Review Dell Latitude E6410 Notebook
Working faster. We are facing a representative of Dell's high-end "mainstream" range of Latitude Business notebooks. Equipped with powerful components (Core i7, SSD), the 14 inch laptop is recommendable for ambitioned business users with mobility needs.
The current model range's predecessor, the Latitude E6400, could already convince in our test in many respects. The device equals the Precision M2400 in many points, but it has a considerably stronger graphic unit. Whilst the 14 incher's workstation alternative is recurrently available almost unchanged, Dell now offers its business all-rounder in an updated form (E6x10).
At first glance, the case hasn't actually changed much. Inside, however, the latest components have been used - from the top-of-the-range company Intel in this case. For example, a Core i7-620M CPU provides for the appropriate power under the hood in our test device. Naturally, there are also weaker and thus less expensive versions available due to Dell's build-to-order principle. They are configured either via the online shop or by telephone. Occasionally, you can also find preconfigured bundles in various shops.
We have tested a device intended for the UK market, and which has a few country-specific characteristics in the key layout, but otherwise is easily comparable with models designed for other countries - provided that the configuration is compliant.
Apart from configurational differences (fingerprint reader), you'll see yourself facing the same case in the model at hand, as for instance in the older E6400. Consequently, the latest edition has also inherited all strengths and weakness of the case, available for some time.
An outstanding pro argument is definitely the superior case stability given. You'll only find metal components on the surface, which also enhances the notebook's haptic. A look inside the laptop, which by the way is done quickly and easily by removing only a single screw on the base unit's bottom (the removable cover grants access to all components), also reveals the application of quality materials and metal alloys of the otherwise usually concealed parts. Dell cites a "Tri-Metal casing" in this connection.
The E6410 doesn't show itself impressed by the selective pressure test. Only unusually high pressure can provoke slight, irrelevant deformations in some areas. The display makes an especially exemplary impression, as it doesn't allow any image distortions under applied pressure, despite its slim build of merely eight millimeters. In reference to this, we also have to mention the commendable hinges, which are made of one solid piece of metal and always keep the screen in position with the right amount of tension.
Perhaps a few words about the laptop's design. The Latitude E6410 tries to score with plain, straight forms and thus uses a matt black finish generously. Nevertheless, the silver coated surface, which imitates a brushed metal texture, gives it a certain optical charm in a closed state. The silver hinges and the battery's silver gray accentuation over the back edge down to the notebooks bottom are also appealing.
Alternately to our "Silver Back Cover" version, there is also a blue and red cover available. They have a surcharge of 25 euro each.
The case's, perhaps somewhat premature aforementioned, weaknesses remain. Well, the only complaint that the tester has, is the soundscape while handling the notebook. But no need to worry. Apart from a slightly wobbly battery everything fits tight in the case. However, slight clatter noises can turn up when the laptop is placed on a hard surface, which are likely mainly caused by the keyboard.
If the current test model is compared to the Latitude E6400 reviewed in November, you'll be slightly surprised to see that virtually nothing has changed in the scope and type of given ports. If this is to be rated as something positive or less positive is dependent on the individual requirements of every user. On the whole, we can again issue the Latitude E6410 a good rating.
The positioning of the single ports contributes decisively to this verdict. Dell uses the back third of the lateral edges and the rear (despite the centrally placed battery) consistently for the alignment of built-in interfaces. This is again differentiated between mainly permanently used interfaces (LAN, display port, power supply), which are all found on the rear and thus won't obstruct the work area beside the notebook. The other ports (VGA, 3 USBs, eSATA, Firewire and Audio) are found well visible and distributed over the lateral edges.
Beyond this configuration, Dell's Latitude E6410 also has a few other, typical business features. The docking port on the case's bottom would be mentioned here. The E-family's docking solutions are compatible, starting with the E-Legacy Extender (56.90 euro) over the E-Port up to the E-Port Plus (177.90 euro). This has two DVI and two display ports among other things. Dell states the maximum possible resolution for external devices via the E6410's digital port with 2560x1600 pixels (32bpp/60Hz).
