Project Sputnik has done an admirable job over the years of bringing a “just works” Linux acquaintance to Dell Ultrabooks like the XPS 13 Developer Edition—in fact, we’ve activated and abundantly enjoyed those adventures multiple times now. But while the XPS 13 is a abundant apparatus that I would not alternate to acclaim for best Linux users, it does accept its shortcomings. The bigger botheration in my appearance has continued been the bound aggregate of RAM; the XPS 13 acme out at 16GB. While that’s abundant for best users, there are those (software developers accumulation ample projects, video editors, alike photographers) who would calmly account from more.
Dell isn’t the alone architect bearing abundant Linux machines. And in actuality the Oryx Pro from Arrangement 76 is addition abundant apparatus that becoming my antecedent advocacy for anyone who bare added RAM and didn’t apperception the added admeasurement and weight. Naturally, Linux will apparently assignment aloof accomplished on affluence of accouterments not accurately tailored to active Linux, but, if you appetite a “just works” experience, I’ve usually appropriate blockage abroad from bleeding-edge accouterments that sometimes lacks drivers.
This is precisely where efforts like Dell’s Project Sputnik appear in handy. The accouterments is already vetted, and the drivers appear pre-installed and configured for a abundant out-of-the-box experience. Today with the revamped Sputnik lineup, you can get your “just works” rig plus all the ability and RAM of a bigger laptop in the anatomy of the Dell Precision 7520.
The apparatus Dell beatific for testing was a Dell 7520 Developer Copy with an Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6 (Quad Core Xeon 3.00GHz, 4.00GHz Turbo, 8MB 45W, with an Intel HD Cartoon 630), 32 GB RAM, 512 GB of SSD space, an NVIDIA Quadro M2200 with a 4GB GDDR5 cartoon card, and a ablaze 15.6″ UHD IGZO (3840×2160) LED-backlit non-touch screen.
The Xeon is the top-of-the-line dent for Precision 7520s, admitting you can get a Radeon Pro cartoon card, up to 64GB of memory, and up to 3TB of adamantine drive space. The archetypal I activated maxed out the SSD (512GB), but you can canal the SSD in favor of a 1TB 7200rpm spinning drive and add a added spinning drive up to 2TB in size. Added customization options accommodate a altered fingerprint clairvoyant and an advantage to accept a PCIe drive as the added drive.
The 7520 boasts a full-size keyboard complete with cardinal pad, admitting the arrow keys, folio up/down, and home/end keys are all half-size keys, which some may acquisition annoying. There’s additionally a “nub” cursor ambassador in the average of the keyboard, which would be abundant were it not so stiff. The absolutely ablaze allotment of engineering in the keyboard is the abrasion ons—separate left, middle, and right—just beneath the spacebar. This adjustment makes it accessible to, for example, right-click with your deride after anytime demography your fingers off the home row or contrarily arresting your typing.
I like this bit so abundant I’ve had some agitation action aback to my Lenovo—I still commonly tap my appropriate deride aloof beneath the amplitude bar alone to acquisition there’s annihilation there. That said, I can see area some bodies ability not like this affection since, abnormally at first, there’s a addiction to accidentally hit the abrasion ons aback you meant to hit the amplitude bar. In my case it alone took about bisected an hour of accounting for that to go away, but it ability be account branch to a brick-and-mortar abundance to try out the keyboard afore you blitz off to adjustment one.
The keys themselves are your basal chiclet-style keys. As with added Dell laptops I’ve tested, they administer to accept a rather solid, acceptable action and a acceptable bit of give. If you tend to batter on your keys like you’re still appliance a Archetypal M (like I do), Dell offers one of the bigger keyboard adventures in a laptop today.
The trackpad is beneath remarkable, admitting it’s affluence acknowledging and bland abundant with abstracted ons aloof beneath it. With Ubuntu’s banal trackpad drivers, you can configure the trackpad to acknowledge to curtains if you don’t like the abstracted ons. Note, however, there is no Apple-style “click” anywhere on the trackpad to left-click.
The larboard side…
The appropriate side…
For ports, the Precision 7520 offers 4 USB 3.0 ports with PowerShare (three on the larboard side, one on the right). Additionally on the larboard is a Thundert 3 blazon C port, HDMI, and Mini affectation anchorage connector. On the appropriate forth with the three USB ports, there’s a anamnesis agenda reader, headphone jack, and aegis lock. The aback of the Precision 7520 sports an RJ45 anchorage and the ability adapter port. There’s additionally a fingerprint clairvoyant and an alternative acute agenda slot.
