Dell’s new 2-in-1 Latitude is the best business laptop – if you can afford it
The days of businesses buying chunky “enterprise” laptops in bulk are waning. These days, we all want to use a sleek, modern laptop, regardless of whether we’re at work or at home. The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 knows this, offering the security features IT departments require without sacrificing its high-minded design.
Dell sent us a high-end configuration that included an 8th-generation Intel Whiskey Lake Core i7-8665U with vPro, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 14-inch Dell Low Power Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display. That’s a reasonably high-end configuration, and checking Dell’s configurator will show a retail price of $2,489, discounted from $3,555.
As we’ll see, the Latitude 7400 has a couple of interesting features that are aimed at business people but will likely appeal to the average person as well — to go with a price that’s not at all consumer-friendly. Regardless of who you are, does this laptop offer enough to warrant such a premium price?
The DeLorean of laptops
Let’s start with the build quality, which is superb. No matter how you poke or prod, you won’t find a single millimeter of this 2-in-1 that gives in to pressure. We’ll call it tank-like rigidity, a superlative that we usually reserve for laptops like the Lenovo’s Yoga C930. Dell takes things a step further, though, testing the Latitude 7400 to MIL-STD-810g, a set of tests that proves a laptop can take a beating.
The Latitude 7400 is also a very sleek 2-in-1. That’s the word that comes to mind – sleek — thanks to an angular design that’s styled to give it a forward-sweeping aesthetic. Coupled with a silver color that’s slightly darker and evokes stainless steel, the design tempts us to call this the DeLorean of laptops. While the gem-cut HP Spectre x360 13 has a more complex design that stands out, the Latitude 7400 has its charm – much like the similarly simple aesthetic of the Lenovo Yoga C930. We think it will appeal to anyone who wants an attractive laptop that won’t attract too much attention.
Also notable are the 2-in-1’s minimal bezels. They’re extremely thin on each side of the display and thinner than usual across the top and bottom. That makes the Latitude 7400 the smallest 14-inch 2-in-1 around, according to Dell, and we’re believers. It’s as small as the Asus ZenBook 14 UX433, a clamshell laptop whose claim to fame is its own small bezels. The Dell comes in at 12.59 inches wide by 7.87 inches deep, which compares to the Asus at 12.56 inches by 7.83 inches. The Spectre x360 13, by comparison, is 12.16 inches by 8.58 inches, even with a smaller 13.3-inch display.
The Latitude 7400’s keyboard is remarkably comfortable to type on over long stretches of use.
The Latitude 7400 is also thin at 0.59 inches at its thickest point, while it’s a little heavy at 2.99 pounds with the 52 watt-hour battery (our review unit with the 78 watt-hour battery is heavier, but Dell doesn’t publish the weight). That compares to the Spectre x360 13 at 0.57 inches and 2.92 pounds, and the ZenBook 14 at 0.63 inches and 2.43 pounds.
Simply put, the Latitude 7400 feels very much like a 13-inch laptop, an illusion that’s maintained until you open the display and see the more expansive display. Speaking of opening the laptop: The hinge, which holds the display firmly in place, is smooth enough to open with one hand until the lid reaches an almost-open angle, at which point the hinge tightens up to hold the display firmly in place. It’s a feature that first came to the XPS 13 earlier this year, and we like it better than previous Dell laptops.
Despite having such thin bezels, Dell managed to squeeze in its new ExpressSign-In feature. The system’s proximity sensor, infrared camera, and intelligent software combine with Windows 10 Hello to help keep the laptop more private and secure. The system recognizes when the user leaves the field of view and dims the display and locks the laptop. Then, when the user returns, ExpressSign-In turns on the display and logs the user in via Windows 10 Hello facial recognition.
The feature is similar to Lenovo’s capability, which we tested on the ThinkPad X390 and the IdeaPad S940, and it worked well. Unlike with other laptops, we didn’t need to remind ourselves to lock the computer when we left our desk – a small convenience, but a handy one nevertheless. We did notice an impact on battery life with the feature turned on, though, which is something to keep in mind.
As with most commercial laptops, connectivity was a strength. The Latitude 7400 is thin, but Dell still managed to include two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a full-size HDMI 1.4 port, and a microSD card reader. Wireless connectivity includes 2×2 MU-MIMO gigabit Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 5.0, and optional LTE.
The usual 2-in-1 input options, and they’re awesome
Dell built in a keyboard that’s deeper, offers better spacing, and has a slightly stiffer and more precise mechanism than the keyboard on the XPS 13. If you like a light touch, then you’ll prefer the latter’s keyboard, but we found the Latitude 7400’s keyboard to be comfortable over long stretches, nonetheless.
