Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. Our process

‘ZDNet Recommends’ What exactly does that mean?

ZDNet’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of YOU, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form

Close

Dell Latitude 9420 review: A sleek 14-inch ultraportable with versatile 2-in-1 design

dell-latitude-9420-2-in-1-header.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent

Pros

  • Slim, lightweight 14-inch laptop
  • 360-degree rotating screen
  • High-quality QHD+ display, good speakers
  • Mobile broadband (4G LTE or 5G) option
  • 3-year on-site warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Battery life could be better
  • 720p webcam

CES in January saw Dell announcing updates to its stylish, portable, business-focussed Latitude range. It's taken a little while for these new products to become available for review, but the timing couldn't be better as models such as the versatile Latitude 9420 are tailor-made for hybrid working and the gradual return to less restrictive working practices.

Pricing & options 

Dell's model numbering system is a little confusing, as the 'Latitude 9420' name actually refers to two distinct products. The two models do look very similar, with the same silvery-grey metallic casing, and 14-inch screen size, but there are numerous differences. The most affordable version of the Latitude 9420 has a conventional clamshell design, and starts at £1,405 (ex. VAT; £1,806.12 inc. VAT, or $2,039) with an 11th generation Core i5 processor, FHD+ (1920x1200) non-touch display and Windows 10 Pro. 

dell-latitude-9420-2-in-1-main.jpg

Dell's Latitude 9420 2-in-1 runs on 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with integrated Iris Xe Graphics, 8GB-32GB of RAM and 256GB-1TB of SSD storage. Mobile broadband (4G LTE or 5G) is available as an option.

Image: Dell

However, we reviewed a more expensive model, which has convertible 2-in-1 design with a touch screen display that folds right back, allowing you to hold it in your hands like a tablet, or to stand it up on a desk with the screen facing away from you for presentations with an audience. 

The default 2-in-1 'build your own' configuration Latitude 9420 configuration in the UK runs Windows 10 Pro on a Core i7-1185G7 vPro processor (3.0GHz, up to 4.8GHz with TurboBoost) with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD and a QHD+ (2560x1600, 215.6dpi, 16:10) touch screen. This currently costs £1,854.45 (ex. VAT, or £2,225.34 inc. VAT, or $2,879 in the US). 

SEE: Windows 10 Start menu hacks (TechRepublic Premium)

You can downgrade the processor to a Core i5 (1145G7 with vPro, or 1135G7) for £109.85 or $144.95 (ex. VAT) less respectively, or boost the RAM to 32GB (+£192.40 ex. VAT), storage to 1TB (+£130 ex. VAT), and add mobile broadband, which costs from £180.05 (ex. VAT) for 4G LTE up to £365.30 (ex. VAT) for 5G.

Design & features 

Top ZDNET Reviews

The silver-grey aluminium casing of the Latitude 9420 looks rather reminiscent of Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro, and it's not much larger either, as Dell has done a good job of streamlining the design to keep the size and weight as low as possible. The Latitude 9420's 14-inch display has only narrow borders around the edges, keeping the overall size down to just 310.6mm wide, 215.2mm deep and 8.2mm-14mm thick. The screen to body ratio is 85.1%. 

Dell quotes a 'starting weight' of 1.33kg, which probably refers to the non-convertible model; our 2-in-1 review unit weighed in at 1.4kg. Even so, that's still the same weight as the 13-inch MacBook Pro, so the Latitude 9420 is still a highly portable 14-inch device. 

The QHD+ (2560x1600, 215.6dpi) touch screen is sharp, bright and colourful, and well suited to web browsing and streaming video, while the four internal speakers -- two top-firing, two bottom-firing -- produce impressively full sound. The display supports 100% of the sRGB colour standard, making it suitable for simple photo or video editing, although the use of integrated Iris Xe graphics and lack of support for Adobe sRGB or DCI-P3 make it clear that the Latitude 9420 isn't aimed at creative users. 

dell-latitude-9420-2-in-1-keyboard.jpg

The backlit keyboard uses the F4 and F9 keys to toggle the webcam shutter and mute the (quad) microphone array respectively.

Image: Dell

This laptop is well suited to office work though, with a comfortable, responsive keyboard and large trackpad that responds to a light tap, but can also respond to a firmer touch with a satisfying 'click' if you prefer that additional tactile feedback.  

The Latitude 9420 is also well connected for such a lightweight laptop, with two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports (with Power Delivery and DisplayPort) as well as one HDMI 2.0 port. There's also a USB 3.2 port, a MicroSD card reader, a 3.5mm audio jack for both audio in and out, and a slot for a mobile broadband SIM. A fingerprint sensor provides additional security, and Dell pays good attention to detail with an automatic SafeShutter for the webcam and a quick-mute option for the internal microphones -- both of which can be quickly activated using the F4 and F9 keys. However, the relatively modest 720p webcam is a little disappointing for a laptop in this price range. The Latitude 9420 also supports the new Wi-Fi 6E (which adds a 6GHz band to 802.11ax's 5GHz and 2.4GHz), and Bluetooth 5.2. 

dell-latitude-9420-2-in-1-sides.jpg

Latitude 9420 ports: USB 3.2 (right side); HDMI 2.0, 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4 (with Power Delivery and DisplayPort), optional nano-SIM card slot, MicroSD card slot, 3.5mm audio in/out jack (left side).

