Dell Precision 5480 Workstation Laptop Review

The Dell Precision 5480 is a 14-inch mobile workstation not only mirrors the aesthetic appeal of the XPS line but also packs a substantial punch in terms of performance. Equipped with the Intel Core i9-1300H and Nvidia RTX 3000 series Graphics, specifically the Lovelace Graphics, it caters to the demands of professional-grade applications with ISV certification.

The base price is $2069, while the tested configuration presented here is priced at $4370.36. It’s important to note that this is a premium laptop with a relatively high cost, justified by its focus on catering to professionals in specific industries. For these users, the Laptop is viewed as a tool rather than a mere purchase, and the price is secondary to obtaining the right tool for their work.

The Precision 5480 is optimized with ISV-certified drivers, making it ideal for tasks such as CAD work, solid work, 3D rendering, medical imaging, and high-end video editing. For those considering Precision 5480 laptop, it’s essential to keep in mind its target audience and the specialized requirements it meets.

Design and Build Quality

Dell Inspiron 5480 box on black desk with charging cable, power adaptor, and additional cable.

Inside the box, we find the Dell Precision 5480 laptop, accompanied by documentation and warranty information. The Precision line maintains its consistency, aligning with the XPS line. The package includes a 130-watt USB Type-C charger, appreciated for its compact design, ensuring portability on the go.

Additionally, there’s a power cord and an adapter, akin to those seen in the XPS line, featuring HDMI and USB-A connectivity via Type-C, type-a thoughtful touch in the box.

A man showcasing the Dell Inspiron 5480, highlighting its sleek design and sturdy build.

The laptop, sporting a graphite or grayish color, is visually appealing. The bottom of the laptop bears the title Precision 5480, showcasing a metal design that feels solid with minimal chassis flexibility.

The design offers a subtle homage to the consumer base of the XPS line. the Precision 5480has a weight of 1.617 kilograms. When factoring in the travel weight with the included power cord and charger, the total increases to 2.08 kilograms. While it carries a bit of heft, it’s essential to note that this laptop packs a significant punch under the hood, making the weight a worthwhile trade-off for the powerful performance it delivers.

Close-up image of Dell Inspiron ports on a graphic background with written ports in a list format.

The port selection on the Precision 5480, On the left side, there’s a 3.5-millimeter microphone/headphone combo jack, accompanied by two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports that offer full-service support for data, charging, and display output. Additionally, the left side features an optional smart card reader.

On the right side, there’s a Micro SD card reader, alongside two more USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports with full-service capabilities. Finally, to complete the port array on the unit itself, it has a Kensington lock port. It’s worth noting that the package includes a dongle, providing HDMI and USB Type-A connectivity, a thoughtful inclusion by Dell.

Display and Speakers

Dell Precision 5480 Workstation Laptop Review: display

The Dell Precision 5480 boasts an good display, featuring a 14-inch IPS panel with a QHD Plus resolution of 2560 x 1600. The touchscreen functionality adds practicality for users who find it useful. With a brightness of 474 nits, just shy of the claimed 500 nits, the display offers vivid visuals suitable for various tasks.

Although it doesn’t match OLED displays, the color gamut coverage is notable, with 100% sRGB, 79% Adobe RGB, 81% DCI P3 wide color gamut, and 74% NTSC. This level of color accuracy, along with a Delta E score of 1.7, ensures vibrant visuals with high contrast and precise colors. Notably, there was no observed PWM or screen flickering during testing, enhancing the viewing experience.

For media consumption on platforms like Netflix and YouTube, the display performs admirably despite not being OLED. The slim bezels contribute to its modern look, providing an immersive experience with excellent contrast and sharpness. While there’s no 4K option, the QHD Plus resolution on a 14-inch screen suffices.

However, the lack of a high refresh rate option, with the display operating at 60 Hz only, may disappoint some users looking for alternatives like 90 or 120 Hz. Despite this, the overall impression of the display is positive, showcasing Dell’s expertise in this department.

It’s equipped with quad speakers, offering a total output of 8 watts. The volume is satisfactory, with decent mid-tones, providing a room-filling sound. While it may not match the standard set by the MacBook Pro, especially in its 14-inch form factor, it holds its own admirably.

