Business notebooks such as the 14-inch Dell Latitude 7490 put productivity first and foremost. This machine not only offers tons of speed and a comfy keyboard that's made for epic typing sessions but also lasts nearly 9 hours on a single charge.,The Latitude 7490's battery life doesn't match that of some competitors, and its underside can get warm, but this laptop packs nearly everything you need to become your team's MVP.
The plain and simple look of the Latitude 7490 does little for me beyond saying, "Dude, you've gotten a Dell." The magnesium alloy exterior feels durable, the keyboard deck is coated in soft-touch paint and it has a woven carbon-fiber lid, which offers a grainy texture that makes the laptop feel more substantial.
Weighing 3.5 pounds and measuring 0.7 inches thick, the Latitude 7490 is heavier than the Huawei MateBook X Pro (2.9 pounds, 0.6 inches), lighter than the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 (3.6 to 4.0 pounds, with and without extended battery, respectively; 0.8 inches) and similar to the HP EliteBook 1040 G4 (3.4 pounds, 0.6 inches).
The left side houses two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI out port, a power adapter port and a Thunderbolt 3 port. Depending on your configuration, you may get a plain USB Type-C port featuring DisplayPort technology, as the Thunderbolt 3 port upgrade costs $35.
On the right side, you'll find a Noble-branded security lock slot, an Ethernet port, a third USB 3.0 port, SD and SIM readers, and a headphone jack.
The 14-inch matte touch-screen display in our Dell Latitude 7490 configuration offered solid color and crisp detail. When watching an Avengers: Infinity War trailer on the notebook, I was impressed by the vivid purple glow that lit up Gamora and the accurate reds and golds of the Dora Milaje's uniform. Also, when I paused the trailer during a flyby shot of the iconic Manhattan skyline, the 1080p panel allowed me to easily distinguish faraway skyscrapers.
According to our colorimeter, the Latitude 7490 reproduces 118 percent of the sRGB spectrum -- a measurement that rises above the 113-percent premium-notebook average. It's close to the 124-percent rating from the Huawei MateBook X Pro and the 114-percent rating from the HP EliteBook 1040 G4. The Lenovo ThinkPad T480 posted a less-colorful 77 percent.
The Latitude 7490 could stand to be brighter; it produced up to 277 nits, which falls below the 300-nit category average. The 269-nit ThinkPad T480 and the 278-nit EliteBook 1040 G4 are similarly bright, while the 458-nit MateBook X Pro is far brighter. While the Latitude 7490's matte screen helps reduce glare, the panel isn't bright enough for its colors to not invert when viewed at 30 degrees to the left and right.
The Latitude 7490's optional touch screen, which costs $189 and includes the carbon-fiber lid and improved Wi-Fi (more on that below), accurately tracked my touch as I navigated Windows 10. It also quickly registered swipe-in gestures used to navigate Windows and open the Action Center.
Security and Durability
The Dell Latitude 7490 offers plenty of security measures to please even the most demanding IT managers. Not only does it pack the additional login methods found with a smart card reader, fingerprint sensor and IR webcam for Windows Hello logins, but Intel's vPro technology allows for remote management in case your system needs tech support while you're working remotely. A FIPS 140-2 certified TPM 2.0 chip keeps sensitive data, including passwords, protected and safe.
The Latitude 7490 also passed 15 MIL-SPEC 810G tests, the same standards used to measure if equipment is durable enough for the U.S. military. That means it can be used in areas as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, survive transit through locations with extreme humidity, and endure shocks, vibrations and dust.
While all Latitudes appear equal, the 7490 is the first laptop to offer the option of an Active Steering Antenna, which Dell says improves your connection throughput by 40 percent, compared with normal Wi-Fi cards. How does it work? The card intelligently adjusts to the wireless signals around it, to decrease email latency and file-upload drops. We don't have a Wi-Fi benchmark, so we can't verify this claim.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Pointing Stick
The Dell Latitude 7490 features a comfy keyboard and plenty of input options. Testing the Latitude 7490 out on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit a rate of 72 words per minute, which isn't too far from my 80-wpm average. This speedy rate and my relative comfort were due to the deep 1.8 millimeters of travel and 69 grams of actuation force required to press the keys.
The laptop's 3.9 x 2.0-inch touchpad, which is sandwiched by pairs of left and right mouse buttons, offered accurate tracking as I navigated the desktop. It also correctly registered Windows 10's scrolling and window navigation gestures.
Smack-dab in the middle of the G, H and B keys is the black-and-blue, concave pointing stick that smoothly moves the cursor as pressure is applied. A dozen small, black dots on the nub keep your finger steady while you move the cursor.
The Dell Latitude 7490 pumps out sweet sound, enough to fill a medium-size office. As I listened to a solid reproduction of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Run Away with Me" on the notebook, I noted that her vocals sounded clear, the bass hit well and the synths sounded accurate.
The included Waves MaxxAudio Pro sound utility allows you to disable its sound-boosting presets, but I recommend you leave it as is. You'll see options for adjusting width, detail and bass, but the default settings are just right.
