Dell Latitude C840 Mobile Workstation Review

Dell Latitude

For the last two years I have been using a notebook as my daily base of operations. As a "road warrior" I like to have all of my programs, files, etc on hand at all times. I love the freedom of being able to pack up and go, wherever, and have a powerful computer at my side. I thought I had it all with my previous laptop. But I once again outgrew a computer. I was in the need of much more power. I found it with the Latitude C840.

System as Tested

  • Pentium 4 1.6 Ghz CPU
  • 64MB GeForce4 440 Go AGP Video
  • 15" UXGA 1600x1200 Resolution
  • 60GB 5400 rpm Hard Disk
  • DVD/CDRW Fixed Combo Drive
  • Battery
  • Floppy Disk
  • 20GB 4200 rpm Modular Hard Disk
  • Cdock 3
  • On board LAN/Modem/S-Video Port, Firewire, 2 USB ports
  • XF86Config-4 file


The Latitude C840 is by far no lightweight, around 8 lbs. It might be a bit bulky but as a desktop replacement it does not really matter. This system is really feature packed. I was surprised by the performance of the system. This puppy really screamed for a notebook. On thing I really wish for are multiple processors. I know that it's a long shot, cooling and all, but I really do need them. I guess that it's a trade off; portability over power.

The video card really rocks! The Nvida chipset is extremely Linux friendly. Just be sure to download the latest drivers from Nvidia's website. Linux optimized games run extremely well. Games running under Transgaming's WineX work rather well too. I compared Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the Linux version and the Windows version (under WineX) and discovered that although the Windows version looked really nice the Linux version was far superior.

Although small compared to my 20" flat-panel, the 15" UXGA display is crisp, bright, and sharp. When working with it on your lap the display is great. If you plan on docking it plan on getting a larger display. OK heat. This thing can get pretty hot while on your lap. Plan on wither wearing long pants or use a board or something. The thing is sporting a Pentium 4 after all. Those things can get quite toasty. The key board is actually quite comfortable with I really nice stroke to the keyboard. The touch pad can get in the way if your are not careful.

The DVD/CDRW combination drive works great under Linux. For burning CDs I use the program Arson as it works very well under KDE. For playing DVDs I use Xine. Again, I am extremely impressed by this device. It is definitely a must have for ripping or burning music CD's and for movie entertainment while on the go! The 5400 rpm hard disk is a dream come true. Are 7200 rpm drives around the corner?

This laptop sports 1GB of DDR RAM, its current maximum. For someone who has multiple VMWare sessions running at one time , maxing the RAM out is a must. But, 256MB would work great form most folks looking for just a workstation. The onboard LAN is a 3COM and works great with the standard 3C9XX driver. I have yet to get the onboard modem to work. I have seen reports of people in the past (older laptops) getting them to work though. I wasn't to worried as I have a Linux friendly, cellular PCMCIA modem. The onboard firewire port is a great feature. Now to get that DVD burner working...


This Laptop loves Linux! Other than the modem (and it probably works) I have had no real computing issues. I am currently running RedHat 7.3 with a recompiled 2.4.18 Kernel. I would recommend recompiling the kernel as it greatly enhances the performance over running a "canned" kernel. Although bulky, it is a great desktop replacement and if you have a great case or backpack (I have a backpack from SpiresUSA) the weight isn't really a problem. The system is feature packed and makes a great work/play/on the go laptop. Word to the wise. If you purchase this laptop you will be unable to use previous Latitude power supplies, not enough Umph!


The Good - Pros
  • Power packed and feature rich

The Bad - Cons
  • Heavy in weight
  • Expensive cost
  • I know it is wishful thinking but I would love to see a SMP version in the future

The Ugly - Issues
  • N/A

The Verdict - Opinion

Worth the money. If you are looking for a desktop replacement that is Linux friendly, then this is it!

Linux Compatibility:
Cost & Value: