Home Blog Dell Latitude 9420 review: pricey performance

Dell Latitude 9420 review: pricey performance

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Dell Latitude 9420 keyboard viewed from above.

Dell’s Latitude family is the answer to Lenovo’s ThinkPad business laptops, some of the best laptops on the market. The Latitude doesn’t have much to see, but it’s packed with security features. It has a proximity sensor that automatically locks and unlocks the screen. It has a physical webcam shutter that moves on its own. In theory, there is a Dell Optimizer program that learns behavior over time and adjusts everything from audio quality to charging speed accordingly. Most importantly, the Latitude family supports Intel’s vPro, a hardware and firmware platform that includes a range of security features and makes it easier for IT departments to manage devices remotely.

The Latitude 9420 replaces last year’s Latitude 9410 and both look very similar to thin and light CNC-aluminum builds. But the combination of vPro and Intel’s prestigious Evo standard makes the 9420 an attractive package for business users willing to pay a premium.

Dell Latitude 9420 keyboard viewed from above.

Dell says Latitude is “leading a new era of intelligence.”

The first thing to emphasize about the 9420 is that it’s not cheap at all. The base model starts at $2,039 and includes a Core i5-1135G7, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 14-inch 1920 x 1200 screen. (Since it’s a business laptop, companies often buy it in bulk for a lower price.) Core i7-1185G7, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage and 2560 x 1600 touch display. It uses the same processor and screen, but with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, you can go up to the $3,309 model.

However, if money is not the goal for you or your company, Latitude offers a set of benefits, especially for those who work in remote teams. New to this Latitude model is SafeShutter, an automated physical camera cover. Close your webcam whenever you’re not using it, bring up Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or anything else that needs access to your camera and it’ll disappear. This worked very well and should be convenient for people who are in and out of virtual meetings all day. (There is also a physical on/off switch on the keyboard.)

The camera itself, a 3.5mm shooter that supports Windows Hello, is really great, giving me one of the best pictures I’ve seen on my laptop’s webcam. The speakers (two upward-firing and two downward-firing) provide average volume but clear audio with thumping bass and percussion. The four mics had no problems detecting my voice and succeeded in letting me hear you over loud typing and various background noises. Dell also says the Optimizer will send bandwidth to the video conferencing application being used. Overall it’s a good package for meetings.

The port on the left side of the Dell Latitude 9420.

Two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports allow you to connect a webcam or other peripherals.

Another highlight is the 16:10 aspect ratio, which gives the QHD screen additional vertical space. It has less scrolling than a typical 16:9 screen and has more room for tabs and apps. All of this is good. The 9420 can be configured for 5G or 4G, and the Dell Optimizer will automatically find the most powerful Wi-Fi access point. A variety of port choices are available, including HDMI 2.0, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, USB-C memory card reader, combination audio jack, wedge lock slot and USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A. .

Dell Latitude 9420 on a wooden table, open and tilted slightly to the right.  A blue desktop background is displayed on the screen.

91.6% screen-to-body ratio

The only real problem I encountered was the touchpad. It was unresponsive compared to most laptop touchpads. It felt like following the cursor, and it didn’t always go to where I wanted it to go. The device sometimes thought I was clicking when I wasn’t clicking, so I accidentally closed the window or left the always active screen. I brought this to Dell and sent a replacement unit with the same problem. (I contacted Dell for other potential fixes, but haven’t received a response until press time.) This shouldn’t be the end, especially if you use your mouse frequently. Nevertheless, an expensive device.

The Dell Latitude 9420 opens on a wooden veranda table.  A blue desktop background is displayed on the screen.

The touchpad is bigger than the previous generation.

The biggest upgrade over the previous Latitudes is inside. Dell claims that the new 11th Gen vPro processors deliver 66% more CPU performance than the 10th Gen processors.

The 9420 is a milestone in the business laptop market. It is also the first vPro device to be validated through Intel’s Evo program. This program certifies that the device meets Intel’s various requirements, making it a top contender in the consumer space, including instant wake-up and fast sleep. charging and responsiveness.

Dell and Intel are pushing this combination as a way to keep IT departments happy while competing with the best consumer laptops in performance, battery life and other standard productivity metrics. “We’re used to mobile devices that project a certain confidence, style, and status,” said Josh Newman, Intel’s vice president and general manager of mobile innovation, in an interview. “vPro, the performance and security that IT wants.”

This is especially important as remote and hybrid work blurs the line between some customers’ work and personal laptops. “This environment in which we all live is a hybrid. From an IT point of view, security becomes very important because the end user’s location is unpredictable, and that’s where vPro is needed.

