Starting Configuration Price
Potent performance. Good battery life. Full-sized keyboard with dual pointing devices.
Display could be brighter. Lacks Thunderbolt 3 support.
- Bottom Line
What's big and beefy, but weighs only 4.2 pounds? It's the Dell Latitude 5580, an all-work-and-no-play powerhouse desktop-replacement you can think of as the XPS 15's corporate cousin.
Does your company still have workers sitting at desktop PCs? It's time to deploy desktop-replacements—maybe even laptops that are practically workstation-replacements, with quad-core Intel Core i7 power as well as all the latest conveniences. That's the message of the Dell Latitude 5580 (starts at $779; $1,985 as tested), a 15.6-inch business notebook with everything from a Windows Hello-compatible face-recognition webcam to legacy Ethernet and VGA ports. Its screen size means it's not as portable as our favorite business laptop, the 14-inch Lenovo ThinkPad T470, but it's certainly viable for short trips or shuttling between office and home. IT managers will want to check it out.
//Compare Similar Products
The Latitude 5580 starts at a stripper with a Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Our lavishly equipped test unit has a Core i7-7820HQ (the same 2.9GHz chip found in the Apple MacBook Pro 15-Inch), 16GB of memory, and a 512GB solid-state drive. The processor's Intel HD 630 integrated graphics handle visuals. The matte display offers full HD (1,920-by-1,080) resolution.
The matte black aluminum chassis is comfortable to grip and has proved its sturdiness in MIL-STD 810G tests. There's no flex in the display and just a bit in the keyboard deck if you whale on the middle keys. At 4.2 pounds, the Latitude splits the difference between the MacBook Pro (4.0 pounds) and Dell XPS 15 (4.4 pounds with the extra weight of a touch screen), but all three are relatively light by 15-inch laptop standards. Measuring 0.9 by 14.8 by 9.9 inches (HWD), the 5580 is a fifth of an inch thicker but otherwise matches the HP ZBook Studio G4—a bit on the bulky side compared with the 0.6 by 13.8 by 9.5-inch Apple.
Except for Thunderbolt 3, which is optional, our test unit has all the ports you could wish for. The Latitude's left edge holds a USB-C/DisplayPort, a USB 3.0 port, and an SD card slot (deep enough to let you transport the system with a card in place instead of sticking out). On the right, you'll find another USB 3.0 port along with a VGA port, audio jack, optional SIM card slot, and Noble (not Kensington) lock slot.
Finally, a third USB 3.0 port joins Ethernet and HDMI ports and the AC power connector at the rear. Our 5580 had both a SmartCard slot on the left side and a contactless SmartCard reader in the palm rest. Bluetooth and 802.11ac Wi-Fi take care of wireless communications, though WiGig is another option.
Features and Frills
The webcam centered above the display captures well-lit, detailed selfies and video and also serves as a Windows Hello sign-in device (oddly, the Windows Hello setup screen offers only the face recognition camera, ignoring the fingerprint reader). The speakers under the Dell's front edge produce adequate audio—far from the loudest we've heard and short on booming bass, but enough to be heard in a conference room and with good sound reproduction for our MP3s.
Broad bezels surround the IPS screen, whose 15.6-inch size, full HD resolution, and Windows' default 125 percent zoom make things easy on the eyes. Viewing angles are broad and colors are nicely saturated, while fine details look sharp. Both PowerPoint slides and 1080p YouTube videos pop from the screen. Our only gripe is that the display isn't as bright as some rivals'—contrast is good but we'd estimate the panel's candlepower as definitely south of the XPS 15's 350 nits or the MacBook Pro's 500 nits; we couldn't comfortably leave it at half brightness for long work sessions.
We have no gripes about the Latitude's keyboard, apart from Home and End not getting dedicated keys like their partners Page Up and Page Down (they're combinations of the Fn and arrow keys). The full-sized layout includes a numeric keypad and offers satisfying travel and tactile feedback once you get used to a faintly rubbery feel; we'd rate it between the finest (the Lenovo ThinkPad T and X series) and flattest (the Apple MacBook and Pro) in terms of competitive keyboards.
The keyboard provides two pointing devices, a two-button touchpad and an embedded pointing stick with three buttons of its own. Both work smoothly, with the touchpad proving particularly accurate and responsive to glides and taps. Our 5580 carries a three-year warranty with on-site service after remote diagnostics; Dell's software bundle puts the emphasis on security and manageability, with everything from an encryption and password-management dashboard to a central system status and update console. (Windows' bundled Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Minecraft, and other toys look all the more ridiculous in context.)
The Power to Pull Through
We already mentioned the Core i7-7820HQ, a 2.9GHz (3.9GHz turbo) quad-core with Hyper-Threading, teamed here with 16GB of non-ECC DDR4 memory and a 512GB SanDisk SATA M.2 solid-state drive. It helped the Latitude clear not only the 3,000-point but the 3,500-point barrier (3,556) in our PCMark 8 productivity benchmark, outstripping a field that includes the XPS 15 and ThinkPad T470 (the last closest at 3,132 points).
Besides annihilating the likes of Word and Excel, the 5580 also won our Adobe Photoshop image-editing contest with a time of 2 minutes and 58 seconds to the MacBook Pro's 3:15 and the Core i5 ThinkPad's 3:31. It joined the XPS 15 (1:03 versus 1:01) at the head of a virtual four-way tie for the win in our Handbrake video-editing workload.
The Latitude's integrated graphics did it no favors in our game simulation tests, where it posted barely a fifth the score of the XPS 15 and its GeForce GTX 1050 graphics in our 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme subtest and trailed that machine and the MacBook Pro in the Heaven and Valley tests. (The XPS 15's 4K screen put it at a disadvantage to the Apple in the top-quality, native-screen-resolution sprints.) The 5580 isn't built for entertainment; it's built for high-speed, roll-up-your-sleeves productivity.
And it'll stay productive for a long time, lasting 11 hours and 10 minutes in our battery rundown test. That blows away the ZBook Studio and the XPS 15 (about six hours apiece) and beats the stamina of the T470 with its standard battery (9 hours and 21 minutes), though the latter's optional extended-life battery gave it a runtime approaching 18 hours.
At the Top of the Corporate Ladder
The Latitude 5580 is a strong contender if you seek a high-end, high-performance office desktop-replacement. It's a sturdy, speedy machine that can be configured just about any way you like, with features enough to satisfy your fussiest employee. However, its size and power make it something of a niche or near-workstation system, as we mentioned. The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 retains our Editors' Choice for business laptops due to its more portable form factor, matchless keyboard, standard instead of optional Thunderbolt 3, and available epic battery life.
Other Dell Laptops & Notebooks
By Eric Grevstad Contributing Editor
Formerly editor-in-chief of Home Office Computing, Eric Grevstad is a contributing editor for PCMag and Computer Shopper, where he earlier served as lead laptop analyst and executive editor, respectively. A tech journalist since the TRS-80 and Apple II days, Grevstad specializes in lightweight laptops, all-in-one desktops, and productivity software, all of which he uses when commuting and telecommuting between PC Labs and a cat-filled home office in Old Greenwich, CT. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EricGrevstad…. More »
More Stories by Eric
- HP ZBook 15 G4
Intel Xeon power, a 64GB RAM limit, three drive bays, three screen choices, and two Thunderbolt 3 po… More »
- Acer Swift 3
The 14-inch Acer Swift 3 is a well-rounded ultraportable laptop at a moderate price, with solid port… More »
- Acer Aspire 5
The Acer Aspire 5 is a 15.6-inch desktop-replacement laptop that gives you a lot for your $629, but … More »