18 Dec 2018

The Dell Precision 5530 2-in-1 will change your idea of what a workstation should look like

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The Dell Precision 5530 2-in-1 goes from mobile workstation to workstation tablet with one quick twist. Can it also be a productive media workstation? Here is a first look at the convertible workstation from Dell.

What is under the hood?

At first glance, it is simply a sleek, thin, light, stylish mobile workstation. As a mobile workstation, Dell’s 2-in-1 is no slouch. At the high end, the CPU options include a Core i7 8706G CPU. This 4-core processor is based on Intel’s Kaby Lake architecture. The CPU has a base clock speed of 3.10 GHz with a peak clock speed of 4.10 GHz. 

This Core i7 8706G is an Intel processor which includes integrated AMD graphics. The integrated GPU is an AMD Radeon Pro Vega M GL. AMD’s GPU drives a 3840x2160 resolution display which has both pen and touch capabilities.

The system supports 32 GB of DDR4-2400 MHz memory and a maximum of 2 TB SSD storage. A key feature for creative professionals is the 4K resolution touch and pen-capable display. The pen support includes 4096 levels of sensitivity to provide tablet-like performance for artistic applications

 

Yoga-like Flexibility makes it a tablet with workstation performance

The Precision 5530 2-in-1 converts to a powerful, creative workspace for artists.jpg

The Precision 5530 2-in-1 converts to a powerful, creative workspace for artists

The Dell Precision 5530 2-in-1 began shipping to customers in September; the same week that I spoke to Dell’s Field Marketing Manager, Jaap Van Oostendorp, about the new workstation at IBC in Amsterdam.  The main feature of the machine was most clearly its 360° rotation range for the 4K touch display which transforms the system from a mobile workstation into a tablet for creative professionals.

The 2-in-1 unit delivers this unique workstation feature by combining the touch display with the flexibility of a 360° display rotation turning this mobile workstation into a mobile creative tablet.  Flipping the screen completely provides a landscape or a portrait format for sketching and drawing. 

Likewise, the Precision 5530 2-in-1 can be flipped into a tent-mode. Tent-mode provides a convenient means to review or present project work.

For the time being, the 16 GB RAM capacity will be underpowered for some, however the capacity will change to 32 GB in the future. The release date for 32 GB RAM support is not public information as of this article. The 2 TB SSD storage makes the system a decent option for creative professionals on the go. The 2 TB storage is adequate for many demanding projects in video editing and special effects. 

How does it compare to the Precision 5530?

 

The thin & light Precision 5530 2-in-1 is a capable mobile workstation.jpg

The thin & light Precision 5530 2-in-1 is a capable mobile workstation

The 2-in-1 moniker is appended to the 5530 designation, so how does the configuration compare to the Precision 5530? The 2-in-1 weighs fewer than 200 grams more than the Precision 5530 - 2 kg compared to 1.78 kg. And it is just a bit thicker than the 5530 - 16 mm vs 11.1 mm. If pen and touch capabilities in a convertible format are critical for your work, that is not a noticeable difference.

The 2-in-1 supports a maximum of 32 GB of 2400 MHz RAM. At the time of this writing, the Dell site still offers a maximum of 16 GB of RAM. The 5530 can sport a more capable 32 GB of RAM today. Both workstations support 2 TB of SSD storage, although the 5530 can add up to 2TB more storage by adding a second SATA hard drive. 

 

  Precision 5530 2-in-1  Precision 5530
GPU  Radeon Pro Vega M GL Quadro P2000
CPU / cores / clock (max turbo) Core i7-8706G / 4 cores / 4.1 GHz Core i9-8950 HK / 6 cores / 4.8 GHz
Memory 16 GB DDR4-2400 MHz today, 32 GB RAM to be available in the future. 32 GB DDR4-2666 MHz
SSD Storage 2 TB 2 TB
Total Storage  2 TB  4 TB
Display  3840x2160  3840x2160

Given that these workstations are the same product generation, the connectivity options are oddly different. The Precision 5530 provides compatibility with older USB devices by providing 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. It also provides one Thunderbolt 3 port. The 2-in-1 relies on USB-C 3.1 with PowerShare, DC-In, & DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare, DC-In, & DisplayPort. Due to this difference, the Precision 5530 also provides an HDMI port for external displays and a power adapter port. The 5530 also provides a standard SD memory card reader where the 2-in-1 provides a micro-SD card reader.

 

  Precision 5530 2-in-1  Precision 5530 
USB 3.1 Gen 1  -  2
USB 3.1 with PowerShare, DC-in & DisplayPort  2  -
Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare, DC-in & DisplayPort  2  -
Thunderbolt 3  -  1
HDMI  -  1
Memory card reader  -  1
Micro SD reader  1  -
Power Adapter Port (Uses Thunderbolt) 1
Headphone jack 1 (universal Audio jack) 1
Security lock 1 1

Last-but-not-least, related to processor performance, the 5530 configuration includes 6-core CPUs like the i9 8950HK with a base clock speed of 2.9 GHz and a peak clock speed of 4.4 GHz along with an NVIDIA Quadro P2000 GPU. The processor options in the 2-in-1 include a 4-core Core i7 CPU with a maximum clock speed of 4.10 GHz and the integrated Radeon Pro GPU.

A Final Perspective

If your work benefits from a pen-capable or a touch-capable display, then this convertible workstation is a good option for you. This could be especially true for professionals in design, graphic arts, animation, and architecture. The 2 TB SSD storage is a decent level of storage capacity. If your work demands memory, then you may want to wait for the 32 GB RAM configuration which is planned. The 4-core Kaby Lake processor with the integrated Radeon graphics will certainly get the job done for most mobile creative professionals. 


Tom Lansford

Tom Lansford is an international marketing consultant and manages the site Professional Workstation. He has been living in Europe since 1992, and previously managed workstation marketing in Europe at Nvidia. His interests include professional video, design visualization, simulation, graphics and GPU computing.

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