Dell Latitude 9510 review: A compact and very competent 15-inch business laptop

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  • Editors' rating
    8.5 Excellent

Pros

  • Robust industrial design
  • Minimal-bezel screen
  • AI-driven Dell Optimizer software
  • Excellent speakers
  • Very good battery life
  • Optional 5G mobile broadband
  • Available in laptop or 2-in-1 format

Cons

  • FHD screen resolution only
  • No discrete graphics option
  • 'Squishy’ keyboard action
  • Expensive

The Dell Latitude 9510 is a neat 15-inch business laptop that's available either as a traditional clamshell design or as a 2-in-1 with a fully rotating screen. If you want the 2-in-1 the starting price in the UK is £1,613.55 (ex. VAT), rising to £2,123.55, while the traditional laptop starts at £1,253.55 and tops out at £1,883.55. In the US, prices range between $1,849 and $2,929. 

At first glance, the Dell Latitude 9510 looks somewhat nondescript. A silver lid and base with the Dell logo centrally placed on the lid isn't the stuff of 'oohs' and 'aahs'. The sides of both base and lid have a sheen to them and the lid has a faint etched finish, but these are pretty low-key touches. What's immediately noticeable is that the build is very solid, with the aluminium chassis providing for an unbendable lid and all-around toughness. This laptop is heavy, though: my clamshell review unit weighs 1.4kg, while the 2-in-1 is even heavier at 1.5kg. 

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The 15-inch Dell Latitude 9510 is available in conventional laptop or convertible 2-in-1 format. It runs on 10th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors with integrated graphics, 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage. 

Image: Dell

Open up the lid, and the design becomes much more distinctive. There's a pair of speaker grilles either side of the keyboard, framed in a lighter grey than the rest of the base, while the keyboard itself is a darker tone of grey and the touchpad is framed in shiny silver. It's a bit of a mishmash of colours, materials and styling: perhaps you might call it 'textures of grey'. While my review unit wasn't the 2-in-1, it was still possible to lay the screen flat on a table or desk. 

The Latitude 9510 is admirably thin at 8.23mm at the front and 13.99mm at the back, while the desktop footprint is reasonably compact at 340.20mm by 215.80mm. Transporting this laptop around shouldn't be a problem, as long as you can handle the weight. 

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Dell has crammed a 15-inch screen into this chassis when you might think it has no right to more than a 14-inch screen. This has been achieved by minimising all the bezels, including the bottom one. This must make working in tablet mode extremely satisfying, as the display will be close to edge-to-edge all round. On my laptop model it was comfortable to have two working windows open simultaneously, and I enjoyed viewing video that stretched to the full height of the screen. The speakers add to the positive experience, delivering loud volume with plenty of bass and a clear, crisp sound. In fact, they're among the best laptop speakers I've heard. 

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The screen's matte finish is welcome, but there's one significant disappointment: across every iteration of the Latitude 9510, right up to the most expensive model, the display is FHD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). Considering the pricing, the lack of a 4K option is quite a surprise.

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Some users may find that the action of Latitude 9510's keyboard takes some getting used to. The large touchpad works well, though, and audio output from the speakers flanking the keyboard is excellent.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet
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The # key encroaches into the double-height Enter key's personal space.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

The keyboard has a few quirks that will take some getting used to. I found access to the double-height Enter key hampered by the hash key that intrudes into its space. Interestingly, images on Dell's website have a different Enter key configuration with a double-width Enter key whose space is encroached upon above by the reverse solidus key. The keys also had a 'squishy' feel that felt a little awkward, although this will be a matter of personal taste. Still, I didn't quite reach my usual touch typing speed during the review period, although this would probably rectify itself over time. By contrast, the touchpad was entirely satisfactory.  

Dell provides an app called Dell Optimizer that offers a number of configuration options, including: customisable priorities for specific apps, effectively speeding them up (ExpressResponse); microphone settings for different environments, including a noisy office (Intelligent Audio); system wake-up ready for face login if the proximity sensor detects you are nearby (ExpressSign-in); and a battery subsystem that adapts to your laptop usage, adjusting its performance to boost longevity (ExpressCharge). 

Although battery life was good, I found Dell's claim of up to 34 hours and 11 minutes somewhat optimistic. My usual rundown test is to subject laptops to a mainstream workload with all settings at their defaults, including screen brightness (unless the default is too low to be usable). In this case, brightness was fine. I wrote into web apps, had multiple browser windows open, watched some video and streamed music constantly for a three-hour period, during which time the laptop lost 21% from a full charge. Extrapolating from that, the Latitude 9510 should deliver a full working day for most users, and maybe a day and a half with lighter workloads. Reaching 34 hours does seem a stretch, though.  

When battery life gets low, services are turned off automatically to save power, and the screen will dim, too. Dell says its ExpressCharge system can deliver 35% in about 20 minutes, and 80% in an hour. I tested this, administering a 20-minute charge with the battery starting at 50%, after which it had reached 68%. So, while the charger is something of a brick, carrying it could solve a battery problem quickly while you're travelling. 

In all there are seven pre-configured Latitude 9510 models available off-the-page on Dell's UK website, four of which are the 2-in-1 design. All are based on Windows 10 Pro and use Intel 10th generation Core i5 or Core i7 processors with integrated graphics. RAM varies between 8GB and 16GB, and SSDs between 256GB and 512GB. A smartcard reader and mobile broadband -- including 5G on one model -- are available as options. My review unit ran on Intel's Core i7-10810U processor with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. At the time of writing, it cost £1,883.55 (ex. VAT).

Like all the other models, my review unit had a proximity sensor featuring Intel Context Sensing Technology. This can tell when someone is nearby, wake the system and initiate automatic login via Windows Hello. When you walk away from the computer, the proximity sensor recognises this and logs you off. I found this to be very smooth in operation. There's also a sliding privacy cover for the (above-screen) webcam, which is welcome. 

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Latitude 9510 connections include full-size HDMI and USB-C, but there's no on-board Ethernet port. Options include mobile broadband and a smartcard reader.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Connections on the Latitude 9510 are: a full size HDMI 2.0 port, a pair of USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, Power Delivery and DisplayPort (one of which is used for charging), and a MicroSD card reader on the left side; and a USB 3.2 port with PowerShare and a 3.5mm audio jack on the right side. 

Conclusions

The 15-inch Dell Latitude 9510 is compact and solidly built, and it's a smart move to use basically the same design for both the laptop and 2-in-1 versions. It's expensive, though, especially considering there's no 4K display option. And while battery life is very good, Dell's 34-hour claim seems optimistic. Still, the speakers are excellent and the 5G option will appeal to mobile professionals who are prepared to lug the 1.4 or 1.5kg weight around. I found the keyboard a bit disappointing, but others may be fine with it.

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