Dell Precision 7540 vs Apple Macbook Pro

I just purchased this new Dell Precision 7540 about a month ago (November 2019) and was comparing it to the Macbook Pro, among others. The price difference was staggering!! The total I have into this 7540 is about $2500, and the most equivalent I could find on the Apple was $4300. But since then Apple has released their new Macbook Pro and the price is lower. I’ll be comparing the two machines in this brief writeup.

The main reason for replacing my M4800 is the following: first, the lightroom processing was getting painfully slow. Editing a photo was taking a long time to make adjustments. This happens with a 6 year old computer. Second, I was starting to lose keystrokes. I know this is probably a software problem, but to fix it would require almost reinstalling the whole computer. Third, the battery life was getting short in tooth. I know this can be solved by buying a new battery for around $150. None of this helps out when exporting video, which was about 2 seconds per 1 second of exported video. This new 7540 is about .5 seconds for 1 second of video, or about 4x faster.

Dell Precision 7540 Specs:

i7-9750HK processor 6 cores, 2.6Ghz, turbo boost 4.5Ghz
Quadro RTX3000, 6GB video card
15.6″ 1920×1080 100% color gamut, touchscreen
8GB RAM DDR4 2666Mhz (as configured from dell)
256GB M.2 NVMe Class 40 SSD (as configured from dell)
6 cell 97WH long life cycle Lithium Battery
Price: $1881.91 plus tax $141.61 = $2023.52

32GB RAM (2x16gb) DDR4 2666 ($131.99 amazon)
2TB NVMe SSD data drive ($204.99 bhphoto)
1TB NVMe SSD primary OS drive ($129.99 bhphoto) to replace 256GB primary drive.
Total price: $2490.49
Note this price is at 38% off, plus a 5% stackable coupon, but they take the 5% off the lowered price. This brought my total to about 42% off.

I chose to buy the machine with 8GB and upgrade to 32GB myself since the 32GB upgrade was $359 from Dell, and $131.99 from Amazon. This computer can take a maximum of 128GB with current memory modules (4x32GB).

I chose to buy the machine with 256GB of SSD and upgrade to the 1TB and 2TB drives myself, as a 2TB from dell would have been $1079 vs $205 from bhphoto, and $131 for the 1TB. I’ll eventually take out the 256GB drive and keep it as my “original backup” of the operating system. This computer can take a maximum of 3 SSD drives, currently at 4TB each for a maximum of 12TB.

For the display, I had a 3200×1800 display on my old Precision M4800, and wanted 4k on this machine. But I also wanted a touch screen display as I’ve gotten used to using one and like the intuitiveness of it. Dell does not offer the 4k screen with touch, so I settled on the standard 1080p display with touch. This was a very difficult decision to forgo the 4k display. It’s strange since Dell offers the 4k touch on other models, such as the XPS15, which was very similarly priced.

For the graphic card, I chose to upgrade to the RTX3000. This was one of the most expensive upgrades I did on this computer. The reason is that the price of the card is $575 higher than the base card, plus it requires an upgrade to the 97wh battery ($30 or $42) due to power requirements, which requires no 2.5″ hard drive, which means buying the smallest SSD ($137). So in reality this one option costs $754. The reason? I wanted fortnite to have 60fps. Just kidding. In reality, I’m planning on trying out some machine learning within my real estate business, and the RTX has tensor cores, which would greatly help with machine learning. It also helps with the video processing and photo processing that I do on a regular basis. This graphics card is the workstation version of the RTX 2070 (mobile).

The Macbook Pro (late 2019) 16″:

16″ Macbook Pro base $2399
i7-9750HK processor 6 cores, 2.6Ghz, turbo boost 4.5Ghz (same)
16GB base (+400 for 32GB) Must be upgraded to 32gb at purchase since RAM is soldered to motherboard
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 4GB RAM (+100 from base) is most comparable to the RTX3000
2TB storage (+600 from base) Must be upgraded at purchase since SSD is soldered to motherboard
4TB storage (+1200 from base)

Total price for the Mac: $2399 + 400 + 600 = $3399 + 7% tax = $3636
This is with the 2TB SSD. If I were to be thinking about 4 years from now, I would probably spec the 4TB drive instead which would put my cost at $3999 + tax = $4278.

Graphics-wise the RTX 3000 has a passmark score of 4212, while the Radeon Pro 5500M has a passmark score of 4186. I would consider these both to be about the same, although the RTX3000 has more memory at 6GB vs 4GB.

It is also interesting that I can get the Precision 7540 with a true 4k display at 3840×2160, but not the Mac. It has a display resolution of 3072×1920, which is almost the same as my 6-year old Precision M4800 (3200×1800).

One last thing is the warranty. Dell has a 3-year on-site warranty, where they come to my office or home to fix my computer if it needs hardware repairs. This limits downtime to just 1 day most of the time. Apple doesn’t provide that kind of service.

Other laptops that were considered:

I looked at a few other laptops in the same league but ruled them out for various reasons:

Dell XPS15

This was a close runner up. The XPS15 had one key advantage of being super light-weight at around 4 lbs. It also had a 4k touch screen. But the price was higher than the Precision 7540, and there was only 1 SSD and 2 RAM slots. This meant a compromise on expansion.

Asus Zenbook Pro Duo UX581GV

This was the hardest machine to not choose. The fascinating dual screen laptop had me hooked. I could see very good uses for dual screens on the go, especially since both were 4k and touch. The bottom line is price. This machine could be configured for 32GB or 16GB of RAM. But the 32GB came with 1TB SDD, and the 16GB came with 512GB SSD. 32GB is enough for my needs for several years, perhaps 4 years. But the 1TB was not. I already had 2.5TB in my 6 year old M4800. Then the price was high. $2999 gave me the option of dual screens, but no more expandability. It had only 1 SSD slot, and the memory was soldered on the mobo. This meant I HAD to buy the 32GB because I knew that 16GB, although sufficient for today, would not be for tomorrow. My M4800 had 24GB of RAM.

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