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Dell has been in this business for quite some time now and it offers a great range of models but it struggles to keep up the pace of the Lenovo ThinkPad series notebooks. It’s normal, since the brand has a long and rich history on the market, but now we are going to review one of Dell’s most capable business laptops, which can actually take the crown off the ThinkPad notebooks in this class. You can see by yourself in the following review below.

Also, the Latitude 15 E5550 has a great, minimalistic design signature and great use of soft-touch plastic that doesn’t look very premium but it sure does the job. Also, the E5550 is offering one of the new Intel CPUs part of the Broadwell family. Let’s see how this machine handles bigger loads, high temperatures, battery tests and performance tests.

Contents


Retail package

The retail package isn’t so special – a normal box containing all the usual user manuals, DVD with drivers and AC charger with cable.

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Design and construction

The Latitude 15 E5550 has a great overall design, but it seems like something is missing from a notebook with a price tag of around 1500 euros. It’s almost like we are expecting more aluminum designs in this price range. Don’t get us wrong though, this chassis is featuring a really nice, high quality plastic.

The surface of the lid has a matte finish and it kind of resembles a rubber surface with a glossy carved Dell logo in the center. The most important thing is that it doesn’t leave fingerprints or smudges, or if you do – they are pretty easy to wash off. On the other side of the lid is the 15.6-inch screen with the webcam and silicone lines around the edges keeping the panel away from the interior when closed. The hinges are a bit protruding and they look a bit awkward, because the whole exterior follows an oval and smooth signature design, but this is more of a personal opinion.

IMG_3359
IMG_3363

The bottom of the machine differs from the top lid, because Dell used a hard plastic with a bit rough surface. There are a few screws keeping the cover closed and you might struggle to open it if needed. Keep in mind that you will most probably want to open it only for cleaning, since there aren’t many upgrade options.

The sides of the notebook are something like a great mixture of modern design and old school functionality. Almost all ports, including the DC charging port, are placed on the back, leaving enough room for your external mouse, keyboard or it just saves a lot of space on the desk. Particularly, we are talking about two USB 3.0, LAN port, HDMI and VGA port. However, if you need a quick access to one USB 3.0 port or the card reader, the designers from Dell save you the trouble by putting them on the right side. The 3.5 mm jack and ventilator’s grill are placed on the left side, so this is also a big plus. Status LED lights are here too and they are placed on the front of the chassis.

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IMG_3379
IMG_3380
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Nevertheless, the interior is the secret weapon to tackle the ThinkPad series. The soft-touch plastic of the lid is also present here. The power button is well placed on the top right corner with a small LED light indicating the status of the machine. The keys of the keyboard have a great, long, tactile feedback with ergonomic design and are soft-touch plastic. It’s a great delight working on this keyboard and after a few hours of typing on it you will notice a slight bump in your speed. Extremely well-designed keyboard with only few competitors at this level on the market. Besides the “Fn” buttons, Dell threw in macro dedicated buttons for media controls, so you can easily change the track or pause it while working. Also, the LED backlight is well designed without any major light leakage from the sides of the keys and the symbols are a little transparent, which significantly increases the visibility and comfort when typing.

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Next in line are the trackpoint and the touchpad. The rubber trackpoint differs from the ones we see in the famous ThinkPads. This one isn’t round, but flat instead. This way you have a batter grip and quite frankly easier to use than the famous red trackpoint on the TnikPads. Although, this is more of a personal opinion on the matter. There are, of course, the three dedicated mouse buttons, which are brought closer to the keyboard and people with smaller hands will like it because of the more native position of the fingers. The touchpad is also easy to use and it also has separate mouse buttons, which are also really easy and pleasant to use, but maybe this is a bit over the top. A bigger touchpad with integrated mouse buttons was the way to go, since you already have that option with the trackpoint.

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IMG_3393

Our opinion on the overall design is full of superlatives, but we still think that Dell could have included aluminum here and there for this price range. This way the design will look more complete and maybe more like an MacBook. It already resembles with the oval edges and flat sides, the metal casing would strongly relate to one of Apple’s notebooks. However, the keyboard and the trackpoint are the key selling point of this laptop and if you are looking for productive and comfortably designed machine, look no further than Dell Latitude E5550.

Display and sound

Dell Latitude E5550’s display is equipped with Full HD IPS panel with WLED backlight. The manufacturer is AU Optronics and the model number is B156HAN. It has 6-bit color channel with diagonal at 15.6″. The surface is matte and the resolution is 1920 x 1080 which makes a density of 141 PPI and space between each pixel – 0.179 x 0.179, thus the screen becomes “Retina” when viewed from 61 cm and above.

Here is a photo of the screen viewed under microscope on white background.

E-Micr-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Due to the IPS panel, viewing angles are excellent under 45°.

