Dell Precision Mobile Workstations: Now with Larger and Faster SSDsby Jarred Walton on September 8, 2011 12:10 PM EST
I recently received an email from a reader asking for advice on the "best" laptop Dell has to offer. The reader's work is footing the bill, but with the requirement that it had to be a Dell laptop. He wanted to get the best Dell had to offer, which immediately brought the Precision line into play. Without knowing the exact intended use, however, it's difficult to say whether the money and performance would be justified. For those of you running CAD/CAM, 3D rendering, or doing heavy video editing on the other hand, such a purchase could certainly pay dividends, as Dustin recently showed in our HP EliteBook 8670w review.
Once you've got the fastest mobile CPU and GPU in your laptop, the next performance upgrade should be clear: you add an SSD or two. Dell has now updated their M4600 and M6600 that launched in May with the option to add up to two 512GB SATA 6Gbps SSDs, plus a 128GB mini-PCIe SSD if you need even more storage. Dell informs us they are using the Micron C400 family of SSDs, which we looked at in March, and recently we looked at the M4/C400 again with the latest firmware.
Dell specifically cites working with video content in their Enterprise IT blog as a major advantage of a fast storage subsystem, and we can attest to the benefit of fast SSDs for such tasks. Another benefit Dell touts is the durability aspect of SSDs—no moving parts makes them far more shock resistant than even the best HDDs.
Of course, 512GB SSDs don't come cheap, and Dell is charging $1120 to upgrade the M4600/6600 from the base 250GB HDD to the 512GB SSD; adding a second/third 512GB SSD will tack on a cool $1350 (making the first SSD a substantially better value, unless you think a 250GB HDD is worth anywhere near $230). By comparison, you can grab Crucial's M4 512GB for $770 if you'd rather do the upgrade yourself. RAID 0/1 support is also available on the M4600, and the M6600 includes an option for a third drive and RAID 5 (but only with the 128GB mini-PCIe SSD).
As a final note, Dell has also updated the graphics offerings on the M6600 to include the NVIDIA Quadro 5010M with 4GB GDDR5. That brings the Precision M6600 up to parity with the HP EliteBook 8670w, though there are still differences. If it wasn't immediately clear, the Precision line is for serious work and professional use, and the $1640 upgrade from the AMD FirePro M8900 to the Quadro 5010M is yet another indication of the target market. Max out the hardware configuration on the M6600 with three SSDs, the i7-2920XM, 16GB DDR3-1600, and a Quadro 5010M and you're staring at a fat $10G. That might seem crazy, until you consider the software packages these things are designed and certified to run can cost easily twice as much as the hardware.
Update: We incorrectly assumed Dell was using the Samsung P830. Dell has informed us they are using Micron C400 SSDs, and we have edited the above text as appropriate.
Source: Dell PR