The glass touchpad is as large as some others, but it’s very smooth, coming with Microsoft Precision drivers and flawless support for Windows 10’s multitouch gestures. The touch display was also responsive, offering up yet another way to interact with the screen.
Finally, our review unit shipped with the optional ($85) Dell Premium active pen that provides 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, a 240Hz report rate, and tilt control. Based on Wacom AES 2.0 technology, we found the pen to be quite accurate and responsive. It’s the equal of the pen that ships with the Yoga C930 and, at least on paper, it matches up against Microsoft’s excellent Surface Pen. Our only complaint is that at these prices, Dell should throw in the pen.
As we mentioned in the design section, the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 has an infrared camera for Windows 10 Hello support, to go with the Full HD webcam. Logging in without a password was fast and reliable.
The display looks good while saving power
Dell incorporated its own low-power technology into 14-inch IPS Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display on the Latitude 7400. As with the Intel low-power panel that HP uses in the Spectre x360 13, we hoped that a desire to increase battery life wouldn’t result in a substandard experience.
According to our colorimeter, Dell mostly succeeded in maintaining display quality. The Latitude 7400’s display performed similarly to other premium screens in most of our tests. The contrast was very good at 960:1, almost reaching the 1000:1 contrast ratio that we like to see and close to the 1040:1 ratio that the Intel panel reached. Brightness was a little low at 268 nits, below our 300 nit preference and less than the Spectre x360 13’s 333 nits.
The Dell’s color gamut was average for premium displays at 70 percent of AdobeRGB and 94 percent of sRGB. The Spectre x360 13 had a slightly wider gamut at 73 percent and 95 percent respectively. Color accuracy was good at 1.74 (1.0 or less is excellent), again not as good as the HP that scored an accuracy of 1.27. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, another premium business-oriented 2-in-1, managed a much wider color gamut of 99 percent of sRGB and 96 percent of AdobeRGB and a color accuracy of 0.68.
While the Latitude 7400’s display is “just” average according to our colorimeter, it provided a very good productivity experience overall – with just one issue. We noticed that while the display was fully legible at reasonably wide angles, there was a noticeable shift in colors and the white point when the display’s vertical angle was changed even slightly. If you’re sensitive to such things, then it might bother you, but most people probably won’t notice the effect during day-to-day use.
The audio is provided by two downward-firing speakers on the bottom of the chassis. Volume was surprisingly loud with no distortion at full blast, and while bass was minimal (as usual), mids and highs were pleasant. It’s good enough for watching Netflix and the occasional tune, but if you really care about fidelity then keep a pair of headphones handy.
Solid productivity performance
Dell equipped our review unit with Intel’s 8th-gen Whiskey Lake Core i7-8665U CPU, which is clocked just slightly faster than the usual Core i7-8565U. But speed isn’t the real reason that Dell chose this processor. Rather, the CPU supports Intel vPro technology that allows management solutions to mitigate threats from malware on the processor level.
According to our benchmark tests, that extra speed didn’t impart many benefits. The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 performed similarly to other Core i7 laptops we’ve tested, which showed up first in the Geekbench 4 synthetic benchmark. The Dell scored 5,341 in the single-core test and 16,585 in the multi-core test. That’s slightly faster than the Spectre x360 and the ZenBook 14 and slightly slower than the Lenovo ThinkPad X390.
Stepping up to our real-world Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, the Latitude 7400 completed the process in 258 seconds. That’s a solid score, beating out the Spectre x360 13, the ZenBook 14 but falling behind the ZenBook 14. Interestingly, the Yoga C930 with the previous generation of CPU managed a faster 227 seconds.
We saw nearly 22 hours of battery life in our video looping test.
The Latitude 7400’s Toshiba SSD was relatively speedy, scoring 802 megabytes per second (MB/s) in the CrystalDiskMark 6 read test and 399 MB/s in the write test. That’s faster than the rest of our comparison group, and it means the Dell won’t slow down when booting, launching apps, and opening and saving large files.
Overall, you won’t be disappointed with the Latitude 7400 2-in-1’s productivity performance. Thermal management was also very good, with the laptop keeping fan noise under control and the chassis cool. We never registered over 100 degrees F anywhere on the chassis, even during our most intensive benchmark testing. We used Dell’s Power Manager app to see if its performance setting made a difference, and it did not in our benchmarks.
