Dell Precision 7550


Back in the early to mid 2000's i had Pentium II Desktop system which i very much liked. Heavily overclocked with lots of strange or obscure parts, build it myself for cheap. I loved this machine, only disbanded it in 2005 because it became really awfully dated. The next years i still had home build desktops cobbled together from various parts i got for cheap or free. At around this time i also got my first usable notebook. In 2010 i finally replaced my desktop with a notebook, a Thinkpad T60. This one i liked a lot again. It was accompanied by some smaller, lighter, less powerful second Notebook. until 2013 when both where combined by a Thinkpad X200. Which was the last computer i was really content with.
It was during that time when i started to get lost in longings, needs, limitations and reality. I wanted a notebook really small and light and with a long battery life. I also had become kind of a Thinkpad fanboy. And i was a bit obsessed with island-style keyboards and trackpoints. And i wanted cool unique features. And high resolution, brilliant displays. And i wanted to be able to play games. And as i used to be very limited in monetary resources, i wanted all of that to be cheap.
So, instead of assessing my needs and options and find a decent compromise, i became obsessed with the idea that i could get everything and that for cheap. I mean, i really had a bit of knack at getting decent machines for cheap. But i clearly get overzealous here. And from around 2014 on i always struggled, constantly buying and selling used machines, never having a thing i actually really liked to use.
Until i was sick of it and ground to a halt. I sat down, assessed my needs and wishes, tried to filter out obsessions and mindless longings. And as i now had a decent job a some money to throw at my problem, i stopped being cheap.
And what remained was that: a decently powerful, rather modern CPU. Lots of ram and storage. A good, not too small display. A real GPU able to play even current, demanding games. Good keyboard and touchpad. A sturdy build in which i can have confidence. And finally really good Linux compatibility. And with that a made a List of what the marked had to offer.
And i ended up with a pretty small list. Not many devices i found ticked all the boxes. And some of those where outside my budget (which i considered quite hefty to begin with). Some Dell Precision models fit the bill, as well as some HP ZBooks. Maybe some of the lesser known Brands, but not many. In the end, the Dell Precision 7550 made the run, not at least because i really had liked the m4700 i once owned.

System

  • Dell Precision 7550, 2020 15.4" Mobile Workstation, 2450g+
    • UEFI Boot , BIOS Boot ? # not sure if legacy mode is supported at all
    • ACPI events , ACPI keys
    • S2R , S2D # Seems to be reliable, but read the appropriate section
    • power consumption 6.2W # With Prime and D3, proprietary Nvidia drivers
  • Intel WM490
    • Fan control # Rather quiet under moderate load. Still, its a mobile workstation and usually somewhat audible.
  • Intel Core i7-10850H SOC (6 Cores, 2.7GHz, 45W TDP)
    • cpufreq # via pstates
    • turbo # up to 5.1GHz
  • Four DDR4-2933 slots # up to 128GB # mine had 2*8 stock, i added 2*8 3rd party, works fine
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 , Prime # video ports are heavily muxed, no reverse prime necessary
    • Nouveau drivers ? # I had to blacklist them, usually freezes on boot
  • 6 M.2 Slots # 3 small (42mm), 3 big (60mm)
    • PCI Express / NVMe
    • SATA
    • USB
  • Intel I219-LM Gigabit Ethernet
  • Intel JHL7540 Titan Ridge Thunderbolt Bridge
  • Western Digital PC SN730 NVMe WDC 512GB # one of many stock options, i added two cheap 1tb SATA drives
  • 2 USB 3.2 Type C Ports + DP + Thunderbolt 3
  • 2 USB 3.1 Type A Ports + PowerShare ? # only one port provides PowerShare
  • Mini-DP 1.4 / HDMI 2.0 ?
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax) # only g and n tested
    • Managed Mode ?
    • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Realtek ALC3281
    • Headset connector
    • Speakers # Sound is ok, but i honestly would expect better in this price range
    • Microphone # Topside of screen, decent quality
  • 15.4" matte FHD IPS DCI-P3, 500cd/m² # nice colours, bright and good black level
    • Brightness control # very smooth
  • SD card reader # supposedly extremely fast
  • SmartCard Reader
    • NFS # Seems to be not supported
  • Fingerprint reader ? # supposedly a driver exists now, but i did not get it to work
  • Webcam 720p # has a mechanical slider, image quality is not too bad
  • Touchpad # quirky, see below. But nicely sized and has real buttons
  • Keyboard # quite nice haptic, but half-height cursor keys and shared F11/end F12/ins
  • Battery 95Wh # internal, replaceable. Just shy of 10 hours idling.

Touchpad


The Touchpad has three really nice physical buttons, but for reasons beyond my understanding, it reports itself as clickpad. As a result, the right button does not work and the left only when a finger is on the pad.

Fix for Xorg


First, make sure to use synaptics instead of libinput. Installing xf86-input-synaptics under arch an restarting Xorg should suffice under Artix.
   xinput set-prop "DELL09C3:00 0488:120A Touchpad" "Synaptics ClickPad" 0

Or create a file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/70-disable-clickpad.conf and restart Xorg:
Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "Disable clickpad for Dell Precision 7550 Trackpad"
    MatchProduct "DELL09C3:00 0488:120A Touchpad"
    MatchDriver "synaptics"
    Option "ClickPad" "off"
EndSection

Anyway, this fix stopped working somewhere after Linux 5.16.7. Don't know why or how to fix it. Currently i stay with 5.16.7.

Links

Suspend / Resume

Power supplies


At least the model variants with higher-end dedicated GPU's do need quite a lot of power. Mine did come with a 180W power supply and stated that it can only be powered by the "DC" variant of the Dell USB-C docking stations. Which is connected via two 100W USB type C cables and comes itself with a beefy 240W power supply.
Thus, two questions arise. First, is it at all possible to power this beast with normal single cable USB type C supplies? And with which normal Dell power supplies will it run? Well, i did some tests, and these are the results:
  • It does run with a Dell 130W supply (i tried a rather modern as well as an older one)
  • It does not run with any old or new 90W Dell supplies at my disposal
  • It rather strangely did run with a Dell 90W USB type C supply
  • It does not run with any 60W USB type C supply at my disposal
  • It does run with a beefy Xtorm 100W USB type C powerbank (given 100W cable)
  • It does run on a 3rd party 100W USB type C supply

WD19DC Docking station


Works mostly very well and out of the box. Here is the but:
Depending on drivers, X- or Wayland-Server, settings and connetced displays, the external display may not be detected at all. Usually, switching to console and back fixes the issue. Although the display may vanish again when changing the configuration.
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