While consumer and enterprise laptops may share a lot of the same characteristics—clamshell design, components, operating system—there are plenty of needs that must be met in order to be appropriate in a business environment. An enterprise desktop replacement needs to fit into a company’s existing IT structure, be supported over years instead of months, and will need security and connectivity options that consumers would rarely use. A perfect example of this is the Dell Latitude E6540, a desktop replacement made for enterprise users. Outfitted with an array of business-friendly features, a business-rugged design, and the latest fourth-generation Intel quad-core processor, the Dell Latitude E6540 is a powerful tool for any professional.
The Latitude E6540 features a business-rugged design, and Dell’s Tri-Metal chassis—so called because the magnesium alloy frame is covered with an anodized aluminum exterior and a powder-coated base—will survive bangs and spills. It’s not as rugged as the visibly armored Dell Latitude E6430 ATG, but it will survive the worst parts of your daily commute and business travel, meeting MIL-STD-810G standards for durability while still looking good.
Despite the heavy-duty construction, the laptop weighs only 6.5 pounds. While that’s not necessarily light, it is lighter than the likes of the HP EliteBook 8560w (7.1 pounds), though the physical size is the same—the Latitude E6540 measures 1.4 by 15.0 by 10.7 inches (HWD).
The 15.6-inch display offers 1,920-by-1,080 resolution—ideal for multitasking with side-by-side windows—and has a matte finish for better readability in brightly lit conditions. While 1080p should do the trick for most professionals, those who might need an even better display will need to look to something like the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Retina Display).
The keyboard eschews the popular chiclet design, opting instead to remove the spacing between keys but use sculpted keycaps to provide a comfortable typing experience. The keys also offer a deeper key travel and more comfortable action for each key, making this a better than average keyboard for typing and data entry. The accompanying touchpad offers gesture support and separate right and left buttons. In the center of the keyboard, you’ll also see a small pointer nub, part of a dual-pointer set-up. The pointer offers the same sort of cursor control as the touchpad, with buttons just below the spacebar for clicking and scrolling.
On the Latitude E6540, you’ll find an array of ports and connections: three USB 3.0 ports (one with power for charging phones and other devices); HDMI and VGA output for connecting to a monitor, HDTV or projector; an SD card slot, stereo headset jack, and Kensington lock slot. A LAN port provides Gigabit Ethernet for networking, while an Intel Centrino wireless card provides not only 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity, but also Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Di 2.0. A tray loading optical drive lets you read and burn discs (DVD+-RW), a feature disappearing in more portable models.
In addition to a healthy selection of ports, the Latitude E6540 is outfitted with several business-friendly features, such as embedded TPM security, and configurations with optional features, like a fingerprint scanner or SmartCard reader, built in. A dock connection on the underside lets you use the Latitude E6540 with Dell’s E-port Plus Advanced Replicator, so you can easily transition between a stationary desktop environment to a laptop on the go without the hassle of disconnecting everything each time. For better system management, the Latitude E6540 also boasts Intel vPro technology and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.
A 500GB solid state hybrid drive combines the cost-effective storage of a spinning hard drive with the rapid performance and resilience of a solid-state drive, combined into one drive volume for seamless use and optimal performance. For extra protection against shocks and drops, the hybrid drive is also isolated with cushioning shock-absorbing mounts.
In keeping with current IT trends, the Latitude E6540 is available with either Windows 7 or Windows 8, to more easily integrate into your existing fleet without any unexpected compatibility issues. Our own review unit came with Windows 7 Pro preinstalled, along with a
30-day trial of Microsoft Office 365, and a handful of Dell branded utilities and services, such as Dell Power Manager and Dell protected Workspace. Dell covers the Latitude E6540 with a three-year warranty that includes remote diagnosis and next-day on-site service.
The Latitude E6540 is equipped with a fourth-generation 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-4800MQ—the same CPU found in the gaming-oriented Alienware 17—and it’s paired with 8GB of RAM for quick performance. As a result, the general productivity performance was near the top of the category, with the a PCMark 7 score of 4,462 points, well ahead of the Editors’ Choice HP EliteBook 8560w (2,589 points), but just a tad behind Dell’s own rugged Latitude E6430 ATG (5,021 points). It also ranked high in Cinebench R11.5 with 4.99 points, beating out the HP 8560w, Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Retina Display), and HP EliteBook 8470p, but again falling short of the rugged Dell Latitude E6430 ATG.
The potent processor shone through in multimedia tests, cranking through Handbrake in a mere 45 seconds, and finishing our Photoshop test in 4 minutes 50 seconds. Solid graphics and gaming scores also tell you that, while it may not boast the ISV certification of a Workstation, the Latitude E6540 will still handle all of your visual and media tasks with ease, thanks to an AMD Radeon HD 8790M graphics card.
The Latitude E6540 also offers decent battery life, lasting 5 hours 56 minutes in our battery rundown test. While this falls roughly an hour behind the Apple MacBook Pro 15 (6:53), the battery will still take you through most of your workday, and thanks to Dell’s ExpressCharge technology, you’ll also be able to go even longer after plugging in only briefly—letting you charge your battery up to 80% within an hour of plugging in—saving you a lot of time when you’re on the go.
The Latitude E6540 has a design that blends rugged strength with professional appeal, and offers a collection of features that should meet the needs of any enterprise user. The combination of a Intel Core i7-480MQ processor and AMD Radeon HD 8790M graphics card provide potent performance, and Dell’s ExpressCharge technology gives the battery appeal even if doesn’t give a full day on one charge. The Dell Latitude E6540 will be a welcome part of any business, and will do well on any enterprise user’s desk.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i7-4800MQ|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Professional|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4600|
|Type||Business, Small Business, Desktop Replacement|
|2nd Graphics Card||AMD Radeon HD 8790M|
|Processor Speed||2.7 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||500 GB|
|Storage Type||HDD, SSD|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc