Lexmark’s MC3326adwe ($299) is an entry-level color laser all-in-one printer (print, copy, scan, and fax) suitable for relatively light-duty use in small or micro office or workgroup settings. The MC3326adwe lists for $100 less than our current Editors’ Choice entry-level color laser AIO, Brother’s MFC-L3770CDW, and it has higher duty cycle and recommended monthly print volume ratings. On the minus side, it costs more to operate than the Brother model. Also, its automatic document feeder (ADF) doesn’t support auto-duplexing for scanning and copying two-sided multipage documents. Like most of the Lexmark machines we’ve reviewed, this one prints and copies well and it’s pretty fast, making it a viable alternative to the MFC-L3770CDW, but it falls a little short of claiming our top pick.
Small Is Beautiful
For the most part, the MC3326adwe’s volume ratings, paper capacity, print speed, and feature set match or exceed those of competing color AIOs. At 13.6 by 16.2 by 15.5 inches (HWD) and 42.7 pounds, it’s also smaller and lighter than many similarly configured and positioned models. Compared to the abovementioned Brother, it’s a few inches lower and shallower and weighs about 11 pounds more. Canon’s Color imageClass MF634Cdw, another PCMag favorite, is a couple of inches bigger in all directions and half a dozen pounds heavier, and OKI’s mid-volume MC573dn not only has a larger footprint all the way around but outweighs the Lexmark by over 25 pounds.
Then there’s Epson’s inkjet-based alternative, the WorkForce Pro WF-C5790 Network Multifunction Color Printer. It, too, requires more desk space than the MC3326adwe, though it weighs slightly less.
All the multifunction printers listed here so far come with ADFs for sending multipage documents to the scanner. The Lexmark’s feeder holds up to 50 sheets, but as mentioned, it can’t copy or scan two-sided pages without your having to turn them over manually. The Brother, Canon, Epson, and OKI let you place a stack of originals in the feeder, hit Copy, and walk away to take care of something else.
Nowadays, most new additions to the laser printer market have traded in their busy, sometimes confusing control panels consisting of multiple button arrays and navigation keys for color touch screens. The MC3326adwe offers a 2.8-inch color touch LCD for setting up and initiating functions and making configuration changes.
Most business-oriented printers also come with embedded web servers that allow you to operate the device, set configuration and security options, and generate usage reports from virtually any web browser on the local network, your smartphone, or over the Internet.
The MC3326adwe’s paper capacity consists of one 250-sheet drawer and a single-sheet override tray for printing one-off envelopes and other special media. By comparison, Canon’s MF634Cdw holds 100 fewer sheets, while Brother’s MFC-L3770CDW supports up to 280. Epson’s WF-C5790 comes capable of holding 330 sheets out of the box, expandable to 850, while OKI’s beefy MC573dn can be expanded to hold up to 1,410 sheets.
Lexmark rates the MC3326adwe’s maximum monthly duty cycle at 50,000 pages, which is high for an entry-level model, but its recommended monthly print volume (the more meaningful of these two specs) is 2,500 prints, the same as the Epson’s. The Canon’s duty cycle is 20,000 pages lower but its recommended volume is the same, while the OKI’s duty cycle exceeds the Lexmark’s by a whopping 30,000 prints. The Brother joins the Canon with a 30,000-page duty cycle, but its recommended volume is only 1,500 pages.
Connecting and Securing the MC3326adwe
The Lexmark’s connectivity is basic, but most hardware, network types, and operating systems are supported. Standard ports consist of Ethernet up to 1000BaseTX, 802.11b/g/n wireless, and connection to a single PC via USB 2.0.
You can also scan to or print from a USB thumb drive or some other storage devices thanks to an additional USB port located on the chassis front just above the control panel. Mobile connectivity to your iOS devices is available through Apple’s AirPrint and AirScan protocols, and all other mobile support comes via the Lexmark Mobile Print app or the Mopria for Android service.
Security on the MC3326adwe is, as shown in the image below, robust for an entry-level color laser AIO.
You can secure documents against unauthorized access with PINs, restrict access to specific features (such as printing in color to save toner costs), or prohibit a user or group from using the AIO at all. You can also install and manage encryption certificates, set login restrictions (for both the web portal and the control panel), lock users out for up to 60 minutes after a designated number of failed login attempts, and more.
Other security measures include setting print jobs to expire after specified intervals and requiring a password before receiving each new document. The list of security features is impressive, and, as I’ve said about other Lexmark AIOs, more extensive than I’ve seen on most other entry-level lasers.
