GDI versus PCL6 printer on mac. Any advantage?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by rjp, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. rjp macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    #1
    I am looking for a cheap laser printer for my mixed PC and Mac network and I have found two Brother products that I am considering, the 2140 and the 2170. Both claim 100% compatibility with both PC and Mac.

    But, there is a difference.

    The Brother HL 2140 is a GDI printer.
    The Brother HL 2170 is a PCL6 printer.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...t_shr?_encoding=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&v=glance
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...t_shr?_encoding=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&v=glance

    I did some research and learned that these are two printer communication protocols and that GDI is a PC based protocal where the host computer does the rendering and sends a bitmap to the printer, whereas PCL is something closer to postscript where the printer does more of the work rendering the image from a series of commands.

    Question: Will either of these protocols make any difference on my network? Does the Max OS X utilize either? I hear Mac uses CUPS but I don't know if this makes GDI and PCL6 irrelevant or not.

    Will the GDI printer be slower because more work must be done on the mac? Will the print quality be the same?

    Thanks for any help,

    Rich
     
  2. tersono macrumors 68000

    tersono

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    GDI printers are generally Windows only. Whatever you decide to buy, make sure that Mac drivers are available from the manufacturer.
     
  3. rjp thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    #3
    Yeah, that's what I read too. GDI is for Windows, but apparently this Brother printer is widely used on macs. Brother offers a driver for OS X. Does this mean that it is bypassing the GDI or does the mac driver convert the output to GDI?
     
  4. 3247 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    Germany
    #4
    The difference between these printers and other printers is that they don't understand a printer language such as PCL or Postscript (which is more or less vector graphics) but only a custom raster image format. So the conversion from vector graphics to the raster image format (raster image processing - RIP) has to be done by the computer "host", i.e. by the printer driver.
    Therefore, these "host-based" printers need less CPU power and less RAM and can be cheaper.

    Because the graphics subsystem of a common operating system is called GDI, and this subsystem is used by drivers on that operating system, these printers are also called "GDI printers". However, they're in no way tied to GDI; a driver that can do the conversion can be written for any operating system.

    BTW, ink jets and dot matrix printers are usually "host-based printers", too. Their printer language (ESC/P) is so limited (only supports line-based text) that most drivers just print everything as bitmap graphics.
     
  5. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    #5
    A GDI printer is similar in concept and function to what Mac users know as a "QuickDraw printer." In the case of PostScript and PCL, output is rendered on board the printer. The processor required to run the printer might be more powerful than many of the computer's sending jobs to it. In the case of QuickDraw and GDI, output is rendered by the host computer. In the case of Windows, it is common to use the graphics card to render GDI pixelmaps. The computer sends a bitmap or pixelmap to the printer which, in turn, prints it. QuickDraw and GDI printers have virtually no on board intelligence.
     
  6. rjp thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    #6
    Thanks for the excellent answers guys. So with the GDI printer the host computer in responsible for making a bitmap of the printout and sending this to "dumb" printer. I am wondering, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this over PCL6?

    In comparing just the two cheap Brother laser printers above, one GDI and one PCL6:

    (1) Which would print text/graphics faster? i.e., does the bitmap rendering in the host make the overall printing time shorter or longer than doing it in the printer?

    (2) Which causes less network traffic, the bitmap or the PCL6 instructions?

    (3) Which is the better choice for mac? How about for PC?
     
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #7
    Also stick with the printer that has the ethernet port on it ...

    Will make networking it less painful, as Apple releases updates that kill USB drivers or messes with wireless.
     
  8. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    You are going at this all wrong. GDI is strictly a Windows technology, though it has a superior Mac counterpart. PCL is generally not supported on the Mac by the vendor. My recommendation is to buy PostScript. End of worries. If you feel that PostScript is too rich for your blood, then you should buy the printer that is supported on the Mac by its manufacturer. If you have the hots for a printer that has no official Mac support, then check LinuxPrinting.org and Gutenprint for opensource CUPS support. FWIW, Gutenprint/CUPS has fairly decent PCL support.
     
  9. rjp thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    #9
    Postscript is not an option here.

    I think what I heard you say is that neither GDI nor PCL capabilities will make any difference in a printer that is networked with a mac

    Correct?

    Even though Brother makes mac drivers for both, is it correct that neither will have an advantage over the other because the GDI or PCL abilities are not used when connected to a mac, or does the mac driver emulate these technologies?
     
  10. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    #10
    Incorrect. In my previous post, I wrote that Gutenprint provides fairly decent PCL support. Why is this important? If you want to network a non-PostScript printer by connecting it to a print server, then you may not be able to use the manufacturer's USB driver. You may have to use an opensource or third-party CUPS driver if one exists. Even if there is no CUPS driver for a specific model PCL printer, you may use the generic driver for your version of PCL. With GDI, a driver for the specific model is required. There is no such thing as a generic CUPS driver for GDI.
     

Share This Page