Dell slims down Precision mobile workstations for Intel Skylake

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The new slimline Dell Precision 15 5510, a replacement for the Precision M3800

Dell has completely re-designed its entire family of mobile workstations, featuring a thinner and lighter design and new generation Intel Skylake processors, including the forthcoming Intel Xeon mobile CPU.

There are three 15-inch models and one 17-inch model, to suit all different types of users.

The Dell Precision 15 3510 is a budget 15-inch mobile workstation, taking over from the Dell Precision M2800.
The Dell Precision 15 5510 is pitched as Dell’s smallest and lightest workstation ever, replacing the Dell Precision M3800.

The Dell Precision 15 7510 is a powerful 15-inch desktop replacement, taking over from the Dell Precision M4800.

The Dell Precision 17 7710 is a powerful 17-inch desktop replacement, succeeding the Dell Precision M6800.

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The ‘budget’ Dell Precision 15 3510

The big news is that all of these mobile workstations are thinner and lighter than the models they replace – the biggest gains coming from the Precision 15 3510, which is up to 27% thinner and 11% lighter than the M2800.

This is down to a new industrial design across the range, which comprises a carbon fibre exterior and a magnesium alloy chassis, plus a consolidation of technology.

Dell has taken the progressive decision to completely remove the optical drive from all of its machines. It has also cut down on the number of 2.5-inch drives supported in its higher end mobile workstations, focusing instead on new generation M.2 PCIe Solid State Drives, which offer much faster sequential and random read/write performance than SATA-based SSDs. New slimmer Lithium Ion polymer batteries have also helped reduce the bulk, says Dell.

The ‘powerful’ 15-inch Dell Precision 15 7510

The ‘powerful’ 17-inch Dell Precision 17 7710

In terms of CPUs, there’s a broad choice of Intel Skylake Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. Quad Core is standard, ranging from the Intel Core i5-6300HQ (2.30Ghz, 3.2GHz Turbo) at the low-end to the Intel Core i7-6920HQ (2.9GHz, 3.8GHz Turbo) at the high-end.

Intel Xeon chips will also be available early next year, says Dell, which will bring ECC memory support to mainstream mobile workstations for the first time.

This includes the Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5 (Quad Core, 2.80GHz, 3.70GHz Turbo), which will be available in all of the new machines and the Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5 (Quad Core, 2.90GHz, 3.80GHz Turbo), which will only be in the Precision 15 7510 and Precision 17 7710.

Dell’s product spec sheets also reference other high-end mobile Intel Xeon processors, including the Xeon Ex-xxx Z2+ and Xeon Ex-xxx Z3+, but has not shared any details on these.

With such powerful CPUs inside Dell highlights the cooling solution used in the Precision 15 7510 and Precision 17 7710, which it says is ‘so advanced, your most processor-intensive applications will benefit from never dropping out of turbo frequencies.’

With Intel Skylake also comes bigger memory capacities, which is big news for users of CAD/CAM/CAE and design viz software who work with large datasets.

While the number of DIMM slots has remained the same in all models, the availability of 16GB DIMMs means the capacities have doubled. The Precision 15 3510 and 5510 can now support up to 32GB, while the Precision 15 7510 and Precision 17 7710 can have up to 64GB.

Dell will initially launch with DDR4 2133MHz memory but will introduce DDR4 2667MHz overclocked memory later.

Graphics has also been beefed up, with Dell offering new Nvidia Quadro ‘Maxwell’ GPUs in all but its budget Precision 15 3510. These include the Quadro M1000M (2GB) in the ultra portable Precision 15 5510, going up to the Quadro M2000M (4GB) in the Precision 15 7510, and the Quadro M5000M (8GB) in the Precision 17 7710.

The AMD FirePro W5130M is the only add-in GPU available in the budget Precision 15 3510, while the AMD FirePro W5170M and AMD W7170M make an appearance in the higher end machines.

Display technology has also moved on with 4K (3,840 x 2,160) displays available on all but the budget Precision 15 3510, which remains at HD (1,920 x 1,080), though it does have a touch option.

The ultra portable Precision 15 5510 also stands out for its 3-sided InfinityEdge Display, which boasts a smaller bezel. This helps make the machine significantly smaller than the Precision M3800 it replaces (357 x 235 x 11.5-16.8mm, compared to 372mm x 254mm x 8mm-18mm), which was already a very tidy machine.

Other features of the new machines include optional Thunderbolt 3, which is coming early 2016. USB 3.0 is standard throughout.

Finally, Dell is also releasing a new version of its Dell Precision Optimizer software which is used for automated performance tuning, utilisation monitoring and system updates.

The standout feature is a new System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM), which gives administrators centralized management capabilities to deploy and configure Dell Precision Optimizer on multiple machines. Dell says analytics can be gathered from a group of users to create performance, reliability and usage reports to assess, plan, and address resource needs.