When it comes to tasks that many business laptops use most often today, such as video conferencing, word processing, photo editing, research, and other tasks in Chrome, the Latitude did pretty well. I never experienced any lags or lags when working with photos on 12 Chrome tabs with Spotify streaming. You can switch to a quiet cooling profile in Dell’s Power Manager, but the fan is very noisy at times.

The Dell Latitude 9420 sits on a porch table, tilted slightly to the left in the opposite direction of the camera.

It’s not a gaming PC.

For more intensive workloads, Latitude is a strong competitor. The 9420 took 8 minutes and 16 seconds to export 5 minutes 33 seconds 4K video from Adobe Premiere Pro. That beats last year’s Latitude 9510 with a 10th Gen vPro Core i7, just over 28 minutes. It’s pretty delta. For a more modern comparison, the XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 (both with the Core i7-1165G7) took over 10 minutes to complete.

Updates to Premiere Pro can affect export times, so the Puget Systems benchmark for Premiere Pro, which tests live playback and export performance in both 4K and 8K, is a better Apple-to-Apple comparison. Latitude scored 261, which even beats the latest XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1s. (These results are mostly for performance comparison. Latitude is not the best choice for regular users of 4K and 8K video.)

The 9420 isn’t recommended as a primary gaming device, but some games definitely do. Despite their business focus, the laptop outperforms some of the thinnest and lightest consumer laptops in a few titles. Average 55fps overwatchThe Ultra setting on the is 58 fps at native resolution and 1920 x 1200, while the XPS 13 averages 48 fps. We saw 22 fps. Shadow of the Tomb Raider It beats XPS at 35fps at native resolution and 1920 x 1200. (Of course, this is probably not the most fun to play on this computer since it was at the lowest possible setting for the title.)

Latitude didn’t work well for light titles either. it averages at 95 fps rocket leagueMax settings of and 157 fps on League of Legends, both are worse than what I saw on my XPS 13. Latitude also lost to the XPS 13 2-in-1. The XPS 13 2-in-1 performed slightly better than the Seashell in our tests in all the titles here. That device averaged 226 fps. League of Legends. (Of course, you can only see up to 60 fps on one of these devices.)

It’s interesting to note that Latitude outperforms these consumer laptops in Premiere Pro work, but loses in other graphics benchmarks. I’ve asked Dell if they have any insights here and will update this review as they progress. But my guess is that Dell’s software is more optimized for production workloads than gaming (good for business laptops). My other point here is that even if the Latitude outperforms the best consumer laptops, it’s not much different. This highlights how much extra you will have to pay for the business features of vPro and Latitude.

Cooling was a mixed bag. During both Premiere Pro tests, the CPU had a worrisome time near 99 degrees Celsius. Staying in the mid 60’s to early 70’s, it was much better controlled during the game. This suggests that the Latitude may hit a cooling wall when it comes to working with video. (The keyboard and palm rest remained comfortable on the plus side.)

Finally, battery life has been a Latitudes strength in the past, but mixed here. The device recorded an average of 5 hours and 41 minutes of continuous use (at about 200 nits of brightness). But stamina seemed to be affected a lot by certain settings. It took less than 2 hours when I ran the trial from Better Performance Windows Profile. Running the trial on the Windows Battery Saver profile and Dell’s Quiet cooling profile with Dell’s Battery Extender turned on, Intel’s power saving features turned on and Dell Optimizer’s AI features turned off (including proximity sensor) averaged over 10 hours. There wasn’t much of a difference in performance during this test, so I recommend switching to all battery savers whenever you need an all-day life.

I have very few complaints about this Latitude except for the unstable touchpad. The things I usually complain about on laptops (webcam and audio) were also pretty good here. The 9420 is a clear ThinkPad contender and one of the best business convertibles you can easily buy. It can accommodate photo and video work and can also run games that are lighter on the side.

But, of course, there is a price. Even the price tag of the base model will not reach many people. Whether you’re a freelancer or a small business employee, or looking for a personal device, you’ll get the same build quality, 16:10 touchscreen, and fairly similar performance. regaming) over $1,000 cheaper on the XPS 13 2-in-1.

As noted by representatives from Dell and Intel, this laptop is for those who need both a vPro platform and an Evo platform. Best business features and best consumer features in one product. If you’re in that group, the Latitude 9420 is a solid package that requires little compromise. Premium technology at a premium price.

Photo: Monica Chin / The Verge

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