Dell Latitude 14 7000 (7480) Review

by Reads (89,710)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 8
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 6
      • Usability
      • 7
      • Design
      • 7
      • Performance
      • 7
      • Features
      • 7
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 7
      • Total Score:
      • 7.00
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Solid build quality
    • Good keyboard and touchpad
    • Beautiful QHD touch display option
    • Excellent overall performance
    • Plentiful port selection, including USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3
  • Cons

    • Can get pricey when configured with options
    • No more snap-in docking solutions
    • Card reader only for MicroSD
    • Cooling fan can be noisy
    • IR camera not available with all display choices

Dell’s Latitude line has been a familiar sight in the business market for over two decades. It’s currently offered in three tiers, starting with the entry-level 3000 series, then the mid-level 5000 series, and finally the top-tier 7000 series. The subject of this review is from the latter category, dubbed the Latitude 14 7000 (Latitude 7480). This 14-incher is the largest of the models in the 7000 series. It started at $1,029 as we typed this, though our review unit was loftily perched at $2,086 with significant upgrades.

As far as business-class notebooks go, the Latitude 7480 rounds the most important bases. It offers biometric features such as a fingerprint reader, an infrared camera, and physical and contact-less Smart Card readers. Its carbon fiber and metal construction is strong, and its input devices are very good. We found most aspects of this notebook to be agreeable, with mostly minor complaints. Those included its noisy cooling fan, lack of snap-in docking solutions, and pricey upgrades. Otherwise, the Dell Latitude E7480 is a solid hitter for a premium 14-inch business notebook.

Latitude 14 7000 (E7480)

Dell Latitude 7480 Build and Design

The exterior of the Dell Latitude E7480 is all black and business-centric. Its straight edges and no-nonsense look is right at home in a corporate office environment and almost anywhere else. Most surfaces on the notebook are anti-glare, though the glossy touch display on our tester is an exception.

The Latitude E7480 is just 0.67 inches thin, while the rest of the chassis measures 13×8.7 inches. It’s a cinch to carry at just three pounds. Its dimensions and weight are very similar to what is arguably the Latitude E7480’s most direct competition, the Lenovo ThinkPad T460s. (We’re expecting a ThinkPad T470s to be released at some point, though it wasn’t yet for sale as we typed this review.)

The Dell’s lid has a strong carbon fiber construction. Its exposed weave is a nice touch; after all, what’s the point of paying a premium for carbon fiber if you can’t show it off? It looks almost looks holographic in the right light. We like the silicone soft-touch finish on both the lid and palm rest areas as well.

The display hinge is unfortunately too stiff to allow the lid to be opened one-handed. The extra stiffness is appreciable if you have a touch display, however, as it keeps the display from wobbling too much.

The chassis showed some moderate flex when we torqued it from the front corners (which shouldn’t be done at home), but should be stiff enough to keep the notebook’s internals well-protected. The internal structure of this notebook, as well as the bottom cover, is a metal alloy. Construction of this quality is one of the key differences between the Latitude 7000 series and the less-expensive 5000 and 3000 series, which are almost all plastic.

Despite the Latitude E7480’s attractively narrow display bezel, Dell was able to fit its webcam atop the display. The webcam on our review unit was the standard 720p model. The picture looked sharp enough, but wasn’t anything to write home about. It didn’t support Windows Hello in Windows 10 for biometric facial logins. You can get the Latitude E7480 with an optional infrared camera that does support Windows Hello, though it only appeared to be available with the FHD non-touch display option as of this writing. In other words, if you want any display but that one, you’ll have to settle for the regular webcam.

To upgrade the Latitude E7480, you’ll need to remove the eight Philips-head screws securing the one-piece bottom cover. The screws have convenient retainers on them so they don’t need to actually come out of the cover once they’re unscrewed. The panel then flips up from the display hinge. Under here you’ll find the two DIMM slots for memory, plus the M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slot for a solid-state-drive (SSD). This is about as upgradeable as notebooks get, nowadays.

