A beautifully engineered mobile workstation ideal for mainstream CAD/BIM
Dell’s top-end mobile workstation has come a long way since its humble beginnings, when its body was borrowed from a Dell consumer laptop.
Now with a dedicated chassis, minimal in looks and solid in its construction, the Precision M6700 literally shouts quality. The keyboard is firm, the trackpad responsive and there is a reassuring solidity to the hinge that supports the 17-inch HD UltraSharp LED-backlit display.
Until recently, our test machine’s quad core 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-3920XM was the highest spec mobile chip on the market, but was recently trumped by the 3.0GHz 3940XM. The good news is Dell charges the same for both chips.
Graphics-wise, we are used to seeing Dell’s 17-inch mobile workstations partnered with an incredibly high-end Nvidia Quadro graphics card. For most users of CAD/BIM software, however, this is probably overkill, and our tests show that the 2GB AMD FirePro M6000 should offer more than enough performance for most 3D modelling workflows.
The best news is the FirePro M6000 will save you £1,734 over Nvidia’s high-end 4GB Quadro K5000M. It should also help extend battery life — though for intensive 3D CAD work the Precision M6700 should never be taken too far away from a mains socket.
For storage our single 512GB SATA drive does not really do the Precision M6700 justice. Rip out the optical drive and there is actually support for an incredible four devices: 3 x 2.5-inch SATAs or SSDs and a solid state Mini-Card.
The final word should go to memory. 8GB of very fast 1,866MHZ RAM is a good starting point for CAD or BIM, but with four DIMM slots the M6700 is actually capable of holding up to 32GB of 1600MHz RAM.
Fully loaded the M6700 can handle some sizeable 3D datasets and, despite being limited to four CPU cores, will give most desktop workstations a good run for their money when it comes to mainstream design and engineering workflows.