When you work in printer sales, and a customer wants the best print quality possible, you always recommend an Epson. It’s like an unwritten law. Epson just has a reputation for having the best quality prints. With the Epson SureColor T5170, they will attempt to bring that reputation to the wide-format printer market.
In our Epson SureColor T5170 review, we’re going to take a hard look at what makes this thing tick. We’re going to tell you about everything that makes this one of the best wide-format printers, and why you might want to keep an eye out for something better.
Before we get into the bulk of our Epson SureColor T5170 review, let’s get some quick background information.
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- 36″ Maximum Printing Width
- Fast Wide-Format Printing
- Extremely High Print Resolution
- Cannot Print On Vinyl
- Has Problems Resuming Jobs
- Doesn’t Work With Many Paper Rolls
The Bottom Line:
While it isn’t perfect, when it works as intended, the Epson SureColor T5170 can be one of the best wide-format printers on the market. It has beautiful print quality and is one of the faster printers at this size.
That’s when it wants to work correctly, which honestly is not all the time. This printer is finicky and requires some patience on the part of the user. It’s a great printer if you need the best print quality possible, but customers looking for productivity may want to look elsewhere.
Epson SureColor T5170 Review [year] | Some Quick Background
Epson’s Brand Reputation
As we said in the opening, Epson has a reputation for having the best print quality on the market. They are also demolishing the scanner industry, but that’s irrelevant for this Epson SureColor T5170 review.
Let’s keep this clear: Epson is not the best printer brand. Their printers aren’t the most durable or the most economical. But they do have incredible print quality, which is everything for some users.
What’s the deal with the PrecisionCore Printhead?
The PrecisionCore printhead is Epson’s go-to inkjet printhead. When this technology was first debuted, it was touted as the most advanced printhead ever made. And, in some ways it was.
This printhead series is what allows Epson printers to have such a high resolution. Basically, the PrecisionCore printhead breaks ink up into smaller droplets than other printers. That allows a higher resolution, and a higher level of printing accuracy.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however. We’ve been hard on the PrecisionCore printheads in the past. Because although they do produce amazing prints, these printheads tend to clog more than any other brand. That means users are running more cleaning cycles than other brand users, wasting time and ink.
Why is the price so high?
First, wide-format printers are often very expensive. They are usually for businesses, and therefore are an investment.
However, the Epson SureColor T5170 is often available for nearly double the manufacturer suggested retail price. That’s because this is a very popular printer, and often out of stock. That’s when scalpers jack the price way up.
You should keep an eye on this printer, and only buy it for a price that is fair and reasonable.
Epson SureColor T5170 Review [year]
36″ Maximum Printing Width
The Epson SureColor T5170 is able to print at a massive maximum width of 36 inches. That means one can print anything from campaign posters to engineering blueprints.
A lot of wide-format printers cap out at 24 inches. And, a lot of the printers of this size either only print in grayscale or the print quality is abysmal. This printer is the perfect marrying of size and quality.
Fast Wide-Format Printing
The Epson SureColor T5170 can print A1 size prints in as little as 31 seconds. That’s 594 x 841mm, or, for my fellow yanks, about 24 x 34 inches.
Obviously, that speed is going to be what you get when you are printing simple black and white documents on draft quality, but it’s still very fast. Even when you print full-color posters on heavier stock, this is going to be one of the fastest printers in its class.
Extremely High Print Resolution
We’ve mentioned it a couple times already, but this printer has a super-high resolution. 600 DPI is a design-industry standard for professional prints, and 1200 DPI is considered extremely high. The Epson SureColor T5170 has a maximum print resolution of 2400 DPI.
What that all translates to is denser and crisper images, tighter details, and overall more impressive prints. If you are looking for a wide-format printer that blows people’s minds, this is it.
High-Capacity Ink Cartridges Available
It should be no surprise that a printer with a 36 inch maximum width is going to go through ink quickly. Also, ink costs are going to be quite high with this printer. Those things are unavoidable. What is nice about this printer is the cartridges are designed so they won’t need to be changed so often.
The Epson SureColor T5170 takes Epson’s T40V ink cartridges, which are available in 50ml and 80ml options. The higher capacity options offer a slightly lower overall cost and will allow you to replace your cartridges less often.
The ink for this printer is also pigment-based and totally archival. This is ideal for creating large art prints that will withstand the test of time.
Roll Stock Printing Capabilities
It’s absolutely maddening how many large-format printers are not able to print from roll-stock. Luckily, that isn’t the case here.
The Epson SureColor T5170 can only print from one roll at a time, however, and the roll diameter is less than some other printers. So, you will either need to take a look at whatever stock you are buying, roll some off of it, or buy roll stock exclusively from Epson.
The Epson SureColor T5170 has a four-inch touchscreen that is clear to read and easy to operate. It’s very reminiscent of the best home office printers.
A lot of large-format printers have tiny analog screens, or no screens at all. For whatever reasons, manufacturers have thought that people in businesses are fine figuring out their printers with just buttons. Luckily, it seems Epson has gotten with the times.
Clean And Compact Design
While the Epson SureColor T5170 can be bought with a stand, it can also optionally be used as a desktop printer. It’s much more compact than similar models on the market. Because these stands can sometimes have fickle paper handling, it may even work better to have the printer on a desk or table, provided someone is there to catch the prints.
Easy Paper Loading
It’s surprising how difficult it can be to load paper in some of these large-format printers. Outside of the letter-size page feed, it can be hard to keep the paper straight. With the Epson SureColor T5170, it’s no problem at all. Just insert the roll and start the paper in the feed. It’s that easy. This printer keeps the stock straight so you don’t need to babysit.
Cannot Print On Vinyl
While this printer is supposed to be able to be used for vinyl and sublimation printing, it just doesn’t work well. A lot of people use printers this size to print large vinyl jobs. This printer doesn’t print on vinyl and doesn’t do sublimation well at all. It is much better used exclusively for posters and engineering drawings.
Has Problems Resuming Jobs
One of the most irritating things about using wide-format printers is running out of a roll in the middle of the job. Theoretically you should be able to swap in another roll and get back to work. However, that’s not always how it works.
When testing the Epson SureColor T5170, we found that it’s really bad at pausing and resuming print jobs. Also, if you do successfully get this printer to resume a job, it probably won’t reprint any pages it has started but not completed.
Doesn’t Work With Many Paper Rolls
This is the biggest deal breaker with this printer. Epson loves to keep things proprietary; they are notorious for blocking generic ink brands. And it appears their paper rolls are no different.
The Epson SureColor T5170 only takes paper rolls of a diameter that is about an inch and change less than the standard size. So you either have to print from an Epson roll, or you will have to unroll your paper and pre-cut it into sheets to feed into the back of the printer individually. It’s a huge hassle.
Problems With The Print Head
As we said above, the PrecisionCore printhead is what allows Epson to create such high-resolution prints. However, the clogging issue is just not worth dealing with.
If you don’t print anything for a week, the print head is going to clog up. If your office takes a break, or you only print in black, or you just have a lull in large print jobs, then you will be running printhead cleanings.
Also, there are only so many of these cleanings these printheads can handle. Eventually, they will wear down, and then your expensive printer is bricked.
SureColor T5170 Review [year] | The Bottom line
The Epson SureColor T5170 has some major upsides, mostly in terms of quality. It has decent print speed, simple operation, and incredible connectivity options, but print quality is still where it shines. However, there are some major drawbacks.
The printing stock limitations are going to be deal-breakers for a lot of customers. If you are only printing art prints or engineering plans, then this will be a great printer. If you have more varied needs, then you will need to look elsewhere.
Our Favorite Epson SureColor T5170 Alternatives
Like Epson, Canon printers have a reputation for stunning image quality. While the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770 isn’t designed to print on vinyl, it does a much better job of it than the Epson SureColor T5170. It has less bells and whistles, but better overall performance.
The HP DesignJet T650 is better than the Epson SureColor T5170 in all ways but speed and price. This is a printer and a plotter in one, so it can print and cut your designs with ease. The print resolution isn’t as high, but for most that won’t matter much.
The Epson SureColor P8000 is bigger, burlier, and just better than the T5170. Obviously it’s more expensive, but it’s also larger, more durable, and just a better version of the T5170.
Epson SureColor T5170 Review [year] | Final Thoughts
Those were our thoughts after testing out the Epson SureColor T5170. It’s a great printer, for a very specific customer. There’s a lot of choices out there, so we are sure there’s one that fits your needs.
Did you like our Epson SureColor T5170 review? Is there something we missed? Let us know what you think, and be sure to check out our other reviews like this one.