Dell Latitude 7480 Input and Output Ports

The port selection on the Latitude E7480 is more than respectable for a 14-inch notebook.

The left side has the power jack, a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, full-size HDMI output, two USB Type-A 3.0, and the Smart Card reader. Note our review unit doesn’t have the optional contact-less Smart Card or fingerprint readers. Those are available together as a $14 option on configurable models.


The right side has the remaining ports, including the audio combo jack, MicroSD flash card reader, with the SIM card slot directly beneath (it was deactivated on our review unit), the last USB Type-A 3.0 port, the Ethernet jack, and the cable lock slot. We do wish the card reader was full-size. The Ethernet jack has a fold-down bottom piece that you’ll need to hold open to insert a LAN connector. This is a clever way of including this port despite the notebook being slightly too thin to accommodate it.

There are no ports or connectivity along the front or back of the chassis.

It’s disappointing that the Latitude E7480 does away with the snap-in docking solutions of previous models in this line. Your choice for a docking solution this time around is cabled via USB Type-C, or wirelessly via WiGig. The latter is an optional extra.

Dell offers two USB Type-C docks; the first is the WD15, which includes a 180-watt power adapter, and the second is the TB16 with a 240-watt adapter. The WD15 is designed for a regular USB Type-C port, whereas you’ll need Thunderbolt 3 support to take advantage of the triple-display output on the TB16. Fortunately, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity is standard on the Latitude E7480. By comparison, the WD15 dock only supports two FHD (1,920×1,080) displays.

The USB Type-C docks are expensive by docking station standards. The WD15 commands $199, and the TB16 even more at $299. The traditional Dell E-Port Replicator snap-in docking stations that were available on the outgoing Latitude E7470 were less expensive; this was especially true if you picked up a second-hand version, which were plentiful given the long history of those docking solutions.

For wireless docking, you can opt for Dell’s Wireless Dock. It offers most of the connectivity of the just-mentioned USB Type-C docks for $269, but doesn’t have as good of multi-monitor support as the TB16.

Dell Latitude 7480 Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the Latitude E7480 is mostly full-size. The arrow key cluster and Function row (F1-F12 keys) are half-size. The layout is mostly desktop-like, though it perplexes us as to why the Home and End keys no longer exist as dedicated keys. They are instead relegated to secondary functions within the arrow key cluster, requiring you to press the Fn key in conjunction to access. If you’re avid text editors like we are, this is a detriment to productivity. (See Part Two our PC Optimization Guide to learn how to use time-saving keyboard shortcuts.)

The keys themselves provide positive feedback, though they don’t have the sophisticated feel of the keys on the Lenovo ThinkPad T460s. They’re quiet to press, and the keyboard deck has a firm typing surface.

Keyboard backlighting is an optional $35 extra on the base Latitude E7480, though it’s standard on upper-tier configurations like our review unit. It looks good in a darker environment, brightly illuminating all of the symbols on the keys in white. It gently spills around the edges of each key. The backlighting can be toggled between its two brightness levels, or turned completely off by using the Function + F10 keyboard shortcut.

Our Latitude E7480 was equipped with the optional dual pointing keyboard, featuring an eraser head pointing device in the center of the keyboard. It has a dedicated set of buttons just above the touch pad, including a thoroughly appreciated center-click button. The pointing device worked fine in our testing, though we didn’t find its shape to be as intuitive as the UltraNav pointing stick solutions on the competing Lenovo ThinkPad T-series.

The touch pad is slightly offset to the left in the palm rest to align with the keyboard. This orientation keeps it right between your wrists as you’re typing, minimizing the risk of the cursor jumping somewhere due to an inadvertent brush with your palm. The touch pad has a smooth surface that is just about perfect, both in terms of feel and size. We also liked the solid-feeling dedicated buttons for left- and right-clicking, which make almost no sound when pressed.

