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Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme Convertible Review

Sascha Mölck (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 09/02/2014

Robust. The Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme feels at home even in the most adverse environments. The convertible has a robust case, combined with a strong processor and good input devices. But at the price Dell is asking, buyers will certainly have to pay for what they get.

For the original German review, see here.

The Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme is not intended to sit at home in the living room. It is designed to be used where most devices would quickly meet their demise -- where it might take a plummet; where it is likely to be in contact with dirt, liquids, and other environmental influences; etc. The Dell computer is therefore built to be robust enough to handle these challenges. Our review device reveals whether the convertible does its job well.

As for the convertible's competitors, every device that is based on a similar concept counts. This includes the Latitude's 14-inch brother, the Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme, the Bullman Dirtbook  and the Panasonic Toughbook CF-AX2.

Case & Connectivity

The Latitude's case is constructed of shockproof plastic and a stable magnesium alloy that are designed to protect the convertible's inner workings from dirt, moisture and extreme temperatures, as well as shield them from damage that normally occurs when a device is dropped or shaken. The computer fulfills the corresponding requirements for a variety of protection classes and standards. It is unsurprising, then, that we have nothing to criticize when it comes to the case's stability and manufacturing quality. The case does not yield to pressure and cannot be twisted. The lid is an exception; it can be twisted slightly. This is not unexpected, though, as the convertible is equipped with a rotating display. As a result, the lid cannot achieve the stability of a model with a rigidly affixed display.

Dell integrated a good range of connections into their computer. Everything important is on board. The various ports are distributed all around the device and are protected by lockable doors. We can assuage any fears that the thick case might weaken the convertible's WLAN connection -- within a radius of 15 meters from our router, the connection never cut out.

Our test device comes with Windows 8.1 Professional (64-bit) preinstalled. Alternatively, it is possible to select Windows 7 as the operating system from the Dell store. Good: Instead of a recovery DVD, a recovery USB stick is included with our computer.

The notebook...
The notebook...
...turns into...
...turns into...
...a tablet.
...a tablet.
Left side: audio combination, SIM-card slot, HDMI, USB 3.0, stylus, speaker
Left side: audio combination, SIM-card slot, HDMI, USB 3.0, stylus, speaker
Right side: power button, fingerprint reader, hard drive, USB 3.0, smart-card reader, memory-card reader
Right side: power button, fingerprint reader, hard drive, USB 3.0, smart-card reader, memory-card reader
Back side: Gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0, serial port, VGA output, power connection
Back side: Gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0, serial port, VGA output, power connection
Door open
Door open
Door locked
Door locked

Input Devices

Input devices Latitude 12
Input devices Latitude 12

The Latitude's sealed keyboard is outfitted with slightly concave keys. All in all, the feel of the keyboard while typing is comfortable. The keys have a short travel length and a clear click point. They also offer an agreeable level of resistance. The keyboard does not yield during typing. The integrated backlighting provides four brightness levels, and the color can be changed as well (key combination Fn + c). Besides white, the user can also select from the colors red, blue and green.

The multi-touch capable touchpad measures about 9 x 5 cm (~3.5 x 2 inches). Fingers glide comfortably across the pad's surface. The pad cannot hide that it is optimized for users who are wearing gloves. The user has to apply a lot of pressure to the pad to trigger a mouse click. The two mouse keys have a short travel length and clear click point.

The resistive touchscreen functions flawlessly and reacts promptly to input. It recognizes up to 5 fingers worth of simultaneous input. As an alternative to finger input, the computer comes with a pen.

Display

The Latitude 12 is equipped with an 11.6-inch display with a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels. There are no other types of screens available. Dell selected a largely anti-reflective display surface for their computer. True, the device's environment is mirrored in the display, but only to a very limited extent; it is only noticeable if the user is actively looking for reflections. In terms of display brightness, at 485.8 cd/m², we have nothing to complain about. We cannot give a figure for the display's contrast value, as our measuring device refused to be calibrated.

483
cd/m²
505
cd/m²
505
cd/m²
469
cd/m²
504
cd/m²
485
cd/m²
462
cd/m²
483
cd/m²
476
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 505 cd/m² Average: 485.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 507 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 10.31 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 10.82 | - Ø
Gamma: 4.16

In terms of color reproduction, the screen only offers the standard fare. Out of the factory, the average DeltaE 2000 deviation comes to 10.3. A value of less than 3 is ideal. Also, the display has a distinct blue cast. These numbers would presumably improve substantially after calibration. Unfortunately, we were unable to try this, as our measuring device refused to be calibrated.

CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Color saturation
CalMAN - Color saturation
The Latitude in outdoor use.
The Latitude in outdoor use.

The Latitude is intended for outdoor use, so it is unsurprising that the screen content is still visible in outdoor environments. The screen content is also visible from every angle. This leads us to conclude that Dell installed an IPS panel in their device. However, the website does not provide any exact information here.

Performance

The Latitude is designed for use in harsh environments, not a home office. In the Dell store, the device can be configured individually -- though only in the realms of software and services. The hardware is largely a sealed deal. According to the Dell store, our test device's list price is around 3600 Euros (~$4725). During our testing process, the device was on discount for about 2500 Euros (~$3281).

Processor

Core i5-4300U processor is at work in the Latitude. This dual-core processor runs at a base frequency of 1.9 GHz. Using turbo, the frequency can increase to up to 2.6 GHz (two cores) or 2.9 GHz (only one core). At a TDP of 15 Watts, the CPU is one of the most frugal units of its kind. The processor's full performance is available in both AC power mode and battery mode. The CPU completed our single-thread tests at 2.6 GHz. Occasionally, one of the cores accelerated to 2.9 GHz. The processor ran the multi-thread tests at a constant 2.6 GHz.

Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.26 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.79 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
20.67 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
94 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
258 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
25.76 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Help
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
1.26 Points ∼57%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-AX2
HD Graphics 4000, 3427U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
0.99 Points ∼45% -21%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteon IT LCS-256L9S-11
1.23 Points ∼56% -2%
Bullman C-Klasse 3 SRD 14 Touch 3632QM
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Plextor PX-256M5M
1.34 Points ∼61% +6%
Bullman C-Klasse S i7 15FHD Dirtbook
HD Graphics 4600, 4810MQ, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
1.66 Points ∼75% +32%
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
2.79 Points ∼12%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-AX2
HD Graphics 4000, 3427U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
1.9 Points ∼8% -32%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteon IT LCS-256L9S-11
2.78 Points ∼12% 0%
Bullman C-Klasse 3 SRD 14 Touch 3632QM
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Plextor PX-256M5M
5.13 Points ∼21% +84%
Bullman C-Klasse S i7 15FHD Dirtbook
HD Graphics 4600, 4810MQ, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
6.66 Points ∼28% +139%

System Performance

A strong processor and a quick Solid State Drive combine to form a system that runs quickly and solidly. Windows starts up quickly. We did not run into any problems. As a result, it is unsurprising that the results from the PCMark benchmark fell between good and very good.

PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2555 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
2516 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3323 points
Help
PCMark 8 - Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
3323 Points ∼51%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteon IT LCS-256L9S-11
3864 Points ∼59% +16%
Bullman C-Klasse S i7 15FHD Dirtbook
HD Graphics 4600, 4810MQ, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
4338 Points ∼67% +31%

Storage Devices

Dell outfitted their Latitude with a Solid State Drive from Lite On. The SSD has a capacity of 256 GB, 230 GB of which remains available to the user. Overall, the SSD runs very quickly. However, it cannot keep up with the top SSD models, like the Samsung 850 Evo.

Liteonit LMT-256M6M
Sequential Read: 496.7 MB/s
Sequential Write: 394.9 MB/s
512K Read: 364.4 MB/s
512K Write: 372.1 MB/s
4K Read: 32.85 MB/s
4K Write: 79.18 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 310.9 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 271.4 MB/s
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteon IT LCS-256L9S-11
Panasonic Toughbook CF-AX2
HD Graphics 4000, 3427U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
Bullman C-Klasse S i7 15FHD Dirtbook
HD Graphics 4600, 4810MQ, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
Bullman C-Klasse 3 SRD 14 Touch 3632QM
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Plextor PX-256M5M
AS SSD
13%
-67%
26%
-12%
Access Time Write *
0.054
0.045
17%
0.115
-113%
0.029
46%
0.086
-59%
Access Time Read *
0.069
0.069
-0%
0.217
-214%
0.06
13%
4K-64 Write
233.2
307
32%
78.97
-66%
231.33
-1%
279.47
20%
4K-64 Read
294.31
364
24%
284.57
-3%
335.21
14%
297.04
1%
4K Write
66.17
80
21%
33.31
-50%
120.03
81%
43.29
-35%
4K Read
29.78
32
7%
14.73
-51%
39.16
31%
23.79
-20%
Seq Write
404.59
419
4%
249.99
-38%
496.61
23%
420.04
4%
Seq Read
486.01
487
0%
471.21
-3%
505.86
4%
504.08
4%

