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Dell Precision M6700 review

Verdict

An impressive 17in workstation with few weaknesses, which justifies its high price thanks to excellence throughout

Review Date: 26 Jul 2012

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £1,449 (£1,739 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

It’s been a couple of years since it refreshed its high-end Precision workstations, but Dell clearly knows the formula works. On the outside, little has changed between the 2010 vintage and 2012’s M6700.

There’s nothing wrong with the chassis Dell designed back in 2010. Our sample is a pre-production model, but build quality is excellent: there’s barely any give in the wristrest, the base feels rock-solid, and the slight give in the lid doesn’t translate to any distortion in the display. The M6700’s 17in screen, 3.7kg weight and 1kg charger mean it isn’t likely to be lugged around very much.

Dell Precision M6700

The chassis also has plenty of touches that will prove their worth in the office. The touchpad is bolstered by a ThinkPad-style trackpoint nib set into the centre of the keyboard, and there’s a fingerprint reader on the right-hand side of the wristrest. The trackpad, trackpoint and buttons are responsive, and the keyboard combines a solid base with a comfortable key action that’s a dream to type on – it’s soft, but very positive and with plenty of travel.

Port selection is generous, with two USB 3 sockets, FireWire, an SD card reader, ExpressCard slot and battery status lights on the left-hand side, two more USB 3 ports and a DisplayPort output on the right, and HDMI, D-SUB, Gigabit Ethernet and eSATA on the rear.

The M6700 is also one of the most upgradeable laptops we’ve seen. The base comes off with two screws, and once inside, repairs, replacements and additions are easily made. The cooling fans can be popped out in seconds, both SO-DIMMs are easily accessible (one was free on our review model), there’s a free 2.5in hard disk cage, and there are spare mini-PCI Express and mSATA slots as well. The machine’s primary hard disk is easily accessible, too: a button underneath the battery pops it out of its own bay on the side of the machine.

Dell Precision M6700

The matte finish on the 17in, 1,920 x 1,080 screen helps under office lights, and it performed well in our tests, with brightness and contrast ratio results of 252cd/m2 and 523:1 alongside an average Delta E of 5.5. It isn’t the best screen we’ve seen on a business machine, though: the Sony VAIO Z Series registered a top brightness of 353cd/m2, a contrast ratio of 860:1 and a Delta E of 4.3 (a lower score in this test indicates more accurate colours).

Dell has sent us one of its cheapest M6700 models, and that shows in performance testing. Its Core i5-3320M is a mid-range Ivy Bridge processor that runs at 2.6GHz and Turbo Boosts to a maximum of 3.3GHz, and it delivered a score of 0.68 in our tests. That’s significantly slower than the Sony VAIO Z Series, which scored 0.74 with a Sandy Bridge Core i5, but with our pre-production unit sporting an early release BIOS and drivers we expect retail models will squeeze more performance from the Ivy Bridge CPUs.

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User comments

Typo

"The cooling fans can be popped out in seconds, both SO-DIMMs are easily accessible (one was free on our review model)"

I'm sure you mean the memory slots...

By mossmotorsport on 30 Jul 2012

Screen

My 4 year old D830 has 1920 x 1200. Surely a top-of-the-range laptop these days, even if it doesn't have a whiff of fruit, should have at least that if not more.

By 959ARN on 30 Jul 2012

Trackpad

Why is the trackpad so tiny? Dell should make all their employees use a Macbook for a month, they might learn a few things. :)

By ChrisH on 30 Jul 2012

EPEAT

If a certain fruity laptop that's thoroughly glued together and totally un-upgradeable is warranted EPEAT gold (according to its makers), I wonder what classification this will get.

@ChrisH
No, let's hope that Dell keep their employees far, far away from Macbooks. Some of us still value the qualities of robustness, reliability and upgradeability found in a proper workstation.

By TheHonestTruth on 31 Jul 2012

Nice - Now how about the desktop?

Good to read this review of a heavyweight laptop. Now, how about a round-up of desktop professional machines (includng the Dell Precision desktop and equivalents from other manufacturers). Why is it the only high end desktops you review have names like Thunderblastgargle and are reviewed entirely on their capacity for games?
Please, please, please a review of high end desktops for people who use their machines for WORK - such as CAD, DTP, video editing design etc... I sometimes wonder what the Pro in PC-Pro stands for.

By PeterMcIntyre1 on 2 Aug 2012

Bring Back 16:10 display to make it perfect

I have a M6400 with 16:10 diplay. Never understood why, except for economic reasons, why Dell switched to 16:9 factor on the Precision--aimed at business users. If one wants the ultimate in mobile computing, and opts for a Precision Workstation, one would prefer a 16:10 versus a 16:9 form factor. Bring that back, and for the Covet model, revert to the Orange color, and it would be perfect.

By Backbutton on 17 Nov 2012

Bring Back 16:10 display to make it perfect

I have a M6400 with 16:10 diplay. Never understood why, except for economic reasons, why Dell switched to 16:9 factor on the Precision--aimed at business users. If one wants the ultimate in mobile computing, and opts for a Precision Workstation, one would prefer a 16:10 versus a 16:9 form factor. Bring that back, and for the Covet model, revert to the Orange color, and it would be perfect.

By Backbutton on 17 Nov 2012

Bring Back 16:10 Display

I have a M6400 Covet. The 16:10 Display and 1920 x 1200 resolution is perfect, and so is the Orange color. Bring those back. Why the change, doesn't make sense. Otherwise an excellent machine.

By Backbutton on 17 Nov 2012

The Orange on the Covet was Cool, Red is girly

The Orange color on prior Covets was cool color. Now they have red, which is not suitable for such a beast. Why the change in color of the Covet? I love the orange color and so many other people who have seen it praised the color. So much better than the red.

By Backbutton on 17 Nov 2012

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