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  • FXi - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    The M17x sure could have used some touches to bring it more along the looks of the M6500. I have a M6400 and it's really a fantastic machine. It gets looks and questions wherever I take it.

    Why did the M17x lack a latch, USB3 and some of the other subtlety that the M6500 has in spades? It's not that the M17x is "bad", not at all. It just could have had a more subtle elegance with so little additional effort. And moreover, the M17x "could" have used the very same docking station as the M6500. Same chipset, same overall form factor. The grill bottom of the M17x could have taken a docking port without making it too weak.

    Anyway I have a M6400 and it's really a fantastic machine. Moreover I get about 2-2.5 hours on the battery which is wonderful for car appointments sitting in the lounge getting work done.

    Great machine. Only sadness is the case is so packed they can't fit SLI Quadro's. But that doesn't keep it from being a Class A machine.
  • hko45 - Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - link

    I have an M6400. I like it's clean, serious look. Not like the over-the-top "fashion" toys I've seen from other laptop purveyors.

    As I said in an earlier post, the E-Port and E-Port Plus docking stations make Dell Precision & Latitude laptops my only choices for now. (Other docking stations that I know about do not offer multi DVI/DP options and require a USB connection, as opposed to the dedicated docking port on the Dells.

    Although, I've heard rumors that NVidia is considering offering an external graphics card option (that I presume will use USB 3.0). If so, they'd be crazy not to include multiple monitor capabilities.
  • wicko - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Would be nice to see a consumer version of this, I'd be completely interested if it weren't for the abnormal price range. Reply
  • geekforhire - Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - link

    Goofy question, but would your opinion change if this machine were $3000 rather than about $6000? Check my review above.

  • Lothsahn - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    We use about 20 of these (M6400) where I work, and they are extremely fast, but their quality is absolutely horrible (despite what the article says). We've had nearly one problem in each laptop within the first year (some worse, some better).

    My laptop was completely replaced by Dell due to 10 separate RMA requests, likely resulting from a defective powerbrick that Dell could not diagnose (even with my suggestion that they replace the power brick).

    Some of the problems we've seen:
    1) fan failures (requiring replacement of the ENTIRE graphics card daughterboard, not just the fan, because they're integrated together

    2) battery failures

    3) Motherboard failures

    4) Power supply failures

    5) Display issues-- the contrast is EXTREMELY poor on the displays ("> )

    6) Numerous driver issues causing BSOD's in WinXP-64.

  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Hopefully Dell provided good service at least in terms of getting things replaced? I did tech support for a giant corporation at one point, we had hundreds of Dell PCs and laptops, and they would send someone out within 24 hours to fix problems.

    Obviously, I can't comment on long-term stability when I only have a unit for a month, but I didn't have any stability problems at all. The PSU is now updated relative to the M6400, and for sure the LCD doesn't have "extremely poor contrast"... I tested this one, and it rates 670:1, which is great.

    As for the color tint, that's partly a problem from too bright a backlight (run at ~40% and you'll be a lot closer to 6500K; 100% is likely in the 9000K+ range). For calibration, you do need hardware and software, but with a 1.8 gamma setting (see above and updated text in article) that issue is now addressed.
  • Lothsahn - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Dell provided excellent service. No complaints there. But I would be terrified if we didn't have a 3yr onsite warranty--these units are all out of a typical 1yr warranty now and given the current failure rates, I would expect most of them to be dead within the next year if we didn't have them repaired.

    I should clarify the LCD issue--it's not "contrast" in terms of brightness of white to black. The monitor is extremely bright and contrasty. However, certain colors have NO grey definition whatsoever. There are details in this post:">

    If you look at the yellow pushpin on the M6400 monitor, ALL greys in the yellow pushpin are nonexistent--the pushpin is one solid color. For graphics editing, that is clearly unacceptable. Thankfully, we don't graphics edit, but some webpages are still more difficult to see because of this problem.

    People reporting this error have calibrated their displays, but that does not resolve the issue. It's more than a software or a calibration issue.

