Notebookcheck

Dell Precision 3520 (i7-7820HQ, M620M) Workstation Review

Benjamin Herzig (translated by Bernie Pechlaner), 05/28/2017

Rough around the edges. With their Precision 3000 workstation-series, Dell promises lots of performance for comparatively little money. Our review update takes a look at the overall concept and checks for potential issues.

For the original German review, see here.

An inexpensive mobile workstation - isn't that a contradiction in terms? Not according to Dell, who promises that the review notebook - the Precision 3520 - is exactly that. Of course, we might have to define what "inexpensive" means here in the first place. Well-equipped mobile workstations cost easily above 2000 (~$2250) and sometimes up to 3000 Euro (~$3360). By these standards, the Precision 3520 is almost a bargain: the entry-level configuration as sold by Dell can be purchased for 1400 Euro (~$1570). Our review workstation with the fastest i7 processor, Full HD display, 32 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD is the top-of-the-line model and sells for 2500 Euro (~$2800).  

At a first glance, the Precision 3520 looks like the Precision 3510, but there are differences as far as the chassis and the feature set are concerned. Since the 3520 is a fairly minor update, we are omitting the sections dealing with the input devices, maintenance and security features and will focus on the display and the inner merits instead.     

Particularly interesting here is the Quadro M620 GPU, which we haven't been able to review thus far. For comparison purposes, we are going to look at alternative workstation offerings like the ThinkPad P50ZBook 15 G3 or the Precision 5520. For a direct comparison, we are also going to check out the predecessor-GPU Quadro M600M in the ThinkPad P70.

The original review was conducted by our German colleagues. An identically-equipped version of the workstation we configured on Dell's US site cost $2170 at the time of writing. 

Dell Precision 3520 (Precision Series)
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA Quadro M620 - 2048 MB, Core: 1019.6 MHz, Memory: 1252.8 MHz, GDDR5, 369.88, Optimus
Memory
32768 MB 
, DDR4 2400, 2 slots out of two used
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 141 PPI, BOE NV15N43, IPS LED, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel CM238
Storage
Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK), 512 GB 
, PCIe NVMe SSD, 469 GB free
Soundcard
Realtek High Definition Audio
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm, Card Reader: SD 4.0
Networking
10/100/1000 LAN Card (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 24.6 x 377.1 x 252.6 ( = 0.97 x 14.85 x 9.94 in)
Battery
68 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet - 6 rows with number pad, Keyboard Light: yes, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS , 36 Months Warranty
Weight
2.34 kg ( = 82.54 oz / 5.16 pounds), Power Supply: 850 g ( = 29.98 oz / 1.87 pounds)
Price
2500 Euro

 

What's new

The chassis looks identical to that of the predecessor, but it's a little lighter. The biggest difference is the location of the physical ports, which Dell revamped completely. The predecessor had the SIM card slot and the VGA port on the back - the new version features them on the right side. The SD card reader and one USB port moved from the right side to the left side; the fan exhaust is now on the back.   

The port types haven't really changed, although there is one major difference: the physical docking port on the bottom is now missing, which leaves Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type-C connected docks as the only expansion option.   

The WLAN module has changed slightly as well and the Precision 3520 now features the updated Kaby Lake Intel Wireless AC 8265 instead of the older AC 8260. The 2x2 module works as well as the predecessor did in the Precision 3510 and both the synthetic benchmark results as well as the real-world experience are quite decent. The sibling Precision 5520 ranks slightly better though especially as far as the uploads are concerned.

Note: the pictures in this review are from the (identically constructed) Dell Latitude 5580.

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Connectivity

Right side: 3.5 mm audio combo-jack, SIM card tray, USB 3.0, VGA, Nobel lock slot
Right side: 3.5 mm audio combo-jack, SIM card tray, USB 3.0, VGA, Nobel lock slot
Back: Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0, power jack
Back: Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0, power jack
Left side: Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0, SD card reader
Left side: Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0, SD card reader
SDCardreader Transfer Speed
average JPG Copy Test (av. of 3 runs)
Dell Precision 3520
 
210 MB/s ∼100%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
 
157.5 MB/s ∼75% -25%
Dell Precision 3510
 
128 MB/s ∼61% -39%
maximum AS SSD Seq Read Test (1GB)
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
 
254.5 MB/s ∼100% +114%
Dell Precision 3510
 
205 MB/s ∼81% +72%
Dell Precision 3520
 
119 MB/s ∼47%
Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell Precision 3520
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
705 MBit/s ∼100%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
622 MBit/s ∼88% -12%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
506 (min: 622) MBit/s ∼100% +34%
Dell Precision 3520
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
378 MBit/s ∼75%

Display

Subpixel array Precision 3520
Subpixel array Precision 3520
Minimal backlight bleeding
Minimal backlight bleeding

Potential buyers can chose from three different displays. Dell offers two different resolutions - HD (1366 x 768) and Full HD (1920 x 1080) - with the latter offered in both touch as well as non-touch versions. The HD display, which the Latitude 5580 was equipped with, is based on TN technology and is - at least in our opinion - best avoided. Both versions of the Full HD display utilize IPS technology. Our review notebook is equipped with a non-touch panel from BOE. All Precision 3520 displays are matte. 

