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Grow Your Business Technology

Dell Latitude 13 7000 Review: Is It Good for Business?

Dell Latitude 13 7000 Review: Is It Good for Business? The Latitude 13 7000 sports a striking carbon-fiber lid. / Credit: Jeremy Lips

Dell's Latitude 13 7000 is the most compact 13-inch business laptop around. The lightweight system sports a striking edge-to-edge display, and its strong security and durability credentials are beneficial for workers. On the other hand, rival systems last longer on a charge and offer faster performance — and they do it for less money than the Latitude 13 7000, which costs $1,743.

The Latitude 13 7000's most striking feature has to be its 13-inch, edge-to-edge display. The notebook has a razor-thin bezel around the screen, which allowed Dell to fit a 13-inch display into a system about the size of an average 12-incher. 

But while the Latitude 13 7000 is small enough to slide easily in and out of your work bag, there are lighter options. Lenovo's 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs slightly less, at 2.6 lbs., though it's larger than the Latitude 13. And HP's EliteBook Folio G1 is the lightest of the bunch, at a featherweight 2.1 lbs., though it has a smaller, 12.5-inch display.

I'm a big fan of my review unit's handsome carbon-fiber lid, which has a luxurious soft-touch finish that makes the system easy to hang on to when you're carrying it around the office. But if you don't like the carbon-fiber look, you can get the Latitude 13 with a plain-black aluminum lid.

Commuters and frequent travelers will also appreciate the Latitude 13's durable design. Dell says the notebook boasts military-grade toughness and was tested to withstand dings, short drops, shocks, high altitudes and extreme temperatures. The notebook definitely felt extremely rigid and sturdy in my hands.

You also get a pretty good selection of ports. The left edge has two Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging the system, linking the notebook to a larger desktop display or connecting USB Type-C accessories. You also get a micro-HDMI port and a SIM card slot.

The right edge has an SD card reader for expanding the system's internal storage, as well as a USB 3.0 port for connecting peripherals such as a mouse or thumb drive.

The Latitude 13 offers a slew of security features to help you keep your work data locked down. You can get the system with an optional fingerprint scanner, so you can access your desktop without fussing with a password screen every time you power on the system. Unfortunately, the unit I reviewed wasn't equipped with a fingerprint scanner, so I didn't get the chance to test that feature.

You also get hardware-based encryption for your data via a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, which prevents thieves and hackers from viewing your private data. In addition, integrated Intel vPro technology will allow your company's IT department to manage and track the Latitude 13 remotely.

The Latitude 13's keyboard is good for marathon typing sessions, thanks to its relatively generous 1.53 millimeters of key travel. That's about on a par with the 1.5 mm we look for in a laptop, and above average for a notebook this slim. Deeper keyboards are better for long work sessions because they provide a more comfortable, desktop-like typing experience.

The 3.9 x 1.8-inch touchpad has a nice, smooth finish that allowed my finger to glide easily. The dedicated mouse buttons also felt good, clicking down firmly without making much noise.

The Latitude 13 is available with two different displays: a supercrisp quad-HD touch display, or a lower-res nontouch 1080p display. The higher-res option looks stunning, and makes the 13-inch screen panel feel extremely roomy, which is good for screen-intensive tasks such as editing large documents and spreadsheets, and split-screen multitasking. 

The quad-HD option has several significant downsides, though. For starters, it comes with a glossy finish that catches distracting reflections from windows and overhead office lights; the 1080p model has a matte finish that's less reflective, which could be a perk for workers. The quad-HD model is also a battery hog, so that version of the machine doesn't last as long on a charge. For those reasons, most workers probably shouldn't even consider the quad-HD model.

If you use your laptop to meet remotely with clients and colleagues, you might want to pass on the Latitude 13 7000. Because the system's razor-thin bezel doesn't leave space for a camera above the display, Dell stuck the system's webcam in the bottom-left corner instead. That means whomever you're calling will spend the entire videoconference staring at the underside of your jaw and nose — which is, frankly, awkward.

