In this review, we take a closer look at a laptop that is not easy to beat in terms of performance. The Dell Mobile Precision 5550 is a powerful workstation in mobile housing. In this Dell Precision 5550, every component is optimized for optimal performance. We’re fairly sure folks with desktop PCs a few years old will be left behind with this spunky powerhouse. But for whom is the system suitable?
When we unpacked this Dell Mobile Precision 5550, we were not immediately impressed. That may also be because we are not directly the target group for this laptop. After looking at the specifications, it is immediately clear that we should not underestimate this laptop. It is also clear that the Precision 5550 was designed for a target group. The laptop is the wet dream of every creative professional who is involved in photo and video editing or video animations. Architects, CAT designers, and data science specialists are also incredibly happy when they can work with this laptop.
The Dell Mobile Precision 5550 has a 15-inch screen with a 4K resolution, 3840 x 2400 pixels (16:10). It is a screen with a touch panel, so enthusiasts can also operate the screen by touch. It is also striking that the screen has a very thin bezel, which really makes optimal use of the size of the laptop. The user is really presented with a decently large screen. The image quality is particularly good compared to other laptops, although Dell does not report much about this except for 100% SRGB colors, which is not so exciting anymore. The thin bezel also contains a webcam with an HD resolution.
The Dell Precision 5550 is available in several configurations. Each configuration is focused on performance. For example, Dell has opted for the Intel H series. Although these Intel chips are suitable for mobile devices, they can also perform well. The Intel H-series does not fit into Intel’s vision of Ultrabooks, which requires a battery life of at least one working day. Mobility with the Dell Precision is more about the ability to take the laptop with you. With light work, you can work on the laptop for about 4 to 6 hours, but as soon as you use applications that really require performance, the battery can also be empty within an hour. As a user, power management is important. Fortunately, Intel and Microsoft have developed genuinely nice options for this in the operating system these days,
The choice of performance includes Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7 processors from 10th generation Intel processors. There is also an absolute top model with an Intel Xeon processor, the chip that we normally only encounter in server systems. Finally, you can choose from Intel processors with and without Intel vPro. Intel vPro provides the ability for a system administrator to remotely manage the machine whether Windows is loaded or not. A system administrator can watch via vPro but also reinstall the system. The choice for vPro is in many cases made by large companies to have more control over the systems used in the company. In recent years, we have seen that security has moved more towards software on the Windows platform and less towards Intel’s vPro.
In addition to the choice of various powerful processors, there is also a wide range of working memory. There are options for 8, 16, 32, and 64GB of RAM. Even ECC-registered is possible. ECC memory can detect and fix errors in the working memory. That makes it safer, and it offers more guarantees. It is rare in laptops and is originally more focused on servers.
Dell has also broadened the range for storage capacity, from a 256GB SSD to a 2TB SSD. There are also options from 512GB and 1TB. A second hard drive with the same options is also possible. This mobile workstation, therefore, supports a maximum of 4TB of storage capacity.
Video card / GPU
Finally, we would almost forget that Dell also includes a discrete GPU as standard. The video card makes the system so interesting for the target groups. No video cards for gamers, but specialists, given the range of Nvidia Quadro T100 and T200 cards combined with 4GB GDDR5 memory.
The complete powertrain of this laptop is extremely extensive and focused on performance. If you cannot achieve sufficient performance with this laptop, a laptop will simply be dropped. Getting much more performance out of a mobile workstation is almost impossible, then you really must look at desktop PCs where you can store larger components. Or go and look at a virtualized PC.
Dell Mobile Precision 5550 in use
We opened this review by saying that we weren’t immediately impressed with this Precision 5550 when we unpacked it. That has more to do with our idea of an ideal laptop, compared to this model. We as editors are on the road a lot, visit companies to do interviews and visit events. Our laptop comes with us as standard, which means that we are enthusiastic about a 13-inch lightweight laptop. At 15 inches, the Precision 5550 is larger and heavier. With its 2 kilos, the laptop is not exactly lightweight. However, that is not the purpose of this system. This system is all about performance, nothing more, nothing less.
Not traveling with a Precision
The Precision 5550 offers the possibility to use it mobile and take it with you to a place to work. It is also possible to work on short train rides or air travel. However, this does not apply to long journeys, because you will need a socket within a few hours. Despite the presence of sockets in the train and the plane, you will not be helped with this. A 130-Watt charger is included, and they do not work on the train or the plane. They are usually limited to 50 to 60 Watts. Is this a disadvantage? If you see it as a disadvantage, you are simply not the target audience for this laptop. Charging can be done quickly; in 20 minutes the battery can be charged to 35 percent and in one hour to 80 percent.
The laptop was not developed with a balance between performance and battery life. The system is primarily made to perform. Yes, you can take the system to the customer or another office. You can also work mobile for a few hours when you are on the road, but that should be seen more as a bonus. If you develop a laptop with Intel H processors or even Intel Xeon processors, you focus on performance and therefore on heavy users.
Performs without breaking a sweat
We’ve been using our review model for a while. We noticed that the system is simply many times faster than the systems we work on every day. In our editorial office, we often work with laptops that contain a so-called Intel processor from the U-series. The U stands for ultra-low power, whereby the battery life is seen as the most important spearhead and not the performance. This is a world of difference in performance. If we open twenty browser windows on our editing machine, our laptop starts to blow. If we do that on the review model, it doesn’t happen. Not a penny of pain. Even with more powerful applications, such as editing photos, working with large Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations, this system does not make any noise. Rendering videos are also fast on this system. Everything revolves around performance.
Keyboard and touchpad
What we do a lot in the editorial office is writing texts. We also did that on the Dell Mobile Precision 5550, and we can be brief about that. The laptop has a high-quality keyboard with a short travel distance on the keys. So, you don’t have to press the keys very deeply to write texts. According to Dell at least 1.3mm. An excellent keyboard for writing texts. The touchpad is also nice and large and takes up about half the width of the laptop, so you can navigate quickly and easily. The response time and multi-touch recognition are also excellent.
Housing and connections
The aluminum housing is sturdy and well put together. This is quality housing, but that is also allowed. It is a high-end system; we would not have accepted less. As for the connections, Dell has opted for 3 USB Type-C connections with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support. The two USB-C ports on the right side also have Thunderbolt 3. The port on the left does not have Thunderbolt 3. However, all three ports can be used to power the system. There is no USB Type-A port, but a dongle is included for this.
Dell has also opted for a Kensington slot connection. Not entirely superfluous with a laptop in this price range. A universal audio port and of course a slot for an SD card are available. Those memory card slots were standard for a while, but these days they are disappearing from more systems. Since the Precision 5550 is aimed at creative professionals with audio and video equipment, the memory card slot is essential and therefore also present.
The Dell Mobile Precision 5550 is therefore clearly not suitable for everyone. Only for people who want to get the most out of their laptop professionally and who are never more than a few hours away from a power outlet. It costs £3,124 from Amazon.