InfoWorld review: The Dell Precision M6500 is a true workstation in a notebook

Only high-end workstations deliver more client side firepower than the M6500, but they certainly don’t come in such an attractive package

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Arithmetic computation on the x920 processor is slower than on the reviewed desktop workstations, primarily due to its slower clock speed (2GHz vs. 2.93GHz). The multimedia benchmark has no counterpart in our earlier tests, so is presented for information purposes and for future comparisons. Memory latency is comparable to the desktop systems, but bandwidth is significantly faster on the M6500 due to the higher clock speed of the RAM. In these benchmarks, only the M6500's disk speed is significantly slower than desktop workstations; for most uses, this is an expected and accepted limitation.

Mobile workstation vs. desktop workstation

Dell Precision M6500Dell Precision T3500
SPEC Viewperf 1046.53 85.30
Cinebench / Speedup2.94 n/a
Cinebench / Multiple CPU11781 n/a
Sandra XII ALU48.8K MIPS 77.7K MIPS
Sandra XII Multimedia89.14 Mpixel/s n/a
Sandra XII Memory Latency82 ns 83 ns
Sandra XII Memory Bandwidth16.58 GB/s 14.0 GB/s
Sandra XII HDD Bandwidth57.33 MB/s 160.0 MB/s
Sandra XII HDD Random Access20.68 ms 7 ms
Dell Precision M6500Dell Precision T3500
Platforms32-bit or 64-bit Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 5.3 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 5.3
CostStarts at $2,750; $5,172 as configured with 2GHz Intel Core i7 x920 CPU, 4GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro FX 3800M, and 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate Starts at $1,049; $3,168 as configured with 2.93GHz Intel Xeon W3540 CPU, 4GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro FX 4800M, and 32-bit Windows XP SP (see review)

With the fastest mobile x86 processor and the fastest mobile graphics card on the market, there is no doubt that the M6500 deserves a top mark of 10 for performance on our report card -- there is no faster notebook available today. The report card entries reflect our discussion here, but they cannot account for our concern that the size and weight will be too much for some users. Likewise, the price ($5,172, as configured) will suggest that prospective purchasers be certain they need the mighty firepower of this system. Those who can settle for less robust features can configure the system on Dell's Web site and end up with a lower price. However, the starting price is still a healthy $2,750.

Lapping the desktop

There is no doubt that the M6500 represents the crème de la crème of laptops today. Engineers and power users who can abide the weight and the cost will find a blazingly fast laptop with superior screen and graphics, a full-size keyboard, and plenty of storage and RAM headroom. This machine's performance is nearly the equivalent of the midrange desktop workstations we examined earlier this year. In other words, it's more than a portable desktop -- it's a beast that most desktops will envy. With the M6500, you can have it all and take it with you when you go.

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