Dell’s Precision 5520 is one of a unequivocally few laptops to offer a Linux placement as a pre-installed handling system. Another is Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition, that offers good opening in a restrict size. For people wanting something a small some-more powerful, a Precision 5520 (which starts during $1,399 but is $2,765.50 as configured) packs workstation levels of energy while remaining customarily bashful of 4 pounds (3.93, to be exact).
This is indeed a second Precision 5520 PCWorld has received. A initial section suffered dual indignities. First, Dell commissioned a wrong Linux heart that didn’t have all a updated drivers it needed. Second, we unsuccessful to follow adult with Dell when we had problems with a Wi-Fi, keyboard shortcuts, and arrangement brightness.
If zero else, a mixup with a Precision 5520 showed customarily how bad an knowledge can be on unequivocally good hardware if a suitable drivers aren’t supplied. It also showed since simply installing a Linux distro on a appurtenance meant for Windows (along with Secure Boot and all a nonsense that entails), unequivocally doesn’t offer a same knowledge as a appurtenance that’s shipped with Linux in mind. Fighting with hardware is one of a reasons people equivocate Linux, after all.
PCWorld regrets a errors, and we’re happy to news a second section is a finish depart from a knowledge we had before. The Ubuntu animation for a new designation played a informed boopy-beepy music. we was means to bond to my home network a approach we design NetworkManager to, though a hitch. The shade liughtness was controllable from a hardware keys, yet Ubuntu still didn’t seem to like a Windows pivotal or a Search pivotal to open adult a concept hunt pane.
Performance starts with a body
The Precision 5520 is a opposite category of laptop than a XPS 13, and it shows. The device is physically bigger, looking some-more like an XPS 15, with Dell’s aluminum and well-spoken matte-black touches all around.
Of course, many of your time with a PC will be spent looking during a screen, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a splendid 3840×2160 (4K) touchscreen that keeps things pointy in a 15 erratic inches of genuine estate.The screen’s bezel is slim, definition that some-more of that area is taken adult with tangible pixels. To that end, Dell has placed a webcam nearby a hinge, permitting a shade to extend serve adult top. Just be warned, this means a camera will be looking adult during you, prepared to expel ungainly shadows and prominence any flaws in your neck and chin.
The palm-rest area facilities something many users won’t be accustomed to: an Intel Xeon trademark (in place of a some-more common Core i5 or Core i7 branding), that indicates right divided that this appurtenance is all about a cores—of that there are eight—and not indispensably a clocks (although a 2.9GHz time speed isn’t shabby). In fact, a Precision’s Xeon demolished a Core-grade CPU in a 2015 XPS 13 Developer Edition we used for comparison. The additional cores and aloft clocks unequivocally paid off in CPU-intensive tasks like heart gathering and record compression.
The PC also comes with a vast assisting of RAM, to a balance of 32GB. That’s a lot some-more than a normal user will need, though it’s a vast advantage for workstation loads, saving a complement from carrying to strike a barter space (virtual memory) on a storage drive.
For connectivity, a laptop comes with 3 USB ports: one USB 3.1 Type C/Thunderbolt and dual USB 3.0 Type A. You also get an HDMI out, an SD label reader, and a Kensington lock. For those who cite regulating a mouse, you’ll substantially wish to go with a Bluetooth choice in sequence to preserve a dual USB 3.0 ports.
The Precision 5520’s performance, amped by a Intel Xeon processor and inexhaustible amounts of RAM, done a XPS 13 demeanour like a child’s plaything. And that’s observant a lot, since a XPS 13 is no slump when versed with a Core i7.
The SSD exam regulating IOZone showed some considerable results. The consecutive review speed for a 4GB record (using a 1MB record size) came in during about 11,176MB/s. Compared to a XPS 13’s 8,725MB/s, a Precision 5520 offers a 28-percent alleviation in review speeds.
In a consecutive write exam regulating a same settings, a Precision 5520 pushed information to a SSD during a rate of 1,211MB/s, about 2.4 percent faster than a XPS 13.
The subsequent exam looked during a 3D capabilities with a Unigine Heaven graphics test. Rendering during a fortitude of 1920×1080 during full settings, a Precision 5520 managed a meager-looking 8.98 frames per second. That’s still faster than a XPS 13, that managed customarily 7.92 frames per second.
