Friday, October 14, 2011

Dell Precision M4600

Precision tool. The current 15 "workstation has been reworked from the ground up, offering an entirely new case with review of the components. What Dell has done to bring performance, ergonomics and mobility in a harmony been tested by us.

Workstations are available on many mobile phone users in an elite class of notebook, because it allows a high performance and good features, as well as meet the other aspects, such as upgradeability, reliability and compatibility, to some extent.

Non-availability of spare parts, software compatibility guarantee, generous warranty periods, and also provide support services for manufacturers, even though it was a nice bonus, though. It 'a surprise then that the basic version of the already paid over $ 1,000 after taxes.

Only the settings on Dell's online store is already surprisingly elaborate and cover a wide range of individual needs. Six different dual-core and quad-core, four screens, and three graphics cards are available for selection. Configuration with a bit set for the Euro 2000 marks can be reached quickly, especially because it offers even smaller, like a webcam and a backlit keyboard requires an additional expense.

The models more affordable and better equipped, are partially pre-configured and are available in various online retailers. Our model is considered a high-performance configurations, and features an Intel Core i7-2920XM CPU, Nvidia Quadro 2000M, 256 GB SSD, Blu-ray, full HD, and more are going to develop in this review. However, the price is more than $ 3,000 after taxes, and underlines the premium applications associated with it.

Specifications Dell Precision M4600 :
  • Processor : Intel Core i7 2920XM 2.5 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel QM67
  • Memory : 8192 MB, 2x 4 GB PC3-12800, 2 slots free, max. 32 GB
  • Graphics adapter : NVIDIA Quadro 2000M - 2048 MB, Core: 550 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, Optimus/ Intel HD Graphics 3000, nvlddmkm8.17.12.6883(Forceware268.83)/Win7 64
  • Display : 15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, LGD02D9, MC6JN_156WF1, 94% sRGB, 141 dpi, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : LiteONIT LAT256M2s, 256GB
  • Soundcard : HD Audio
  • Connections : 1 Express Card 54mm, 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: Headphones, microphone, Card Reader: SD, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader
  • Networking : Intel 82579LM Gigabit Network Connection (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN (agn), Version unbek. Bluetooth, Dell 5550 HSPA+
  • Optical drive : Matshita BD-RE UJ242
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 37 x 376 x 256
  • Weight : 3.16 kg Power Supply: 0.85 kg
  • Battery : 97 Wh Lithium-Ion, 11.1V
  • Price : 3800 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 2.1 MP, Cyberlink Power DVD, Roxio Creator Starter, 36 Months Warranty, Bios A05
The case, as already mentioned, has been completely redesigned and has nothing in common with its predecessor, Precision M4500, except for very many features. What emerges is exterior metal with a color palette of dark brown unusual. The materials adopted to make an impression totally robust and high quality, even if work surfaces are made of plastic.

There are no gaps in this area, however. The palm rest area is fixed, the gaps are even and the surface is comfortable. The same applies to a similar measure for the screenshots that can be bent a little with some force, but also a very strong impression. On the back cover can be a little bumpy, but the changes on the screen is not generated as a result. Display hinges are stiffer than normal and can be operated in either direction with one hand.

The built-in battery in the front also helps in this case because it provides a necessary counterbalance to the palm rest area. However, the battery is also responsible for the first real point of criticism, because the relatively flexible seating in the case, and also contains one of the four feet. If you remove the battery from the box is more stable and sinks to the right before.

Otherwise, the base unit is very strong due to the omission of any signs of maintenance. This has the disadvantage, however, that while the motherboard or the keyboard needs to get the elements of change or upgrade. To reach the mass storage and seven screws must be removed. No tree rapid exchange of transaction records. We also found the power cord is stiff in the practice again, because it always requires a certain gap in the back of the laptop.

The measured weight of our review unit is about 3.2 kg, which is relatively heavy for a 15 "laptop. Other than the dimensions of 376 (W) x 256 (D) x 36.5 (H) mm is also higher than the usual few millimeters. The overall impression is created by the omission large curved surfaces of the case, at least give an impression on many slim optical competing models.

