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Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 review: ThinkPad killer

Fast performance, an excellent QHD+ display and long battery life elevate the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 above its capable peers.

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

Dell's Latitude 9420 2-in-1 is a top convertible business laptop that offers fast performance, a gorgeous 16:10 display and long battery life in a slim, but durable chassis.

For

  • Slim, but durable chassis
  • Fantastic QHD+ 16:10 display
  • Fast performance
  • Epic battery life
  • Good quad speakers

Against

  • Subpar 720p webcam
  • Stylus costs extra
  • Not the lightest option
  • Uninspired styling
  • Pricey
Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 specs

Price: $2,902 (as reviewed)
CPU: Intel Core i7-1185G7
GPU: Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Class 35 SSD
Display: 14-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel 16:10
Battery: 15:02
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.1
Size: 12.2 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 3.2 pounds 

It doesn't seem fair how many of the best laptops are made for business users, not everyday consumers like you and me. That doesn't mean you can't buy them, but they tend to be expensive and have features not everyone needs (like a vPro CPU). Take Lenovo's ThinkPads and HP's EliteBooks — these are some of the top-rated notebooks we've tested. Now there is another laptop to be jealous of in Dell's latest flagship enterprise model: the Latitude 9420 2-in-1. 

This is as close to a "no-compromise laptop" as I've seen. Few rivals are as versatile and feature-filled as the Latitude 9420 2-in-1, which flaunts a gorgeous 14-inch QHD+ 16:10 display in a slim and lightweight chassis. Performance is excellent thanks to 11th Gen Intel chips, and innovative security features will give you peace of mind that your privacy is protected.   

The Latitude 9420 2-in-1 has a few shortcomings, namely its hefty price, but it is undoubtedly among the best 2-in-1 laptops and best business laptops you, or your IT team, can purchase. 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 price and configurations 

Starting at $2,039, the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 is a premium business laptop for firms with large budgets. For that price, the base model ships with an FHD+ (1920x1200-pixel) display along with a Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. 

Spending another $100 upgrades you to a Core i5-1145G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. A higher-end model with a QHD+ (2560 x 1600-pixel) display and a more powerful Core i7-1185G7 CPU goes for $2,739. 

Our QHD+ touchscreen model costs $2,902 and flaunts a Core i7-1185G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a few extras, including a fingerprint sensor.

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 design 

Finally, a Latitude with some attitude. 

Slim and sleek, the Latitude 9420 is elevated by luxurious diamond-cut edges and chrome trim. Those elements give this laptop the sophistication needed for execs flying business class. They don't, unfortunately, create the "Wow factor" Dell entrusts to its XPS line. 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

When closed, the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 matches its anonymous predecessors. The lid has a been-there-done-that gunmetal gray finish with fine horizontal striations. Centered on the ridges is a chrome Dell logo. 

Opening the laptop reveals a few welcome surprises. What first caught my eye is the fingerprint sensor. Square in shape, the small pad (which doubles as the power button) is framed with attractive LED lighting. Flanking the keyboard on each side are top-firing speakers above which you'll find dual chrome hinges for transforming this 2-in-1 laptop into a tablet. The lid stayed put when I tapped aggressively on the touchscreen, and rotating the screen backward requires just the right amount of force. 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Bordering the 14-inch display are thin bezels. This time, Dell took a chisel to all four sides, resulting in a true edge-to-edge viewing experience. Another nice touch is the notch carved out of the front edge, which makes it easy to open the lid with one finger. There is also a small battery indicator LED hidden on the front edge of this Latitude. 

The Latitude still lacks personality. It feels every bit as premium as the price suggests, but the predictable colors and materials ensure it'll (for better or worse) fade into the background against the likes of the HP Elite Dragonfly or ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Making up for the bland design is the laptop's portability. At 12.2 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches and 3.2 pounds, the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 is thinner, but slightly heavier than the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 (12.6 x 7.9 x 0.7 inches, 2.9 pounds), Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (12.3 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches, 3 pounds), and last year's Dell Latitude 9410 2-in-1 (12.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches, 3 pounds). 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 security and durability 

Keeping your system secure from evasive intruders is a fingerprint scanner located in the top-right corner of the keyboard. It's easy to enable and works well. Once set up, logging into the Latitude 9420 is as easy as moving your finger — print recognition and system login are instant. If "instant" is too slow, the optional IR camera logged me in swiftly via Windows Hello, no finger lifting required.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Don't worry, the Latitude 9420 comes with a TPM 2.0 chip and will be upgradable to Windows 11 when the next-gen OS arrives. More importantly, it protects encryption keys and credentials so attackers can't access your data.