The E6410 supplies extension options in form of a Media Card Reader (SD, MMC, SDHC, SDHS, miniSD, microSD), a 54mm PC Card or ExpressCard slot on the case's right side (either/or selection in configuration) and the modular drive bay. The notebook can be equipped with various optical drives (DVD, +/- RW, BD-RE) here. Naturally, an additional battery can be used. Weight can also be easily saved when provided with an according cover (Travel Lite Module).
A HDD adapter, which would make an attractive SSD-HDD combination possible, is unfortunately not available.
The Latitude E6420 hardly leaves anything to be desired in terms of communication in its configuration options. The most different WLAN modules are available, for example from Intel or Dell's own. An Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 module was built into our test example, for instance.
An Intel 82577 gigabit Ethernet controller provides for an appropriately fast connection to your home or business network on the wired side. Aside from that, there is also an increasingly rare V.92 modem optionally available. It wasn't built into our test device and the corresponding RJ-11 port was closed with a cover.
But as if that's not enough. Bluetooth (v3.0) can also be ordered in the configuration, but, is usually already built-in ex-factory. It looks different in regards to mobile internet broadband, which is available for the E6410 according to the data sheet (Dell Wireless 5620 (EVDO+HSPA+AGPS) or Dell Wireless 5540 (HSPA+AGPS)), but isn't listed in the online shop. A configuration by telephone could help here, if required.
The configuration with WiMax 802.16e should rather be of interest for customers in the United States.
The Latitude E6410 has a range of security features, which makes the notebook especially interesting for professional users and major customers. Not seen very often, for instance, is the SmartCard Reader. The contactless reading of a SmartCard is also supported, whereas the correlating field is also accordingly marked on the touchpad's right.
A fingerprint reader can also be ordered optionally. The FIPS Reader with an enhanced security standard is only available for the E6510 according to Dell. The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and a Kensington lock belong to the standard hardware configuration.
Of course, guarantee and warranty belong to security matters. A three year onsite service for the next workday belongs to Dell's basics for business notebooks. Upgrades in regards to range of service are also possible, but the warranty is limited to three years according to information in the shop. Additionally, various services such as data recovery, data deletion, battery service and an accident insurance in the most different variations for up to 3 years can be ordered.
Basically, the same keyboard unit is built into the Latitude E6410 as already in the predecessor, E6400. However, our UK test device proved to have the expected differences in the mapping of single keys. If you order from Germany, you'll naturally get the country-specific layout. All models have the now illuminated keyboard in common, which is noticed positively especially in unfavorable light conditions.
The key size is still very generous, whereas you can take delight in well-sized shift, alt and control keys. The arrow keys are also pleasant to use. They have been separated slightly from the rest of the keyboard and have a normal key size.
Typing on the keyboard is easy and without notable error rates. We especially liked the distinct pressure point, the well-sized stroke length and the pleasant soundscape, even during a somewhat more vigorous typing.
Dell integrates two input options as a mobile mouse replacement right away. For one thing, you'll find a touchpad that distinguishes itself by its especially gliding-eager surface and a very good response. For another, the Latitude also has a TrackStick, which allows navigating without readjusting and thus has a clear advantage in certain applications.
However, the TrackStick didn't completely convince us in practical use. The TrackStick's texture can't keep the finger from slipping off, which makes the aforementioned readjusting necessary here. The not quite convincing responsiveness is likely due to that, too.
Dell Latitude ON
Like most various systems of other manufacturers, the Dell Latitude/Always ON is supposed to grant a faster access to various data and functions as it would be possible when the entire system is booted. This seems reasonable for slow systems, but what does it look like for powerful configurations like the E6420 at hand?