If you want the Latitude 13 to last through the end of the workday without a recharge, opt for the lower-res display: The 1080p model ran for 7 hours and 53 minutes on our battery life test, which simulates continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's long enough to get you through the average workday without a recharge, but it's still a bit below the laptop average of 8 hours and 5 minutes. The power-hungry quad-HD model, on the other hand, ran for just 6 hours and 21 minutes.

I typically hesitate to recommend a system with below-average battery life, but some rival business laptops fared even worse on the same battery test, including HP's EliteBook Folio G1 (7:02). Frequent travelers might fare better with the long-lasting Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which ran for a more solid 9 hours and 6 minutes.

For workers who want to easily trasntiion between mobile and desktop use, Dell has an integrated dock and monitor stand. I had a chance to test it out, and came away impressed by its versatility and ease of setup. The build quality feels solid, and the black and silver design is handsome.

The dock adds a slew of extra connections, including two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, and VGA and HDMI video ports to power a conencted monitor. The stand snaps easily onto the dock, and it features a standard VESA plate adapter that can connect to most monitors with a handful of screws. When paired with the Latitude 13 7000 laptop, the dock can power up to two external full-HD (1080p) monitors, or a single UHD (4K) monitor.

Overall, the dock is a sturdy and sleek addition to your work desktop, and a great option for mobile workers who want to easily pair their notebook with desktop accessores at the office.

The Latitude 13 I reviewed came with decent hardware, including an Intel Core m5-6Y57 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. That's more than good enough for everyday work tasks, though I did experience a bit of lag during heavy multitasking. I tried editing a large spreadsheet with about a dozen tabs open in my Firefox web browser, including one streaming HD video, and occasionally had to wait a moment when switching between windows and tabs, or while scrolling down web pages.

The system racked up a score of 4,891 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures a system's overall performance. That's decent but lags behind the ultraportable laptop average of 5,034. Both the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6,828) and the HP EliteBook Folio G1 (6,706) fared significantly better on the same test.

The Latitude 13 7000 also showed middling performance on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in 6 minutes and 56 seconds. While that's faster than the average score for ultraportable notebooks (7 minutes and 20 seconds), rival systems were even quicker: Both the EliteBook Folio G1 and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon finished in about 4 minutes and 20 seconds.

Dell sells the Latitude 13 7000 in a handful of hardware configurations. The base model is equipped with a low-power Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor with 4GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage and a 1080p display, and costs $1,299.

But workers will be better off with the more capable midrange model, which has a speedier Intel Core m5-6Y57 processor with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage and a nontouch 1080p display, and costs $1,743.

The quad-HD model has a higher-res 3200 x 1800-pixel touch display but is otherwise identical to the midrange model. It costs $2,270, and isn't recommended for business users due to its short battery life.

The Dell Latitude 13 7000 is a slim, sleek work notebook with a striking design. Commuters will love that Dell was able to pack a 13-inch display into a system the size of an average 12-incher, thanks to the Latitude 13's edge-to-edge display. Its strong security and durability credentials are also big perks for workers. And when you opt for the 1080p model ($1,743), you get decent battery life.

On the other hand, rival notebooks offer longer battery life and faster performance for less money. And the Latitude 13's awkward webcam placement might be a deal breaker if videoconferencing is a regular part of your job.

HP's 12.5-inch EliteBook Folio G1 is a strong alternative, offering faster performance, a more portable design and an even better keyboard. Most importantly, it costs just $1,235 when configured similarly to the 1080p Latitude 13, for a savings of more than $500. In comparison, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon provides a larger, 14-inch display and stronger performance and battery life for $1,449, but it's not as portable as the Latitude 13. Still, the Latitude 13 7000 isn't a bad option if you want the most compact 13-inch business notebook on the market and you're willing to pay for it.

Brett Nuckles
Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.