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Trying out the Dell Latitude E6420 14’ Laptop i5(2024)

My thoughts on using a refurbished Dell Latitude E6420: durability, upgrade possibilities, gaming limits, and value.
Brad Cheston

Cartesian Mathematics Foundation


January 3, 2024


I picked up the Dell Latitude E6420 (refurbished) because I read about its reputation for being a tough and reliable laptop. Even though it’s an older model, I was curious to see how it would stand up to modern computing needs. I immediately noticed its solid build quality and got to thinking about upgrading its performance.


Property Value Property Value
Brand Dell Model Name Latitude E6420
Screen Size 14.1 Inches Color black/silver
Hard Disk Size 128 GB CPU Model Core i5
Ram Memory Installed Size 4 GB Operating System Windows 10;
Graphics Card Description Integrated Graphics Coprocessor Intel HD Graphics 3000


Click on photos to enlarge them:

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Robustness & Durability

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When I got my hands on the Dell Latitude E6420, I immediately noticed its robust build quality. Here’s a rundown of my thoughts on its durability and build:

  • The chassis feels solid and well-constructed.

  • It has a heft to it that suggests quality materials.

  • According to Dell, it has undergone rigorous durability testing.

  • The laptop sports a military-grade vibe, hinting at its ability to handle travel and bumps.

However, it’s not all perfect. For one, its sturdiness adds to its weight—coming in at around 3.8 kilograms which is bulkier than many modern ultra-portables. Plus, while the laptop seems tough, it’s not immune to cosmetic wear such as scuffs or minor scratches, which I’ve noticed on the outer casing.

On the positive side, the durability is impressive—the kind you’d trust in a work environment where bumps and scrapes are common. The Latitude E6420 feels like it can sustain daily wear and tear without breaking a sweat. The metal hinges on the screen add to my confidence that this device can last for years. Additionally, I appreciate the protective LCD seal and a 360-degree bumper for added screen protection, which reassures me that the screen can withstand pressure and is suitably protected during travel.

The spill-resistant keyboard is a thoughtful addition, considering I’ve had my fair share of accidents involving liquids. It’s comforting to know a small spill won’t immediately spell disaster for the system’s internals.

However, some aspects do betray the machine’s age. The Latitude E6420 originally shipped with Windows 7, and even though it supports an upgrade to Windows 10, one can’t help but notice how this device lags behind the sleeker, more modern laptops on market today.

In assessing its ruggedness, it’s also important to mention that my particular model came with a solid-state drive (SSD), which unlike a hard disk drive (HDD), has no moving parts and is thus more resilient to shocks and physical damage.

Let’s talk about the battery life briefly; though not directly tied to physical robustness, in terms of product longevity, the original battery doesn’t hold a charge as long as I’d hoped. But considering the laptop’s age, this is to be expected, and replacements are readily available.

For someone who values build over aesthetics, the Latitude E6420 is a strong contender. It might lack the sleekness of newer models, but for me, the build quality represents a reassuring reliability that is hard to find in today’s market flooded with delicate devices.

Performance Upgrades

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When it comes to performance upgrades, the Dell Latitude E6420 presents a wonderful platform for various enhancements. Initially, the base configuration of the E6420 might seem modest, but the potential for upgrading is one of its strongest suits. As a user focused on squeezing out maximum efficiency from tech investments, I found this aspect particularly appealing.

Here’s a quick rundown of the upgrade options I’ve explored:

  • RAM: The laptop comes with a standard 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, but it supports up to 16GB of RAM. Upgrading to 8GB or even the full 16GB can significantly reduce lag and handle more demanding applications with ease.

  • Storage: It starts with a 128GB SSD, which is a decent boot drive but might be limiting for storage. A secondary larger HDD or another SSD in the optical drive bay is an easy addition, which greatly improves storage capacity without compromising system speed.

  • CPU: The processors are socketed, not soldered, offering an opportunity to upgrade. Moving from an i5-2410M to a more robust i5 or i7 can make a noticeable difference in processing power.

Upgrading comes with its caveats, though. Mixing different speeds of RAM sticks initially delivered with the E6420 slowed down to the speed of the slowest module. It highlights the importance of matching pairs for optimal performance. And while swapping out the SSD for a larger one was painless and improved performance, upgrading the CPU or adding an external GPU through the ExpressCard slot requires a bit of technical know-how.

One drawback is the graphics card, an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, which holds up well for everyday tasks and some light media work. However, when it comes to graphic-intensive tasks like high-end gaming or 3D rendering, it doesn’t quite keep up.

From a personal perspective, I am thoroughly impressed with how snappy the laptop feels after upgrades. Booting up is lightning-fast, applications load without a hitch, and multitasking is smooth. But more than the technical improvements, the sense of personal achievement that comes with successfully upgrading a laptop cannot be overstated.

The E6420 allowed me to dive into DIY computer work, which was both educational and enjoyable. Upgrades are an investment, both of time and money, but the improvements in performance are undoubtedly worth the effort. I feel confident recommending this machine to those willing to tinker to get a personalized experience. For those less inclined to get hands-on with their hardware, considering a pre-upgraded unit might be a wiser choice.

