Dell upgrades the best laptop for designers and artists

The Dell Precision 5520 features faster processors and better graphics than its predecessor, the Precision 5510. There are an upgraded 17-inch laptop and an iMac rival too.

While Apple's MacBook Pro is synonymous with being a creative, our last look at the best laptops for designers and artists (whether illustrators or 3D artists) crowned the Dell Precision 5510 as the one you want. Even the launch of Apple's new MacBook Pro last month – which finally gave the MBP 6th-generation Intel Core chips to match the 5510 – wasn't enough to usurp Dell's leading pro laptop, as the controversial Touch Bar is very much the poor cousin of a full touchscreen when travelling.

As the name implies, the Precision 5520 is a relatively minor update to the 5510 – but one that nonetheless likely firmly establishes this 15-inch model as superior to Apple's latest effort. Unless Dell's cocked something up, of course. So we'll reserve judgement until we see a review unit.

The 5520 is essentially the 5510 upgraded with Intel’s ‘7th-generation’ Kaby Lake processors and architecture. The design remains largely the same – black and sleek, if not quite as stylish as the new MacBook Pro. There’s a new touchpad – though Dell hasn’t said what’s new about it.

The 15.6-inch screen is superior though – a full ‘QHD’ 3,840 x 2,160 like most 4K TVs, and capable of outputting the full Adobe RGB colour gamut. It’s also a full touchscreen, rather than the MacBook’s Touch Bar strip above the keyboard (which you may consider to be in either Dell or Apple’s favour).

(You can get an cheaper HD screen to save yourself some money, but if cost is more of a concern to you than performance, the 5520 probably isn’t the right laptop for you anyway).

There are seven new-gen chip options for the 5520 – two Core i5 chips up to 2.8GHz, three Core i7 chips up to 2.9GHz and two Xeon E3 up to 3GHz. Later in the year, there will be versions with older ‘6th-gen’ chips as found in the 5510, for anyone who wants to replace an older unit like-for-like.

The Kaby Lake platform also gives you access to faster RAM running at 2400MHz, and the 5520’s two slots let you put up to 32GB in it.

For storage, there are also two ‘slots’. One fits a standard HDD or SSD up to 1TB, while the second takes a small, fast-but-pricey M.2 PCI NVMe drive up to 1TB.

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Anyone put off by the single-mindedness of Apple’s approach to the new MacBook Pro’s ports will appreciate the 5520 – which, as with the 5510, has a single Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.0, HDMI, and an SD Card reader.

Alongside the Kaby Lake platform, the 5520 also gains a new graphics chip in Nvidia’s Quadro M1200 with 4GB of its own RAM.

The Dell Precision 5520 will be available in the UK ‘soon’, says Dell. Pricing in the US will be from $1,399 (around £1,150). UK pricing will be announced when it ships.

Dell has also upgraded it’s 17-inch pro laptop, now called the Precision 7720. This is better looking than the 7710, and – like the 5520 – features the new Kaby Lake architecture. With a larger chassis, the 7710 supports faster Core i7 and Xeon E3 processors than its 15-inch cousin: both at up to 3.1GHz. The 7720 also supports up to 32GB of faster 2667MHz RAM – or up to 64GB of 2400MHz RAM.

The 7720 has a wide choice of graphics options from both AMD and Nvidia – topping out at either the AMD Radeo Pro WX7100 with 8GB of RAM or the Nvidia Quadro P5000 with 16GB. Higher-end graphics cards make the 7720 suitable for powering VR systems including the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

The 17-inch screen has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 with a gamut of more than 100% Adobe RGB (unless you trade down to a lower-option).

There’s space for three drives in the Precision 7720 – two bays will take M.2 PCI NVMe drives up to 1TB, and one will take either one of those or a 2.5-inch SSD or HDD).

The 7720 will be available in the US from Feb 28 with pricing starting at $1,799 (£1,480). It’ll ship in the UK in April, with pricing again announced when it ships.

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Dell’s pro-level iMac-a-like is also Kaby Lake-based, with a choice of Core i5, i7 and Xeon E3 processors – and up to 64GB of 2133MHz RAM.

There are two versions of the 5570 AIO – one slightly larger than the other. The smaller one (shown here) has an InfinityEdge display that stretches almost to the edge of the unit. The larger  (on the next page) has a touchscreen and a wider bezel – though there’s no pen support as with Dell’s Canvas or Microsoft’s Surface Studio. Read: The Dell Canvas is a low-cost version of Wacom's 27-inch Cintiq. Microsoft Surface Studio hands-on review

Both screens have an Ultra HD resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 and can output the full Adobe RGB gamut. Powering them is either an AMD Radeon Pro W4150 with 4GB RAM or a W7100 with 8GB. There are no Nvidia graphics options.

The chassis of the 5570 AIO has been fashioned from a single piece of aluminium, with the design of the front making much of its Jack Joseph Puig Signature Series speakers (of which there are 10 in total around the chassis).

For storage, you can have up to two 2.5-inch SSD/HDDs – and/or an M.2 PCI NVMe drive on the motherboard. Ports include five USB 3.0, two Thunderbolt 3, Ethernet and an SD card.

The Precision 5570 AIO will ship in the US on 6 April for $1,599.00. It’ll also arrive in the UK in April but, again, pricing won’t be announced til then.

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