    I have adjusted gamma and brightness settings in the Nvidia driver (from the default settings), which has been good enough for web browsing, although the problem remains. However, when you pay 4-5k for a laptop, you shouldn't have these sorts of problems.
  • mino - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Just give me DUAL NIC for VMware worstation dual-node operation and I be in heaven.
    The node2 being something in x200 tablet class ...
  • Lazlo Panaflex - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    POS screen with unfixable blue tint, no DVI (vga? LOL!) and lack of other ports, expensive price tag and bland asthetics...sorry, but this is epic fail for Dell.

    Jarred, methinks you were a bit too kind in your overall assessment of this lemon.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    See above: LCD issue is "fixed" now and I updated the article. Docking station provides two extra DVI ports I believe, but it's still irritating. Still, that's not "epic fail" by any but the most limited perspective. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Wow, those LCD results were shockingly poor, and there's simply no excuse for it in this class of laptop. Hopefully HP and Lenovo will do a better job with their updated models.

    For personal use the way to order laptops of this class is to get the most stripped version possible and then upgrade it yourself; once the "New and Shiny" tax expires you could probably put together an equivalent laptop for around 3k. Still expensive but the build quality might be worth it, as AFAIK you simply cannot get a "gaming" laptop with anywhere close to the level of this and other "workstation" laptops.

    P.S. @ Jarred - Unless you're talking about the design's weight in earth's gravity, I think your dictation software has failed you. ;)
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Figured out how to get the LCD to calibrate better... and it's MUCH better. But no one should need to calibrate to 1.8 gamma on Windows, and more to the point you should be able to calibrate to 2.2 just as easily. *Weird* to say the least.

    And I understand that aesthetics are a personal taste, but seriously: this is a better built and more attractive notebook than any of the gaming monsters I see. You're not going to make a thin and light Apple MacBook Pro out of these components, but this is about 2x as fast as the top MBP in CPU tests and an order of magnitude (actually more) faster in workstation apps.
  • ghotz - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    I've been trying to calibrate the monitor for some time now but didn't achieved yet the good results I had with my M90 yet.

    There are some problems that Dell should definitely address (the sRGB and aRGB color profiles that come with Dell ControlPoint have strong color casts) and other "features" they should definitely tell customer about like the LCD changing color temperature as shown in this video:

    I'm starting to become really unsatisfied with this machine, nearly as much as I was satisfied with my 4 year old M90 :(
  • CList - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    All that sex appeal and modern technology and they STILL have a VGA port.

    FFS Dell!!! Get with the program already and ditch that crap. DVI -> VGA adapters do exist for those presentation projectors after all...
    They probably still have a parallel port on the back of their docking station as well.

  • Granseth - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    We still uses software that needs a parallel port for dongels, as well as allot of hardware that uses serial ports.

    And the VGA port would be invaluable if you travel around and have to use projectors at different locations.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Well, by the same token they sell a DP -> HDMI dongle, so you could adapt to other ports. I would guess their research has shown there is still enough need for VGA to not remove it yet. Reply
  • justaviking - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    You did a great job of positioning this beast (I mean that in a good way) by talking about what software you would run on it.

    I see my former employer's logo on the slide on the last page.

    We used to demonstrate enterprise-level software to potential clients, or conduct training classes before their system was up and running. We basically used our laptops as portable servers.

    We ran large databases, our application, a web server, CAD rendering software, and clients, all from the same "laptop". It's amazing it ran at all, let alone usually having decent performance. Nothing we had would come close this this.

    The pre-sales "demo" guys always had the faster, newer hardware, but they were trying to make multi-million dollar sales. If a $5k laptop makes your software run better than a $2k laptop, it could be a very good investment.
  • kahmisz - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Speaking of use in Enterprise situations. Under $1600 for Enterprise pricing with i5, under $2100 with i7. Reply
  • lordmetroid - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    I think that may be one of the ugliest laptops I have ever seen. Damn, I can't stop looking, it is like watching the horrible scene of a car crash. Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    I agree, this laptop looks like it was beaten severely with an ugly stick. I'm sure the engineers over at Apple will hang a picture of this up in the design room to improve morale.

    I'm beginning to think that Apple has a patent on eye pleasing notebook designs.

    Dell, please send this one back.
  • Nick-932 - Saturday, August 21, 2010 - link

    Have you seen one in real life next to an Apple...Because all apples look like wimpsy flimsy notebooks comparing to an M6500.

    Additionally, they do not even have any spec similar as the M6500, even 8 months after their initial release.
  • jabber - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    ...but that 'thing' above the keyboard...????

