Dell Announces New Precision M4700 and M6700 Mobile Workstations

Today Dell is updating their Precision Mobile Workstation lineup with two new model, the 15.6” M4700 and the 17.3” M6700. Dell is keen to point out several “firsts” for the new models, including the first PCIe 3.0 enabled GPU in a mobile workstation, the first to offer DDR3-1866 memory, and the first to offer built-in NVIDIA 3D Vision Pro. We’ll get to the specifics in a moment, but these are Dell’s highest-end offerings for notebook users, with prices, build quality, and specs to match; if you’re not using professional applications (e.g. Dell has ISV certifications from companies like Autodesk, Adobe, Matrox, Sony, Siemens PLM Software, Dynamic Graphics, and many others), there’s a good chance you may not need this sort of notebook. Still interested? Here’s what Dell has on tap.

Dell Precision M4700 Specifications
Processor Intel 3rd Generation Core i5 and i7 Processors
Up to i7-3920XM (4 x 2.90-3.80GHz, 8MB L3, 22nm, 55W)
Chipset QM77
Memory 4 SO-DIMM Slots, Up to 32GB DDR3-1600 or 16GB DDR3-1866
Graphics Intel HD 4000 (with NVIDIA Optimus)
AMD FirePro M4000 Mobility Pro 1GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K1000M 2GB GDDR3
NVIDIA Quadro K2000M 2GB GDDR3
Display 15.6" Anti-Glare 16:9 768p (1366x768)
15.6" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
15.6" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p PremierColor IPS (1920x1080)
Storage Up to three storage devices (2.5” bay, mSATA, Optical Bay)
7200RPM HDD or 128GB to 512GB SSD
RAID 0/1/5 Available
Optical Drive DVDRW, Blu-ray Combo or Recorder, or HDD/SSD Caddy
Networking 802.11n WiFi (150Mb to 450Mb, single or dual-band)
Bluetooth 4.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Stereo Speakers
Dual Integrated Noise Canceling Microphones
Battery/Power 6-cell 65Wh
9-Cell 97Wh with ExpressCharge
9-Cell 87Wh with 3-Year Warranty
9-Cell 97Wh Battery Slice
Front Side N/A
Left Side Headphone and Microphone jacks
2 x USB 2.0
1 x 1394 (FireWire)
Kensington Lock
10-in-1 Flash Memory Reader
SmartCard Reader
54mm ExpressCard slot
Right Side 2 x USB 3.0
1 x DisplayPort
Wireless Switch
Back Side 1 x VGA
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x HDMI
AC Power Connection
Dimensions 14.80" x 10.08" x 1.29”-1.37" (WxDxH)
(376mm x 256mm x 32.7-34.9mm)
Weight Starting at 6.13 lbs (2.78kg)
Extras Optional HD Webcam
Full Size Keyboard with 10-key
Optional Backlit Keyboard
Multi-touch Trackpad and Track Stick
Price Starting at $1649

The smaller M4700 has options for everything we like to see from mobile workstations. You can get a basic model for $1649, but naturally once you start adding more memory, SSD storage, and an IPS display you can expect the price to jump substantially. The online configuration utilities aren’t live yet, but they should go up some time today. Most of the rest of the specs are straightforward so I won’t spend much time rehashing them. There are a few items worth mentioning, however.

First, I’d like to see Dell skip the 1366x768 display option entirely—does anyone buying a mobile workstation really want such a display? The ability to upgrade to a 1080p IPS display on the other hand is definitely appreciated; a 1920x1200 display would be even better, but sadly no one outside of Apple seems willing to push for 16:10 displays any longer. The PremierColor LCD also features RGBLED backlighting, providing 100% of the AdobeRGB color gamut.

The other area worth discussing is battery life options. Those who want better battery life have several options: larger main batteries, the battery slice, and NVIDIA Optimus graphics. I’m not sure how (if?) Optimus works with workstations running Linux, and it’s also not clear if you can order the M4700 with an NVIDIA GPU without Optimus. It would seem like that should be doable, considering the AMD FirePro M4000 appears to be discrete-only, but I asked for clarification on this and have not yet received an answer.