Our stop watch measured about 20 seconds until the login screen with Dell's Always ON appears at start up. Then a few second pass by again before the working surface appears, after entering the password.
Now the comparison run: If the system is rebooted from a shutdown state, a bit more than 30 seconds pass by before Windows is available for other tasks.
Thus, we question the benefit of this function. The speed gain might possibly be greater in slower systems (HDD). In configurations with an SSD you are, however, definitely better off with booting the operating system, as you then have all options available after booting, in opposition to Always ON, where you have to be content with simple features like mail, internet, music, etc.
Dell still has two different display alternatives available for its 14 inch Latitude. Two 16:10 screens with a resolution of 1280x800 or 1440x900 pixels can be chosen from. Both models are LED screens with a matt display surface. Dell charges an additional 70 euro for the WXGA+ display with a higher resolution in the online shop. Professional users are well advised to sooner choose the WXGA+ screen, already because of the gain of overview on the display (more room to work with multiple windows).
This display was also used in our test device. It was an AUO4147 display to be precise. The maximum assessed brightness was a good 274 cd/m2 in the display's center area. We could record the lowest brightness in the lower center measuring quadrant (211 cd/m2), which results in an only below average illumination of 77%. Visible dimming couldn't be observed.
The utilized display also has to accept criticism in terms of contrast. The screen can only reach a maximum contrast ratio of 161:1 with a relatively high black value of 1.7 cd/m2. This is also visible to the naked eye in dark image content, making black look rather grayish.
The color representation quality is naturally a decisive factor in a high-end business notebook. Therefore, the built-in screen has to face a test with the Spyder 3 calibration tool.
The WXGA+ display's representable color space turns out average. Thus, the MacBook 2010 has a comparable range, for example. The tested Latitude E6410's display has to admit defeat in comparison to a FullHD screen (sRGB). Professional image editors likely won't be satisfied with it, but the color representation quality should be sufficient for all other applications.
A possible outdoor suitability is of course also interesting for a compact office notebook. Due to the maximum brightness and matt display surface, the E6410 already fulfills two crucial requirements. The practical test in sunlight also confirms this: The Latitude E6410 supplies a premium, working suitable image in both shade and direct sunlight.
Whilst narrower viewing angles are possible from the horizontal field of vision, allowing 2-3 people to follow content on the display side by side, annoying color changes and especially an increasing contrast loss already turn up at the slightest deviation from the ideal, perpendicular viewing angle on the vertical plane. Thus, it may be necessary to not only correct the opening angle in mobile use, but also in stationary use.
As already mentioned in the beginning, Dell's Latitude E6410 is available in a range of various configurations. Some alternatives aren't available in the online configurator, so you'll also have to call in if required. According to the data sheet, the E6410 can be equipped with Intel Core i5 and i7 Arrendale CPUs, so dual-core chips. The strongest available CPU is, therefore, the i7-620m, which is also used in our test device.
You can choose amongst the Intel GMA HD integrated on the processor unit and the dedicated Nvidia NVS 3100M as the graphic card. Whilst, the integrated graphic solution manages basic tasks, i.e. Windows Aero effects and video rendering, the NVS 3100M can provide a bit more performance reserves in terms of 3D representation and in decoding video material.
Nevertheless, the Quadro NVS 3100M is only a starter graphic card that is attuned for professional use in regards to drivers, and therefore has been tested for various CAD applications. But it shouldn't consequently be overrated in terms of performance capabilities. The power consumption of up to 14W (structurally identical to G210M/G310M) is also contra productive, especially during mobile use of the notebook.
An indicator for the graphic card's performance is, for example, the OpenGL Shading test in Cinebench R10. The E6410 reaches a good result of 2087 points for the equipment in the configuration we had. In comparison, devices with a NVS 3100M graphics achieve up to 3500 points (Lenovo T510), which represents a bonus of 71%.
