Which Printer Driver is Better

Different printer drivers use different languages to manage the printers. It means that they generate different amount of the network traffic during the printing.

The volume of network traffic generated during the printing depends on many things. The most important of them are listed below:

  • Document format (plain text, spreadsheet, drawing, portable format)
  • Printing method (direct print or via print server)
  • Print processor embedded into the printer (printer model in other words)
  • Printer language used by driver (PCL, PS or ESC)

The described tests have been performed in order to find which type of the printer driver produces less amount of network traffic.


In fact PCL5e and PCL6 use two different versions of the same printer command language (PCL). It’s expectable that they generate approximately the same amount of network traffic for the same document. PS driver is based on completely different printer language called postscript and may or may not generate the PCL-like amount of traffic.

Test Description


In order to find what amount of network traffic a printer driver produces, the following tests have been performed for each driver:

  • Direct print to IP-based printer for MS Word .DOC file
  • Print via print server for MS Word .DOC file
  • Direct print to IP-based printer for Adobe .PDF file
  • Print via print server for Adobe .PDF file

Test files

MS Word .DOC file has been selected as a very common file in Windows environment. The .DOC file consists of two pages of formatted text; in addition the first page contains an image, the second one contains a table.

Adobe .PDF file is probably the second most popular file format, especially taking into account that it is used by many multifunctional copiers and transfers electronic documents between different platforms, such as AS/400, UNIX and Windows. Also .PDF file is based on Postscript language, so that paired with the PS driver it should show the best result. The .PDF file consists of two pages with many tables. The file was generated by AS/400 system.


  • The test was run on HP 2300 printer and with HP drivers. The other manufacturers produce different drivers which can show different results.
  • This test does not cover all file types.
  • Some printers may not have any PS drivers


The totals are presented below

Table 1. .DOC file

Table 2. .PDF file

The last two columns in both tables show the relation between PCL drivers and PS driver.

The amount of data transferred by PCL drivers depends on file type. For example, PCL 6 is better for direct print of the .DOC file but worse than PCL5e for print server printing of the same file. It is not seen from the table, but the both drivers spend almost equal amount of traffic for the second page. Probably, PCL6 works better with images when it sends data directly to the printer.

The PS driver was the best one for both file types and for both methods of printing. As it was assumed, it showed the best result on .PDF file, spent only one third of the traffic generated by either PCL driver. The result for .DOC file is not that exciting but still is not bad – 60% of the PCL driver traffic.


The Postscript (PS) printer driver is the best one and can save up to 70% of network traffic, which is very important with over-the-WAN printing. The use of PS drivers as the main printer drivers should be definitely recommended.


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