USB. To get wireless connectivity, you’ll need to purchase a $100 wireless print server from Dell.

In fact, this printer has more accessories than you can shake a stick at, including an automatic stapler, a hole punch, a 160GB hard drive, and 2GB of additional memory, as well as several paper input expansion options we’ll look at shortly, in the Performance, Print Quality, and Paper Handling section.

Meanwhile, here is a link to the Accessories page on Dell’s site. Not only are some of the products expensive, some are way expensive. The $480 160GB hard drive comes to mind, considering that most 160GB cost under $30, and that you can buy 160GB solid state drives (SSDs) for around $60 to $80.

While the S5830dn doesn’t really do anything except print, and only black-and-white pages at that, it still comes with a bright and colorful 4.3-inch touch screen that anchors a control panel replete with a number pad and several other buttons and status lights. Overall, this printer is very easy to use. You can use the control panel for configuring the options discussed so far, and for walk-up, or PC-free, tasks, such as printing from the cloud, USB thumb drives, or checking toner status. The USB port is located on the front of the chassis, to the left of the control panel.

The S5830dn emulates several printer languages (or page description languages, PDLs) including HP’s PCL 5e, PCL 6, and Adobe PostScript 3.0 emulation, which should allow you to do some minimal proofing for printing press runs. Why minimal? Well, because the output is black-and white, so you can’t proof colors. In any case, it’s a nice touch.

Performance, Print Quality, Paper Handling

Dell rates the S5830dn at 60 pages per minute (ppm) in simplex (single-sided) mode and 32ppm duplex (two-sided) mode, but as usual when printing real-world documents containing complex formatting, business graphics, and photos, its actual scores are significantly lower. My tests came up with about 20ppm in simplex mode, which is quite fast for this particular test.

And that’s always a huge plus for a high-volume printer, or perhaps an environment where fast one-page documents, such as proposals and receipts, are important. The S5830dn is rated at 4.4 seconds for the first page out time (FPOT), or the time it takes to churn out the first page, which is always important in situations where people are waiting for the printer.

As for print quality, the S5830dn’s is about average. While text quality is not the best I’ve seen, it's good enough for most business applications, except perhaps for documents that require small fonts. Business graphics, i.e. charts, graphs, and tables, on the other hand, sometimes came out with banding and other symptoms of uneven toner distribution. Dark gradients and other screens and halftones sometimes looked a little blotchy. Photos, for the most part, printed well enough, much akin to newspaper black-and-white pictures—you can easily make out content, with little-to-no flaws or lack of detail, but they were hardly impressive, or in any other way remarkable.

Paper handling is where this beast excels. Out of the box, it comes capable of holding 650 sheets of standard paper, 550 sheets in the main input cassette and 100 sheets in the multipurpose tray. If that’s not enough, though, you can add up to three optional 550-sheet paper drawers for $234.99 each. Need more? There’s also a 2,100-sheet feeder ($849.99), for a total paper input capacity of 4,400 sheets from a minimum of six separate sources. In addition, you can add on numerous other accessories, some finishing, some for increasing capacity.

In the finishing department, Dell offers: a stapler, a hole punch, a storage bin with casters, a 1,500 Sheet OP Stacker, and more, all of which seem to speak for themselves. Capacity-wise, we’ve discussed the drawers and sheet-feeder, but not the 160GB hard drive ($479.99) for storing fonts, partial jobs, and so on, as well as a DDR2 DIMM memory chip for increasing onboard RAM from 512MB (half a gigabyte) to 2560MB (2.5 gigabytes).

Since laser printers “image,” or process, the entire page in memory before committing anything to paper, additional memory can speed up the imaging of high-resolution graphics and photos significantly.

Cost Per Page

Dell offers a slew of toner products for this printer, including cartridges with yields of 6,000, 25,000, and 45,000 pages, in two different configurations: Use & Return, or simply Use. The difference here, of course, is that Dell refurbishes and refills the Use & Return cartridges, which can mean as much as $60 difference between the 45K Use & Return and Use products—for example, the 45,000-page Use & Return cartridge sells on Dell’s site for 393.99, while the Use counterpart costs $459.99.

The difference in the cost per page, or CPP, between these two cartridges is one-tenth of a cent, or 0.009 vs. 1 cent (0.01), respectively. That may not sound like much, but if you’re printing, say, 100,000 pages each month, that’s a $100 savings each month, and more if you print more—up to 300,000, or $300 savings. In any case, even at the $100 figure, that’s $1,200 per year, or enough to buy this printer with change left over. Nowadays, nine-tenths of a penny per page is about as good as it gets. Any reductions from here on out, as we approach zero cents per page, will probably be slow and painstaking—there’s just not that much left to give.

Conclusion

It’s always good when a printer maker delivers a product that meets all the criteria for a certain class of printer, in this case high-volume monochrome laser printers.

Good all-around high-volume printers perform in three key areas: performance, print quality, and cost per page. I’m happy to report that Dell’s Smart Printer S5830dn meets all three handily—it’s fast, it prints well, and it costs less than a penny per page to use.

What I found particularly handy was this machine’s under-5-second first page out. Even if you don’t print thousands of pages each month, there are many—most are business-to-consumer—scenarios where one- or two-page printouts will get the customer (or potential customers) moving down the line, or on their way. Not a popular, but pertinent example is the local Department of Motor Vehicles office; a slow printer in that mix is a recipe for disaster. You get the point, right?

A $1,000 investment in office equipment is, for many small- and medium-size business (SMBs), substantial. But in the long run, it’s better to spring for a higher price up front than an ongoing inflated per-page cost of toner. Over the life of the printer, we’re talking several thousand dollars of savings; that has to be worth a few hundred dollars upfront on the purchase price.

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