By September 16, 2008

Samsung ML-2851 laser printer review

I bought my Samsung ML-1430 when I lived in Oregon about six years ago. I bought it for about $150 at Office Max, and it served me very well. It died about four months ago when it suffered a paper jam. When I went looking for a replacement, I knew I wanted another Samsung. I also knew I wanted a laser (especially after the bullshit I’ve gone through with my Brother inkjet). I also wanted a printer that could be run over a home network and had duplex printing. I didn’t want color, and I didn’t care (too much) about print speed.

I picked up the Samsung ML-2851 ND $115 shipped on eBay. How would it stack up against my trusty 1430?

Long story short: it’s fantastic. Network installation was easy, I plugged the printer directly into my switch. Drivers were installed automatically when I added the network printer via the Windows XP SP3 add printer wizard. Print speed is much faster than the already-fast-enough-for-me 1430. Duplex printing is kind of a pain in the ass to do, but still simple.

Here’s your default print dialog box in WinXP. You have to click the Properties button to access the duplex printing option.

The duplex options aren’t very well highlighted. While the user interface does a good job of avoiding technical language by saying “Double-sided Printing,” it drops the ball with the whole “Long Edge” and “Short Edge” terminology. PC LOAD LETTER, what the fuck does that mean? For the record, “Long Edge” is what you want.

The printer is controlled via an installed program called the Smart Panel. Yes, it sucks to have yet ANOTHER mini-application installed on your computer. The Smart Panel allows you to access all of the printer settings via a Web interface. Which begs the question, why can’t you just access the printer’s tiny Web server directly and bypass Smart Panel altogether? You can type in your printer’s IP address and get to the interface. Perhaps the Smart Panel is necessary for the initial configuration.

You can adjust all sorts of cool shit through the Web interface. The basics are all covered, like printer name, DHCP or static IP addressing, and monitor toner levels. But you can also do nifty things like enable IP filtering and email alerts about toner levels and machine problems.

The printer comes with 32MB of onboard memory, expandable up to 96MB. I bought a cheap SO-DIMM laptop memory module off of eBay for $10. More memory means faster printing, and for $10, why not?

My only reservation with the printer is that I may not be able to use aftermarket toner. Official toner carts go for about $125 online. I bought a bunch of toner online for my ML-1420 and was able to reuse the cartridge once. I am not sure if there is a built-in security “feature” on the 2851 that would detect a toner refill. I am guessing not, but again after my horrible inkjet experience I don’t put anything past printer manufacturers.

The Samsung ML-2851 has been great so far. The printer typically sells for $200 – $250 online. If you buy it on sale or via eBay it’s an even greater bargain.

Highly recommended.

Posted in: review, technology

24 Comments on "Samsung ML-2851 laser printer review"

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  1. That’s a bargain you got for a laser printer. Laser printer really works better for network printing and if you are really not fond of color printing, it works better and more economical than deskjet printing. At some point, aftermarket toners works perfectly well with your printer. Just be on guard how many times you use aftermarket toners and how well they have been refilled.

  2. Evan says:

    It looks like Samsung was clearing out their stock of these to make way for the ML-2855ND. I picked up a ML-2851ND myself, here in the UK at a similar price, before the promotions seemed to disappear everywhere at the end of October. The ML-2855ND appears to be just a minor update with a small added LCD display and double the standard memory – perhaps so it will compete better with Brother’s HL-5270DN on store shelves?

    I’m curious what the specs are on the memory you put in yours. A 144-pin SDRAM SODIMM? CL2? PC133? I don’t trust my eyes to tell me the difference between a DDR and an SDRAM SODIMM slot, and I can’t seem to find more detailed information about its memory requirements anywhere. Also, Samsung lists the printer’s memory capacity as 160MB (and the OEM memory upgrade is 128MB).

  3. richard says:

    i also have an ml-2851nd printer and want to add more ram to it.
    i have a 256 mb ddr2 so-dimm but the key on the module will not match to that on the printer’s ram slot.
    can you tell me more about what ram module you used for your printer?

