Dell Precision 5520 Mobile Workstation review: The Ubuntu Linux laptop for power developers

Jonathan MathewsPublic

Dell describes their Project Sputnik computers as systems developed by and for developers. They’re right. They are. While the XPS 13 is the best known of these, it could stand a little improvement. For example, it can only hold 16GBs of RAM. For those who need even more power and memory, you can get a Dell Precision 5520 Mobile Workstation.

You can up the RAM on this powerhouse machine to 32GBs of RAM. For processing punch, the 5520 defaults to an Intel Core i5-7440HQ 2.80GHz processor, but for an extra $322 you can crank it up to a blazing-hot Intel Core Xeon 3 GHz E3-1505M v6 CPU. The I5 7440 Processor comes with the Intel 630 HD Graphics. The other processors come with a snappy Nvidia Quadro M1200 graphics processor with 4GBs of video RAM.

My review system came with all the trimmings: 32GBs of RAM, the Xeon processor, the M1200 graphics, and a 512GB Solid-State Drive (SSD). In a word, it’s “sweet”. This is the fastest computer I’ve ever had in my laptop bag.

Ever since I switched over to a Chromebook Pixel for my main laptop, I’ve grown to dislike carrying even a single extra ounce on my shoulder. The 5520, at 4.4 pounds with the long-life battery, weighs a tad more than I’d like, but for the power, I’ll forgive it its weight.

This 15″ laptop is also a handsome beast. Its machined aluminum lid lives on a carbon-fiber body. I especially liked the patterned, soft-touch wrist-deck. This is one laptop keyboard you can type on all day with little danger of carpal-tunnel syndrome.

The screen is a bezel-free InfinityEdge display. This is a truly lovely 4K 15.6-inch display and the Nvidia makes it even nicer. But — and this is a big but — for me at least its bright 3840×2160 (4K) display renders text too small to be easily read. Once I set it to a lower resolution, 1920×1080, I was perfectly happy with it.

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