Dell promises a brightness of 300 cd/m² for the Full HD display. At 328 cd/m², the panel exceeds the promised value by a substantial margin and outperforms the Full HD IPS displays Lenovo uses for their much dimmer ThinkPads. The display of the HP ZBook 15 G3 isn't quite as bright either, although the difference isn't that great. The display of the ZBook uses PWM at a particularly low frequency to adjust the brightness. The BOE panel in the Precision 3520 utilizes PWM as well, but the frequency is much higher here at 1000 Hz and thus much less likely to pose a problem. IPS panels frequently suffer from backlight bleeding, but the Precision is hardly affected at all. Backlight bleeding is simply never that noticeable even when darker screen content is displayed.

321
cd/m²
331
cd/m²
340
cd/m²
316
cd/m²
345
cd/m²
336
cd/m²
304
cd/m²
347
cd/m²
317
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 347 cd/m² Average: 328.6 cd/m² Minimum: 22 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 346 cd/m²
Contrast: 932:1 (Black: 0.37 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5 | 0.8-23.34 Ø6.4
ΔE Greyscale 6.2 | 0.64-98 Ø6.7
94.7% sRGB (Argyll) 61.8% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.35
Dell Precision 3520
1920x1080, 15.6
Dell Precision 3510
LGD04AF, K96D2_156WHU, , 1366x768, 15.6
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
SHP1476, , 3840x2160, 15.6
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
LP156WF6-SPK1, , 1920x1080, 15.6
HP ZBook 15 G3
Samsung SDC5344, , 1920x1080, 15.6
Lenovo ThinkPad T570-20HAS01E00
BOE NV156QUM-N44, , 3840x2160, 15.6
Response Times
1%
-22%
14%
-32%
19%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
48 (24.4, 23.6)
56 (27, 29)
-17%
59.2 (27.6, 31.6)
-23%
46 (17, 29)
4%
54 (24.4, 29.6)
-13%
41.6 (13.2, 28.4)
13%
Response Time Black / White *
34.4 (17.2, 17.2)
28 (11, 17)
19%
41.6 (26.8, 14.8)
-21%
26 (9, 17)
24%
35.6 (11.6, 24)
-3%
15.2 (2, 13.2)
56%
PWM Frequency
1064 (90)
198 (95)
-81%
925.9 (90)
-13%
Screen
-39%
8%
-6%
-4%
3%
Brightness middle
345
199
-42%
372.4
8%
263
-24%
306
-11%
339
-2%
Brightness
329
201
-39%
368
12%
236
-28%
289
-12%
314
-5%
Brightness Distribution
88
83
-6%
90
2%
78
-11%
85
-3%
89
1%
Black Level *
0.37
0.4
-8%
0.48
-30%
0.34
8%
0.34
8%
0.36
3%
Contrast
932
498
-47%
776
-17%
774
-17%
900
-3%
942
1%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5
9
-80%
2.6
48%
2.35
53%
5.1
-2%
4.2
16%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.2
9.6
-55%
3.7
40%
3.33
46%
7.4
-19%
5.1
18%
Gamma
2.35 102%
2.41 100%
2.14 112%
2.38 101%
2.37 101%
2.16 111%
CCT
6702 97%
10695 61%
7096 92%
6917 94%
7263 89%
6569 99%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
61.8
39.6
-36%
63
2%
37
-40%
63
2%
59.4
-4%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
94.7
62.4
-34%
99
5%
58
-39%
95
0%
91
-4%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-19% / -31%
-7% / 2%
4% / -2%
-18% / -11%
11% / 7%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 1064 Hz90 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 1064 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 90 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 1064 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9024 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

ColorChecker
ColorChecker
Saturation
Saturation
Graylevels
Graylevels
ColorChecker (calibrated)
ColorChecker (calibrated)
Saturation (calibrated)
Saturation (calibrated)
Graylevels (calibrated)
Graylevels (calibrated)

With a black value of 0.37 cd/m², blacks aren't truly black, but still reasonably dark. The contrast ratio of 932:1 isn't quite up to the standard set by the best IPS displays - but we are being nitpicky here. The sharpness is also more than adequate. As shipped, the display features a greenish hue, which is a peculiarity IPS displays frequently exhibit. A quick calibration eliminates the tint. Users without a calibration device can use the embedded color profile, which we always include in our reviews free of charge. 

High-end IPS display usually offer near-complete coverage of the professional colors spaces - and the display of the Precision 3520 falls into this category. With 95 % of sRGB covered, even semi-professional photo editing isn't out of the question.

sRGb: 94.7 %
sRGb: 94.7 %
AdobeRGB: 61.8 %
AdobeRGB: 61.8 %

The combination of a matte display surface with high brightness does wonders for the outdoor usability. Even in the sun, the display content remains visible, although working in the shade is a lot easier on the eyes.

