Dell Latitude D820

Dell Latitude D820
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Very good battery, very good performance.

Cons

  • Slight buzzing when volume is turned to max.

Bottom Line

This is by far one of the best performing notebooks we've seen. Not only has it equalled the top score of 107 in PC WorldBench 5, but it has done so with very good battery life. This will suit anyone's needs except for people hoping to play the latest games, and the buzzing speaker was an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise excellent unit.

Would you buy this?

Brandishing a Vista Capable logo, the Dell Latitude D820 with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz T7400 CPU is Dell's first notebook to include the 64-bit processor. We've had the opportunity to look at a number of preproduction and ready-to-buy notebooks with the new Intel CPUs installed and Dell's implementation of the chip is not just a good performer, but has the best battery life for a notebook of its size that we've seen in our recent testing.

In the battery tests it outperformed almost all of the competition. We ran MobileMark 2005's reader test, simulating minimal usage and also the productivity test, simulating multitasking and general usage, in which it ran for 217min and 204min respectively. We also put the D820 through a worst-case scenario test by running down the battery with a looping DVD, in which it lasted 155min -- enough to watch an average feature film.

Contrast is better than average on the 15.4in LCD (1650x1080 resolution) and viewable angles are also good. On vertical angles where many notebooks lose image quality, the D820 maintained good clarity, though some colour inversion was evident. Two speakers on either side of the keyboard produce an even tone at medium volume, which is good for watching movies, but tend to buzz a little on high notes when the volume is turned up to max.

With a very impressive score of 107 in PC WorldBench 5 it's on par with the Dell XPS M1710, an enthusiast gamer's machine and previously our highest scorer. The Core 2 Duo shows some common improvements in all models we've tested. We noticed these same improvements in the D820, with media-encoding and multitasking tests outdoing older Core Duo models, including the D820 model we had the fortune to test earlier, using an older generation T2600 2.16GHz Core Duo CPU.

Though the NVIDIA Quadro 120M graphics card isn't designed to play newer games, the D820 scored 12,620 in 3DMark 2001 SE, which shows it will handle older or less taxing games reasonably well. The Quadro range has a history in professional workstation graphics such as CAD (computer-aided design), but the 120m is marketed by NVIDIA as a business level graphics solution.

The main chassis is solid, as is the bezel housing the screen, though some distortion was noticeable on the LCD when pressure was applied to the back. Both a touchpad and a track-point are supplied and the keyboard was nicely sized and comfortable to use.

As well as all the usual connectivity from Wi-Fi 802.11a/g, Gigabit LAN, a 56Kbps modem, 4x USB 2.0 and a VGA port, this notebook comes with a powered USB (D/Bay) slot for more power dependant USB devices and an express card slot for high speed connections, some handy features that will become more useful as the supporting peripherals become more prolific.

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