Dell Precision M6700

21 Mar, 2013 By: Art Liddle

First Look Review: System packs high-end desktop workstation power into a portable form factor.

Highly RecommendedThis is our fourth review of a top-of-the-line Dell Precision mobile workstation, beginning with the Precision M6300 reviewed in October 2008. Dell's current offering, the Precision M6700, carries on the tradition of combining excellent performance with an absolutely-nothing-left-out configuration. The Precision M6700 is a true mobile workstation.

System Features

The Dell Precision M6700 mobile workstation review unit featured an Intel Extreme i7-3920XM, a quad-core mobile CPU (8-MB cache) running at 2.9 GHz. Turbo mode, available when running a single core, bumps the clock speed to a maximum of 3.8 GHz. (New units are shipping with the i7-3940XM, the company states.)

The Dell M6700 Precision mobile workstation is available in phoenix red when you choose the Covet Edition.
The Dell M6700 Precision mobile workstation is available in phoenix red when you choose the Covet Edition.
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Our review system arrived preloaded with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate. It weighed in at slightly more than 8 lbs, typical for a system of its size (16.4" x 10.7" x 1.5"). The Covet Edition we received adds edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass 2 and an aluminum skin over a magnesium alloy chassis. The aluminum is anodized in phoenix red, providing extra durability as well as flair.

Dell pairs its large 17.3" LED-backlit panel (16:9 format) with NVIDIA's new Kepler-based (28-nm core) Quadro K5000M graphics card that includes 4 GB of GDDR5 dedicated memory and supports a maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 with an external digital monitor or projector plugged into the DisplayPort. The Precision M6700 supports a maximum onscreen resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 with 32-bit color. As for quality, images on the PremierColor IPS RGB panel are bright and extremely crisp and match Adobe's RGB color gamut.

Our review system included a generous 16 GB of 1,866-MHz, DDR3 SDRAM, filling all four of its DIMM sockets. The system supports a maximum of 32 GB of memory using slower 1,600-MHz SDRAM. A single 128-GB SATA3 solid-state drive supplied the primary file storage; Dell supports RAID 0/2/5, although this system was not configured with RAID. The secondary storage device was a 750-GB, 2.5", 7,200-rpm SATA3 hard drive, and the final drive was an 8X DVD+/-RW drive bundled with Roxio Creator CyberLink PowerDVD software. The built-in webcam supports video with a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 at 30 frames per second. 

Dell M6700 PrecisionOutstanding connectivity options included a DisplayPort v1.2, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, VGA and HDMI v1.4 connectors, IEEE 1394 port, 10-in-1 media card reader, SmartCard reader and 54-mm ExpressCard slot, microphone and headphone jacks, standard network connector, and docking connector, as well as support for wireless LAN (802.11) and Bluetooth 4.0.



Test Results

To test the Precision M6700's performance, we ran our standard pair of benchmark tests: our own Cadalyst c2012 (with AutoCAD 2012) and SPECviewperf 11. For both, we set the screen resolution to 1,280 x 1,024 and the color depth to 32-bit. We enabled hardware acceleration for AutoCAD and turned off vertical sync for the graphics card.

Scores for the Cadalyst c2012 benchmark were as follows: total index of 550, 3D graphics index of 1,215, 2D graphics index of 415, disk index of 265, and CPU index of 307. Those numbers are excellent; they represent the top scores we have recorded with this version of our test for any mobile workstation. In fact, they are better than all but one desktop workstation reviewed in Cadalyst Labs, the exception being an overclocked system running at 4.6 GHz.

Scores for the SPECviewperf 11 suite of tests, single sample mode only, were even more impressive — faster than any system, desktop or mobile, we have ever reviewed. The weighted scores were as follows: 75.07 for catia-03, 60.51 for ensight-04, 77.17 for lightwave-01, 113.33 for maya-03, 18.65 for proe-05, 63.80 for sw-02, 59.84 for tcvis-02, and 53.70 for snx-01.

Battery Performance

The Dell Precision M6700 is powered externally by a 240-watt A/C power brick that measures 7 7/8" x 3 7/8" x 1". When you are away from an outlet, it depends on its internal nine-cell (97-Wh) standard lithium-ion battery. To test battery performance, we used our c2012 Battery Rundown Test option, which continuously repeats the Cadalyst benchmark test on battery power. We ran the test four times. The battery lasted an average of 116 minutes — above average for the mobile computers we have reviewed. As for recharging, the battery required 122 minutes to reach a full charge. Your times for both discharging and charging the battery will vary, and the battery performance will decrease with repeated charge/discharge cycles.

Bottom Line

The Dell Precision M6700 mobile workstation proved to be extremely fast, offering powerful workstation performance in a mobile package. Of course, that came at a price: The list price for the Precision M6700 Covet Edition as configured for this review was $7,079, although we've observed that substantial discounts are often available. Remember that Dell makes it easy to customize a system to your exact specifications. Plus, it is ISV certified for use with all major CAD solutions. Pricing of our review unit included Dell's three-year basic hardware service with three-year, next-business-day, limited onsite service after remote diagnosis. Dell accepts returns within 30 days, less shipping costs and, unless the product is defective, a restocking fee of as much as 15% of the purchase price.

The Dell Precision M6700 mobile workstation packs more power and functionality into its mobile package than you'll find in most desktop workstations. If you are looking for a powerful CAD workstation that you can take with you, the Dell Precision M6700 could be your answer. Highly Recommended.

About the Author: Art Liddle

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