Dell Precision M6700 review

Price when reviewed

It’s been a couple of years since it refreshed its high-end Precision workstations, but Dell clearly knows the formula works. On the outside, little has changed between the 2010 vintage and 2012’s M6700.

There’s nothing wrong with the chassis Dell designed back in 2010. Our sample is a pre-production model, but build quality is excellent: there’s barely any give in the wristrest, the base feels rock-solid, and the slight give in the lid doesn’t translate to any distortion in the display. The M6700’s 17in screen, 3.7kg weight and 1kg charger mean it isn’t likely to be lugged around very much.

Dell Precision M6700

The chassis also has plenty of touches that will prove their worth in the office. The touchpad is bolstered by a ThinkPad-style trackpoint nib set into the centre of the keyboard, and there’s a fingerprint reader on the right-hand side of the wristrest. The trackpad, trackpoint and buttons are responsive, and the keyboard combines a solid base with a comfortable key action that’s a dream to type on – it’s soft, but very positive and with plenty of travel.

Port selection is generous, with two USB 3 sockets, FireWire, an SD card reader, ExpressCard slot and battery status lights on the left-hand side, two more USB 3 ports and a DisplayPort output on the right, and HDMI, D-SUB, Gigabit Ethernet and eSATA on the rear.

The M6700 is also one of the most upgradeable laptops we’ve seen. The base comes off with two screws, and once inside, repairs, replacements and additions are easily made. The cooling fans can be popped out in seconds, both SO-DIMMs are easily accessible (one was free on our review model), there’s a free 2.5in hard disk cage, and there are spare mini-PCI Express and mSATA slots as well. The machine’s primary hard disk is easily accessible, too: a button underneath the battery pops it out of its own bay on the side of the machine.

Dell Precision M6700

The matte finish on the 17in, 1,920 x 1,080 screen helps under office lights, and it performed well in our tests, with brightness and contrast ratio results of 252cd/m2 and 523:1 alongside an average Delta E of 5.5. It isn’t the best screen we’ve seen on a business machine, though: the Sony VAIO Z Series registered a top brightness of 353cd/m2, a contrast ratio of 860:1 and a Delta E of 4.3 (a lower score in this test indicates more accurate colours).

Dell has sent us one of its cheapest M6700 models, and that shows in performance testing. Its Core i5-3320M is a mid-range Ivy Bridge processor that runs at 2.6GHz and Turbo Boosts to a maximum of 3.3GHz, and it delivered a score of 0.68 in our tests. That’s significantly slower than the Sony VAIO Z Series, which scored 0.74 with a Sandy Bridge Core i5, but with our pre-production unit sporting an early release BIOS and drivers we expect retail models will squeeze more performance from the Ivy Bridge CPUs.


Warranty3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions418 x 277 x 34mm (WDH)
Travelling weight4.7kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-3320M
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free1
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size17.0in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetAMd FirePro M6000
Graphics card RAM2.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity298GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots1
ExpressCard54 slots1
PC Card slots0
FireWire ports1
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad, trackpoint
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 27min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 2min
3D performance (crysis) low settings114fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.68
Responsiveness score0.75
Media score0.73
Multitasking score0.57

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition

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