The 15.6-inch Dell Latitude E6510 laptop is big and bulky, and its keyboard could be better. But our configuration still impressed with its blistering performance and good security features.
The Dell Latitude E6510 is a business laptop that's designed to be extra-durable, while also having bags of power to handle complex number-crunching tasks. This 15.6-inch laptop is available in various configurations. The high-end model we had in for review uses an Intel Core i7-820QM processor and is available for £1,959.
The E6510's design has all the grace of a 1960s tower block. It's very large, measuring 373 by 33 by 253mm, and heavy too, weighing a bone-crunching 2.5kg. Dell has added a metallic grey paint job to the lid, but, when you open the laptop up, you're met with lots of boring, matte black plastic. Attractive it certainly isn't, but, on the plus side, this laptop does feel like its sturdy enough to go ten rounds with Mike Tyson and come off none the worse for wear.
The laptop's 15.6-inch screen has an impressive resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, which gives you plenty of desktop space and means you can have multiple documents open and displayed side by side. The screen uses a matte, anti-glare coating, so it doesn't suffer from the nasty reflections that you get with glossy displays and, as a result, is easier on your eyes during a long day of work. The screen is LED-backlit, so it's very bright, but colours are slightly subdued, and the viewing angles aren't quite as wide as we'd have liked.
Given the laptop's size, we found it odd that Dell hasn't added a numerical keypad. Instead, Dell has used the two inches of space between the edge of the keyboard and the chassis to house the laptop's speakers, which actually sound pretty good.
The keyboard uses traditional, tapered keys. Although the keyboard feels quite solid, there's not a huge amount of travel in the keys. Interestingly, though, the E6510 has both a trackpad and a pointing stick. The trackpad is quite large and has scroll-bar areas on both the horizontal and vertical axes. The pointing stick is too erratic for our liking, although you do get used to it after a while.
As with most business-focused machines, the E6510 runs Windows 7 Professional. Our machine, however, ran the 32-bit version of the operating system, so it was unable to make the best use of its 4GB of RAM (the 32-bit version of Windows 7 can only really effectively use a little more than 3GB of memory).
The E6510 has a built-in DVD writer, but our machine only had a 250GB hard drive, which is a tad stingy. Nevertheless, there's an impressive line-up of connectivity options, including four USB ports, one of which doubles up as an eSATA port. You also get a mini FireWire socket, as well as VGA and DisplayPort connectors for using the laptop with an external monitor. Dell has added in both PC Card and ExpressCard slots too.
This laptop really shines when it comes to security. Not only does it have a fingerprint reader to the right of the keyboard, but there's a TPM chip on-board, as well as a Smart Card reader. Those thinking of upgrading from a previous E-series model will also be happy to hear that this laptop retains compatibility with the older E-series docking stations.
The E6510 is available with a range of different processors, but our machine had a quad-core Intel Core i7-820QM CPU, ticking over at 1.73GHz. This is a very speedy processor, so it was no surprise to find the laptop rocketed to a score of 8,723 in the PCMark05 benchmark test. That's hugely impressive, and shows the machine will happily crunch its way through even the most demanding of tasks.
For graphics, the machine relies on an Nvidia NVS 3100M GPU. It's not the fastest 3D chip in the world, but it managed to post a respectable score of 4,176 in 3DMark06. This means there's plenty of performance for 3D tasks in multimedia business applications, but not quite enough grunt for out-of-office-hours gaming.
You might expect the machine's processing power to take a toll on battery life, but the E6510 isn't too bad in this area. In the Battery Eater test, it managed to keep running for 1 hour and 26 minutes, which is longer than average for a laptop of this size.
The Dell Latitude E6510 certainly won't win any awards for design, but it offers seriously impressive performance and some great security features, as well as an excellent screen. Only its sheer bulk and below-par keyboard let the side down.
Edited by Charles Kloet