Dell targets standard laptop users with ‘affordable’ Precision M2800 mobile CAD workstation

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Initial specs of the Dell Precision M2800

Dell is looking to tap into the entry-level mobile workstation market with its new Precision M2800, unveiled today in Austin, Texas.

With prices starting at $1,199 Dell reckons it can get students and engineers off standard laptops by offering an affordable, fully certified workstation solution.

On the whole, the specs look pretty solid: an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU (quad core) up to 47W (on par with its bigger brother, the M4800), 16GB RAM and up to 1TB storage.

Graphics appear to be more limited with the M2800 standardising on the AMD FirePro W4170M graphics with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory.

Dell certainly has AutoCAD users is its sights, but we reckon this entry-level GPU should be adequate for small to medium assembly modelling in 3D CAD tools like SolidWorks and Inventor. Dell also lists PTC Creo and Autodesk Revit as certified apps.

The M2800 comes with a 15.6-inch UltraSharp display available in HD or FHD (1,920 x 1,080) and, unlike the slimline M3800, docking compatibility. To connect up to an external display it has HDMi and VGA output, but no DisplayPort.


Weighing in at 2.56kg the Precision M2800 is lighter and slimmer than the M4800 (2,88kg), but a fair bit heavier than the ultra mobile Precision M3800 (1.88kg).

It features a standard keyboard, keypad and trackpoint as well as a numeric keypad, useful for engineering and design input.

The introduction of the M2800, an entirely new machine for entry-level mobile workstation users, is an interesting move from Dell. With the M4800 starting at $1,249 (only $50 more) there’s not a huge difference in price. So why not just offer the new AMD FirePro W4170M GPU as an option on the M4800?

We reckon this is down to two things: marketing and form factor.

By pitching the M2800 as a low cost professional CAD laptop Dell is able to make a big play for customers that typically don’t buy mobile workstations – just as it does with the desktop Precision T1700.

Also, with a size and weight on par with a standard laptop, the M2800 is likely to appeal more to these types of users who may be put off by the bulkier M4800.

The Dell Precision M2800 will be available this Spring.

We’ll post more details as soon as we get them.

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