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Dell Latitude 15 5521 review – boring but quite powerful

One of the brands, synonymous with business computing is made by Dell. The Latitude lineup comes at all shapes and prices, with the 5000 series expectedly sitting in the middle ground. It’s definitely not cheap but it won’t cost an arm or a leg either.

In particular, the Latitude 15 5521 comes in many different configurations. Interestingly, the display options include a 4K IPS panel, a 1080p IPS panel, and weirdly – a 768p TN one. If you are own a company, please, stay away from the last one, as it will make your employees’ lives easier.

On the other hand, this device differs from the Latitude 15 5520 from a performance standpoint. The 5521 comes with Tiger Lake-H45 processors, which is a significant uplift, compared to the Tiger Lake-U chips used by the 5520. The top configuration includes a Core i7-11850H, which is an 8-core CPU. Provided you want some graphics power, you can get the GeForce MX450. Keep in mind that this is a power-efficient GPU, and won’t do miracles.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-latitude-15-5521/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Dell Latitude 15 5521 review – boring but quite powerful - Specs

  • AUO MCX7D-B156HAN (AUO4599)
  • Color accuracy  5.8  3.8
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 2000GB SSD + up to 2000GB HDD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 1x 2280 M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 + 1x 2280 M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4  See photo
  • RAM
  • up to 64GB
  • OS
  • No OS, Windows 11 Pro, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home
  • Battery
  • 64Wh, 4-cell, 68Wh, 4-cell
  • Body material
  • Plastic / Polycarbonate
  • Dimensions
  • 357.8 x 233.3 x 22.67 - 24.05 mm (14.09" x 9.19" x 0.89")
  • Weight
  • 1.79 kg (3.9 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), Sleep and Charge
  • 2x USB Type-C
  • 4.0, Thunderbolt 4, Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • 2.0
  • Card reader
  • microSD (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • Ethernet LAN
  • 10, 100, 1000 Mbit/s
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.2
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • optional
  • Web camera
  • HD/FHD and IR
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Dual Array Microphones
  • Speakers
  • 2x 2W, Stereo Speakers
  • Optical drive
  • optional
  • Security Lock slot
  • Wedge Lock

All Dell Latitude 15 5521 configurations

#CommissionsEarned

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, you will find the standard paper manuals and a 130W USB Type-C power adapter.

Design and construction

This device is pretty thick. It spans from 22.67mm in the front and 24.05mm in the back. On the other hand, it’s pretty light with a weight of 1.79 kg. In addition to that, it is made out of high-quality plastic, some of which are recycled. Actually, Dell is very proud of its efforts towards the environment. Thankfully, the base is pretty strong – both when it comes to flex, and bends of the keyboard deck.

Latitude 15 5521’s lid can be opened with a single hand. It reveals thin side bezels and a pretty thick top one. On the bright side, the manufacturer has made good use of the space, by providing a Web camera. You can get either an HD or an FHD unit, both of which are equipped with a privacy shutter. On top of that, there is an optional IR face recognition sensor.

Another optional feature is the fingerprint reader. It is located on top of the Power button in the top right corner of the keyboard. A keyboard, which has a backlight, and a NumberPad section. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find information about spill resistance. In terms of comfort, the unit has clicky feedback and pretty long key travel.

Those who enjoy the trackpoint will be dissatisfied with the lack of such an input device. This means you can only rely on the touchpad. There are no dedicated buttons either, but the clicking mechanism is decent. Also, its tracking is generally accurate, but the gliding is a bit weird, due to the rough surface.

Now, let’s take a look at the bottom panel. There, you will find two speaker grills, two vents, and a grill underneath the fan. Respectively, the hot air gets exhausted through a vent on the left side of the device.

Ports

On the left side, there are two Thunderbolt 4 connectors and a Smart Card reader. And on the right, there is a security slot, a LAN port, an HDMI 2.0 connector, two USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) ports, an audio jack, and a MicroSD card reader. Additionally, there is a SIM card tray on the back.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

This machine’s bottom panel is held in place by 9 captive Phillips-head screws. After you undo them, you need to pry the bottom panel. We found it the easiest to start from the back.

Inside, we found a 64Wh battery. By the way, some options include a larger 97Wh unit, which takes the space dedicated for an optional 2.5-inch SATA drive. To take the battery out, you need to unplug the connector. Then, undo all three Phillips-head screws, and remove the unit from the chassis.

Memory-wise, there are two SODIMM slots. They can fit up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM. As for the storage, besides the optional 2.5-inch slot, there are two M.2 PCIe x4 slots. One of them supports Gen 4 drives as well.

Finally, there is the cooling. It comprises two very long heat pipes, which lead to a side-mounted heat sink. The heat is then blown away with a single fan, which has a pretty thick profile.

Display quality

Dell Latitude 15 5521 is equipped with an IPS panel, model number AUO MCX7D-B156HAN (AUO4599). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.6 cm), and the resolution is 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 142 ppi, and a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at distance equal to or greater than 60cm (24″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

Viewing angles are excellent. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

Also, a video with locked focus and exposure.

The measured maximum brightness of 296 nits in the middle of the screen and 284 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 8%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 5950K – warmer than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is very good – 1430:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Dell Latitude 15 5521’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers only 52% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Dell Latitude 15 5521 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 30 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Dell Latitude 15 5521’s display doesn’t use PWM to adjust its brightness levels at any point. This makes it comfortable for long work periods, without harming your eyes in this aspect.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Dell Latitude 15 5521 configurations with 15.6″ FHD IPS AUO MCX7D-B156HAN (AUO4599).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount

Sound

Dell Latitude 15 5521’s speakers produce a sound of pretty good quality. Moreover, there are no deviations in the entire frequency spectrum.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-us/product-support/product/latitude-15-5521-laptop/drivers

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This device’s 64Wh battery delivers 8 hours and 53 minutes of Web browsing, or 6 hours and 48 minutes of video playback.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

CPU options

When it comes to the processor choice, you get either the Core i5-11400H, Core i5-11500H, or Core i7-11850H.