Outdoor use (shade)
Outdoor use (shade)
Outdoor use (sun)
Outdoor use (sun)

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
34.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 17.2 ms rise
↘ 17.2 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 88 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (26.5 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
48 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 24.4 ms rise
↘ 23.6 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 77 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (42.3 ms).

IPS displays are generally characterized by a superior viewing angle stability - and the Precision 3520 is no different. The brightness remains nearly constant as well. Less expensive IPS displays frequently suffer from a more noticeable decrease at shallow angles.  

It didn't matter to which of the three video outs (Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, VGA) we connected a display to: the resulting picture was always clear and sharp.

Viewing angle stability Dell Precision 3520
Viewing angle stability Dell Precision 3520

Performance

Dell prefers to sell their notebooks direct instead of using retail channels, even though our particular review notebook was sourced from a retailer. Dell's online shop allows the user to configure the Precision 3520 to their heart's content. The user can pick from different quad-core processors ranging from the Intel Core i5-7300HQ to the Core i7-7820HQ - our review notebook is equipped with the latter - to the very expensive Xeon E3-1505M v6. Skylake CPUs are available as well - at least as long as Windows 7 is the OS of choice. The GPU isn't configurable though and all versions of the Precision 3520 feature the Quadro M620 GPU as the only choice

There are many RAM and hard drive options as well. The base version comes with only 4 GB DDR4 2400 RAM and a 500 GB, 7200 RPM HDD. The top-of-the-line configuration includes 32 GB of RAM (both slots occupied) and a 1 TB PCIe SSD.

HWiNFO
HWiNFO
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z RAM
CPU-Z RAM
GPU-Z (HD 620)
GPU-Z (HD 620)
LatencyMon
LatencyMon
 

Processor

The Core i7-7820HQ is the second-fastest Core-i7 CPU in the Kaby Lake lineup - only the (relatively rare) Core i7-7920HQ is faster. The quad-core i7 CPU has four cores and can address eight threads thanks to Hyper-Threading. The four cores run at a maximum of 3.9 GHz; the base frequency is 2.9 GHz. We should mention here that these values - in particular the Turbo frequency - are only valid for the Intel-designed TDP maximum of 45 W.

The reason why the above is important: for their Precision 3520, Dell uses cTDP down and specifies a maximum TDP of 35 W - likely to not overtax the cooling system. For that reason, the CPU can't reach its maximum potential during the Cinebench multicore test. For just 30 seconds, the CPU can draw more than 35 W - 42 W in this particular case - and runs at 3.5 GHz, which isn't the Turbo maximum. After half a minute, the TDP threshold of 35 W becomes effective and the CPU cores drop to 3 GHz. For this very reason, the performance of the Precision workstation drops off after only the first iteration of the Cinebench Multicore loop test, which runs for a total of 30 minutes. 

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Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit

Because of the TDP limit, the i7-7820HQ doesn't quite deliver the performance of its Xeon counterpart E3-1505M v6, which we took a look at when we reviewed the ThinkPad P51Test Lenovo ThinkPad P51 (Xeon, 4K) Workstation. At least on paper, the Xeon CPU should only be a smidgen faster than the i7-7820HQ. Compared to the i7-6700HQ in the predecessor Precision 3510, the new CPU is faster though even when running the multicore-portion of the benchmark test. Although maximum performance is only available for a short time because of the TDP limit, the Precision 3520 is noticeably faster than the Precision 3510. For additional benchmark results, please take a look at our CPU comparison.

The notebook performs the same no matter if it is plugged in or running on battery.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad P51 20HH0016GE
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
171 Points ∼86% +7%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
170 Points ∼85% +6%
Dell Precision 3520
Intel Core i7-7820HQ
160 Points ∼80%
HP ZBook 15 G3
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
158 Points ∼79% -1%
Dell Precision 3510
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
144 Points ∼72% -10%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
117 Points ∼59% -27%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad P51 20HH0016GE
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
792 Points ∼37% +8%
Dell Precision 3520
Intel Core i7-7820HQ
736 Points ∼34%
HP ZBook 15 G3
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
732 Points ∼34% -1%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
654 Points ∼30% -11%
Dell Precision 3510
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
601 Points ∼28% -18%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
592 Points ∼28% -20%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
22369
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6851
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5776
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.96 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.79 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
72.37 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
160 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
736 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
82.74 fps
Help

System Performance

As one would expect from a notebook equipped with such powerful components, the Precision is quite quick during normal operation and delays or lags are never an issue. Its scores place the system right in the middle of the field of its competitors.