Building on the good cases, Dell has created another high point when comes to connectivity. In this case, almost everything that may be required, are available: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, eSATA and FireWire (IEEE 1394, 4 poles, with no power) covers the spectrum of usual PC completely.

One FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt could be added for the sake of completeness, both of which are so meaningless for Windows laptops themselves, and therefore not available from competitors either. For additional interfaces or devices, there is also an ExpressCard/54 slot available, which is primarily useful for extensions that are not always necessary.

Also on board three options for connecting external monitors: an analog VGA connector, which is mainly on older monitors, and digital two alternatives in the form of HDMI and DisplayPort.

Otherwise, it is also a smart card reader, SD card reader, a 2.1 MP webcam, Gigabit LAN, and of course a power Kensington lock. Our Matshita scanner and can read and write disk formats, as well as custom Blu-ray. We also like the separate supply of the audio ports, so using headphones with mini jacks as possible, among other things.

The distribution of the interfaces have been completely successful. Interfaces on the back can be a bit difficult, but at least the cables are not in the way and provide a tidy desk. The same applies to ports on the sides, which is located to the rear.

Our unit has revised integrated Bluetooth and WLAN 802.11n. We were unable to determine the version of Bluetooth, this is probably Bluetooth 3.0 itself. Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 WLAN module has three antennas is capable of operating in the bands 2.4 and 5 GHz, and can theoretically transfer up to 450 Mbit / s. In addition to this module is able to run longer distances, more reliably.

In any case, a 3G modem is available separately (Dell Wireless 5550, approx. 170 euros) and is included in the audited entity. If this option is selected the user will have to give up an SSD MSAT even when there is only one connector size available. The webcam is required for Skype & Co has a resolution of 2.1 MP and are not included in the basic configuration and a cost of about 20 euros more.

As usual for business jets, all security features such as a smart card reader, Trusted Platform Module, fingerprint reader and password options available. Dell also offers a different backup, data shredder and restore services for an additional price.

The scope of delivery are easily controlled, in light of the high purchase price. This includes the usual tools and software Cyberlink Blu-ray, and Roxio Creator for the optical drive. MS Office pre-intalled only as a version from a limited functionality.

And options are simple docking solution (452-10768, approx. € 130) and Advanced Port Replicator (452-10761, approx. 150 euros). Although the construction of these is more or less the same, two models are distinguished primarily by their interfaces. Model "Large" offers a 2x DVI, and DisplayPort, 2x, both have an eSATA port, and do not offer a USB 3.0.

As standard, there is a guarantee of 36 months, which can improve / expand to other options, and can be tailored to individual needs with relative flexibility.

Input Devices
The test model is equipped with an English keyboard (QWERTY), but is also consistent with the usual features. The inscriptions on the keys have a good contrast, and special functions can be found intuitively. With the backlit keyboard that can be adjusted into five different levels, depending on personal taste, it is also possible to write without difficulty in the darkness of the ambient lighting conditions.

Terminal is a key stop, good and quiet with an average of key travel and keys have a good pressure point and with the usual standard size. Finally, Dell has used the width of the case, and an integrated numeric keypad in accuracy. This makes the input lines to draw the numbers much easier, and provides a welcome addition to the functionality.

With the exception of the third left, while the keyboard is firm and not yield. In the above, it is possible to make a visible dent with a little pressure. During the test, this does not lead to many limitations, which explains why most frequent typists also gets along with the entry of accuracy.

Touchpad / Pointer
The touchpad is of average size, offers a slick feature pleasant, and well separated from the palm rest area. It supports the usual gestures, and can be configured individually. Those who do not need a touch screen can also turn off is complete.

Alternative to the touchpad has mouse controls the cursor to the pin, which offers precise control. In this case, you can also define the settings to meet your personal preferences.

Dell offers four different display options for the Precision M4600. One is a conventional XGA monitor, including a multi-touch capable screen WXGA display, a full HD and a Full HD screen with an IPS panel and LED RGB. Our unit has revised the "normal" full HD, for example, we have already met the Latitude e6520.

