In and Around the Dell Precision M6700

The internal hardware goes a long way, certainly, but the Dell Precision M6700 is unfortunately on the back foot when it comes to shell design. Take a look at our review of the HP EliteBook 8760w then come back here, and you'll see that Dell's aesthetic comes up short in more ways than one. You'll see it's not just about looks, either; HP's design is more functional.

Part of what kills is that the Precison M6700's shell may incorporate magnesium alloy and aluminum alloy, but it feels largely plastic. Dell's site lists the M6700 as having been subjected to Mil-spec 810G testing, but not if it meets that standard, while HP confirms that their current-generation 8770w does. They apparently use aluminum for trim and the back of the lid, but as a whole the notebook just doesn't feel as all around sturdy as its competitor is.

That said, when you do open it, the interior surfaces are flex-free, just uninspiring. The M6700 is two-toned, but the two tones aren't really complimentary. They use a gunmetal gray that's very dark, so that in soft light it's essentially indistinguishable from the black plastic used for the keyboard trim and bottom panel. As a whole, the two tones aren't unattractive, but there's a kind of cheap feeling to the materials, regardless of whether or not they actually are. HP's EliteBook looks and feels sturdy, with the aluminum trim and interior shell.

People who lament HP's shift to a chiclet keyboard may be happy at first with the M6700's traditional key style, but Dell's keyboard layout is confused both for them and for the end user. The "Page Up" and "Page Down" keys sandwich the up arrow, while the row normally reserved for document navigation above the number pad is instead a shortcut for the calculator and then media controls, which just plain don't belong on a notebook like this. Those could very easily and should very easily have been Fn+Function Key combinations. Overall the keyboard is plenty usable, but the layout is off-putting. On a less expensive notebook it's something that can be tolerated and adapted to; on a notebook that starts north of $1,600, it's unacceptable. As for the touchpad, it's mostly fine and easy to use, but it's actually on the small side and could stand to be wider. Again, though, Dell's design lacks the pleasant surface treatment of HP's.

Finally, the M6700 could make up some ground by at least being easy to service, but that turns out not to really be the case. HP's design is as easy as pushing a latch and popping off the bottom panel, but the M6700 was actually a little confusing. There are two screws hidden inside the battery slot that must be removed, and then the panel slides up and off. The interior layout supports three 2.5" drives and an mSATA drive, but what's the point of having one drive caddy slide out of the side of the case if you have to remove an internal screw to unlock it? It's not a horrible interior design and definitely looks reinforced, but the M6700 just feels a little more cobbled together than I'd like.

Introducing the Dell Precision M6700 Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • bramv101 - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    I agree with most comment above. I use this workstation for small FEA and CFD runs.
    This is not to be compared to a Macbook pro, which is a machine for graphic design.

    I dont think any serious engineer would consider a macbook pro for these type of tasks
    Reply
  • j_newbie - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    @Dustin Sklavos,

    Looks like Anandtech readership has a high percentage of mechanical engineers using fea and cfd programs. The benchmarks provided focus mainly on 3d modelling performance.

    One benchmark you could consider adding is specfp 2006.

    Since I am the IT dept in a small (15 engineers) services firm in Bangalore, I find it to be one of the most usable benchmarks for FEA and CFD.

    These programs rely on four things:
    FLOPS, memory bandwidth, memory size, disk speed.

    An alternative would be to ask ansys for a 64 bit copy to run benchmarks on

    something like these http://www.padtinc.com/support/ansys-benchmarks.ht...

    Hope these will help,

    cheers,
    Reply
  • borceg - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    Could you make a review for Lenovo ThinkPad W530 ? Reply
  • critical_ - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    I've owned a W520, W530 and own a M6700 right now. It is a smaller machine with a slower graphics card. The only thing that bothers me on the W530 is the cooling system isn't great. Reply
  • borceg - Friday, December 14, 2012 - link

    I'm looking for 15-inch machine, GPU either k1000m or k2000m should be fine. I'm not working with some ultra heavy CAD.

    How is build quality, screen, keyboard and touch-pad ?
    Reply
  • borceg - Friday, December 14, 2012 - link

    And according to this review, http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Lenovo-ThinkPa... temp seems fine to me (maybe I'm wrong) Reply
  • bernstein - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    with these machines the choice chart it is really really simple.

    as long as you satisfy one of these your set. otherwise buy a macbookpro or similar.

    1) you must have a quadro/firepro gpu
    2) you must have > 16GB RAM
    3) you can't live with 6% less cpu ghz
    4) you must have a 10bit panel

    and seriously hope you don't care about weight, build quality & usability...
    Reply
  • Jaguar36 - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    A bunch of folks I work with have these, and I'm shocked at the size of the power brick. Its about the same size as a regular desktop powersupply, and weighs more than some smaller laptops. That's completely unacceptable. Most people I know had to get two power supplies so they could leave one at the office.

    Also no-one should be comparing this to an Apple anything, nobody is going to cross shop the two.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    It's a 240W power supply; so of course it's going to be bigger than the normal 50/100W units that come with IGP/low end discrete GPU laptops. That said, unless Dell's serving up the wrong picture it looks like it's roughly 3x5x1" in size; and while the former two numbers roughly match up with an ATX supply; the latter is typically at least 5" (for the 120mm fan) in the third. Reply
  • Jaguar36 - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    Just measured one, its 4"x7.5"x1.75" or so. It's completely ridiculous. Reply

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