Image: Dell

And, of course, there's the convertible 2-in-1 design. Admittedly, the Latitude 9420 is a little large and heavy to use in tablet mode for long periods, but tablet mode will still be useful while you're travelling, and the flexible screen options work well for presentations, video calls, or simply for after-hours video streaming. All Latitude 9420 models also include a three-year warranty with next-day, on-site support, which will provide peace of mind for business users. 

Performance 

The Latitude 9420's quad-core Core i7-1185G7 processor delivers very respectable mid-range performance, with Geekbench 5 scores of 1580 (single core) and 6000 (multi core), which isn't that far behind the 7,700 multi-core performance of Dell's Core i9-based Precision 5750 mobile workstation. That will certainly allow the Latitude 9420 to run general office productivity software with no trouble at all, and also to handle mainstream photo- and video-editing.  

The Latitude 9420 doesn't benefit from a discrete GPU as the Precision 5750 does, but its integrated Iris Xe does manage 90fps in the Cinebench R15 OpenGL test, although it drops to 16fps in the more demanding Unigine Valley benchmark.  

The one area that does leave some room for improvement is battery life. Dell's website states that the Latitude 9420 is equipped with "our most powerful battery" -- yet studiously avoids any battery life claim for the 60Wh unit. Even with the screen turned down to 50%, which remained perfectly clear and visible, the Latitude 9420 could only manage seven hours and five minutes when streaming video from the BBC iPlayer. Lighter use of Wi-Fi should allow you to get a full day's work from this laptop, but it's certainly not in the same league as rivals such as Apple's M1-based MacBook Pro. 

dell-latitude-9420-2-in-1-modes.jpg

Images: Dell

Conclusions 

The battery life of the Latitude 9420 may leave room for improvement, but it should still provide a full day's work when you're on the move, and there's plenty of processing power to handle productivity tools such as Microsoft Office. The versatile 2-in-1 design is the highlight, though, and along with the high-quality QHD+ display and speakers makes the Latitude 9420 an excellent option for mobile professionals. 

RECENT AND RELATED CONTENT

Dell XPS 13 9310 review: Still the Windows 10 ultraportable to beat

Dell Precision 5750 review: A mobile workstation combining heavyweight performance with slimline design

Chip shortage will lead to higher PC prices as Dell, HP, and Lenovo pass on higher costs

Dell Technologies hones focus on infrastructure, PCs, hardware as a service

Best Windows 10 laptop 2021: Top notebooks compared

Read more reviews

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Bundled Services 3 Years ProSupport Plus Next Business Day On-Site Service
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i7 (11th Gen) 1185G7 / 3 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 4.8 GHz
Number of Cores Quad-Core
Cache 12 MB
Features Intel Smart Cache, Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
RAM
Configuration Features provided memory is soldered
Technology LPDDR4X SDRAM
Data Integrity Check non-ECC
Memory
Technology LPDDR4X SDRAM - non-ECC
Speed 4267 MHz
Display
Resolution 2560 x 1600 (QHD+)
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:10
Monitor Features 100% sRGB color gamut, 35 ms response rate, Low Blue Light technology, anti-reflective, anti-smudge
Type LED
Touchscreen yes
Display Resolution Abbreviation QHD+
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 10 - 90% (non-condensing)
Hard Drive
Type SSD
Capacity 256 GB
Hard Drive Features Class 35, NVM Express (NVMe)
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Sound Four speakers, quad array microphone
Features MaxxAudio Pro
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Communications
Wireless Controller Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX 210
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Processor
CPU Type Core i7
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 3 GHz
Battery
Capacity 60 Wh
Cells 3-cell
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
AC Adapter
Input AC 100-240 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 65 Watt, 5 / 9 / 15 / 20 V
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces HDMI
2 x USB4 (supports Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort Alt Mode) (Power Delivery)
USB 3.2 Gen 1 (PowerShare)
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Memory Card Reader Yes (microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC)
Header
Brand Dell
Product Line Dell Latitude
Packaged Quantity 1
System
Notebook Type 2-in-1
Mechanical Design 360° flip design
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 256 GB
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14 in
Image Brightness 500 cd/m2
Networking
Data Link Protocol IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11ax, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Miscellaneous
Integrated Options Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, magnetometer, electromagnetic compass, lid-open sensor, gyroscope
Security Fingerprint reader
Features ExpressCharge
Included Accessories USB-C power adapter
Manufacturer Selling Program Dell Smart Selection
Theft/Intrusion Protection security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Security Slot Type Noble Wedge security slot
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.2 in
Depth 8.5 in
Height 0.5 in
Environmental Standards
EPEAT Level EPEAT Gold
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.09 lbs
Power
Voltage Required AC 100-240 V
Min Operating Temperature 32 °F
Max Operating Temperature 104 °F
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Pro
Type McAfee Small Business Security (30 days trial), Microsoft Office (30 days trial, excludes office license)
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Input Device
Backlight Yes
Interfaces
USB-C Ports Qty 2
USB-C Features USB Power Delivery
Comment Power Delivery, PowerShare
Shock & Vibration Tolerance
Shock Acceleration (Operating) 140 g
Shock Duration (Operating) 2 ms half-sine pulse
Shock Acceleration (Non-operating) 160 g
Shock Duration (Non-operating) 2 ms half-sine pulse
Vibration Acceleration (Operating) 0.66 g
Vibration Frequency Range (Operating) RMS (random)
Vibration Acceleration (Non-operating) 1.3 g
Vibration Frequency Range (Non-operating) RMS (random)
Show Comments