  4. drfaulken says:

    Hi Richard, you have to use a 144-pin PC100 SD-RAM, not DDR RAM. I bought a 128MB chip from eBay for $10.00 shipped.

  5. Jamie says:

    Thanks for the great review, much appreciated. I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy this printer. Regarding the RAM upgrade side of things, I see in the printer instruction manual that the official Samsung RAM upgrade part number is CLP-MEM301 (for the ridiculously overpriced official Samsung part). Looking around, I’ve seen some references to equivalent/compatible SODIMMs which have 100 pins rather than the 144 you mention above. Can you confirm you are definitely using a 144-pin SODIMM?

    Many thanks,


  6. drfaulken says:

    Hi Jamie, my memory module is a 144-pin PC100 SD-RAM SO-DIMM.

  7. Jamie says:

    Thanks for the reply – I ordered the printer and am very happy with it. I managed to count (!) the pins in the RAM slot and it is indeed 144 pin (2 x 72). Best regards.

  8. richard says:

    I did obtain a used PC100 RAM module locally and have installed it, but I can’t tell whether the RAM has improved my printing speed.
    I suspect the impact will be to printing pages which have alot of graphics.
    Otherwise I’ve been happy with the printer so far.
    I, too, am wondering what to do when I need a toner cartridge and will be interested to hear where others are getting theirs.


  9. Jamie says:

    I notice that the process for “activating” the extra RAM involves using the Postscript Driver. Is the extra RAM used automatically with the “regular”/PCL driver, I wonder? It’s rather an odd process…

    I too am very happy with the printer overall, great little machine.

  10. richard says:

    I wondered the same myself, Jamie.
    Can anyone say how one would test whether the RAM is used, and when?


  11. Dana says:

    I too love this printer. You ahve to be careful about aftermarket cartridges, etc. I bought one and the “chip” on the cartridge was not recognized by the printer. I sent it back. Now I am refilling the original cartridge. With new toner and new chip $25! I hope this method works out. The same company sent me HP black ink that looks distinctly brown. I too got this printer for about $100 from Officemax on sale. I needed laser in order to do duplex on 20lb. paper. Inkjet really needs 24lb for double-sided. I was having a real bear of a time doing duplex on a regular printer by turning over the stack. I wasted SO much paper with mis-feeds. Anyway. Love it.

  12. Dana says:

    Forgot. I just added 128MB and it shows immediately on printed configuration page as 96MB (32 MB base). I don’t see anywhere in the driver configurator to update memory size. I’m using Linux. And Windows. I love having a networked printer (my first). I just plugged it into my DSL router and I can print from all my PCs. Love it.

  13. Gerry - Refurbished Laptops says:

    I am searching for a replacment for my Brother HL2400 laser printer. After owning a HP laserjet 5P that wouldn’t die, the Brother has been a diaappointment, so it’s good to have this review on a Samsung products I gave had good experiences with other Samsung products so I think I will give teir laser printer line a try. Thanks for the review.

  14. Ira says:

    Regarding memory expansion–

    Memory Ten now has a dedicated listing for a generic equivalent
    28MB Samsung ML-2851ND 144pin PC133 SODIMM (p/n CLP-MEM301)
    Item #: CLP-MEM301 ABZAAS
    Price: $14.98

    I got one and have installed it successfully. Like Dana, mine shows on the printed configuration page as 96MB (32 MB base), but not as 160mb which you might expect, since it is a 128mb module added to the base 32mb.

    Overall, I find this a great printer, completely reliable, and with an outstanding feature set. We’ve had it now for more than a year.

  15. Greg says:

    I just bought a memory module off of ebay for my 2851 and it also is only reporting 96MB. I’m wondering if that is a mistake or if it is only using half of the stick. I think it’s a low density module with 4 chips on each side (8 total). Can anyone with the high density module (with less chips) or the genuine Samsung module comment on whether or not they are only getting 96MB?