Dell Latitude 7480 Screen and Speakers

The Latitude E7480 is offered with four display choices. Our review unit happens to have the most expensive one, the QHD (2,560×1,440) touch panel. It added $315 to the price of our review unit. This panel uses in-plane switching (IPS) technology for wide viewing angles, which allows the picture to appear consistent when not looking at the display head-on. The technology also allows for excellent image quality. We were impressed with the good black levels, high brightness, and very good color saturation. The QHD resolution was a bit too high to use without the aid of Windows text scaling on a 14-inch display; the smallest we were comfortable with was 125 percent. The only actual complaint we harbored about the display was the reflective nature of the Corning Gorilla Glass surface.


The base display is one we’d recommend avoiding, a 720p (1,366×768) panel with an anti-glare surface. Its resolution is too low for meaningful productivity, and if our experience with other 720p panels of that size is any indication, it won’t have the best image quality.

The FHD (1,920×1,080) anti-glare display is a no-brainer $77 step up from there, while another $21 will get you the infrared camera we mentioned back in the Input and Output section of this review. It’s the only display choice offered with the infrared camera. The last choice, other than the QHD touch panel on our review unit, is the FHD touch panel. It’s a $175 upgrade over the base panel.

The speaker solution in the E7480 is recessed inside the chassis. It partially relies on the notebook sitting on a solid surface to properly amplify the sound, so it will sound slightly muffled in your lap. The sound is reasonably full and has some bass, but realistically has only enough volume in a quieter environment. 

Dell Latitude 7480 Performance

The Latitude 7480 is based around the new Intel 7th generation processors, codenamed Kaby Lake. It specifically uses Core i3, i5, and i7 dual-core processors with a 15-watt thermal specification. These are mainstream processors with ample performance for general usage, as well as more demanding tasks such as photo editing. They’re less than ideal for 4K video editing, but that’s not what the Latitude E7480 was designed for. For work of that nature, you’d want to step up to one of the Dell Precision mobile workstation models with a quad-core processor. The Dell Precision 5510 is one example.

Our test unit was configured with the fastest processor offered in this notebook, the Core i7-7600U. It has a 2.8GHz base clock, though can jump to 3.9GHz via its Turbo Boost feature under the right thermal and power conditions. The best value amongst the available processors is probably the Core i5-7200U, which runs at 2.5GHz, with a Turbo Boost to 3.1GHz. The Core i7-7600U in our review unit adds several hundred dollars to the price over that processor, a difference which won’t be appreciable for general tasks.

This notebook has two DIMM slots for DDR4-2133 memory. Both were populated in our review unit by 4GB modules, for a total of 8GB of RAM running in dual-channel. A maximum of 32GB is supported, via two 16GB DIMMs. This is a normal level of expandability for a notebook in this class.

The storage capability of the Latitude E7480 is somewhat underwhelming. It has just a single M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slot for solid-state storage (SSD). Storage options ranging from 128GB to 1TB were offered as of this writing. Our review unit had a 256GB drive using the SATA interface. Newer PCI Express SSDs are offered, though the performance difference is hard to notice outside of synthetic benchmarks.

Microsoft Windows 10 Pro was standard on our review unit. It was completely free of bloatware and other unwanted software, as you would expect on a business-class notebook.

It’s worthwhile to note that a three-year warranty is standard on the Latitude E7480.

Our Dell Latitude 7480 review unit has the following technical specifications:

  • 14-inch QHD touch display (2,560×1,440 resolution, IPS panel, Corning Gorilla Glass surface, 10-point touch support)
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-7600U dual-core processor (2.8GHz, up to 3.9GHz Turbo Boost, 4MB cache, 15W TDP)
  • Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated graphics w/ shared memory
  • 8GB DDR4-2133 dual-channel RAM (2x 4GB; 32GB max. supported – 2x 16GB)
  • 256GB M.2 SATA SSD (TOSHIBA THNSNK256GVN8)
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 wireless LAN
  • Integrated Bluetooth wireless
  • 60Wh battery
  • 3-year limited warranty
  • Dimensions: 13.03 x 8.7 x 0.67 inches
  • Weight: 3.01 lbs.
  • Starting price: $1,029
  • Price as configured: $2,086

