The Lexmark C2325dw ($269) is a budget single-function color laser printer for light-duty use in small-to-medium-size offices. Like the Editors’ Choice Brother HL-L3270CDW, it prints well and at a respectable clip, and it takes up very little desk space. Unfortunately, the price of its consumables is higher than that Brother model, even in a category where bloated long-term costs are par for the course. Otherwise, the C2325dw is a fine low-volume color laser option.
Small and Functional
The two-tone body is charcoal-colored with an off-white front. Measuring 12.1 by 17.4 by 16.6 inches (HWD) and weighing 45 pounds, the C2325dw is closer in height and weight to machines a step higher in capacity and price.
The C2325dw’s paper input capacity is 251 sheets, split between a 250-sheet main drawer and, just below that, a one-sheet override slot. That’s about what I would expect for a printer at this price. What’s surprising, though, is its honking 60,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle and 5,000-page suggested monthly print volume. That’s twice as many pages as its two closest competitors, the Canon Color imageClass LBP612Cdw and the Brother HL-L3270CDW, and 20,000 pages more than the Brother HL-L8260CDW. With its high running costs, though, it’s going to be expensive getting anywhere near those numbers. (I’ll talk more about that below.)
You can use the C2325dw’s simple seven-button (Settings, Power, Back, Cancel, OK, and two navigation arrows), two-line monochrome LED control panel to make configuration changes. Although it’s easy to use, it’s much simpler than those we’ve seen on competing machines like the HL-L3270CDW with its 2.7-inch color touch screen. You can make security configuration changes, check consumable levels, and print reports from the printer’s built-in website, shown here…
Software, Connectivity, and Security
The C2325dw ships with a disc in the box, but there’s very little on it. On top of that, when I tried to use the disc to set the printer up with Windows 10, I got an error at the end of the process that said “the installation failed.” The good news is that you don’t actually need the disc when using Windows 10, since the operating system will automatically find the drivers and configure itself to use the printer once it’s connected.
If you aren’t using Windows 10, though, you’ll need to install the drivers using the disc, and this Lexmark supports more operating systems than most other printers I’ve reviewed. In addition to Windows 10, the C2325dw provides drivers for all versions of Windows back to version 7, macOS back to version 10.13, and several versions of Linux, Sun Solaris, Citrix, and Novell Open Enterprise Server. Its default page description language (PDL) is PostScript 3, and it comes with the drivers for HP’s PCL5c and PCL6, Personal Printer Data Stream (PPDS), Microsoft XPS, Portable Document Format (PDF), and Direct Image.
In other words, in addition to standard office applications, it’s also suitable for some not-as-common environments, including desktop publishing and graphic design, via PostScript and PCL (Printer Command Language) PDLs.
You can connect the C2325dw to your network wirelessly and wired, over Ethernet, or connect to a single PC via USB. It does not, however, support any of today’s popular wireless peer-to-peer protocols, such as Wi-Fi direct, NFC, and Bluetooth, for connecting your mobile devices to the printer without them being on your network. Mobile support is basic but adequate, and includes Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Mopria, or printing over Wi-Fi with the Lexmark Mobile Printer app.
Security is robust for an entry-level printer. You can control or deny access to functions by user, group, or IP address. A feature called Confidential Print Setup lets you configure as many as 10 PINs to hold sensitive documents in the printer’s memory, allowing only those users who know a document’s respective PIN to print it. You can also set expiration options, keep duplicate copies of all documents on the printer, and restrict logins to the printer or embedded website by the number of failed attempts.
I tried setting several security options from both the control panel and the embedded web server, with the latter being more user-friendly. If your small office or workgroup requires extensive yet adaptable security and access controls, the C2325dw is quite capable of keeping the riffraff out.
Competitive Print Speeds and Output
Lexmark rates the C2325dw at 25 pages per minute (ppm). I tested it over Ethernet from our standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional. It printed our standard 12-page Microsoft Word text document at 23.9ppm, or just short of its rating and in line with the Brother HL-L3270CDW. Canon’s LBP612Cdw, on the other hand, came in about 7ppm behind the Lexmark model, while the heftier Brother HL-L8260CDW jumped ahead to 33ppm.
See How We Test Printers
Next, I printed our colorful complex Acrobat, Excel, and PowerPoint business documents, spreadsheets, and handouts containing images and graphics, and then combined that score with the results from the previous 12-page text document to come up with a page-per-minute time for printing our entire suite of test documents. Here, the C2325dw managed 11.9ppm, which beats the HL-L3270CDW by 1.5ppm and the LBP612Cdw by just shy of 4ppm. It fell behind Brother’s beefier HL-L8260CDW by a mere 0.2ppm, which is impressive, given that model’s 33ppm rating.
Impressive print speeds are important, but less so if your printer’s output doesn’t hold up. The good news here is that, like the other printers in this group, the C2325dw’s output across the board—text, graphics, and photos—looks terrific. Some of the C2325dw’s dark backgrounds and fills had some very minor banding, but none of it was noticeable without close inspection. I would have no qualms about using this Lexmark’s output for promotional material designed to impress.
Budget-Sapping Running Costs
At 3.1 cents for monochrome pages and 15.7 for color prints, printing anything more than a few hundred pages per month on this machine is a costly endeavor, but that’s to be expected with a laser-class model in this price range.
To compare against its brethren, at 3.2 cents monochrome and 16.3 cents color, the Canon LBP612Cdw’s running costs are a little higher still, and, at 2.6 cents per black page and 15.5 cents per color print, the Brother HL-L3270CDW’s per-page costs are only slightly better. You’ll save a little by stepping up to a higher-volume machine, but, unless you jump up to laser machines that list for three or four times as much as the C2325dw, the savings won’t be much. The Brother HL-L8260CDW’s best running costs, for example, are 2.5 cents black and 12.7 cents color.
To make matters a little worse, to get Lexmark’s lowest cost on its highest-yield toner cartridges, you must jump through a hoop or two. The prices in the previous paragraph are contingent on your participating in a recycle program where you agree to return the empties. Granted, many users might prefer this arrangement, but if you don’t buy the recyclable cartridges, your cost per page skyrockets to 4 cents black and 20.8 cents color. The good news in all this is that the toner comes in small, easy-to-handle bottles, instead of the more traditional long and bulky cartridges that span the width of the printer.
A Multiple Platform Solution
There’s a lot to like about the Lexmark C2325dw, including its relatively fast print speed, excellent output quality, and competitive list price. Its only glaring flaws are how much it costs to use (a problem for most printers in this price range) its sparse control panel, and its lack of robust mobile connectivity. Where it stands above its competitors is in its ultra-high monthly duty cycle and its support for a wide range of operating systems and platforms. If those features are appealing to your home or small office, and you’re not churning out thousands of pages a month, the C2325dw is a worthy low-volume alternative to the Brother HL-L3270CDW, an Editors’ Choice model that’s slightly less expensive to use.