Average Print Speeds
Lexmark rates the MC3326adwe at 31 one-sided pages per minute (ppm), with no published rating for duplex pages, even though its driver (like those of Canon, Xerox, and some other printer manufacturers) is configured to print two-sided pages out of the box. In these instances, we time, record, and report both simplex and duplex print speeds.
I tested the MC3326adwe over an Ethernet connection from our standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Pro. After several passes, it churned out our 12-page Microsoft Word text document at an average rate of 25.5ppm for one-sided and 15.1ppm for two-sided prints.
That score beat the Canon MF634Cdw’s simplex showing by 6.5ppm and its duplex speed by 4.1ppm. The other three AIOs in our competitive group don’t default to duplex output, so we didn’t record their two-sided speeds. That said, the Brother MFC-L3770CDW outran the Lexmark by 1.3ppm, the Epson WF-C5790 fell behind it by 1.1ppm, and the OKI MC573dn beat it by 5.9ppm.
For the second part of my tests, I printed our collection of Adobe Acrobat PDF business documents; Excel spreadsheets, charts, and graphs; and PowerPoint handouts containing sophisticated business graphics and typefaces in various color and point sizes. I combined these scores with those from printing the 12-page text document to come up with an average speed of 7.9ppm.
That made the Lexmark the slowest of my test quintet. The Brother managed only 2.4ppm above the MC3326adwe’s 7.9ppm showing, while the Epson came in just short of 10ppm quicker. The other two AIOs finished in between.
Better-Than-Average Output Quality
All the color laser machines from Lexmark I’ve looked at lately have had one thing in common—impressive print quality. The MC3326adwe is no exception. It churned out excellent-looking, near-typesetter-quality text legible down to the smallest size I could read without magnification, or about 5 or 6 points. The business charts and graphs I printed came out well-delineated, and backgrounds and fills—even gradient fills—reproduced with no discernable banding, except for one handout containing a dark green and black gradient background. It’s not unusual, however, for our test units to struggle when given this particular slide.
The MC3326adwe also churns out good-looking color and grayscale photos with accurate and bright colors. Granted, photo output doesn’t rival what you’d get from five- and six-ink Canon and Epson inkjet photo printers, but it’s more than good enough for most business applications, including pictures of products or properties for real estate sales.
Steep Running Costs
Despite its 50,000-page duty cycle, the Lexmark’s consumable costs per page are high—high enough, in fact, to relegate it to low-volume printing and copying duty, though this is not unusual for entry-level laser printers and AIOs. When you buy Lexmark’s highest-yield “return” (recyclable) cartridges, for example, monochrome pages will run you about 3.2 cents each and color pages as much as 15.2 cents.
If you only print a few hundred pages each month, these numbers aren’t terrible, but when printing a thousand or more pages monthly, using the MC3326adwe could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars extra over its lifetime compared to some other alternatives.
Unfortunately, the other laser AIOs mentioned here don’t provide much lower ongoing costs, although the Brother MFC-L3770CDW and OKI MC573dn do deliver somewhat better monochrome page costs (2.6 and 2.5 cents, respectively). The Canon’s black pages run about the same as the Lexmark’s, and all three lasers’ color pages are just a few tenths of a cent lower.
You can cut your ongoing costs significantly by choosing a higher-end, higher-volume laser AIO, such as Lexmark’s MC2535adwe (1.8 cents monochrome and 11.7 cents color). Or, if laser-quality text isn’t mission-critical, consider an inkjet alternative. The Epson WF-C5790 discussed here, for instance, prints black pages for 1.7 cents and color ones for 7.7 cents. Several Epson EcoTank and Canon MegaTank models, though not as fast and robust as the MC3326adwe, provide even lower ongoing costs.
The MC3326adwe’s $299 list price makes it attractive, but not so much when you consider that its relatively high running costs may gobble up your savings in a few months. If you don’t print or copy more than a few hundred pages per month, however, 3.2 and 15.2 cents for monochrome and color pages respectively is by no means appalling, assuming you can live with a manual-duplexing ADF.
Our laser AIO Editors’ Choice, the Brother MFC-L3770CDW, offers slightly lower costs per page plus an auto-duplexing document feeder, and the Epson WF-C5790 inkjet provides even lower ongoing costs and automatic two-sided scanning and copying. Even so, the Lexmark is a good color laser AIO that’s more than suitable for many small offices and workgroups.