Would RAM upgrade for an HP 4050N LaserJet printer matter? We have this real workhorse of a Laser Printer. It's an HP 4050N and it's been in use for many years. In the past few years, I've noticed that the processing time it takes before it starts printing can take a long time. In some cases, some print queues just process so long we end up killing them and sending it to a different printer on the network.

This HP 4050N printer has a total of 16 MB of RAM. I believe it has 8 MB built-in which I suspect is on the motherboard. There are three slots for RAM. One slot has an 8 MB stick of RAM there. I've looked in the User's Guide and apparently this model can go up to a max of 200 MB of RAM.

I've seen RAM for this printer on sale very cheap in either 64 MB or 128 MB.

My question is, would upgrading the RAM on this printer by bringing the total up to 80 MB or 144 MB have a noticeable improvement on the processing time so that when printing output that contains modern graphics be worth doing? Or is RAM even the issue and it is the processing speed of the printer's CPU that's the actual bottleneck?

Update: The RAM I ordered for $10.00 (128 MB) arrived and I installed it. So the HP4050N went from having a total of 16 MB to 144 MB of RAM. I printed the test print which previously stayed in "processing" forever and never came out, but after this upgrade it printed as normal. This suit our needs. For your situation, as they say, your mileage may vary.

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    They print through the network (LAN). – Edward_178118 Mar 13 '16 at 19:57
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    This is on the LAN, with it's own IP address. It is not connected to any computer. The workstations on the network are Windows 7, Macs and Linux Mint, and a CentOS server. We have no Windows servers, but the CentOS server supports Samba, but we don't do Samba printing. – Edward_178118 Mar 14 '16 at 3:10
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    Memory upgrade would only help the buffer to spool documents. So if you are sending large, complex documents it would store them easily. However, the PPM or the startup time will not be affected. – Burhan Khalid Mar 14 '16 at 10:11
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    BTW Don't forget the cost of electricity. I had an old laser printer and used a power meter to see how much energy it used in stand-by mode (quite a lot). I decided it made financial sense to scrap it and buy a more modern low-standby-power model. – brewmanz Mar 14 '16 at 19:53
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    @Edward_178118: Please stop flagging things you don't like to hear. – Sven Mar 15 '16 at 2:48

On a HP4050 the First Page Out is rated at 15 second minimum. This number does not count if the printer is in sleep mode before.

Per the service manual

17 pages per minute (ppm)

100 MHz RISC microprocessor

First page out = 15 sec.

Like other told the RAM would help to buffer big document, but the actual warming up of the printer would not get speedier.

For such older printer, make sure the jetdirect support 1000 connection, as I would not be surprised to see a 10mb jetdirect card in it.

For my part I would try to upgrade it as I serviced such printer and they are easy to maintain and take care of.

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    A 10/100 jetdirect card worth about 20US$. 10$ for the RAM, 20 bucks for the card and this printer is up for 10 more years. – Emmanuel Mar 14 '16 at 10:39
  • But just because you can run the printer for so long doesn't mean you should. Given that the OP is basically complaining about performance, I think it's wrong to keep promoting the use of such old equipment. – ewwhite Mar 14 '16 at 11:31
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    @ewwhite My opinion is based on the fact the OP already have other network printer and the memory cost nothing. That model come from the 'golden 'era' of HP (as the plastic cover would break before the mechanic), as HP stopped selling part in 2007 for that model. Officially stopping to sell part force the user to buy other printer, but aftermarket still sell some part for that model. As before suggesting that to the OP I double-checked that the fusing assembly was still available, and yes it's. (the main part that can break the printer) – yagmoth555 Mar 14 '16 at 12:45
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    If the machine is still fit for purpose, and fit for its environment, e.g a small business office where business impact of failure is minimal - then there is fair argument in using equipment until failure. Reducing avoidable wastage and landfill on our planet should also be a factor in the decision making process. (and that particular printer is a very well built machine indeed) – Mtl Dev Mar 15 '16 at 10:58
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    Update: The RAM I ordered for $10.00 (128 MB) arrived and I installed it. So the HP4050N went from having a total of 16 MB to 144 MB of RAM. I printed the test print which previously stayed in "processing" forever and never came out, but after this upgrade it printed as normal. This suit our needs. For your situation, as they say, your mileage may vary. – Edward_178118 Mar 19 '16 at 16:07

I used to have a HP LaserJet 5000 (64MB) with a 10Base-T network card for printing A3 CAD drawings. It took around 2 minutes for the printer to process a single drawing.

I decided to add memory (196MB total). The effect was that the first drawing still took around 2 minutes to process, but I could send many drawings consecutively to the printer and after the first delay, they all come out in short intervals, so I think adding RAM was worth it.


RAM can help improve the ability to handle complex documents (we don't know what you're printing), but not overall processing time...

However, the 4050N was discontinued 15 years ago in 2001.

Just because you can make this printer be in service this long doesn't mean you should.

There aren't too many good reasons against moving to a more modern variant of the printer, especially with performance issues you've described over the past few years.

There may be other efficiencies in power, performance, features and consumables costs involved in doing so.

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    The cost of the RAM with shipping is $10.00 (US) for 128MB. – Edward_178118 Mar 13 '16 at 19:58
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    If the cost of adding some RAM is so absurdly cheap, it's definitely worth a try even if it doesn't improve things at all. – Massimo Mar 13 '16 at 20:04
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    @Edward_178118 I'm really of two minds on this. On one hand the thing is ancient and you can probably do a lot better by buying a new printer. On the other hand if you really can get more life out of that beast for $10, it's not much risk; you may as well try it and see. – Michael Hampton Mar 13 '16 at 21:44
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    Those older printers routinely shipped with too little memory. There is a reason that printer ships with 16 MB but takes up to 192 MB. Quite often on such printers print jobs simply fail because of running out of memory. Adding memory can definitely solve failed print jobs; I have seen that first-hand. Subjectively, it seemed like performance was also boosted though I have no evidence. For ten bucks, I would definitely install more memory. It certainly will not hurt (if you do indeed have the proper memory chips). A reliable networked printer with 1200 dpi is worth keeping. – Basil Bourque Mar 13 '16 at 23:24
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    Age is irrelevant - the printer's a brick outhouse and will keep running as long as its fed toner and paper and power, and has a periodic service for pickup rollers and other wear parts. I have a LJ4 with a million pages on it, and it was killed by lack of windows 7/8/10 drivers. Still works perfectly from other OSs. – Criggie Mar 14 '16 at 19:41

It depends, but probably not by much, most of the first page wait time is on processing the PCL or Postscript. If you see multi-page stalls then RAM would help, but not that first page raster. If the majority of the print is text, and it's Postscript, RAM won't do much at all. For that you need a faster processor.


back in the early 2000's I worked at a company with lots of Color Laser Printers, Plotters, and other kewl print devices.

We had one that was upgraded to 128 MB of ram..

Their was no speed difference that I could see.

However one of the graphics designers used to print huge images(High DPI or lots of Vectors). Before the upgrade he would always complain about the failed prints. After the printer could easily print the larger images.

Perhaps the ram allows the printer to handle larger or more complex documents.

  • Yes, that is correct. – ewwhite Apr 2 '16 at 7:54

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