With its practical design, diverse paper compatibility and decent print quality, this MegaTank is made for the SMB. Though the initial cost seems high, refillable tanks makes the TCO low.
Can print banners
Appealing and practical design
Lots of ink in the box
Vivid all round print quality
Slower than laser
Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
The Canon MAXIFY GX5020 (US) / GX5020 (UK) / GX5060 (Australia) aims to be one of the best small business printers (if not one of the best printers of its type period). With its rugged build quality, rapid print speed and high capacity for paper and ink, it should meet the high print demands of most business users. But why the high price? At around $400 / £390 / AU$612 it seems expensive for a print-only device with no touchscreen interface.
The answer is that this is a MegaTank model with large ink reservoirs and enough bottled ink in the box to print up to 6,000 mono pages and 14,000 color pages. You can get even more by printing in economy mode. If you print a lot, then the TCO (total cost of ownership) is actually very competitive and your business will soon see its money back. Let’s find out if it’s worth the investment.
Canon MAXIFY GX5020: Design and build
Like the other two printers in Canon’s MAXIFY 5000 series, the entry-level GX5020 has a robust and appealing design. It is small enough to share your workstation, while the rounded edges and off-white casing won’t look out of place in a stylish home office. Clear plastic windows for viewing the ink tanks and paper drawer are a pleasing and practical design feature.
The control panel tilts for your convenience and there’s an excellent companion app available for printing via your smartphone. It’s only a pity the printer’s own display is a crummy two-line LCD affair and not a touchscreen as you get with the other two models in Canon’s MAXIFY 5000 series lineup. The various flaps and paper trays all feel like they are built to last so the overall impression is of a printer that is not going to end up in landfill any time soon.
Canon MAXIFY GX5020: Features and specifications
As a print-only device, the list of features is not a long one, but the Canon MAXIFY GX5020 is more flexible than most. It also has strong specifications. For instance, it can handle a very broad range of blank media, from envelopes and card to iron-on transfers and banners up to 120cm long. It can duplex print automatically, as you would expect, and it’ll hold up to 250 sheets of paper in its main paper feed tray.
Type: color A4 inkjet printer
Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB
Data storage slots: none
Print speed: 24 ipm (mono)
Paper capacity: 250 + 100 sheets
Print quality: 600 x 1,200 dpi
Apple AirPrint: yes
Consumables included: 4x ink bottles (6,000 mono, 14,000 color)
Dimensions/Weight: 399 x 416 x 238 mm (WxDxH)/9kg
The rear tray holds another 100 sheets and it will accept paper up to 275 g/m2 in weight. Connectivity is similarly open-ended with sockets for USB and Ethernet cables in addition to Wi-Fi and compatibility with Wi-Fi Direct, AirPrint and PIXMA Cloud Print.
The stated print speed is 24ipm (images per minute) for black and white pages or 15.5ipm for color. That’s the same rate as the more expensive models of the Canon MAXIFY 5000 series and faster than the average inkjet printer. The FPO (first page out) time of seven seconds is also impressive, while the print resolution is perfectly adequate at 600 x 1,200dpi (dots per inch).
Canon MAXIFY GX5020: Setup and operation
The Canon MAXIFY GX5020 comes with the briefest printed setup instructions we’ve ever come across, but then there really isn’t much to it. Filling the four ink tanks is made easy by bottles that have nozzles shaped to fit only the correct color tank.
They contain exactly the right amount of ink to fill each reservoir, which is 132ml for each color and 167ml for black. It’s a neat system that makes it hard to spill a drop of ink and impossible to pour the wrong colors.
During setup, you can check the print head alignment by printing out a test page. Most inkjets offer this feature and most are a little more thorough by providing at least two test pages. That said, our printer was perfectly aligned out of the box. The only annoying thing about the setup procedure is having to type in our long Wi-Fi password using the rudimentary control panel. Most printers at this price point offer a touchscreen interface these days, and this two-line LCD is far less user friendly.
Aside from the cheap display, the overall user experience is rather good because the clear windows into the ink tanks and paper trays are so easy to interpret at a glance and the various trays and flaps open and close so smoothly.
Canon MAXIFY GX5020: Performance
The Canon MAXIFY GX5020 performed well in all of our tests. We tried a wide range of media including some heavy 275 g/m2 paper and some thick envelopes and experienced no misprints or paper jams. It printed quickly, matching the FPO time and print rates quoted by Canon closely enough. It also printed quite quietly. Just 49dB according to Canon.
Pages of black and white text on plain paper emerge crisp and clear. The black pigment ink looks very dark, even when switching into economy mode. With a cartridge printer this might make you wonder how much ink is being applied, but with inexpensive bottled ink, you really don’t need to worry. In economy mode, the quoted page yield grows from 6,000 monochrome pages to 9,000. All the pages passed our smudge test so there’s no question of over-inking.
The cyan, magenta and yellow inks are also pigment rather than dye based and they look bright on plain white paper. This gives you satisfyingly bold color documents with no ink bleed or smudging. For a business printer, the Canon MAXIFY GX5020 also prints surprisingly good photos.
High resolution digital photos look vivid and sharp when printed on glossy photo paper. Canon’s dedicated photo printers can achieve a more lifelike finish by using additional dye-based colors, but this level of photo printing will be good enough for most of us.
Canon MAXIFY GX5020: Final verdict
The Canon MAXIFY GX5020 is somewhat expensive for a print-only inkjet with no touchscreen interface, but the money is well spent. It looks and feels like a quality machine that will outlast the many made-for-the-dump devices out there. It prints high quality mono and color documents as well as surprisingly good photos. It can handle a very diverse range of paper, including banners, and it prints quickly in auto-duplex mode.
The main attractions though, are those MegaTank ink reservoirs and the generous amount of ink included in the box. The use of bottled ink instead of cartridges brings your consumables cost down by around 85% and makes the total cost of ownership competitive. If you print a lot, this efficient inkjet makes real economic sense for your business, and we're happy to include it in our list of best printers for small businesses.
Jim is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2007, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT and voyaging in his VW camper van.