Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Review of Precision 5750 Laptop - What Dell Calls "the World's thinnest, lightest and smallest 17" workstation"

As one of only seven people in the world, outside of Dell, to have hands-on testing of the new 1/2" thick Dell Precision 5750 workstation-grade laptop with a 17" 4k touch display, I am extremely excited to share my review in today's BIM Chapters post... spoiler; this will be a game changer for many architects, engineers and designers in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry.


The unit is aesthetically pleasing, light , reasonably powerful, flexible and has an incredible display powered by an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 with 6GB of dedicated GPU RAM.
What do you get if you cross my high-end Dell Precision 7730 laptop with my kid's Microsoft Surface Book? A Dell Precision 5750. You can quote me on that:)

The 5750 is not for everyone, e.g. large and complex custom architectural VR projects, but it is very capable as you will see in this review. I have tested everything from streaming 4k movies, to using Autodesk Revit, to Enscape's real-time RTX-enabled rendering engine, to using the HTC Vive Pro for virtual reality.
Disclaimer: I’ve been partnering with Dell and they sent me an early sample of the Precision 5750 for free to try out and share my thoughts.
Continue reading to learn more...

In this post we will see how the brand new Dell Precision 5750 stacks up... especially against what I have on hand to compare it to while working-from-home #WFH during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. And I don't mean literally, as the next two photos might suggest... rather how does this slim unit compare to my much larger Alienware laptop or my Dell Precision 7730 laptop, or a remote controlled (via RDP) Dell Precision 5820 Tower. And just for form-factor comparison, the Microsoft Surface Book 1 was threw on the pile...  :)



Workstation-Grade

In case you don't know, a workstation-grade computer is meant to be used by professionals for computationally intensive tasks. In the AEC space we are developing complex parametric 3D models, simulating light and energy, working with massive point clouds (aka laser scans) and using real-time rendering engines for visualization and virtual reality (VR). Therefore, a workstation-grade computer must be powerful, have good thermal properties and be expected to run all day, every day.

Workstation-based systems often have features not found in consumer-grade systems. For example, the 5750 can be specified with:
  • Xeon processor
  • Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
  • Up to 64GB ECC (Error Checking RAM)
  • NVIDIA Quadro GPUs
  • Up 4TBs of M.2 Class 50 SSD storage with RAID options

According to the Dell 5750 literature, the unit has advanced thermal technologies including dual output fans, dual internal heat pipes and hidden exhaust venting through the hinge. The hidden venting looks great and can be seen in the photos below.

Dell Links

For more information directly from Dell, check out the following links.

Photos

Before we even dig into the specs of this unit, lets take a look at several photos I have taken. I don't think there will be any argument on how elegant this laptop looks. The body is made of aluminum and carbon fiber with diamond cut sidewalls and machined speaker grilles. The display is large and extends super close to the edge on all sides.

Click to enlarge photos:






Specifications of my early sample unit

Here are the specs for the unit I tested:


Processor:
10th Gen Intel Core i9-10885H
Chipset:
Intel Mobile WM490
Graphics:
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, 6 GB, GDDR6
Display:
17-inch, WELD UHD+, 3840 x 2400, 60 Hz, Anti-Reflection and Anti-Smudge, Touch display, ETE Glass, Adobe 100% min, 500 nits, HDR400, WVA
Memory:
32 GB
Storage:
2 x 512 GB M.2 2280, Gen 3 PCI2 x4
Ports:
4 UBS 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3

1 Universal Audio Jack

1 Full side SD card slot

1 Noble Wedge security slot
Multimedia:
Dual integrated high-quality speakers and dual integrated noise canceling digital array microphones

Integrated light sensitive IR video webcam

Backlit keyboard
Battery:
???
Power Adaptor:
130 W, USB Type-C Adapter
Weight
5.7 lb (2.59kg)


Dimensions

As promoted, the unit is small, especially for a 17" laptop. I have literally struggled to find a backpack that I could get my past laptops in.

