Dell 3100cn Opinions

Dell 3100cn

Dell’s got another 30% off deal for the 3100cn color laser printer. I missed a 40% off deal by a week, so the price will be $384 (instead of $330) after discount. I’ve read a few reviews, and the consensus is that it’s a very good print. Cons include it being noisy and very bulky (16 x 16 x 21 inches). Anybody have first-hand experience who can comment on:

  • Mac compatibility.
  • Photo printing quality. What are the best papers for photo reproduction?
  • Memory. Should I spring for the extra 256MB at $70? Is the extra memory required for printing photos?
  • Toner capacity. What’s a reasonable number of pages to expect before plunking down $350 for a new set of CMYK toner cartridges?

My HP LaserJet 6MP has been serving me well for the past several years, but it’s no longer working with my Farallon iPrint Ethernet Adapter. This means I haven’t been able to use the printer with my Macs :( I guess I could find another iPrint on eBay for $30, but (1) I’m not sure if the iPrint is really the culprit (though it works fine through the parallel and IR ports) and (2) part of me is intrigued by upgrading to a color laser.

Anyhow, the deal ends tomorrow, though Dell no doubt will have another one in a week or two.

40 thoughts on “Dell 3100cn Opinions

  1. I read that the Dell costs about $0.10 per page to print in color, which is much cheaper than using my inkjet. The 3100cn is HUGE. The printer isn’t much louder than a B&W laser printer — it just takes longer, so it’s loud for longer. :)

    Anyway. my printer is always here for you, but you’ll have to print it from my PC. :)

    One con for the Dell is that it doesn’t have a manual paper feeder. I print labels and envelopes all the time, and basically have kept my “old” HP 1300 for that purpose. Nice small, fast laser printer!

  2. Is *any* color laser printer really good for printing photos? I’ve never been satisfied with the photo output I’ve seen from toner-based devices (both laser printers and copiers). I’d be really interested to hear about a laser printer that does truly great photo output, though.

  3. Jens Junge

    Did you compare the Dell 3100cn to the Samsung CLP-550n? The Samsung comes with duplexer, 128 MB RAM and more advantages.

  4. No, I hadn’t looked at the Samsung. The duplexer option sounds very appealing. I’ll give it a looksee! Thanks!

  5. A color laser is good for printing mediocre color photos cheaply. It’s not great, but it’s fun. I have started printing out photos with mine and giving them to friends.

    I’m thinking about getting the laser profiled with specific papers. Does profiling laser printers even work? I can’t see why it wouldn’t…

  6. I ordered the 3100cn, exchanged it for another and finally returned the second one.

    The printer was awful. Admittedly the quality output was good, but the content you print on a page shifts to the right and down. If you print with the duplexer, then you content shifts in different directions on each side.

    So if you printed a nice brochure duplexed and stapled it, your facing pages had at least a quarter of an inch of shift. It’s not a huge amount, but enough to make a duplexed report or brochure look unprofessional.

    Now I’m looking for new options.

  7. Jeremy Phillippe

    Did you purchase the Dell 3100CN?

    I too am looking for a good color laser printer with OS X support, and decent image quality, so far the 3100CN is leading the pack, and I’m looking for opinions.

  8. Jeremy

    Has this problem of the shifted content been solved yet? maybe from a firmware upgrade?

  9. Mike

    You have to go into the printing preferences and click on the “paper” tab. Click on the Margin/Shift margin button. Click on the Print position tab and make sure your position is set to “centered”. I was having this same problem until I changed this and it is now fixed.

  10. Andrew

    The kingston website seems to imply that any 144 pin SODIMM will work:
    Since this memory is used in standard laptops. So, you can get it cheaper than $70.

    The printer has an internal LPD daemon, so you can run it from any OS that can print to one. You may need a separate card for the other daemons (IPP, for one).

  11. Andrew

    Any 144 pin 133Mhz SODIMM, that is.

  12. I just ordered the 3100CN model myself. If any of you are thinking of getting one, you may look at Costco online. It is selling there for $439.99 and includes a 2 year in home warranty. They also have the 3000CN for $339.99. I chose the 3100CN because it comes with full toner cartriges with a capacity for 4000 prints. It also has the much greater paper trays providing for 400 sheets. I have read about every review there is on this thing and some others. I am convinced it will provide superior text and the photo quality will be atleast quite good as long as I am not expecting a high gloss to the photos. I have read it is supposed to produce better photos than a inkjet when printed on plain paper. The inkjet is considerably better when printing to glossy paper. I plan on using an outside printing service for my photos I need the best quality for at sizes larger than 4X6. If I need excellent quality for 4X6 photos I will use my dye sub printer. I will be happy to provide a full in depth report on it after I get it.