The Latitude is as protected on the outside as it is on the inside. The laptop survived 13 MIL-STD-810G tests, including those for high altitude, extreme temperatures and drops. 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 ports 

One reason I brought the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 on my vacation to Mexico was for its variety of ports.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

I connected the laptop to my hotel room TV via HDMI while charging my phone using one of the two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left side. Also on that edge is a microSD card slot, a headphone jack and a security lock. 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Alone on the right edge is a USB 3.2 Type-A port for connecting a mouse, external keyboard or webcam. 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 display 

There are two display options: a 14-inch, FHD+ (1920 x 1200-pixel) non-touch panel and a 14-inch, QHD+ (2560 x 1600-pixel) touchscreen found on our review unit.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Deciding between display options typically means getting an optimal viewing experience at the detriment of battery life or vice versa. Miraculously, that isn't the case with the QHD+ display. Battery life specifics are below, but the TL;DR is to expect all-day endurance and then some. As for the picture quality? It's fantastic. Bright, colorful and vivid, I thoroughly enjoyed watching movies, sports and YouTube videos on the Latitude 9420 2-in-1. Going against my usual advice: splurge on the higher-res panel if you can. 

I marveled at the joyous colors flown at the Euro 2020 tournament as fans supported their teams and countries in the match between England and Denmark. Details were crisp; I could easily spot the ball as well as the smallest movements and touches from even speedy players like Raheem Sterling. After the game, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Japan while watching the third season of Cobra Kai. The lush green hills of Okinawa popped off the glistening sapphire ocean. 

Photo by Phillip Tracy (Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Our display testing showed how much better this QHD+ screen is than the base displays on competing business laptops. The Latitude 9420 2-in-1 covers 89% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, making it more colorful than those on the EliteBook x360 1040 G7 (76%), ThinkPad X1 Yoga (71%) and last year's Latitude 9420 (78%). The category average is 83%. 

Reaching 477 nits of brightness, the Latitude 9420 2-on-1's screen can easily be used outside on a bright day. The Latitude outshone each of its competitors, including the EliteBook x360 1040 G7 (344 nits), ThinkPad X1 Yoga (351 nits), Latitude 9410 (287 nits) and the average (387 nits). 

Before I move on, I'd like to shout out Dell for including display tech designed to reduce harmful blue light. These "ComfortView Plus" panels shift the color wavelength away from the "toxic" blue light range. As someone who suffers from eye strain, this is a perk that could convince me to buy a Latitude over competing laptops that lack a similar feature.

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 keyboard and touchpad 

The keyboard is underwhelming when compared to the rest of the laptop. It's good! It reminds me of the keyboard on my XPS 15, but with more travel and slightly bouncier keys. The Latitude isn't as satisfying to type on as, say, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon or EliteBook 1040 G7. 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

What bothers me is that it's such a basic keyboard on such standout hardware. The chassis is slim and durable, the display is fantastic, there are tons of ports, then I get to the keyboard and all I can do is shrug. In its defense, the keys (especially the shortcut keys), are spaced nicely and there is a tactile click when you hit the actuation point, although they are somewhat small (especially the shortcut keys). I also appreciate the mute and webcam off/on keys on the top row. 

I typed at a speedy 117 words per minute with a 94% accuracy rate on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is quicker than my 109-wpm average.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Dell expanded the Latitude's touchpad to 4.6 x 2.9 inches, making it tall and wide enough for fat-fingered users to execute Windows 10 gestures without brushing the edges. The glass surface is silky smooth, letting me make precise movements with the cursor. 

At this price, I would have liked Dell to include a stylus for its flagship business convertible. Instead, customers can spend $74 extra for the Dell Premium Active Pen if they wish to scribble notes or draw without smudging that gorgeous display. 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 audio 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Quad speakers — two top and two down-firing — deliver good sound quality and get loud enough to fill a home office. When listening to slenderbodies' "Focus," the hushed vocals and complex electronic tones were crisp. Unfortunately, the treble suffered from some piercing hi-hats that sounded tinny against the pleasantly weighty midrange and bass. José González's beautiful acoustic cover of "Heartbeats" was delicately balanced, the strumming of guitar wove between solemn vocals. And when I listened to the original version from The Knife, the electric bass tones were thumping. 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 performance 

The Latitude 9420 2-in-1 slowed down during my testing only once: when I uploaded 40-something 24-megapixel photos into Affinity Photo. That's an extremely demanding task, and although the Latitude's heart skipped a few beats, the photos I snapped on my Cancun vacation with my Nikon Z6 came to life after about a 30-second delay. Every other workload was handled with ease by the system's Core i7-1185G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM. Loading multiple YouTube videos, keeping dozens of Google Chrome tabs open, and streaming Euro 2020 matches were a walk in the park for this premium business laptop.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

On the Geekbench 5.3 overall performance benchmark, the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 scored 6,037e, topping the EliteBook x360 1040 G7 (4,041, Core i7-10810U), ThinkPad X1 Yoga (5,447, Core i7-1165G7), Latitude 9410 2-in-1 (3,726, Core i7-10610U) and the premium average (4,615). 

It took the Latitude 13 minutes and 35 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution using the Handbrake app. That's quicker than the EliteBook x360 1040 (16:25), Thinkpad X1 Yoga (13:50), Latitude 9410 2-in-1 (19:09) and the premium laptop average (15:56). 

