Review: Dell Precision Workstation M6400

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Review: Dell Precision Workstation M6400

If you don’t care about weight, this is what a laptop should be

From a distance, you could easily mistake the Dell Precision Workstation for a rack server or IP security device. Its chassis is surrounded by an attractive metal shell that lends an air of sobriety to this serious business laptop.

Underneath the hood lies tremendous power. The Quad Core Extreme X9100 processor is perfect for a machine that’s aimed at engineers, animators database-using professionals on-the-go. There’s no skimping elsewhere, either. 4GB of high-end 1067MHz DDR3 RAM and a Quadro FX2700M GPU helped the M6400 to a stunning 1.53 in our benchmarks – the highest we’ve seen from a laptop.

The 17in 1920 x 1200 Ultrasharp screen is beautifully bright and clear, with an anti-glare finish that helps keep everything visible in bright light. The comfortable-to-use keyboard includes a numberpad, and the trackpad is centred on the spacebar. Keyboard backlighting is a useful addition.

The M6400 comes with Windows Vista Business 32-bit supplied, but we think this is one machine where 64-bit is worth the investment. The dual 250GB hard drives are 7200 RPM, and come with a free fall sensor to protect against shocks and drops. The AC adapter on the Precision M6400 is clunky – it’s 210W and the size of a brick, with about as much heft to it.

For this level of workstation, you’d expect lots of connections and ports, and the M6400 doesn’t disappoint. It’s not without shortcomings, of course – this is not a laptop with portability or extra-long battery life in mind, although it managed a reasonable 1hour 12mins and 2hours 31mins in our heavy use and light use benchmarks respectively.

It’s also not ideal for gaming – the Quadro FX 2700M is the workstation version of the 9700M GTS, and while you can use GeForce drivers with the Quadro, you’ll see gaming performance drop as a result.

If you’re after a desktop replacement machine, you could certainly do worse than the Precision workstation, and we have no hesitation in recommending it for business users wanting a laptop with the lot.

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