Dell has an impressive pedigree when it comes to mobile workstations and its latest 15-inch offering picks up where the Precision M4700 left off.
The aluminium and magnesium alloy chassis feels solid and built to last; the keyboard, numeric keypad and trackpad are all excellent and there’s a reassuring click when closing the lid on the HD display. The days of Dell using a cheap consumer chassis for its mobile workstations are long gone.
Despite this feeling of quality, our test machine is not expensive. But even with its ‘budget’ £1,152 price tag you get a top notch Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU, ideal for 3D CAD.
The AMD FirePro M5100 is an excellent choice for Creo and SolidWorks, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Nvidia Quadro K2100M and delivering solid scores in our benchmarks.
You do get more bang for your buck by going down the AMD route. An equivalent spec M4800 with an Nvidia GPU will set you back £1,189 and this will only secure you the slightly less powerful Quadro 1100M.
The rest of our test machine’s components are much more entrylevel. 8GB (2 x 4GB) RAM and a 500GB hybrid drive hardly inspire, but with room for 32GB RAM (4 x 8GB) and three drives there are plenty of options.
Maxing out the storage means swapping out the slot load DVD drive for a second 2.5” drive (HDD, SSD, or hybrid). The third drive is an mSATA SSD, available in capacities up to 512GB. This is significantly larger than those offered by HP and Lenovo in equivalent machines.
Providing you have the right combination of drives, you can boost drive performance or security by configuring with RAID 0 or 1 (two drives) or RAID 5 (three drives).
To keep costs down, there’s no optional fingerprint reader in our test machine, so security is left to the Smart Card Reader.
Overall, Dell has delivered another solid mobile workstation — and one that is priced extremely competitively. For mainstream 3D CAD our test M4800 may be a little unbalanced, but add an SSD into the mix and top up the RAM and you won’t be disappointed.
This review is part of a comprehensive buyer’s guide to mobile workstations.
Below are links to the rest of the content
» Intel Core i7-4800MQ (2.70GHz up to 3.7GHz) (4 cores, 8 threads)
» 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3L 1600MHz
» AMD FirePro M5100 Mobility Pro (2GB GDDR5)
» 500GB Hybrid 2.5-inch, 6Gb/s SATA with 8GB Flash Drive + 8X DVD+/-RW Drive Slot Load
» Graphics driver 12.104.2
» Screen 15.6” Dell UltraSharp (1,920 x 1,080) wide view, anti-glare, LED-backlit
» Keyboard / Mouse Full size keyboard with number pad Multi-touch touchpad with three buttons Track stick with three buttons
» Battery 9-cell (97Wh) Lithium Ion battery with ExpressCharge
» Wireless Dell Wireless 1550 2X2 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0
» Ports 4 x USB 3.0 (1 with PowerShare) 1 eSATA / USB 2.0 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
» Expansion / security 9-in-1 media card reader SmartCard reader 54mm ExpressCard slot
» Display outputs HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort
» Docking port underneath
» Size (W x D x H) 376 x 256 x 36-40mm
» Weight (machine + power adapter) Starting at 2.88kg + 0.81kg
» Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional 64-bit
» Standard 3-year Next Business Day On Site Service after Remote Diagnosis
(secs – smaller is better)
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) – (i) 171 (ii) 275 (iii) 399
CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) – N/A
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) – 243
(bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2013 – SPECapc graphics composite) – 4.55
CAD (Creo 2.0 – SPECapc graphics test) – 4.39
Intel Core i7-4800MQ (2.70GHz up to 3.7GHz) (4 cores, 8 threads)
8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3L 1600MHz
AMD FirePro M5100 Mobility Pro (2GB GDDR5)
500GB Hybrid 2.5-inch, 6Gb/s SATA with 8GB Flash Drive + 8X DVD+/-RW Drive Slot Load
Standard 3-year Next Business Day On Site Service after Remote Diagnosis