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Dell Precision 3510
FirePro W5130M, 6700HQ, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256HDGL m.2 PCI-e
5258 Points ∼81% +1%
HP ZBook 15 G3
Quadro M2000M, E3-1505M v5, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
5221 Points ∼80% +1%
Dell Precision 3520
Quadro M620, 7820HQ, Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK)
5194 Points ∼80%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Quadro M2000M, 6820HQ, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
4677 Points ∼72% -10%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Quadro M1200, E3-1505M v6, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
4291 Points ∼66% -17%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Dell Precision 3510
FirePro W5130M, 6700HQ, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256HDGL m.2 PCI-e
4405 Points ∼74% +5%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Quadro M2000M, 6820HQ, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
4213 Points ∼71% +1%
Dell Precision 3520
Quadro M620, 7820HQ, Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK)
4183 Points ∼70%
HP ZBook 15 G3
Quadro M2000M, E3-1505M v5, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
3959 Points ∼66% -5%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Quadro M1200, E3-1505M v6, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
3504 Points ∼59% -16%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
4183 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
5194 points
Help

Mass Storage

Dell doesn't hold back when it comes to mass storage and incorporates a generously-sized 512 GB Toshiba XG4 NVMe PCIe SSD. Our benchmark table clearly shows that there are much faster drives out there - particularly the PM961 and PM951 SSDs from Samsung used by the competitors. During daily use, the difference is not going to be noticeable at all - unless the user should decide to copy large amounts of data.

Our SSD/HDD benchmark tool makes it possible to compare the XG4 to other Solid State Drives.

Dell Precision 3520
Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK)
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
HP ZBook 15 G3
Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
Lenovo ThinkPad T570-20HAS01E00
Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
Lenovo ThinkPad P51 20HH0016GE
Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
87%
86%
43%
79%
Write 4k QD32
396.1
506.1
28%
393.8
-1%
474.4
20%
559.5
41%
Read 4k QD32
552
633.1
15%
797.8
45%
558.9
1%
664.2
20%
Write 4k
128
169.4
32%
207.3
62%
144.1
13%
176
38%
Read 4k
35.2
56.08
59%
59.11
68%
58.42
66%
61.27
74%
Write 512
456.1
1611
253%
1432
214%
903.4
98%
1157
154%
Read 512
829.1
459.1
-45%
1164
40%
788.7
-5%
1038
25%
Write Seq
476.3
1662
249%
1538
223%
1134
138%
1541
224%
Read Seq
1096
2253
106%
1502
37%
1210
10%
1705
56%
Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK)
Sequential Read: 1096 MB/s
Sequential Write: 476.3 MB/s
512K Read: 829.1 MB/s
512K Write: 456.1 MB/s
4K Read: 35.2 MB/s
4K Write: 128 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 552 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 396.1 MB/s

GPU Performance

GPU-Z Quadro M620
GPU-Z Quadro M620

The Quadro M620 is a low-end Nvidia GPU for mobile workstations. The graphics card was released in 2017, but is still based on the Maxwell-chip, which the letter "M" in the model number indicates as well. Compared to last year's version - the also Maxwell-based Quadro M600M - Nvidia increased the performance mostly by upping the number of shader. The M620 is based on the GM107-version of the GeForce GTX 950M and is remarkably similar to the older Quadro M1000M, although the GPU only comes with 2 GB of RAM. For more information and benchmark comparisons between various GPUs, please take a look at our GPU benchmark comparison.

Compared to the predecessor M600M, the M620 is about 20 to 30 % faster according to most synthetic benchmark tests. The predecessor of the 3520, the Precision 3510, came with an AMD GPU - a FirePro W5130M. The M620 is vastly superior to the older AMD offering and between 50 to 60 % faster.

The GPU always reaches its performance potential even when the notebook is running on battery.

