We haven’t had many rugged computers at High Performance Laptops, but suddenly we’ve got two different flavours in our labs. The ‘Rugged Extreme’ Dell Latitude 7330 2022 is a pro-spec unit designed to be used in remote, hostile environments. It looks like something a President might use to set off the nukes. These laptops have traditionally sacrificed usability for their robustness so, who should use it, who shouldn’t, what are its limitations and is it worth buying?
Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme Specs
13-inch, matte, 60Hz, 1920 x 1080, 1400-nit display; 1.2-4.8GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU; 32GB RAM; 1TB HDD; Intel Iris Xe graphics; 2x 53.5Wh batteries; 2.3KG. Dimensions (WxDxH): 32 x 22 x 3.7cm. SKU: 12UHS-247AU. Full specs here.
Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme: Design and handling
The Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme looks like a small, black, carbon-fibre briefcase replete with handle. It’s thick compared to any laptop but built like a tank and has MIL-STD 810G and H certifications for ruggedness. There’s no flex in the screen when a twisting force is applied, the lid feels bulletproof (it isn’t) and the entire chassis is completely solid. The dark, industrial design certainly has an element of style, but it’s more suited to a building site (or being used while hanging off the side of an Alp) than in a boardroom setting. Nonetheless, when the light captures the carbon-fibre weave on the lid, few people wouldn’t be impressed
All of the ports and slots are modular and interchangeable (at the time of purchase). They’re also sealed behind weatherproof doors with catches that unlock them. The lid also has a catch to prevent it opening without intervention. It has an IP-65 ruggedness rating for total protection against dust and dirt. However, while it can get wet and survive torrential rain, it can’t be submersed or subjected to high pressure water jets. It can withstand temperatures ranging from –29 to 63 degrees Centigrade plus drops from up to 1.8m (6 feet).
The white-backlit keyboard is impressively comfortable and accurate to type upon. The 13-inch chassis means there’s no room for a number pad but we’re never happy to see half-height arrow keys. The trackpad is generally accurate but can lose its way occasionally – still we’ve seen much worse on rugged laptops. Its buttons are comfortable and accurate to use. The touchscreen is responsive and can be used surprisingly accurately with gloves and the tethered stylus that stows inside the chassis.
The Full HD screen can hit an incredibly bright 1400-nits to ensure it can be used comfortably in bright sunlight – and it works. You’ll always be able to see a bright, usable Windows Desktop on the Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme. The bright screen helps multimedia look good: colours don’t lose vibrancy and contrast doesn’t get annihilated. Transitions in colour gradients can exhibit some stepping but they’re not distracting. However, gradients in dark areas can quickly turn into a blocky mess. If you were hoping to do any gaming on it, note that the pixel response time is very low so fast-and-frantic shooters will struggle on this screen.
The speakers get very loud and retain fidelity from the top to bottom end. There’s even some decent bass response. We suspect this is to allow for listening to web conferences and multimedia in noisy, outdoor environments.
Above the screen is an impressive Full HD webcam with hardware privacy slide.
Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Performance
Inside the Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme is a quad-core, eight-thread, 1.2-4.8GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor and it’s flanked by 32GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive. In our general PC Mark 10 test it scored 5321 which is low by most modern laptop standards but not bad for a device that’s ultraportable (if in spirit rather than corporeal form). In the Cinebench R15 and R23 rendering tests it scored 929 and 5026 respectively – it’s not great for rendering.
There are no discreet graphics and so Dell’s Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme makes do with the integrated Intel Iris Xe GPU. This scored 1840 in the difficult 3DMark Time Spy test which is an average of just 10fps. It also scored 2457 (11fps) in Fire Strike Extreme but it couldn’t run the Port Royal ray tracing test. We ran the lesser, 3DMark Night Raid test and it scored 17,747 which is an average of 110fps so it can play competitive and casual games. Just remember the slow pixel response time if you’re wanting to play rapid-reflex games like CS:GO.
Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Connectivity
Connectivity can be configured thanks to the modular, weatherproof design although you’ll have to choose your ports at the time of purchase. Nonetheless, our review sample of the Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme had the following layout:
On the left is are two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports and an audio jack. There’s also a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port that supports Thunderbolt 4.
On the right is a Smart Card reader, a stylus slot, a 5G SIM card slot with a microSD card reader and another Thunderbolt 4-supporting USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port.
At the rear is an HDMI port and a Serial port plus a Gigabit Ethernet port and another USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port.
Inside the Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme is Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. Note that the power brick will take up one of the USB-C ports. It’s arguably got better connectivity than any laptop we’ve ever tested.
Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme review: Portability
The ‘bombproof’ chassis means it won’t just support life on the road, but life in the wilderness and on worksites. The solid handle also means you can keep a solid grip on it when out and about. It actually has two, hot-swappable 53.5Wh battery sockets at the base so you can keep it going indefinitely while away from the mains. While it didn’t quite make the stated 24-hour battery life, running our PCMark 10 Modern Office test for 20hrs 11mins which is the best we’ve seen. Impressive.
At 2.3KG it’s relatively light considering the sturdiness on offer and the power supply only adds an additional 320g. A shoulder strap is an optional extra. Despite the chonk, it’s fair to call it an ultraportable.
Dell Latitude 7330 price – Should I buy it?
The Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme is more of a portable professional tool than a regular high-performance laptop, but that doesn’t stop it being king of its category. If your work demands a laptop for outdoor use in horrible conditions, this will prove very attractive. Also, you might not flinch quite so much at the price… Dell Australia doesn’t even list it – you have to call for a quote. Dell’s US site does, however, offer a configurator and this top-end spec comes in at a gargantuan US$8,729 – that’s over $12,500 in Aussie dollars! Of course, Dell frequently has sales and, at the time of publishing, it’s dropped to US$6,105 ($8,800 in Australia). Ultimately, while we didn’t expect an ultraportable to break our price record, we’re not surprised that the Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme has managed it. It’s not for everyone but the target market will lap this laptop up.
Dell Latitude 7330 Rugged Extreme Review
- 2D Performance
- 3D Performance
With amazing connectivity and battery life this extremely rugged, professional tool offers decent value to the target market who won’t care about the enormous price.