1920x1080 pixels with a diagonal of 15.6 "expect a lot of desk space and are sufficient to keep the program open multiple windows simultaneously without overlapping. It is very convenient and saves some of the links on the bar of tools.

Those who find the pixel density of 141 dpi is too thin can adjust the resolution of their preferences, which makes potential stress on the eyes. People generally want to reduce the resolution, will be a little disappointed. Resolutions Below are possible Full HD 1280x1024 pixels and lower, and those in between, such as 1600x900 or 1366x768 are not supported by the screen.

Already startup screen for the first time the quality of experience: Since the difference between the brightness and contrast compared to standard display is clearly visible. The highest brightness setting of the values ​​we measured between 300 cd / m² and 410 cd / m² nine points.

This is more than enough brightness to work comfortably at home. Thank you, without the surface of the display, users can also choose the brightness setting ergonomic, it is generally perceived as pleasant between 140 and 160 cd / m², is cause for concern. 5 are related to the brightness of 150 cd / m² brightness when the measured value of 7 has 200 cd / m².

What is not as good is the lighting of the screen. The result is 73% below average, and prevents a better overall score display. At its peak, the difference up to 100 cd / m², which can become visible on a light background. As can be seen from the measured values, the highlights in the center of tapers significantly toward the edges.

During normal use multimedia and office, it is certainly not a problem, but when they perform difficult tasks such as image editing these differences must be considered. Graphic designers and photographers should consider IPS Full HD RGB screen instead, which should at least give a better viewing angle stability and expanded color space.

For outdoor use there is, thankfully, not by limitations in high brightness level. Even the reduced maximum brightness of 357 cd / m² in active use battery powered displays most of the competitors at the moment. Suffice it to direct sunlight can cause some problems for the visibility of the displayed images.

A contrast ratio of 602:1 can be classified as high. The colors appear more saturated and black and white, are much less compared to the normal gray.

The total number of all colors is representable 783,626 and covers about 94% of the sRGB color space. Compared to the screens most commonly adopted, covering between 50% and 60% of the sRGB color space, which is a significant difference. For many tasks, this is sufficient, but for image editing, however, this may not be enough.

The viewing angle stability is better than usual and provides wide viewing angles. Only when looking at the screen from extreme angles in the vertical plane of the image starts to reverse or Sun Images shown may still be recognizable, but the colors, contrast and brightness are highly eroded.

Our configuration of the Dell Precision M4600 certainly has high-performance components. Intel Core i7 quad-core-2920XM is now moving faster processors third (see our full list of CPU benchmark), and the Nvidia Quadro 2000M chips is one of the most powerful professional graphics, which is optimized for use with CAD software. Therefore, no need for concern when it comes to worrying about the lack of performance of this workstation.

What is also notable are the chances of RAM: A total of four-socket quad-core variants can address up to 32 GB of DDR3 RAM. Models with dual-core processor, however, had to do with the 16 GB model discussed in our two bases on the motherboard is equipped with two 4 GB modules and slots, both the keyboard were empty. Therefore, it is more than enough for the upgrade potential.

Since the graphics performance while not always necessary, the system can use Intel Graphics HD 3000 graphics core integrated into the processor during periods of low load graphics instead of the Quadro GPU, thanks to technology Nvidia Optimus. The best graphics processor for the particular task can be selected automatically or manually. Optimus can be disabled in the BIOS, then Nvidia has available. We only tried the card and did not conduct performance tests.

CPU benchmark results show the expected very good scores. Cinebench R10 rendering multi-CPU, for example, the results of 20 651 points, and wPrime-1024m calculation is terminated after 274 seconds. This shows that all the above applications multi-core performance to enjoy the i7-2920XM high CPU. Since the difference compared to the Intel Core i7 CPU much more affordable 2820QM (Thinkpad W520) is relatively low, performance enthusiasts will probably choose the flavor of our revised model.

For processing images shown Dell offers a choice of three dedicated graphics chips: ATI FirePro M5950, Nvidia Quadro 1000M and 2000M NVIDIA Quadro. The latter is included in a revised model, and represents the most expensive and therefore the most powerful variant. ATI's solution is not compatible with RGB Full HD IPS itself.