LuxMark v2.0 64Bit
Room GPUs-only
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
979 Samples/s ∼100% +17%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
930 Samples/s ∼95% +12%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
834 Samples/s ∼85%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
791 Samples/s ∼81% -5%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
484 Samples/s ∼49% -42%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
358 Samples/s ∼37% -57%
Sala GPUs-only
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
1562 Samples/s ∼100% +8%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
1556 Samples/s ∼100% +8%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
1440 Samples/s ∼92%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
1426 Samples/s ∼91% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1016 Samples/s ∼65% -29%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
629 Samples/s ∼40% -56%
SiSoft Sandra 2016
Image Processing
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
228.6 MPix/s ∼100% +66%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
155.73 MPix/s ∼68% +13%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
137.5 MPix/s ∼60%
GP Cryptography (Higher Security AES256+SHA2-512)
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
12.28 GB/s ∼100% +54%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
9.82 GB/s ∼80% +23%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
8 GB/s ∼65%
GP Financial Analysis (FP High/Double Precision)
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
21.8 KOPT/s ∼100% +14%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
21.75 KOPT/s ∼100% +13%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
19.2 KOPT/s ∼88%
SPECviewperf 11
1920x1080 Siemens NX
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
43.31 fps ∼100% +14%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
43.17 fps ∼100% +14%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
37.9 fps ∼88%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
34.2 fps ∼79% -10%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
30 fps ∼69% -21%
1920x1080 Tcvis
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
44.89 fps ∼100% +11%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
43.93 fps ∼98% +9%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
40.35 fps ∼90%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
36.7 fps ∼82% -9%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
8 fps ∼18% -80%
1920x1080 SolidWorks
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
50.13 fps ∼100%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
48.13 fps ∼96% -4%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
47.5 fps ∼95% -5%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
46.69 fps ∼93% -7%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
30 fps ∼60% -40%
1920x1080 Pro/ENGINEER
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
21.57 fps ∼100% +7%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
20.19 fps ∼94%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
17.54 fps ∼81% -13%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
16.4 fps ∼76% -19%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
4.3 fps ∼20% -79%
1920x1080 Maya
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
57.67 fps ∼100% +4%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
56.89 fps ∼99% +3%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
55.41 fps ∼96%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
51.9 fps ∼90% -6%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
21 fps ∼36% -62%
1920x1080 Lightwave
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
54.85 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
52.3 fps ∼95% -5%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
51.97 fps ∼95% -5%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
48.27 fps ∼88% -12%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
36 fps ∼66% -34%
1920x1080 Ensight
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
46.68 fps ∼100% +43%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
46.43 fps ∼99% +42%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
32.63 fps ∼70%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
27.6 fps ∼59% -15%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
24 fps ∼51% -26%
1920x1080 Catia
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
53.54 fps ∼100% +4%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
53.48 fps ∼100% +4%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
51.54 fps ∼96%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
45.1 fps ∼84% -12%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
13 fps ∼24% -75%
SPECviewperf 12
1900x1060 Solidworks (sw-03)
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
71.68 fps ∼100% +30%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
69.01 fps ∼96% +25%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
66.02 fps ∼92% +19%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
55.35 fps ∼77%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
52.4 fps ∼73% -5%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
32 fps ∼45% -42%
1900x1060 Siemens NX (snx-02)
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
35.87 fps ∼100% +30%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
34.18 fps ∼95% +24%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
33.95 fps ∼95% +23%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
27.54 fps ∼77%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
26 fps ∼72% -6%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
24.8 fps ∼69% -10%
1900x1060 Showcase (showcase-01)
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
26.2 fps ∼100% +30%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
23.86 fps ∼91% +18%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
21.35 fps ∼81% +6%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
20.17 fps ∼77%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
17.2 fps ∼66% -15%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
14 fps ∼53% -31%
1900x1060 Medical (medical-01)
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
17.49 fps ∼100% +69%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
15.03 fps ∼86% +45%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
14.68 fps ∼84% +42%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
10.34 fps ∼59%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.5 fps ∼43% -27%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
5.9 fps ∼34% -43%
1900x1060 Maya (maya-04)
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
38.46 fps ∼100% +53%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
35.94 fps ∼93% +43%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
32.07 fps ∼83% +27%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
25.21 fps ∼66%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
22 fps ∼57% -13%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
22 fps ∼57% -13%
1900x1060 Energy (energy-01)
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
3.78 fps ∼100% +510%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
3.29 fps ∼87% +431%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
3.2 fps ∼85% +416%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
0.62 fps ∼16%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
0.5 fps ∼13% -19%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
0.38 fps ∼10% -39%
1900x1060 Creo (creo-01)
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
46.12 fps ∼100% +31%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
40.61 fps ∼88% +15%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
38.95 fps ∼84% +10%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
35.26 fps ∼76%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
31.7 fps ∼69% -10%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
20 fps ∼43% -43%
1900x1060 Catia (catia-04)
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
47.08 fps ∼100% +41%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
46.26 fps ∼98% +39%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
45.75 fps ∼97% +37%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
33.32 fps ∼71%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
27.6 fps ∼59% -17%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
23 fps ∼49% -31%
1900x1060 3ds Max (3dsmax-05)
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
32.47 fps ∼100%
Unigine Heaven 2.1 - 1280x1024 high, Tesselation (normal), DirectX11 AA:off AF:1x
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
73.4 fps ∼100% +30%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
70.8 fps ∼96% +25%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
56.6 fps ∼77%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
36 fps ∼49% -36%
Unigine Valley 1.0
1920x1080 Extreme HD DirectX AA:x8
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
20.4 fps ∼100% +17%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
20.4 fps ∼100% +17%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
17.4 fps ∼85%
1920x1080 Extreme HD Preset OpenGL AA:x8
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
18.3 fps ∼100% +24%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
14.8 fps ∼81%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
13.2 fps ∼72% -11%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
5107 Points ∼100% +34%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
5105 Points ∼100% +34%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
4997 Points ∼98% +31%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
3801 Points ∼74%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
2911 Points ∼57% -23%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
4165 Points ∼100% +30%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
4126 Points ∼99% +29%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
4091 Points ∼98% +28%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
3204 Points ∼77%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
2430 Points ∼58% -24%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
2099 Points ∼50% -34%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
30495 Points ∼100% +31%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
30236 Points ∼99% +30%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
28254 Points ∼93% +21%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
23259 Points ∼76%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
18491 Points ∼61% -20%
Dell Precision 3510
AMD FirePro W5130M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
14501 Points ∼48% -38%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
163099 Points ∼100%
HP ZBook 15 G3
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
124103 Points ∼76% -24%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
76826 Points ∼47% -53%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
73348 Points ∼45% -55%
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
NVIDIA Quadro M1200, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
63463 Points ∼39% -61%
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Extreme Preset OpenGL
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
14.6 fps ∼100% +1%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
14.5 fps ∼99%
Extreme Preset DX11
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
NVIDIA Quadro M600M, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
15.9 fps ∼100% +2%
Dell Precision 3520
NVIDIA Quadro M620, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
15.6 fps ∼98%
3DMark 06 Standard
24751 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
17237 points
3DMark 11 Performance
4200 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
103599 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
15759 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
3059 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Professional GPUs aren't all that suitable for gaming, since their drivers are designed for stability and top-notch CAD performance. Nonetheless: for our evaluation, gaming benchmarks are important as well.

