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The Canon imageClass MF452dw is a powerful all-in-one mono laser printer that can handle heavy-duty printing, scanning, copying, and faxing with adequate speed and paper capacity. It also boasts top-tier output quality.
The middle model of Canon’s three new imageClass MF450 series printers is the imageClass MF452dw ($329). This variation often fills the smallest gap, but in this instance, the Goldilocks model is the only one in the group to include faxing in addition to the standard printing, scanning, and copying capabilities. The MF451dw costs a little less but is essentially identical, thus all the criticisms in this review should also apply to it if you don’t need to fax.
The MF453dw, the top-tier model, boasts a faster print speed at the cost of a higher price. However, the MF452dw is our favorite in the group and our new Editors’ Choice mono laser all-in-one pick for a small office or workgroup because of the additional fax capability.
Canon imageClass MF452dw Setup
The MF452dw is quite small at 15.4 by 17.9 by 18.3 inches (HWD), making it simple to find a place for it in your office. However, you might need some assistance carrying it there due to its 35.7-pound weight. Once everything is set up physically, all that is left to do is take off the packing tape, connect the cords, and load the paper. There is no need for setup because the toner cartridge is already loaded in the printer.
Easy setup is also provided via the automated installation application on the included CD. In my experiments, installing the printer drivers for printing, faxing, and a scan tool went smoothly. It installs the proprietary driver from Canon by default, but for businesses that need PCL6 or PostScript drivers, it also offers those options. You can also choose between using a USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi connection.
It is only slightly more difficult to set up the printer for mobile printing and scanning over your network or a Wi-Fi Direct connection. By simply navigating the menus on the 5-inch color touch-screen control panel, I was able to find the majority of the Wi-Fi Direct choices I needed, including the instruction to display a QR code for quick connection. Both printing from my phone and scanning files to it using Canon’s print app went smoothly. Keep in mind that you can use touch-screen commands to print from or scan to a USB disk.
A small office or workgroup can employ paper handling with ease and reliability. A 100-sheet multi-purpose tray is added to the single 250-sheet paper drawer for printing, and a $199 extra 550-sheet drawer can increase the capacity to 900 sheets. The 8.5 by 11.7-inch flatbed can handle books and other originals that you can’t feed through an ADF, while the 50-sheet ADF can scan up to legal-size material.
The MF452dw enables automatic print duplexing, as do the majority of modern printers. It also provides duplex scanning, unlike the majority of AIOs in its price range. Even better, compared to reversing ADFs, which must first scan one side, turn the page over, and then scan the other, the ADF scans both sides simultaneously, more than double the scan speed.
You can copy both single- and double-sided originals to your preferred single- or double-sided copies because the ADF duplexing works for both scanning and copying. Canon claims that it does not support duplex scanning for faxing due to security concerns. However, there is a simple workaround: scan duplex documents to a file, then use a print command to transmit the file to Canon’s fax driver.
Although it may be overly optimistic, Canon recommends the MF452dw for printing a maximum of 750 to 4,000 pages each month, or an average of around 37 to 200 pages per business day. Even with the 550-sheet optional drawer, you’d need to replace paper at the high end of the spectrum a little more frequently than once every week on average. At the low end, though, only the standard 350-page capacity will be available, with refills spaced around two weeks apart.
Another advantage is the low running cost of 2.25 cents per page. Keep take mind that the drum is included in the toner cartridge by Canon. Therefore, be careful to factor in the additional cost per page for the imaging unit when comparing running expenses to competitors that sell the toner and imaging units separately. Naturally, keep in mind that the entire cost of ownership—the purchase price plus any ongoing expenses—is what actually counts, as we explain in our guide to finding discounts on your next printer. (The article utilizes examples from inkjets, but the same reasoning also applies to mono lasers.)
Canon imageClass MF452dw Top-Tier Laser Speed and Quality
I used Ethernet to link the MF452dw and our normal testbed PC to the same network for our performance tests. The printer’s maximum print speed, as determined by our 12-page Word text file, was 34.7ppm (19 seconds total print time), a little bit faster than the 34ppm rating but still within the acceptable range. Comparatively speaking, the speeds of the Lexmark MB2236i, Pantum BM5100ADN, and Canon MF453dw ranged from 36.7ppm to 44ppm (15 to 18 seconds), however all three also offer quicker rates. The speed matched the rating in each instance.
The 4-second difference between these printers’ fastest and slowest models is, of course, insignificant for printing 11 pages. However, it can matter if you frequently print lengthy papers because the seconds add up. Additionally, keep in mind that these figures do not account for the first page out (FPO) time, which has a significant impact on overall performance when printing a small number of pages per file but no impact on it when printing larger documents. Both the MF452dw and the MF453dw had an FPO time of 7 seconds, according to my measurement.
The BM5100ADN and MB2236i finished at 10 seconds. When comparing these printers for the complete Word document, including the first page, the range in speeds is significantly smaller, ranging from 25.7ppm to 30ppm, and the MF452dw is now third instead of last, printing at a speed of 27.7ppm.
For our business applications test suite, which consists of numerous files with four or less pages apiece and also adds graphics and color to each, the two Canon printers have an advantage because to their quick FPO times. At 1 minute and 12 seconds, the MF452dw and MF453dw tied for top place in this group (20.8ppm). The MB2236i was the slowest, clocking in at 1:23 (18.1ppm), followed by the BM5100ADN in third place (16.9ppm). The MF452dw averaged 9 seconds for a 4-by-6-inch photo on our photo software.
All mono lasers had output quality that was among the best. In our tests, all but one of the fonts that you’d probably use in a business document had well-formed, correctly spaced characters and were still very readable at 4 points. The one exception included loop breaks at points 4 and 5, but was still very readable at that size. Even with a laser printer, one of the two thick-stroked, stylistic fonts was still readable at 6 points. At 8 points, the other, which is more difficult to portray adequately, was easily readable.
I could discern inconsistent pile height in solid fills when holding graphics output at just the correct angle to a desk lamp, but the fills were impressively even from other angles, and single-pixel-wide lines on a black background held up well. Additionally, gradients appeared as they should, with no indication of banding or discernible dithering patterns.
The quality of images printed on plain paper was really impressive for a mono laser. In several of our test images, there was a tiny graininess, but there was no banding, no discernible dithering patterns, considerably greater contrast and detail than usual, and even decent shadow detail.
Canon imageClass MF452dw Review Verdict
Others will have to surpass the mono laser AIO Canon imageClass MF452dw. If you don’t require duplex scanning or faxing at all, you might want to try the Lexmark MB2236i or the lower-tier Canon MF451dw. However, in both instances, the MF452dw offers the omitted capability for a small premium, just in case. A more intriguing alternative is the Pantum BM5100ADN, which has a cheaper running cost but lacks faxing and cannot compete with the MF452dw in terms of output quality.
It’s a given that the Canon imageClass MF452dw will be our new Editors’ Choice winner for mono laser AIOs designed for a small office or workgroup given all the features it offers, including paper handling for both printing and scanning, top-tier output quality, and its 5-inch touch panel.