Dell Precision 5540 one-month review

Discussion in 'Dell Latitude, Vostro, and Precision' started by HardAce, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. HardAce

    HardAce Newbie

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    I received my 5540 two weeks ahead of schedule and am impressed. Since I couldn't and still can't find any reviews on the 5540, I'll offer mine here.

    CONS
    -Systems only ships with the most basic of web cam so there's no option for windows login.
    -No keypad despite adequate real estate. (I'm sure this is a weight and thickness issue ...can't have it all)
    -With the i9-9980HK it gets pretty hot ...fan keeps up but you certainly notice the sound level.
    -Price! You get what you pay for but it's not cheap.
    -Battery Life has a wide range depending on your task. Shortest stretch has been 4 hours doing some heavy lifting with full brightness of monitor. A normal is 6-8 when allowing the monitor to conserve. I think I could push it to 10-12 hours if I tweaked settings.

    PROS
    -NO WORTHLESS BLOATWARE.
    -OLED Display is so crisp and perfect in virtually any light condition.
    -With 64gb of memory and a SSD, it is a speed demon beyond compare. It whips through photo quality architectural renderings in 20 seconds for what would take my Lenovo over an hour to accomplish (at lower quality.)
    -To date it is a far more reliable and stable system than my HP mobile workstation. When docking, it is quick to recognize the two external 4K monitors with no glitches.
    -Carbon fiber deck is more comfortable than aluminum.
    -Great touchpad. (HP should source from Dell for these.)
    -Price! It's expensive and yes, you get what you pay for.... and you get a lot. Lenovo promises similar configurations to the P1 gen2 but the clock is ticking and it will likely be more pricey. HP (ZBOOK Studio G5) can match all of the same specs except the OLED but for $1000 more and half a pound heavier. The HP studio x360 G5 is nearly a pound heavier and $1600 more expensive...still with no OLED.

    CONCLUSION
    This is the first Dell workstation I've purchased in over 10 years. I stopped buying Dell because it seemed like Dell tech was always following instead of innovating. Lenovo Thinkpad P's have served me well in the past but seem to be losing their IBM THINKPAD roots in favor of the China factor. I've bought a few HP x360's (I refuse to change another HP motherboard!) and even equipped my managers and college kids with them. I even have a couple of Macbook Pros but they are worthless for anything architectural. After 30 days with this tricked-out Precision 5540, I think Dell is back. HP and Lenovo may still be the players to push some of the innovation but reliability issues and price are far more critical considerations. At the end of the day we all have to work for a living and spending it on the phone with tech support doesn't pay the bills.

    I'm surprised that there are still no Precision 5540 reviews online from the big players. I am very pleased with my unit and happy that once again, an American company is leading and delivering.

    I have received no compensation or consideration for my opinions.
     
    Rippchen and Aaron44126 like this.
  2. Aaron44126

    Aaron44126 Notebook Virtuoso

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    Thanks for posting your review.
    I'm curious if image retention ("burn-in") will be a problem with the OLED display. I would be interested to see how things are going with it after several months or a year...
     
  3. fmantek

    fmantek Notebook Enthusiast

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    Brand-new forum member here. I have my 5540 for 2 weeks now. I did not go for the OLED display, as they suck too much battery (dark mode is a nice hype, and might be ok for phones and TVs, but not for computer work) in my color/contrast combinations.

    The machine is solidly build, nice enough keyboard (I switch just for the keyboard away from apple for my needs, the butterfly keyboard is sad). The 4K LCD is a very nice screen, easily on par with the best I have seen in the past. Heat is ok, fan noise is of course more than I am used to, but in a for me acceptable level. I went for the class 50 SSD, 64GB ram and the t2000 card, and have the machine most of the day docked to the WD19TB dock.

    This is certainly the fastest laptop I have ever owned. In respect of the hardware, I am very happy.

    The bad stuff is the software. It did not even took a week until the Dell Command utility to update your system started to have "you need to update something" loops. Got most of them sorted, beside the "Intel chipset driver", which is installing fine and is happy to do it over and over again. I went away from Windows 10 years ago, and man, that does not seem to get old.

    Got 2 bluescreens in 2 weeks, for windows, that's from my recollection a pretty good deal as well. The only real problem left that I have is:

    -> I have a thunderbolt raid array connected to the dock
    -> putting the laptop to sleep does not effect the array
    -> putting the laptop in hibernation makes the array go to sleep

    Not really what I want to do, as I have not figured out how to start up a hibernated laptop without opening the lid....

