The Dell Latitude 6430u (HD+) takes the Dell Latitude 6430u—an Editors’ Choice as a business ultrabook—and adds a higher-resolution screen and an upgraded processor. It also ditches Windows 8 in favor of the more business-friendly Windows 7. There’s much to like about this configuration: the appealing HD+ resolution screen, Win 7, and better media creation numbers. However, its overall system performance score was somewhat down, and battery life took a considerable hit. Still, the 6430u (HD+) is easy to recommend for a professional looking for a light, stylish, and capable ultrabook with a relatively hi-res screen and some multimedia chops.
This model, clad in a simple but handsome black frame with silver trim, measures 0.8 by 13.3 by 9.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.9 pounds. The 6430u (HD+) combines a third-generation 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3687 processor, Intel HD Graphics 4000, and 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM. It has a 128GB solid-state-drive (SSD). That’s probably enough for office-related programs and documents, but should you plan to use the laptop for more disk space-intensive tasks such as video editing, you may want to upgrade to a 256GB SSD ($135 standard; $157.50, opal encrypted) at the time of purchase.
Our test system came with the new Dell Wireless Dock D5000. As this dock is also sold separately, will be compatible with all 6430u configurations as well as selected future laptops, and features the promising WiGig short-range wireless technology, we decided to review it as a separate device, and it is not included in the system price. (It costs $187 when bought with the 6430u, and is sold separately for $266.67.)
Our test unit came with Windows 7 Professional, which is preferable for most business users instead of the Windows 8 on the previously reviewed 6430u. The Latitude 6430u has a 14-inch 1,600-by900 resolution screen; while the previously reviewed configuration’s resolution is 1,366 by 768. The display did well with both still and video images, providing crisp detail and good color. Its sound system puts out good volume and sound quality for an ultrabook.
Another plus is the backlit, chiclet-style keyboard, which provides a smooth typing experience, It’s coupled with a responsive touchpad plus a pointing stick.
The 6430u (HD+) comes equipped with 802.11n Wi-Fi. Ports include 2 USB 3.0 ports plus a combined eSATA / USB 3.0 port, HDMI, VGA, and Ethernet. This is pretty typical of a business ultrabook; if you need more, the 6430u is the first laptop that’s compatible with Dell’s WiGiG wireless dock. (The optional WiGig adds 3 USB 3.0 ports; DisplayPort; HDMI; and Ethernet ports to the mix.)
The Latitude 6430u (HD+)’s combination of a 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3687 and 8GB RAM yielded generally good performance on our benchmark tests. On PCMark7, a test that measures a systems overall productivity, it scored 4,498 points, down from the previously reviewed 6430u’s 5,006 and well off the Editors’ Choice Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s 5,149. It slightly lagged the HP Elitebook Folio 9470m (4,699) but thumped the ASUS S46CA-XH51′s score of 2,628.
This model showed some multimedia creation chops, finishing the Handbrake media encoding test in 1 minute 9 seconds and the Photoshop CS6 test in 4:18. The previously iteration of the 6430u took 1:22 for Handbrake and 5:08 for Photoshop. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon matched the 6430u’s 4:18 Photoshop score but took 1:50 to get through Handbrake. The HP 9740m turned in a more ponderous 2:55 on Handbrake and 5:51 on Photoshop.
In Cinebench, which tests a system’s 3D rendering ability using the CPU and system memory, the 6430u (HD+) scored 3.12 points, easily beating out the previously reviewed 6430u (2.58), the HP 9470m (2.65), and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2.25).
You won’t be doing any 3D gaming on this machine. At 1,920 by 1,080 resolution with all the eye candy turned on, the 6430u (HD+) managed a mere 6 fps playing Aliens vs. Predator and 5 fps on Heaven. When dialed down to 1,366 by 768 and basic settings, it eked out a 15 fps score, still far below the 30 fps playability threshold.
A downside of a higher-res screen is that it requires more juice. That may be why, on our battery rundown test, the 6430u (HD+) lasted just 5 hours 10 minutes, on the low end for a professional ultrabook. The previously reviewed 6430u, with its 1,366 by 768 screen, tested at a much better 7:40, while the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon lasted 7:19. The 6430u (HD+) edged the ASUS S46CA-XH51 (5:07), while it slightly lagged the HP Elitebook Folio 9470m (5:36).
The Latitude 6430u (HD+) is a good choice for a professional looking for a stylish ultrabook with a relatively hi-res screen and the ability to do some media creation as well as standard business tasks. Its productivity scores were decent though non-stellar. Going with Windows 7—which we’re seeing in a declining number of ultrabooks—is a good choice, particularly as the screen is non-touch.
The Dell Latitude 6430u (HD+) doesn’t have the battery life of many of its peers, including the alternate configuration of the 6430u with a lower-res screen, with was named an Editors’ Choice this spring. Its price seems a bit high for what it offers. But the 6430u (HD+) is an elegant (if understated) business ultrabook with a smooth keyboard, a sweet 1,600 by 900 screen, and good business and media creation capabilities. The Latitude 6430u is also the first laptop that’s compatible with Dell’s new WiGig wireless dock.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i7-3687U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Professional|
|Processor Speed||2.1 GHz|
|Screen Size||14 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||128 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc