Dell Precision 5530 review: A powerful well-built mobile workstation with a fantastic display

Hardware Reviews / Microsoft / Reviews / Tech / Top Picks

Our Dell Precision 5530 came outfitted with the Intel Xeon E-2176M processor and 32GB of DDR4 RAM.

TA-ratings-91The Dell Precision 5530 can be configured with some serious power for a mobile workstation, and it’s built like a tank. But Dell has also thrown in some goodies like dedicated graphics and a brilliant display that looks amazing. The Dell Precision 5530 is intended for working creatives, but if you have enough cash it could make an excellent home desktop alternative for many. Read on for our full Dell Precision 5530 review another Techaeris Top Pick for 2018.

Specifications

The Dell Precision 5530 sent to us has the following features and specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Xeon E-2176M CPU @2.70GHz – 4.40GHz
  • GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics P630 and dedicated NVIDIA Quadro P2000
  • RAM: 32GB,DDR4-2666MHz SDRAM, 2DIMMS, Non-ECC
  • SSD: M.2 512GB NVMe PCIe SED Class 40SSD
  • Display: 15.6″ Ultrasharp UHD IGZO4, 3840×2160, Touch, w/Premium Panel 100% color gamut, Brushed Onyx
  • Audio: Two bottom-mounted speaker
  • Battery: “All-day”
  • Keyboard: Backlit
  • I/O:
    • AUX (headphone) port
    • SDCard reader
    • x2 USB 3.1 Gen 1
    • USB Type-C Port/Thunderbolt 3
    • HDMI port
    • Noble lock slot
  • Dimensions(varies by model):
    • Height: Front 0.44″ (11.1mm) –Rear 0.66” (16.82mm )
    • Width: 14.05″ (357mm)
    • Depth: 9.26″ (235.3mm)
    • Weight: 3.93lbs (1.78kg)

What’s In The Box

  • Dell Precision 5530
  • Power cord and adapter
  • Manuals and documentation

Design

At first glance, the Dell Precision 5530 is fairly unassuming. The design is nice but certainly not flashy or over the top. It’s more utilitarian with a few hints of class. It’s not a bad look but may not fit into everyone’s idea of “good looking.” I, for one, don’t mind the looks of this machine at all. The entire thing is built solidly from premium aluminum with very nice accented chamfered edges. Opening up the Dell Precision 5530 reveals a very nice carbon fiber-like material being used for the keyboard deck.

The 5530 isn’t super heavy, but it’s also not feather-light weighing in at almost 4lbs. It’s fairly easy to go portable with this laptop. Throwing it in a bag and working on the train or coffee shop isn’t a problem at all. The build quality here is exemplary, super tight, and precise.

Taking a tour around the Dell Precision 5530 you’ll find the following I/O. Along the left side are the proprietary power port, USB 3.1 port, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port, and headphone jack. Along the right side, you’ll find the SDCard reader, USB 3.1 port, battery level indicator, and Nobel lock. On the bottom of the 5530 are the speakers as well as vents for cooling the 5530.

The keyboard on the 5530 is typical of what Dell is doing these days. Chiclet-style with a nice travel and of course, backlit. I’m fond of the Dell keyboards, they have a bit more travel than others but it’s not exaggerated. It’s comfortable to type on and feels good overall. We reviewed the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 where Dell is using a new “MagLev” design for the keyboard. That keyboard has a lower travel but we enjoyed it as well, the 5530 does not have “MagLev.”

Dell Precision 5530

Full size SD card slot for photographers.

The trackpad is also very nice. Dell and other PC makers have been improving trackpads on higher-end models over the years and that’s a good thing. The trackpad feels good, is responsive, and has nice tactile feedback when clicking. It’s a nice decent size and gestures work fluidly on it. The keyboard and trackpad experience are really great on the 5530.

