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What's the difference between Dell's Latitude E6320 and Latitude E6520 models? Aside from screen size and price, there's plenty that sets these machines apart, and knowing the differences could make or break a laptop deal. Dell sent the CRN Test Center one each of these rugged and powerful laptops, and we were more than happy to compare laptops.
Before we describe how these machines differ, it's helpful first to list the things they have in common. These are the high-end models of Dell's latest series of Sandybridge-based laptops unveiled in February. Both tested machines are equipped with Intel Core i7 vPro (2620M) processors running at 2.70 Ghz with 4MB cache and Intel's HD Graphics 3000 on-processor display. Both were running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit on 4 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM. Two memory slots each can accept a maximum DIMM size of 4GB.
As for media, both machines offer a front-loading SD card reader, an optical media slot on the right-hand side in a slot that also can alternatively accept an extra three-cell battery or hard drive. The right edge is also home on both machines to a USB 2.0 port and an eSata/USB 2.0 combo port. Both the E6320 and the E6520 provide ExpressCard slots here too, but the E6320 slot is the smaller 34-mm slot, while the E6520's is the full-sized 54-mm form factor, and accepts those L-shaped cards. There's also an "airplane" (wireless shut-off) switch on both models, positioned just above the DVD drawer. The E6520 adds an HDMI port here; on the E6320, there's a Mini-HDMI port around the corner (Mini-HDMI adapters are optional). The one port that the E6520 offers uniquely is a 1394 FireWire, located on the right edge.
As is typical of Dell laptops these days, the battery hangs off the back edge of the unit. We don't mind this at all as a means of adding cells, and it also helps protect Dell's straight-line power connectors, which protrude rearward nearly two inches before the cable starts to bend. Again, we'll renew our call for laptop makers either to bite the bullet and license Apple's MagSafe technology, or invent their own in a clean-room somewhere. Really folks, this vulnerability is ridiculous already.
The E6320 comes with a six-cell Lithium Ion battery and 65-watt AC adapter; the E6520 includes a nine-cell Lithium Ion battery and 90-watt AC adapter. Although these batteries are the same width, they are not interchangeable. Dell also offers an optional 90-watt AC adapter for the E6320 and three-, six-, and nine-cell battery options for both machines, including a "slice" battery that attaches to the bottom and keeps the same footprint. Alas, Dell didn't send one for testing. The rear edge also is home on both machines to the RJ-45 for Gigabit Ethernet and Kensington Security Slot. The E6520 puts another USB 2.0 here as well as the RJ-11 port if the optional modem is present.