It is critical to keep in mind that a Precision 5520 is not billed as a gaming machine, so a low measure on a graphics exam meant to replicate gaming scenes isn’t a deal-breaker by any means.
For a CPU tests, a Precision 5520 unequivocally showed off a energy and demonstrated a disproportion between a Core i7 and a Xeon processor. CPU function was during 2.6 percent for H.264 video playback and scored accurately a same as a prior section did. In comparison, a CPU use on a XPS 13 was about 7.9 percent for a same test.
Number-crunching is what Intel’s Xeons and desktop-enthusiast Core i7s do best. In a computation-intensive tasks, a Xeon unequivocally shined. Encoding H.264 video takes a lot some-more energy than decoding, though a Xeon done light of it. The Precision managed to encode video during 202 frames per second, compared to a XPS 13’s 93 frames.
Kernel compiling time showed a vast alleviation over a XPS 13 as well, holding customarily 98.4 seconds for a Precision 5520. Meanwhile, a XPS 13 took 254.9 seconds in a attempt, over 2.5 times longer.
Not everybody compiles a heart each day, though many people restrict files or re-encode media files. In a tests regulating a Gzip focus algorithm (one of a many common focus algorithms used in Linux), a Precision 5520 dense a 2GB record in about 10.1 seconds. The XPS 13 dense a same 2GB record in 12.6 seconds. While 2.5 seconds don’t sound like much, that’s a 25 percent disproportion between a Linux workstation and a Windows laptop.
Encoding a WAV record to FLAC showed a identical trend. It took 5.04 seconds on a Precision, while a XPS 13 took 7.65 seconds to encode a same file.
The battery outline exam showed unequivocally good results. When we ran PowerTop, we beheld that many of a power-saving options were enabled by default, so we didn’t have to do any tweaking. we did, however, dim a backlight to about 50 percent of maximum. we afterwards played a 1080p H.264 film on loop in VLC and unplugged a charging cable.
Normally, we would run a exam while pinging a Precision 5520 from my possess PC with a script. The book would stop a timer when a PC being tested unsuccessful to respond to a ping. It’s customarily a flattering plain approach to exam how prolonged a PC is on.
On a initial attempt, however, a Precision 5520 away from my home Wi-Fi network several times while using a test. Needless to say, this combined artificially brief exam results. we knew a reported formula were approach out of strike since a Power Statistics focus clearly showed over 5 hours of operation.
After contacting Dell, we schooled that Linux’s wireless networking smoke-stack would tell a Wi-Fi label to indicate continuously for a best-quality vigilance for famous good SSIDs. If a improved one is found, a label would try to switch.
For people operative in vast offices or on campus, this is indeed a flattering damn good feature. It’s customarily a bit of a pain for testing. we have both a Wi-Fi router and a wireless entrance indicate during home on a same SSID. On tip of that, a router has both a 5Ghz and 2.4GHz network with a same SSID. That’s a lot of options for a little, confused card. In sequence to run a test, we had to open adult a options for my wireless network and set a BSSID, that thatch a organisation for a given SSID to a specific radio. That authorised me some-more network fortitude to run a test.
After using a exam again, we found that a laptop happily played a 1080p H.264 film on loop for 6 hours, 36 minutes. That’s good news, generally deliberation that time is not counting a fact a Wi-Fi mislaid a close early in a exam (somewhere in a initial 5-10 mins or so). we restarted a timer after a close was lost, so a 6 hours and 36 mins could simply have another 5 to 15 mins combined to it. (That’s an blunder of 1 to 4 percent, by a way.)
While that’s unequivocally considerable for a workstation laptop, remember that a CPU function for H.264 playback was a meagre 2.6 percent in a Phoronix benchmark. That low function means reduction energy being used by a CPU, and longer battery life. The locking of a BSSID also eliminates a need for a Wi-Fi to scan, disconnect, and reconnect, that also offering some energy savings.
In real-world terms, this means that we can watch cinema on a moody from Atlanta to Los Angeles though a need to assign up.
The Dell Precision 5520 is a able work appurtenance and can offer a stylish choice to OS X or Windows 10 workstations. When a manufacturer provides drivers (either backported from a newer heart or granted for a PC in question), a seamless knowledge creates we wish to gaunt behind and suffer a OS. Frankly, we wish some-more PC makers would do what Dell did and offer their hardware to consumers, prepared and versed for a Linux experience.