Similar in features, speed, and capacity options to our Editors’ Choice Dell Smart Printer S5830dn, the Ricoh SP 5300DN Black and White Laser Printer ($1,229) is a single-function laser printer designed for medium- to high-volume printing in small to midsize offices and workgroups. The Ricoh 5300DN costs a little more than the Dell S5830dn, but it’s significantly smaller and lighter and has more expansion options, and it costs less to use. On the other hand, during testing, graphics and photo output came out slightly subpar—just enough to keep it from receiving our Editors’ Choice nod. Not enough, though, to keep the Ricoh 5300DN from being an excellent choice for churning out thousands of documents each month in busy, high-volume settings.

Small and Mighty

Measuring 13.6 by 16.5 by 16.1 inches (HWD) and weighing 39.6 pounds, the Ricoh 5300DN is several inches shorter and smaller in depth, and around 13 pounds lighter, than the Dell S5830DN and the Canon ImageClass MF515dw Black and White Laser Printer, making the Ricoh model a lot more likely to fit comfortably on your desktop. It’s much closer in size to (but 10 pounds heavier than) the Xerox VersaLink B400/DN. Even though it’s smaller than several competitors, most offices will probably find it more suitable to its own shelf or printer stand.

It comes out of the box capable of holding up to 600 sheets of paper, split between a 500-sheet main drawer and a 100-sheet bypass tray. If 600 sheets from two separate sources aren’t enough, you can expand input capacity up to 2,600 sheets by adding up to four 500-sheet cassettes. The paper drawers cost from $309 to $485, depending on the configuration; some, for instance, are Teflon lined, and others have security locks that disallow adding or changing media without a key. There are also a few flavors of canister-based cabinet stands available (starting at $195).

Ricoh SP 5300DN Control Panel

The Dell S5830dn’s default paper capacity is 50 sheets higher than the Ricoh 5300DN’s, and its maximum capacity is greater by 1,800 sheets; the Xerox B400/DN holds 100 sheets more than the Ricoh model by default, yet its maximum capacity is 250 sheets less; and the Canon MF515dw also comes ready to hold 600 sheets, expandable to an underachieving 1,600 sheets. The Ricoh 5300DN’s maximum monthly duty cycle is 250,000 pages with a recommended monthly volume of 16,600.

Another of the Ricoh 5300DN’s several other expansion options includes a 350GB hard drive ($300) for storing documents with Locked, Hold, and Stored status for later retrieval and printing. You can either buy the drive and install it yourself, or have a Ricoh technician come out and install it. How much the latter costs depends on who you buy the drive from and who performs the installation. (Some vendors include this in the cost of the drive.) I chose to do the installation myself. If you’ve ever installed a drive or expansion card in a PC, installing Ricoh’s drive would be a snap. Besides, the online instructions are very well-written and well-illustrated, making the process fairly easy.

A small, somewhat rudimentary (compared with competitors) control panel is on the top-right edge of the chassis. It consists of a hand full of navigation and function buttons, and a few status LEDs, anchored by a four-line text-based non-touch monochrome display. While the panel is fairly straightforward, apparently I’ve become spoiled by today’s tablet-like displays where you access features via shortcut and app icons. At a couple of points in the testing, I found myself wandering around in the drill-down menus trying to find specific functions, such as, say, locating the unit’s IP address. Ricoh does, however, use big, colorful touch screens on some of its printers—with a price tag of well over $1,000, the 5300DN should be one of them.

Ricoh SP 5300DN Multipurpose

Setting Up, Connecting Up, and Securing Up

Setting up the Ricoh 5300DN was, for the most part, much like setting up any monochrome laser printer these days, except that I had to remove the toner cartridge from inside the chassis, fiddle with a lever, and shake the cartridge to evenly disperse the toner inside; then remount it. I also had to install a bottle that collects excess toner as the device prints. It’s not that either of these procedures is particularly arduous or time-consuming, but nearly all of today’s laser printers don’t require any additional treatment beyond loading the paper trays—they are essentially plug-n-play.

The standard connectivity ports are USB and Gigabit Ethernet. Wi-Fi and several other connection types are optional, and some are expensive. The Wi-Fi card, for instance, lists for $489. In addition to the hard drive and Wi-Fi card, there are cards for installing on-board optical character recognition (OCR), an NFC card reader for securing authentication, XPS and PDF printing, adding USB ports for connecting print servers, external drives, and a few other USB options—the list goes on. However, there is only one open interface board slot available, so you must choose among them.