Just like CPUs, we subject powerful dedicated GPUs to an extended stress test. For this purpose, we run the game Witcher 3 at the ultra preset and 1080p. The GPU had no issues with consistently high loads and maintained the frame rate of 10 fps with only minor fluctuations.

0123456789101112Tooltip
The Witcher 3 ultra

The Quadro M620 can handle games quite well, which isn't a surprise, given that it's based on the 950M. Of course, the chip is showing its age, so some titles can only be played halfway fluently at medium and low details. Occasional gamers who prefer a professional workstation design to a gaming rig, might still enjoy the Precision 3520 in this regard. 

BioShock Infinite - 1366x768 High Preset
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Quadro M1200, E3-1505M v6, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
125 fps ∼100% +35%
HP ZBook 15 G3
Quadro M2000M, E3-1505M v5, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
115.8 fps ∼93% +25%
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Quadro M2000M, 6820HQ, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
112.9 fps ∼90% +22%
Dell Precision 3520
Quadro M620, 7820HQ, Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK)
92.3 fps ∼74%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
Quadro M600M, 6700HQ, Liteon L8H-256V2G
71.7 fps ∼57% -22%
Lenovo ThinkPad T570-20HAS01E00
GeForce 940MX, 7500U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
64.3 fps ∼51% -30%
Rise of the Tomb Raider - 1920x1080 High Preset AA:FX AF:4x
HP ZBook 15 G3
Quadro M2000M, E3-1505M v5, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
25.5 fps ∼100% +25%
Dell Precision 3520
Quadro M620, 7820HQ, Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK)
20.4 fps ∼80%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
Quadro M600M, 6700HQ, Liteon L8H-256V2G
15.3 fps ∼60% -25%
Star Wars Battlefront - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Quadro M2000M, 6820HQ, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
32.7 fps ∼100% +34%
Dell Precision 3520
Quadro M620, 7820HQ, Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK)
24.37 fps ∼75%
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000BMS
Quadro M600M, 6700HQ, Liteon L8H-256V2G
18.5 fps ∼57% -24%
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 176.4105.692.335.6fps
GRID 2 (2013) 192.8147.412639.1fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 51.744.427.111.7fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 190.5139.6114.417.8fps
Dirt Rally (2015) 248.97118.5162.0528.2fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 53.8632.8318.6210fps
Star Wars Battlefront (2015) 110.5764.3228.9224.37fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 62.236.620.4fps
Doom (2016) 60.446.325.219.5fps
Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War III (2017) 70.318.7fps

Emissions

Noise Level

Unfortunately, the Precision 3520 isn't exactly a quiet notebook. Although the fan system frequently stops spinning during idle, it also spools up randomly when no CPU load is present. The fan control of our test unit also appears to be implemented rather poorly: under load, the fan is quite loud, which of course is to be expected. Once the load is reduced, the fan doesn't stop spinning even though the system is at idle and has cool ed down again. It can take 10 minutes before the fan ceases to produce excessive noise.

It's not only the fan that gets on our nerves: we also encountered coil whine, which is quite noticeable at idle at around 30 dB. We also deducted a point here for this behavior. 

Noise Level

Idle
29.6 / 29.6 / 31.2 dB(A)
Load
43 / 46.9 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 29.6 dB(A)
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2032.431.934.432.432.333.32531.831.933.332.132.5333130.230.931.431.630.231.7403331.929.73030.931.65028.32827.429.130.2296330.928.827.83028.328.58029.228.927.428.727.330.810026.32725.526.225.72712527.827.92525.325.12716025.325.324.723.622.127.720025.626.324.22423.231.225027.625.423.522.622.429.631527.424.323.121.521.629.540028.624.121.119.619.332.550030.32621.11919.333.263030.225.520.718.718.634.580032.727.421.517.717.435.8100030.325.62017.117.133.9125030.625.419.816.716.633.216003125.418.416.816.133.9200031.726.217.916.515.934.4250034.429.317.916.516.237.7315033.722.917.216.616.236400030.521.716.916.816.438.1500030.521.71717.316.634.9630028.119.417.318.316.933.5800024.619.31819.217.130.11000022.719.719.119.717.427.21250020.920.320.518.917.223.31600026.126.125.921.417.820.6SPL43.13731.33029.346.9N4.32.61.61.41.35.8median 28.6Dell Precision 3520median 25.4median 20.5median 18.9median 17.4median 33.2Delta22.232.72.43.4hearing rangehide median Fan Noise

Temperature

Stress test outcome 1: 35 W continuous.
Stress test outcome 1: 35 W continuous.
Stress test outcome 2: decline to 15 W after 10 minutes.
Stress test outcome 2: decline to 15 W after 10 minutes.

