Sterling battery life; Tough build; Three-year warranty
Sluggish boot time; Relatively thick design; No discrete graphics option
The Dell Latitude E5530 combines a solid build and top-notch battery life into a package that will attract mobile professionals.
With its heavy-duty metal chassis and long battery life, the Dell Latitude E5530 is built to soldier through physical punishment and long stretches without needing on an outlet. Starting at $499 ($1,178 as tested), this 15-inch system features a Core i5 processor, a full number pad, and a fingerprint reader. In other words, this corporate workhorse is ready for to do your bidding.
The Latitude E5530s measures 15.3 x 9.9 x 1.2 - 1.3 inches and weighs 6.4 pounds. That makes it both larger and heavier than the Lenovo ThinkPad T530, which measures 13.5 x 9.05 x 0.8 - 1.0 inches and weighed 5.4 pounds. To be fair, the E5530 sports a 9-cell battery, while the T530 we tested carried a smaller 6-cell battery, the Dell's extra thickness is noticeable.
When we watched the "Skyfall" trailer in 720p, fine details such as stray strands of hair and pieces of debris were easily visible. Colors such as the orange fire in explosions and the red bars in the British flag were a bit muted, and blacks weren't as deep as we'd like. Watching videos at 45-degree angle or greater resulted in certain darker images (such as the back of someone's head) being washed out.
The E5530's brightness registered 190 lux using light meter, which is 23 lux less than the category average, but higher than the ThinkPad T530 (166 lux).
The front of the Latitude E5530's lip contains two small speakers; when we placed the unit in our lap, music sounded noticeably muffled. When we listened to "Papa Don't Take No Mess" by James Brown, the saxophone's highs and lows were clearly audible. The same goes for Freddie Mercury's voice when we listened to "Slightly Mad" by Queen. Each note of Brian May's guitar solo in the latter tune sounded crystal clear.
Keyboard and Touchpad
On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we averaged 68 words per minute with a 2 percent error rate. Both of those are average marks for us. The keyboard is backlit and has four brightness levels, which you can switch between by holding the "Fn" key and pressing the right arrow button.
The Latitude E5530 has a pointing stick between the G and H keys. The stick is sunken, which makes it harder to navigate with than it would be if it sat higher. In general, we prefer the pointing stick on Lenovo's ThinkPads.
After running a full-screen Hulu clip for 15 minutes, the E5530's touchpad and center underside measured 88 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. The space between the G and H keys was 89 degrees. Anything over 95 degrees is uncomfortable.
It took the E5530 58 seconds to boot Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, six seconds longer than the category average (52 seconds). The ThinkPad T530, which also has a 7,200-rpm drive, loaded the same OS in a zippy 32 seconds. In our File Transfer Test, the Latitude E5530 transferred our 4.97GB test folder (made up of music, photos and videos) in 3 minutes and 6 seconds for a 27.4 MBps transfer rate. That's significantly behind both the 36MBps category average as well as the ThinkPad T530's mark of 37 MBps.
In our OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, in which we match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses, the Latitude E5530 took 4 minutes and 12 seconds to finish the task, dead even with the T530 (4:11), and nearly two minutes faster than the 5:58 category average.
Still, mainstream games will run reasonably well on the Latitude E5530. "World of Warcraft" clocked in at 60 frames per second on the "Good" setting at 1366 x 768. That's a step above the 52 fps category average and a very solid mark for a system without discrete graphics. With the game set to max, the Latitude E5530 sank to 28 frames per second, which is not quite playable.
By comparison, the ThinkPad T530 averaged 30 frames per second with the game set to Good while running at 1366 x 768, which is underwhelming. Set to max at the same resolution, the T530 cranked out 13 fps.
Security, Software and Warranty
The Latitude E5530 ships with Intel's Active Management Technology, which allows your firm's IT department to perform diagnostic scans remotely. The E5530 also has a free-fall sensor that parks the hard drive in case you drop the machine from a height of five inches or higher.
The third-generation Intel processor that the E5530 shipped with has Intel Anti-Theft Technology. In the event your notebook is stolen, your provider can send a lockdown command to your machine, which prevents others from using it. The service requires you to sign up with a service provider. A one-year subscription with Norton Anti-Theft costs $39.99 and can be used with up to three devices. LoJack subscriptions are available from $39.99 for one year to $109.99 for three years.
The fingerprint reader is easily configured through the Dell Access software. Setting up the reader requires you to create a Windows password. Unlike the T530's reader, the E5530's won't allow you to turn the system on with a single swipe.
A 30-day trial of Trend Micro Client-Server Security is also included for use with as many as three machines.
The E5530's warranty offers three years of basic hardware service supplemented by three years of limited on-site service following a remote diagnosis. See how Dell fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best & Worst Notebook Brands report
If you want to future-proof your investment, you can equip the Latitude E5530 with a 2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-3520M processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p display, an 8X DVD drive, and a 9-cell battery for $1,617.
While you can opt for a 128GB SSD ($130) as well as a 1080p display ($99), you can't configure the E5530 with a discrete GPU, which is an option on the Lenovo T530.
VerdictLenovo T530 lacks a number pad, we give the edge to that system, as it offers a discrete graphics option and better pointing stick. However, the long battery life and sturdy chassis of the E5530 makes it an attractive option.
|CPU||2.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3360M|
|Operating System||MS Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||320GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||7,200rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB|
|Ports (excluding USB)||security lock slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||ExpressCard/54|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0/eSata|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Combo Headphone/Mic Jack|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Size||5.4 x 3.1 x 1.5 inches|