The Lexmark MS331 is a basic monochrome printer with a fast print speed at an affordable price. If your print volume is between 500-6,000 pages per month and don’t need color, this printer is perfect for you. A great solution for the front desk or checkout where receipts are printed. Processing times are quick for the MS331. This Lexmark is compatible with a broad range of applications. Future expansions are accommodated with additional paper capacity.
The Lexmark MS331 is ahead of the other printers in this segment. The HP M404n has 256MB of memory and the Brother HL-2300d a meager 8MB. While the Lexmark MS331 is packed with 512MB. It also has a dual core processor. The larger memory combined with the dual core will tear through spreadsheets or larger PDF’s. In my experience Lexmark print drivers are quick and reliable as well.
As for print speed, the Brother lags at 27 pages per minute. The HP M404 specs at 40 ppm while the Lexmark is at 38 ppm. In my experience, 2 ppm is not noticeable. Real world print speeds vary depending on what file you print. Processor and memory specs will play a huge role.
While the Brother is slightly lower in cost, it is also much slower and lesser equipped. The HP is a strong contender but the Lexmark edges it out for value and performance.
In most office environments security is a concern. Not that home setups don’t care, they just have slightly less risk. Lexmark is one of the most secure offerings on the market, having won the buyers lab PaceSetter award.
It has built in security for remote management. There is restricted access for unauthorized network requests. A standard practice of Lexmark is unnecessary software modules are not installed in the factory image. By not installing these modules, certain processes are not running or available for potential exploits by hackers.
In addition to the built in security, the web interface has more security to configure. Event logs are also available through the web interface.
I have no complaints about Lexmark’s printer support. As a Lexmark certified technician I’ve used both their phone and online support. Their phone support typically provides a resolution quickly. Everyone I’ve talked seems to know what they’re doing.
The support website is the same for the public and techs. Although techs have access to service manual and tech bulletin libraries. Everything is available at the product libraries. The knowledgebase, warranty, how-to’s, manuals, drivers, and support info are all there.
Setting up a Lexmark is average as far as difficulty is concerned. Packing tape and foam inserts are removed. Then the toner cartridge is added. The drum and toner cartridge attached to the drum unit and comes out as one unit. However, I haven’t had issues attaching one to the other like I have on some brands. For instance, I like Brother printers but their cartridges don’t seem to go together as easy as other brands.
You enter some basic info when it first boots up. The Lexmark MS331 doesn’t have wireless. Network setup is done through the control panel. If wireless is a necessity, then the Lexmark MS431 has that option.
The toner comes in a standard 6,000 page capacity. Or a high capacity cartridge with a whopping 15,000 page yield. Using the high capacity cartridge is recommended since toner doesn’t expire or spoil.
Paper is loaded in a cassette located in the front. It holds 250 sheets while the multi purpose tray just above it holds 100 sheets. You can add one optional tray. A 250 or 550 sheet tray is available for purchase.
Supported stock includes labels, envelops, cardstock, or transparencies. The Brother HL2300d and HP M404n both have similar paper specifications as the Lexmark MS331. The HP offers one optional 550 sheet tray yet the Lexmark offers a choice between two optional trays.
The display is a 2 line screen with some buttons. Which is adequate given that most of the time the display only needs to convey a limited amount of information.
It is quick for its size at 38 ppm. The footprint is just over 14 inches square with no protruding trays. Unless you print 8 ½ x 14, then the cassette expands out the rear a few inches.
The HP M404n is a slightly larger footprint than the Lexmark MS331. While the Brother HL-2300d is smaller by less than an inch.
The Lexmark MS331 covers a lot of ground with its print drivers. Airprint and Mopria print services are standard. These are the point and print automated setup. They are the quickest way to get a document from a mobile device or tablet to the output tray.
The MS331 comes with quite the library of print drivers. PCL5e, PCL XL, Universal (PCL), PS3, PPD, HBP, and a slew of Linux drivers. While PCL and PS are enough for most installations. Lexmark develops drivers for diverse installations.
For Linux installations 32 & 64 bit driver versions are available for Debian, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. The Ubuntu driver is 32 bit. If one of those drivers doesn’t suit your needs, there’s also a CUPS driver for Debian and OpenSUSE.
Windows installations have their choice of PCL, PS, or Universal drivers. I typically recommend PCL5e drivers. They are the fastest and most reliable in my opinion. If you can’t use PCL5e for some reason the Universal driver by Lexmark is good. I work with a lot of print drivers and this is one of the few universal drivers I would recommend.
Lexmark’s universal driver is more than a stripped down version of PCL. It starts as the basic universal driver but all the advanced features are opened up for configuration. You can modify the basic configuration of the driver. Form to tray is edited directly from the driver. The Job accounting is changed within the driver. Fonts are added directly from the driver. This is a great example of a universal print driver.
The Lexmark MS331 has a lot more to offer than other monochrome printers. For example, it’s much faster than the Brother HL-2300d. It has more memory and a better processor than the HP M404n as well as tray options. The Lexmark MS331 print driver offerings are abundant.
The Lexmark MS331 is an affordable, speedy little printer. Great for low to medium monochrome print volume it has extremely high capacity supplies. No worries with it’s built in security and broad compatibility. It’s a good fit for a variety of business applications.
[star4half] 4.5 Stars!
The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes over 23 years. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them. I’ve worked with every major brand. As well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.