Dell Latitude E6430 ATG review

Dell has kitted out its latest all terrain business laptop with Ivy Bridge chips and plenty of hard-wearing features, but it doesn't offer the level of customisation we're used to.

Upgrades and options

Dell's durable design means there are fewer upgrade options than we're used to seeing on the firm's notebooks. The screen or graphics chip can't be changed, at least at the moment - but the options on offer include several intriguing upgrades.

Switching to a Core i7 chip with two cores adds 96 to the price, and upgrading to a quad-core processor costs an additional 136. Adding an extra two gigabytes of RAM costs 55, and doubling the RAM to 8GB puts 87 onto bottom line.

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Adding Intel's vPro management tools to the machine costs 16, and loading the system with a 320GB hard disk or 256GB SSD, each with encryption technology, costs 23 and an extra 260 respectively.

There's no option to upgrade the DVD writer, Bluetooth card or wireless chip, although adding Dell's SIM-included wireless 5560 card puts 68 onto the price.

The six-cell battery can be upgraded to a nine-cell unit for 87 extra, and docking stations are also available: a legacy expansion port model is 50, a notebook stand is an additional 83, and monitor stand upgrades start at 100.

Only one other warranty option is available, though, with an upgrade of the basic three year deal to a next-business-day option putting 112 on the price.

Overall

The Latitude E6430 ATG is a laptop of two halves. When it comes to build quality we've nothing to fault: the base, screen and wrist-rest are all rock-solid, Dell's aluminium lid, cushioned hinges and port covers protect some of the most important parts of this machine, and the keyboard, mouse and trackpad are all comfortable in use.

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Compromises have been made to produce such a tough machine, though. The screen offers mediocre quality and resolution, and the specification won't please those who're looking for a more powerful machine. It's not cheap, either: the model we've reviewed here costs 1,206 exc VAT, and a fully-specified ATG will set you back 500 more.

It's no all-round performer, but if you're working in the field or in tough environments then the ATG's various advantages its hard-wearing design, strong build quality and decent battery life outweigh its mediocre screen and specification.

Verdict

Dell’s latest Latitude gets off to a good start with a range of features that’ll please those who work in tough environments, such as exceptional build quality, an anodized aluminium lid and even insulated corners and port-covering flaps. Its hard-wearing design comes at a cost, though, with a mediocre screen and a specification that won’t sate high-end users. If you prize toughness over sheer speed, though, this is certainly worth the price.

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OS: Windows 7 Professional 32-bit PROCESSOR: XX Intel Core i5-3320M RAM: 4GB DDR3 STORAGE: 128GB SSD SCREEN: 14in 1,366 x 768 CONNECTIVITY: 802.11n WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 PORTS: 3 x USB 3,eSATA, HDMI, D-SUB, smart card reader, ExpressCard slot, SD card slot OPTICAL DRIVE: DVD writer DIMENSIONS: 360 x 247 x 34mm (WxDxH) WEIGHT: 2.5kg/2.9kg WARRANTY: 3yr RTB warranty

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