GPU options

And in terms of graphics, you can either stay with the integrated solution or go for the dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX450 with 2GB of GDDR6 memory.

Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GOHD 1080p, Low (Check settings)HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings)HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS310 fps218 fps131 fps

DOTA 2HD 1080p, Low (Check settings)HD 1080p, Normal (Check settings)HD 1080p, High (Check settings)
Average FPS189 fps163 fps117 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i5-11400H (45W TDP)0:02 – 0:10 sec0:15 – 0:30 sec10:00 – 15:00 min
Dell Latitude 15 55213.45 GHz (B+44%) @ 91°C @ 83W3.50 GHz (B+46%) @ 96°C @ 74W2.88 GHz (B+20%) @ 86°C @ 50W
Intel Core i5-11400H (45W TDP)0:02 – 0:10 sec0:15 – 0:30 sec10:00 – 15:00 min
Lenovo ThinkPad P15v Gen 22.90 GHz (B+32%) @ 99°C @ 42W2.75 GHz (B+25%) @ 99°C @ 39W2.58 GHz (B+17%) @ 99°C @ 33W
MSI Katana GF663.30 GHz (B+50%) @ 95°C @ 52W3.14 GHz (B+43%) @ 94°C @ 48W3.23 GHz (B+47%) @ 95°C @ 47W

Weirdly, the Core i5-11500H seems a lot more power-hungry than its Core i5-11400H brother. With that said, the Latitude 15 5521 is able to maintain significantly higher clocks than the Thinkpad P15v Gen 2, which shares relatively the same purpose as the Dell.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce MX450GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min)GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
Dell Latitude 15 55211785 MHz @ 73°C1783 MHz @ 75°C
Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Pro (14″)1395 MHz @ 69°C1395 MHz @ 70°C

Contrary to the IdeaPad 5 Pro (14″), the Latitude 15 5521 uses the full 28W version of the GeForce MX450. Also, it maintains a super high clock speed, but at the same time, works at a slightly higher temperature.

Comfort during combined load

We performed all of the benchmarks including the temperature tests with the Ultra Performance preset in BIOS. This leads to high noise, as the fan tries its best to cool down the system. Additionally, the warmest spot here was in the top right corner of the keyboard – an uncommon place to rest your fingers.

Verdict

Before we conclude this review, we want to praise Dell for its efforts on the environment. Although they don’t go as aggressively as Acer with their Vero laptop, Dell still uses up to 21% of bioplastics. Given the commercial use of business devices, this can make a big impact in the grand scheme of things.

On the other hand, how does this machine fair as a laptop itself? Well, you get pretty powerful hardware options. Indeed, the single-fan cooling solution is not super-efficient, but it does the job. We were also pleasantly surprised by the GeForce MX450. Dell integrates the most powerful 28W version, and the clock speed of 1785 MHz allows you to run games like DOTA2 at max settings with more than 100 fps.

Dell Latitude 15 5521’s IPS panel (AUO MCX7D-B156HAN (AUO4599)) has a Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, and a good contrast ratio. Unfortunately, it covers only half of the colors on the Web. On the bright side, it doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment, which makes it comfortable and safe in the aspect of long use.

Something good for the future – there are two SODIMM slots for up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, while the storage options include a hybrid M.2 slot for PCIe x4 and SATA drives, as well as an M.2 PCIe x4 slot that fits Gen 4 drives. Plus, if you happen to own the smaller 64Wh battery, you get an option to fit a 2.5-inch SATA device.

Speaking of which, the battery lasted us for 8 hours and 53 minutes of Web browsing, or 6 hours and 48 minutes of video playback. Frankly, it won’t last you an entire workday solely on battery power, but it will be close.

Other features include two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, optional LTE support, a MicroSD card reader, and optional IR face recognition and fingerprint readers.

We can’t miss the fact that the camera has a privacy shutter, and some units will ship with a Full HD shooter. This will elevate your conference call game by quite a margin.

On the other hand, it is unfortunate that the Latitude 15 5521 lacks spill resistance. Additionally, the touchpad texture is not super smooth, which results in a not very comfortable use.

And where it lacks in thickness, it makes up with low weight. Ultimately, the laptop is well built, offers a good amount of power, thanks to some six, or eight-core offerings from Intel. The GeForce MX450 works surprisingly well, and offers a performance similar to a GTX 1050 Max-Q, but only taxes 28W of TGP.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-latitude-15-5521/

Pros

  • Wide I/O, which includes a MicroSD card reader
  • Two M.2 storage slots, one of which runs at 4.0 speeds + 2x RAM SODIMM slots + 2.5-inch SATA drive bay with the smaller battery
  • Fingerprint reader embedded in the power button + optional IR face recognition
  • Wi-Fi 6, PCIe x4, Thunderbolt 4
  • No PWM for brightness adjustment (AUO MCX7D-B156HAN (AUO4599))
  • Comfortable keyboard with a backlight
  • Option for an efficient and powerful dGPU


Cons

  • Covers only 53% of sRGB (AUO MCX7D-B156HAN (AUO4599))
  • No dedicated touchpad buttons or trackpoint