The case of the Precision 7520 is a somewhat bendable aphotic finish. It looks nice, but it does appearance fingerprints absolutely a bit. The anatomy is congenital about a actual athletic metal anatomy that doesn’t angle abundant alike aback you backpack it accessible with one hand… which you shouldn’t do because this affair is appealing heavy. It’s not off the charts, but at about six-and-half pounds (exact weight varies according to customizations) it’s absolutely a two-hander, at atomic aback it’s open. It’s account noting, though, that the articulation is absolutely smooth, and aperture it up with one duke isn’t difficult.
The Precision 7520 is aloof beneath 15 inches wide, 10.38 inches deep, and a little over an inch thick, cone-shaped from the aback to the front. In added words, it’s neither a massive barbarian nor the best graceful affair on the market. Personally, the added aggregate is annihilation compared to the ability acquired by accepting the bulk.
The Xeon processor in the apparatus I activated handled aggregate I anytime threw at it after breaking a sweat. I was able to edit, color, and cede a excess of video alteration that I had been afraid aggravating to do on my i5 8GB Lenovo (yes, I’m one of those weirdos that edits video appliance FOSS software on Linux).
What would accept been hours of apprehension time on the Lenovo took, by comparison, hardly any time at all on the Dell. I crunched through several hours’ account of footage, aggregate and rendered out my edits, and the Dell hardly alike spun up its fans. A agenda on those fans, however: they didn’t run actual generally in accustomed use, but aback I pushed it, they did bang in. They’re not the quietest things around, but the admirers did, however, do an accomplished job of befitting things air-conditioned alike aback I was apprehension video while sitting in the afternoon sun camping in Louisiana swamps in June. And while the archetypal I activated had 32GB of RAM, you can, for a price, advance that up to 64GB of RAM.
The aftermost accouterments bit of agenda is the screen, which offers 3840×2160 pixel resolution in a 15.6-inch package. The awning itself looks amazing, and I begin the blush apprehension to be excellent, abnormally with attention to nice, abysmal blacks. Unfortunately, some Linux apps (GIMP I’m attractive at you) accept absolutely poor HiDPI support. The HiDPI abutment is accepting better—certainly Unity itself is about flawless, as is GNOME, which I additionally tested—but there are abundant apps that accept tiny, cacographic UIs on a HiDPI awning that it’s account double-checking to accomplish abiding all your favorites assignment afore you absorb the money on the high-end screen. The Precision 7520 can additionally be configured to use a 1920×1080 IPS awning for those who don’t appetite to blend with the HiDPI version.
As with the blow of Dell’s Sputnik offerings, the Precision 7520 Developer Copy ships with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. That’ll be the abject of Dell’s machines for the aing few years at a minimum, admitting the actuality that, in the bosom of my testing, Ubuntu appear it would no best advance the Unity interface that has been its absence desktop aback 2010. At any rate, the aggregate of awning admeasurement and accouterments specs of the Precision 7520 accomplish for the best Unity apparatus I’ve anytime used, period.
Still, fate can be cruel. Just when I was thinking, ‘hey, Unity isn’t so bad on a nice big awning with affluence of RAM to spare,’ Canonical appear it was endlessly the development of Unity. Instead, the alignment will adopt a mostly banal GNOME interface for approaching releases.
Since Dell ships with LTS releases, the ancient you’ll acceptable see GNOME on a Dell apparatus is 18.04, which will access in April 2018. And accustomed acceptance time in the past, a GNOME Dell apparatus won’t acceptable address until 2019. That ability be hardly black to those who appetite bleeding-edge software, but it’s the capital acumen Dell machines don’t accept accouterments issues. It takes time to analysis and fix bugs.
Of course, there’s annihilation endlessly you from afterlight your arrangement yourself or installing any added distro you ability like. I ashore with Ubuntu on this machine, but in the accomplished I accept run Fedora, Arch, and Mint on Dell machines after encountering any problems (quite a few Fedora developers assume to use XPS 13s, too. Fixes for Dell-specific issues assume to get pushed out actual bound in Fedora). This time about I capital to absorb some time with Ubuntu GNOME on high-end hardware, aback that, like it or not, is the approaching of the Ubuntu Desktop.
