To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Epson Aculaser CX21NF review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £544
inc VAT


four-pass colour laser, 25ppm print speed, USB, 10/100 Ethernet, 667x460x467mm

Epson’s Aculaser CX21NF is a large and heavy workgroup colour laser, and the most expensive printer here.

High-yield toners make it cheap to run, and with a 500-sheet paper tray and a 45,000-page duty cycle, it can serve the needs of a small office or a one-man operation with heavy printing requirements easily. The installation disc doesn’t work properly under Vista, but you can explore it to find and install the drivers. Alternatively, you can download the latest versions from Epson’s website.

Buttons on the front allow you to switch between copy, scan, fax and maintenance modes. This system is clear and easy to use, but we would have liked the option to make copies by pressing a single button. Changing toner cartridges can be tricky if you want to remove them before the end of their lifespan. Only one cartridge can be reached at a time and you’ll have to use the built-in menus to rotate the one you want into reach.

The CX21NF printed our mixed-colour document at a steady 4.8ppm. Print quality was excellent. Colour charts and illustrations were rich, solid and intense, without a visible grain. Photo-quality images were smoothly shaded with realistic reproduction of skin tones and natural colours. Mono text was of a high quality and printed at 22.1ppm; the fastest of the three colour laser printers here.

The 600dpi scanner captured fine detail well, and low-resolution document scans produced sharp and legible text. Some photos were a little dark, but Epson’s powerful scanner driver provides all the tools to make any corrections you require. Photocopies were also a little dark, but this was easily corrected.

The CX21NF has an incredibly low mono cost of 1.1p and mixed-colour costs of just 5.6p, making this one of the most economical printers around. Its TCO for three years of medium use is just £1,359. Combined with outstanding print quality and fast print speeds, the CX21NF earns its Best Buy award, although users who need an automatic duplexer should look at Lexmark’s X544dn.

Basic Specifications

Rating *****
Maximum native print resolution 600x600dpi
Max optical resolution 600x600dpi
Output bit depth 24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4 25ppm
Quoted speed, colour A4 5ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 36s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 55s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfaces USB, 10/100 Ethernet
Optional printer interfaces 802.11 b/g wireless printer server C12C824373, £92
Size 667x460x467mm
Weight 41.1kg
Noise (in normal use) 57dB(A)
Duty cycle 45,000 pages
Power consumption standby 17W
Power consumption idle 27W
Power consumption active 897W

Paper Handling

Maximum paper size A4
Maximum paper weight 210gsm
Standard paper inputs 1
Standard paper input capacity 500
Maximum paper inputs 2
Maximum paper input capacity 680
Duplex (code, cost if option) No


Printer technology four-pass colour laser
Language(s) Emulations: ESC/Page-Color S, Adobe PostScript 3, PCL5c, PCL
Supported operating systems Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/XP-64/Server 2003/Vista, Mac OS X 10.2.8+, Linux, Citrix, SAP
Maximum printer memory 576MB
Other laser features and options 4,500 page black C13S050319, £50, 5,000 page cyan C13S050318 , £63, 5,000 page magenta C13S050317, £92, 5,000 page yellow C13S050316, £71, photoconductor unit C13S051104, £163,

Buying Information

Price £544
Price per mono A4 page 1.11p
Price per colour A4 page 3.4p
Price of 2nd paper cassette 500-sheet C12C802181, £147
Warranty one year onsite

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview 7s
A4 document at 150dpi 7s
A4 document at 300dpi 11s
6x4in photo at 600dpi 14s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi N/A
Single 35mm negative at 2400dpi N/A

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.0 19s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.0 31s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.0 36s

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies 99
Copier zoom range 25-400%
Max mono copy resolution 600x600dpi
Max colour copy resolution 600x600dpi

Fax Features

Fax modem speed 33.6Kbit/s
Fax memory (maximum mono pages) 200