Note that the (separate) USB, PDF, and File Format Converter boards allow support for various file types stored on the HDD, USB thumb drives, and various other USB devices; you can print all these types of files from your PC without installing any of these add-ons. Mobile connectivity—printing from email, scanning to and printing from cloud sites, and printing from virtually anywhere is handled through the free Ricoh Connector app.

Many of the security options, including the ability to secure separate jobs via PINs, saving samples, holding print jobs for later processing, user authentication and HDD Data Overwrite and Encryption, requires the optional HDD. Security features that don’t require the HDD are: Bonjour support, Windows Active Directory support, standard encryption, password authentication (for restricting access), Secure Socket Layer (SSL), and a few others.

Fast One- and Two-Sided Printing

As we do with all printers that default to auto-duplexing (two-sided printing), as the Ricoh 5300DN does, in addition to reporting and saving the device’s one-sided print speed, we also clock, report, and archive how fast it churns out two-sided pages. The Ricoh 5300DN printed our simply formatted 12-page Microsoft Word text document in duplex mode at the rate of 43.7 images per minute (where each side constitutes an image), which is quite fast. The Dell S5830dn was about 8ipm slower in duplex mode, and the Xerox B400/DN came in even lower, by about 12ipm. The Canon MF515dn came in a whopping 20.7ppm under our Ricoh test unit.

When printing our 12-page text document in simplex mode, the Ricoh 5300DN churned at 48.9 pages per minute (ppm), about 3ppm lower than its 52ppm rating, whereas the Dell S5830dn was about 12.2ppm faster; the Xerox B400/DN managed about 1ppm slower; and the Canon in MF515dn was 8.7ppm behind the Ricoh.

When I combined the results from the single-sided text document test with those from printing our more complex graphics- and photo-laden PDF, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, as most printers do at this point in our tests, the Ricoh 5300DN’s score plummeted, in this case by about 70 percent, to 15.3ppm. This time, though, the Ricoh machine finished dead last, at least 3ppm behind the next slowest model, the Xerox B40/DN, and 8.5ppm behind the Dell S5830dn.

Excellent Text, So-So Graphics and Photos

Overall, the Ricoh 5300DN prints reasonably well, with crisp, well-shaped, near-typesetter quality text, and better than passable graphics and photographs. Our test fonts held their own, with little-to-no degradation down to the lowest fonts we test (4 points), meaning that it’s better than acceptable for all types of business applications, including those in which you’re trying to impress an existing or would-be client. Business graphics, too, were well-delineated and easy on the eyes, but they were a little too dark, which in turn, compared with competing models, such as the Dell S5830dn, caused some lack of detail.

Ricoh SP 5300DN Output

It’s not that the graphics were not good-looking; the grayscale was just a little off and not quite as attractive as I’ve seen on several competitors, including the models discussed throughout, but especially compared with several Canon monochrome laser machines, such as the Canon ImageClass MF515dw Black and White Laser Printer. The Ricoh 5300DN’s photos, too, had the same dark pall over them, thereby making them a shade or two under pristine, but still more than acceptable for most business applications—except, perhaps, marketing material. But then you probably wouldn’t want to use grayscale photos for that, anyway.

Running Costs Can’t Get Much Lower

While there’s plenty to like about the Ricoh 5300DN, it’s exceptionally high-yield (25,000 pages) toner cartridge and low 0.5-cent cost per page make it an exceptional value. It may cost a few hundred dollars more than the other models discussed here, but if you use it to its potential of several thousand pages per month, you’ll get that back in no time. (For every 1-cent difference in the per-page cost of toner, every 10,000 pages you print will save you $100.) Of the other machines discussed here, the Dell S5830dn’s 1-cent cost per page is closest to that of the Ricoh 5300DN.

A No-Nonsense Workhorse

The Ricoh SP 5300DN Black and White Laser Printer prints relatively well, and fast, at highly competitive running costs. Its graphics and photo output is not quite as good as we see from some of its direct competitors, though. In fact, all three of the other high-volume monochrome laser printers discussed here, the Dell S5830dn, the Xerox B400/DN, and the Canon MF515dn, all print a little better grayscale graphics and photographs—a cost-versus-output-quality tradeoff that could, if your print volume is high enough, cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the printer. However, the Ricoh 5300DN’s high price, expensive add-ons (the $500 Wi-Fi module, for example), and slightly subpar graphics and photos are just enough to keep it from nudging Dell’s S5830dn from its Editors’ Choice perch for a mid-to-high-volume monochrome laser printer for small- and medium-size offices and workgroups.

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