IR Webcam and Fingerprint Scanner

The Dell Precision 5480 2023 comes equipped with an HD IR camera, allowing for face recognition login through Windows Hello. Additionally, the power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner, offering dual biometric login options. Studio Effects enhance the camera functionality, providing features like auto framing to maintain focus, eye contact for a more engaging presence, and a background blur effect for improved visual appeal.

While a 1080p resolution would have been preferable, the 720p camera meets the needs for Zoom calls and other video requirements, particularly for those returning to work or participating in hybrid work setups. Although some users might consider using an external camera, the 720p camera performs adequately for its intended purposes.

Performance

The performance is really good, it has the Core i9-13900H, a very powerful CPU and 45W with a total of 14 cores 8 efficient cores and 6 performance cores. The single and multile performance is excellent, as indicated by below benchmark results.

PCMARK 107,639
GEEKEBENCH 6 (Single-Core)2,618
GEEKBENCH 6 (Multi-Core)13,629
CINBENCH R206,228
CINEBENCH R152,423 CB, 289 FPS
CINEBENCH R231,942 Single-Core, 16,330 Multi-Core
3DMARK Fire Strike18,674
3DMARK Time Spy8,723
Precision 5480 Core i9-13900H + RTX 3000 Ada GPU (50W TDP) Benchmark

Graphics performance is really good because it has the RTX 3000 Ada Lovelace Graphics with a 50 Watts TDP. That would be the equivalent of an RTX 4070 GPU. We’re seeing really good graphics performance here, but the key difference is that this is optimized for professional-grade mobile workstation applications, or professional-grade applications, I should say, with ISV certifications. Applications like SolidWorks, 3D rendering, medical imaging, and more this is where Precision 5480 is going to shine.

LaptopsSingle-CoreMulti-Core
Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED (UX6404)
Cor i9-13900H
2,10218,998
Dell Precision 5480
Core i9-13900H
1,94216,330
Lenovo Slim Pro 9i 14
Core i7-13705H
1,91917,842
HP ZBook Firefly 14 G10
Core i7-1365U
1,7277,439
Apple MacBook Pro 14
M2 Max
1,61315,310
CINEBENCH R23 Single-Core and Multi-Core Performance

Now, as far as the single-core score from the Cinebench R23, there’s excellent performance, as well as the multicore performance from the Cinebench R23. Everyday tasks such as Microsoft Office, email, and web browsing all performed really well on Precision 5480. There were no issues at all; it’s handled very well.

And if you’re going to do graphics work, especially video editing in Da Vinci Resolve, Premiere Pro, and similar applications, you’re going to see excellent performance, as indicated by numbers. Speaking of video editing, when I rendered a 3-minute H.264 video in Da Vinci Resolve, it took 1 minute 37 seconds to render. It even beat out the Apple Max Studio with its M1 Max chipset, taking only 1 minute 35 seconds to render the same video in an H.265 codec.

TitlesLowMediumHighUltra
Dota 2 Reborn175 FPS161 FPS151 FPS142 FPS
GTA V182 FPS176 FPS164 FPS88 FPS
The Witcher 3364 FPS241 FPS150 FPS77 FPS
Cyberpunk 207792 FPS72 FPS61 FPS56 FPS
Gaming FPS performance of Precision 5480

Even though Precision 5480 is a professional mobile workstation, you’re still going to get very playable frame rates on some of the more popular titles. So, when you’re not working and in your downtime, you can play some games, as indicated by above very playable frame rates, especially in popular titles like Cyberpunk 2077. If you play with the settings, you can achieve some really nice frame rates on Precision 5480, very impressive graphical performance.

Surface Temps and Fan Noise

As far regarding thermal throttling. When I ran the Time Spy stress test, It achieved a passing score of 99.5%. This indicates that it detected very little, if any, thermal throttling even under heavy load. That’s a positive outcome.

Dell Precision 5480 Workstation Laptop Review; Surface Temperature

When it comes to surface temperatures under load, specifically where you place your fingers on the keyboard, it remains surprisingly cool. There’s no significant heat, and it stays relatively cool, even on the underside. The only noticeable warmth is near the venting at the back of the unit, where you wouldn’t typically place your fingers or on your lap.

