Dell Latitude E6410: Minding Intel's Business

Today's review is something of a rarity for us. Yes, we've looked at business laptops before, but this laptop wasn't sent by Dell; instead, it comes via Intel and it's going to be our reference point for Sandy Bridge comparisons next month. When Intel initially contacted us about getting a "reference Arrandale platform" in hands so we could test various applications and games, they suggested the Lenovo ThinkPad T410. Since we already reviewed that laptop and knew what to expect, we asked for an alternative: Dell's Latitude E6410. Targeting the same business class user, it has many similarities to the ThinkPad line, both good and bad. Intel specifically wanted to send us an IGP-only laptop, so our review will be a bit more focused than usual, and our main purpose today is to see what we think of the E6410 compared to other business laptops. Here's what we're looking at today.

Dell Latitude E6410 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-520M
(2x2.4GHz, 2.93GHz Turbo, 32nm, 3MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel QM57
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Display 14.1" LED Anti-Glare 16:10 WXGA+ (1440x900)
(AU Optronics B141PW04 Panel)
Hard Drive(s) 160GB 5400RPM
(Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD1600BEVT-75A23T0)
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW Drive (TEAC DV18SA)
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Intel 82577LM)
Wireless 802.11n (Intel WiFi 6300AGN)
Audio HD Audio (Intel IDT 92HD81B1C5)
Stereo speakers, headphone and microphone jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, ~5100mAh, 60Wh battery
Front Side Flash reader
Latch release
Left Side Smartcard reader (optional)
Exhaust vent
1 x USB 2.0
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0 combo
Kensington lock
Right Side ExpressCard/54 (optional PC Card)
Mini 1394a FireWire
Optical drive
Wireless On/Off switch
Headphone and microphone jacks
2 x USB 2.0
Back Side Modem (optional)
Ethernet jack
AC plug
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Dimensions 13.2" x 9.4" x 1.0"-1.2" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.5 lbs
Extras HD Webcam (Optional)
83-Key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC, SD, MS, xD)
Warranty 3-year standard warranty
Pricing Starting at $699 (with $261 instant savings)
Cost as configured: ~$1200

Packing a standard dual-core Intel setup, the E6410 specs are what you'd expect of a modern business laptop. Our particular setup came with a Core i5-520M; that CPU is no longer an option on Dell's site, though you can still find it in the FastTrack C2 version. (Our unit is closer to the FastTrack C4A, as it includes the LCD panel upgrade.) If you custom configure the E6410, you can choose between the i3-380M (2.53GHz but no Turbo), i5-460M (2.53GHz base with 2.80GHz Turbo), i5-560M (2.66GHz base with 3.2GHz Turbo), or the top-end i7-640M (2.80GHz base and 3.46GHz Turbo). Given the cost of most upgrades, typical users will be fine with the i3-380M or i5-460M. Mix in the standard options on most of the other components and you have a laptop that should perform well in most tasks that don't need a better GPU than Intel's HD Graphics.

One thing we do have to note is that the entry-level model priced at $699 is a bit of a joke, shipping with a 160GB hard drive and only 1GB DDR3 memory. The cost to upgrade to 2x2GB DDR3 is a rather exorbitant $145, and most of the other upgrades are very expensive as well. If you get a good sale, things might be better, but count on a reasonable build costing around $900 to $1000 minimum. The one upgrade we do like is the 1440x900 LCD; sure, contrast ratio isn't great, but at least we're not stuck with a 16:9 768p glossy panel. As a whole, the C4A FastTrack (i5-540M, WXGA+, Quadro NVS 3100, 4GB DDR3, and 250GB HDD) is a good blend of performance and features, currently going for $1279, but as we mentioned we're running an IGP-only setup so we have a bit of a special case.

As a business centric laptop, there are plenty of security features and other upgrades available. Most of these won't matter much to home users—TPM modules, contactless Smartcard readers, FIPS fingerprint scanners, etc. are merely added cost. There are a few nice extras however, like the inclusion of Firewire, ExpressCard/54 (or even the old PC Card if you prefer, again mostly for businesses), and eSATA; there's no USB 3.0 however. Dell has also been a big proponent of DisplayPort since its inception, so they provide a DisplayPort connection on the rear, VGA on the side, but no HDMI or DVI. Finally, the standard warranty is 3-years instead of the regular 1-year warranty we see on most consumer laptops.

