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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • StephaneP - Friday, December 14, 2012 - link

    I'm using a M6500 since 3 years.

    I like it but it could be really better with :

    - A better and larger touchpad
    - A better fan controller (I hate the on/off behaviour when an intermediate speed could be near silent)

    Even though I need the dock, the 2 hdd, the numpad, I don't need Firepro or Quadro. I would like a Mxxxx with a standard and much cheaper GPU option.
  • ijozic - Monday, December 17, 2012 - link

    On my M6400, there's an engineering menu accessed by holding Fn+Shift while typing 15324. Then by pressing the Fn+R you get into a temperature overview GUI screen where you can input the fan speed manually. Be careful not to run any demanding applications while the speed is manually set as the fans won't increase their speed automatically.
  • Pradip Gupta - Friday, December 14, 2012 - link

    But can it run Crysis?
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - link

    How can a battery ever be oversized? I could see that point being true when a battery offers more than 14 hours of productivity, because nearly no one is going to work more than that each day and when you are not working /are sleeping you can charge it. But other than that, it is pretty hard to imagine an oversized battery.
  • Nenad - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I have M6700, and it is great desktop replacement notebook, with few issues. Main issue I have is:

    1) when it fail to read fingerprint, it still show "logging in" message for 3-4sec, thus confusing you into thinking that scan was ok
    2) after that it show 'fail' message and asks you to PRESS OK button , thus requiring you to move hand from reader and move mouse or press key
    3) if it fail to read fingerprint few times, sometimes it move you to 'change user' instead of 'enter password' - so can easily enter your PASSWORD in PLAIN VIEW of anyone around
    4) it always show DELL picture during login, not your account picture like normal windows login

    This is part of Dell 'Data Protection', which is basically Embassy SW from Wave - and it has VERY BAD design (Since it is EMBASSY SW, it is EMBArraSSinglY bad ). On my previous notebook (Lenovo W700) , fingerprint reading was working as expected, which means it works so well that you dont notice it:
    - while it match fingerprints, if says 'processing' instead of Dell's 'logging in' (thus not misinforming you)
    - if it fail to match, it return you to same 'enter password or swipe finger' screen, thus not requiring you to press keys or mouse, just to swipe finger again
    - if it fail multiple times, it leave you at 'enter password' manually, and NOT at 'change user', meaning you can not accidentally reveal your password to others if you start typing it after fingerprint reading fails
    - it showed windows user icon instead of vendor one

    I wonder if it was so hard for Embassy and Dell, after years and years of selling SW for fingerprints, to actually make something that is at least similarly useful as competition solutions.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now