Dell Latitude 7480 Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer DirectX 11 benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:

Dell Latitude 7480 Heat and Noise

One cooling fan is located on the back right of the Latitude E7480’s chassis, aimed at the display hinge. It remained off during our testing for general usage, such as web browsing, making the Latitude E7480 completely silent. When the fan did run, however, it was hard not to notice. The fan creates enough noise to be heard across a small-size room, and would most certainly draw a few glances in a conference room. It’s unlikely you’ll hear the fan running unless you’re running something particularly intense, such as a game, or rendering and encoding with the processor. In other words, tasks the Latitude E7480 really isn’t ideal for.

The chassis can get warm on the center rear, both top and bottom, after extended heavy usage. Otherwise, it seemed to be lukewarm at most.

Something we didn’t test was how well the cooling solution worked when the display was closed, a possible scenario if you’re going to use the Latitude E7480 when hooked into a docking station. The fan hinge almost completely blocks the exhaust when the lid is close, though some air can escape underneath.

Dell Latitude 7480 Battery Life

Our Powermark test uses a combination of resource-intensive tasks to more accurately gauge real-world battery life than a traditional rundown. The simulated scenarios include web browsing, video playback, videoconferencing, and gaming workloads. We run the test with approximately 50 percent screen brightness.

The Latitude E7480 lasted for five hours, 27 minutes in this benchmark. That’s on par with the competing Lenovo ThinkPad T460s, though we haven’t tested the newer T470s yet. Either way, the Latitude E7480’s time is good, if not anything groundbreaking for this class of notebook. We’d like to think this is the least amount of battery life you can expect to get from this notebook, given our review model was equipped with the QHD touch display. Its higher screen resolution is slightly more demanding on resources, and the touch functionality adds some small power drain as well. These numbers are, of course, a worst-case scenario, so we don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect another 20 percent on top of them for light usage with reduced screen brightness.

It’s unfortunate that the Latitude E7480’s battery is inside the chassis. It can be replaced if needed, but isn’t easily swappable while you’re on the go.

Dell Latitude 7480 Power Adapter

The 65-watt (19.5V x 3.3A) power adapter included with the Latitude E7480 is slim and light. End to end, the adapter and its cables measure nine feet, one inch, which is about average for a notebook power adapter. Including the cables, the adapter weighs 0.65 pounds.

The adapter connects to the wall via a three-prong plug. The AC power connection to the Latitude E7480 itself is proprietary, as is almost always the case with notebook computers. We like the illuminated ring on the end of it, which is a clear indicator whether the adapter has power or not.

During normal usage, the adapter became lukewarm at most. It gets borderline hot while charging the notebook, but that’s the norm.

Dell Latitude 7480 Conclusion

The Dell Latitude E7480 represents the next generation of business notebooks. It’s thin, light, durable, and offers excellent overall performance for most tasks. Its battery life didn’t blow us away next to the competition, but should get you through a full working day.

If you’re used to a traditional business notebook, you might notice some things missing on the Latitude E7480. It does away with classic snap-in docking solutions in favor of wired USB Type-C and wireless WiGig docks. We’re not entirely pleased with that move, mainly because the compatible docks Dell offers are at least $200, considerably more than the snap-in solutions went for with past generations of this notebook.

The Latitude E7480 also lacks a swappable battery, but that’s hardly a surprise in a modern notebook. Another minor con includes a cooling fan that can be noisy while it’s running, but in our experience, it usually remained off or ran at a low speed. Lastly, it would have been nice to see a full-size memory card reader, not just MicroSD. 

Although it starts at a digestible $1,029, our tester ended up at $2,086. We though the QHD touch display on our model was beautiful, though probably would have been just as happy with the 1080p panel for a lot less cash. We could say the same about the Core i7-7600U processor; it was fast, but we probably would not have noticed much of a difference with the lower-priced Core i5-7200U. But as far as premium business-class notebook pricing goes, what Dell is charging isn’t unreasonable. All configurations we found included a three-year warranty as standard.

