After Dell had released the slim Latitude 7400 2-in-1, we hoped to see wholesale changes across its stale lineup of business laptops. Unfortunately, the clamshell Dell Latitude 5400 (starting at $819; revised at $1,625) didn’t get the same love. This business laptop has a dull chassis that can’t claim to be slimmer or lighter than its peers, and its dim 14-inch, 1080p touch screen display is a disappointment. This is our Dell Latitude 5400 Review.
And yet, if you want a new business laptop (or even a touch of them), the Latitude 5400 should be on your list, thanks to its fast performance, excellent battery life, and impressive feature set. We still recommend other laptops, like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, over the Latitude 5400, so this Dell laptop isn’t the best option for business laptops.
Dell Latitude 5400 Review – Design
The Dell Latitude 5400 is the khaki pants and garment for business laptops. Its innocent appearance will not attract attention in an office environment, just as it will not receive compliments from office people. My problem is that the laptop has worn the same clothing for too long. It’s time for a new wardrobe. I see the changes Dell has made to the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 and regret the all too familiar design of the Latitude.
Until it gets the same facelift design, the Latitude will continue to wear a simple slate grey plastic chassis design with a chrome Dell logo stamped on the center of the lid. Open the lid, and you’ll see more of the same plastic material, which feels solid but is far from high quality. Dell earns props for keeping the Latitude 5400’s bezels relatively thin, although the top edge is quite thick (for an IR camera). On that top edge is a small button that slides over the webcam. It is an inelegant solution, but an effective one.
It is not made of metal, but the Latitude 5400 is a durable machine that can withstand extreme conditions. The laptop has passed 17 MIL-STD 810G tests, which means it can withstand high temperatures, exposure to sand and dust, and multiple drops, in addition to other conditions that would kill an ordinary laptop. To further protect the Latitude from cyber attacks, Dell offers a comprehensive range of security software, like the optional Data Security and Management app to Dell’s Endpoint Security Suite Enterprise and Data Guardian.
The Latitude 5400 features all the ports you need to charge devices, connect to monitors, and transfer files. On the left side of the Dell Latitude 5400, there is an optional Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.1 Type-A input, and a DC input. Our rating unit is not supplied with the optional SmartCard reader. On the right side of the laptop, there is a microSD card reader, a SIM card tray, a microphone/headphone jack, two more USB 3.1 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, an RJ-45 Ethernet and a Noble lock slot.
Keyboard and TouchPad
A spicy backlit keyboard is one of my favorite things about the Latitude 5400. Jumping keys with decent travel made writing this review comfortable for my fingers. Not only did I never reach the bottom, but there was also a heavy tactile click with every keystroke that I appreciated. I still prefer the big, curved keys and lower control force of Lenovo’s ThinkPad keyboards, but Dell isn’t too far behind. The Latitude 5400’s 4 x 2.2-inch touchpad also responded quickly to swipe and gestures, including pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling.
Just below the surface are discreet left and right-clicking buttons that feel good, although it would be nice to have integrated buttons as well. In the center (between G and H keys) of the keyboard is a small black pointer for those who prefer to use a rubber note instead of a touchpad. Although I don’t usually use the pointing stick, I thought the function worked well. I had no problem moving my cursor while keeping my hands on the home keys.
Dell Latitude 5400 Review – Display
If you are going to buy the Latitude 5400 for your employees, make sure you also buy a monitor for them. The laptop’s 14-inch, 1080p matte touchscreen is weak and not very colorful, although not necessarily; if you are filling spreadsheets or creating slides, this detailed screen is beautiful to use. For something else – watching videos, editing photos, etc. – look elsewhere.
In a trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic’s CGI body was bright enough on the screen of the Latitude 5400 that I could see individual hair strands on the fast hedgehog. Still, its iconic blue coat and emerald green eyes didn’t pop as I had hoped. The matte finish of the screen reduced the reflections, but the panel looked a bit dim, even with the brightness turned up.
I had no problems with the Latitude 5400’s touch screen to navigate the web or use the on-screen keyboard to enter URLs. However, the Latitude 5400 is not 2-in-1 and has no stylus, so the functionality of the touch screen is limited. According to our colorimeter, the Latitude 5400’s screen only covers 62.1% of the sRGB color gamut, making it duller than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (109%), TravelMate P6 (113%) and average premium laptop (124%) screens.
