Installation is pretty smooth on both the PC and the Mac. On the latter platform, you have to add the printer manually (as is the case for most printers, unfortunately). Ethernet and USB connections are available. The HTML-based user guide installs automatically and is pretty thorough, but as it covers multiple models, it can sometimes be confusing.
The ML-3712ND has an office-ready standard configuration, including a 250-sheet input tray, a 50-sheet multipurpose tray (MPT), and a 150-sheet top output tray. An optional 520-sheet input tray costs $200. Automatic duplexing is standard. In a commendable show of support for saving paper and toner, Samsung also offers an Eco mode, which can be enacted from the driver or the control panel and automatically prints in 2-up mode (two reduced-size pages printed per sheet) and duplex. The control panel is minimal: a two-line, 16-character monochrome LCD, and a few buttons with inscrutable symbols rather than word names (except for the labeled Eco button).
Performance was better than average. The ML-3712ND printed plain text at speeds of 22.2 pages per minute (ppm) on the PC and 22.6 ppm on the Mac. On the PC, basic snapshots exited at a rate of 5.8 ppm. On the Mac, a four-page PDF of mixed text and graphics printed at a peppy rate of 6.6 ppm. Photos showed a surprisingly smooth quality, distinguishing the ML-3712ND from most other laser models in its price range.
What you have to watch out for with the ML-3712ND are its toner costs. The replacement cartridges come in three sizes. Based on our in-house street pricing research, the standard-size, 2000-page cartridge costs about $75, or a whopping 3.7 cents per page. The current average for standard-size cartridges is 2.5 cents per page (cpp). The 5000-page cartridge costs about $127, or 2.5 cpp, but the current average for higher-yield cartridges is 1.8 cpp. Finally, a 10,000-page cartridge costs about $180, or 1.8 cpp; the current average for highest-yield cartridges is 1.6 cpp.
Macworld’s buying advice
Samsung’s ML-3712ND monochrome laser is a good printer saddled with high toner prices. A low-volume office might not print enough to notice the gouging cost of the standard-size cartridge anytime soon, but an office that can afford the highest-yield cartridge will get the best deal (though it’s still not a bargain).
[Melissa Riofrio is a PCWorld senior editor.]