    Didnt read the review actually as it's too expensive for me. So if what ever that thing is is explained as crucial then I apologise.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    I read the review and still don't know. I was expecting an explanation of what the thing that looks like it was attached with a blob of caulk is on a laptop they think looks good. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    I guess you guys are referring to the FIPS fingerprint scanner? It's not "attached by a blob of caulk"... though I suppose the images don't quite convey what it actually looks like. Here's a better shot, if you didn't look at the gallery:">

    It's an optional extra for security; rather than swiping your finger, you place it on that scanner. It's supposed to be more accurate than the swipe scanners.
  • jabber - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    So why does it look bolted on?

    Lenovo manage to make a decent looking fingerprint scanner.

    This thing is a mess. In fact the more I look at this laptop the more crap it looks.

    Looks like a rough prototype.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Perhaps it looks better in person. The scanner is flush with the rest of the chassis, and about the only complaint I'd have with it is that the scanner has a gray border. Trust me, the chassis as a whole feels rock solid. I don't think it's the most awesome looking laptop ever created, but the LCD does look great and it's nice to see a large notebook I wouldn't be embarrassed about using in a business setting.

    Since you dislike the look of this notebook so much, what do you think makes for an attractive notebook? And please don't say MacBook Pro... they're fine, but you simply can't fit quad-core i7 with a Quadro FX 3800M into anything that thin. I'm actually quite impressed that the M6500 is "only" 1.3" thick!
  • jabber - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    lol, no I wouldnt say a MacBook pro.

    However, I do find it baffling why manufacturers struggle to come up with something asthetically pleasing.

    I do believe less is more, though it would be hard to design a laptop on that principle that wouldnt infringe on the mac design. They have reduced a design to it's near minimum.

    I like the general look of my Inspiron 13Z though the 8 cell battery pack spoils the lines. It does mean however I can go 8 hours+ without power. The glossy plastics are also a big no-no.

    If Dell just improved the build quality of say their Studio line with better/tougher plastics then that would go a long way.

  • DukeN - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Would truly have appreciated a Lenovo W5XX comparison here, or even a T500. TIA. Reply
  • hko45 - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    Another reason to get this is the E-Port Plus docking (for all mobile Precision and most Latitudes -- I haven't seen anything comparable from anyone else). It allows the connection of two DVI or DisplayPort displays. That's what I use for my M6400 when I run PhotoShop & Lightroom. This should take care of any color issues. I would only use it as my first edit pass for my photos when on the road anyway. I'm definitely going to get an M6500 as soon as funds permit. Reply
  • geekforhire - Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - link

    I received my Precision M6500 about a week ago, and in general I'm very happy.

    Mine has the i7 Q720 processor, 64GB SSD, CD/DVD burner, 1440x900 RGBLED display, Intel 5300AGN Wifi card, 4GB memory, and Windows 7 Pro.

    My previous notebook computer was 15.4" Dell Inspiron 8600, which I also designed, and served me well for 5.5 years. It failed about 6 months ago with a motherboard problem that would be expensive to replace - about as much as a netbook. At the time, I didn't want to spend alot of money on a replacement computer, so I got a netbook: Asus S101. It's a nice little (little!!!) machine, came with a Window XP Home on a 16GB SSD (note: they are now shipping with a 32GB SSD, which is actually livable, where the 16GB is definitely /not/ and later upgraded to 64GB). It does alot of things very well, but I eventually came to the conclusion that this was not enough computer for me. And if it failed I'd have to ship the computer away to the manufacturer for service - which would put me out of service for about 2+ weeks. So I bit the bullet, and got another real computer.


    Performance is excellent. This is safely the fastest notebook I've ever had the pleasure to work with - ever.

    The display is excellent, displaying everything including movies with great sharpness, color quality, and contrast.

    The keyboard has good touch, and the back-lighting is a nice touch that really should be included with every notebook.

    Someone gave good though to the internal airflow, which allows the machine to be quiet and be effective even when resting on my lap with a comforter.

    The SSD is giving snappy performance, but it's actual available physical C: size is 58.7GB, and there is the risk that the performance will decline over time (trim capability is unknown yet).

