The Lexmark X543dn colour laser multifunction printer offers budget-strapped small offices or workgroups a few nice features at a tempting starting price.
Unfortunately, the Lexmark X543dn's expensive toner makes it suitable for light-volume use only.
The office-friendly bonuses include the Lexmark X543dn's intuitive control panel, automatic two-sided printing, and a versatile main input tray that can handle up to 250 sheets of letter- or legal-sized plain paper, as well as heavier stock.
The Lexmark X543dn's tray's length guide is kludgy, however, and tough to extend with one hand. A single-sheet manual feed slot is integrated into the bottom of the main paper tray. Lemark sells a combination 550-sheet input tray and 100-sheet multipurpose feeder as an option. The standard 150-sheet output tray is a vertical plastic paper catch that hooks onto the back of the unit and snaps off when lightly touched. An MFP in this class deserves a sturdier, more conveniently located component.
In our performance and output quality tests, the Lexmark X543dn's strongest suit was its print quality. Plain, black text was legible but lacked refinement in narrower lines and curves.
Colour images generally looked good, though (surprisingly) Lexmark's own photo paper produced the worst image: the image had a distractingly orange tinge and a grainy look. Print speeds were underwhelming: black text pages exited at a rate of 19.4 pages per minute - close to the vendor's specified rating of 21ppm, but for a colour laser MFP. Colour graphics crawled at 3.4ppm; and of the eight units we tested at the same time, the Lexmark X543dn was easily the slowest at completing the timed scan tests.
This might be in part because the Lexmark X543dn ships with just 128MB of RAM. Scan quality was subpar, noticeably lacking in sharpness, depth, and colour complexity.
Regrettably, the Lexmark X543dn's toner prices are excessively high. Even the high-yield, return-program cartridges are very expensive. At least the cartridges are easy to swap out from their keyed slots on the side of the printer. Labels inside the panel explain how to use the colour-coded release levers.