Dell’s has launched a new line of mobile workstations – laptops for creative pros that feature AMD FirePro or Nvidia Quadro graphics. The new Dell Precision mobile line have been given a design overhaul to both improve their appearance and make them thinner and lighter than their their predecessors – primarily by getting rid of largely redundant features such as optical drives and ExpressCard slots, but also by using lightweight materials such as magnesium and carbon fibre.
The new Precision line is also based on Intel’s Skylake platform for faster chips, and more and faster RAM.
There are three new models you’ll care about – kicking off with a new thin, light MacBook Pro-competitor that replaces the popular Precision M3800 (which is my current laptop of choice for travelling with, despite a rather short battery life).
All will be released in November – though some options won't be avaiable until early 2016. Pricing will be announced nearer to release, says Dell.
Dell Precision 5510
The Precision 5510 is 6% thinner and 17% smaller than the M3800 – and also slightly smaller, thinner and lighter than the 15-inch MacBook Pro (1.8kg to the Mac’s 2kg). It’s smaller because it has what Dell calls an InfinityEdge display – which has a smaller bezel so you still have a 15.6-inch screen with either an HD or 4K screen (the 4K screen’s resolution of 3,840 x 2,810 having almost twice as many pixels as the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s Retina Display).
A laptop screen’s capacity for and accuracy with colour is as important as resolution, and 4K screen can support over 100% of the Adobe RGB colour space – an industry first for a laptop according to Dell.
The screen is powered by a Nvidia Quadro M1000M – a new mobile graphics chip based on Nvidia’s Maxwell platform with 2GB of dedicated RAM.
There’s a choice of three chips for the Precision 5510, which are all quad-core: the 2.8GHz Xeon E3, 2.7GHz Core i7-6820HQ or 2.3GHz Core i5-6300HQ. Initially, you can order the 5510 with up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM – but this will rise to 32GB when larger DDR4 RAM modules start shipping in early 2016.
The 5510 can have two storage drives: one M.2 PCI-Express SSD at up to 1TB and a SATA SSD at up to 1TB (or an HDD if you’re feeling perverse).
One regular criticism of the Precision M3800 is that it has a much lower battery life than other pro laptops – including the MacBook Pro. Dell says that this has been improved (but obviously we’ll reserve judgement until we test a review unit).
Dell Precision 7510
The Precision 7510 is also a 15-inch laptop, but it’s bigger, bulkier and more powerful than the 5510. However, it’s a lot smaller and lighter than the Precision M4800 it replaces – losing that unnecessary optical drive along the way. There are a few more screen options than the 5510 – but the 4K option isn’t a touchscreen for some reason.
For your extra kg – it’s 2.8kg to the 5510’s 1.8kg – you get access to a wider range of chips: a 2.3GHz Core i5, Core i7 to 2.9GHz, Xeon E3 up to 2.9GHz and some as-yet-unannounced Xeon chips coming later too. With twice as many RAM slots as the 5510, there’s a max 32GB of RAM now and 64GB in early 2016.
Graphics choices are AMD’s 2GB FirePro W5170M, Nvidia’s 2GB Quadro M1000M or 4GB Quadro M2000M.
The 7510’s extra size has allowed Dell to squeeze in an additional 2.5-inch slot – so fit two SATA SSDs (up to 1TB each) and an M.2 PCI-Express SSD (up to 1TB).
Dell Precision 7710
Apparently 17-inch laptops are still popular – is everyone travelling business class these days? – and the 7710 is makes lugging one around a bit less arduous than the Precision M6800 it replaces by being smaller and lighter.
The Precision 7710 is essentially the 7510-but-larger-and-better graphics. There's the same choice of chips, RAM, hard drives, a 4K screen option – though the graphics options have been expanded to include AMD's 4GB FirePro W7170M and Nvidia's 4GB Quadro M3000M or M4000M or 8GB Quadro M5000M.