Dell’s top-end mobile workstation has come a long way since its humble beginnings, when its body was borrowed from a Dell consumer laptop.
Now with a dedicated chassis, minimal in looks and solid in its construction, the Precision M6700 literally shouts quality.
The keyboard is firm, the trackpad responsive and there’s a reassuring solidity to the hinge that supports the 17-inch HD UltraSharp LED-backlit display.
Until recently, our test machine’s quad core 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-3920XM was the highest spec mobile chip on the market, but was recently trumped by the 3.0GHz 3940XM. The good news is Dell charges the same for both chips.
Graphics-wise, we’re used to seeing Dell’s 17-inch mobile workstations partnered with an incredibly high-end Nvidia Quadro GPU. For most CAD workflows, however, this is probably overkill, and our tests show that the 2GB AMD FirePro M6000 should offer more than enough performance for the average Creo or SolidWorks user.
The best news is the FirePro M6000 will save you £1,734 over Nvidia’s high-end 4GB Quadro K5000M. It should also help extend battery life — though for intensive 3D CAD the Precision M6700 should never be taken too far away from a mains socket.
For storage our single 512GB SATA drive doesn’t really do the Precision M6700 justice. Rip out the optical drive and there’s actually support for an incredible four devices: 3 x 2.5-inch SATAs or SSDs and a solid state Mini-Card.
The final word should go to memory. 8GB of very fast 1,866MHZ RAM is a good starting point for CAD, but with four DIMM slots the M6700 is actually capable of holding up to 32GB of 1600MHz RAM.
Fully loaded the M6700 can handle some sizeable datasets and, despite being limited to four CPU cores, will give most desktops a good fight when it comes to mainstream CAD.
» Intel Core i7-3920XM (2.9GHz) (4 cores)
» 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1,866MHZ DDR3
» AMD FirePro M6000 Mobility (2GB) + (17.3”)UltraSharp (1,920 x 1,080) LED-backlit display
» 512GB SATA
» Dell motherboard (Mobile Intel QM77 Express chipset)
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Edition (64-bit)
» 3 year Dell ProSupport (premium support from expert technicians 24×7 global) + NBD on site
(secs – smaller is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – N/A
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) – 1) 172 2) 255 3) 360
CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) – 90
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) – 256
(bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2010) – N/A
CAD (SolidWorks 2013) – 40
CAD (Creo 2.0 – SPECapc graphics test) – 4.72
Intel Core i7-3920XM (2.9GHz) (4 cores)
8GB (2 x 4GB) 1,866MHZ DDR3
AMD FirePro M6000 Mobility (2GB) + (17.3”)UltraSharp (1,920 x 1,080) LED-backlit display
Dell motherboard (Mobile Intel QM77 Express chipset)
3 year Dell ProSupport (premium support from expert technicians 24×7 global) + NBD on site