Print speed and quality tests
Here, the Brother MFC-6890cdw both impressed and disappointed me. The print speeds were slow across the board and did not live up to the advertised print speeds of 35 ppm in black, even in fast mode.
In normal mode (the closest to laser quality prints), while printing a 40 page black and white text document, the MFC-6890cdw printed about five pages per minute (ppm) with a first page out in about 20 seconds with an average overall time of nine minutes and 20 seconds. Add in color, and the ppm dropped to about four ppm with the first page out still around 20 seconds.
In fast normal mode, printing a 40 page black and white text document, the MFC-6890cdw printed about eight ppm with a first page out in about 15 seconds with an average overall time of five minutes and 29 seconds.
In fast mode, printing a 40 page black and white text document, the MFC-6890cdw printed about 12 ppm with a first page out in about 11 seconds with an average overall time of three minutes and nine seconds.
Overall, much slower than advertised but somewhere in the middle when compared to competitors’ average laser quality print speeds.
When it came to color photos, I felt like the MFC-6890cdw was slower than most of its competition. On average, it took the MFC-6890cdw one minute and 30 seconds to print a 4 x 6 color print out. Times did not vary whether printing one or multiple 4 x 6 prints. When printing larger color photos, such as 8.5 x 11 prints, the MFC-6890cdw took as long as eight minutes to print the entire photo.
That said, I felt like the MFC-6890cdw made up for slow print speeds with quality. I have seen sample prints from the MFC-6890cdw at press events, but when comparing our sample balloon image from the MFC-6890cdw to print outs I had from both office machines and all-in-one photo printers, it was as good or better.
Original digital image, left; Brother MFC-6890cdw print, center; Canon PIXMA MX870 print, right
The black and white text was also comparable to other printers I’ve worked with and the MFC-6890cdw gives users three print options. I would stick with the normal print mode or better when turning in professional documents, but the fast normal would be fine for interoffice documents. I would only use the fast mode for personal documents or rough drafts since it resembles old school dot matrix print outs.
Ink control tests
In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges. In this case, exhaustion means the printer will not print another quality document without a replacement. We print at a ratio of three pages of black and white text to one full page of color. We decided on the 3:1 ratio because we felt that the average user is printing more text than color.
The Brother MFC-6890cdw included four high-capacity Brother Innobella cartridges: LC65HY Black, LC65HY Magenta, LC65HY Yellow and LC65HY Cyan. Brother does offer standard capacity ink cartridges for the MFC-6890cdw: the Brother Innobella LC61 (CMYK). However, we did not test those cartridges since they were not included in the original packaging.
At the ratio of 3:1 in Brother’s printing mode, the MFC-6890cdw printed about 840 pages before the printer elicited a status message alerting me that the yellow and magenta cartridges were running low.
At 904 pages, identical status messages popped up alerting me that the yellow ink was completely out and that I could change the cartridge, revert to printing in black and white or cancel the print job. I thought Brother did a good job on ink status messages with a message about 60 pages ahead of time and the option to print in black and white once the yellow cartridge expired.
I did not have any paper jams during my print testing, but I did notice my larger documents got slightly out of order on the output tray. So before turning in a document, it’s wise to check the printing job thoroughly.
The Brother MFC-6890cdw used a surprisingly small amount of energy considering its size and multiple features. When printing, it used between 18 and 8 W of energy based on the type of printing the MFC-6890cdw is doing. A similar amount of energy is used when cleaning (usually after installing a new ink cartridge).
When waking up, the MFC-6890cdw spikes at 14 W before falling into a ready mode of 5 W of energy. When sleeping, the MFC-6890cdw uses only 3 W of energy, which is great for a business machine.