Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 review: A nearly perfect combination of power and battery life

18 hours of battery life inside a compact, 2-in-1 PC powered by a leading-edge Whiskey Lake CPU? Boom.

Credit: Mark Hachman / IDG

Top-notch performance and battery life

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 proves you don’t have to sacrifice performance for long battery life. While our review unit topped the heap in some tests, it finished no lower than the middle of the pack in others. It also delivered the best graphics performance we’ve seen outside of a dedicated GPU. The selling point, however, was the battery life, which exactly matched that of a Snapdragon 850-powered tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Book 2, while providing the performance of notebooks powered by Intel Core microprocessors. 

We test using a mix of synthetic and real-world benchmarks. The latter category loads apps like GIMP and OpenOffice to simulate real-world workloads. These latter tests are based on PCMark 8, which use a battery of different apps grouped into three benchmarks: PCMark 8 Work, Home and Creative.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 pcmark 8 Mark Hachman / IDG

We combined all three PCMark tests into one grouping, ranked by performance, with the Dell Latitude 7400 debuting in first place. With a few laptops we went no further than the PCMark Work test. Note the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Samsung Galaxy Book 2 at the bottom.

While Work emphasizes office tasks such as video calls, spreadsheets, and word processing, the Home test begins steering the workloads toward web browsing and light gaming. The Creative workloads are typically the most processor-intensive, leaning harder on GPU-intensive tasks like gaming, as well as photo and video editing. For a business notebook, the Latitude 7400’s performance delivered stellar performance right out of the gate.

PCMark 10 reworks all three benchmarks for the modern era. Again, typical office tasks like video calls play a role, but heavy-duty image manipulation using the GIMP image-editing tool as well as more subtle metrics like app startup times and GPU-stressing physics tests also appear. PCMark 10 recently debuted, so our archive of benchmarks isn’t as comprehensive as it is for PCMark 8. In this modern benchmark the Latitude 7400 still does well.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 pcmark 10 Mark Hachman / IDG

Dell’s Latitude 7400 doesn’t disappoint in the updated PCMark 10 benchmark, though it still lags behind some of its competition.

We also stress the laptop processor in two ways: via Cinebench, a Maxon-developed benchmark “sprint” that asks every CPU core and thread to render a scene as quickly as possible, and HandBrake, an open-source tool used to convert a Hollywood movie into a format that can be played back on an Android tablet. First up is Handbrake, where the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is nearly the fastest at completing this real-world task.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 handbrake Mark Hachman / IDG

Dell’s Latitude 7400 performed very well in our Handbrake video-conversion test.

Cinebench stresses all of the cores over a short period, using either R15 (a simpler scene) or R20 (a more complex scene). We test with both, though we have a larger database of scores from the older test. We were a little surprised to see the Latitude 7400 finish midway down, given its performance elsewhere. We’ve just shown the R15 results here. One note: turning on the Ultra Performance mode within Power Manager didn’t make a difference in the PCMark or 3DMark tests, but it did here: performance jumped 8 percent, to 612.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 cinebench Mark Hachman / IDG

Though the Latitude 7400’s performance in this Cinebench test falls into the middle range, the relatively tight cluster of scores indicates that it’s not doing poorly.

Finally, we return to 3DMark to test the integrated GPU using the Sky Diver test. You’ll see many desktop GPUs use more advanced tests, but the laptops and tablets tend to deliver scores on the Sky Diver benchmark that are more indicative of the sort of performance you’ll receive on simpler, older games. While you could try playing some of the latest 3D games on a device like the Latitude 7400 2-in-1, the sheer complexity of the scenes they render would likely bring this laptop's low-end MX150 GPU to its knees, unless the game's resolution and image quality are dialed down to extremely low levels. Still, the Latitude 7400 outperforms everything that doesn’t use a dedicated GPU.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 sky diver Mark Hachman / IDG

The Dell Latitude 7400 delivers solid 3D performance.

The piece de resistance, of course, is the Latitude 7400’s battery life. Because of its massive 78Wh battery, we didn’t have much doubt that it could deliver on its promises of all-day battery life. And boy, does it: With a battery life north of 18 hours, the Dell Latitude 7400 is a perfect choice for a transcontinental or transpacific flight, say from San Francisco to Taipei, or from London to Los Angeles. It just keeps chugging away, even with display brightness dialed up to our standardized levels. We loop a 4K movie over and over until the battery expires. It requires a weekend and more just for a satisfactory number of repetitions. 

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 latitude battery life Mark Hachman / IDG

What can we say? Sure, Dell stuffed the Latitude 7400 with an oversized 78Wh battery, but it paid off, equaling the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Samsung Galaxy Book 2 in battery life—down to the minute.

We should note that within Dell’s power-management software lies an option to extend the battery life even more, through a process that lowers the display brightness, switches off the keyboard backlight, and clocks down the CPU. We couldn’t discern any effect here, in part because we dialed the display brightness back up to our standardized levels. But with an 18-hour “standard” battery life, who’s counting?

Conclusion: A must-have business laptop

Though more airlines are including power plugs, the real test of a laptop is running from appointment to appointment, without any promise of a laptop charger in sight. That’s been the case for buying a Qualcomm Snapdragon PC—more so than performance, which has suffered somewhat from how the processor interprets instructions. Qualcomm promises that its upcoming Snapdragon 8cx fixes those flaws.

We can wait. The Dell Inspiron 7400 2-in-1 delivers right here and right now. The marriage of top-notch performance and 18-plus hours of battery life merits our Editor’s Choice award. It’s a struggle to find a caveat: the weight? The 1080p display? The lack of an integrated GPU? Yes, you’ll pay through the nose for this ultrapremium business PC. But it's the whole package, and worth fitting into your IT budget if you can. 

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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