GPU benchmark results are compelling, and are among the more or less an AMD Radeon HD 5850 and Nvidia GTX 460M. 6659 points with 3DMark Vantage, 3D Mark 1421 points, with 11 points and Cinebench R11 38.44 capabilities OpenGL Shading speak for its good performance.

Yield will vary slightly depending on whether the laptop is used with the power and the battery connected, or connected to power without the battery installed. A few points about here and there are also marked successive iterations the following reference in the same conditions.

Clearly perceptible decrease in performance when the battery becomes evident when it comes to graphics performance though. Under these conditions, the clock speed of the GPU reduced to a mere 202 MHz, and offers performance up to 70% less graphics-intensive applications.

The parameter "prefer to obtain maximum performance on NVIDIA graphics driver does not improve either. When it comes to CPU performance were not able to detect a similar behavior. In addition there was no limitation of the CPU during the test. The adapter AC is rated adequate ventilation and avoid potential problems of heat.

Video Conversion
Thanks to the Intel graphics chip Dell Precision M4600 offers a wide range allowed for conversion possibilities. The conversion to pure CPU, Intel Core i7-2920XM processor can provide a relatively large amount of processing power, but almost all use the system (CPU load of 89%).

Perform other tasks at the same time is possible only within certain limits. The system load is much less required by the Intel Quick Sync or Nvidia CUDA processors. Many current programs and are compatible with one of these conversion options of the GPU, and reduce the processing load significantly with a simultaneous high (11-29%).

We tried the espresso CyberLink Media. This program supports three types of conversion, which allows comparisons. We have made a video to m4v format (698x322) MP4 format compatible with iPhone 4 (640x360). Quick Sync minimum time required for this task (219 s) in the meantime, use the same CPU load low (approx. 11%).

CAD performance
CAD skills were tested by us using the benchmark SPECviewperf 11 different sequences with the CAD programs are the most commonly implemented. In this case, the combination of Quadro 2000M and Intel Core i7-2920XM is able to achieve very good results. The frame rate is almost the same level with them about the Lenovo ThinkPad W520 (Quadro 2000M, Core i7-2820QM) and thus provide a good performance in CAD.

Specific performance factors, such as AutoCAD and 3ds Max for example, is not available for Nvidia Quadro 2000M currently. More power is supplied only by the 17 large "jobs even more powerful graphics chip (Quadro 3000M, Quadro 4000M, GeForce 5010M) can be used.

Traditional hard drives are available with capacities up to 750GB, and the Solid State Drive, which has a capacity of up to 256 GB. Available in traditional rigid axle and socket MSAT. The second shot is given an option, even if one is a mass storage unit SSD MSAT in this scenario. Another axis normal hard drive is not available. Traditional hard drives can be combined with the SSD and the RAID is the only possible MSAT SSD + SSD.

Our review system includes a capacity of 256 GB SATA Solid State Drive III made by LiteOn. This provides a maximum transfer rate of up to 340 MB / s, and a good 240 MB / s on average, according to HD Tune. The access time of 0.3 ms determined is relatively long and SSD standards.

In exchange, about 400 MB / s are reached during the sequential read and write 300 MB / s. The subjective impression that the mass storage device is very fast, and the noise generated during periods of very little use is visible in the background. The additional cost on the Dell configuration € 500 seems a bit high, but since the SSD is now available as well for about 300 euros.

Verdict of the game
The performance is the playing area can also be classified as a good card Nvidia Quadro professional graphics offers the 2000m. Challenging games may not always be available to play at full resolution and / or better quality, but this is still likely to be sufficient for a quick relaxing between game. After the workstation is intended to be used in the work. Compatibility issues, which could be a potential problem because of a special driver framework does not arise during the test.


System noise
In particular, one thing that supports the Dell Precision Workstation is extremely discreet and the sound system. Despite the high performance components and system noise is very low in many application scenarios.

