Dell – Latitude D630 review

excellent Centrino Duo business laptop
Photo of Dell – Latitude D630
£975 + VAT

Dell’s popular Latitude D620 deservedly won many plaudits and awards with its excellent blend of features, price and performance. The question for Dell was, when the time came for a refresh would it be able to make its successor just as popular with the corporate buyer?

The answer seems to a resounding yes, and the D630 seems destined to carry on what the D620 started.

Intel’s latest mobile technology, code-named Santa Rosa and now known as Centrino Duo, was the catalyst for the refresh and in the time-honoured fashion of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, Dell just jacked up the D620, removed the old chipset and CPU and replaced it with the Centrino Duo parts.

Our review sample (E-value Code UKBSDONL-L07632) is the flagship of the 630 range coming with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor running at 2.0GHz with 4MB of L2 cache and an 800MHz FSB. As with all things Dell the whole machine can be built to your own needs: there are two faster CPUs available should you want more oomph, for example, the T7500 2.2GHz (additional £58) or the T7700 2.4GHz (add on a whopping £225).

Supporting the CPU is 2GB of 667MHz DDR memory which allows the pre-installed Windows Vista Business Edition to run along nice and smoothly. But if you’re still not convinced by Vista (and a great many people aren’t), Windows XP is available as an alternative. If your wallet allows, the memory can be upgraded to a maximum of 4GB (£350) but even with the standard memory configuration the D630 offers pretty good all-round performance, as proven by its PCMark05 score of 4,220.

The D630 retains the Dell corporate style in its black and grey finish, while the magnesium alloy chassis allows it to absorb the bumps of being carried around all day, every day – even though, with the extended battery option (which was included with the review system) and power adapter, it weighs in at about 3kg.

As with the D620, the keyboard is a good size with nice responsive keys and it retains the dual option of touch-point and track-pad, keeping everybody happy. Dell now offers a fingerprint reader (additional £41) which is squeezed between the two mouse buttons under the track-pad and supplies information to the Trusted Platform Module, but if you don’t want to shell out for the fingerprint reader the D630 comes with a Smart card slot so you can go down that route for added security.

With the D630 being aimed fairly and squarely at the corporate end of things, it comes as no great surprise to find that the graphics are of little use for games playing. The laptop uses Intel’s latest integrated X3100 solution, hooked up to the 14.1-inch WXGA+ screen that has a 1,440 by 800 pixel resolution. Since it lacks any of the glossy coatings that are seemingly the norm these days, you can use the D630 outdoors on reasonably bright days.

It’s good to see a serious capacity drive included in the price: the 120GB, 5,400rpm drive should see you right for a while, but if you want a faster drive then a 7,200rpm version is also available at extra cost and you have the benefit of an 8x DVD burner to back-up your files. While there is a PC Card slot, there’s no flash media slot of any kind, which is a bit of a shame. Likewise there is no PC Express Card slot, which is no great loss.

As befits a road warrior’s tool, the D630 lacks nothing in the connectivity department: 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi (which can be switched off to save battery life, with the switch also acting as the Wi-Fi Catcher), Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth and if all else fails, a modem. If you want even more, then available as an option is mobile broadband via an integrated 3G card (additional £121).

Thankfully, with the D630 Dell didn’t tinker any more than it had to in order to bring the D620 bang up to date, as the D620 was already a seriously good notebook.

Company: Dell

Contact: 0870 152 4699


Verdict
Dell already had one of the best corporate notebooks with the D620 and, with the introduction of the latest Intel technology into the D630, has made it even better.