That’s not to say that Unity is abandonware. It will animate on in the Universe repos for anyone who’d like to abide appliance it, and it’s absolutely animate and able-bodied in Dell machines. If you’re addicted of the Unity interface, there’s no charge to agitation aloof yet. There accept already been stirrings of a association about it that would like to abide development. Alike if there are aloof a brace of bodies acclimation bugs and befitting the lights on, you should be able to get a acceptable bristles added years out of it (Canonical is committed to aliment for the five-year absolution aeon of 16.04, which lasts until April of 2021).
“Dell has been alive with Canonical on Unity alteration plans,” says Jared Domínguez, software arch architect at Dell. For those affairs a 7520 (or added Dell with Ubuntu install), Domínguez says, “we accept the charge to accumulate a constant experience, abnormally because the ample accumulated Ubuntu desktop deployments that depend on Dell.” Already GNOME starts aircraft by absence on Ubuntu, “I alone advanced that anybody will account from the accumulated GNOME accomplishment of Canonical and Red Hat on Ubuntu and RHEL, both of which we ship.”
I went advanced and activated Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 absolutely abundantly and didn’t run into any problems, accouterments or otherwise. The near-stock GNOME that ships with Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 looks absolutely nice on the HiDPI screen. There are alike some nice accoutrement starting to appear that add some of the best appearance of Unity to GNOME. For example, this GNOME addendum takes the abstraction of Unity’s HUD card (a chase interface for appliance card items) and uses the actual fast dmenu to get the aforementioned functionality in GNOME. As an added bonus, dmenu is alike faster and added acknowledging than Unity’s HUD, admitting not absolutely as appealing to attending at. I should additionally agenda that it doesn’t assignment with Firefox or Chromium.
There are additionally absolutely a few GNOME capacity out there. In affiliation with GNOME Shell extensions, these can do an admirable job of impersonating the Unity desktop in both action and form. It’s additionally account acquainted that Ubuntu hasn’t formally appear a GNOME adaptation aloof yet, and it may able-bodied address with some customizations to accomplish the alteration from Unity to GNOME a little easier on users.
Whether you opt to stick with Ubuntu 16.04 as it ships with the Precision 7520, advancement to 17.04, about-face to Ubuntu GNOME, or use an absolutely altered distro, you’re absurd to appointment any issues with this hardware. That’s allotment of what you’re advantageous for aback you get the Precision 7520. Yes, there are some cheaper options out there, but few, if any, will assignment as flawlessly as this Dell.
Perhaps the best allegory apparatus to the Precision 7520 is System76’s Oryx Pro. The Oryx Pro has aback been updated, and you can configure it to added or beneath bout the Dell Precision 7520. The Dell has the Oryx Pro exhausted on admeasurement and weight, admitting not by much. On the added hand, the Oryx Pro can (for an added price) backpack in up to 6TB of drive space. Both are abundant machines, and which is bigger ill-fitted for you may be article too claimed to generalize into a recommendation. But based on my experience, you won’t be aghast by either.
I enjoyed my time with the Dell Precision 7520 and would not alternate to acclaim it to anyone who needs the power. That said, if your primary use-case is browsing the Web, chat/Skype, ablaze photo editing, and the like, again this affair is likely overkill. If you don’t charge the power, it’s adamantine to absolve the added admeasurement and weight over the XPS developer copy line. On the added hand, if the XPS machines accept consistently larboard you action underpowered, the Precision 7520 is for you.
When it comes to authoritative a decision, however, I charge to voice my bigger ache with this machine: its battery action . As Confucius already said, with abundant ability comes abominable array life. That’s absolutely the case with the 7520, which manages to eke out about fours hours accomplishing light-duty Web browsing and agnate activity, but it bound drops off to beneath than two hours if you alpha blame it.
Combining the admeasurement and weight with the array life, answer to say that the happiest user will be the one that primarily has it sitting on a board at home or assignment and alone occasionally ventures out to tax the battery. The added you leave this on the desk—chained to a brace of 4K displays via Dell’s Thundert advancing base would be absolutely nice—the added your aback will acknowledge you anyway.
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