Width:
14.74 inches (374.48 mm)
Depth:
9.77 inches (248.08 mm)
Front Thickness:
0.34 inches (8.67 mm)
Rear Thickness:
0.52 inches (13.15 mm)


External Monitor Support

Most architects and engineers use multiple monitors when at their desk. Given the 5750 only has four USB-C ports and zero traditional monitor ports, you will be interested in the options. I found the use of multiple monitors possible in two ways.

First, used a Dell DA300 USB-C Mobile Adapter, pictured below, which has three monitor options; RGB, DP and HDMI, in addition to a USB-A, USB-C and network connection (the unit comes with a DA20 adapter, which has an HDMI port). You can only use one of those external monitor connections at a time, so in this case you get your laptop screen and one external monitor.


Second, another option is to purchase special cables which bypass the need for an adapter altogether; resulting in the best option in my opinion! This takes up less space and requires less connections. However, I would still keep the DA300 in my bag as I present a lot and can never tell when I am going to need an RGB connection, ugh!

In testing this unit I bought the following cables for about $100 total (pictured below):
  • StarTech USB-C to DisplayPort
  • StarTech USB-C to HDMI



The next two pictures show a close-up of each end of the cable. Nice! I love USB-C and cannot wait for more of my stuff to support this. Contemporary monitors now support UBS-C directly, so I could just use the double ended USB-C cable that came with my Google Pixel phone to connect the 5750 to a monitor some day!
  • USB-C to DisplayPort cable I purchased:


  • USB-C to HDMI cable I purchased (this will also work nicely for television connections):

Here is the 5750 connected to a 24" and a 27" external monitor, with the laptop display on as well.


With this configuration, the laptop only has three small USB-C connections; one for power and the two monitor cables. The unit has zero connections on the back.



Microsoft Surface Laptop Comparison

A popular device among design and non-production architects is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. So it seems fitting to compare the new Dell Precision 5750 to the Surface Laptop 3. Certainly there are pros and cons to each. But if they want to present Enscape models in real-time or deliver some light VR experiences at meetings, the 5750 comes out on top.

Here is a comparison to the Surface Laptop 3 and the Precision 5750:

Precision 5750 Laptop
Surface Laptop 3
Larger screen - 17” vs. 15”
*Lighter - 3.4 lb vs. 5.7 lb
Better CPU – i9, 8 cores vs. Ryzen 7, 4 core
USB-A port – one for compatibility?
Better GPU – RTX 3000 w/ dedicated 6 GB
Stylus (not sure if 5750 supports this)
Thinner – 0.52 in vs. 0.57 in

More RAM – 32GB (up to 64GB) vs. 16GB


* I do not have a Surface Laptop 3 to weigh. So, like the 5750 it may be heavier when configured with upper-limit options for storage, memory, etc.

Although I don't have a Surface Laptop 3, which is the closest comparison, I thought it would still be helpful to share some photos comparing the Surface Book 1 to the 5750. It is amazing this workstation grade computer is noticeably thinner! To be clear, the 5750 is the darker colored unit.








Virtual Reality

I had the most issues here, with VR. I did have some success with an Enscape model using the HTC Vive Pro and with Beat Saber through Steam, but then also had issues with the same at various times. The GPU-Z app indicated power and thermal issues. Since I don;t think anyone is going to buy this as a gaming computer, and I would personally still bring a much more powerful GPU (our VR towers have Quardto RTX 6000) this unit should still be capable of right-sized architectural VR experiences when needed.
Note: there are steps in the BIOS related to the GPU and Power settings that must be adjusted for optimal VR on this unit.



Video Creation

Leveraging the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 with 6GB of dedicated RAM, I was able to easily render an animation to an MP4 from a Revit model using Enscape, which relies heavily on the GPU for this task. Here is a brief example of that export in progress:


With this being the final result:



Steaming 4k Video

I occasionally will rent/buy and stream a 4k Movie from Google Play and stream it to my large 4k flat screen TV. Using the Dell DA300 adapter (or the included DA20 adapter) I was able to connect to the TV with a standard HDMI cable. The Precision 5750 had problems displaying the movie on both 4k screens simultaneously. Using either screen separately, with the other turned off, resolved the issue and John Wick 3 played flawlessly:)


3D Connexion Spacemouse Example

If you check out the Dell promotional brochure for the 5750, you will see they list a 3D Connexion Spacemouse as a recommend accessory. I was happy to see that, as I use this at work all the time and even have my own at home. The device offers 6-Degrees-of-Freedom (6DoF) but more importantly, in my opinion, you have the ability to move in four of them at the same time, with one hand!



