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Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: A near indestructible portable powerhouse

The ideal choice for those who need a laptop that can survive any eventuality

Price
£3,526 exc VAT (as reviewed)
  • Near-indestructible build quality
  • Bright display with full sRGB coverage
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Eye-wateringly expensive
  • Performance throttles on battery power
  • Jumpy touchpad

The Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme is, as the name might imply, not your everyday laptop. While it might look better suited for use in the armed forces, there are plenty of industries in which both power and near-indestructible build quality can come in handy, such as within building sites, oil rigs and other fieldwork locations with unpredictable and potentially dangerous environments.

With a price of more than £3,500 for the configuration on test, this isn’t a device that’s going to have a lot of mass-market appeal, but if you need a laptop that needs to survive any eventuality, this is as sturdy as they come. 

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Design

The Latitude 7330’s industrial and somewhat dated look is entirely dictated by practicality rather than aesthetics. It’s built to comply with the American military resistance standard (MIL-STD-810H) and also sports an IP65 certification, which means it has additional resistance to water, dust, vibrations, extreme temperatures and falls up to 180cm.

At first glance you might mistake the device for a small briefcase thanks to its built-in handle, but upon closer inspection you’ll see the Dell logo on the chassis, as well as rubberised bumpers on each corner to reduce any damage caused by blunt force or fall damage. The sides and underside of the laptop have an almost industrial look about them, with all port connections concealed for protection against dust or water ingress, and screws clearly accessible should you need to repair the device yourself.

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Display

The Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme’s 13.3in display has a standard 1080p HD resolution with a matte finish to help prevent glare. There are no other display configurations available, but this is more than adequate for tasks outside of content creation, and even then the display has fantastic colour accuracy, topping out at just over 98% sRGB coverage in our tests. This is let down somewhat by its Delta E scores however, with an average of 2.17 and maximum of 3.72. This makes it unsuited for colour accurate work - but then again, that’s hardly the intended use case.

A surprising quality about the laptop is that its screen almost rivals that of the mighty MacBook Pro for brightness, with a searing peak brightness of 1,409cd/m2 against the 16in MacBook’s advertised 1,600cd/m2. We found could view the screen perfectly, even in direct sunlight outside on a bright day. That’s not all, as the screen is also touch sensitive and can even be used with gloves, sparing you from using a mouse or the built-in touchpad.

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Keyboard 

That’s especially handy, as the keyboard position isn’t especially comfortable given the lack of ergonomic laptop design, but typing on the Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme isn’t an unpleasant experience in itself. It’s built into a slight well in the chassis, and the backlit keys themselves are responsive and tactile, with a satisfying click and no spongey sensation.

Using the trackpad is a much less pleasant experience. It measures 100mm x 50mm which feels a little on the small side, but its size is overshadowed by how jumpy the cursor is, even when you’re being as firm and consistent as possible with your finger movements. The touchpad buttons have a nice click to them, and it’s a nice touch to have them separated, rather than integrated into the touchpad itself.

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Specs and performance

As with most Dell products, the Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme can be configured in a variety of ways to give you some flexibility over the specifications, with three different Intel Tiger Lake Quad Core processors to choose from: a Core i5-1135G7 (2.4 GHz), Core i5-1145G7 vPro (2.6 GHz) or Core i7-1185G7 vPro (3.0 GHz). 

You can also choose between the standard 16GB memory version of the integrated Iris Xe graphics, or an enhanced 32GB version, though frustratingly RAM is only available as 32GB of 4266 MHz DDR4. That’s going to be plenty enough to run just about every application you can throw at it, and we certainly didn’t encounter any memory-related performance issues in our tests, though it would have been nice to include additional options for both 16GB and 64GB as found on the Dell XPS 15. You also can’t upgrade this yourself at a later date, as the RAM is soldered into place.