* ... smaller is better

Graphics Card

The Intel HD Graphics 4400 graphics core takes care of graphics tasks. The core supports DirectX 11.1 and runs at a speed of between 200 and 1100 MHz. The results from the 3DMark benchmarks do not hold any surprises. The Latitude profits from its two working memory modules here. The memory operates in dual-channel mode, which means the GPU is worked closer to its full performance capacity. With only one memory module, the Latitude would obtain a score of between 750 and 800 in the 3DMark 11 benchmark. Naturally, the dual-channel mode has a positive effect on the computer's gaming performance.

3DMark 11 Performance
965 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
41875 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
4644 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
603 points
Help
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
965 Points ∼3%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-AX2
HD Graphics 4000, 3427U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
655 Points ∼2% -32%
Bullman C-Klasse S i7 15FHD Dirtbook
HD Graphics 4600, 4810MQ, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
1356 Points ∼5% +41%

Gaming Performance

The Latitude's gaming capabilities are unlikely to be a deciding factor for potential buyers. Nevertheless, it is possible to try out a game here or there -- at least at lower resolutions and lower quality settings. Games with low hardware demands can be played at higher settings too -- for instance Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

low med. high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 49.224.714.9fps
Risen 3: Titan Lords (2014) 2517.5fps

Emissions

System Noise

There is little to be heard while the Latitude is running. The fan stands still most of the time. Only when the computer is under load does it begin to turn, for instance during our stress test. Even then, the device still runs quietly, as the fan does not whir particularly fast. We measured a sound pressure level of 34.3 dB. But the fan does not achieve very much either, as evidenced by the fact that both the CPU and GPU throttled during our stress test.

Noise Level

Idle
29.4 / 29.4 / 29.4 dB(A)
Load
29.4 / 34.3 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The Latitude in the stress test.
The Latitude in the stress test.

The Latitude does not suffer from hot flashes. During the stress test, the case temperatures did cross the 40 °C mark (104 °F) in several places. If the fan ran more quickly, the outside temperatures could sink further. But Dell found a good balance between noise level and temperature here.

The Latitude completed the stress test (Prime95 and Furmark running simultaneously for at least an hour) in the same way in both AC power mode and battery mode. While the processor goes about its work at a speed of between 1.3 and 1.4 GHz, the GPU runs at between 950 and 1000 MHz. During the stress test, the CPU temperature leveled off at around 61 °C (141.8 °F).

 29.8 °C30.4 °C29.7 °C 
 29.2 °C30.1 °C30.3 °C 
 28.8 °C30 °C29.2 °C 
Maximum: 30.4 °C
Average: 29.7 °C
31.7 °C31.4 °C30.8 °C
32.6 °C32.5 °C31 °C
28.8 °C28.4 °C28.1 °C
Maximum: 32.6 °C
Average: 30.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  34.2 °C | Room Temperature 24.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speaker

The speaker (yes, just one speaker) on the Latitude is located on the left side of the computer. It generates a surprisingly good sound that even includes bass. However, it does distort high tones. Still, it should be considered that the computer is not designed for playing music or films.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

When it comes to energy consumption, we are used to notebooks with Haswell processors needing less than 10 Watts in idle mode. The Latitude crosses this limit with numbers of up to 15.6 Watts. The reason for this is the computer's very bright display; it needs more energy than the darker displays on most standard notebooks. The energy consumption rates under medium load (3DMark06 running) and full load (Prime95 and Furmark running simultaneously for at least an hour) are more or less the same, as the CPU and GPU both throttled during the stress test.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.4 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 6.4 / 11.1 / 15.6 Watt
Load midlight 35 / 36.1 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

In our WLAN test, which simulates practical, everyday use, a script automatically loads a new webpage every 40 seconds. The energy-saving profile is active, and the display brightness is set to about 150 cd/m². The Latitude reaches a run time of 6:17 h -- a good figure. The computer comes in a little behind its 14-inch sister model (6:57 h), but the 14-incher has more battery capacity at its command.