Ventilation and cooling system was clearly a success, with Nvidia Optimus uses an Intel integrated graphics possible, and nearly silent solid state drive provides the famous crackling hard drive. L ', the office Internet, many image processing operations, and the average precision of the films to exploit the system, and then cooling it down to almost silent operation is possible. A simple electronic chirping noise from the Solid State Drive is therefore still audible in a quiet environment.

Under a load average system noise reached a moderate 36.6 dB (A) and under full load for a long time an annoying 48.2 dB (A). What we particularly like is that the cooling operation is immediately reduced after the completion of the period of use, and then quickly disappear again. Unpleasant noise cooling system or a frantic back and forth in the levels of noise the cooling system are not a problem with the Precision M4600.

The maximum temperature of 49.7 ° C on the motherboard sheath workplace after an hour of full charge can be a little hot, but it will not be of concern at a desk. Depending on the needs that can be used Dell preconfigured power schemes, which provide a particularly cold performance (reducing the clock speed up to 1.8 GHz) or Ultra (maximum cooling).

As mentioned above under performance, there is no thermal limitation at any point detected by us. When performing tasks with a single charge, with a maximum temperature of 33.8 ° C are significantly lower, and you can even use the laptop on your lap.

Two speakers above the keyboard provide a pleasant enough voice, which also includes a mid-range and low frequencies. Overall, this provides more opportunities to improve the sound quality of the manual inflated reducing the high frequencies. The volume can be adjusted with precision, and also a good distortion maximum 81 dB (A). The quality may not be as good as external speakers or headphones, but it is still more than acceptable for this class of devices.

Battery Life
Dell offers three batteries usually different for the Precision M4600. The online store currently only allows the workstation to be equipped with small if the battery 60 Wh. We examined the device used battery 97 White (143 euros, 451 to 11,742), and another battery 87 White (132 euros, from 451 to 11 744) is only available as an accessory or other online retailers preconfigured templates.

The measured power consumption with power connected to vary from a minimum of 12.3 watts to 104 watts with an average load, up to 156.7 watts at full load. This power can be provided by the AC adapter 180 Watt at any time. Bottlenecks due to the low nominal AC adapter, such as the ThinkPad X220 from Lenovo and Apple MacBook Pro was not detected by us.

Battery life is fortunately very well when using a moderate during the execution of tasks with a low load, with very high capacity battery. In Battery Eater Reader's test (minimum brightness of the screen, the battery life up to Dell, all wireless modules disabled), we achieved a maximum range of 646 minutes.

With a brightness adjusted (Level 7, 200 cd / m²), enabled wireless modules, and using the power-saving plan, we were able to surf the net for about 418 minutes and the film lasted a little more than 5 hours at full brightness. Under the Battery Eater Classic Test (maximum performance, everything changed, the maximum brightness), the battery lasted 73 minutes, reducing the clock speed of the GPU when the battery power also played a role in making life the battery is relatively good.

The "small" workstation from Dell is impressive in every respect.

The sound system is not only very low for a professional camera of this type, but also ensures that the precision M4600 is generally one of the laptops particularly quiet in spite of high performance components. This is possible thanks to Nvidia Optimus, an efficient cooling system, and almost completely silent SSD.

The fact that this success does not come at the expense of the heat generated or performance is another aspect that speaks for the quality of Dell Precision. The test results are very high, and also remain stable under constant load. While CPU performance is an impact on all areas, the professional NVIDIA Quadro graphics chip show its strength with CAD programs. Small drawback: If the battery operation is the graphics performance is reduced.

The display provides many positive attributes and is among the above-average versions that are currently available for laptops. Very bright, with good contrast and a matte screen surface - all functions that are tainted by the uneven illumination of the screen, which can be noticeable depending on the application domain.

Reduced restrictions, such as cumbersome internal components, or axis missing module, can be ignored in light of a series of exemplary interfaces and to configure.

The only real negative downside to our revised configuration is the price much higher class of about 3800 euros. With a few omissions and a well chosen configuration can also enjoy the many benefits of an Assembly more affordable and to create an entry in a world of high performance workstations.

A good option for Dell's online store is in turn give the usual laptop retailers, which are attractive affordable models were tested.

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