The Precision 3520 doesn't get hot at idle. During our real-world test with the game Witcher 3, the system does get warm, but remains far from critical. At load, it's a different story though and one spot on the bottom reaches 57° C. The palm rests remain fairly cool, however.

The second outcome - which we observed during all subsequent test runs - was vastly different: here, the CPU couldn't maintain a draw of 35 W ad infinitum. Rather, the wattage as well as the frequency started to fluctuate between 35 and 15 W and 3 and 1.5 GHz, respectively. After about 10 minutes, the CPU stabilized at 15 W and 1.5 GHz at a temperature of around 70 degrees C.

Why the system behaved this way, we simply don't know. The temperatures remained unremarkable and thus couldn't have been the cause. In our opinion, the culprit is the Precision's firmware, which doesn't seem to be tuned all that well.

The second stress test outcome doesn't seem to impact the daily use, however. a subsequent run of 3DMark 11 resulted in a quite "normal" test result.  

Max. Load
 43.2 °C45.8 °C42.8 °C 
 40.7 °C39.6 °C33.7 °C 
 34.1 °C30 °C28.3 °C 
Maximum: 45.8 °C
Average: 37.6 °C
35.2 °C48.6 °C57.1 °C
31.2 °C41.2 °C46.8 °C
29.1 °C26.9 °C28.1 °C
Maximum: 57.1 °C
Average: 38.2 °C
Power Supply (max.)  43.3 °C | Room Temperature 19.6 °C | Voltcraft IR-900
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Speakers

The two stereo speakers are hidden at the front edge and produce a Notebook-typical sound with lackluster lows and distorted highs. At least the speakers are loud enough for a normal-sized room - but the user shouldn't expect too much. For video telephony, the speakers are sufficient.   

For a better experience, we recommend the 3.5 mm audio jack, which produces clear sound.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2032.337.52532.538.53130.239.74030.9385030.237.66328.340.58027.343.610025.744.312525.146.716022.146.120023.251.725022.462.331521.66440019.364.750019.370.763018.671.680017.472.5100017.176125016.675.9160016.177.1200015.974.3250016.274.8315016.276400016.471.2500016.669.9630016.965.6800017.165.91000017.4661250017.259.11600017.868.7SPL29.385.6N1.363.8median 17.4Dell Precision 3520median 68.7Delta2.46.535.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHzmedian 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Dell Precision 3520 audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (85.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 16.2% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (7% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 5.2% higher than median
(+) | mids are linear (3.9% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 3.7% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (3.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (14.7% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 13% of all tested devices in this class were better, 13% similar, 73% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 20%, worst was 31%
Compared to all devices tested
» 16% of all tested devices were better, 4% similar, 81% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 1% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 9%, average was 19%, worst was 47%
Compared to all devices tested
» 2% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency Comparison (Checkbox selectable!)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Compared to the predecessor, the Precision 3520 does consume slightly more power across all load levels. The 3510 was equipped with an HD display, however, which in turn lowered the power draw a little. The ThinkPad P50 also requires slightly less, but the difference isn't all that great.  Same is true for the ZBook 15 G3, which draws just a few more watts than our 3520. Only the Precision 5520 consumes quite a bit more than the review notebook - the 4K display is the likely culprit here.

The 240 W power adapter is sized more than adequately and features a proprietary connector.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.4 / 0.68 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 5.8 / 10.7 / 13.3 Watt
Load midlight 78.2 / 116 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Dell Precision 3520
7820HQ, Quadro M620, Toshiba XG4 NVMe (THNSN5512GPUK), IPS LED, 1920x1080, 15.6
Dell Precision 3510
6700HQ, FirePro W5130M, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256HDGL m.2 PCI-e, TN LED, 1366x768, 15.6
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
E3-1505M v6, Quadro M1200, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e, IPS, 3840x2160, 15.6
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
6820HQ, Quadro M2000M, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
HP ZBook 15 G3
E3-1505M v5, Quadro M2000M, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e, UWVA-IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
Power Consumption
28%
-32%
10%
-6%
Idle Minimum *
5.8
4.2
28%
8.9
-53%
5.6
3%
5.7
2%
Idle Average *
10.7
6.5
39%
13.6
-27%
8.6
20%
12.2
-14%
Idle Maximum *
13.3
7.1
47%
14.1
-6%
9.3
30%
12.6
5%
Load Average *
78.2
74.6
5%
100.3
-28%
89.5
-14%
83.1
-6%
Load Maximum *
116
92.2
21%
126.3
-9%
105
9%
138.2
-19%
Witcher 3 ultra *
58.8
100.2
-70%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Battery test with SPECviewperf 12 running in a loop
Battery test with SPECviewperf 12 running in a loop

Dell offers two different battery sizes - a 4-cell, 68 Wh model and a 6-cell, 92 Wh version. Both batteries are integrated and require opening the chassis for removal.      