If we were to look solely at pricing and features, the Latitude E6410 costs more than your typical home laptop, but we can't ignore all of the extras Dell provides. Basically, even if you're using it as a consumer laptop, you're stuck with business pricing. One thing that doesn't show up looking at the specifications is the build quality and overall durability, which is yet another benefit of business notebooks. So let's move on to the user experience of the E6410 to see how it holds up.

Dell Latitude E6410 Subjective Evaluation
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  • beginner99 - Thursday, December 2, 2010 - link

    ... if you want non-glossy and matte you pay the extra price for the business type notebooks. Even though they tend to have crappier components. At least the have display port and not only vga but I tend to agree to still include vga especially in business laptops because so many vga beamers still out there.
  • thomberg - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    I just got an E6410 from work and I'm quite happy with it. There is one big problem at the moment though and that is Linux support for the Intel integrated graphics. This is not Dells fault but a problem none the less.
    When you boot with no modifications the screen just goes blank. With some added kernel parameters you can some times get it to boot (typically modesetting). Success depends on kernel version and maybe other factors. There's also the option to revert to an older kernel or boot in VESA mode but that's not really a solution I can live with.
    Just google "E6410 blank screen" if you want to look at user discussions.
    So my advice if you want to get an E6410 to run Linux on now is to get one with the Nvidia addon graphic card.
  • mrmbmh - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    Asus has released new laptops including U41,U31,U36
    They seem pretty cool, specially U36 because of its weight and thickness....
    I hope you review them soon.... :)
  • yehuda - Monday, December 6, 2010 - link

    The best part about the U36 is it'll soon become yesterday's tech and we might get some great deals on it.
  • jp7189 - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    The performace problems with the Latitude 6x10 line is an STM accelerometer. Uninstall the drivers, and disable the 'unknown device' and the stutters will vanish. Also, right at startup, the touchpad app eats CPU cycles and causes the touchpad to stutter. Get rid of the app (not the drivers), or wait a bit after login before using it.

    BTW, on the issue of price, Dell has huge markup in the website pricing. Call the 800 #, and they'll knock 20-30% or more off. I've been buying E6510's for $800, when the web lists them at $1250 for the config I use.
  • ExogenBoy - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    I've had original 6400 for about 20 months now. The baby has not had even a slighest feeling of build quality after about six moths of use -- for example, paint wairing of from the speaker grills, making everyone think I have an ancient laptop. The whole body appears to have given up for resistance -- almost all parts feeling that they will drop of accidentally any day,

    Quite surprisingly,the feeling just ain't enough. The laptop has not really shown any true phyhysical weaknesses, it's really pushing on despite the in the end more or less cosmetic damages it has suffered from quite intesive daily use. I would not like to pay any compliments to Dell -- the laptop has felt as if it has a very weak build quality since about the six first months of use. Despite of this it has really done everything that was expected -- and still does, after more than 1,5 years of usage. Apparently they are doing something correct. And even if they do not, they still have on-site quarantee that absolutely works also in the Northern Europe (proven with previousn Dell laptop with screen breaking during the holidays in the middle of nowhere on the countryside) .
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    Well, I should have the E6410 for more than a couple months thanks to Intel, so we'll see what it looks and feels like in another six months. I've used plenty of Inspirons over the years, and my wife has an older Latitude, and they generally hold up well (unlike the Inspirons). The hinges definitely LOOK solid, but they might degrade over time. I'll be using this as my "main" laptop for a while and so I plan on doing some sort of blog update down the road.
  • sammykismail - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    Good review however the weight spec is incorrect. I've weighed about 6-7 different Dell latitude e6410's and none of them weigh under 5lbs (with optical drive and 6 cell battery, not including the power adapter) on my home scale. For some reason, Dell continues to post misleading weight weight specs with hard to find 4 cell batteries on it's website.

    Please weigh the laptop on a weighing scale and if i'm correct revise the weight in the specs.

  • Xenoterranos - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    Anyone know how to replace the screen in a Thinkpad T410 with an IPS panel? :)
  • theangryintern - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    Funny how quickly Dell jumped from the E6400 to the E6410. The 6400s were crap. We've had to have the motherboard replaced in at least half of the ones we've gotten due to some weird bug that severely underclocks the CPU to the point of crippling the machine. We tried driver updates, we tried BIOS updates, we tried completed OS rebuilds, nothing would fix it. We finally tried having the mobo replaced and that seems to be fixing the issue 99% of the time. We're now starting to get 6410s, and they're much better so far.

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