Battery Runtime
WiFi Surfing
6h 17min
Battery Runtime - WiFi (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
377 min ∼14%
Bullman C-Klasse S i7 15FHD Dirtbook
HD Graphics 4600, 4810MQ, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
237 min ∼9%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-AX2
HD Graphics 4000, 3427U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
324 min ∼12%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteon IT LCS-256L9S-11
417 min ∼15%
Bullman C-Klasse 3 SRD 14 Touch 3632QM
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Plextor PX-256M5M
683 min ∼25%

Verdict

The Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme is designed to be used in particular environments. The device is well-equipped for this job. The processor's performance is completely sufficient for most tasks. The technology is packed into a stable case, and the connections are protected by lockable doors. The bright display makes its content visible in any and every situation. Dell was not sloppy with their input devices either; and keep in mind: The computer offers a good battery life. Additionally, Dell provides innumerable extended warranty and service options. If the Latitude 12 is too small, its 14-inch sister model, the Latitude 14, is a good alternative -- though the larger model is not equipped with the rotatable display.

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In review: Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme. Test model courtesy of Dell
In review: Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme. Test model courtesy of Dell

Specifications

Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme (Latitude 12 Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4400, Core: 200-1100 MHz, 10.18.10.3368
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR3, Dual-channel, Two memory banks (both occupied)
Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Resistive, 5 multitouch points, Sharp LQ116K1, IPS, glossy: yes, detachable screen
Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
Storage
Liteonit LMT-256M6M, 256 GB 
, 190 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Serial Port, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: Audio combination, Card Reader: SD, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Sensors: Orientation sensor, TPM 1.2, NFC
Networking
Intel I218-LM (Clarkville ULT) Network Adapter (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 39 x 311 x 219 ( = 1.54 x 12.24 x 8.62 in)
Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion, removeable, 7.4 V, 7600 mAh
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 2 MP (front), 8 MP with flash (bottom of the device)
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Stylus, Recovery medium (USB stick), MS Office 365, McAfee Security Center (trial version), Dell Data Protection Tools, 36 Months Warranty, ruggedized
Weight
2.72 kg ( = 95.95 oz / 6 pounds), Power Supply: 315 g ( = 11.11 oz / 0.69 pounds)
Price
3600 Euro

 

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Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

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HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4300U, 0.81 kg

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Acer Aspire R13 R7-371T-779K Convertible Review
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Lenovo Horizon 2s-F0AT0003US AIO Review
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Toshiba Satellite Radius P50W-BST2N01 Convertible Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4210U, 15.6", 2.168 kg
Lenovo Horizon 2e-F0AS0014US AIO Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i3 4030U, 21.5", 4.581 kg
Dell Inspiron 13 7347 Convertible Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4210U, 13.3", 1.65 kg

Links

Price Comparison

Pros

+Stable case
+Certifications
+Bright display
+Good range of connections
+Maintenance-friendly
+Runs quietly
+Good battery life
+36-month warranty
+Good keyboard
 

Cons

-CPU and GPU throttle under full load
-High price

Shortcut

What we like

The bright display and robust case.

What we'd like to see

Though it is understandable why the computer is only equipped with an HD display, a higher resolution display should at least be available as an option.

What surprises us

Nothing.

The competition

Panasonic Toughbook CF-AX2 (11.6-inches), Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme (14-inches), Bullman Dirtbook (15.6-inches), Bullman C-Class 3 (14-inches), Panasonic Toughbook CF-53 (14-inches).

Rating

Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme - 03/08/2016 v5
Sascha Mölck

Chassis
91 / 98 → 92%
Keyboard
91%
Pointing Device
50%
Connectivity
59 / 80 → 74%
Weight
58 / 78 → 53%
Battery
89%
Display
82%
Games Performance
55 / 68 → 81%
Application Performance
78 / 87 → 89%
Temperature
90%
Noise
96%
Audio
55 / 91 → 60%
Camera
40 / 85 → 47%
Average
72%
75%
Convertible - Weighted Average
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme Convertible Review
Sascha Mölck, 2014-09- 2 (Update: 2014-09- 2)