  13. Steve

    I’ve had the 3100cn printer at home for a few months and I’m very impressed with it.
    My wife even admits that it was a great purchase…..
    …after she bought a cabinet to hide it in that is.
    The network card makes it easy to share with all my PC’s.
    I added an 128MB laptop SODIMM that I had unused after a memory upgrade.
    I’m not sure if I needed it for photo’s but I had it, so I used it.
    Photo’s are IMHO excellent and are as good as any I’ve seen from a laser.
    Not quite as good as my dye sub, but in a frame they look great.
    My office has a 5100cn, and while I like the speed and duplexing of it the
    colors are washed out in photos.

    Oh and the kids love to print, so the cost per page is great!

  14. rICK sTACK

    I am thinking about buying a Dell 3100cn. Everything sounds great except I am confused by Eric’s March 16, 2005 post about the lack of a manual sheet feeder and printing envelopes. Can’t the multi-purpose 150 sheet tray be used as a sheet feeder or a feeder for one or more envelopes? Printing envelopes is easy on my pc and ancient hp 4L. Are there problems in using the main tray for printing letters and the multi-purpose tray for priniting envelopes? Are there adjustments that have to be made to compensate for the different size of paper vs envelope?

    Also, I like the hp 1320 “instant on” feature. It gets the first page out very quickly. What is the warm-up time on the Dell 3100cn?


  15. Brian

    My Dell Laser Printer 3100cn won’t print envelopes. It keeps giving me the message “Load MPF Envelope #10” and I put envelopes in that tray and the message never changes as if the indicator that it depresses is not reading that the envelopes are there?

    1. Robert

      Here is my fix, using a Windows 7 operating system. On the computer, go to Devices and Printers and select the Dell 3100cn. Right click and select printer properties/device settings/form to tray. For Auto select letter. For Tray 1 letter. For MPF Envelope 10 (or whatever style envelope you are using. On the Printer select Menu. use down arrow to select Tray Settings/Paper Type. For Tray 1 select Plain 1 and then hit the center button so a * appears. For MTP select Envelope and hit the center button so a * appears. Using the left arrow navigate back to Paper Size and select it. For Tray 1 select letter and hit the center button so a * appears. Use the left arrow to navigate back to MPF. Select Free Size (Not Envelope 10) and hit the center button so a * appears. Using the left arrow navigate all the way back to Ready to Print.

  16. David Killeffer

    I bought a Dell 3100cn a few months ago for use printing from all computers on my home network (including Linux, Windows XP Pro SP2, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and Mac OS X 10.4). So far, I have had absolutely no issues printing from any of these machines. Print quality is absolutely excellent. I did spring for an extra 512MB RAM from Crucial, as you will run into issues printing full-page (8.5×11) images with the paltry 64MB RAM the printer comes with.

    The one thing I wished I had bought was the duplexer – since I print out a lot of documents for school and research, it would be great to be able to print on both sides of the paper.

    I would heartily recommend the printer – the only cons are the size, and yes, it can be a bit on the noisy side. Oh – it has a built-in web server that gives you TONS of useful information about print jobs, ink levels, network configurations, etc.

  17. David

    The 3100cn is great for printing on ONE SIZE of paper. I have the same problem Brian has. I have called Dell about the issue. They say that if you need to print an envelope or label, you have to change the setting on the printer for paper size and type. Then print envelope or label. That sucks. My other laser printer, HP 6L, didn’t care what size paper you printed to. It just needed to be there, and the print driver would handle all the logistics.

    This morning, I changed size and type to #10 Envelope, insert envelope into MPF. I go to my computer and do an envelope in Word. My printer is telling me “LOAD MPF LETTER PLAIN 1.” Now I have to cancel my print job and jack with the printer some more. WHAT A PAIN.

    For the price, it is a great printer if you can stick to one size of paper. If you need to print to multiple sizes, consider a different printer, or maybe a second printer just for for envelopes and labels.


  18. Mike

    We purchased a 3100cn for the office and regret it. It is noisy and must “calibrate” itself even during print jobs! Calibration can take a full minute or two and that’s a long time if you’re waiting for the other 10 sheets of a job.

    Look at the Xerox phaser series. The 6120 is faster and has better output – but is worse with envelope handling!

  19. João

    i was thinking about buying a Dell 3100cn, but now i have seen the oki c5800dln(has duplex), that had a good review by macworld, and the Ricoh gl7500 inkjet (review by Pcmagazine) does anyone bought one of this printers.
    i’m mostly going to use the printer for marketing ( flyers, brochures )
    Can anyone give me their opinion on this printer or others.

  20. Filly

    Maybe at one time the 3100 cn shipped with full 4000 page cartridges but it was confirmed by Dell that it now ships with just a starter supply. The website is very deceiving in that it still states, “Consumables Included; 4000-Page Black Toner Cartridge, 4000-Page Cyan Toner Cartridge, 4000-Page Magenta Toner Cartridge, 4000-Page Yellow Toner. Caveat Emptor!

