Dell Latitude 5580 -Core i5 7200U
Features and Frills:
The webcam centered above the display captures well-lit, detailed selfies and video and also serves as a Windows Hello sign-in device (oddly, the Windows Hello setup screen offers only the face recognition camera, ignoring the fingerprint reader). The speakers under the Dell's front edge produce adequate audio—far from the loudest we've heard and short on booming bass, but enough to be heard in a conference room and with good sound reproduction for our MP3s.
Broad bezels surround the IPS screen, whose 15.6-inch size, full HD resolution, and Windows' default 125 percent zoom make things easy on the eyes. Viewing angles are broad and colors are nicely saturated, while fine details look sharp. Both PowerPoint slides and 1080p YouTube videos pop from the screen. Our only gripe is that the display isn't as bright as some rivals'—contrast is good but we'd estimate the panel's candlepower as definitely south of the XPS 15's 350 nits or the MacBook Pro's 500 nits; we couldn't comfortably leave it at half brightness for long work sessions.
We have no gripes about the Latitude's keyboard, apart from Home and End not getting dedicated keys like their partners Page Up and Page Down (they're combinations of the Fn and arrow keys). The full-sized layout includes a numeric keypad and offers satisfying travel and tactile feedback once you get used to a faintly rubbery feel; we'd rate it between the finest (the Lenovo ThinkPad T and X series) and flattest (the Apple MacBook and Pro) in terms of competitive keyboards.
The keyboard provides two pointing devices, a two-button touchpad and an embedded pointing stick with three buttons of its own. Both work smoothly, with the touchpad proving particularly accurate and responsive to glides and taps. Our 5580 carries a three-year warranty with on-site service after remote diagnostics; Dell's software bundle puts the emphasis on security and manageability, with everything from an encryption and password-management dashboard to a central system status and update console. (Windows' bundled Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Minecraft, and other toys look all the more ridiculous in context.)
The Power to Pull Through
We already mentioned the Core i7-7820HQ, a 2.9GHz (3.9GHz turbo) quad-core with Hyper-Threading, teamed here with 16GB of non-ECC DDR4 memory and a 512GB SanDisk SATA M.2 solid-state drive. It helped the Latitude clear not only the 3,000-point but the 3,500-point barrier (3,556) in our PCMark 8 productivity benchmark, outstripping a field that includes the XPS 15 and ThinkPad T470 (the last closest at 3,132 points).