The Canon Maxify GX3020 offers an unusual balance of features. Most all-in-one printers (AIOs) that lack an automatic document feeder (ADF) are entry-level models meant for light-duty printing. But the GX3020’s $399.99 list price is definitively not entry level. Neither is its paper capacity nor its low running cost, which are both suitable for heavy-duty printing in multiple settings: home plus home office, small office, or even a personal printer in any size office. You can easily find less-expensive AIOs with ADFs that handle multi-page documents and legal-size pages, such as the Canon Pixma G7020. But if your primary need is low-cost printing, and you’d like some minimal ability to scan and copy, the GX3020 can be a good fit.
Solid Printing, Minimal Scanning
The GX3020 prints, scans, and copies, which rules it out if you need faxing also. Paper handling for printing includes automatic duplexing, along with the highest paper capacity we’ve seen for any inkjet AIO that’s limited to a flatbed for scanning. Almost all flatbed-only models offer a single 100- or 150-sheet tray. The GX3020 offers a 250-sheet drawer, a 100-sheet tray at the rear top of the printer, and a single-sheet straight-through feed in the back for heavyweight paper. The 100-sheet tray lets you keep a second type of paper loaded at all times, as well as easily switch to another type or size of paper when needed, while the 350-sheet capacity is enough to print up to 1,400 sheets per month and still keep paper refills down to about once a week.
As mentioned, paper handling for scanning and copying is limited to manually placing pages on a letter-size flatbed. As a point of comparison, the Canon G7020 offers an ADF that can hold up to 35 letter-size or five legal-size pages for easily scanning multi-page documents.
Physical setup is straightforward. The printer weighs 18.2 pounds, making it easy for one person to unpack and move into place. Its compact size, at 8.6 by 15.8 by 16.4 inches (HWD), also makes it small enough to share a desk with, so you can easily reach the paper tray or see its 1.4-inch front panel control screen, as well as enter copy and scan commands using the surrounding buttons. Once in place, you simply load paper and pour the four bottles of ink—cyan, yellow, magenta, and black—into the tanks. As is typical, the ink bottles are keyed so each will pour only into the right tank. After you finish, the printer goes through a completely automated alignment routine.
Software installation is even easier. After connecting via USB cable or Wi-Fi, you download and run the fully automated setup routine from Canon’s website. In my tests, the program ran smoothly, finding the USB-connected printer and installing the driver for it, along with a scan utility. For mobile printing and scanning, you can download a Canon app to your Android or iOS phone or tablet, and you can set the printer to show a QR code on the printer’s screen for easy connection. In my tests using an Android phone and a Wi-Fi Direct connection, the printing, scanning, and QR code all worked without problems.
Very much on the plus side, the GX3020 delivers on the promise of any tank-based printer, offering a notably low running cost to justify its high initial price. Canon says the ink that comes with the printer is enough to print 5,000 standard mono pages plus 5,000 standard color pages, while a full set of replacement bottles will print 6,000 mono pages at 0.14 cent per page plus 14,000 color pages at 0.85 cent per page. As with any printer, keep in mind that you shouldn’t focus too much on running cost alone. What matters more when you compare printers is the total cost of ownership—running cost plus initial cost—as we discuss in our guide to how to save money on your next printer.
Testing the Maxify GX3020: Speedy Enough, With Sterling Output Quality
The GX3020’s print speeds on our tests weren’t impressive for the price, especially when compared with less-expensive cartridge-ink-based competition like the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4830, but it was comparable to other tank-based printers in its price range.
In my tests using our standard testbed and a USB connection, the GX3020 came in at 16.5ppm (40 seconds)—just a little short of its 18ppm rating—for monochrome text using our 12-page Microsoft Word file and not including the first page. Adding the first page back in dropped the speed to 13.1ppm (55 seconds).
The WF-4830 was notably faster in both cases, while the G7020 was slower, and the Epson WorkForce ST-C4100 SuperTank, our Editors’ Choice pick among tank-based AIOs for this category, was essentially tied, though a little slower when not including the first page and a little faster when adding it, due to the GX3020’s longer first page out (FPO) time.
For our business applications suite, which includes several files of one to four pages, and also adds graphics and color to most, the WF-4830 was in first place, at 2:08 (12 ppm), thanks to its fast print time beyond the first page swamping any advantage the ST-C4100 had from offering the shortest FPO in the group. However the ST-C4100’s fast FPO time earned it a solid second place, at 3:21 (7.5 ppm), saving it a few seconds on each file compared with the GX3020, which was in third place, at 3:40 (6.8ppm). The G7020 earned a convincing last place in the group at 5:38 (4.4ppm).
Text quality was close to top-tier for business inkjets. Characters weren’t quite as crisp as you would expect from a laser printer, but all the fonts in our tests that are likely to be used in standard business documents were well-formed, properly spaced, and highly readable at 5 points. All but one looked just as good at 4 points. The loss of crispness compared with laser output was most obvious in two fonts with heavy strokes. Loops and the spaces between characters in both tended to fill in, making the text hard to read at sizes smaller than 10 points for one font and 8 points for the other.
Graphics on plain paper with default settings delivered nicely shaded gradients and saturated color. The printer also did an excellent job with thin lines, including a single-pixel-wide line on a black background. However, although solid fills using bright colors were suitably smooth, I saw banding that varied from subtle to obvious in black fills and dark colors. Photos on the recommended photo paper were at the high end of drugstore quality.
On our water smudging tests, which consist of putting a few drops of water on output printed at least 24 hours earlier and gently wiping it dry, both black and color ink showed only the slightest smudging on plain paper. On the recommended photo paper, I saw only a hint of a smudge for black ink and none for color, and didn’t see any water stains after drying. Text on plain paper smudged slightly when using a highlighter, but was still quite readable.
Verdict: A Good Choice If You Don’t Scan or Copy Much
The key differences in capability between the GX3020 and the other AIOs mentioned here is that all three of the others add faxing and an ADF, and all can scan at up to legal size. Between them, the WF-4830 offers the fastest performance, the lowest price, and the highest paper capacity, with two 250-sheet drawers. But as the only cartridge-based printer, it also has the highest running cost, which means the more you print, the more likely it is to be the most expensive of the four in the long run.
Among the three tank-based printers, the G7020 is the least expensive, but is also the slowest and has the lowest paper capacity. The ST-C4100 is the most expensive and offers only one paper tray, but it delivers much the same print performance as the GX3020, while adding an ADF and faxing, which makes it our current top-pick inkjet AIO for this category.
Compared with all three other printers mentioned here, the GX3020’s limited scanning and copying makes it only barely an AIO. But it’s less expensive than the ST-C4100, matches it for performance, and offers two paper trays. If what you need is a heavy-duty printer for a home or small office that can also handle occasional minor scanning and copying of up to letter-size originals, the Maxify GX3020 can serve nicely.