Dell's Latitude 15 3000 delivers a pretty good bang for your buck. The 15.5-inch business laptop pairs zippy performance with a durable design and strong security. It also offers epic battery life with the optional extended battery attached. Its shallow keyboard isn't ideal for marathon typing sessions, though, and its hefty design isn't particularly commuter-friendly. Still, the Latitude 15 3000 (starts at $449; tested at $1,028) is solid for the money.
Commuters won't be thrilled by the Latitude 15's relatively bulky design. The system measures 0.92 inches thick and weighs 4.5 lbs., making it both thicker and heftier than rivals such as the HP EliteBook 745 G3 (0.74 inches, 3.4 lbs.) and the Lenovo ThinkPad T460 (0.83 inches, 3.8 lbs.). And it's even thicker and heavier with the extended battery attached, measuring 1.73 inches thick on one end and tipping the whole system's scales at 5 lbs.
The Latitude 15 3000's plastic design feels rigid and durable, without any noticeable flex in the lid or keyboard deck. Dell says it boasts MIL-SPEC-810 durability credentials, which means it was tested to withstand extreme temperatures, shocks and vibrations. That's a perk for workers who need to lug it back and forth between home and the office.
The Latitude 15 3000 has most of the ports that business users need. The Latitude 15's left edge includes two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port and an HDMI port.
The left edge adds a USB 2.0 port, a VGA video-out port and an SD card slot for expanding the system's 128GB of internal storage. There's no USB Type-C port — an omission typical for laptops in this price range, but a bit disappointing nonetheless. In the next few years, USB Type-C is set to become the new standard for connecting PC accessories.
The Latitude 15 3000 can be ordered with enterprise-level security. For starters, all models are outfitted with a TCG-certified Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for data encryption. A fingerprint reader can also be added for an additional $14; my review unit didn't come with that feature, though, so I didn't test its reliability.
Finally, all models with an Intel Core i5-6300U processor or better have vPro functionality, which IT departments can use for secure remote management.
The Latitude 15 3000's biggest weakness is its keyboard, which isn't very comfortable to type on for long. The keys are just too shallow, with about 1.15 millimeters of key travel on each stroke. That's less than the 1.5 mm we consider the minimum for a work laptop. Plus, the keyboard feels a bit mushy, without enough tactile feedback on each keystroke. This isn't the machine for workers who type all day long.
I wasn't particularly impressed by the Latitude 15 3000's display, either. My review unit came with a 15.5-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display, which produces crisp images and is more than roomy enough for serious multitasking.
On the other hand, colors looked dull and washed out. And, topping out at 205 nits of brightness, the Latitude 15's display is a bit on the dim side (246 nits is average). It's more than bright enough for typical indoor use, but a brighter display would have been better for working outdoors or in direct sunlight.
While my review unit came with a 1080p display, you can also buy the Latitude 15 3000 with a lower-res 1366 x 768-pixel display. Workers should steer clear of that option, though, as a low-res display makes multitasking a pain.
The Latitude will easily last through the end of the workday and beyond — at least if you opt for the extended 6-cell battery. With that accessory attached, the system lasted an impressive 10 hours and 25 minutes on our battery life test, which simulates continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's nearly double the average runtime (5:54) for mainstream laptops. It also blows away rivals such as the Toshiba Tecra A40-C (6:44) and the HP EliteBook 745 (5:54).
However, Lenovo's ThinkPad T460 is still the battery-life champ in this notebook category, though. That system ran for an epic 13 hours and 12 minutes with its own extended 6-cell battery attached. With the stock three-cell battery, though, it lasted a more ordinary 6 hours and 40 minutes.
Everyday work tasks are a breeze on the Latitude 15 3000. My review unit came with a capable Intel Core i7-6500U processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. That configuration allowed the system to speed along smoothly during heavy multitasking, without experiencing any noticeable hiccups while I switched between tasks.
The system racked up a solid score of 6,452 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. That's pretty good for the price, but it trails the Core i5-equipped ThinkPad T460 (6,708) a bit.
The Latitude 15 also fared well on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in just 4 minutes and 7 seconds. That edges out the ThinkPad T460 (4:13) and the Tecra A40-C (4:30), and it blows away the EliteBook 745 (6:36).
Dell sells the Latitude 15 3000 in a wide range of hardware configurations. The baseline model gives you an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, a three-cell battery and a 1366 x 768-pixel display, all for $449.
The midrange model is a much better sweet spot for the average worker. It includes a speedier Intel Core i5 processor but is otherwise identical to the base model. It costs $599.
My decked-out review model came with pricier components, including a Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a 1080p display and the six-cell extended battery, for a total price of $1,023.
When purchased through Dell.com, the Latitude 15 is highly customizable. For example, a fingerprint scanner can be added to any model for $14, and the display can be upgraded to 1080p for $70.
Dell's Latitude 15 3000 is a solid work companion at a reasonable price. It provides speedy performance, solid security options and a durable design. Plus, its long-lasting battery will endure through your longest business flights.
On the other hand, the system's chunky design means it's not very commuter-friendly in practice. Plus, its shallow keyboard just isn't very comfortable to type on, and its display is a bit on the dull side. If you're willing to pay a bit more, consider Lenovo's ThinkPad T460, which offers a nicer keyboard, a more vibrant display and a sleeker design for about $300 more. Budget-minded workers, however, should at least give the Latitude 15 3000 a look.