Even if it's rather more aligned on games, the 3DMark from Futuremark also provides information about the performance potential of the utilized graphic card. The notebook takes a place below comparably equipped models with 3356 points in 3DMark 2005. A blatant difference between integrated graphic chips and dedicated graphic solutions can also be seen in the rates. In comparison, the Nvidia NVS 3100M can again take the lead with results up a bit over 7000 points. This represents a plus of over 100%.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||10934 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||4933 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||3356 points|
Aside from the GPU-biased benchmarks, a range of tests for evaluating the application performance is available. The Cinebench Rendering Test, assesses the CPU during rendering a scene with assistance of either only one core/thread or with all available units. As expected, the Core i7-620M CPU takes place in the far front of the statistics in the single-core rendering exercise, as it can overclock a single core up to 3.33 GHz due to Intel Turbo Boost. Thus, even powerful quad-cores can learn to dread.
The tide turns in the multi-core test, though. The i7-620M has four threads available, but the latest Intel Clarksfield chips, for example, can take the lead with over 10000 points due to 8 parallel threads. Nevertheless, the Latitude E6410 also does well in this exercise, especially in view of the compact design, and achieves a respectable result of 7450 points.
Windows 7 performance index, for example, helps assessing the performance balance of utilized components. Aside from top rates for CPU, RAM and hard disk, the graphic solution unsurprisingly turns out to be a possible bottleneck.
Finally, we put the Latitude E6410 through the PCMark Vantage benchmark test, which evaluates the system's total performance with several different tests. And see there, the notebook almost places itself at the top of all notebooks we have ever reviewed with a proud 9753 points as a total score. Merely gaming machines, like Alienware's M17x or the mySN XMG8.c, could achieve a marginally better score. Interesting: the Latitude E6410 can also top the convincing Lenovo Thinkpad T410s, however with a Core i5-520M (9047 points) and its bigger brother, the E6510 (also with a SSD).
|PCMark Vantage Result||9753 points|
The last point of our performance evaluation is traditionally dedicated to the built-in mass memory. It's one of the components mainly responsible for the excellent rating of single benchmarks in the E6410. A solid state drive (SSD) from Samsung, called PB22-J/PM800, is used in our test device. The SSD in a 2.5" size has a capacity of 256 gigabytes and is currently separately sold for a market price of about 550 euro. In view of this, Dell's surcharge of 580 euro for a fast 7200 rpm/320GB HDD seems almost fair.
The general benefits of a SSD in comparison to a HDD should have been spread around by now. You can find detailed information in our HDD vs. SSD article. Summarizing: a SSD bids a silent operating, a lower power consumption, less waste heat, considerably faster transfer rates and access rates in comparison to a HDD and beyond that it's also absolutely shock resistant. Disadvantage: the high acquisition price of ca. 2-3 euro per gigabyte of capacity.
The data carrier's benchmark's impressively show the benefits of its utilization. Read rates of over 200 MB/s and write rates of up to 170 MB/s at an access rate of 0.3 milliseconds wipe out the benchmarks of common, mechanical hard disks many times over.
The user doesn't only get to feel that when copying files. All latencies caused by accessing the memory, e.g. system boot, starting programs, search for documents or mails, etc., run significantly faster than it would be the case for a common hard disk. The notebook's subjectively perceived speed can thus benefit tremendously.
As a rule, the choice of especially powerful components can have a negative effect in some areas. The laptop's noise emissions are an important aspect. Therefore, we were more than surprised when the notebook remained mainly silent in idle mode and simple office load. Every now and again, the fan started up at a still very low level of 32.7 dB(A) and ran for a few minutes to only finally fall silent for a longer time.
Even a consistent utilization of the main components in the stress test only increased the noise level to a still acceptable 35.5 dB(A). DVD rendering runs just as pleasantly quiet with 35.4 dB(A).