    Beside that I am happy with the purchase. Not with Dell though. The support, here in Europe, is a joke. I ordered an additional power supply, which was offered in the order process. When the delivery arrived, the wrong power supply was shipped, does not fit the laptop.

    Service ticket 1: -> They can not help me, as I am living in Switzerland. Which is lame, as this was the Swiss support site I used, and heck it's the same site I used to buy the laptop.
    Service ticket 2: -> they can not help me with returns, as I am above the 14 day (it was 8 days) time limit for returns

    In both tickets the same guys responded, and for some reason believed I wanted to return the powersupply because I just did not like it. Where I wanted to return it, as it was the wrong one.

    Now at the third ticket and my hope to get this resolved is not high. Seriously, considering I just spend 5K on a "professional workstation", the support feels cheap like if I bought a Chromebook for 200$. This, seriously, would have never ever happened with Apple, and makes me be afraid if I would ever have to use Dell for a real problem.

    Current verdict: great hardware, should probably install Ubuntu, as Windows is still a bad OS with terrible drivers. Terrible after sales support, and I could not recommend Dell to a person who does need support.

    Frank
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2019
  4. fmantek

    fmantek Notebook Enthusiast

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    Yesterday I did run some benchmark software and got really low CPU scores. Not sure if the power plan was involved (did not think about that being an issue when the machine is connected to power). The CPU scores are roughly a third of those posted for the 7740, which makes no sense at all to me.

    HardAce, did you happen to run Cinebench or 3dmark on yours?

    Frank
     
  5. virtualeyes

    virtualeyes Notebook Guru

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    Which CPU do you have?

    Performance aside, the 8-core CPUs seem to run quite hot (read: increased fan noise), although maybe the same for 6-core variants -- thin chassis presents cooling challenges.

    Probably impossible to produce a cool & quiet high powered ultra thin laptop...
     
  6. fmantek

    fmantek Notebook Enthusiast

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    So true, and that's why we have variable processor stepping...

    Anyhow, I have the fastest you can get for the 5540, the i9-9980HK. So I should get multicore scores in Cinebench r20 of 3600 and up, but I am ending up with below 1000. I am pretty sure it is related to the power plans or something along that - but I was not on windows for nearly 20 years, so I am rusty. Fixed my 5540 to allow for the high-performance power plans (oh, regedit, how did I miss thee.... NOT), but that had no real effect.

    Need to play more with this, but as the machine is not really feeling "slow", I chalk this up so far to "battery optimisation magic" that only bothers me because of the inherit "mine is bigger than yours" proposition of running benchmark software :). Probably means I will spend the weekend playing with the bios :)

    Frank
     
  7. fmantek

    fmantek Notebook Enthusiast

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    Oh, and does anyone have a link to a "how to disassemble the 5540" manual? There is a great one around for the 77xx, but I failed to find a similar one for the 55xx series. I would love to eventually add a 2nd SSD to the system.
     
  8. Aaron44126

    Aaron44126 Notebook Virtuoso

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    I checked and was surprised to find that they haven't posted the 5540 service manual. Check the one for the 5530. The layout is quite similar (if not the same).
    https://www.dell.com/support/manual...on5530_servicemanual/working-on-your-computer
    Second SSD requires the smaller battery I believe.
     
  9. virtualeyes

    virtualeyes Notebook Guru

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    Someone with a similar setup posted their benchmarks on Reddit, might want to check it out.

    Kind of not a great time to buy a new laptop, AMD has stolen Intel's thunder, but no 7nm AMD mobile CPUs are available until 2020. In the meantime we have hot running 14nm Intel CPUs that likely can't reach performance potential in these thin/light laptops.

    6-core seems like best compromise on heat/performance, but even then the fans will probably run most of the time (hopefully not annoyingly ramping up and down with that signature Precision fan clicking noise).
     
  10. fmantek

    fmantek Notebook Enthusiast

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    There is never a good time to buy new computer hardware :)

    I ran userbench, geekbench etc. All scores are terrible. On the plus side, i pretty much never get fan noise. UserBench (https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/19476363) indicates that my CPU is always at around 3Ghz, and that obviously explains the problem. Funny, just rerun userbench with power connected, and i am at 2.75ghz :). Both on Dell Powerplan, performance setting. Changing to the ultimate performance plan actually decreased the results to 1.75ghz.

    Very weird.

    Frank
     
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