    Fastest wifi performance I've ever measured: downloaded iTunes yesterday and the Network tab on the Task Manager showed an average 10.5% utilization with frequent peaks of 11.75% of a 54mbps wifi connection (I have a 7mbps DSL line to the internet with a high performance wifi router, but the Apple servers deserve some credit too).

    The sound fidelity coming from the speakers is extremely good, especially for a notebook. Playing the movie "The Transporter" (music by Stanley Clarke), there were several very interesting sound positioning effect that many other speakers just won't present quite as well.

    The built in webcam and array microphone work well. I'm having lots of great conversations with my daughter via Skype, who's on a 2 month trip in Ireland. Visual detail is good, and room echo of what I'm sending is low to non-existent.

    I'm a believer in the Dell 4 year high end extended service warranty, and include it in all of the notebook computers that I design, because notebooks are subject to physical insults that desktop computers are not, and Dell will overnight ship replacement parts. Want to rent a great notebook computer for the price of a new great computer, here are 2 realistic human threats that tend to produce total loss: Dropping, and Liquid Spills.

    Overall build quality is good. But it kind of better be with a machine this heavy, or else simple motions like lifting it from the front corner is going to cause the chassis to quickly split.

    There are oodles of practical connectors and adapters built in, and I really like the slot-load CD/DVD drive.


    The battery life seems to last about 2 hours, not the 3-4 hours I was designing for (I attribute this to the lowest end display card, which is much stronger and much higher power consuming than I wanted). I've played with the various power options and I've been able to improve the duration from the 1.5H that I seemed to first be getting when I received the machine, but I think 2.5H is going to be the wall.

    The touch pad is left of where it should be. It's centered under the keyboard, rather than in the physical center of the computer, causing an awkward right hand "lunge" across to 1.5" left of where I naturally expect it to be. But I can recalibrate.

    This machine and power brick are large and heavy, and are well served by backpack transport rather than something with just a single handle.

    The low level light performance of the webcam in a dimly lit restaurant is fair, producing brownish grainy images. (reminder that the human eye has such an amazingly good sharpness even with wide variations of available light, that even modern DSLR technology comes no where near what the human eye can do so easily that we take that capability for granted.)

    The machine was shipped about 3 weeks later than the original estimate. Note that this longer-than-expected actual ship date has happened with all other 17" Precision notebook computers that I've designed in the past.

    Not sure yet about the 64 bit OS. There have been 1-2 weird freezing issues which I suspect the 32 bit OS may not experience; there is a compatibility issue with printing from a 64 bit machine to a printer attached to a 32 bit machine, but the effective work around is to print directly to the network attached printer. But having 4GB of available memory with a 64 bit OS is nicer than having 3GB of actually available memory on the same machine with a 32 bit OS. So the jury is still out on whether to reinstall with the 32 bit OS, or stick with the 64 bit OS.

    In a nutshell, I can see myself growing old with this woman.

  • geekforhire - Friday, March 12, 2010 - link

    Some things I forgot to note:

    The cost of mine was a little more than half the amount quoted in the article - complete. This a beast of a machine is available for a modest premium if you just resist the temptation of designing with only bleeding edge equipment.

    When I ordered mine, the Core i5 processors were not available for the M6500. That may be part of the intent as part of the prerelease whisper from the manufacturer, but as of yesterday they still aren't available for the M6500.

    There's a wonderful article on the virtues of the Core i7-720QM processor from last fall, here:">

  • geekforhire - Friday, March 12, 2010 - link

    Here's a link to the Core i7-790QM processor spec sheet from Intel:">

    Here's a link to a page on the Intel website which helps decode what the processor numbers mean.">

    The i7-720QM has a 45W package, 4x1.6 Ghz processor cores with HyperThreading, 6M cache, DDR3-1066/1333 memory, 8GB max physical memory limit, and a "Turbo Mode" which allows a few cores to spin up to 2.8Ghz (note that all processors cannot operate at this speed simultaneously, but is available when some cores have been dynamically turned off and the TDP would not be exceeded).

  • Naina - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    I like what you said about the Dell M6500. I am a photoartist and work mostly with Photoshop. I do this
    professionally and I am travelling a good deal. I like the Dell M6500 but am not sure what configuration to look at which would meet my need for speed and space.

    I wonder if you could make a suggestion.

