September 21, 2011
- Many configuration options available
- Lots of connectivity & ports
- Strong performance
- Dual-hard drive option & discrete graphics
- Bulky & heavy
- Some configurations are very pricey
The Dell Precision M4600 is a 15-inch laptop with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and Nvidia graphics with a dedicated 2GB of video memory. While it is touted as a mobile workstation, it is quite heavy and bulky, but it has many connections and a wide array of configurations to suit almost anyone.
The Dell Precision M4600 measures 14.8 x 10.1 x 1.4-inches (wdh) and weighs over 7-pounds, which is very heavy and thick for a laptop computer. It is made from an alloy of aluminum and magnesium, so it's definitely durable. The design of the M4600 is fairly bland and boxy, but it's not horrible.
Dell includes an antimicrobial keyboard and number pad that includes keys that are adequately sized and provided a comfortable typing experience. We appreciated the fact that they keyboard is backlit, so those late nights of working on those reports due the next day will be easy on the eyes. There is a multitouch touch pad as well, but it's only average in size and left us wanting more room for those multitouch gestures. There is also an eraser-style mouse nub on the keyboard too for users that like that.
There are many options available for the 15.6-inch display, one of which is a capacitive multitouch display with stylus support. Our unit had an LED-backlit display with a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels. There is also an option for a full 1080p HD display with a PremierColor display for even better quality. We found our display to be quite nice and offered a good amount of backlighting. The anti-glare coating also helped to cut down on ambient room light glare.
The Dell Precision M4600 offers a mighty nice port selection that we wished accompanied all laptops. On this model you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, mini FireWire, HDMI-out, VGA-out, DisplayPort, an SD card reader, an ExpressCard54 slot, a SmartCard slot, gigabit Ethernet and a slot-loading DVD burner (a Blu-ray option is available for $400 extra). We really loved to see this huge range of ports available because Dell has you covered here for just about everything, especially the latest USB 3.0.
Dell's internal specifications of the M4600 varies very widely, but we will let you know what our model had and most of what is available. Our laptop's CPU was an Intel Core i5-2520M dual-core processor (2.5GHz) with TurboBoost, but you can upgrade to the highest available Intel Core i7-2920XM Extreme Quad Core for an extra $1090 and everything in-between too. Memory ranges from 32GB to 4GB, but the standard is 8GB, which is plenty for almost all users. Hard drive options include both a 500GB 7200RPM drive and a solid state drive of up to 512GB as a secondary drive. Graphics processors range from AMD M5950 Mobility Pro Graphics (1GB dedicated memory) to Nvidia Quadro 2000M with 2GB of dedicated video memory. If you wish to do any 3D gaming, make sure to get the latter. Wireless options include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi & WiMAX mobile broadband and Bluetooth too.
Performance with the Dell Precision M4600 was very impressive, but still not the top of the line (but not too far off). It well-outdid what we'd call the category average for most 15-inch laptops, mostly thanks to the speedier CPU option as well as the discrete, non-integrated graphics. You'll find no problems with multitasking and doing CPU-intensive tasks with this computer, which makes it a definite contender for users who want impressive performance and customizability, but also have the money to pay for it.
Battery life with the Precision M4600 with an expanded 9-cell battery was just short of 4 hours, which was as expected considering the internal power it has.