Overall, the Dell Latitude E7480 rounds all of the important bases for a premium business-class notebook, and we’re glad to send it off with a well-deserved recommendation.

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • Good keyboard and touchpad
  • Beautiful QHD touch display option
  • Excellent overall performance
  • Plentiful port selection, including USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3

Cons:

  • Can get pricey when configured with options
  • No more snap-in docking solutions
  • Card reader only for MicroSD
  • Cooling fan can be noisy
  • IR camera not available with all display choices



LEAVE A COMMENT

9 Comments

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  1. griffin.rob

    I have been using the 7480 for a couple of weeks now as my main work machine, (i5, 256GB SSD, FHD Touch), and like it, it is a nice refinement of the 7470, and for business related tasks, more than adequate. I do have concerns about the long term robustness of the RJ45 “flap”, but it has so far resisted my attempts to prise it off of the laptop with my fingers (I select / test the devices for a large enterprise)

    The E type dock slot was apparently removed as the depth of the connector had become the limiting factor in the height of the laptop base. I found the e type dock was problematic with my 7470 anyway (in the end I ditched the dock) and although the single cable solution of the USB-C / Thunderbolt docks is neat, I have had an incident where the cable has been knocked out whilst I shuffle stuff around on my desk. Plugging the cable back in and I was up and running in a couple of seconds.

    Just a quick correction, on the 7480 Thunderbolt is an option, rather than standard (in the UK at least), and the TB16 comes in 2 configurations (1 with a 180w power supply, and 1 with a 240w for mobile workstations).

    • Charles P Jefferies

      Thanks for the clarification on the Thunderbolt 3 port. In the US, it looks like it’s not offered at all on the Core i3 models; is a no-cost option on the Core i5 model; and is standard on the Core i7 model. (I used the configurator on Dell’s business site just now). I wonder why it’s like that.
      It makes sense that the E-type docking solutions would force the notebook to be a bit thicker. I have a Latitude E7440 that I have an E-type dock for and like very much. I think the bigger issue is that the newer docking solutions are quite expensive, you are paying an early adopter tax, so to speak. I probably wouldn’t have put the lack of snap-in docking solutions in the cons list if that wasn’t the case. The E-type docks were very easy to find second hand for little money. Even new, they were less than what Dell is charging for the newer docking stations compatible with the E7480.
      Thanks for the feedback!
      Charles

  2. jke

    OMG, no docking port (hence no “E” in the name) and a tiny microSD card reader. Srsly, I’d rather buy an MBAir ex 2012 than this machine. Or stick to my beloved E5450.

    A photo of the opened bottom cover would have been nice!

    • Charles P Jefferies

      The E5450 is a solid machine, I don’t think the markup to the 7000 series is worthwhile unless you have a specific need for some of the features it offers. I was very close to buying an E5470 a short while back, they were going for very cheap in the Dell Outlet.
      Best,
      Charles

  3. powerslave12r

    This looked like the perfect laptop until I found out that the power connector is on the left side. That is a deal-breaker, unfortunately.

    I like that the other ports and stuff are on the sides, but the power connector needs to be on the back as it has been for ages with Dell’s business machines. Not only does it take away from the usability on the lap, the beautiful ‘ring light’ around Dell’s power connectors is going to be another bright distraction.

    • Charles P Jefferies

      That’s a very astute observation; Dell did indeed change the location of the power connector. For the record, I’m in agreement with you they should have kept it the way it was. We were all used to that.

      Charles

  4. testkk996

    registered12345
    I have always been using dell laptops.
    Just a quick correction, on the 7480 Thunderbolt is an option, rather than standard (in the UK at least), and the TB16 comes in 2 configurations (1 with a 180w power supply, and 1 with a 240w for mobile workstations).

  5. jeremy88

    Could we have more photos of the screen, particularly for the text rendering?

    • Charles P Jefferies

      Hey there, we sent this unit back. Maybe I can help though; what size screen and resolution do you have now?
      I have a 14″ Latitude I use with the same screen resolution as this Latitude, I can give you some comparative references.
      Charles