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Brother HL-3040CN review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £189
inc VAT

A competent but not outstanding colour LED printer. Its high running costs mean it's best avoided.


single-pass colour LED, 16ppm print speed, USB Hi-Speed, 10/100 Ethernet, 250x409x466mm

This colour printer is the first time Brother has used a row of LEDs rather than a laser to draw a page image on to the drum. This means fewer moving parts, which should extend the printer’s life.

Unlike most entry-level colour lasers, this is a single-pass printer, with four separate drums for black, cyan, magenta and yellow toner. This allows it to produce colour prints as quickly as it does mono ones. It also results in a fair amount of bulk, but the 409x466mm footprint is reasonably compact and its height of 250mm is less imposing than most. Paper in the output tray doesn’t lie flat, though, which exacerbates the curling effect that occurs as the printer heats up the paper.

Both USB and Ethernet ports are provided. Configuring settings on the front panel is fiddly, but there’s also a web-based interface. This includes network settings plus toner and drum meters, although it’s not possible to limit use based on IP address. A Secure Printing option in the print driver allows a print job to be given a four-digit password, whereupon it’s only printed once the password is entered on the printer itself. However, the 32MB memory capacity means it can store only a single graphics-heavy DTP page or four pages of text.

The price of £189 is good for a colour LED printer, but the benefit is lost due to high running costs; 14.6p per mixed colour page is twice what we’d expect from a colour laser, and three times higher than a business inkjet. At least it outpaces inkjet printers, with mono prints at 13ppm and colour prints at 12.2ppm. However, many colour lasers at this price manage 18ppm for mono prints.

The HL-3040CN handled our print quality tests well, and excelled at producing very small text that was still clearly legible. However, photos were undersaturated compared to the best colour lasers at this price, and graduated fills suffered from banding. There was also evidence of dithering in photos and block-colour graphics. Upping the print quality from Normal to Fine – which increased the resolution from 600dpi to 600×2,400dpi – reduced the visibility of this dither. However, with only 32MB of RAM, many graphics-heavy pages refused to print at Fine quality. We recommend installing an additional 512MB DIMM module, but it’s a bit of a nuisance and a compatible module costs another £60.

This printer does nothing badly, but in many respects – performance, print quality, paper handling and particularly running costs – it’s not up to the same standards as the best of its competitors. Epson’s Aculaser C2800N is bulkier but is a vastly better printer.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Maximum native print resolution 600×2,400dpi
Maximum enhanced print resolution 600×2,400dpi

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4 16ppm
Quoted speed, colour A4 16ppm

Tested Speeds

Mono page from sleep time 1.0 48s
Colour page from sleep time 1.0 34s
Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 30s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 56s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfaces USB Hi-Speed, 10/100 Ethernet
Optional printer interfaces N/A
Size 250x409x466mm
Weight 19.0kg
Noise (in normal use) 53dB(A)
Power consumption standby 7W
Power consumption idle 11W
Power consumption active 925W

Paper Handling

Maximum paper size A4/legal
Maximum paper weight 105gsm
Standard paper inputs 2
Standard paper input capacity 251
Maximum paper inputs 2
Maximum paper input capacity 251
Duplex (code, cost if option) No


Printer technology single-pass colour LED
Language(s) GDI
Supported operating systems Windows 2000/XP/XP x64 Edition/Server 2003/Server 2003 x64 Edition/Vista/Server 2008/7, Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later
Standard printer memory 32MB
Maximum printer memory 544MB
Other laser features and options N/A

Buying Information

Price £189
Price per colour A4 page 11.50p
Price of 2nd paper cassette N/A
Capacity of supplied black toner 1,000 pages
Capacity of supplied colour toners 1,000 pages
Capacity of supplied drum(s) 15,000
Estimated colour TCO – three years medium £1584
Estimated colour TCO – three years heavy £6504
Warranty one year onsite
Consumable parts and prices Black toner TN-230BK £ 51.73, Cyan toner TN-230C £ 49.96, Magenta toner TN-230M £ 49.96, Yellow toner TN-230Y £ 49.96, Drum DR-230CL £ 81.81, Waste toner unit WT-200CL £ 18.42, Belt unit BU-200CL £ 84.73
Price per mono A4 page 3.10p

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 30s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 56s