If there's a low point, the Latitude's 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Class 35 SSD is on the slow side, needing 1 minute and 7 seconds to duplicate 25GB of multimedia files at a rate of 401.9 megabytes per second. The competitors, including the EliteBook x360 (439.2 MBps, 512GB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD), the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (531.3 MBps, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD), the Latitude 9410 2-in-1 (767.1 MBps, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Class 35 SSD) and the premium laptop average (614.5 MBps), were all quicker. 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 graphics 

Intel Iris Xe graphics gives the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 a serious boost over the previous model. You won't be ray-tracing your way through a new AAA title on Ultra settings (for that, you need a gaming laptop) but multimedia tasks and lightweight gaming won't be a problem.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

The Latitude scored a 5,258 on the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, crushing the EliteBook x360 1040 (1,229, UHD), Latitude 9410 2-in-1 (3,726, UHD), and edging out the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (5,447, Iris Xe). The average is 4,615, well below what the Latitude 9420 achieved.

Our real-world testing was trickier for the Latitude 9420 2-in-1, which played Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm at 23 frames per second. That is below our 30-fps playability threshold, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (34 fps) and the average (28 fps). For what it's worth, the Latitude 9410 (11 fps) did terribly.

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 battery life 

"Are you sure about this?" I almost asked our lab testers before I saw that we'd already re-run our battery test. What had me doubting the result? The Latitude 9420 2-in-1, with a QHD+ display, lasted for 15 hours and 2 minutes on our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits. This is one of the most impressive runtimes ever after factoring in the high-res panel, which is often a battery-sapping "upgrade."

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

The fight to be battery life king is competitive in this category; that is, business laptops tend to do well on our runtime test — more so than consumer models. Still, the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 held its own, lasting longer than the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (14:45) and premium average (10:56), but falling short of the EliteBook x360 1040 (15:45) and Latitude 9410 2-in-1 (16:54). 

I can attest to our runtimes; the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 stayed powered through an entire workday and let me binge-watch Cobra Kai on vacation before needing a charge.

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 webcam 

The best thing about the Latitude's webcam is that you can turn it off. Seriously though, the world's first automatic webcam shutter knows when you're entering and exiting a video chat and opens and closes on its own.

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Jump into a Zoom meeting and the slider covering the webcam moves out of the way. End the call and the webcam cover reappears. The shutter worked brilliantly in my testing, but if you prefer to take privacy into your own hands, you can manually disable the camera using the F9 shortcut.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

As for the picture quality, it's still not great even with Temporal Noise Reduction smoothing grainy areas. My face was a blurry mess in a selfie I snapped with the 720p webcam. Instead of individual strands of hair, my beard was a dark blob and a candle in the background looked as if it had been painted with watercolors. It's not all bad; colors were accurate and the four noise-canceling mics were sensitive enough to capture the timber in my voice. Still, if it were up to me, I'd use an external webcam as much as possible. 

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 heat 

Graphene paint, two heat pipes, and a dual vent system for maximum airflow keep the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 cool under a heavy workload. The touchpad warmed to only 83 degrees Fahrenheit while the keyboard hit 89 degrees after we played a 15-minute YouTube video. Both temps are well below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The only area to breach that mark was the underside, though the 98 degrees it reached isn't anything to be too worried about.  

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 software and warranty 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Dell keeps the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 free from bloatware. There are a few Dell apps on its Windows 10 Pro OS including Optimizer, which lets you choose apps you want the system to prioritize. Within this app, you can change power settings, pick audio modes and maximum network bandwidth. Another useful app is the Dell Power Manager where you can change thermal settings and extend the life of your battery. 

The Latitude 9420 2-in-1 comes with a three-year warranty with next-business-day, on-site service. See how Dell fared in our Tech support showdown and Best and worst brands special reports. 

Bottom line 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

This was nearly a 5-star review. Only the lofty price, subpar webcam and stylus omission prevent the Latitude 9430 2-in-1 from standing hands-and-shoulder over some tough competitors. It should be said that these are relatively minor complaints. 

There are three standout portable business convertibles on the market today: this Latitude 9420 2-in-1, the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (I'm excluding the ultra-portable Elite Dragonfly and ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga). Choosing between them may be difficult, but this really is a you-can't-go-wrong scenario. If you use a stylus, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is probably your best choice given the included pen and garage slot. The EliteBook 1040 G7 is another excellent choice for its stunning design, but I'd wait for the next model for the CPU and graphics boost. 

If I had to choose between these today, I'd go with the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 with the QHD+ display. It's rare to get such a gorgeous, high-res panel without sacrificing battery life. Moreover, Dell's premium business notebook has fast all-around performance, good speakers and plenty of useful security features, including an automatic webcam shutter. These qualities combine to make the Latitude 9420 2-in-1 our top pick for the best premium business 2-in-1 laptop.

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.