Storage has plenty of configurations available, from 128GB to 2TB provided via M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs. Only one slot is available, but you can thankfully upgrade this yourself by accessing a hatch on the underside of the laptop. Our unit came with 512GB, which supplied 78.5 MB/sec read and 193.1 MB/sec write speeds in AS SSD, which makes it one of the best performing laptops we’ve had in for review, with the speedy Huawei MateBook X Pro achieving 63.6 MB/sec and 160 MB/sec in the same test respectively.

The Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme is likely going to be the most powerful fully-rugged laptop available to consumers right now, achieving performance in line with modern portable workstations. The raw 3D rendering abilities are decent, achieving 2,082 in Maxon Cinebench R20, and a score of 112 FPS in the GFXBench 4 ‘Car Chase’ test, with the latter matching the results of the LG Gram 17 2021 in the same benchmark.

In our own IT Pro media benchmarks, the Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme achieved an overall score of 124, which for context, is exactly the same as the 2021 RazerBook 13 and again, not too far off the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, which scored 134.

It should be noted that running on battery power unfortunately throttles potential performance, as we found when running a 3DMark 11 graphics test. When running on mains power, the scores came back with an average of 6,713 points, but this dropped to 3,512 points when unplugged, so if you have overly demanding graphics work to complete then you’d be best doing this with the device plugged in.

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Battery life

The Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme has the benefit of two battery packs, which can be easily removed from the underside of the laptop and even come with a handy LED power indicator light. In our initial tests we used both battery packs and found that the laptop achieved 17hrs 21mins (against an advertised potential 25 hours) in our looped video test, though it is also possible to run the device using a single battery should you need to reduce some weight.

That’s significantly higher than the 11hrs 37 mins managed by the Dell XPS 17, and while the two systems are built for different markets, both can be configured with similar specifications. In fact, a battery life of over 17 hours is on par with what an M1-powered Macbook can provide and goes above and beyond providing all-day power. However, we should note that charging the battery from empty to full took around 3 hours and 15 minutes, which is much longer than most modern notebooks on the market.

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Ports and features

You’re getting a healthy selection of ports - even more so than on many workstation laptops. This includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports, three USB-A ports, a standard headphone jack, a microSD card reader, a smart card reader, a SIM slot (for the 5G-capable mobile connection), RS-232 Serial port, HDMI port, and an RJ45 port. 

There’s also a stylus concealed within the device itself that can be used with the Latitude’s display which appears to be included as standard. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on the other hand, are entirely optional, or you can add an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6e Wireless Card with or without Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity. 

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Verdict

It’s clear from its design that this isn’t going to be the best laptop for everyone, but for those that need a fully-rugged device that can survive a harsh environment and a potential beating, the Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme is one of the best options on the market, especially as its performance can compete with many other mid-to-high end workstation laptops such as the Dell XPS 15 or the LG Gram 17.

It has plenty of configurability, with 11th-gen Intel processors and integrated Xe graphics alongside plenty of RAM and storage to keep up with day-to-day tasks, and its HD display is surprisingly bright for a laptop that looks as if it’s lept out of the early 90’s. This is going to survive much more than something like a Dell XPS 17 so if you need the sturdiest laptop that money can buy, look no farther than the Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme.

Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme specifications

Processor

11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7

RAM

32GB DDR4

Graphics adapter

Iris Xe Graphics

Storage

512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD,

Screen size (in)

13.3in

Screen resolution

Full HD 1920 x 1280p

Screen type

IPS panel

Touchscreen

Yes

Pointing devices

Yes (stylus included)

Memory card slot

MicroSD, Express card, Smart Card reader

3.5mm audio jack

Yes

Graphics outputs

DisplayPort x 2, HDMI x 1

Other ports

5 x USB 3.1 Gen1, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 x Thunderbolt, 1 x USB-C Power Delivery, 1 x RS-232

Web Cam

Optional (HD or FHD/IR video front webcam with privacy shutter)

Speakers

Dual 2W stereo speakers

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi 6

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 5

NFC

Yes

Dimensions, mm (WDH)

324 mm x 220 mm x 36.5 mm

Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable

2.7kg

Battery size (Wh)

107 Wh

Operating system

Windows 11

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