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Dell precision 17 7730 mobile workstation laptop complete review

Dell precision 17 7730 mobile workstation laptop complete review

Dell has redesigned its largest Precision workstation, including the Dell Precision 7730, which is powerful. The new 17.3-inch workstation has a more compact design than the previous model, but it may be difficult to tell them apart. The Dell Precision 7730 certainly has enough power, but can that 92Wh keep a distance?

Description

The market for mobile workstations is relatively small, but due to its price, it is a profitable area for OEMs. Dell is competing with other manufacturers such as Fujitsu, HP, and Lenovo for a portion of the workstation market, but there are no current HP devices available to compare to the Precision 7730. At least ThinkPad P72, Celsius H980, and Precision 7720 are at hand to be compared with Precision 7730.

The Precision 7730 looks very much the same as the previous model. The chassis is slightly more compact, but the keyboard, trackpad, and port arrangement are the same as the Precision 7720. Therefore, we will not cover them in this review but instead, refer to the Precision 7720 review. You can also read more about the series in our Precision 7710 review.

Changes and Differences Between Generations

The Precision 7730 looks much the same as the previous model, but Dell has redesigned the 17.3″ mobile workstation. Compared to the Precision 7720, the Precision 7730’s display bezel is much narrower, the keyboard and trackpad come forward, and the gap between the display is large.

Keyboard

The keyboard has no major changes except for some key assignments. The overall design has not changed, and the palm rest and display cover follow the textured finish of the predecessor. Moreover, the sides are still aluminum. The display cover is carbon fiber finished, but in fact, the majority of the enclosure is made of magnesium alloy.

We are focusing on achieving a light weight of about 300g and a thin 5mm to enhance mobility. The Precision 7730 is slightly shorter and narrower than the previous model. It is almost the same thickness as Celsius H980 and ThinkPad P72 but weighs slightly more than the Precision 7730. It is slightly longer than a Dell laptop in both length and width. Overall, the Precision 7730 has a smaller footprint than all of the devices compared, but not an extremely small footprint.

Display

Dell now offers three display options for the Precision 7730. The cheapest display is an HD+ (1600×900) TN panel, but we recommend avoiding this if possible. This display has poor viewing angles and poor color reproduction, so I don’t understand why Dell offers such poor options for workstations. Especially considering the price of the Precision 7730, I think the full HD IPS panel should be the base option. Dell says the panel must achieve an average maximum brightness of 300cd/m² and an NTSC color space coverage of 72%. If these measurements are not high enough, Dell also offers a 4K IPS touchscreen panel that is supposed to reach 400cd/m² and cover NTSC by 100%. By the way, all display options are matte finishes.

Since PWM (pulse-width modulation) is not used to adjust the brightness of the display, there is no problem even if you keep watching the screen for a long time. The brightness distribution is 84%, a little lower than the comparator, but the uniform color of the wide area should make the whole panel look equally bright. However, the backlight is very blurred, so I am concerned when I see a dark image in a dark room or when I use it at night.

Display Response Speed

The IPS panel has a good viewing angle, but it is not perfect. There is a whitening phenomenon found in many IPS panels, and some color appears at sharp viewing angles. However, their readability is not significantly impaired in daily use.

Performance

The Precision 7730 offers a number of configuration options. Choose from Intel Core i5-8300H, Core i5-8400H, Core i7-8750H, Core i7-8850H, or Core i9-8950HK processors. If you need server-grade performance, you can also choose Xeon E-2176M or E-2186M. Similarly, GPUs offer a wide range of choices. While you can have integrated GPUs like the Intel UHD Graphics 630 and HD Graphics P630, Dell also offers several dedicated GPUs. At the time of writing, you can configure Precision 7730 on Nvidia Quadro P3200, Quadro P4200, Quadro P5200, AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150 or Radeon Pro WX 7100. It also features up to 128GB of DDR4-2666 RAM and four M.2-2280 SSD, and a 2.5-inch HDD in a small battery-powered model. For reference, this review machine does not have a 2.5-inch HDD.

Processors

The trial aircraft is equipped with the Core i7-8850H hexacore processor, which uses Intel’s Coffee Lake architecture. The CPU’s base clock is 2.6GHz, which can be boosted to 4.3GHz with Intel Turbo Boost technology. In addition, the Core i7-8850H’s thermal design power (TDP) is 45W, which temporarily increases when the processor is operating at its maximum clock. To learn more about Core i7-8850H and how it compares to other processors, visit the CPU benchmarks page.

We tested the effect of this temporary performance improvement in the Cinebench R15 Multi 64Bit loop. The Precision 7730 initially scored 1,276 points, slightly outpacing the ThinkPad P72. When the CPU is limited to 60W, the score is generally higher than ThinkPad, but the score is reduced by about 10% to 1,156 points.

