I have had this computer for about 6 months now. Overall I am happy with my purchase. But there have been a few frustrations along the way.
Why the Precision 7510?
This machine came with a rather large price tag of $2700 (including my upgrades and warranty.) I chose this laptop because I needed something portable yet powerful enough to handle my daily workload as a graphics designer / programmer / photographer / general computer nerd/mom. A normal day can have me running:
- Microsoft Office
- Adobe CC
- FTP software
- So many browsers, so many tabs!
- WAMP (apache, mysql, and php on Windows)
- And of course I occasionally have to open yet another tab to watch a video or research something cool with my kid. 🙂
Below are some of the options I chose, and what I think about them:
1TB SSD Harddrive and Window 7 Pro downgrade
I knew that the 1tb SSD was a fairly new technology. After reading the pros and cons of SSDs, I decided to give it a try.
The most worry some con that I saw was that they can be more suseptible to failure if you use them heavily. I have been told that this problem as fading as the technology advances. So I opted to give the large SSD a try, but make sure that all my important data is backed up to either DropBox or my second (7200rpm) harddrive.
Early on I experienced several bluescreens and eventual harddrive failure. Big problem #1: Although I was smart enough to have most of my work backed up, Dell did not have a replacement harddrive in stock. It was over 2 weeks before I could finish projects with fast approaching deadlines.
The tech Dell sent to my house was awesome! He went above and beyond what was necessary to get me back up and running. This included talking Dell into sending me another Windows 7 image. p.s. I did run into some problems re-installing the Windows 7 image. Apparently the SSD has to have a special image. Once I got the right image installed, I was back up and running reasonably quick.
In my previous laptop, the 5400rpm harddrive was a major bottleneck. With my super-fast new SSD that is not the case! Now my bottleneck is the 16GB of RAM that I ordered.
If I had to do it again, I would take a friend’s advice and go for 32GB memory. It turns out that the main two ram slots are fairly easy to get to (remove the bottom cover). But the other slots are located below the keyboard – as in you have to remove your keyboard before you can add more sticks of ram.
I have only maxed out my 16gb RAM a couple of times. I think it would be more than enough for the average user. … Then again, I don’t think the average user is going to be looking at $2,000+ laptops.
Graphics card: Nvidia Quadro M2000M w/4GB GDDR5 video card
This upgrade was actually suggested by HP when I was looking at their zBook Studio G3 Mobile Workstation. Dell confirmed that with how heavily my work relies on graphics, upgrading to this card would give me better performance and color.
Screen: 15.6″ UltraSharp FHD IPS (1920×1080) wide view anti-glare LED-backlit screen with microphone (no webcam)
This is one of the places where I really wanted to go all-out and get something high with amazing display qualities. It was also a place where top-of-the-line would have been way too expensive. This screen is good enough, but I look forward to the day that I can get a better quality external monitor to hook up to it.
I resisted this awkward looking layout as long as I could. Sqeazing the home, end, insert, page up, and page down keys into awkward spots so that you can make room for a numpad? Crazy! After 6 months, I still have to hunt and peck for a few of these keys. But I LOVE how easy it is to use the numpad!
Another feature that I tried to avoid – the pointing stick / trackpoint. I always found this little nub uncomfortable on my grandfather’s old IBM. But it appears these things have come a long way. I don’t use it often, but there are times that it has come in handy.
I guess the keyboard and mouse on this machine are nice for a laptop. But I usually hook up an external mouse, keyboard, and monitor when I am at the office or at home.
Battery Life & Portability
Desktops are still the best way to get more power and features for your buck. I choose laptops for portability. At 6.25 pounds, I wouldn’t want to carry this thing around all day or try to keep it balanced on my knees as I awkwardly sit in a corner. But it is easy enough to take to various clients and to the waiting rooms when an elderly neighbor has dr appointments.
The biggest inconvenience is finding somewhere to plug in. But if I turn down the screen brightness and turn off a few extras, I can get in 4-5 hours of blogging and research before plugging in.
I chose the cheapest processor that Dell offers with this system and no productivity software. No regrets on either of those choices!
I am disappointed that I could not find a powerful laptop with an optical drive. A portion of my business is selling research CDs, which I will have to continue making from an older, slower machine. That said, the other features are more than enough to be worth giving up the convenience of a built in optical drive.
Update: May 22, 2020 and still going strong!
Of course, my computer is no longer in “like-new” condition. But after 4 years of almost daily use, it is still performing well. I do get the occasional bluescreen/blackscreen. And I am frustrated with how often Windows 10 decides to restart itself. But the actual computer is good!
My daughter has worked it extra hard a few times since getting herself a 3d printer. As long as I make sure my Firefox browser isn’t hogging too many resources it usually does fine working with 3d files!