  21. Brian

    How did Dell confirm that the 3100cn only ships with a starter toner supply? I’m curious because I’m interested in this printer. The website says that each of the toner cartridges are for 4k pages and I don’t think they’d keep it up if the data was inaccurate (and false advertising). However, the 3010cn says it only ships with 2k black and 1k color toner. Filly, could it be that you’re referring to the 3010cn? …or is Dell trying to cheat us?

    I’d like to get this printer to help with printing for my wedding needs (invitations, envelopes, etc.), but I’m a little concerned about the ability to print envelopes and other smaller-sized items. Has anyone had luck with projects like this on the 3100cn?

  22. Danny Whittington

    I am concerned about the starter cartridges too. I just ordered a refurbished 3100cn from Dell Outlet, and the page that they link to indicates a set of full toner cartridges. I tried calling them to verify but apparently there is nobody to talk to for Dell Outlet orders, which makes me feel a little uneasy. The price was fantastic ($259 w/free shipping) so I bit, and it should be here next week. The pro reviews all seem very good, but some user reviews have me a little worried. Has anybody here had any trouble getting it to work with or be recognized by Mac OS X? I am also a little worried that the toner and parts for it seem to be very cheap on eBay right now (genuine Dell, not refills) – this means consumables prices are also fantastic (about 1cent/page b&w and 5cents/page color), but why so cheap?

  23. Filly

    The information that I received from Dell (on-line chat) regarding the capacity of the cartridges was incorrect, even though I questioned them repeatedly and told them that their offering was deceitful, all I managed to get out of them was, “I apologize.”

    I called their Sales Division to blast them for having inaccurate details on their description and was assured that they do in fact come with full capacity cartridges.

    If you are considering buying from their outlet…I wish you luck in getting full disclosure as to the capacity of the cartridges that will be shipped…Sales Division couldn’t answer that one!

  24. I have a Power Mac G4, OS 10.2.8 and been using the Dell 3100cn for about a month. Word has no problem recognizing it once I followed the instructions to go into Print Center in the Utilities menu and add the printer, etc. I tried doing some oval labels in Photoshop and never did get it to print without fuzz; however, I’d say this was me rather than the software or printer. It does seem that I need to go into Page Set Up for each document and select the Laser printer. Haven’t done any new documents yet so I’m not sure about this if the 3100 is the default printer. I already have my soap labels made so right now I am pretty much only using files that are already created.

    I do have some trouble with the dropping down issue on my small soap bar labels but i will do what was suggested above and see if this corrects the problem.

    So far, it seems like an okay printer and I put labels in the MPF no problem. Yes, it is somewhat of a pain to have to select this on the printer but there is an option in Word to select labels and such that I have not yet tried; it is under Printer Preferences in the Print screen.

  25. Oh Brian, I had a msg like this today with the labels. I went into Page Set up and selected the Laser printer and it worked fine.

    Oh, also, if I printed landscape last, even if the printer & Word says Portrait, it still prints landscape. I need to go into Page Set UP and select the laser printer again.

  26. Chris

    I purchased the 3100cn 13 months ago. About 6 months into it, it started to print random groupings of vertical ‘dots’. If you only printed in black, only a black dot is printed — and its soooo small, you might not notice them. If you print in color, you’ll have groups of 4 vertical dots (one for each color) randomly on each page. It looks terrible, and causes other colors around it to blur. Dell claimed it was the drum (after only printing about 500 pages) and that it was not covered by the warranty as its a ‘consumable’. I changed the drum, it lasted 6 weeks, or about 100 pages, before the dots came back. Just long enough for the warranty to run out, and Dell to say politely: It sucks to be you.

    1. Nancy Eads

      I have colored dots on everything I print on my Dell 3000cn plus black streaks. Did you get help with fixing your printer. I read your post about it being the drum.

  27. I’ve had the dell 3100cn for 1 year and I have no regrets. It is by far the best printer I have ever had with regards to quality, performance, and price, but not ease of use. I print two sided booklets that I sell. In the year I’ve been printing these, the printer has never misfed, and the pages always line up perfectly.

    Many of the complaints about this model come from not understanding the printer setup. The menus tend to be non-intuitive and undocumented. For example, it took me 4 months to figure out that in order to change the paper type I had to change the type both in the software settings and directly on the front of the printer. Despite the learning curve, I highly recommend this printer and I wouldn’t trade mine for anything.

    P.S. Mine came with full size cartridges (worth about what I paid for the printer) and this was the deciding factor in my purchase decision.

  28. Jennifer Chilton

    I’ve learned a very, very valuable lesson. Never buy a Dell printer.

    Our Dell printer (had it 1 year) needs to have the Imaging Drum Kit replaced. The Dell web site specs this drum kit out at “up to 42,000 page impressions (up to 10,500 pages per color)”.

