M6600 Owner's Review - Warning - Large pics - Personal Opinions

Discussion in 'Dell Latitude, Vostro, and Precision' started by Bokeh, Jul 26, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    1,325
    Messages:
    1,791
    Likes Received:
    259
    Trophy Points:
    101

    Intro to the M6600


    The Dell M6600 is a 17” mobile workstation designed for people that need uncompromised performance working from multiple locations. The machine offers (or soon will offer) the fastest processors and video cards available for mobile devices. Once the IPS panel is released, it will likely offer the best mobile color rendition available on any laptop. The machine comes with a wide variety of ISV certifications to help ensure out of the box compatibility with professional software packages. In short, the M6600 is more than a desktop replacement, it is a true desktop workstation replacement.



    Physical Design

    The M6600 is a 17” 3 spindle laptop computer that helps define the mobile workstation category. The design priorities emphasize performance and flexibility in suiting the needs of a wide range of high end technologies and software.

    The case has a very clean, understated, and professional look and feel. This is a machine that would not look out of place in any business situation. It would also be ideal for those that need to present work to clients on a large screen while avoiding misconceptions that could be caused by 17” gaming machines.

    The M6600 has a starting weight of 7.77 pounds / 3.5kg. Width is 16.41”, Depth is 10.65”, and Height is 1.3” on the standard display panels and 1.46” on the touchscreen panel.

    Most major ports including USB 3, IEEE 1394 6 pin Firewire, eSata, VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI, separate Headphone and Mic, a 10 in 1 card reader, ExpressCard, SmartCard, and an RJ-45 network port are included on the machine.


    Overall layout of the notebook. Note that the keyboard backlighting can still be seen in indirect sunlight at its brightest setting.
    [​IMG]

    Bottom of the notebook with a 97whr battery.
    [​IMG]

    Left
    1 - Lock Slot
    2 - USB 2.0
    1 - IEEE 1394
    1 - Microphone
    1 - Headphone
    1 - 10-in-1 media card reader
    1 - SmartCard reader
    1 - 54mm ExpressCard slot
    [​IMG]

    Rear
    1 - VGA
    1 - RJ-45
    1 - eSATA / USB 2.0
    1 - HDMI
    [​IMG]

    Right
    2 - USB 3.0
    1 - DisplayPort
    1 - Wireless switch
    [​IMG]

    Closeup of USB 3 ports. Note the 5 contacts underneath the blade.
    [​IMG]

    Closeup of removable 2.5" hard drive
    [​IMG]

    Closeup of 2.5" hard drive caddy.
    [​IMG]


    The M6600 is compatible with all Dell E-docks as long as they have suitable power adapters.

    Internally the machine has two full and two half Mini-Card slots as well as two 2.5” hard drive slots. The machine also has 4 ram slots that are all accessible when a quad core processor is in the machine.

    [​IMG]

    For more information about about the CPU, GPU, Thermal Solutions, and Keyboards, see the reply follow up post immediately following this one.


    Weight comparison of Touchscreen and WLED FHD:

    To be added


    What kind of People Use the M6600

    Professionals. These are the people that depend on the M6600 to get work done. This is why the M6600 has so many software certifications and can be configured in so many ways. This is why the power packs are bulky and the machines are so fast. For them the machine has to work and work quickly otherwise they do not. For them the machine is a tool that allows them to make money. If you have ever wondered why part of the M6600 are so overbuilt, these people are the answer. It simply has to work.

    Students. These are people studying advanced software and need a system to run it. They may also appreciate the entertainment potential of the M6600. Blu-Ray + HDMI out could be put to interesting uses.

    Gamers. It might be much easier to convince your boss to buy you a Precision than an Alienware. You might just prefer the look of the M6600. You all have your reasons.

    Casual power users. Why run a normal laptop when you can run one of the fastest laptops available?

    What configurations should these people buy?

    Processors:

    I will provide more test data to back this up, but let me say this up front - get a quad core processor. The 2720qm costs $130 more than the 2620m dual core and is a substantial upgrade. This would be my number one priority as far as a minimum upgrade. Even if you are a gamer and don't need 4 cores, get the 2720qm to future-proof your machine. As you will see later, the 2920XM offers a lot more of an upgrade from the 2720qm than you would expect.

    Hard Drives:

    There are so many needs and so many ways to configure hard drives on the M6600. My only advice is this - get an SSD.

    I have done Raid0 and even though sequential read times are close to an SSD, the small files are not. Also remember that each rotating platter drive might take up 5 watts of power.

    I would also tell you to seriously consider the mSSD drive that Dell offers from Samsung. It may not be quite as fast as some SSDs on the market, but it is within 10% of the performance of many drives without taking up a 2.5" slot. If this were an M4600 it would be a no brainer - get the mSSD.

    Video Cards:

    The Quadro 4000M and 8900M can be very close to each other in gaming performance. This leaves you with some choices to make.

    You can have the 8900M which is a fast card that uses 75 watts at full load, but can not use Optimus, is not as fast in rendering, has no Physix, has no Cuda, and has no acceleration for Adobe CS 5 and 5.5. You also have to remember that this is still a Firepro card and while some software won't support it, it is still built for professional use as well. The fact is that this is an ATI mobile graphics card with pro oriented drivers. If you are a gamer, this could be seen as a good thing.

    You can have the Quadro 4000M which costs $740 more, uses 100 watts at full power, is built more for professional software than gaming, can use Optimus to save power, has Physix, has Cuda, and is built for Adobe.

