Dell Precision 5540 Up & Running

Discussion in 'Dell Latitude, Vostro, and Precision' started by virtualeyes, Oct 31, 2019.

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  1. virtualeyes

    virtualeyes Notebook Geek

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    Finally upgraded the old Precision M4700. A lot has changed in 7 years, the 5540 is a very different machine indeed.

    Having endured years of loud fan noise caused by over powered CPU and Nvidia card, I elected to go with the least powerful CPU available and no discrete graphics. Similarly noticing that the NVMe SSD was running very hot, I returned that and went with an M2 2280 SSD, which works fine in the M2 slot and runs much cooler.

    The machine is incredibly easy to work on, just pick up a Torx T5 screwdriver; remove the screws, pop the cover and you have access to everything.

    Bought 32GB RAM and 2 MX500 500GB SSDs from Crucial and installed them without issue. Picked up some Grizzly Kryonaut and removed the fresh paste job by Dell, which was very liberally applied. Maybe a degree or 2 cooler, stock paste job was decent so you could probably skip this step.

    Read that the heat sink for the i5 and i7 is lacking relative to the i9, but seems decent enough, idle temps are in low 30s, and browsing, email, etc. bring temps to the low 40s. As a result for light use the fans rarely turn on -- silence is golden :)

    To reduce battery usage I went with standard 1080p FHD screen, which really pops, the color/contrast is vibrant, very happy with this choice.

    Keyboard is solid, although I prefer the soft depth of the M4700 keyboard (which has a much thicker chassis). I like the coupling of Fn key to left, right, up, down arrows for home, end, page up, page down.

    The trackpad I don't like so much. In my old machine the left/right buttons were separate from the trackpad, but now they're part of it, which leads to a left click event sometimes moving the cursor just off of the click target; annoying. Maybe I don't have correct driver in place on my Linux system.

    In terms of ports, kind of lacking. Would be better to have 2 Thunderbolt ports + 2 USB-C instead of 1 Thunderbolt + 2 USB-C. Ports themselves are kind of sticky, have to wrangle a bit with the cable to remove from the slot, particularly the one next to the power adapter which is spaced too closely together.

    Thunderbolt 3 with DP support is awesome, have a 1.4lbs. 16" display powered entriely over the Thunderbolt connection.

    While the 5540 is no LG gram (17" model weighing in at a ridiculous 2.9lbs), this machine is pleasantly light (4lbs) compared to the old M4700 tank (6.5lbs), and suprisingly shipped with a lightweight 130W slim power adapter (which I was going to buy separately).

    Performance-wise haven't really pushed the machine yet. Compiling some work project source code (JVM and Node.js based) wasn't terribly impressive, likely due to throttling as for some reason the fans kick on very late under load (as in 90C or so the fans suddenly kick into high gear rather than ramping up from 60C mid-range temp).

    Overall very happy with the machine, looking forward to taking this lightweight and quiet setup on the road.
    Rokobo and bobbie424242 like this.
  2. Sir Punk

    Sir Punk Notebook Deity

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    Thanks for the review, I am surprised to hear that the NVMe has heating problems, I have one in my HP 15", similar to the Precision, without any problem. What internal graphics do you have? Just the Intel? I wondering what's the difference in terms of performance between i5 and i7.
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