Dell has an impressive pedigree when it comes to mobile workstations and its latest 15-inch offering picks up where the Precision M4700 left off.
The aluminium and magnesium alloy chassis feels solid and built to last; the keyboard, numeric keypad and trackpad are all excellent and there’s a reassuring click when closing the lid on the HD display. The days of Dell using a cheap consumer chassis for its mobile workstations are long gone.
Despite this feeling of quality, our test machine is not expensive. Even with its ‘budget’ £1,152 price tag you get a top notch Core i7-4800MQ CPU, ideal for 3D CAD.
The AMD FirePro M5100 is an excellent choice for mid-range CAD/BIM, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Nvidia Quadro K2100M. It also gives you more bang for your buck: an equivalent spec M4800 with an Nvidia GPU will set you back £1,189 but will only secure you a Quadro 1100M.
The remaining components are much more entry-level. 8GB (2 x 4GB) RAM and a 500GB hybrid drive hardly inspire, but with room for 32GB RAM (4 x 8GB) and three drives there are plenty of options.
Maxing out the storage means swapping the slot load DVD for a second 2.5” drive (HDD, SSD, or hybrid). The third drive is an mSATA SSD, available up to 512GB, a significantly larger capacity than HP and Lenovo offer in equivalent machines.
Providing you have the right combination of drives, you can boost drive performance or security by configuring with RAID 0 or 1 (two drives) or RAID 5 (three drives).
To keep costs down, there’s no optional fingerprint reader in our test machine, so security is left to the Smart Card Reader.
Dell has delivered another solid mobile workstation, priced extremely competitively. For mainstream 3D CAD our test M4800 may be unbalanced, but add an SSD and top up the RAM and you won’t be disappointed.