  • icrf - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    I've been using an M6400 at work for the last six months, which is very similar to this. The chassis looks the same, but it's generation older hardware (Q9100 / FX2700M).

    On the docking station front, I apparently ended up with the cheaper one. It has DVI, DP, and VGA ports, but it won't drive both the DVI and DP, so I have to run one of my two external displays on an analog VGA connection.
  • hko45 - Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - link

    I haven't seen any other comparable docking station to the E-Port Plus -- to be able to connect to two monitors through the same kind of ports (DVIs or DisplayPorts). When you're editing images, you need to make sure that both monitors are reasonably alike. That's why I would only buy Dell's Precision or Latitude (not all) laptops -- just for to be able to use that docking station. Reply
  • icrf - Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - link

    Some of my co-workers have dual-DVI (but no DP) docking stations. We're just developers, so the accurate color reproduction isn't all that important. Honestly, if I could have gotten the thing without the Nvidia graphics, I'd of been better off. I never render anything in 3D. I was just looking for a 17" 1920x1200 chassis with a speedy quad core and 8 GB of RAM. Unfortunately, the office wouldn't spring for a SSD, as I think that would have made the most difference. I get the feeling random read is the biggest bottleneck. Reply
  • Fanfoot - Thursday, April 01, 2010 - link

    The laptop I see on Dell's site doesn't appear to bear much of a resemblance to the one you describe. The one I see has a max of 4GB of RAM, comes with 32-bit Windows, has no USB 3.0 support, and is very expensive. Even basic WiFi isn't included in the price of this thing. Three drives? Where does it say that? I assume one of the drives you're counting is the special 64GB Flash drive, probably a mini PCIe card, but still, show me where it says you can swap out the SLOT LOADING DVD for a second full sized 2.5" drive, something I'm used to with Thinkpads, but that is otherwise uncommon.

    From the machine that I appear to be able to configure on Dell's website, I'd say both HP and Lenovo have better, more capable, machines in this range available today. The one you talk about sounds fine, but I see no way to configure a machine like that on Dell's website...
  • holytouch - Sunday, April 11, 2010 - link

    i think you should go back to and try again. the laptop he describes is there, and contains the specs within the review. make sure you look at the 6500/6500 covet. i ordered mine with win7 pro/64bit with no issues.

    honestly, it couldn't be any easier to see that the machine he describes is on the site.
  • tozndsand - Saturday, June 19, 2010 - link

    I have heard that i5-i7 processors are not supported by Adobe CS5. Is that correct? That would be a deal breaker for many. Thanks Reply
  • DellVictim - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I am frustrated with how many positive editorial reviews this machine is getting. I bought one with all the trimmings (twin HD's with RAID etc) and before long at all, started having lots of issues. One of the HD's has been replaced 4 or 5 times, the motherboard 3 times, the graphics card twice, the screen, and it's currently broken, again, despite two dell technician visits - the last of which left telling me the RAID was rebuilding and all was good. Less than 30 minutes after he left, there was a beep, the computer restarted, got stuck in the dos BIOS screen and when I pressed F1 to continue it told me that there was now NO bootable disk! I'm fusious. I have been without my laptop and important data now for over three weeks. So much for next day service, everytime they need to get parts, they seem to be out of stock for several days, then they don't ship them early enough in the day for me to get them next day. They leave voicemails saying they'll call you later and they don't. They won't give you a direct dial number to your service representative. They won't pass you through to the team that deal with refund/replacement requests and that team seems to take 3-4 days to decide that despite the appaulling history or clearly recurring problems with this machine, they don't feel it deserves either a replacement or refund. Instead, they'll send someone out a week later with insufficient parts to make it worse!

    I don't think I need to explain the moral of the story here folks.
  • Robert 64 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Dam I just bought one of these and the screen shuts off whenever it wants. I bought on ebay as a new computer with a 3 month warranty. This computer had this problem from day one. I have been reading on the Solidworks forum than many others also have this problem. So far there is no solution. With one guy, Dell replaced everything in the laptop with no luck and eventually they replaced it with a M6600 machine. I think I am sunk because the fellow I bought it off seems reluctant to give my 2K back. Reply
  • pranza - Sunday, November 24, 2013 - link

    crt monitors are still superior and yes, projectors also often have dsub15 connector - that's why.
    it has digital display connector anyway...

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