HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f Review

Top-notch print quality from a capacious color AIO

editors choice horizontal
4.0
Excellent
July 16, 2021

The Bottom Line

HP’s Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f, a mid-volume color laser AIO printer, outclasses the competition with beautifully detailed printing and reasonable running costs.

PCMag editors select and review products independently. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions, which help support our testing. Learn more.

Pros

  • Robust mobile connectivity
  • Excellent print quality
  • Relatively small footprint
  • Expandable
  • Competitive running costs

Cons

  • Somewhat high purchase price

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f Specs

Type All-in-one
Color or Monochrome Color
Connection Type Wireless, NFC, Ethernet, USB
Maximum Standard Paper Size Legal
Number of Ink Colors 4
Number of Ink Cartridges/Tanks 4
Direct Printing From Media Cards No
Direct Printing From USB Thumb Drives Yes
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color) 29 ppm
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono) 29 ppm
Monthly Duty Cycle (Recommended) 4,800
Monthly Duty Cycle (Maximum) 55,000
LCD Preview Screen Yes
Printer Input Capacity 300 expandable to 850
Cost Per Page (Monochrome) 2.3 cents
Cost Per Page (Color) 14.1 cents
Print Duplexing Yes
Automatic Document Feeder Yes
Duplexing Scans Yes
Standalone Copier and Fax Copier, Fax

There’s no shortage of well-regarded midrange all-in-one color laser printers available. One of the more impressive is HP’s LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f ($879.99). Like the Lexmark MC2535adwe, our previous Editors’ Choice for a midrange color laser AIO, the M408f prints well, with plenty of capacity for most medium-size offices. Though its up-front price is a little steep, its reasonable running costs make up for it. Easy mobile connectivity rounds out the feature set to make the M480f our new Editors' Choice for midrange color AIOs.


A 50-Pound Workhorse

The M480f measures 15.7 by 16.4 by 15.7 inches (HWD) and weighs a hefty 51.2 pounds. These numbers are about average for this class of business AIO. Lexmark’s MC2535adwe ($599) is a few inches bigger in most directions and about 8 pounds heavier; Canon’s Color imageClass MF424dw ($349), a monochrome laser, is significantly lighter. Brother’s MFC-L3770CDW ($399.99), a laser-class LED printer, is similar to the size and girth of the M480f, and Epson’s EcoTank Pro ET-5850 ($849.99), a color inkjet, is slightly smaller than the rest. (All these printers are Editors’ Choice winners.)

All-in-one printers scan and copy, usually with the aid of an automatic document feeder (ADF). On all these machines, the ADF holds up to 50 sheets of up to legal (8.5 by 14 inches) size, which is plenty for most smaller offices.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f automatic document feeder
A 50-page ADF sends one- and two-sided multipage documents to the scanner.

You can configure and execute walk-up scan and copy jobs, monitor toner levels, generate usage reports, create and modify workflow profiles, and much more from a spacious 4.3-inch color touch screen that comprises the entire control panel. For remote configurations, the M480f’s onboard web portal runs in any browser, including on your smartphone or tablet.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f control panel
A 4.3-inch color touch screen comprises the entire control panel.

Connectivity options include two USB 2.0 host ports, one USB 2.0 device port, Ethernet, Wi-Fi Direct for direct connections to mobile devices, and near-field communication (NFC), a mobile touch-to-print protocol. You can add dual-band Wi-Fi networking with a wireless accessory.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f rear panel
The M480f has all the connectivity options you could need.

The default paper capacity consists of one 250-sheet cassette and a generous 50-sheet multipurpose tray. If that isn't enough, you can add a 550-sheet cassette ($195) for a total of 850 pages. The printer's maximum monthly duty cycle is 55,000 pages, but its recommended monthly usage is only 4,800 pages. If you print that much, the second cassette could save you from needing to reload paper every day. It's also useful for holding envelopes, letterhead, or label sheets.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f paper cassette
A 550-sheet extra cassette more than doubles the printer's paper capacity.

Lexmark’s MC2535adwe’s default paper input configuration consists of a 250-sheet cassette and a 1-sheet override tray. With the various add-on expansion options available, it can be expanded to 1,451 sheets. Brother’s MFC-L3770CDW holds up to 280 sheets, and the Epson ET-5850 supports up to 550 pages from three sources. Of these machines, the M480f's ratings are on the high side, though the MC2535adwe still surpasses them.


A Chatterbox That Talks to Anything

HP doesn’t provide software in the box. Instead, after you've set up and connected the M480f, you need to go to 123.hp.com to download and install the appropriate drivers and the HP Smart app. You get both HP’s Printer Command Language 6 (PCL) and Adobe’s PostScript 3.0 (PS) emulation for compatibility with desktop publishing and graphics design environments. HP Scan and Twain Package for USB, and MFP Network Twain Scan Package, let you scan to a single USB-connected device or to multiple destinations on a network.

HP Smart is a combination of driver and interface. In addition to operating and maintaining the printer, it can generate usage and other reports, and monitor consumables. You can also create and manage Shortcuts, one-touch workflow profile scripts for performing commonly repeated tasks.

HP Smart App used on tablet and several smartphones
There are versions of HP Smart for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

HP Smart runs in the browser on any computer, and there are mobile app versions for Android and iOS. The different versions of the app aren't quite identical, but it's still pretty easy to switch among them without confusion. Menu navigation and specific features are very similar from one version to another.


