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Review: Brother MFC-9840CDW

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At a Glance
  • Brother MFC-9840CDW

The Brother MFC-9840CDW is a multifunction color laser printer, copier, scanner, and fax machine with wired and wireless networking capabilities. It doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for a versatile machine that does its job well, the MFC-9840CDW is a worthwhile investment. It can be a little tricky to use—especially when you’re setting up wireless printing—but you end up with high-quality output that’s produced quickly.

Setup and usability

Setting up the MFC-9840CDW was a breeze. After powering up the machine and installing the toner cartridges, you have three connection options: Ethernet, USB 2.0, or 802.11b/g wireless. Connecting via USB is as simple as it sounds. And when we plugged in the device via Ethernet, the MFC-9840CDW automatically appeared as a Bonjour printer. The trickiest connection setup was the wireless, which required setting up IP printing. The user manual, however, does a good job of directing you through this process.

Brother MFC-9840CDW
The MFC-9840CDW is ideal for medium-sized workgroups.

The MFC-9840CDW’s control panel is well designed and clearly labeled. Three large buttons allow you to choose between the fax, scan, and copy functions. The control panel consists of rubber buttons that are pleasant to use, and a bright, backlit LCD clearly displays the settings you can choose from.

The MFC-9840CDW includes a convenient automatic document feeder to make copying easy. A nice bonus is the ability to copy double-sided documents by pressing the Duplex button.

Disappointingly, the included scanner software doesn’t offer very flexible scanning options. It is, however, easy to use and straightforward.

Output quality and speed

The MFC-9840CDW outputted very good results overall, impressing our panel of experts. Text quality looked clean and professional, earning a Very Good rating. In our test print of a picnic photo, the colors overall were on the lighter side, but the image looked pleasing overall, earning another Very Good rating. The scanner’s output looked slightly dark compared to our control image, but the device captured fine details and the overall image was clear and realistic. The MFC-9840CDW’s copier received a Good rating: in a test copy of a Macworld magazine cover, some details got lost, and blacks looked slightly dull.

The MFC-9840CDW’s print speeds were impressive. It took just under 40 seconds to print a ten-page Word document, and 15 seconds to print a one-page Word document. Color scanning was a bit on the slower side: it took 1 minute and 11 seconds to scan an 8-by-10-inch photo at 600 dpi.

Timed Trials: Print

10-page Word test 0:39
1-page Word test 0:15
22MB Photoshop image 0:44
4-page PDF 0:35

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

Timed Trials: Scan

8-by-10-inch Photo, 600 dpi scan 1:11
4-by-6-inch Photo, 1,200dpi scan 0:17

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

Jury Tests: Print

Graphics: Fine Lines and Gradients Good
22MB Photoshop Image Quality Very Good
Text Quality Very Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

Jury Tests: Scan and Copy

Color Very Good
Clarity Very Good
Copy Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the color laser multifunction printer connected via 10/100BaseTX Ethernet to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro with Mac OS X 10.4.10 installed and 1GB of RAM. We recorded the time it took the MFP to print a one-page Word document and a ten-page Word document, as well as the time it took to print a 22MB Photoshop image and a four-page PDF. We then recorded the time it took to scan an 8-by-10-inch photo at 600 dpi in color, as well as the time it took to scan a 4-by-6-inch photo at 1,200 dpi in grayscale. A panel of experts examined sample output of the MFP to evaluate its print, scan, and copy quality as Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor in comparison to the output of past color laser MFPs we've tested.—Macworld Lab Testing by Jim Galbraith


Print Resolution up to 2,400 x 600 dpi
Scan Resolution (optical) up to 1,200 x 2,400 dpi
Maximum Scanning Bit Depth 24-bit
Connection 802.11b/g Wireless, 10/100Base-TX (Ethernet), USB 2.0
Paper Sizes letter, legal, executive, A4, A5, B5, B6, A6, envelopes, folio, custom sizes 2.75–8.5" (W), 4.57–16" (L)
Cost to Replace Toner Cartridges $270 ($60 for black; $70 each for cyan, magenta, and yellow)
Weight (in pounds) 83.2
Dimensions (height x depth x width in inches) 30.1 x 32. 4 x 26.7
Paper Capacity 250 sheets
Special Features wireless

Macworld’s buying advice

On top of being an excellent all-around MFP, the MFC-9840CDW includes bonuses such as a duplexer and wireless connectivity that make it a great value. Creative Mac users would appreciate more-advanced scanning software, but the MFC-9840CDW’s high-quality prints and scans should alleviate such concerns to some extent.

[Brian Chen is an associate editor at Macworld.]

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Includes duplexer, wireless connectivity, and an automatic document feeder
    • Speedy
    • High-quality scans and print output


    • Scanner software lacks options
    • Wireless printing setup is slightly tricky
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