The Dell Latitude 7490 we tested features an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U processor and 8GB of RAM -- a combination that makes for brisk speed and solid multitasking. Splitting my screen between a 1080p YouTube video and a dozen Google Chrome tabs (including Giphy, Slack and Google Docs), I saw no stutter or pause in the video and experienced smooth scrolling in my TweetDeck columns.
The Latitude 7490 scored a high 14,458 on the Geekbench 4 general performance benchmark, which leaps over the 10,033 category average. We saw lower scores of 12,913 from the Huawei MateBook X Pro (Intel Core i7-8550U with 16GB of RAM), 12,047 from the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 (Intel Core i5-8350U with 8GB of RAM) and 13,463 from the HP EliteBook 1040 G4 (Intel Core i7-7820HQ with 16GB of RAM).
The 256GB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD in the Latitude 7490 duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 17 seconds, for a rate of 299.36 MBps. That's faster than the 277.5 MBps premium-notebook average, the 282.73 MBps from the MateBook X Pro (512GB NVMe PCIe SSD), the 267 MBps from the ThinkPad T480 (256GB NVMe PCIe SSD) and the 282.7 MBps from the EliteBook 1040 G4 (512GB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD).
The Latitude 7490 completed our Excel macro test (matching 65,000 names to addresses) in 1 minute and 19 seconds, beating the 1:41 category average. The MateBook X Pro (1:49) and the EliteBook 1040 G4 (3:01) took longer to finish the test, while the ThinkPad T480 (1:11) needed less time.
The Latitude 7490 finished our HandBrake video transcoding test (converting a 4K video to 1080p) in 21 minutes and 35 seconds, which is only slightly shorter than the 22:11 category average. The MateBook X Pro (27:18) took longer, and the ThinkPad T480 (18:09) took less time.
The integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU in the Dell Latitude 7490 pushed it to an Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test score of 87,894, which beats the 83,013 average and the 84,917 from the EliteBook 1040 G4 (Intel Integrated Graphics 630). We saw higher scores of 116,359 from the MateBook X Pro (Nvidia MX150 with 2GB of memory) and 132,991 from the ThinkPad T480 (Intel HD Graphics 620).
The Latitude 7490 ran the Dirt 3 racing game (set to medium graphics at 1080p) at 64 frames per second, which is close to the 66-fps category average. The MateBook X Pro (117 fps) and the ThinkPad T480 (117 fps) ran this game at smoother rates, while the EliteBook 1040 G4 (34 fps) hit slower clips.
The Dell Latitude 7490 offers decent battery life, but we've seen better. When running the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web browsing at 150 nits), Dell's laptop burned through its charge in 8 hours and 55 minutes, which is pretty close to the 8:50 average for premium notebooks. The Huawei MateBook X Pro (9:55) lasted an hour longer, while the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 lasted less time in the default configuration (8:07) but provided many more hours of activity with its extended battery (17:19).
The 0.9-megapixel webcam in the Dell Latitude 7490 is, unsurprisingly, average. The selfies I took in front of a window at our Midtown Manhattan office sure look like me. But there are blown-out spots from when daylight hit my face, and my sweater lacks detail.
I should note that I had to take the photo in front of the window, where I had natural light, because images taken at my desk were far darker.
The Dell Latitude 7490 gets warm, but only on the bottom . After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the notebook, our heat gun captured a temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit on the center of its underside, and up to 107 degrees closer to its hinge. Both temperatures exceed our 95-degree comfort threshold, while the readings from the touchpad (84 degrees) and keyboard (93 degrees) did not.
The Dell Latitude 7490 comes with a standard set of utilities and proprietary software if you opt for the company's encryption and threat-prevention services. Dell Command Power Manager switches from standard energy-management rules to those that optimize battery life for long-term usage, or cool or quiet conditions, so its fans and heat don't distract. SupportAssist packages system-optimization tools, a driver download section and tech support links into an easy-to-read interface.
And if you opt for Dell Encryption and Threat Prevention, you get tools for setting up security policies (a must for IT managers) and Advanced Authentication for drive encryption.
Of course, you'll see the same apps you find in all Windows PCs, such as Candy Crush Soda Saga, March of Empires: War of Lords and Autodesk SketchBook.
The Dell Latitude 7490 we tested features an 8th Gen Core i7-8650U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD, a 14.1-inch 1920 x 1080 pixels) touch screen, a Thunderbolt 3 port, ASA-equipped WLAN and the narrow border frame and carbon-fiber back. It costs a whopping $2,114.
Stripping out the touch screen and ASA perks brings the price down to a more affordable $1,869 while still giving you the same speed and storage. The entry-level, $1,049 Latitude 7490 includes a 7th Gen Core i3-7130U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. For an 8th Gen Intel CPU, pricing starts at $1,259 for the configuration with a Core i5-8250, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD.
The Dell Latitude 7490's got the speed you need (and then some), a keyboard that's comfortable enough for writing all day long and a battery that supports a full 8-hour workday. If only the display were brighter and it managed heat better.
If you need every minute of battery life you can get, the extended-battery version of the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 lasts 8 hours longer than the Latitude 7490, but its display is much less colorful. The EliteBook 1040 G4 has a brighter display, but its keyboard is mediocre. But the Latitude 7490 begs consideration, as it's a business laptop that offers practically everything you need to be productive.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag