January 21, 2013
- Attractive, professional-looking exterior
- Above average battery life
- Very speedy performance
- Three USB 3.0 ports
- Dim display brightness
- Slightly heavier & larger than others
The Dell Latitude 6430u is a business-centered Ultrabook that offers long battery life for a long day's work, solid performance and an attractive, professional design. It also comes loaded with all the ports you'll need and very fast boot times to keep you from waiting. One thing we would have liked to see improved was the relatively dim display.
Dell is getting in on the Windows 8 Ultrabook market with the Latitude 6430u, but this time they're trying a business-centered focus. While we say that, it doesn't mean you cannot use this laptop for personal use.
The exterior of the 6430u is covered in a matte black soft-touch finish that really looks sharp, yet professional at the same time. The laptop's surface feels really good physically and helps to cut down on fingerprints. The other design aspect we liked was the metal-plated hinges used for the display, which look like they can handle anything you can throw at them. The laptop's corners are also fitted with a magnesium alloy to protect it from minor bumps. The laptop measures 13.3 x 9.0 x 0.8-inches and weighs around 4-pounds. This does make it slightly thicker and heavier than most other Ultrabooks, but we didn't mind too much.
Dell also gave the island-style keyboard some added durability by making it spill-resistant, but we didn't test this claim for obvious reasons. The keys have a good feel to them and provided solid feedback leading to an overall good typing experience. The touch pad is a tad small for our liking, but performing multitouch Windows 8 gestures still worked without much trouble. There's also a pointing stick for users who like that sort of thing.
The Latitude 6430u has a 14-inch 1366 x 768-pixel display with a built-in touch screen. We liked that Dell chose a matte finish instead of a glossy one, which helped to reduce glare. Overall the quality of the display was good with our only complaint being the relatively dim brightness compared to other similar Windows 8 Ultrabooks. The multitouch screen worked well and seemed sensitive and accurate enough for our use.
The port selection the Latitude 6430u offers includes two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.0/eSATA combo port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks and an SD card reader. Dell most likely included the typically vestigial VGA-output to satisfy business users with older projectors.
Our review unit had an Intel Core i5-3427U (1.8GHz) CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB solid-state hard drive and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. IN a PCMark 7 benchmark, the laptop scored 5,070, which is over 1,000 points ahead of the Ultrabook category average. We found the solid-state drive provided speedy Windows 8 boot up times of around 12 seconds. In our real-world testing, we were extremely pleased with the performance we got, including while streaming HD videos and doing some hefty multitasking.
Battery life with the Latitude 6430u tops out at about 7-hours, which is over the category average by around an hour.
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