Let me demonstrate using the 5750 and another Enscape sample project (EXE standalone download).



In the Box

Here is a list of what you get with the 5750 and a few related photos...
  • 5750 laptop
  • USB-C to USB-A adapter
  • USB-C to network adapter
  • USB-C power adapter, 130W (or 90W based on options)
  • DA20 adapter; 2 port adapter (HDMI & USB-A)
    • The DA300 pictured below is not included





Conclusion

As I said at the start of this post, I think a lot of architects and engineers will gravitate towards this who have traditionally used thin-ish non-workstation devices. It offers a small lightweight form-factor with the power to deliver quality presentations as well as preform daily production work in our daily tools such as Revit, SketchUp, Photoshop, Ensacpe and more. It is even possible to do some VR, but will not support your bigger complex projects as they continue to develop. Too, this unit will not likely appeal to power users who need to process Lumion animations and work with massive laser scans.

Personally, I will use this laptop for many tasks. It will be great to use when presenting at industry conferences around the world (when that happens again, after the COVID-19 pandemic) and will love using this on an airplane. Or in the backyard for a Microsoft Teams meetings as pictured below (when there is no snow in Northern Minnesota, of course).





For BIM Chapters updates, follow @DanStine_MN on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn

Check out my video-based  courses on ArchSmarter.

I also write blog posts for Enscape - a new paradigm in rendering, animation and VR for AEC.

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review Dan! great stuff as always :) #iwork4dell

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  2. Glad to see you getting access to the new gear early - we really appreciate your testing and write up! #iwork4dell

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  3. Nice review Dan - too bad I just got done buying my laptops for the year! I'll keep in this in mind for '21!

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  4. Great review, seems like a great mid range workstation.

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  5. Dan, thank you so much for your review. I would truly appreciate your opinion, I have some questions below:

    I am also an architect that uses similar programs as yourself. I am either considering the XPS 17 (2020) or the Precision 5750 (2020). Did you try multi-tasking? If so, how was your experience on the precision with Enscape+ Autodesk Revit + Adobe CC? Have you tried using Rhino + Enscape (or Vray?)

    How was the touch screen responsiveness? I am thinking that touch screen might come in handy when I want to sketch something out with the client, I can do it real time via Microsoft Teams and do a screen share as I sketch on the screen with a stylus? Your thoughts? Or do you think that the touch screen isn't responsive enough with a stylus?

    My other option is going with an XPS 17 (2020) and editing the VBIOS of the GeForce RTX so that it can perform like the Quadro. I think they lock the Quadro VBIOS, so you cant tinker with undervolting. I have read in certain places that editing the GeFroce VBIOS will allow it to perform just like a Quadro of the same VRam capacity (i.e. RTX 2060 vs Quadro 3000)

    Have you ever used a XEON processor on A/E work like AutoCAD, Revit, Rhino, Sketchup, Adobe CC, Enscape?

    How was the trackpad responsiveness? I understand it's not like a MBP - which is the gold standard of trackpad physics.I am glad they increased the size, but I have read on reddit that the some of the new XPS 15 (2020) is having some pre-travel issues with the trackpad.

    I guess what I like the most about the precision line is the Quadro, Xeon option, Upgradability, and Dell's 5 - year warranty. (I cannot believe that some people are willing to spend over $4000 on a laptop and only receive a 3 year warranty, i.e. MBP 16" or Razer Blade Studio.) Dell is one of the only (if not only) manufacturer that offer a fair warranty with the amount you pay. But If I can save a couple hundred and go with the XPS 17, that might be a consideration, I am just worried about the longevity compared to a precision.