As for bezels, these really remind of the Dell XPS series. The bezels are super-thin on the top, left, and right with a larger bezel at the bottom. As a matter of fact, the Dell Precision 5530 and Dell XPS 15 look very similar in more ways that that. The webcam is also located on the bottom bezel. I’m not a fan of the chain cam. You also have the option of using Windows Hello with your face or fingerprint. I found the fingerprint sensor works best and is faster. But it is nice to have options.

There are two colorways for the Dell Precision 5530, Silver and Black. Our review unit came in the black color and I really loved the look. The black finish does tend to pick up fingerprints and smudges a bit easier though. If that’s something you don’t like, then the silver version is probably your best bet. Honestly, they are both good looking and you can’t go wrong with either color. The carbon fiber deck also tends to pick up fingerprints and smudges, but that’s easily cleaned up as is the black finish.

Overall, the 5530 is a good looking machine with a utilitarian but attractive design. The keyboard and trackpad are an enjoyable user experience and the screen has a very nice profile with nearly no bezels. Of course, the legacy I/O on this machine is a big plus for many. With some machines opting for USB-C only, it’s nice to have a machine of this caliber with legacy I/O.

Display

Dell offers a few different display configurations with the Dell Precision 5530. You can opt for the basic 1920 x 1080 panel without touch, which is really probably good enough for most. Or you can opt for the top display, which we have on our review unit, the 4K Ultrasharp touch panel with 100% color gamut. The 4K upgrade is going to cost you an additional $325USD, but it’s so nice to use.

Viewing angles on the 4K version of this display are fantastic. Brightness is pretty good as well with the panel reaching 400 nits of brightness. I would have liked more, but it’s still an outstanding display. The great selling point for some creative professionals here is this panel’s 100 percent Adobe RGB as well as 100 percent sRGB. The panel also sports 1,500:1 contrast ratio. The Dell Precision 5530 display is excellent for Adobe CC use. Creative professionals should be happy with this panel.

The 4K display is also 10-point touch-responsive and supports pens, should you be the artsy type or just enjoy using a stylus/pen. Touch responsiveness is excellent with scrolling and gestures registering with precision. I found no lag at all with gestures or scrolling, no stuttering and everything moved very fluidly. It’s worth mentioning, according to Dell’s website, the 1080p display does not come with touch. So if you’re looking for a touch panel, it appears you’ll need to upgrade to the 4K version.

Colors are fantastic on the Dell Precision 5530. With 100% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB you should expect this. The panel was well calibrated out of the box, but since I am sure there may be some out there who prefer to calibrate themselves, Dell includes calibration software. Blacks are nice and deep with whites coming through clean and crisp. The Precision 5530 display is just fantastic to use, giving the user an excellent experience.

Overall, the 4K display offered here is well worth the extra $325USD, if you can dig a little deeper. If you can’t justify that much extra, the 1080p display should work just fine for most users not needing the extra resolution and better color gamut.

Dell Precision 5530

The display goes to 400 nits of max brightness.

Software/Ecosystem

Our review unit came configured with Windows 10 Pro. There’s not a whole lot to talk about in Windows 10 Pro as it has been on the market for some time now. It’s the Windows you either love or hate. Personally, I happen to love Windows 10 and it runs great here on the 5530. Our review unit also came nearly bare of extra software, something I really appreciated. No Mozy Backup and Recovery, no McAfee Antivirus or Phantom PDF. Dell does have a few pieces of software included though and a few of them are actually useful.

  • Dell Power Manager: Basically this is a control panel for managing your power settings, it may be helpful for extending your battery life.
  • Dell PremierColor: This is basically a quick way to calibrate your display. There are other methods but this actually works pretty well. I’ve included screenshots below of how PremierColor works.
  • MaxAudioPro: This sound program controls how your audio is projected while wearing headphones. It actually does a halfway decent job.
  • Dell Free Fall Data Protection: This is pretty much an on and off switch for the fall protection Dell included for your hard drive. It’s supposed to help protect the hard drive from unexpected falls and drops.