28.6 / 28.6 / 32.7 dB(A)
||35.7 / 47.4 dB(A)|
||34.6 / 35.5 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
The idea to accept a somewhat warmer case in favor of a lower system noise is principally alright, but doesn't really apply to the Dell Latitude E6410. The case always remained within a green field with surface temperatures of a bit under or over 30°C in idle mode over several hours.
We first recorded a maximum laptop temperature of 42.7°C on the base unit's bottom, and 38.1°C in the keyboard's center in the stress test. Subjectively, the notebook already gets noticeably warm here, but this extreme situation represents an exceptional situation which will hardly be met in practical use.
The CPU achieved a maximum temperature of 85°C and thus remains significantly below the maximum admissible rate. Both CPU cores ran constantly with 2.66 GHz without noticeable throttle-breakdowns under load.
Aside from the used components, the battery life is also directly linked to the single battery used. Dell has a whole range of battery solution for the Latitude E6410. For example, choosing a 3 cell (37Wh), 6 cell (60Wh) and a 9 cell 90Wh main battery is possible. Beyond that, the notebook can be extended by a capacity of 88 Wh with an additional battery, which is docked to the laptop's bottom ("extended battery slice"). Price: 299 dollars. Alternately, there is also a battery for the modular drive bay available - 48Wh for 135 dollars. Interestingly, both options are only currently listed in the US American version of the online shop.
Theoretically, the Dell Latitude can be upgraded to be an endurance machine with the aforesaid options. But it's not cheap. Our test device had the 6 cell battery intended for the standard configuration and was flush on the rear. The 9 cell battery with 50% more capacity (the runtimes also range in this field) is currently priced with a surcharge of 65 euro, and should be considered by mobile users in any case.
Our test configuration achieved 325 minutes, so almost 6.5 hours, in the maximum possible battery life test (BatteryEater Reader's test). The "worst case scenario", so operating under load, is simulated with the BatteryEater Classic test and indicates 72 minutes of battery runtime for the laptop.
The notebook achieved a good runtime of 262 minutes in a true-to-life WLAN surf use with selected energy savings mode and slightly reduced brightness. We looked at various websites enhanced with flash animations and the odd video playing for this test. The DVD rendering test turned out a bit disappointing. Merely 115 minutes could be recorded, which is just enough for a short Hollywood movie.
The already obvious difference between the minimum and maximum battery life gets even more evident in the analysis of the notebook's power consumption. The notebook only treats itself to 8.6W in optimal settings (min. display brightness, communication modules off, energy savings mode). The power consumption is within a range of 12 and 18W in the usual office mode.
We could record a maximum power consumption of 53.7W under CPU and graphic chip load. The 90W adapter can thus cope with that easily. Even its maximum temperature of 51.4°C is okay.
Basically, there hasn't been much changed in view of the existing Latitude Latitude E6400. The existing strengths have been maintained and even improved. The weaknesses already noted in the predecessor have unfortunately been kept. This especially applies to the given display resolution. The WXGA+ model we tested allows an unobjectionable use outdoors in all kinds of weather, but the displayed image isn't convincing when high demands are put on the color quality. The given contrast is too low, the displayed image too viewing angle dependent and the representable color space too slight for professional photo and graphic applications.
This isn't as annoying for the average business customer, as he can be satisfied with a useable overview due to the WXGA+ resolution and an image not distorted by any light effects.
The tested configuration's performance with an Intel i7 CPU and Samsung SSD turned out first-rate. Not only the achieved benchmarks speak for themselves, but also the subjectively perceived work speed is still looking for its equal. A pleasantly quiet work surrounding with manageable heat emissions can be added.
The extensive individualization options in many areas are definitely a great advantage of the Latitude E6410. This starts with the looks (interchangeable cover) over the hardware component configuration (CPU; GPU, HDD/SSD, RAM) and the communication modules (HSPA, WiMax, etc), up to the numerous available battery solutions. All of this has its price, but allows the option of an uniquely, ideally adapted device with everyday business qualities.