Review: Dell Latitude E6400
August 12, 2008
Dell announced the Latitude E6400 today, which is based on Intel's "Montevina"/Centrino2 notebook platform. The E6400 supplants Dell's previous-generation Latitude D630 and is a major revision to Dell's mid-weight enterprise-class laptop.
The Latitude E6400 enclosure is approximately the same size and weight as the Latitude D630 it replaces. However, it (along with all of Dell's E-series Latitudes) has a completely new brushed black and aluminum look and feel. The E6400 is far more solid feeling than the D630, with full-frame magnesium alloy construction and all-metal hinges. Its absolute minimum weight is 4.3 pounds, but this is with a Travel Lite placeholder in the modular media bay. A far more likely weight range is 4.9 to 5.6 pounds, with the weight mostly dependent on battery size and somewhat dependent on optical drive choice.
The E6400 includes new ports such as DisplayPort, eSATA, Smart Card reader, and a 5-in-1 media card reader. It also adds the option of both a backlit keyboard and webcam to Dell's Latitude line, with the long-awaited availability of a webcam making Dell again competitive with most other enterprise notebooks.
The Latitude E6400 includes many of the newly available "Montevina" capabilities as standard. However, Dell has not chosen to make available some "Montevina" capabilities (such as Turbo Memory 2.0). Some other options (such as Bluetooth and vPro) will not be available until sometime in September.
When equipped with an LED display backlight, the Latitude E6400 receives a Gold rating from EPEAT and is also Energy Star 4.0-certified.
Several notes when ordering a Latitude E6400:
See ISC's Notebook Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of August 2008, configuring a Latitude E6400 to the mid-weight notebook specification can be done for approximately $1,350.
Windows Vista Performance
A tested prototype Latitude E6400 (2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo T9400, 800 MHz 2.0 GB RAM, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 160M discrete graphics card, 160 GB hard drive) has a Windows Experience Index base score of 3.4, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows Vista performance will be quite good for most users on a Latitude E6400 configured in this manner. ISC expects that these scores will improve somewhat in final shipping versions of the E6400 and will update with those scores as soon as possible.
With the E-series, Dell has moved to rationalize the naming conventions and marketing strategies of its Latitude line. No longer are the 14-inch and 15.4 mid-weight widescreens artificially separated by a model line, as the D630 and D830 were. Dell has also moved to a more rational naming convention: in the case of the E6400, E for the series, 6 for the model line, 4 for the screen size (14 inches with the 1 truncated). It seems reasonable to expect that the model following the E6400 will be the E6410.
ISC sees the Latitude E6400 as being a competitive choice among mid-weight notebooks available in late 2008 and a substantial upgrade from the D-series Latitudes. The University's Computer Connection will have at least one E6400 configuration available shortly.
When correctly configured to the mid-weight notebook specification in the Notebook Purchasing Guide, the Latitude E6400 is approved for general use at the University.
Thanks to Jason Trumpy, Lana Sveda, and Faith Ingles (all from Dell) for their help with this review.
Latitude E6400 graphic courtesy of Dell
--John Mulhern III and Brad Ruhling, ISC Technology Support Services (August 12, 2008)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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