Powerful in everything but graphics
You won’t be buying the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 for gaming. Its Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics don’t offer much GPU performance. You’ll want to consider the Asus ZenBook Flip 14 with its discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU if you need entry-level gaming in a 14-inch 2-in-1.
According to the 3DMark Fire Strike synthetic benchmark, the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 was just slightly behind comparable laptops. It scored 1,117, which is a few points below most of our comparison machines. In Fortnite, the laptop managed 13 frames per second (FPS) at 1080p and high settings and 10 FPS at epic settings. Again, that’s just a little slower than the other laptop on our list with Intel UHD 620 graphics – and too slow to be playable.
If you need some extra graphical punch for your work, an option like the Dell XPS 15 will be a better choice with its discrete graphics options.
When we say, “all-day battery life,” we mean almost the entire 24 hours
Laptop vendors often make inflated battery life claims based on very specific tests running in very limited circumstances. Dell is no different, asserting that the Latitude 7400 should last for up to 26 hours — and they managed to squeeze in a massive 78 watt-hours of battery capacity to back up their claims. As we noted in the display section, Dell also created its own low-power display technology that equipped our review unit.
So, how close does the Latitude 7400 come to such a lofty claim? The answer is: Closer than usual.
We saw almost 22 hours in our video looping test that plays a 1080p Avengers trailer until the battery runs out. That’s the longest we’ve seen, with the (87 watt-hours) coming in second at around 21.5 hours. Our next-best result was with the HP Spectre x360 13 (61 watt-hours), which lasted for 17.5 hours. Note that we ran our tests twice because we inadvertently turned off ExpressSign-In during the first run, where the Latitude 7400 lasted for almost 24 hours.
Then, the Dell managed 14.3 hours in our web browsing test that runs through a series of complex web sites (it lasted for 15.6 hours with ExpressSign-in turned off). The Surface Book 2 lasted for an hour longer at 15.6 hours, and the Spectre x360 13 made it to 12.7 hours. In our most demanding test, the Basemark web benchmark, the Latitude 7400 ran for six and a half hours (almost identical to our test with ExpressSign-In turned off), compared to the Surface Book 2 that lasted just as long and the Spectre x360 13 that managed less at four and a half hours.
In the end, the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is an incredibly long-lasting laptop that rivals the best we’ve tested. It can last the typical productivity user up to two full working days on a single charge. Imagine that – leave the office on Monday morning with a full charge, and you might just be able to work through a good portion of Tuesday without plugging in. That’s amazing.
The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is the world’s smallest 14-inch 360-degree convertible laptop, and it’s also the world’s longest-lasting (at least, by our testing). That’s no small feat. It also benefits from a very useful ExpressSign-in feature that locks the laptop when you step away. So far, it appeals to consumers just as much as its target market of business professionals.
The only problem, and that’s the price. If you need your laptop to last for two working days on a single charge of the battery, without sacrificing performance along the way, then this is the 2-in-1 for you – if you can afford it.
Is there a better alternative?
The HP Spectre x360 13 has a slightly smaller display, but it rivals the Latitude 7400 in battery life. That is, it might also last you into a second working day, and it’s our longest-lasting 13-inch laptop. for a similar 8th-gen Whiskey Lake Core i7, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and Intel’s low-power Full HD display.
If you want to stick with a 14-inch display, then the Lenovo Yoga C930 is an option. It’s equally robust, but it’s stuck on last year’s 8th-gen CPU and doesn’t have nearly as good battery life. for a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. That’s roughly half the price when discounted, and you get much better audio quality in the bargain.
Of course, if you’re a businessperson, then you’re most likely going to take at least a look at a Lenovo ThinkPad. The most relevant alternative among this iconic line of business laptops is the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, a 2-in-1 with the same kind of 360-degree convertible design. The X1 Yoga is just as rugged as the Latitude 7400 and is subjected to the same MIL-STD-810g standard, but it doesn’t provide nearly the same kind of battery life. You’ll spend $2,400 ($2,160 on sale) for a similarly configured X1 Yoga, except the CPU will be the previous generation Core i7-8650U with vPro.
How long will it last?
The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 feels like it will live through the apocalypse, and it has the most up-to-date components. Even better, Dell provides an excellent 3-year warranty that will keep you covered for much longer than the usual consumer laptop’s 1-year warranty.
Should you buy it?
Yes, if you have the money. It’s the best Full HD 14-inch 360-degree convertible 2-in-1 you can buy, especially if battery life and security matter to you.