    By the way, the printer is awesome, text is amazing, its so quick and I’ll never buy a printer without auto. duplexing again.

    The toner is cheaper than the less expensive printers also. About $100 for 5000 pages where the lower end models are $75 for only 1500 pages so the extra cost of the printer pays for itself after a couple of cartridges.

  16. Stan says:

    I bought an aftermarket memory module from MenoryTenn. It also shows only 96 MB. I returned and they replaced it and it still shows 96MB. the memories said 128MB, 133 MHz, 144 pins and they fit into the slot. Anyone else have a similar problem/solution?

  17. Greg says:

    I e-mailed samsung about this and they told me to refer to the users manual, the page that tells you how to install the module, and I received no response after I told them that it didn’t solve my problem. Thanks for nothing samsung.

    Oh well, it prints much faster now and I haven’t seen windows, mac os or linux b*tch about anything related to this yet.

  18. Greg says:

    Stan, how many chips does your module have on it?

  19. Vertex says:

    Similar situation.

    ML-2851ND (32m base) plus some old laptop modules I had laying around:

    Adding a 128m module (MT8LSDT166HG-10EB1) shows:
    Total: 96
    Base: 32

    Adding a 256m module (hys64v32220GDL-7.5-d) shows:
    Total: 160
    Base: 32

    FYI installing the software isn’t required (I’m using it with a *nix workgroup). The printer defaults to dhcp so you can find it via your dhcp server’s client list (you may need to add it’s mac if you use access lists) or a ping scan of your network. Once you have it’s ip address you can directly connect via a web browser and setup the printer (and a static address if desired) that way.


  20. a1smith says:

    I have tried two memory modules and can only get 96mb to show up as well. First, I ordered from MemoryTen. They sent a memory module which didn’t match the 4 chip module shown in their listing picture. It was:

    128S8S816-75 AAS

    which is 144 pin 128 mb PC133 two bank module. I discussed and they said primary stock # was out and this was a second choice. Sent it back.

    Then, found nice Micron Technology CL2 4 chip module on eBay, it is:

    MT4LSDT1664HG-13ED1 PC133S-222-542-A1

    It is showing 96mb as well. I checked specification sheet and this is a single bank module. Anyone have other ideas to get a 128 mb module to work? If anyone gets 128mb module to work please post memory part number. Or do we have to use a 256 mb module as listed above?

    PS Just noticed Vertex had PC100 version of same memory module…too bad I ordered before he posted! 🙂

  21. Greg says:

    Hey, thanks for sharing information everyone, we consumers have to work together since the companies refuse to help.

    I figure this old memory is cheap enough, even if it is wasteful I ordered a 256mb PC133 module from ebay for $9 US, at least I can use the max 160mb now.

  22. Ross says:

    I cannot find anywhere in the PCL driver for designating memory either. However, according to the manual, if you install the Post Script driver, you can designate the memory up to the max 160MB (128MB + 32MB), and this works. Not sure if that effects the PCL driver at all.

  23. Greg says:

    Just confirming that the cheap ebay 256mb PC133 stick worked, the configuration page now says 160mb installed, woohoo.

  24. John says:

    Great review/thread. Interesting that only via threads like this can we find out things that manufacturers are clueless about, or hiding. Like that the printer sees only half of the amount of memory added. That’s great info to have, seeing as those small amounts of memory are almost free anyway!

    I’ve done fine for years with my ML-1740 hung off one machine, and refilling it myself. Despite having no reason to expect its demise, I am leaning toward the ML-2855ND, to get a printer on the network, easier 2-sided printing, and of course more redundancy beyond an old SCX-4100 that I use mainly as a copier.

    I think the main differences between the 2851 and 2855 are the 1-sheet vs 50-sheet manual feed stack, standard/max memory of 32/160MB vs 64/192MB, and the 2855 is an inch wider.

    Does anyone with both of them care to confirm/comment? I figure some 2851 owner must have bought a 2855 by now.