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    1. Hi Sam,
      I couple of quick comments:
      Touch screen is great, but does NOT support a stylus. Only passive stylus from what I understand.
      At work, all desktops are Precision towers with Xeon processor.
      I really don't use a touchpad, so cannot comment on that.
      I have never done any over clocking or similar on CPU/GPU.

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  6. Great review, Dan.
    Just wondering about the performance with VR. Is it Enough to handle games like Half Life:Alyx for under an hour on a low end headset like an oculus link? Getting a 5750 for business already and I am curious.

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    1. Not use, I was able to play Beat Saber but did experience some issues... but not consistently (and I was using a test unit). The RTX 3000 should be able to handle it. Be sure to go into BIOS and max performance and thermal settings for best experience. Plesae report back in==since you are getting it anyway, would be nice to hear your resuts.

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  7. Hi Dan, It looked like the cpu temp is 100 on the one screen shot test. Is that the case? also, for general use on small to medium projects using, Revit, vray, autocad, adobe, etc. is this unit going to generally perform as good as the 7750 (thermals, throttling, pausing, etc)? Also, was the glossy screen an issue? I like the smaller form factor if it will do the job without issues!

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    1. The glossy screen has not bothered me so far. I have been using it a fair amount, even on the recent BIM After Dark session with The Revit Kid, and it has been performing well given its specs. Of course it will not perform as well as a more powerful system with, say, RTX 5000.

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    2. Dan, i think the rtx3000 is fine and the only reason I mentioned the 7750 is in case it will be recommended as better for revit and autocad and some rendering (small to medium projects). Do you think this model generally stays cool and will be fine for a typical architect / engineer use? What is interesting is the new 7750 is only 10% larger and weighs about 1.5 pounds more and has a 4k matte screen. Your thoughts and personal insight will be appreciated.
      Matthew Edwards, Structural Engineer

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    3. Revit does not use the GPU very much, and if using Revit rendering it does not use it either. Enscape, on the other hand, does use the GPU. For large VR projects the RTX 5000 is better mainly due to the additional GPU memory. In terms of the options, if you travel a lot or take your laptop to meetings, this the 5750 might be the best option. If that is not the norm, then the little bit bigger unit will likely perform better for day to day work. Just my two cents:)

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    4. Dan - one last question if you don't mind (I appreciate your previous responses), the 5750 is pricey for comparable memory, processor, etc. when compared to the xps 17. Is the rtx3000 and the better implied quality control on the 5750 needed in your opinion? I saw a review by the revit kid on his origin laptop and he indicated the quadro is really not necessary (for revit, autocad, rendering, adobe). If you notice general improved performance let me know (smoother, etc). thanks

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    5. basically for the same spec computer the 5750 with the rtx3000 verses the xps 17 with the rtx2060 is about $800 - $1000 more - I am curious if you believe the 5750 is justified

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  8. Dan - Let me rephrase my question (seems to be age old mysterious question) - are there any programs you use that benefit from using a rtx quadro (say rtx3000) card over a rtx geforce card (say rtx2060)?

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  9. I wrote about that a little in this post: https://bimchapters.blogspot.com/2018/06/product-review-dell-precision-5820.html looks like the HP link is broken but you can search for it by the name listed. Specific answer, nothing I use is tied to any special Quadro features I know of (like Solidworks users would benefit from). Again, the main factor is GPU memory for me (and quality/thermal performance indicated in the HP report).

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  10. Hi Dan,
    Thank you for your review and thank you all that commented.
    After all this is a laptop. As such I am interested in how long does the battery last. When I asked DELL they said they did not know. - in whatever conditions you have tested in. The battery option ==> 97 Wh battery . Normally DELL gives an indication with the associated conditions. When they don't I get worried, because usually means that they do not wish to rather than they CANNOT TEST.
    My current laptop is the Precision 7530/E2186M Zeon @2.9 GHZ, Quadro P3200, 128 GB RAM, AND 4 X 2TB PCIE ssd - still under another 2 or so years PRO Support - but hell of difficult to charge on the plane, etc.

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    1. How long does you battery last in your current machine? With WFH, I have not really had a chance to fully test battery life... mostly plugged in.

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