Midrange Print Speeds

HP rates the M480f at 29 one-sided pages per minute (ppm), which is on the low side for a midlevel laser AIO. The Lexmark MC2535adwe is rated at 35ppm, and the Canon MF424dw at 40ppm. The Brother MFC-L3770CDW and the Epson ET-5850, on the other hand, are rated at a moderate 25ppm. 

I ran my tests over Ethernet from our standard Intel Core i5 PC running Windows 10 Professional. For the first test, I clocked the M408f as it printed our 12-page monochrome text document several times, and then averaged the results for a score of 30ppm, just surpassing the rating. This score falls on the lower end of the range from the slowest (the Brother, at 26.8ppm) to the fastest (the Lexmark, at 39.8ppm).

See How We Test Printers

For the next portion of my testing regimen, I timed the M480f as it churned through our collection of complex and colorful business documents, including spreadsheets, charts and graphs, and handouts. Each document is designed to challenge the printer’s ability to reproduce specific types of output, such as color and grayscale gradients, intricate details, and hairlines (rules thinner than 1 point).

This time, the M480f managed 12ppm; that’s about 1.7ppm behind the Brother MFC-L3770CDW and 4.9ppm slower than the Lexmark MC2535adwe. The M480f’s score here is the slowest, but it’s not excruciatingly slow and will be passable for most small offices.

Finally, though this is not a photo printer and several other machines would turn out better-looking images, I clocked it as it printed our highly detailed and colorful 4-by-6-inch test snapshots. The M480f printed our sample test photos in 24 seconds, which is about average for a laser printer.


Tight Text and Great Graphics

LaserJets are known for stellar output, and the M480f continues that long trend. Everyday serif and sans-serif fonts came out at near-typesetter quality and were highly legible at all sizes. The decorative fonts looked a little better than average, too. 

The business graphics were printed with little to no banding, streaking, or other toner-distribution problems. Gradients flowed smoothly from one color to the next, and fine details, such as hairlines and 3-D bar and line charts, printed precisely, with no noticeable color shifts or other inaccuracies. 

Photographs looked good, with minimal graininess; brilliant, accurate colors; and great details. Granted, photos printed on a LaserJet won't be as stunning as the images you get from photo-optimized printers, but for a business inkjet, the reproduction quality was impressive.


Competitive Running Costs

If you buy HP’s highest-yield cartridges (6,000 color pages or 7,500 monochrome prints), your running costs will be about 14.1 cents for color pages and 2.3 cents per black page, which is about average for an enterprise-grade AIO. You can save considerably on toner by opting for a non-enterprise LaserJet Pro, such as the Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw. You give up some fleet management and other enterprise features, but you get compatibility with HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, which has recently added toner to its offerings. With this program, you get up to 1,500 prints per month at 1.7 cents per page, any page, regardless of whether it’s monochrome or color, and regardless of whether the page coverage is 5% or 95%.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f toner
High-yield toner cartridges help hold down running costs.

Many printer manufacturers now offer various opportunities to save money on consumables: Epson’s laser alternative, the bulk-ink ET-5850, prints both color and black pages for 2 cents each. But the Lexmark MC2535adwe will cost you about 1.8 cents for monochrome and 11.7 cents for color, and the Brother MFC-L3770CDW’s running costs are similar to the Lexmark’s. Overall, the M480f’s running costs are competitive among enterprise machines.


A Top Choice 

Finding the right color AIO can be challenging, but the HP LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f takes a lot of the guesswork out. Its capacity, connectivity, usage ratings, and print quality are all excellent, as are its fleet management and enterprise features. If you don’t need enterprise-level management and security functions, you can save considerably on running costs by choosing a comparably configured machine designed for small-office or home-office use, such as the M479fdn. Otherwise, the M480f's enterprise feature set is more than enough to render it worthy of our Editors' Choice award.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f

4.0
Editors' Choice

Pros

  • Robust mobile connectivity
  • Excellent print quality
  • Relatively small footprint
  • Expandable
  • Competitive running costs
View More

Cons

  • Somewhat high purchase price

The Bottom Line

HP’s Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f, a mid-volume color laser AIO printer, outclasses the competition with beautifully detailed printing and reasonable running costs.

Like What You're Reading?

Sign up for Lab Report to get the latest reviews and top product advice delivered right to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.


Thanks for signing up!

Your subscription has been confirmed. Keep an eye on your inbox!

Sign up for other newsletters

PCMag Stories You’ll Like

About William Harrel

William Harrel

William Harrel is a contributing editor focusing on printer and scanner technology and reviews. He has been writing about computer technology since well before the advent of the internet. He has authored or coauthored 20 books—including titles in the popular "Bible," "Secrets," and "For Dummies" series—on digital design and desktop publishing software applications such as Acrobat, Photoshop, and QuarkXPress, as well as prepress imaging technology. His latest title is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Mobile Development for Dummies (a handbook for creating websites for smartphones and tablets). In addition to writing hundreds of articles for PCMag, over the years he has also written for several other computer and business publications, among them Computer Shopper, Digital Trends, MacUser, PC World, The Wirecutter, and Windows Magazine, and he has served as the Printers and Scanners Expert at About.com (now Livewire).

Read the latest from William Harrel

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f $879.99 at HP
See It