A new printer recently showed up at work. There are an abundance of possible drivers for it applicable to my system (Windows 7, 64 bit) including PCL5, PCL5e, PCL6 and UFR II.

I'm familiar with PCL, but not UFR II, although the ever-helpful Wikipedia told me it stands for "Ultra Fast Rendering".

What (if anything) is the advantage of using the UFR II driver over one of the PCL variants?


UFR II is the 2nd version of UFR... which stands for "Ultra Fast Renderer". In short... it's similar to PCL in concept... but alien in the actual instructions. Most commonly associated with Canon printers. PCL is more generic, common, and simple, but antiquated... UFR II is better designed, and faster, but not anywhere near as common. If you have a printer and driver that both are geared towards UFR II... use it. If not... PCL is a lot more forgiving.

  • You're right that it's a Canon printer. :-) It says UFR II, and has an official driver, so I guess I'll give it a try. Thinks for confirming it was what I suspected. Jan 25 '12 at 18:52
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    I've been looking for a good driver for a big Canon ImageWriter 3225. Canon's Generic PCL 6 would not let me use the 11x17 paper in the bottom tray. Based on this superuser question, I tried the UFR II driver from the same download page. It is way better. It knows the exact printer model and its paper sources. It has more features too. You can to two-step printing: you can print to a preview area instead of the printer and see how it will come out, then send it off to print. You can also do some editing, like combining pages.
    – Kaz
    Jul 10 '14 at 17:14

UFR is a proprietary, non-standard rendering engine that is functionally similar to Postscript and PCL. UFR is risky given that Canon can make it obsolete at any time based on their whims.

In general, I shy away from printers that don't properly support open standards such as PostScript. Both PostScript and PCL are very fast and very well supported by the industry. In fact, PDF documents are more or less based on PostScript.

UFR? You have to ask Canon nicely if they want to help you out.


Canon's UFR, UFR-LT & UFR-II are proprietary to Canon and are not likely to be dropped. UFR is seemingly faster due to the way processing is handled by the driver. It processes the print job at the PC rather than at the printer. So just how much faster depends on the PC. It IS NOT compatible to the PCL or PS common drivers or any application that requires PCL (such as DOS-shell apps, IBM backbone servers, etc.). It seems there has been enough demand for Canon to provide PCL on their devices as standard as newer model are now including PCL as standard (along with PS and UFR). UFR was SPECIFICALLY designed for Microsoft Office applications to improve printing time for those apps. UFR does not do as well in CAD printing as it doesn't handle fine lines and detail as well as PCL or PS. Whenever installing a print driver for a Canon product that has print as a standard, were UFR (some legacy models required a print kit to be installed - it was an option and as such, it can't be assumed it has UFR), and you would be safe using the appropriate UFR driver. I encourage the use of the full installer package which includes a set-up program. I do not recommend utilizing the Windows printer installer Wizard since it will not automatically set-up the driver with any options that have been installed. You have to do that manually. However, utilizing Canon's installer WILL set-up the driver appropriately (including selecting the correct model and configuration). The Canon installer package will even search for the printer on a network, making it even easier since you won't have to manually configure a network printer port in Windows. There is no installer package for Mac, however. Mac users have to do all the work of installing the driver, then the printer and network port and configuration (which has to be done via the CUPS).

  • please add some formatting to this wall of text. Is not very reader friendly! Thanks in advance
    – Kristian
    Jul 28 '15 at 14:00

UFRII print drivers are written by Canon for Canon Multi-function printers (MFDs). All Canons have the ability to print with the UFRII driver right out of the box. The PS and PCL drivers will not work unless the appropriate PS or PCL print kit is installed on the MFD. These print kits can be purchased and installed by your Canon dealer.

The UFRII print driver is close to 2.5 times faster than either the PS or PCL drivers (hence the name Ultra Fast Rendering). In most printing environments, the UFRII drivers work fine. Two known examples of PS or PCL being the preferred print driver are; if an AS400 is being used as a print server (PCL) or in the case when high quality graphics is being printed (PS).

  • ... close to 2.5 times faster... -- using which measurement method? How can I reproduce the "2.5 times faster" figure?
    – ulidtko
    Dec 8 '14 at 11:59

If you install the wrong one, you might see error 853:

Installed PCL5 driver for a Canon iR2525 printer/copier. (Canon drivers page offered PS/PCL/UFR in different flavors and variations so I chose PCL as a seemingly-reasonable baseline.) Kept getting errors (NG 853) in the printer's log. Scratched head. Found some posting where 853 described as a "using the wrong protocol" kind of error -- it shows up when trying to send PostScript when printer's expecting PCL. Installed UFR II driver... problem solved.


Canon's use the UFR driver, If the machine does not have PCL or PS Lisc installed / activated in the machine, an error will occur when attempting to print to the machine. Many MFP/Copiers have a Lisc activation to use features such as PostScript printing, scanning etc..

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