    According to tech support the “specs have been changed”. How very convenient for Dell . . .

    The “formula” is: you take the number of color prints – 5,210 x 4 = 20,840 + 7,433 (black prints) = 28,273 and the Imaging Drum Kit is only supposedly rated for 24,000 (the new specs) – despite the fact that the web site says it covers 42,000 pages. We only had a total number of 12,643 prints.

    Run from Dell and go to HP. I’ll never, ever buy Dell again!!!

  29. gazfocus

    Regarding your query with the Imaging Drum, the 42,000 page life is a collective one (therefore you need to divide this by the number of colours which would be 10,500 pages). This is because for every colour page you print, you are using all 4 colours and each colour is counted as 1 page (unfair I know). This is one reason why Single Pass Lasers are better (also because they are a lot faster).

    I have owned a Dell 3100CN for almost a year but unfortunately due to the printer being at home and me being at university, I have not had much chance to use it. I think I have printed a total of around 200 pages (if that). I will however be bringing it to university after the summer so that I can use it to print all my work off.

    I am extremely pleased with the build quality, print quality, and sheer value of this printer. I use my 3100CN mainly to print lecture notes/powerpoint presentations and research and it has not failed me yet. My only gripe, as many others, is that when using the duplex (which is shipped with an additional 512mb Memory module), the pages aren’t centred as the margins shift, but thanks to Mike (1st August 2005) when I get home, I will hopefully be able to resolve this issue.

    All in all, I am very delighted. I would highly recommend this printer and the consumable are very cheap too. (If you print just black most of the time, the Imaging Drum will last forever and the 4000 page toners are only around $40).

  30. Here’s a way to save money on ink and toner and to help save the environment.
    First the idea of common sense is false because it is based on a person’s life experiences, education etc. Now recently I came accross information through a business customer and looked further into it. Here is what I found, ”
    Over 700 million cartridges were thrown away world-wide in 2003 – and since more and more people use inkjet cartridges this amount will continue to grow year after year.
    Empty cartridges contain residual toner powder, ink, a plastic casing, aluminum and other parts. These parts are all non-biodegradable and they will take more than 1000 years to decompose in landfill sites.
    The remanufacturing of cartridges as an alternative to producing new ones currently reduces world demand of oil by 300,000 barrels and saves 17,000 tons of aluminum as well as 10,000,000 tons of timber. Besides helping to reduce carbon emissions, a major cause of global warming, it conserves resources and reduces waste.
    1.5 pints of crude oil are needed to produce one cartridge. In the last 6 months alone inkjet cartridge recycling has saved more than 50 million liters of oil, more than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989.”
    Wow, so my whole point is this client remanufacturers ink and toner cartridges and considering the above information it only makes common sense to buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges. You save money, get a higher yield (more prints) and save money.
    Check out, and use common sense.

  31. Well, all I can say is, only dell printer inks are most suitable for dell printers. Just to make sure you get thorough prints, opt for the best inks for your printers.

  32. I actually own this printer. Let me give a shot at the questions (although this is a bit old)

    * Mac compatibility. – AFAIK, it is. I use Windows though.
    * Photo printing quality. What are the best papers for photo reproduction? – I actually don’t use this printer for photo printing.
    * Memory. Should I spring for the extra 256MB at $70? Is the extra memory required for printing photos? – I don’t think this is worth it.
    * Toner capacity. What’s a reasonable number of pages to expect before plunking down $350 for a new set of CMYK toner cartridges? – I’ve pulled around 30,000 pages in the past.

  33. I have had the Dell 3100cn for over 3 years now and love it. It is big yes, and sometimes it seems noisy. But the quality is excellent and it is very reliable. I have done pictures, brochures, and even presentation slides without a problem. If you are looking for a great picture printer then buy a great picture printer. You cannot make one printer do everything the best, there are always tradeoffs. The only thing that I wish it had was duplexer but, the 3100cn is a good low cost printer.

  34. I have a client who’s had one of these for quite a few years – noisy but reliable. If you’re looking for a used unit, this is a good option if you see one at a garage sale or anything like that.

  35. Dell Drum Change, read it it help you avoid to drum change.
    i have same problem dell say to change drum in 3100cn after 5500 prints,
    i book new drum cost 144 euro. but mean while i find old drum is ok ,..only in old drum printing belt was not in midell it was rotating one side. i bring him in midell rotating it now it work ok , because on belt rigt side one point a silver reflector for sensor is it did not come in position it cause a failer -421-123 dell say change drum if drum is neu pl rotalte belt that it come in middel. or call me i help you oo49177-1761101

  36. You completed certain fine points there. I did a search on the subject and found the majority of persons will agree with your blog. Several german news. Thank’s for you notify.

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