Powerful processor. USB-C with Thunderbolt 3. IR and fingerprint login.
Pricey. Soft speakers.
- Bottom Line
The Dell Latitude 14 7000 (7480) is a top-notch business laptop when configured with top-of-the-line components, though it is a bit more expensive than rivals when so equipped.
The Dell Latitude 14 7000 (7480) starts at a very reasonable $1,029, but its price balloons to $1,849 when you add high-end components like an Intel Core i7-7600U processor, a 256GB SSD, a full HD screen, and biometric security features for easier logins. Though it's somewhat spendy, and physically larger than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (our current top pick for business laptops), we recommend this configuration for the middle managers and upper-level execs in your company, along with number crunchers who will appreciate the extra convenience features and performance.
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Decent Design, but Not Too Flashy
The Latitude 7480's body is built around its 14-inch screen, which dictates its 0.72 by 13 by 8.7 inch (HWD) measurements. It's not showy, instead opting for a safe, dark gray/black exterior with the only flash of color being the blue pointing stick cap—an all-business aesthetic. At 3.34 pounds, it's perfectly suited for carrying from meeting to meeting or in a commute bag every day. It's not quite as small in any dimension or as light as the latest Lenovo X1 Carbon, which is 0.6 by 12.7 by 8.5 inches (HWD), and weighs 2.45 pounds.
The backlit keyboard is comfortable enough to use all day, and as mentioned above, the system has a pointing stick in addition to a touchpad with physical mouse buttons. The pointing stick is as responsive as the one on the X1 Carbon and other Lenovo ThinkPads, and that's a good thing for those who can't give them up, but the scalloped keys on the Lenovo keyboards are a bit more comfortable. That said, they're certainly less taxing on your fingertips than the flat keyboard on the current Apple MacBook Pro laptops. In any case, the keyboard is solid as a rock, and will likely last until the system is written off in five to six years.
The Latitude 7480 we reviewed comes with a Full HD screen, though 1,366-by-768 resolution screens are standard in base units, and QHD (2,560 by 1,440) screens will eventually be available as an upsell. The Lenovo X1 Carbon will also have a QHD option later this year (we reviewed the X1 Carbon with a Full HD screen as well). The screen is bright and clear, and since it's Full HD, font smoothing helps readability. There's ample room for large spreadsheets, and you can view 1080p HD videos at native resolution. We're recommending the Full HD screen for these reasons, unless you really need to save the $77 upgrade cost. If you need a brighter screen with an even greater 4K resolution, a mobile workstation like the Dell Precision 15 5000 Series is an option.
The internal speakers are clear, if a bit soft. They are located inside the laptop's body, with no visible speaker grills anywhere on the laptop. They are suited to web conferences and training videos, but don't have the sonic gravitas to handle movie trailers at full volume. Good thing there's a headset jack.
Thanks to its ample chassis real estate, the Latitude 7480 offers excellent connectivity, including a power jack, an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, a smart card reader, and a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 technology on the left side of the laptop. On the right, you'll find a headset jack, an Ethernet port, a micro SD card reader, a Noble cable lock port, and a third USB 3.0 port. Thanks to the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, you can attach one of Dell's USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 docking stations with one cable hookup for data, multiple displays, and charging the laptop. Wireless connections are handled by integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. Since it includes both USB-C and common ports like HDMI and USB 3.0, you won't have to travel with a handful of adapters or a mini dock, as you would with the Apple MacBook Pro. Note that the thinner Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon requires a dongle for its Ethernet port, while the Latitude 7480 doesn't.
Secure Biometrics, Two Ways
For companies still using smart cards, that's an option here. However, this laptop comes equipped with two forms of biometrics security. There's a fingerprint reader on the left side of the palm rest, and an IR camera built into the webcam above the screen. Both the fingerprint reader and the IR camera work with Windows Hello, so you can securely log in to Windows 10 by swiping a fingertip or looking at the camera, respectively. In practice, Windows Hello logins take only a few seconds, so it's easier and more secure than trying to remember a complex password.
Performance, for Those Who Need It
Base models of the Latitude 7480 come with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). Our review unit is upgraded with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. As a result, the upgraded system is better able to handle high-pressure workloads. Speaking of pressure, the system's three-year warranty includes next business day onsite service after online diagnosis. You can upgrade to services including accidental damage insurance, data recovery, and 24/7 technical support for added fees.
The system we reviewed comes with an Intel Core i7-7600U processor with Intel HD Graphics 620. This upgrade helps it qualify as a power users' system, suitable for folks who crunch numbers all day or those who have to deal with web layout or digital content creation. It beat out competitors on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test (3,369 points) and the Photoshop test (3:18), while coming in a close second on the Handbrake (2:04) and CineBench (352 points) tests. That's ahead of other Core i-7-equipped systems like the Dell XPS 13 Touch, HP EliteBook 1040 G3, and the VAIO S. The Latitude 7480's 3D benchmark test results were on par for the business laptop category. That is to say they're reasonably strong for a system you'll likely never load a 3D game on.
Battery life is very good, and certainly qualifies the Latitude 7480 as capable of all-day computing, lasting 13 hours and 3 minutes on our rundown test. That's a few hours short of the Lenovo X1 Carbon (15:59), but longer than the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, the HP EliteBook 1404 G3, and the VAIO S, none of which surpassed the 10-hour mark.
Business Power Users Need Apply
The Dell Latitude 14 7000 (7480) is a powerful business laptop that still manages 13 hours of battery life. It's attractive in a utilitarian way, and is one of the fastest laptops for working in office apps that we've tested. It delivers more connectivity options (sans dongles) and greater battery life than the Apple MacBook Pro, and has a more modern design compared with the VAIO S. It's about $200 more expensive than our current top pick, the Lenovo X1 Carbon, which remains our Editors' Choice status given its smaller, lighter chassis, better battery life, and lower price tag.
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Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology… More »
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