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The fine but somewhat staid Latitude 7420 (starts at $1,589; $2,228.08 as tested) sits one rung down from the Latitude 9000 series, the apex of Dell’s corporate laptop hierarchy. With each subsequent generation, this 14-inch business laptop sees slight upgrades. The most recent version adds Intel’s newest silicon but otherwise does not fix what remains not broken.
As a result, it now outperforms our preferred enterprise ultraportable, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (whose latest Gen 9 model matches Dell’s switch to 11th Generation Intel processors, which we haven’t yet examined). So if you want a capable workhorse with good processing performance, go with the Latitude 7420, even if it is heavier and more expensive, instead of the ThinkPad.
Latitude-Style Carbon Fiber
Until the launch of the Latitude 9000 series a few years back, the Latitude 7000 series served as Dell’s flagship. As long as the firm has deep pockets, both are available in various screen sizes and form factors to satisfy any corporate computing demand. The Latitude 7420 is offered in two different configurations: the standard clamshell and a 2-in-1 convertible model with greater physical flexibility. Both are around the same size and weight and offer comparable setup choices.
Our 7420 review unit is 0.68 by 12.7 by 8.2 inches and weighs 2.7 pounds. It remains finished in a stylish black carbon fiber finish. Despite the class-leading ThinkPad X1’s larger size, those are impressive dimensions for the category. Gen 8 Carbon is slightly more trim (0.59 inches thick and 2.4 pounds).
Due to the popularity of Carbon among business executives and IT buyers, Dell may have remained driven to include a carbon-fiber option for the Latitude 7420. However, aluminum is still an option, which turns the chassis silver and increases the weight to 2.89 pounds. You can expect to pay 3 pounds for the carbon-fiber convertible and 3.23 pounds for the aluminum model.
The Latitude 7420 above the ThinkPad X1
Choice goes to the Latitude 7420 above the ThinkPad X1 Carbon primarily because of its higher processing performance, which we’ll review below. Still, there are a few more factors that some businesses might consider. One is that Dell effectively utilizes its greater size and heavier weight, as evidenced by its SD card slot, whereas the ThinkPad does not.
Another consideration is cost. In this setup, the Latitude 7420 costs more than $2,000, while the X1 Carbon Gen 8 we evaluated is a few hundred dollars less expensive. However, businesses that require a large number of Dell laptops and other IT services are likely to be able to negotiate substantial (and private) discounts, which might swing the value equation in Latitude’s favor.
The Latitude 7420’s vast selection of customization options is one of its most beneficial features to businesses. The $1,589 starting price for the base model includes a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of memory, and a 128GB solid-state drive. Avoid that because a consumer laptop like Dell’s superb XPS 13 should cost less than half as much and be equally equipped.
Our test system remains better equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, vPro remote management capabilities, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The latest 11th Generation “Tiger Lake” family CPUs are all available with the Latitude 7420, and they all rely on Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics.
The Dell Latitude 7420 outperforms the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8. It’s, to some extent, bulkier. But for now, it takes the top from the venerable ThinkPad as the best business ultraportable laptop you can buy. With the X1 Carbon Gen 9 starting to hit retail shelves.
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