With a 15-inch display and entry-level to mid-range professional graphics, the Dell Precision M4700 is the more portable of the two machines, while the 17-inch display, high-end professional graphics and large storage makes the Dell Precision M6700 more of a desktop replacement.
Both machines offer a choice of Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ 3rd generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors (up to Core i7 Extreme Edition) and up to 32GB of 1,600MHz memory. There’s also the option of 1,866MHz memory (up to 16GB), which should give a small performance boost when working with large datasets or in memory intensive applications, such as simulation (FEA and CFD). This is a unique offering among the Tier One mobile workstation manufacturers, says Dell.
In addition to size, the main differentiator between the machines is in professional graphics. The Precision M4700 concentrates on entry-level and mid-range 3D with Nvidia’s Kepler-based Quadro K1000M (2GB GDDR3), Quadro K2000M (2GB GDDR3) or AMD’s FirePro M4000 Mobility Pro (1GB GDDR5).
Meanwhile, the Precision M6700 focuses on the mid-range to high-end with a choice of the AMD FirePro M6000 Mobility Pro (2GB GDDR5), Nvidia Quadro K3000M (2GB GDDR5), Nvidia Quadro K4000M (4GB GDDR5) and Nvidia Quadro K5000M (4GB GDDR5).
There are also plenty of options when it comes to displays. The Precision M4700 offers a choice of three 15.6-inch screens, from the entry-level 1,366 x 768 anti-glare, LED-backlit, up to the 1,920 x 1,080 LED-backlit Dell UltraSharp IPS PremierColor screen, which supports 100% of the Adobe RGB colour gamut.
Similar options are available on the Precision M6700 with a choice of 17.3-inch displays from 1,600 x 900 up to 1,920 x 1,080. The Precision M6700 can also be fitted with a 3D display to be used with the optional Nvidia 3D Vision Pro module, built into the heart of the machine.
A pair of shuttered 3D glasses comes as part of the package and these communicate with the mobie workstation via RF. The technology also works with external 3D monitors, which should make more comfortable for multiple users to huddle round a single screen for 3D design / review.
Dell has packed even more storage options into its new mobile workstations – with the Precision M4700 and M6700 offering three and four drives respectively up to a maximum of 1.8TB.
There is a compromise though. In order to host the maximum number of drives comes, the optical drive must be swapped out and replaced with a 2.5-inch optical bay caddy.
Still, this won’t impact more standard configurations and there’s plenty to choose from, including 7,200rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drives from 320GB up to 750GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDs from 128GB up to 512GB and a 128GB or 256GB SSD Mini-Card.
RAID 0, 1 (two drives) and RAID 5 (three drives) are available as options. With a tool-free easy eject drive bay, the primary hard drive can also be swapped easily, either to secure sensitive data or to handle larger volumes of data with multiple drives.
Looks-wise, the solid workstation-class aluminium and magnesium alloy chassis has a few tweaks here and there, but the new machines don’t appear to be much different from their predecessors – the Dell Precision M4600 and M6600. Inside, Dell makes a big play of its dual fan thermal management solution, which is designed to minimize fan noise when cooling key components.
With an optional slice battery, ExpressCharge battery and Nvidia Optimus technology, the new mobile workstations are said to offer ‘all day battery life’. This sounds like a bold claim, particularly when you consider that the Precision M6700 has to power its 17-inch display and high-end graphics (which draws up to 100W at peak).
In terms of I/O ports, both machines include two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 and one eSATA / USB combo ports and three integrated video ports – one VGA, one HDMI and one DisplayPort 1.2. Wireless LAN is standard and there are optional modules for Mobile Broadband & GPS.
Prices start at £1,179 for the Dell Precision M4700 and £1,669 for the M6700 and all machines come with a standard 3-year next business day on site service warranty. Look out for a full review soon.