Angles-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)-2014

We’ve measured the maximum brightness of the display before calibration and the result is 334 cd/m2 – way above the usual 180-200 cd/m2 for comfortable viewing in a bright room. The maximum deviation of the brightness is 12%, which is quite acceptable and the color temperature of 6600K almost aligns to the optimal one (6500K).

Luminace-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Luminance-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Color gamut coverage

Latitude E5550’s display covers 97% of the sRGB color gamut and 70% of the Adobe RGB one. There is a neglectable amount of missing WEB-based colors (sRGB), thus we rate it as almost excellent.

E-CIE-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

The gamma we measured is 2.3 which is almost perfect, since the optimal one is 2.2. Most users won’t even notice anything out of the ordinary when viewing dark and light scenes.

Gamma-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Color reproduction

As usual, we calibrated Dell Latitude’s display to reach 6500K color temperature at 200 cd/m2 brightness, but before that we checked the color reproduction. Results are excellent, especially for a screen which is not aimed to be used for video or photo editing.

xRite-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

DeltaE(76)’s average deviation after calibration is 0.99 for all colors and only 0.55 for 90% of the given colors. We feel obligated to remind you that deviation under 1.0 are almost undetectable to human eye, and as for DeltaE=2.0 is the maximum range when searching for a professional screen for photo and video editing.

Result-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

REPORT-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Before calibration the display reproduced quite accurate colors.

Bef-DeltaE-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Results can be easily viewed on the color map below.

E-DisplayColorE-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Screen flickering

Latitude E5550’s display has relatively harmless display to human vision. It’s relatively, because we recorded PWM (pulse-width modulation) until 26% brightness level or in other words 100 cd/m2 (the maximum brightness is 334 cd/m2). Above that level, the so-called screen flickering is absent making the display good enough for long hours of use. So we recommend using the display at minimum of 27% brightness and most probably you won’t be using it at that level since it’s too dimmed.

E-PWM-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Conclusion

Dell Latitude E5550 has other variants with TN panel, but this one has no relevance with it whatsoever. This IPS panel is superior in almost every aspect, but lacks something quite important – response time, which in this case is 25 ms. This can be a drawback only if you are using it for games and more in particular – firs person shooters, but since this notebook is not suitable for games, 25 ms response time is neglectable flaw. It still has high color gamut coverage,

Screen comparison

If we assume a distance of 58cm (~23in) between the human eye and the notebook monitor, then normal (20/20) vision would require a pixel density of at least 150ppi in order to interpret an image as perfectly detailed.

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels 141.21
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2) 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels 166 +17.56%
HP ZBook 14 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels 131.13 -7.14%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels 131.13 -7.14%
Dell Latitude E5550 review – Dell’s secret weapon to take down the ThinkPad series -inch, pixels

Higher panel brightness is of key importance for visual comfort when working outside or in a brightly lit room.

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels 334
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2) 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels 334
HP ZBook 14 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels
Dell Latitude E5550 review – Dell’s secret weapon to take down the ThinkPad series -inch, pixels

Delta E is a CIE measurement unit of color difference. Higher values indicate that the display produces less accurate colors. (lower results are desirable).

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels 2.0
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2) 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels 0.90 -55%
HP ZBook 14 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels
Dell Latitude E5550 review – Dell’s secret weapon to take down the ThinkPad series -inch, pixels

The sRGB color gamut, introduced as a standard for the Web, shows the percentage of colors used on the Web that can be displayed on the screen of the device being tested (higher values are better).

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels 97
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2) 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels 96 -1.03%
HP ZBook 14 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels
Dell Latitude E5550 review – Dell’s secret weapon to take down the ThinkPad series -inch, pixels

Sound

This notebook’s loudspeakers don’t strike us as the best out there, but they certainly lack any major drawbacks. The sound quality is more than acceptable and the results can be seen below.

E-Sound-Dell Latitude 15 5000 (E5550)

Specs sheet

The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region.

289951295.dell-latitude-e5550-ca019le5550emea
Processor Intel Core i7-5600U (2-core, 2.60 – 3.20 Ghz, 4MB cache)
RAM 8GB (1x 8192MB) – DDR3L, 1600MHz
Graphics card Intel HD Graphics 5500 (integrated GPU)
HDD/SSD 1TB HDD
Display 15.6-inch (39.62 cm.) – 1920×1080 (Full HD), matte
Optical drive
Connectivity LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11ac/a/b/g/n 2×2, Qualcomm Gobi 4G, Bluetooth 4.0
Other features
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • webcam
  • built-in microphone
  • HDMI
  • VGA
  • 3.5-millimeter jack for headset
  • SD 4.0 card reader
  • fingerprint reader
  • backlit keyboard (optional)
Battery 51 WHr, 4-Cell Battery (integrated)
Thickness 0.9″ (23.45 mm)
Weight 2.14 kg (4.72 lbs)

