Used Dell Buyers Guide [ktgee.net]

The Dell Latitude and Precision lines are Dell’s business notebooks, these make a great alternative to the lenovo’s main ThinkPad range.
Dell has a pretty bad reputation because of their crappy Inspiron line. But they’re also capable of making great computers such the Latitude and the Precision.

There are 2 prices for each model in this guide.
The prices listed in BOLD are the outright buying prices. This is what you should expect to pay if you want your laptop right Now.
The prices in NON-BOLD are the ideal Online Auction prices. This is what you should expect to pay if you are willing to sit around on eBay for auctions and Craigslist.

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With a strong magnesium-alloy casing and internal metal frame, it should hold up to daily abuse just fine. The larger models have dual pointing devices for you TrackPoint fans.

Medium Sized Laptop
If you don’t know what size you want to get, just get one of these.
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Latitude E4300 (13” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$125, $140
Latitude E6400 (14” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$100, $130
Latitude E6410 (14” Core i-series G1) – ~$170, $190
Latitude E4310 (13” Core i-series G1) – ~$200, $230
Latitude E6420 (14” Core i-series G2) -~$270, $290
Latitude E6320 (13” Core i-series G2) -~$290, $330
Latitude E6430 (14” Core i-series G3) -~$370, $400

Precision M2400 (14” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$130, $150

Latitude D630* (14” Core 2 Duo G2) – ~$100
Latitude D620* (14” Core (2) Duo G1) – ~$100

*Models with Nvidia graphics have higher than normal failure rates.

Small Sized Laptop
Portable and great battery life, but sadly, no Pointing stick.
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Latitude E4200 (12” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$100, $140
Latitude E6220 (12” Core i-series G2) – ~$290, $380
XPS 13 L321X (13.3” Core i-series G2) – ~$370, $395
Latitude E6230 (12” Core i-series G3) – ~$490

Latitude D430 (12” Core 2 Duo G2) – ~$100
Latitude D420 (12” Core (2) Duo G1) – ~$100

Tablet PC
Small touchscreen laptop with pressure sensitive N-Trig pen input.
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Latitude XT (12” Core 2 Duo G2) – ~$140, $160
Latitude XT2 (12” Core 2 Duo G3) -~$190, $220
Latitude XT3 (12” Core i-series G2) – ~$480

Large Sized Laptop
Big, heavy and Powerful
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Latitude E6500 (15” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$100, $120
Latitude E6510 (15” Core i-series G1) – ~$230, $250
Latitude E6520 (15” Core i-series G2) – ~$370, $440
Latitude E6530 (15” Core i-series G3) – ~$490

Precision M6300 (17” Core 2 Duo G2) – ~$190, $210
Precision M4400 (15” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$150, $170
Precision M6400 (17” Core 2 Duo G3) -~$270, $290
Precision M4500 (15” Core i-series G1) -~$330, $380
Precision M6500 (17” Core i-series G1) -~$410, $460

Latitude D830* (15” Core 2 Duo G2) – ~$100
Latitude D820* (15” Core (2) Duo G1) – ~$100

*Models with Nvidia graphics have higher than normal failure rates.

Rugged
Super Thick, super tough. A tank in a form of a laptop.
ATG – Semi-Rugged
XFR – Real-Rugged

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Latitude E6400 ATG (14” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$280
Latitude E6400 XFR (14” Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$490
Latitude E6410 ATG (14” Core i-series G1) – ~$320
Latitude E6420 ATG (14” Core i-series G2) – ~$410

Latitude XT2 XFR (12” Tablet Core 2 Duo G3) – ~$320

Older Latitudes:
D410, D610, D810 (Pentium M Dothan)
D400, D600, D800 (Pentium M Banias)
C-Series (Pentium 4M or older)
Unless you want to collect Dell Latitudes, or find one for a couple of bucks, don’t get these.

Explanation on each product line
Latitudes are their mid-range business laptops. They are sturdy and have modest specs for usual day to day needs, no gaming.
XPS is their Premium Consumer line. They again are sturdy and are powerful for at the time of production.
Precision is their most powerful range of business laptops. Built like a tank and has the best of the best hardware specs at the time of production.
Inspiron is their budget consumer line, plain and simple, do not get one.
Vostro is their budget business line, do not get one.

Comparison to ThinkPads:
Vostro = Lenovo Essentials B-series (aka. crap)
Latitude E5000 series and others = ThinkPad L-series/Edge Series
Latitude E4000/E6000 series = ThinkPad main X/T Series
Latitude E7000 series = Ultrabook, X series UltraBook
Precision series = W-series but with better build quality on the 17” models

WARNING!
Never EVER buy a laptop with BIOS passwords, you cannot reset it by taking out the CMOS battery. The Supervisor password is stored on a chip and requires special equipment to extract it or a complete motherboard replacement.

There’s an empty WWAN/PCI-E slot in my laptop, what can I use it for?
On models with Core i-Series G2 and newer, you can install a bootable mSATA SSD module (currently up to 1TB) in the empty slot. On older laptops, you cannot install mSATA SSDs, they will not work at all. hwtools.net has a lot of interesting things you can put in a regular WWAN/PCI-E slot such as SD card slots and connectors for external GPUs.

Should you get a genuine Dell battery or a cheap Generic battery?
It is tempting to cheap out on a battery for your laptop. There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of getting a generic battery.

  • Generic batteries rarely have their advertised capacity.
  • The batteries usually come with 70-80% of the designed capacity of the Genuine battery
  • Can be a lot bulkier or have a different design
  • The battery meter isn’t very reliable but slowly gets better as you charge it more. For example; the battery will work fine till about 15% then instantly jumps to 0% and shut down.

So take your pick, a reliable, but costly (over $100) battery or a slightly annoying and shorter lasting battery for $30.

Can all of those laptops listed play my high quality 10bit Chinese Cartoons Movies and TV Shows?
720p sure, very high bitrate 10bit 1080p playback not guaranteed on Core 2 Duo and ULV CPUs.

Can I play games on my Dell laptop?
See my Netbook Games list. The listed games will play on any Dell laptop listed in this guide.

Where do you look for one this cheap?
eBay, Craigslist, stuff like that.

Processor and Chipset Generations:

  • Core Duo/Core 2 Duo G1 = Yonah/Merom Socket M (Napa Centrino Platform)
    DDR2-667MHz
  • Core 2 Duo G2 = Merom Socket P/Penryn 800 (Santa Rosa Centrino Platform)
    DDR2-667MHz
  • Core 2 Duo G3 = Penryn 1066 (Montevina Centrino Platform)
    DDR2-800MHz
  • Core i-series G1 = Arrandale (Capella Centrino Platform)
    DDR3-1066MHz
  • Core i-series G2 = Sandy Bridge (Huron River Centrino Platform)
    DDR3-1333MHz
  • Core i-series G3 = Ivy Bridge (Chief River Centrino Platform)
    DDR3-1600MHz
  • Core i-series G4 = Haswell (Shark Bay Centrino Platform)
    DDR3-1600MHz

Pictures are by Dell
Prices are in $USD

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