Incidentally, speaking of GPUs, AMD’s FirePro M4000 supports PCIe 3.0, which makes Dell the first notebook vendor to ship such a GPU. However, the other GPU options (from NVIDIA) are all PCIe 2.0 solutions. How much that will matter for GPGPU type tasks on mobile GPUs isn’t clear, but our understanding is the current mobile GPUs typically are not constrained by PCIe bandwidth. (Note that the fastest mobile GPUs are still less than half the computational power of desktop GPUs). Also worth noting is that NVIDIA leads in workstation GPU sales.

Dell Precision M6700 Specifications
Processor Intel 3rd Generation Core i5 and i7 Processors
Up to i7-3920XM (4 x 2.90-3.80GHz, 8MB L3, 22nm, 55W)
Chipset QM77
Memory 4 SO-DIMM Slots, Up to 32GB DDR3-1600 or 16GB DDR3-1866
Graphics Intel HD 4000 (with NVIDIA Optimus)
AMD FirePro M6000 Mobility Pro 2GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K3000M 2GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K4000M 4GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K5000M 4GB GDDR5
Display 17.3" Anti-Glare 16:9 HD+ (1600x900)
17.3" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
17.3" 1080p 3D Vision Pro (1920x1080)
17.3" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p PremierColor IPS (1920x1080)
Storage Up to four storage devices (2x 2.5” bay, mSATA, Optical Bay)
7200RPM HDD or 128GB to 512GB SSD
RAID 0/1/5 Available
Optical Drive DVDRW, Blu-ray Combo or Recorder, or HDD/SSD Caddy
Networking 802.11n WiFi (150Mb to 450Mb, single or dual-band)
Bluetooth 4.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Stereo Speakers
Dual Integrated Noise Canceling Microphones
Battery/Power 9-Cell 97Wh with ExpressCharge
9-Cell 87Wh with 3-Year Warranty
9-Cell 97Wh Battery Slice
Front Side N/A
Left Side Headphone and Microphone jacks
2 x USB 2.0
1 x 1394 (FireWire)
Kensington Lock
10-in-1 Flash Memory Reader
SmartCard Reader
54mm ExpressCard slot
Right Side 2 x USB 3.0
1 x DisplayPort
Wireless Switch
Back Side 1 x VGA
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x HDMI
AC Power Connection
Dimensions 16.41" x 10.65" x 1.3”-1.42" (WxDxH)
(416.7mm x 270.6mm x 33.1-36.1mm)
Weight Starting at 7.76 lbs (3.52kg)
Extras Optional HD Webcam
Full Size Keyboard with 10-key
Optional Backlit Keyboard
Multi-touch Trackpad and Track Stick
Price Starting at $2199

The configuration options on the larger M6700 are largely the same as the M4700, with one major exception being the graphics cards. The M6700 supports higher performance GPUs that should help with improving performance in demanding tasks. The K2000M in the M4700 is basically a fully equipped Kepler K107 with workstation drivers; the K3000M/K4000M/K5000M move up to variations of the Kepler K104, with 576/960/1344 cores, respectively. All of the K104-based GPUs also support 256-bit GDDR5 memory interfaces, whereas the K1000M/K2000M have to get by with 128-bit DDR3. What will be interesting is to see how K5000M compares to the Fermi-based 5010M in FP64 applications, as the earlier Kepler GPUs appear to have sacrificed some of the compute potential in order to improve other areas.

The other areas where the M6700 differs from the M4700 is in the display and battery options. The base display is a 1600x900 panel, with three different 1080p upgrades available. The same anti-glare 1080p and RGBLED IPS 1080p options are here again (albeit with larger panels), but Dell also adds a third 1080p display, this time with NVIDIA 3D Vision Pro support. Dell states that many Professional 3D applications (e.g. CAD/CAM/CAE, DCC, seismic visualization, and life sciences) now support stereoscopic displays, and for customers that want such features, the M6700 is available.

There’s a third workstation being announced, though it’s largely the same as the M6700. The M6700 Covet uses the same chassis but comes with a higher base spec and a Phoenix Red exterior finish. It also has edge to edge Corning Gorilla Glass 2, with a starting price of $3579. It’s not clear what components are used for the base model of the Covet, but expect at least a quad-core CPU, 1080p display, and probably an SSD as a reasonable starting point, given the pricing.