Additionally, on the sides, there’s nothing to be concerned about. The good news extends to fan noise as well; even under heavy load, Precision 5480 didn’t exceed 34-35 decibels. This is impressively quiet, considering the workload it’s handling. The team did a commendable job in managing surface temperatures, addressing heat concerns, and ensuring minimal fan noise. Overall, it’s a job well done.

Battery Performance

LaptopPCMARK 10
Modern Office
PCMARK 10
VIDEO PLABACK
PCMARK 10
Gaming
Dell Precision 5480
72Wh
10 hours 01 minutes11 hours 33 minutes0 hours 55 minutes
Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED
76Wh
7 hours 23 minutes8 hours 20 minutes0 hours 58 minutes
Battery Life Performance

Dell Precision 5480 boasts a 72-watt-hour battery, and it delivered an impressive 10 hours and 1 minute on the PCMark 10 Modern Office battery test. To put that into context, I recently tested the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED with its larger 76-watt-hour battery, and it managed only 7 hours and 23 minutes—not quite as good as the Precision 5480.

In the video playback test, the Precision 5480 excelled, clocking in at 11 hours and 33 minutes compared to the Zenbook Pro 14 OLED’s 8 hours and 20 minutes. When it comes to gaming, one can expect around 1 hour and 55 minutes on the Precision 5480, surpassing the Zenbook Pro 14’s 58 minutes. While gaming performance on battery may not be outstanding, the Precision 5480 impresses in everyday tasks, making it a commendable choice for work with its noteworthy battery life.

User Upgradeability

AllRead MB/sWrite MB/s
SEQ1M
Q8T1
6954.195191.90
SEQ1M
Q1T1
3820.243198.65
RND4K
Q32T1
466.73476.81
RND4K
Q1T1
76.57150.79
1TB SSD Read and Write MB/s Speed.

In terms of user upgradeability, the SSD is indeed user-upgradeable, and the included 1TB drive showcased impressive read and write speeds—very fast, in line with expectations for 2023.

Dell Precision 5480 Workstation Laptop Review: Internals

As for the RAM, it’s LPDDR5 operating in dual-channel mode. I have 64GB of RAM at a swift 6,000MHz. Regrettably, it’s soldered into the motherboard and not user-upgradeable. Nevertheless, having 64GB in a 14-inch form factor is a notable advantage.

Turning our attention to wireless capabilities, the laptop features a Wi-Fi 6E Bluetooth combo card soldered into the motherboard, making it non-upgradeable by the user. However, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionalities have been flawless, presenting no issues during usage.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Dell Precision 5480 Workstation Laptop Review: Keywords

As far the hinges are really sturdy. I didn’t notice any screen wobble when typing, which is a significant relief as screen wobbling tends to be a major pet peeve of mine. It’s reassuring to see very little, if any, screen wobble in this case.

As for the keyboard itself, I am a big fan. The tactility and key travel are to my liking, providing a comfortable typing experience for drafting long documents and emails. I found it to work exceptionally well; there was no feeling that my fingers were going to bottom out. The keyboard also features a multi-stage backlight, which proves handy for working in a dark room or a dimly lit environment. It functions effectively.

Additionally, the Precision 5480 boasts a reasonably sized touchpad that I found to be highly responsive. Whether scrolling or using various gestures, everything worked seamlessly. The touchpad is proportionally sized, striking a balance that feels just right, not too small, not too large. Overall, my impression is positive: a good keyboard and touchpad on this mobile workstation.

Conclusion

So what are my thoughts on the Dell Precision 5480 2023?

I must say it’s a very impressive mobile workstation. I appreciate the GPU performance, the fact that it maintains a cool and quiet operation under load, and the remarkable power packed into its small 14-inch form factor. The 14-inch QHD+ IPS touch display is sharp, and the overall port selection is good. The keyboard and touchpad are comfortable, contributing to a positive user experience.

However, there are some drawbacks. The presence of a 720p webcam in 2023 is less than ideal. There’s no OLED option, no high refresh rate option, and the RAM is not user-upgradable. Additionally, there’s no support for ECC RAM. These are notable downsides.

Despite the negatives, the overall takeaway is that if you’re in the market for a professional mobile workstation in a 14-inch form factor, the Precision 5480 stands out as one of the best choices. It offers good CPU and GPU performance, impressive battery life, and an excellent display. I highly recommend the Dell Precision 5480 for those who need a portable and powerful solution on the go.

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