The $449 Dell 3000cn earned our Best Buy in part because this very low-priced model delivered high print quality, printed quickly, and earned our top design score.
The 3000cn printed text that looked crisp and was neither overly heavy nor too light. Even small fonts were easy to read. Line art looked almost perfect, and our grayscale test photograph displayed both sharp details and smooth tonal transitions.
Colors in graphics looked accurate, though a little light. Like all the other models we tested, the 3000cn didn't blow us away with the quality of its glossy photos, although its textures did look quite smooth compared with output from the other printers.
Text printed at an extremely speedy 17.9 pages per minute in our tests; only the Brother HL-2700CN was faster. At 3.4 ppm, the 3000cn's color graphics printing was slightly faster than the 3.0-ppm average.
The standard paper tray holds only 150 sheets. However, boosting input capacity is affordable: An extra 250-sheet drawer costs $180, and a 500-sheet drawer is a good deal at $230. The optional duplexer sells for a reasonable $300. The 3000cn supports PCL (Printer Control Language) emulation, though not PostScript. At about 17 by 17 inches, it takes up little desktop space.
The 3000cn should be economical to run. The estimated cost of 1.5 cents per monochrome page is the least expensive among the printers on our chart. Though the starter cartridges are rated to last only 2000 pages for black and 1000 pages for color, Dell sells a 4000-page black toner cartridge for $45; each 2000-page color cartridge costs $65.
Installing the 3000cn on our network at the PC World Test Center was straightforward. The backlit LCD and intuitive menus made setup simple.