Heat and Noise
The cooling system of the E6410 is designed to handle the heat from a Core i7-620M + Nvidia NVS 3100M GPU. Keeping a Core i5 processor and Intel integrated graphics cool should therefore not be a challenge. I was therefore surprised to see a peak CPU temperature of 83°C (181°F) reported by HWMonitor V1.16 under heavy load. This is about 10°C hotter than the P8600 under similar conditions. Temperatures dropped quickly when the CPU load reduced. Under heavy stress of benchmarking the system, the case temperatures were around 90°F on the keyboard-side and slightly hotter on the bottom with a peak of 105°F at the middle back. This is getting warm, but the location means that user contact is unlikely even if the computer is being used on a lap. The maximum external temperatures shown below (recorded during benchmarking) are listed in degrees Fahrenheit:
Fan noise levels are not obtrusive even during benchmark tests. I have noticed two fan speeds (plus off). The low speed, which runs much of the time, is barely audible in a quiet room while the faster speed is not noticeable in normal office environment. It is possible that there are faster fan speeds if more cooling is required for the dedicated GPU version of the E6410: Dell had introduced four speeds during the E6400 production life to better match the cooling requirements (before that change the E6400 was more noisy under load). The BIOS offers a passive cooling option which reduces fan activity when running on battery at the expense of increased (but still manageable) case temperatures. I have used the E6410 on my lap without any discomfort.
Battery Life and Power Consumption
Dell provide a 90W PSU as standard although the specifications indicate that 65W is sufficient for an E6410 with the intel GPU. Power consumption at the mains socket peaked at 48W during benchmarking which leaves some margin for battery charging.
My E6410 came with a 90Wh 9-cell battery (which is backwards compatible with the E6400 and E6500). There are other options ranging from a hard-to-find 4-cell battery to a 12-cell battery slice. Dell didn’t heed user grumbles about the lack of a media bay battery option when designing the E6410. The battery supports ExpressChargeTM, which Dell claims will recharge an empty battery to 80% full within one hour. Personally, I prefer a slower charge rate to reduce the risk of battery degradation and have disabled ExpressChargeTM in the BIOS. However, I am still seeing a charge rate of up to about 50W.
Does the lack of a very low frequency mode for the CPU (the minimum speed is 1200MHz) increase idle power consumption? My first battery test was to play the 3-hour Dances with Wolves DVD with the display at 3/4 brightness. The battery capacity was 36% (32.6Wh) at the end of the DVD indicating a power drain of about 59Wh. This is comparable to the E6400, which didn’t quite reach the end of this DVD when using a 56Wh battery.
Battery run time depends on the usage conditions and display brightness. After the SSD was installed I have observed idle power consumption dropping below 8W with the display on minimum brightness and using the Extended Battery Life power plan. However, more typical power consumption under light usage with the display on half brightness is around 9 to 11W which suggests 8 to 9 hours battery run time on the 9 cell battery (5 to 6 hours with the 6 cell battery). I suspect that in a back-to-back test using the same batteries the E6410 would not match the frugality of the E6400 with a P series CPU.
Dell has built on the strengths of the E6400 to produce the E6410. Dell prudently kept to the 16:10 aspect ratio display for the E6410 which is more suited to business usage than the 16:9 displays. The one step backwards is the omission of the Power Share feature while the new Intel platform provides a significant speed boost albeit at the expense of a small reduction in battery life. Overall, the E6410 does feel a little faster but, as noted above, an SSD has more impact on the overall performance than the platform change.
- 16:10 aspect ratio display
- Good design and solid construction with easy access to core components
- Backwards compatible with previous E-series and uses same peripherals
- Backlit keyboard option
- No bay battery option
- Relatively poor audio quality
- No switchable graphics option
- Smallish touchpad