Dell Latitude E5550 configurations

Dell Latitude E5550
Dell Latitude E5550
  • Intel Core i5-5300U
  • Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • 500GB HDD
  • 8GB RAM
More Info Buy from Amazon
#CommissionsEarned

Software

For testing purposes we used Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit version with all drivers installed. Speaking of which, you can find them in Dell’s official website, which is by the way smartly designed and easy to work with: http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/product-support/product/latitude-e5550-laptop/drivers

Battery

The battery used in the Latitude E5550 is G5M10 rated at 51Whr or 6800 mAh. It’s relatively big and combined with the energy-efficient hardware we can expect a good battery life. The IPS FHD screen can be a power drainer, but just to be sure we ran the usual battery tests like web browsing, watching a movie and gaming. All the tests were taken under the same conditions – Wi-Fi switched on, Bluetooth off, power saver on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.

Web browsing

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

net

Quite good result – 413 minutes (6 hours and 53 minutes).

Watching a movie

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

movie

A bit less than the web browsing, maybe due to the extra power-hungry pixels – 375 minutes (6 hours and 15 minutes).

Gaming

For accurate simulation, we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on loop with graphic settings set to minimum.

game

This result drastically declined the battery level in just 134 minutes (2 hours and 14 minutes), but this is quite normal since the gaming test is the most demanding one.

CPU

Intel_Core_i7_logoThe Core i7-5600U is the most powerful CPU from the latest Broadwell CPU lineup from Intel and like all other CPUs from 5000 series, this one features the usual 64-bit architecture and 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. It’s also developed under the “U” series CPUs which sport two energy-efficient cores with HyperThreading technology for emulating one virtual core for each physical one. The CPU’s base frequency is 2.6GHz and a maximum of 3.1GHz for two active cores and 3.2GHz for one active core.

The Core i7-5600U supports dual channel DDR3L-1333/1600 or LPDDR3-1333/1600 memory up to 16GB. However, unlike most CPUs from this lineup, the Core i7-5600 has 4MB cache, which means 128KB for level one, 512KB for level two and 4096KB for level 3. The CPU also integrates the latest intel GPU – Intel HD Graphics 5500 with 24 Execution Units, 300MHz base clock and up to 950MHz Turbo Boost, which is 50MHz higher clock rate than most CPUs from the Broadwell family. The maximum TDP of the SoC is 15W as usual, but we have a lower minimum TDP of 7.5W.

You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://freesmart.biz/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://freesmart.biz/processor/intel-core-i7-5600u/

Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
1636451664 68 696690
Intel Core i7-5600U
Dell Latitude E5550
price
0.00

performance
1636451666 429 laptop main 173 Satellite Z30 A
Intel Core i7-4510U
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2)
1636451668 643 laptop main 168 ZBook 14
Intel Core i5-4300U
HP ZBook 14
0.00
laptop main 172 think
Intel Core i7-4600M
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
1636451664 68 696690
Intel Core i7-5600U
Dell Latitude E5550
price
6172.00

performance
1636451666 429 laptop main 173 Satellite Z30 A
Intel Core i7-4510U
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2)
5590.00-9.4%
1636451668 643 laptop main 168 ZBook 14
Intel Core i5-4300U
HP ZBook 14
5150.00-16.6%
laptop main 172 think
Intel Core i7-4600M
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
6958.00+12.7%
Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)
1636451664 68 696690
Intel Core i7-5600U
Dell Latitude E5550
price
17.88

performance
1636451666 429 laptop main 173 Satellite Z30 A
Intel Core i7-4510U
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2)
32.50+81.8%
1636451668 643 laptop main 168 ZBook 14
Intel Core i5-4300U
HP ZBook 14
34.70+94.1%
laptop main 172 think
Intel Core i7-4600M
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
35.40+98%

Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark which tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-5600U managed to get 6.172 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.

GPU

intelIntel HD Graphics 5500 is a GT2 graphics chip, built into Intel’s Broadwell Core i series of processors. It was announced on January 1, 2015, its goal being to stand against NVIDIA and AMD’s low-end dedicated graphics cards.

The HD Graphics 5500 has 24 shader cores, known as ‘unified units’, 4 texture cores and 1 raster core. They support DirectX 11.1, Pixel Shader 5.0, OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.0 and Quick Sync encoding. Base frequency is 300MHz, and TurboBoost can increase that up to 950MHz depending on the processor.

Power consumption is drastically lower when compared to NVIDIA and AMD’s discrete graphics solutions. The controller also produces less heat, since it is part of the CPU package. This makes GT2 graphics accelerators the most desirable in the ultrabook class of portables.