Our workstation shipped with the smaller 4-cell battery. Considering that the battery is comparatively small for a notebook with a quad-core CPU, the Precision does last quite a long time. During our real-life  WLAN test, the 3520 easily beat the older ThinkPad P50 with its much larger 90 Wh battery source. Under load, the Precision 3520 doesn't last quite as long, but that's not really important for every-day use. When we subjected the system to the SPECviewperf 12 test - here the benchmark runs in a loop - the 3520 shut down after about 90 minutes, which is comparable to the load-test result.    

Charging the battery takes about two hours - provided the user selects the quick-charge mode in the Dell Battery Manager.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
16h 36min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Edge)
7h 35min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
8h 03min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 19min
Dell Precision 3520
7820HQ, Quadro M620, 68 Wh
Dell Precision 3510
6700HQ, FirePro W5130M, 84 Wh
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
E3-1505M v6, Quadro M1200, 97 Wh
HP ZBook 15 G3
E3-1505M v5, Quadro M2000M, 90 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T570-20HAS01E00
7500U, GeForce 940MX, 56 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
6820HQ, Quadro M2000M, 90 Wh
Battery Runtime
28%
-31%
0%
22%
12%
Reader / Idle
996
1168
17%
724
-27%
822
-17%
799
-20%
860
-14%
H.264
483
605
25%
449
-7%
484
0%
533
10%
WiFi v1.3
455
591
30%
254
-44%
386
-15%
414
-9%
498
9%
Load
79
111
41%
61
-23%
110
39%
171
116%
113
43%

Verdict

Pros

+ good complement of physical ports
+ pretty good Full HD IPS display
+ chassis designed for every-day use
+ good input devices
+ run times are decent even with the small battery
+ good performance

Cons

- CPU tops out at 35 watts TDP
- stress test performance not consistent
- fan runs frequently and is too loud
- coil whine
In Review: Dell Precision 3520, courtesy of cyberport.de
In Review: Dell Precision 3520, courtesy of cyberport.de

The Precision 3520 definitely has its plus points. First, there's the display, which is vivid and bright and pleasing to work with. The battery life is also pretty good for a workstation and should be outstanding with the larger 92 Wh battery option. The number of physical ports is sufficient. The chassis and the input devices are decent enough for a business machine, but not quite perfect, either. 

Unfortunately, the Precision falters when it comes to the most important criteria for workstations: performance and noise level. The restriction to a TDP of 35 W might raise some eyebrows already - Dell probably would have had to invest in a more sophisticated cooling system, which of course isn't all that realistic, since this is a budget workstation. We have to ask though if a nominally weaker CPU might not be the better choice. Our stress test revealed that the performance can fluctuate hugely under load, likely because the firmware could use some additional tuning. Unfortunately, that's also true for the fan control, because the fan frequently spins even when no load is present. After the benchmarks, it takes a long time for the fan to stop again. In addition, the 3520 suffers from coil whine.

The Precision 3520 is a solid workstation - but it could do with some improvements.

In summary we can say that the Precision 3520 definitely has potential. The notebook is quite powerful and features a comparatively good price-to-performance ratio. After all: workstations can be quite expensive. Dell needs to go back to the drawing board and improve the fan control and optimize the performance, however. As soon as that happens, the 3520 will definitely be a worthy of a recommendation.

Dell Precision 3520 - 05/25/2017 v6
Benjamin Herzig

Chassis
84 / 98 → 85%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
90%
Connectivity
64 / 81 → 79%
Weight
61 / 66 → 91%
Battery
90%
Display
87%
Games Performance
75%
Application Performance
93%
Temperature
88 / 95 → 93%
Noise
78 / 90 → 87%
Audio
56%
Camera
44 / 85 → 52%
Average
76%
82%
Workstation - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Dell Precision 3520 (i7-7820HQ, M620M) Workstation Review
Benjamin Herzig, 2017-05-28 (Update: 2017-05-28)
Bernhard Pechlaner
Bernhard Pechlaner - Review Editor
Ended up in the IT sector in the 90s more or less accidentally and have remained in the industry (as a sysadmin) ever since. Always been interested in laptops - first purchase was - if memory serves correctly - a Toshiba Satellite T2115CS with DX4-75 processor, 4 MB of RAM and 350 MB hard disk drive (and Windows 3.1). To this day, laptops appeal to me - much to the chagrin of my wife, who doesn’t seem understand why we need 5-10 of them at any given time ;-).