Dell Precision M6700 review

£1739
Price when reviewed

Graphics grunt is supplied by a FirePro M6000 – AMD’s top mobile workstation card. This is based on the consumer Radeon HD 7870M, and has a 750MHz core clock and 2GB of GDDR5 RAM. That translates to 33fps in the 1,920 x 1,080 High quality Crysis benchmark: faster than the Sony VAIO Z Series, but not as quick as the older, pricier Precision, which came with a FirePro M7740 chip.

For a machine of this size, the M6700 delivered highly respectable battery life. The nine-cell lasted 5hrs 27mins in our light-use test, and a touch over two hours in the heavy-use benchmark. To put this into perspective, the 2010 Precision lasted just short of three hours.

Dell Precision M6700

The rest of the specification is modest, with 4GB of 1,600MHz RAM, a 320GB Hitachi hard disk and a slot-loading DVD writer. Connectivity is handled by a single Gigabit Ethernet port and single-band 802.11n wireless.

Dell’s software bundle covers backup, data encryption and wireless access, but there isn’t the wealth of options that ThinkPads offer. Professional users, however, will be glad to see the machine is ISV certified, and MIL-STD-810G approval ensures that when you do feel strong enough to lug it about, dust, humidity and extreme temperatures shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. Even the fingerprint reader adheres to the US government’s FIPS encryption certification.

You don’t have to stick with the low-end specification of our review model. There are five alternative processors to choose from, with the Core i7-3520M adding £155 to the price and the mighty i7-3920XM putting £883 on the bottom line. Speeding up the 4GB of RAM to 1,866MHz costs £25, doubling that to 8GB costs £139, and you can fit a staggering 32GB of RAM, although that adds £614 onto the price.

Dell Precision M6700

There’s only one option when it comes to graphics, but it’s significant. Upgrading to a K5000M, which is Nvidia’s top-end mobile Quadro chip, will set you back an additional £1,735. In fact, with a huge selection of other options, it’s possible to hit a price over £8,000 for a top-specification model.

Back in the real world, even our low-end £1,739 Precision isn’t cheap, but the superb build quality, 1080p screen and broad range of features justifies the considerable price. That and a vast range of upgrade options ensures the Precision M6700 retains its crown as the king of high-end portable workstations.

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 418 x 277 x 34mm (WDH)
Weight 3.700kg
Travelling weight 4.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3320M
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 1
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset AMd FirePro M6000
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Internal disk interface SATA
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad, trackpoint
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 27min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 2min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 114fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.68
Responsiveness score 0.75
Media score 0.73
Multitasking score 0.57

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition

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