Dell Latitude XFR E6420 review

A ridiculously tough rugged laptop with impressive specs

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Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 800
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

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  • Solid build quality
  • Processor performance


  • Keyboard
  • Small hard drive

The market for rugged laptops is select and Dell has done an impressive job with the Latitude XFR 6420 by focusing on what's important.

Build quality is excellent and extra features show real attention to detail. The XFR looks ready for anything. The tough, plastic composite chassis is together with plenty of screws and any point of the laptop likely to come into contact with the ground is shrouded in tough rubber. There's even a built-in handle that enables you to carry the entire 4.5kg machine like a briefcase.

There was no flex around the chassis at all. The entire machine is harder than a coffin nail and all the ports are hidden by dust covers that mean mud, dirt, water, sand or any other muck won't get inside and play havoc with the connections.

Dell hasn't put a Super-TFT coating over the 14.1-inch screen, meaning you'll be able to see what you're doing when using the XFR outside. There are no reflections and the display itself is very bright. However, colours look whitened and washed out, which is noticeable when you're watching videos or looking at pictures.

The XFR is not intended as a multimedia machine, though, so the lack of a rich colour palette is forgivable.

Limited keyboard

Unfortunately, we can't say the same about the keyboard. Any laptop needs to have a decent keyboard and the compact, moulded keys on the Dell are miss-hit all too easily. There's no numeric keypad or backlight so using the keyboard for numbers and spreadsheets will be difficult and using it in the dark is nearly impossible.

There are only three hotkeys, one for raising volume, one for lowering it and one for muting altogether. This might be irritating for people used to plenty of shortcuts and quick navigation, but the XFR has retained the touchscreen functionality of earlier models.

Because the machine is so sturdy, using the touchscreen is easy because the lid doesn't wobble on its hinges when you touch it. Windows 7 is still too fiddly and small to navigate through folders, but for simple tasks it works very well.

On the inside, the Latitude is just as tough. An Intel Core i7 processor runs at 2.7GHz, which is faster than some gaming laptops. The 4GB RAM is easily capable of multitasking between several programs without faltering and only the 120GB hard drive feels below par.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater '05: 145 minutes
Cinebench: 11478
3DMark 2007: 5939

Like the screen, there are limitations when it comes to graphics. A paltry Intel integrated graphics chip means demanding visual applications like video editing, gaming or graphical programming and designing will stretch this laptop further than it can reach.

Again, this is a case of Dell focusing on what's necessary and stripping back the rest. This is one of the most impressive rugged laptops we've seen and if you can get past the keyboard, it'll stick with you through thick and thin.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelGMA 4500MHD
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeDVD-Writer
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Finger Print ReaderNo
Solid State Drive Capacity64 GB
Product FamilyLatitude E
Operating System Architecture32-bit
Processor ModelP8700
Operating SystemWindows 7 Professional
Brand NameDell
Processor Speed2.53 GHz
Processor TypeCore 2 Duo
Screen Size35.8 cm (14.1")
Number of Cells6-cell
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)3.86 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset Model45 Express
Number of Total Memory Slots2
Optical Media SupportedDVD±R/±RW
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyDirectVue
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports4
Memory StandardDDR3-800/PC3-6400
Height55.9 mm
Width353.1 mm
Depth292.1 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesE
ManufacturerDell, Inc
Product ModelE6400 XFR
Product NameLatitude E6400 XFR Notebook
Product LineLatitude
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part Number544313656
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Built tough for tough environments, Latitude E6400 XFR was designed and engineered to be the highest performing fully rugged laptop in its class. Equipped with reliable data protection, simplified IT management and investment protection that you've come to appreciate from Dell.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Limited Warranty3 Year
Bus Speed1066 MHz