If you are a business user who needs extra portability, the Dell Latitude E6230 is a good choice. It is classy, has a really nice screen, and good performance, including nine hours of battery life.
- Sleek, durable design
- Great performance
- Comfortable keyboard
- Long battery life
- Mediocre pointing stick
- Relatively heavy
- No USB 3.0 ports
Dell Latitude-branded laptops are dedicated to the most demanding businesses and largest enterprises for a reason: They’re fully loaded, with a world of options to choose from. For instance, the Dell Latitude E6230 the company’s thinnest and lightest 12.5-inch business laptop (E-Series), has every feature and component that a power user could possibly dream up, from the full range of Ivy Bridge processors to the gamut of business-oriented features.
This particular configuration runs a 4th Generation Intel Core i7-3540M Processor, a 6-cell battery (the best in its class), and integrated graphics.
The Latitude E6230 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 superior stability and durability while still looking good. It comes with Windows 7 (64-bit), but I have upgraded my unit to Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) and he experience is superb, so far.
Despite the heavy-duty construction, the laptop weighs only 3.2 pounds. Which is the lighest in the class, and way lighter than the likes of the HP Elitebook 8560W (7.1 pounds), though the physical size is the same—the Latitude E6540 measures 0.97 by 12.2 by 8.9 inches (HWD). The E6230 has pleasing aesthetics. The gun-metal gray top is made of brushed aluminum that tapers along the sides, surrounded by a light silver trim, while the base is completely black.
The interior has a similar color combination: black palm rests and aluminum trim around the keyboard. The additional orange lining around the keyboard, however, may seem like color overkill, although I didn’t find it to be an eyesore. In contrast, ThinkPads sport an all-black frame.
The 12.5-inch widescreen is intensely bright, but not as rich in colors as the one found in the HP Elitebook 8560W. Its 1,366-by-768 resolution can be upgraded to 1,600-by-900, which is well worth $80 upgrade. It’s a matte screen, the kind that doesn’t reflect light back at you.
The backlit 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.
A 6-cell battery usually means great things for battery life. Battery life is very good, is very good at 9 hours, 3 minutes. The 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro‘s battery life gives two hours more, but most other Windows laptops don’t last that long, ranging from just over 7 hours to just under 9. The 8GB of system memory is plenty for most business users, as is the 500GB solid-state drive (SSD). Thankfully, there is no bloatware on the system. The included Windows 7 (64-bit) operating system can be upgraded on the same license to Windows 10, which is a free upgrade.
The E6230 ships with a 4th Generation Intel Core i7-3540M Processor (3.0GHz Base Frequency, 3.7GHz Turbo Frequency, 3M Cache), which is based on Ivy Bridge architecture. A Core i5 option (dual-core) is available as well if a Core i7 is too fast for your liking. Performance on business applications, as you can imagine, is nothing short of spectacular. It rides past the Lenovo T410 and the HP ENVY 15-k151nr in processor-intensive tests, although the other two have yet to receive the latest Intel parts.
It turned in one of the fastest Intuit Quickbooks spreadsheet compilation scores we’ve ever had, finishing in 1 minute 25 seconds. Ivy Bridge entails a much better graphics subsystem than previous generations, so gaming on older releases is possible with the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics chipset. If you need to crank up the eye-candy or run a very 3D-intensive application, you can check the Dell Latitude E6420, of which Dell offers an upgrade path to an Nvidia NVS 4200M. This is further juiced by 8GB dual channel DDR3L SDRAM (2x4GB) at 1600MHz to multitask very smoothly, 500GB Serial ATA hard drive at 7200rpm rotating speed with rubber HDD isolation to protect from spills and bumps.
Its feature set isn’t exactly brimming with new technology, but it has the essentials for any business to run smoothly. The Latitude E6230 is equipped with 3 USB ports, one of which is a eSATA/USB combo por, and the other two are SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. There’s the legacy connectivity features such as VGA, ExpressCard, Copntactless SmartCard reader, RJ-45 Ethernet jack, Combo Headphone/Microphone jack, One HDMI port and Express Charge.
In addition to a healthy selection of ports, the Latitude E6230 is outfitted with several business-friendly features, such as embedded TPM security, and configurations with optional features, like a fingerprint scanner or SmartCard reader, Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 802.11n 2×2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, 10/100/1000.
A dock connection on the underside lets you use the Latitude E6230 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 E6230 also boasts Intel vPro technology and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.
The Bottom Line
If you are a business user who needs extra portability, the Dell Latitude E6230 is a good choice. It is classy, has a really nice screen, and good performance, including nine hours of battery life. We believe it could find a place in your business plans, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, or one that barely has 500 employees.
Its 14-inch counterpart, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330, remains our Editors’ Choice business ultrabook, as it has more battery life, more-business oriented, and has more crowd-pleasing features like a larger screen and dual pointing devices. If you’re willing to give up some of that for portability, however, the Dell Latitude E6230 will also serve you well.