System performance

The Precision 7730 is a very powerful laptop from a workstation perspective. It is therefore natural for the reviewer to have an excellent score on system performance benchmarks such as PCMark. These benchmarks reflect our day-to-day usage experience. Our test device easily handles all the tasks we’ve thrown and we never encountered rugs or stutters while performing heavy multitasking.

Storage devices

Dell offers a 512GB Samsung PM981 SSD for review. The drive operates on four lanes of PCIe and utilizes the NVMe protocol to achieve very fast transfer speeds. On average, the Toshiba SSDs on the Precision 7720 were faster.

The coverage of the color space is not as high as 100% of the sRGB, but 93.3% is a reasonable number. This test machine has higher color accuracy than Celsius H980 and ThinkPad P72 in both sRGB and AdobeRGB color spaces. However, the 4K panel of the Precision 7720 has 100% sRGB coverage and 88.1% AdobeRGB coverage, which is overwhelming the Full HD panel of the successor.

The Precision 7730 is bright enough for outdoor use, but it is recommended to find a shaded place if possible. The matte-textured display suppresses reflections but looks whitish in bright sunlight.

Graphics card

The review machine is powered by Quadro P3200 GPU, a professional card optimized for computer-aided design (CAD) by Nvidia. Quadro P3200 is based on the Pascal generation and is the most comparable consumer GPU to the GeForce GTX 1060. To learn more about Quadro P3200 and how it compares to other GPUs, visit our GPU benchmarks page.

Quadro P3200 is also the weakest of the Quadro cards that Nvidia currently sells, but that doesn’t mean it’s a slow GPU. Quadro P3200 is powerful enough for demanding rendering tasks, and our review units delivered the level of performance we expected. Both the Celsius H980 and the ThinkPad P72 are powered by Quadro P3200, which has a benchmark score generally comparable to that of the Precision 7730. However, at SPECviewperf Test, our test machine had a significantly lower score than the comparator.

Gaming performance

Nvidia does not design Quadro P3200 for gaming, but still achieves a frame rate that can be played with the latest titles. Our review machine was able to test the 1080p game with maximum graphics, and with Ultra Graphics with post-processing turned on, it reached an average of 46.4 FPS playable in Witcher 3. While 4K games are possible, we recommend lowering the quality level to high or maximum detail. You should also be able to play virtual reality (VR) games.

Fan noise

The Precision 7730 has two fans and is usually silent when the system is idling. In this test, there was no such thing, but the fan of the review machine occasionally rotated for 1-2 seconds and then stopped again. It’s unclear why Dell designed such a strange fan curve, but some people may find it annoying to use the Precision 7730 in a quiet place.

Temperature

The Precision 7730 fans are loud, but unfortunately, this has nothing to do with good thermal management. If you push it hard, the surface temperature may be close to 60°C, so it is hot enough to be worried. Dell has not designed the Precision to be used on the knee, but the surface temperature should still be lower. Higher-performance models can be even hotter and more dangerous.

A stress test combining FurMark and Prime95 was carried out for more than one hour on the test machine. The CPU consumes 90W like the CB R15 loop, while the GPU runs at 1,582MHz. The CPU core temperature reached up to 91°C at full operation and approached 9°C to the maximum operating temperature.

Power management

The power consumption of the Precision 7730 is unfortunately high. This is much higher than the value achieved by the Precision 7720 and ThinkPad P72 during the test. The latter uses on average 28% less power than the Precision 7730, despite having the same CPU and GPU.

Workstations typically have at least a 90Wh battery, but the same is true for the Precision 7730. Dell has a 92Wh battery that is slightly smaller than the batteries in the Celsius H980 and ThinkPad P72. Unfortunately, the amount of battery capacity is independent of the length of battery life, and the review machine’s battery life test recorded an embarrassingly short life. The Wi-Fi Battery Life Test, which runs a script that simulates the load required to render a website, requires charging only 5 minutes and 35 seconds later. The brightness of the display is set to 150cd/m², which is about 50% of the brightness of the review machine.

It’s a shame to see a workstation affected by backlighting bleeding. And I don’t understand why Dell removed the fingerprint scanner that was on the Precision 7720.

In balance, if you are buying a workstation, we recommend you still purchase the Precision 7730. Apart from the battery life, the Precision 7730 has everything your workstation needs. However, it is too bulky to be used as a mobile workstation, so it is recommended that you consider it compared to other workstations.

Final words

For balance, if you are buying a workstation, we recommend that you purchase the Precision 7730. Regardless of the battery life, the Precision 7730 has everything your workstation needs. However, to use it as a mobile workstation, it is bulky, so it is recommended to consider it compared to other workstations.

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