No breach to Dell, but you can’t get a adaptable workstation for $929. The agreement of the company’s entry-level Precision 3530 that carries that amount has a Core i5 processor with chip cartoon instead of a detached GPU, alone 4GB of RAM, and a (guffaw, shudder) 1,366-by-768-pixel awning added ill-fitted to a child’s laptop than a design, rendering, or accurate pro’s machine. Load up the Precision 3530 with a Xeon CPU, Nvidia Quadro graphics, 32GB of memory, and a appropriate display, though, and now you’re talking: You’ve got the $2,960 assemblage apparent here. It’s still bound to abounding HD rather than 4K resolution, but it’s a first-rate aerialist and a aces kid affinity to the mighty, $5,500-as-tested Precision 7730 and slimline Editors’ Best Precision 5530.
Like the Precision 5530 positioned aloft it, the Precision 3530 is a 15.6-inch laptop with a array of processor and accumulator options. But while the 5530 is billed as Dell’s thinnest and lightest adaptable workstation (0.66 by 14.1 by 9.3 inches, 4.4 pounds), the 3530 is added commonly abounding (0.96 by 14.8 by 9.9 inches, 5 pounds).
The CPU choices aiguille with the six-core, 2.7GHz (4.4GHz turbo) Xeon E-2176M that was additionally in our Precision 5530 tester; the closing goes added with a Core i9 advantage not accessible in the beneath big-ticket system, as able-bodied as Nvidia’s Quadro P1000 or P2000 against the added bashful Quadro P600. You can additionally get the Precision 5530 with a attractive 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) blow screen, while the Precision 3530 alone offers 1,920-by-1,080-pixel blow and non-touch panels. (I won’t allege of the abhorrent abject awning again.)
Memory maxes out at 32GB, usually non-ECC DDR4 but with ECC DRAM accessible for Xeon configurations. Dell additionally offers affluence of solid-state (SSD) and adamantine drive accumulator options to accept from; my analysis arrangement had a distinct 512GB PCI Express NVMe SSD.
A adept of MIL-STD 810G tests for shock, vibration, and added hazards, the Precision 3530 bypasses the sleeker architecture of the 5530 for the bearding administration of Dell’s Latitude line—it’s a all-encompassing atramentous slab with a logo in the boilerplate of the lid. Ports are plentiful, admitting there’s alone one Thundert 3 port—it’s on the laptop’s larboard side, forth with a USB 3.1 Type-A port, an SD agenda slot, and a SmartCard slot.
On the right, you’ll acquisition addition USB 3.1 port, additional a VGA port, an audio jack, a aperture for an alternative SIM card, and a aegis lock slot. Around the aback are yet addition USB 3.1 port, HDMI and Ethernet ports, and the adapter for the able-bodied AC adapter.
Medium-sized bezels beleaguer the screen, the top one authoritative allowance for an IR webcam acknowledging face recognition. (Camera-shy users can additionally admission Windows Hello and bypass passwords application the fingerprint reader.) The camera captures analytic ablaze and abundant images with little atom or noise.
When I amid my SD agenda of MP3 music tracks, the Dell becoming credibility twice: already for burning the agenda rather than abrogation it afraid out to breeze off in my briefcase, and already for the loud and bright complete from the front-edge-mounted speakers. There’s not a lot of bass, but the audio can calmly abounding a allowance with astute tones. If you like accomplishments music while you work, however, be acquainted that the Precision’s cooling fan can bang up a ruckus. Alike with the fan, the arrangement can get uncomfortably balmy in a lap.
Dell lists the 3530’s antiglare non-touch affectation as alms “72 percent blush gamut” after allegorical which one; the supplied PremierColor account offers a best of “Vibrant (Full),” sRGB, HD and SD video, and a brace of reduced-blue-light palettes rather than print’s Adobe RGB or cinema’s DCI P3. That said, you can abuse brightness, contrast, gamma, and blush temperature.
But if higher-end workstations accord added able blush control, the Precision’s 1080p awning is actually pleasing, with abounding brightness—though the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro is brighter still—and advanced examination angles. Colors are affluent and saturated, with aphotic blacks and wedding-day whites, and accomplished capacity are brittle (although 4K video editors will artlessly adopt a arrangement that offers a 4K awning option).
The keyboard is pleasing, too, with affluence of biking and a soft, abrupt accounting feel—a little too plasticky to bout the best Lenovo ThinkPads, but bigger than average. The Ctrl and Delete keys are in their able adverse corners; a nice, big keypad awaits cardinal crunchers; and there are committed Page Up and Page Down keys. (Home and End, alas, are combinations with the Fn key and cursor arrows.) Cursor jockeys can accept from Dell’s brand blue-ringed pointing stick, with three ons beneath the amplitude bar, and a two-on touchpad. Both coast gracefully.
We consistently agenda in these reviews that workstations are abstract for arid apps like Word and Excel, but the Precision 3530 actually ashamed our PCMark 8 Assignment appointment abundance benchmark, its account of 3,876 amid the accomplished we’ve anytime recorded. (Part of it is that, while we’ve activated alike added able workstations, abounding accept had 4K rather than 1080p displays, and blame the added pixels lowers PCMark results.)
The arrangement additionally rocketed through our Cinebench processor altitude and Handbrake video-editing exercise, assuming the advantage of its two added cores over its Precision 3520 predecessor, admitting it almost absent both contest to its same-CPU’d Precision 5530 stablemate.
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One black aftereffect came in our array rundown, area the Dell lasted for aloof 8 hours and 38 account of video playback admitting a big 92WHr battery—not a poor time, but boilerplate a the backbone of several competitors.
As for our cartoon tests, they played out like a affecting account of the Nvidia genitalia list: The analysis unit’s Quadro P600 accomplished advanced of the P500 in the Lenovo ThinkPad P52s and aftermost year’s Quadro M620, but trailed the Quadro P2000 in the Precision 5530. All of these GPUs are optimized for altered tasks than the gaming operations of Nvidia’s GeForce line, so you shouldn’t apprehend them to bonfire through the latest titles alike if some accomplish credibly in our Heaven and Valley gaming simulations.
A agnate adventure played out in our workstation-specific benchmarks. The Precision 3530 completed POV-Ray 3.7’s off-screen apprehension exercise in 146 abnormal (1,793 pixels per second), quicker than the 170 abnormal of aftermost year’s entry-level Precision and the 161 of aftermost year’s HP ZBook 15 G4. But the Precision 5530 did the job in aloof 112 abnormal (2,347 pixels per second).
In SPECviewperf 13, which renders and rotates solid and wireframe models application accepted workstation apps’ viewsets, the 3530 delivered 57 frames per additional (fps) in Creo and 58 in Maya. That beats the 37fps apiece of the ThinkPad P52s, but not the corresponding 77fps and 90fps of the Precision 5530.
Indeed, it’s the Precision 5530 that casts a bit of a adumbration over the 3530—not alone for its added alluring architecture and lighter weight, but for the actuality that it doesn’t amount all that abundant more. Our 5530 analysis unit, which had the aforementioned processor, RAM, and accumulator as our 3530 but a faster cartoon agenda and a 4K blow screen, was priced $687 higher. That’s not abridged change, but it’s not insurmountable to a workstation client who cares beneath about acquirement amount than ability and longevity. When I approved configuring analogous systems on Dell.com, the aberration was almost $300.
That’s not to say the 5530 is flawless—its webcam adjustment is awful—or to say the 3530 isn’t account a continued look. It’s aloof to say you’ll accept to alter power, price, and portability as you shop.
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