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Brother HL-5140 printer review

The award-winning HL-5140 is a high-performance, monochrome laser printer that is ideal for personal desktop or office use. With its durable “office class” design, this printer is built for reliable day-in and day-out printing. Among its many standard features, the HL-5140 delivers PCL®6 emulation for compatibility with legacy office applications as well as generous (and expandable) 250-sheet paper input capacity. For high-performance personal printing, the HL-5140 delivers an excellent balance of features, performance and value.

The Brother HL-5140 ships with 16MB of memory onboard and the ability to add more, up to 144MB maximum. While Brother doesn't sell memory, SD-RAM for the HL-5140 is available from third-party vendors in sizes ranging from 16MB to 128MB. A quick search revealed prices ranging from $21 to $43 for a 32MB module and from $51 to $86 for a 128MB module. Standalone users will not need to upgrade, but those running a small network will require the addition to handle larger print jobs.

Networking options for the Brother HL-5140 include the Brother NC-2100p 10/100 Base T external Ethernet print server or the NC-2200w 802.11b wireless print server, both available from Brother. The NC-2100p costs $179.99, but pricing has yet to be determined for the NC-2200w. Or you can forego the Brother HL-5140 options altogether and purchase the slightly bulked-up and already network-compatible Brother HL-5170N, which lists for $399 from Brother. Those running small networks may prefer the HL-5170N.

It's an easy process to set up the Brother HL-5140, from loading the software and drivers to installing the print drum and the toner. The printed quick-setup guide and additional software-based help options are available should you experience difficulties during the setup process or afterward while printing.


The Brother HL-5140 proved itself a very fast laser printer with uneven print quality. At 16.5 pages per minute (ppm) monochrome, the Brother HL-5140 is faster than its predecessor, the Brother HL-5040, at 13.5ppm. It's also quicker than more-expensive laser printers, such as the Lexmark E321, which clocked in at 15.1ppm, and much faster than the Dell P1500 at 12.9ppm. The Brother HL-5140 also printed our mixed text and graphics document at 16ppm, twice the Dell P1500's rate of 8ppm.

However, the Brother HL-5140 displayed mixed results in quality tests. We saw flawless text, with easy-to-read and well-outlined characters even down into 2-point font sizes, in both plain text and italics. Had the text been a bit darker, it would have been rated excellent instead of very good.

In our graphics test, however, the Brother HL-5140 scored only fair. The printer introduced flaws such as horizontal and vertical banding in the gradients. It also wrongly reproduced deep shadows in the photographic part of our test document.

Download the Brother HL-5140 review brochure (PDF) HERE

Print Technology B/W Laser Technology
Max. Black Print Speed 21ppm Black
Print Resolution (maximum dpi) HQ1200 (up to 2400x600dpi)
Duplex Printing Standard No
Emulation(s) PCL6
Standard Memory (MB) 16MB Memory
Network-Ready No
LCD Display No
CPU (Processor) Type Fujitsu SPARClite
CPU (Processor) Speed 133 MHz
Toner Save Mode Yes
Unit Dimensions (W"xD"xH") 15.0"x15.1"x9.9"
Unit Weight (lbs) 23.1 lbs.
UPC Code - 12502600664
Warranty - 1 Year Limited Express Exchange

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