Dell Latitude Z Review Performance, Benchmarks, and Conclusion

February 18, 2010 by Kevin O'Brien Reads (78,420)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 5
    • Usability
    • 9
    • Design
    • 10
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance and Benchmarks
When trying to come up with notebooks that might compete against the Latitude Z in performance we had to look past much of the thin and light competition since it was much more expensive and larger than the competition. If you move out of that category the new competition blows it out of the water. Notebooks like the Lenovo ThinkPad T400s offered as much as twice the overall system performance with less weight and even a lower price. With the Latitude Z you are really paying for looks and cool features, not high-end performance. Another odd thing we noticed is Dell won’t allow you to configure the Z with a 64-bit operating system, only 32-bit for all of its options ranging from Windows XP to Windows 7.

In daily use we didn’t have a problem with the performance of the Z since it still kept up with everything we threw its way. It could handle 720P and 1080P streaming flash off YouTube as well as decoding 1080P movie trailers and full-length movies. System load times were quick although it did have a considerable delay at the BIOS screen as it ran through its system checks. The SSD kept application load times to a minimum which helped offset any negative aspects of the slower 1.6GHz processor. 3D performance fell under other Intel X4500 equipped notebooks we tested but that didn’t seem to affect its real-world performance. Considering the target market for this notebook – business professionals-the average user probably won’t notice or care that the system might not be as fast as other notebooks in its price range.

Wprime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

HDTune storage drive performance test:

Heat and Noise
Thermal performance of the Latitude Z is limited by the super thin chassis and cooling fans that stayed on at slower speeds as the system warmed up. While being stressed with 3DMark06 we saw a peak external temperature of 96 degrees Fahrenheit on the top of the notebook above the processor area but the touch-zones like the palmrest and touchpad still stayed in the high 70s to lower 80s. Fan noise was minimal with the notebook being rather conservative with its cooling system … keeping the fans off or at a very slow speed during most conditions.

Battery Life
Power consumption on the Latitude Z is higher than we would like to see, drawing as much as 16 watts of power during out battery test. With the screen brightness set to 70%, Wi-Fi active, and Windows 7 set to the “Balanced” profile the Z stayed on for 3 hours and 43 minutes with the 8-cell battery. For such an engineering marvel it was a surprise to see so little tweaking done to improve battery life.

One of the more impressive features of the Latitude Z is that it supports wireless or inductive charging. With the supplied dock you just rest the notebook on the platform and it will start charging immediately. Compared to just using the regular power adapter you lose about half the efficiency and half the charging speed. Using our Kill-a-Watt meter with 66 watts drawn at the wall the charge rate through the inductive charging plate was 13 watts. Connecting the adapter directly to the notebook showed a 33 watt charge rate.

Conclusion
The Dell Latitude Z is a very impressive high-end business notebook with many tricks up its sleeve. This notebook offers EdgeTouch technology, inductive charging, and haptic feedback for the volume controls all inside a chassis that is no thicker than about ¾ of an inch. Compared to other thin and light notebooks the Z offers a 16-inch screen with plenty of real estate and one of the best keyboards we have seen to date. Besides the price our only complaint about the system is that it lacks the performance of other notebooks in its price range and size, but for its intended market that might not be a huge problem. Overall if you can’t be seen with anything less than the best looking notebook on the market sitting in front of you, look no further than the Latitude Z.

Pros:

  • Amazing design
  • Superb backlit keyboard
  • Excellent build quality

Cons:

  • Only 32-bit OS
  • Lackluster performance
  • Poor battery life


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