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The Brother HL-5100DN monochrome laser printer is a budget business laser printer focused on raw throughput. Its print speed is extremely high for its price, it packs a high-capacity paper tray to further make use of that print speed, and its average running cost is low; these features all work together to make it great for printing off text-based documents rapidly, making it a strong contender for the best printer for small business in the budget sector.
Related: Also read our Brother HL-L2350DW review
The Brother HL-5100DN is a great budget laser printer with solid print quality, blistering print speed for the price, and support for useful features like duplex printing (two-sided printing). It’s also environmentally friendly and cost-conscious thanks to its Energy Star certification and high-yield toner cartridge. For a different model to consider, check out our HP Laserjet Monochrome two-sided 4PA41A review.
Related: If you want better quality prints, read the Brother HlL-L8260CDW review
Speed is Brother HL-5100DN’s claim to fame. Its rated speed of 42 pages per minute, and it holds up when printing single-sided text documents, and it holds up well enough in more complex prints; it’s considerably faster than the Epson WorkForce ET-4750 or the Brother MFC-L3770CDW laser printer, which chugs along at a fraction of the speed, though its print quality is markedly worse. It’s slightly faster than Brother’s own Brother MFCL2750DW, though this speed difference is negligible in the real world, and its print quality is worse, which makes sense, given it’s a cheaper printer.
Quality is merely so-so on the Brother HL-5100DN. Text looks good at larger sizes but falls off on smaller prints, while graphic quality is middling at the best of times. The Canon imageCLASS MF445DW offers better overall text quality (especially smaller fonts) and significantly improved graphic quality; it struggles with gradients but prints a much nicer image than Brother’s offering. If you won’t be printing small fonts, it’s a good printer for printing text, but it’s lacking in its ability to reproduce finer details.
With a cost of 1.8¢ per page, the Brother HL-5100DN is fairly efficient. It’s cheaper overall to run than its higher-end contemporaries, and its low running costs just overall make it a very solid value pick. Its toner is reasonably priced to replace, its cost per page is low, and it’s well-priced. Low-cost ink replacements are great, especially if you notice your printer skipping lines.
Ethernet capabilities, an LCD display, and a litany of security features make the Brother HL-5100DN a feature-rich printer. Unfortunately, it lacks the ability to connect to a wireless network; you have to spend extra to get a slightly higher-end SKU in the form of the Brother HL-L5200DW. The lack of Wi-Fi is fairly forgivable at this low price point, though it would have been nice to have the option to add a wireless USB dongle or something of that nature to it to add Wi-Fi functionality without having to step up to a higher-end SKU.
Value is Brother HL-5100DN’s bread and butter. It comes in at a very low price, and it doesn’t use that low price to obfuscate inflated long-term costs; its toner is reasonably priced and lasts a while overall, making both the upfront cost and long-term cost of the Brother HL-5100DN very low. While this comes at a sacrifice to quality, it’s still fine for printing out most text, and it’s not entirely unusable for printing graphics.
The Brother HL-5100DN is a printer with mediocre print quality and absolutely phenomenal value. Its upfront cost is very reasonable, and Brother doesn’t nickel-and-dime you for toner replacements, making it a very affordable offering with adequate but unexceptional print quality. It’s unfortunate that it struggles with very small text, and it’s baffling why Brother eschewed wireless networking entirely without stepping up to a more expensive unit, but even with those two drawbacks, it’s a very compelling offering just by virtue of its incredible value. If ethernet is an option for you, or you can just directly hook it up to your computer, it’s a phenomenal purchase that’ll be wallet-friendly both now and later.