Not only is it less colorful than competitors, but the screen of the Dell Latitude 5400, which max at just 228 nits, is also much darker. The displays on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (336 nits), the Acer TravelMate P6 (299 nits), and the average premium laptop (359 nits) are significantly brighter.
With integrated Intel’s UHD 620 graphics, the Latitude 5400 is not intended for playing games at high graphics settings or running animation heavy programs. On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark test, the Latitude 5400 scored an 84,709, placing it just ahead of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (81,350), but far behind the Acer TravelMate P6 (98,034) and the laptop category average (93,525).
The bottom speakers on the Latitude 5400 aren’t great, but they get loud enough to fill a medium-sized room. When I listened to the single “Rut” by The Killers, Brandon Flower’s vocals sounded bright and clear until the instruments came into play. Muddy drums and splashing cymbals bled in the midrange and darkened the vocals. If you listen to indie or classical, this won’t be a problem, but the Latitude struggles with more complicated settings in rock and techno music.
Dell Latitude 5400 Review – Performance
I was impressed by how fast Dell’s Latitude 5400 was in the daily tests. The laptop had no issues loading 15 Google Chrome tabs, two of which played 1080p video while another couple streamed full-HD videos on Twitch and Mixer. With all that going on, I pulled up a few reviews of The Mandalorian and read the generally positive result without any delay.
That strong real-world performance was decent on our benchmark tests. With a score of 15,307 on the Geekbench 4 performance test, the Latitude 5400 almost matched the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (15,649, Core i5, 8265U) and the premium laptop category average (15,726), but edged out the Acer TravelMate P6 (13,402).
The 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Class, 35 SSD in our Latitude 5400, showed its speed by duplicating 4.97GB of mixed multimedia files in 12 seconds at a rate of 424.1 MBps. That’s quite a result, but the hard drives in the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (424.1 MBps, 256 GB SSD), the TravelMate P6 (462.7 MBps, 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD) and the category average of the premium laptop (762.4 MBps) are just as fast or even faster.
Dell Latitude 5400 Review – Battery Life
Sign the Latitude 5400 for the marathon, because this laptop has serious stamina. With a running time of 13 hours and 19 minutes on our battery test (with continuous Wi-Fi surfing at 150 nits), the Dell Latitude 5400 lasted longer on a charge than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9:30), the Acer TravelMate P6 (7:34) and the premium laptop category average (8:25). This is one of the best battery life that we have seen on any laptop.
Don’t worry about carrying out a heavy workload on the Latitude 5400; the laptop stays cool even when pushed to the limit. After playing a 15-minute, 1080p YouTube video, the Latitude 5400’s touchpad warmed up to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and the middle of the keyboard (87 degrees). At the same time, the bottom panel (95 degrees) also stayed at or below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees.
Price and Configuration Options
The Latitude 5400 starts at $819 for a basic model with a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 HD display along with an Intel’s Core i3-8145U CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB, 7200-rpm SATA hard drive. You must skip that model and spend at least $1,179 for a mid-size model with a 1080p Full-HD display, Intel’s Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD.
Our $1,625 review unit features a Core i5-8365U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, along with some optional extras such as a Thunderbolt 3-port, fingerprint sensor, IR camera, and Wi-Fi 6. If you require the most power, a high-end model with an Intel’s Core i7-8665U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB of SSD cost $1,819.
Dell Latitude 5400 Review – Conclusion
With a durable chassis, fast performance, and an abundance of safety features, the Latitude 5400 is well suited for business use. It even offers a comfortable keyboard and long battery life for those who travel frequently. But a weak, dull screen and a plastic body prevent the notebook from being a recommended device for use outside the office. For a better overall laptop, we always recommend the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (one of the best business laptops), which puts everything we like about the Latitude 5400 into a slim case and adds a beautiful display on top. Overall, the Dell Latitude 5400 is a reliable business laptop that doesn’t do much to stand out from the pack.
The long battery life and strong performance make the Latitude 5400 a good business laptop, despite the faint design and weak display.
- Durable chassis
- Very long battery life
- Clicky keyboard
- Lots of security features
- Bland design
- A dull, dim display