You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://freesmart.biz/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://freesmart.biz/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-5500/

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
1636451664 68 696690
Intel HD Graphics 5500
Dell Latitude E5550
price
596.00

performance
1636451666 429 laptop main 173 Satellite Z30 A
Intel HD Graphics 4400
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2)
615.00+3.2%
1636451668 643 laptop main 168 ZBook 14
AMD FirePro M4100 (1GB GDDR5)
HP ZBook 14
877.00+47.1%
laptop main 172 think
NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M (1GB DDR3)
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
1211.00+103.2%
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
1636451664 68 696690
Intel HD Graphics 5500
Dell Latitude E5550
price
173.00

performance
1636451666 429 laptop main 173 Satellite Z30 A
Intel HD Graphics 4400
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2)
58.00-66.5%
1636451668 643 laptop main 168 ZBook 14
AMD FirePro M4100 (1GB GDDR5)
HP ZBook 14
471.00+172.3%
laptop main 172 think
NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M (1GB DDR3)
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
333.00+92.5%
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
1636451664 68 696690
Intel HD Graphics 5500
Dell Latitude E5550
price
126.00

performance
1636451666 429 laptop main 173 Satellite Z30 A
Intel HD Graphics 4400
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2)
0.00-100%
1636451668 643 laptop main 168 ZBook 14
AMD FirePro M4100 (1GB GDDR5)
HP ZBook 14
357.00+183.3%
laptop main 172 think
NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M (1GB DDR3)
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
278.00+120.6%
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
1636451664 68 696690
Intel HD Graphics 5500
Dell Latitude E5550
price
0.00

performance
1636451666 429 laptop main 173 Satellite Z30 A
Intel HD Graphics 4400
Toshiba Satellite Z30 (A-1D2)
0.00
1636451668 643 laptop main 168 ZBook 14
AMD FirePro M4100 (1GB GDDR5)
HP ZBook 14
0.00
laptop main 172 think
NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M (1GB DDR3)
Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
0.00

Gaming tests

We are fully aware that the ThinkPad E550 is not intended for gaming, but we ran the test just for comparison and evaluation reasons.

1636431312 171 game fifa14

Low settings
110
Frames/second
Average settings
60
Frames/second
High settings
45
Frames/second
1636431339 98 game metro

Low settings
13
Frames/second
Average settings
11
Frames/second
High settings
5
Frames/second
1636431371 442 game raider

Low settings
25
Frames/second
Average settings
12
Frames/second
High settings
6
Frames/second

In order to be fair for most notebooks that have only 1366×768 (WXVGA) resolution, we test all laptops with this particular one.

Temperatures

We run the usual CPU and GPU stress tests to check the stability of the system in long term. First, we begin with the CPU stress test with 100% load for about an hour. The Core i7-5600U was able to maintain a frequency of 2.8-2.9GHz with a temperature of 83°C. At normal state, the processor was working at 44°C. We can consider the maximum temperature a bit high, yet safe, since the maximum operating temperature listed by Intel is 105°C. We didn’t notice any throttling while the test was running, although the fan was spinning a bit loudly. The red line indicates the temperature, while the green one represents the load of the CPU.

temp1

After we included the GPU stress test, the frequency of the CPU dropped drastically to 1.8-1.9GHz, which is considered as throttling. At least the temperatures remained low enough not to cause any damage to the internals. Below you can see the areas which were a bit hotter on the exterior. The area where palms rest remained cool so the user will feel comfortable during great loads. However, we have to mention that a normal user won’t be able to reach a such high CPU and GPU loads and temperatures.

temperatures-bottom

IMG_3401

Verdict

Dell Latitude E5550 has mostly pros on its side, while the cons are really neglectable. The design is just great, but it’s like we’ve expected a bit more. Maybe at this price range aluminum would have been the way to go. However, the soft touch plastic suits the needs of most users and it still feels premium. The keyboard is absolutely stunning along with the trackpad, which we find even more comfortable than the famous trackpoint used in the ThinkPad notebook series. This might come more of a personal opinion, but Dell has surpassed the ThinkPad series in terms of interior design, keyboard design and trackpoint usability.

The battery life is also quite above average and the only thing that drags battery life behind is the FHD IPS panel, but for the quality which Dell brings with this screen is mostly acceptable. Speaking of which, the display of the Latitude E5550 is almost flawless with almost perfect color reproduction, color gamut coverage and viewing angles. Still, we’ve detected PWM (screen flickering) until 26%, but this level of brightness is so low that you might end up not using it. So the display is harmless to your eyes across most brightness levels. Heck, we can even say that the display is comparable to the ones used for professional photo and video editing and even some multimedia-based notebooks don’t have that kind of panels.

Pros

  • Almost flawless display
  • Great keyboard and trackpad design
  • Good overall design
  • More than satisfying battery life

Cons

  • Maybe a bit pricy

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