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Dell Announces New Precision M4700 and M6700 Mobile Workstations

Today Dell is updating their Precision Mobile Workstation lineup with two new model, the 15.6” M4700 and the 17.3” M6700. Dell is keen to point out several “firsts” for the new models, including the first PCIe 3.0 enabled GPU in a mobile workstation, the first to offer DDR3-1866 memory, and the first to offer built-in NVIDIA 3D Vision Pro. We’ll get to the specifics in a moment, but these are Dell’s highest-end offerings for notebook users, with prices, build quality, and specs to match; if you’re not using professional applications (e.g. Dell has ISV certifications from companies like Autodesk, Adobe, Matrox, Sony, Siemens PLM Software, Dynamic Graphics, and many others), there’s a good chance you may not need this sort of notebook. Still interested? Here’s what Dell has on tap.

Dell Precision M4700 Specifications
Processor Intel 3rd Generation Core i5 and i7 Processors
Up to i7-3920XM (4 x 2.90-3.80GHz, 8MB L3, 22nm, 55W)
Chipset QM77
Memory 4 SO-DIMM Slots, Up to 32GB DDR3-1600 or 16GB DDR3-1866
Graphics Intel HD 4000 (with NVIDIA Optimus)
AMD FirePro M4000 Mobility Pro 1GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K1000M 2GB GDDR3
NVIDIA Quadro K2000M 2GB GDDR3
Display 15.6" Anti-Glare 16:9 768p (1366x768)
15.6" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
15.6" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p PremierColor IPS (1920x1080)
Storage Up to three storage devices (2.5” bay, mSATA, Optical Bay)
7200RPM HDD or 128GB to 512GB SSD
RAID 0/1/5 Available
Optical Drive DVDRW, Blu-ray Combo or Recorder, or HDD/SSD Caddy
Networking 802.11n WiFi (150Mb to 450Mb, single or dual-band)
Bluetooth 4.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Stereo Speakers
Dual Integrated Noise Canceling Microphones
Battery/Power 6-cell 65Wh
9-Cell 97Wh with ExpressCharge
9-Cell 87Wh with 3-Year Warranty
9-Cell 97Wh Battery Slice
Front Side N/A
Left Side Headphone and Microphone jacks
2 x USB 2.0
1 x 1394 (FireWire)
Kensington Lock
10-in-1 Flash Memory Reader
SmartCard Reader
54mm ExpressCard slot
Right Side 2 x USB 3.0
1 x DisplayPort
Wireless Switch
Back Side 1 x VGA
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x HDMI
AC Power Connection
Dimensions 14.80" x 10.08" x 1.29”-1.37" (WxDxH)
(376mm x 256mm x 32.7-34.9mm)
Weight Starting at 6.13 lbs (2.78kg)
Extras Optional HD Webcam
Full Size Keyboard with 10-key
Optional Backlit Keyboard
Multi-touch Trackpad and Track Stick
Price Starting at $1649

The smaller M4700 has options for everything we like to see from mobile workstations. You can get a basic model for $1649, but naturally once you start adding more memory, SSD storage, and an IPS display you can expect the price to jump substantially. The online configuration utilities aren’t live yet, but they should go up some time today. Most of the rest of the specs are straightforward so I won’t spend much time rehashing them. There are a few items worth mentioning, however.

First, I’d like to see Dell skip the 1366x768 display option entirely—does anyone buying a mobile workstation really want such a display? The ability to upgrade to a 1080p IPS display on the other hand is definitely appreciated; a 1920x1200 display would be even better, but sadly no one outside of Apple seems willing to push for 16:10 displays any longer. The PremierColor LCD also features RGBLED backlighting, providing 100% of the AdobeRGB color gamut.

The other area worth discussing is battery life options. Those who want better battery life have several options: larger main batteries, the battery slice, and NVIDIA Optimus graphics. I’m not sure how (if?) Optimus works with workstations running Linux, and it’s also not clear if you can order the M4700 with an NVIDIA GPU without Optimus. It would seem like that should be doable, considering the AMD FirePro M4000 appears to be discrete-only, but I asked for clarification on this and have not yet received an answer.

Incidentally, speaking of GPUs, AMD’s FirePro M4000 supports PCIe 3.0, which makes Dell the first notebook vendor to ship such a GPU. However, the other GPU options (from NVIDIA) are all PCIe 2.0 solutions. How much that will matter for GPGPU type tasks on mobile GPUs isn’t clear, but our understanding is the current mobile GPUs typically are not constrained by PCIe bandwidth. (Note that the fastest mobile GPUs are still less than half the computational power of desktop GPUs). Also worth noting is that NVIDIA leads in workstation GPU sales.

Dell Precision M6700 Specifications
Processor Intel 3rd Generation Core i5 and i7 Processors
Up to i7-3920XM (4 x 2.90-3.80GHz, 8MB L3, 22nm, 55W)
Chipset QM77
Memory 4 SO-DIMM Slots, Up to 32GB DDR3-1600 or 16GB DDR3-1866
Graphics Intel HD 4000 (with NVIDIA Optimus)
AMD FirePro M6000 Mobility Pro 2GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K3000M 2GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K4000M 4GB GDDR5
NVIDIA Quadro K5000M 4GB GDDR5
Display 17.3" Anti-Glare 16:9 HD+ (1600x900)
17.3" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
17.3" 1080p 3D Vision Pro (1920x1080)
17.3" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p PremierColor IPS (1920x1080)
Storage Up to four storage devices (2x 2.5” bay, mSATA, Optical Bay)
7200RPM HDD or 128GB to 512GB SSD
RAID 0/1/5 Available
Optical Drive DVDRW, Blu-ray Combo or Recorder, or HDD/SSD Caddy
Networking 802.11n WiFi (150Mb to 450Mb, single or dual-band)
Bluetooth 4.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Stereo Speakers
Dual Integrated Noise Canceling Microphones
Battery/Power 9-Cell 97Wh with ExpressCharge
9-Cell 87Wh with 3-Year Warranty
9-Cell 97Wh Battery Slice
Front Side N/A
Left Side Headphone and Microphone jacks
2 x USB 2.0
1 x 1394 (FireWire)
Kensington Lock
10-in-1 Flash Memory Reader
SmartCard Reader
54mm ExpressCard slot
Right Side 2 x USB 3.0
1 x DisplayPort
Wireless Switch
Back Side 1 x VGA
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x HDMI
AC Power Connection
Dimensions 16.41" x 10.65" x 1.3”-1.42" (WxDxH)
(416.7mm x 270.6mm x 33.1-36.1mm)
Weight Starting at 7.76 lbs (3.52kg)
Extras Optional HD Webcam
Full Size Keyboard with 10-key
Optional Backlit Keyboard
Multi-touch Trackpad and Track Stick
Price Starting at $2199

The configuration options on the larger M6700 are largely the same as the M4700, with one major exception being the graphics cards. The M6700 supports higher performance GPUs that should help with improving performance in demanding tasks. The K2000M in the M4700 is basically a fully equipped Kepler K107 with workstation drivers; the K3000M/K4000M/K5000M move up to variations of the Kepler K104, with 576/960/1344 cores, respectively. All of the K104-based GPUs also support 256-bit GDDR5 memory interfaces, whereas the K1000M/K2000M have to get by with 128-bit DDR3. What will be interesting is to see how K5000M compares to the Fermi-based 5010M in FP64 applications, as the earlier Kepler GPUs appear to have sacrificed some of the compute potential in order to improve other areas.

The other areas where the M6700 differs from the M4700 is in the display and battery options. The base display is a 1600x900 panel, with three different 1080p upgrades available. The same anti-glare 1080p and RGBLED IPS 1080p options are here again (albeit with larger panels), but Dell also adds a third 1080p display, this time with NVIDIA 3D Vision Pro support. Dell states that many Professional 3D applications (e.g. CAD/CAM/CAE, DCC, seismic visualization, and life sciences) now support stereoscopic displays, and for customers that want such features, the M6700 is available.

There’s a third workstation being announced, though it’s largely the same as the M6700. The M6700 Covet uses the same chassis but comes with a higher base spec and a Phoenix Red exterior finish. It also has edge to edge Corning Gorilla Glass 2, with a starting price of $3579. It’s not clear what components are used for the base model of the Covet, but expect at least a quad-core CPU, 1080p display, and probably an SSD as a reasonable starting point, given the pricing.

Source: Dell Press Release

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  • nevertell - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    At the tike, linux (rather Xorg) doesnt officially support gpu hotswitching, but there are workarounds to make this work. Nvidia itself has no immediate plans on supporting optimus offcially on linux, thats the reason Linus was so mean to them. Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Project Bumblebee is pretty much the main thing out there for Optimus on Linux though it still definitely falls short of the same Optimus features we enjoy. Hope the Linux Kernel Devs and Nvidia can work out their differences and get something working.

    On another note, though, Jarred mention that he was unsure if you can order one of the workstations without Optimus and from my understanding, that would actually just cost extra. Optimus seems to be implemented in the motherboard's BIOS with all Nvidia GPU cards having support baked in (so I should be able to go pick up any 460/560/660M MXM card and stick it on a motherboard that supports Optimus and have it work). I'm thinking that having a separate mobo just for excluding Optimus is silly and costly, so if one configuration supports it, I would think that they all support it. Possibly even still if you ordered it with the AMD card as well.
    Reply
  • Visual - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    This "workstation" branding is retarded. GPUs are named in a way that you can't know and relate their actual performance without extra research. The whole thing costs way more than if it used "normal" components, while not offering any real-world benefit, at all.
    Draining corporate finances and getting a commission out of it sounds like the only reason that anyone would pick this crap for.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Whoops, you're utterly wrong. Quadro and FirePro cards offer MASSIVE performance benefits, real world, in specific professional applications. They don't have better silicon, but BIOS lockouts and special drivers are what I assume create this effect.

    Also, they're pretty nice machines overall, and you can get a 1080p IPS screen - try finding any other machines around that have that..
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    On the nVidia side all but the lowest end quadros have FP64 = 1/2 FP32 instead of the heavily nerfed (in software) 1/8. They also have drivers/firmware optimized for accuracy of rendering instead of raw FPS. Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    A couple of years ago GeForce were trivial to flash to Quadro, though I admit I haven't read up on if nVidia has tightened things up since. Even if they have, that is no reason to give them money for nothing. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    For shame. That screen looks like it has a big border bottom and top... Reply
  • perspicacity - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    I would consider one of these... if they still had a 1920x1200 display. How can Dell seriously promote these as "workstations" for great graphics work, and then skimp on the display? Reply
  • magreen - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Agreed. I was looking at new business laptops but the screen was the most important thing for me. Much more important than performance. And nothing since i5/i7 came out has a 1200p screen anymore. The last 1200p 15" laptops were Core 2 Duo.

    So I went and bought a refurb with the fastest Penryn and a 1920x1200 display. Couldn't be happier.
    Reply
  • spguy - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    We purchased a few Dell M6500 notebooks in early 2011 - quad core Q740 i7, 1920x1200 17" screen, 16GB. Weighs a ton, but the extra resolution is worth it, especially when remoting into a virtual server and doing SharePoint dev work. Reply

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