Source: Dell Press Release

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  • magreen - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Yes, I just wouldn't want a 17" behemoth. That's why I'm miffed they stopped providing 1200p at 15". Reply
  • icrf - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    I have a Dell M6400 from a couple years ago with a 17" 1920x1200 display. I think it's still a TN panel, but it did have an RGB backlight, so it doesn't do too bad. I have to say, the thing is pretty hefty, has crap battery life, but very sturdy build quality and still pretty quick. The second internal HDD bay made adding an SSD simple, which really makes it snappy. I'm glad to see they're keeping internal bay counts high. Reply
  • p05esto - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    I have the M6500 with the 1366 resolution screen and got that on purpose. My eyes are not that great and I like the native resolution being a little lower. Makes it easier on my eyes, less strain. I'm a programmer and designer, so I use this machine constantly.

    Yes, there are times the larger resolution would be nice, but I'm glad there is a choice. I couldn't imagine anything higher than 1920. How can human eyes read web sites like that? Such, blow it up, but that just wrecks quality and isn't native.
    Reply
  • seapeople - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    Increase your DPI and the high resolution screen would look much better than the 1366 screen at a comparable text size.

    If that doesn't work for you, then maybe get better glasses?

    If that doesn't work for you, then ok, yes, I agree, you are the 0.1% of the population who is better served by a poor quality, low contrast, low resolution screen.
    Reply
  • Pessimism - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Lenovo was faster out of the gate with the W530 and my company just grabbed a bunch for the latest upgrade cycle. They beat out both Dell and HP with their Ivy Bridge workstation laptops and got our dollars as a result. Reply
  • Ikefu - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    I have an M6600 that I travel with (I fly 45+ weeks a year) and I absolutely love it. I hear people complain about the weight on 17" laptops but really all you need is a good backpack that keeps the laptop flat against your back and its not bad at all. You just can't get by with a crap bag that has bad balance. I get 4-4.5 hrs of battery life which is all I usually need between plug ins.

    I wish Dell would offer this same chassis build quality in all their models. I would love to see a consumer Precision type line that forgoes the expensive certifications and uses consumer gfx cards but keeps the chassis and other components. I got my M6600 in part due to not wanting the annoying aesthetic you are stuck with in an Alienware. Alienware guts in a Precision Chasis would rock.
    Reply
  • douglaswilliams - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Is there still the issue where if you get the IPS display you can't use NVIDIA Optimus to switch to the Intel graphics?

    As I understood it, an IPS display is driven by 10-bits, and Intel can only do 8-bit...something like that.

    Thanks!

    Douglas
    Reply
  • pbclayton - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    This question is ABSOLUTELY FUNDAMENTAL for people thinking about buying this laptop. Unfortunately most reviewers will have the cheaper normal display and throw in a comment saying that an IPS display is available.

    I have the IPS display on the M4600 and the nVidia Linux driver cannot use Optimus. I don't know if it is the same with the Windows nVidia driver. I would be interested to know.

    No Optimus is a big issue when travelling. Best case (mostly idle on minimum brightness, which requires fairly dim surroundings) is just under 2 hrs on the 6 cell battery. Any interaction with the computer will reduce that to 1hr30 at best. Had I known that I was trading battery life for the IPS display, I would have gone for the normal display.
    Reply
  • advrsharma - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    I have been using All types of workstation class Laptop/Desktop replacement laptops.In my long term experience The precesion class far outweighs other brands including lenovo w700/701 and HP envy class laptops of same specs.The basic reason is the after sales promptness and logistical backend support and services on systems given by Dell.When one pays heavily for such products one also expects such support.I nly wish it had ecc ram support which Eurocomm gives on some of its laptops with xeon class processors.Hope Dell is listening.The last time I had Ecc ram was on a Sun Notebook long time ago.The benefits are immense. Reply
  • erple2 - Sunday, July 29, 2012 - link

    I have used the HP Elitebook series at my job for the past several years and have to say that the construction quality is better than the last Precision workstation I used (a 6600). Comparing a Precision to an Envy line is like comparing it to an Alienware - Envy is good for high end consumer (I have an Envy 15), but still can't come close to touching my Elitebook in terms of build quality. Reply

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