Overall, Dell’s included software is pretty useful, especially PremierColor and MaxAudioPro. Windows 10 Pro is also great and runs exceptionally well on our review unit. It was refreshing to see that there was barely any bloatware here, that’s a huge plus in our book.

Performance

Our Dell Precision 5530 came outfitted with the Intel Xeon E-2176M processor and 32GB of DDR4 RAM. There is an integrated Intel UHD P630 graphics chip and a dedicated NIVIDA Quadro P2000 GPU. This combo is way more power than an average user will ever need, but if you can afford it, it’s nice to have. You can configure these machines with less powerful Intel chips and RAM and skip the dedicated graphics if you don’t need the extra power.

This particular setup is perfect for content creation. Powerful enough to run Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro with multiple files open and files rendering. The fans do kick in under heavy load but that’s normal for any machine when you’re working the CPU and GPU hard. It goes without saying that the 5530 had no issues plowing through day-to-day mundane tasks like web browsing, email, social media, media consumption, and all the basics.

Overall, the Dell Precision 5530 is an A+ performer, especially with these maxed out specifications.

Speakers/Sound

So here we are again, laptop speakers. I’m mostly not a fan of laptop speakers. There are a few exceptions but generally, they just don’t sound good for anything more than voice. So videoconferencing, yes. Watching serious movies and playing serious music, not so much. These speakers work in a pinch, but I highly suggest an external speaker or headphones if you want any sort of quality sound. Dell’s MaxAudioPro software also does a good job of tweaking your headphones so you get a good experience.

Camera

The 5530’s camera is good enough for video conferencing, Google Hangout, and Skype calls. That’s what it’s intended for, not for taking videos and photos. So don’t expect exceptional quality. It’s good enough for what it needs to do. I will say, I am not a fan of the placement of the camera. Its placement makes it look like the other party is looking up your nose. I would have rather seen a thicker top bezel than the camera placed at the bottom.

Dell Precision 5530

Great keyboard and trackpad experience.

Battery Life

Battery life is going to vary widely for most. It will also vary between a 1080p and 4K screen. The term “all-day” is also going to mean different things to different people. That being said, under my normal day-to-day use with full brightness and backlit keys on, I averaged just over 10-hours. That time was significantly cut when running heavy apps like Adobe Premiere Pro. That’s to be expected.

Overall, I think the battery life on the Dell Precision 5530 is going to be just fine for most. And those professionals who use heavy apps, well, most of them know that those apps are battery killers anyway.

Price/Value

The 5530 starts at $1,984USD and can be configured up to $4,569USD. As of this review, Dell is running a sale that brings those prices down to $1,389USD and $3,189USD. There’s no question that this isn’t really a consumer device. The Precision lineup are a serious bunch of mobile workstations made for pros. Because of this, they are most certainly worth the money one puts into them. Even at normal MSRP I would say the 5530 is worth it but at it’s current sale price, it’s a must grab.

Wrap Up

The Dell Precision 5530 is a serious contender for the hearts of content creators. Especially if those creators are looking at the maxed out version of this device and have the money to sink into it. It won’t disappoint. It’s a powerful machine with an amazing 4K display, rugged design, and amazing specs for getting serious work done.

*We received a review unit of the Dell Precision 5530 for the purposes of this review.

Dell Precision 5530

Starting at $1984USD
9.1

Design

9.0/10

Display

9.5/10

Software/Ecosystem

9.5/10

Performance

10.0/10

Speakers/Sound

8.0/10

Camera

8.5/10

Battery Life

9.0/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Spot on build quality
  • Great keyboard
  • Fingerprint and Face detection unlock
  • Good battery life
  • Brilliant display
  • Legacy ports included

Needs work

  • Basic utilitarian design may not be for all
  • Speakers are just okay
  • A bit on the pricer side for high-end specs
  • Webcam is mounted on bottom bezel
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