In summary, the Dell Latitude E6420’s upgradability transforms it from a solid, dependable machine into a high-functioning device. It’s a compelling argument for those of us who enjoy extending the lifespan and functionality of our tech.

Gaming & Graphics Limitations

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When I first got my hands on the Dell Latitude E6420, I had a few particular uses in mind, particularly around casual gaming and graphic-intensive tasks. My initial impressions were mixed; I knew the limitations of the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 but still held some hope. Here’s a rundown of my experiences:

  • Games: Casual and older titles run without a hitch, but don’t expect this laptop to handle the latest AAA games with ease.

  • Graphics Work: Basic photo editing and video playback are perfectly fine, but more serious graphic design or video editing can be a challenge.

  • Drivers: Outdated drivers can sometimes limit graphic performance, but updating them via the Dell website has been straightforward.

The integrated graphics card is sufficient for everyday tasks, and I could even dabble in games like Minecraft and old-school titles from the early 2000s without any severe issues. Surprisingly, streaming 1080p videos were smooth, and the overall multimedia experience was decent for a laptop of this age and specs.

However, when I attempted to play more current games or use programs for 3D rendering, the limitations became evident. Gameplay was often choppy with poor frame rates, and graphic tasks could take much longer to complete than they would on a newer system with a dedicated GPU. The Intel HD Graphics 3000 coprocessor is simply not cut out for intense graphics work.

Despite these drawbacks, I must admit there are some positives. The graphics are integrated, meaning less heat and power consumption, which contributes to battery life - as long as you’re not pushing the GPU too much. And let’s not forget the potential for upgrades; with a bit of knowledge and effort, the Latitude E6420 can be enhanced with more RAM and a better SSD to improve overall performance.

While the Latitude E6420 might not satisfy hardcore gamers or graphic designers, for those who need a durable machine for typical business applications, web browsing, and light media consumption, it does the job well and comes at an attractive price point. The key is managing expectations; understand that this machine, while sturdy and reliable, won’t dazzle with its graphic capabilities but will reliably carry out less demanding tasks.

I’ve genuinely enjoyed the practicality this laptop provides for my less-intensive needs, and while I occasionally sigh at its gaming limitations, it’s been quite a capable companion otherwise. Would I recommend it for gaming enthusiasts or graphic professionals? No, there are definitely better-suited options for those purposes. Yet for someone on a budget or with modest graphic needs, the Latitude E6420 proves to be a worthy contender.

Value for Money Assessment

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As I reflect on the Dell Latitude E6420, the term “value for money” springs to mind. This phrase, often bandied about in budget-conscious circles, perfectly encapsulates my experience with this laptop. In assessing its value, I am drawn to measure the positives against the drawbacks, and here’s where I land:


  • Legacy Ports: The presence of VGA and HDMI ports, along with RJ-45 Ethernet, provides wonderful backward compatibility for existing peripherals.

  • Build Quality: Rugged enough to handle the rigors of daily use with a reassuring solidity that speaks to its durability.

  • Performance Potential: With the option to upgrade to a Core i5 Turbo 3.2 GHz and the flexibility it affords for RAM and SSD upgrades, the E6420 can remain relevant for everyday computing needs.

  • Affordable Upfront Cost: For the budget-minded, getting a 128GB SSD and Windows 10 Pro installed on a laptop at this price point is a steal.


  • Battery Life: The included battery is often past its prime, offering minimal unplugged usage, a definite concern for mobile professionals.

  • RAM: At times, the RAM might be mismatched, which can affect performance, but this is rectifiable with aftermarket options.

  • Age: Being an older model, it might not handle the latest software or games as well as newer laptops would.

Diving further into value assessment, I appreciate the clean install of the OS free from bloatware, something often overlooked in budget machines. It’s heartening to see a system stripped of unnecessary extras, enabling a smoother user experience. The Latitude’s expandability is a significant plus; it promises extended usability with just a few upgrades.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the drawbacks. Battery life is a concern, often necessitating an additional purchase of a new battery to achieve reasonable untethered runtime. Additionally, potential speed discrepancies due to mismatched RAM are something to look out for.

But when I weigh these issues against the positives—especially the cost—the E6420 comes out ahead. For someone like me, who is comfortable performing a few tweaks and upgrades, the initial savings offer a substantial buffer to invest in these enhancements.

For those seeking out the very latest in laptop technology, keep looking. But if you’re in the market for a solid, reliable workhorse without breaking the bank, the Dell Latitude E6420 warrants consideration. It’s the kind of machine that, with a little bit of love and a few upgrades, could become a reliable partner for both work and daily tasks. I don’t hesitate to attest that the Latitude E6420 provides commendable value for its price, though individual experiences with refurbished models may vary.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a laptop that’s a great value for money and you’re willing to deal with or overlook its few shortcomings, the Dell Latitude E6420 might just be the gem you’re after.