REVIEW: Brother Digital Color Laser Printer HL-3180CDW

Color laser printers have left their mark giving users crisp printouts at faster speeds than ever. One of the newer examples is the Brother Digital Color Printer HL-3180CDW.

This printer is designed for the home or office user that wants crisp laser printing at a lower cost per page than what inkjets offer. Although this laser printer is listed at $349.99, many retailers are selling it for around $300. If this price seems somewhat higher than similar color lasers, be aware that the HL-3180CDW includes a built in flatbed scanner.

This color laser is designed for serious users. It is built like a tank and has a weight of nearly 48 pounds.


  • Wireless Printing lets you print from your iPhone, Mac or PC, iPad or other mobile device directly to this printer.
  • 3.7” Touchscreen lets you make settings and view configurations directly
  • Automatic Duplex Printing lets you save paper by printing on both sides
  • Built-in Scanner for scanning or copying documents.
  • Multiple Connectivity lets you connect by Ethernet LAN, USB cable, USB flash drive or wireless.
  • Recommended Monthly Volume: 300 to 1500 pages.
  • Copy Reduction/Enlargement: 25-400%


The setup guide that comes with this printer makes installation with your Mac a breeze. The documentation comes with a CD, but being a Mac owner, I just overlooked it due to Apple’s ease of setting up printers.

My first step was to input my wireless router and password. Secondly I went to my Mac’s Printers & Scanners section of System Preferences and located the HL-3180CDW printer. I clicked the + button to add this to my Mac and I was ready to print.

This Brother does not permit Mac scanning out of the box. However, the solution was quite simple. When I hit the Scan button in Printers & Scanners, I received a prompt to add Apple’s scanning software to my Mac. After completing that step, I was ready to successfully scan my documents.

Print Speed

The quality of the printouts was excellent for a laser printer. If you have to have deep and rich color printouts, use a quality inkjet printer. These printers are made for color gradations that lasers cannot match. But they have come close in recent years as the Brother HL-3180CDW can attest.

This printer has a rated speed of 23ppm (color and black), so it was a definite upgrade from my previous printer, an HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw.

Printing a single-page Word document took 7 seconds after warm up. Ten copies of a single page took 40 second to print.

Toner Cartridges

One of the negative considerations in buying a color laser printer is the cost of toner cartridges. The HL-3180CDW comes with a set of 4 standard cartridges (black, cyan, magenta and yellow).

The black cartridge’s capacity is 2500 pages. The 3 color cartridges have two options: standard at 1400 pages or high yield at 2200 pages.

One of the reasons I considered a Brother printer was the toner cost. Although the color toners were list priced at $100 each, discounts could be found readily.

The 3 high-yield color toners cost under $70 from an online vendor. The black toner had a list of $90, but could be purchased for under $60. So the $387 list price for the entire set of 4 toners actually cost me about $260, a sizeable savings.

This translates to about .11 cents per page. This can be compared to my current HP Officejet that uses inkjet cartridges at about .14 cents per page. If you do enough volume printing, a color laser printer would be an economic benefit.

Wireless Printing

Like other printers on the market today, this Brother printer features wireless printing. It uses 802.11b/g/n platforms.

A bright blue Wi-Fi icon lights up to let you know that your wireless is activated.

Duplex Printing

One of the real plusses of the HL-3180CDW is that it is capable of doing automatic duplex printing (printing both sides).

For an office that does a lot of multiple-page printing, this feature saves you money by using less paper to print documents.


One of the nicest features in the HL-3180CDW is its ability to both scan and copy document directly to your Mac. Most basic laser printers do not offer this capability, although it is found most frequently on inkjets.

USB Slot

The HL-3180CDW let you import documents or photos from your USB flash drive. This printer has a separate USB 2.0 port that allows the user to plug in their flash drive to immediately connect with this printer.


  • Print Speed: Up to 23ppm black and color
  • Print Resolution: Up to 600 x 2400 dpi
  • Connectivity: Ethernet LAN, USB cable, USB flash drive and wireless (above)
  • Memory: 192MB
  • Paper Handling: 250-sheet input tray, single sheet manual feed (for envelopes)
  • Touchscreen: 3.7” color panel
  • Paper Sizes: Up to 8.5” x 14” (legal)
  • Size: 15.4” x 16.4” x 9.3”
  • Weight: 47.8 lb. Shipping weight: 54 lbs.


My last printer, the HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw, had 3 major negatives:

The paper tray was too small, the display was too small, and toner cost. None of these negatives are true with this Brother printer.

That is not to say that this printer is without faults. The prime negative is the cost factor. Compared to other color laser printers on the market, its $350 price would seem high.

This printer is built like a tank. With a weight of nearly 48 lbs., it would not be easy to move around easily.


If you are looking for sharp color printing along with convenient copying and scanning in one device, then the Brother Digital Color Printer HL-3180CDW may be the one you need to consider.

This printer is not designed for the nominal printer user, but for the user that has a significant print demand. When looking for a color laser printer, do not look at price alone.

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