- Fast print speeds.
- Excellent text quality.
- Low running costs.
- High (125,000-page) maximum duty cycle.
- Highly expandable paper capacity.
- IC card reader and NFC user authentication.
- Can print on sheets up to tabloid size (11 by 17 inches).
- Compact and light.
- So-so graphics and photo quality.
The Brother HL-L6300DW is a fast standalone monochrome laser printer that delivers superb text, competitively low running costs, and high-end security features.
Design and Features
Measuring 11.3 by 15.7 by 15.6 inches (HWD) and weighing 29 pounds, the HL-L6300DW$349.99 at Amazon is small enough to fit on most desktops and light enough that taking it from its box should not require help. Basic connectivity consists of Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB, as well as Wi-Fi Direct and NFC, which are wireless, routerless peer-to-peer protocols for connecting your mobile device to the printer. There’s also a USB 2.0 port on the back for connecting an external IC card reader, and, as mentioned, the HL-L6300DW has an NFC card reader that, like the IC reader, authenticates users for releasing secure print jobs. You can set these security features and print from popular cloud sites (including Google Cloud Print 2.0, Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box) from the 1.8-inch color touch screen that, aside from the Home, Back, and Cancel buttons, comprises the entire control panel. Other mobile connectivity options include Brother iPrint&Scan, Brother Office Print (a cloud app for printing from Microsoft Office), Cortado Workplace, and Mopria.
The HL-L6300DW has a standard paper capacity of 570 sheets, split between a 520-sheet paper drawer and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray that can take sheets up to tabloid-size (11 by 17 inches), and it includes an auto-duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. If you need more capacity than that, you can add two additional paper drawers of either 250-sheet ($179.99 each) or 520-sheet ($209 each) capacities, in any combination. Adding two 520-sheet drawers increases capacity to 1,610 sheets. By comparison, the HP M501dn’s maximum paper capacity is 1,200 sheets, and the Dell S2830dn has only a 350-sheet maximum input capacity with no expansion options. Built for volume printing, the HL-L6300DW has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 125,000 pages, with a recommended monthly volume of up to 7,500 pages, compared with the 100,000-page maximum duty cycle of both the HP M501dn and the Dell S2830dn.
The HL-L6300DW is rated at 48 pages per minute (ppm), and, while it supports duplex printing, Brother does not provide a duplex speed rate. I tested the printer over an Ethernet connection from our Core i5 PC running Windows 10$119.99 at Microsoft. When printing our lightly formatted Microsoft Word text document, the HL-L6300DW churned at an impressive 50.8ppm. When I tossed our graphics- and image-heavy Acrobat PDF, Excel, and PowerPoint documents into the mix, print speed dropped by more than half, to 23.4ppm, which is not unusual. Most printers’ speeds drop by at least that much, and some by as much as 60 percent. The HP M501dn printed our monochrome text document at 47.1ppm, and when we added the more complicated documents it dropped to 22.7ppm. The Dell S2830dn’s speeds were 37.5ppm and 14.9ppm, respectively.
Like several other Brother mono laser printers we’ve tested, the HL-L6300DW prints near-typesetter-quality text, well shaped and highly legible down to about 4 points, making it suitable for nearly all business applications, even those with fine print.
I did, however, see some banding in our Excel and PowerPoint graphics with dark fills, dark gradients, and dark backgrounds, as well as similar toner-distribution issues in some photos, especially larger ones. In addition, the HL-L6300DW had difficulty rendering hairlines (1 point and smaller), to the extent that in one of our test slides, a thin dotted line didn’t show up at all in some places. This is not to say, though, that the HL-L6300DW’s graphics and photos are unusable. Our tests certainly came out good enough for internal use, and possibly for PowerPoint handouts, depending on how picky you are. If, however, output quality is more important to you than running costs and speed, both the Dell S2830dn and HP M501dn churned out slightly better-looking graphics and photos.
Brother offers three sizes of toner cartridges for this printer, with estimated yields of 3,000, 8,000, and 12,000 pages. If you buy the highest-yield cartridge from Brother, the cost per page is 1.3 cents. This is lower than the Dell S2830dn’s 2 cents per page and the HP M501dn’s 1.6 cents per page. In fact, a 1.3-cent running cost is one of the lowest we’ve seen from a laser printer in this class. On high-volume printers like these, a fraction of a cent can save you a lot of money over time. For example, if you print 10,000 pages each month, the 0.7-cent per-page difference between the HL-L6300DW and the Dell S2830dn will save you $840 per year—enough to buy several toner cartridges.
It’s also important to note that unlike most other laser printers that come with low-yield “starter” cartridges good for only 2,000 or 3,000 pages, the HL-L6300DW comes with a relatively high-yield 8,000-page cartridge, providing you with more time before having to buy a replacement, as well as a lower cost per page out of the box.
The Brother HL-L6300DW is fast, and it prints terrific-looking text and acceptable graphics and photos inexpensively. It also has a variety of expansion options that allow you to almost triple its paper capacity, unlike the less-expensive Dell Smart Printer S2830dn that offers no capacity expansion at all, and the HP LaserJet Pro M501dn supports only one additional 550-sheet cassette (giving it a maximum capacity of 1,200 sheets). In addition, the HP model costs about $150 more than the HL-L6300DW, despite the Brother’s higher maximum duty cycle and lower running costs. This gives the HL-L6300DW just the edge it needs to nudge out the M501dn, replacing it as our Editors’ Choice for medium- to heavy-duty printers in a small or micro office or workgroup.