- Solid build quality
- Good performance
- Long-lasting battery life (9+ hours)
- Fans somewhat noisy when notebook is exerted
- No USB 3.0
- Subpar audio
The Dell Latitude E5420 is an essential business notebook with great battery life, good keyboard and good performance.
Dell claims that even the sub-$600 Latitude E5420 business notebook is made for “durability, productivity, security and easy manageability.” We’ll analyze these claims against our benchmark and real-world tests to find out if this notebook deserves a spot in your office.
Build and Design
The Dell Latitude E5420’s overall build quality is great. It has what Dell calls a Tri-Metal design, which includes anodized brushed aluminum in the display cover, reinforced steel hinges, and a strong magnesium alloy inside the chassis. It also has a zinc alloy screen release to keep the display firmly in place until you slide the release bar, an LCD sealant to help prevent against scratches, and a spill-resistant keyboard. This all means that the notebook should hold up against everyday mishaps, and when compared to the rest of the world’s budget business notebook lineup, it’s well above average. Not only that, but the build quality is way better than last year’s plastic shell on the E5410.
When pressing down on the notebook below the display, keyboard, and palmrests, it budges just a bit, but not enough to cause problems. The palmrests are a little sturdier than the keyboard and upper areas. Despite the brushed aluminum inside the display, the screen does budge when bended at the corners. The rest of the display is harder to bend – it seems the corners are the main concern here. The steel hinges are tough, and hold fast when the screen is bent back and forth.
Stylistically, the E5420 has smooth matte surfaces encased in soft black and silver trimmings. The notebook looks professional and feels nice to the touch. And, the surfaces don’t easily smudge up or collect dirt – a huge plus. The E5420 has a good, clean design to it.
The Dell Latitude E5420 can be upgraded easily. To reach the hard drive, memory slots and wireless network card, remove four screws and push the panel outward. Its removal can be done with little effort and it has two RAM slots for up to 8GB of memory.
Ports and Features
At this price range, the E5420 should have definitely had a USB 3.0 port or two. Other than that, this notebook has a very good port selection. It has a total of four USB 2.0 ports to connect all of the essentials, a memory card reader, VGA for an external monitor, eSATA, a SmartCard reader (optional), and HDMI. There’s even a docking connector port on the bottom, and you can choose from six different types of dock stations straight from the E5420’s product page. The screen release is quite tough and will secure the display from opening while traveling.