    Instead of looking at these as two types of cards, you need to see two types of users - Casual/Gamers and Professionals/Students

    Lots of people have talked about the M6400 - M6600 as being fast gaming computers that they could take into meetings and look professional with. No offense to Alienware, but the R17x has always screamed gamer. An M6600 might not get as many nods at a gaming LAN party. For someone just looking for a very fast all around computer, the 8900M is perfect. It is a professional looking notebook that can game very well.

    Lots of other people have depended on the M laptops to get their jobs done or run the software they need for their education. These are the people that will have software that costs more than the machine it is running on. These are the people that will have to have the Quadro to get their work done as efficiently as possible. For them it is an easy choice. They can still game on the Quadros, but they can also get their work done.

    I am personally in between the two camps. I run a lot of software that heavily benefits from the Quadro, but I don't run it every day. I do game, but much less these days. Since I do run Adobe CS5.5 every day and it gets a mild benefit from the Quadro, I chose the Quadro 4000M.

    I will be looking closely at the model with the IPS display and Quadro 5010M when the parts become available.

    What configurations are a waste of potential?

    For all:
    Dual core processors are a waste of this machine. You only get half the ram slots and half the performance to save $130.

    For gamers:
    The Quadro 3000M won't help a gamer with anything except battery life. It overclocks very well, but is much slower than the ATI. If you need a mixed use machine, get the 4000M or 5010M.

    For heavy duty 3D modelers / drafters / designers:
    The ATI 8900 video card may be a waste for pros. See SPECviewperf scores. Also remember that performance is relative and you might still get an upgrade in speed from an older machine even with the ATI.


    What color is it?

    Figuring out what color the M6600 is can be a challenge. My best advice to try and see one in person. Since many will not be able to see one in person, I tried my best to convey what the machine looks like.

    First, I tried using a GretagMacbeth Colorchecker:
    [​IMG]

    Then I tried a closeup of the M6600, M6500 (on the right) and the Colorchecker:
    [​IMG]

    Then I tried a white background with the M6600, M6500 (again on the right), and the colorchecker:
    [​IMG]

    Not happy with there being a lack of reference, I went to my local big box home improvement store:
    [​IMG]

    Certainly I could find a name for the color:
    [​IMG]

    But alas, even the closest colors I could find varied wildly depending on how the light hits the machine:
    [​IMG]

    Then I remembered - this thing is gunmetal gray. So off I went to find someone with guns.

    Too dark:
    [​IMG]

    Too blue/green:
    [​IMG]

    Closer:
    [​IMG]

    Here is a good example of how the color of the M6600 changes with light. See on the left back side the color is a little green and on the right its a little more purple? It is subtle, but it makes the M6600 sort of a chameleon. Oh, and ignore the tactical shotgun, way too dark in color:
    [​IMG]

    So - what color is it? It is kinda close to Ebony Field and Phantom Mist, but only when the light angle is just right. It is also close to the color of a 1940's M1 Carbine rifle.

    My next step is to take my M6600 car shopping. Not to buy a car, but to find a matching car paint color.



    Compared to...
    I chose to compare the M6600 to the M6300 and M6500. Each of these machines represents important steps in the evolution of the mobile precision line.
    [​IMG]

    I also chose to compare the M6600 to a 1966 Compet 32 desktop calculator. Why? This and a slide rule would have been great tools to have as an engineer in the 60’s. The cost was a little over $1000 which is just over $6000 in 2011 dollars. It was considered state of the art in terms of size, weight, and reliability. Its meant to show how things have progressed on a much larger scale. I also think Nixie display tubes are cool.
    [​IMG]

    16 digits!
    [​IMG]

    Closeup of Nixie Tubes
    [​IMG]


    The M6300 was the last 17” Precisions that shared a chassis with an Inspiron counterpart. It was also the first Precision to offer a Direct X 10 compatible video card and offered a significant bump in performance from the M90 that it replaced.

    The M6300 was replaced by the M6400 which offered a completely new chassis and the availability of quad core processors and RGBLED backlit displays.

    The M6500 was a revision of the M6400 with Nehalem processors, faster video cards and the availability of USB 3.0.

    The following images show the chassis design changes. (Note - yes, the machines look used because they were used - heavily. I chose to leave the smudges on them to show how they wear)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here are some detail shots:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Compared to the Latitude E6520:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Performance Comparison:
    M6300
    SPECviewperf - still testing
    3D Mark 06 - 8023.3 - Quadro 3600M
    PassMark CPU - 2,185 - Core 2 Due T9800

    M6500
    SPECviewperf - still testing
    3D Mark 06 - 12882 - Quadro 3800M
    PassMark CPU - 4,428 i7-920xm

    M6600
    SPECviewperf - still testing
    3D Mark 06 - 20556 - Quadro 4000M OC
    PassMark CPU - 7,593 i7-2920xm

    Systems not compared:
    Why not compare it to the HP? HP does offer very close configurations, but the HP is over $1000 more expensive than the M6600s that I bought. HP also does not offer Optimus graphics switching. They do offer a 10 bit video card and have a 10 bit IPS display, but HP's own literature says that the IPS panel is connected by an 8 bit interface which is such a waste. No one here at work has one. I could not justify paying more for one. I will add it in the future if I can get access to one.

    Why not compare it to the Lenovo W720? Because it does not exist. Lenovo has discontinued their 17” workstations after the W710.

    Why not the MacBook Pro 17”? I have access to a new and fully loaded MacBook Pro, but I don’t consider it to be fair to compare it to the M6600. The MBP has a 6 bit 1920x1200 LED backlit panel, AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics card, and i7-2820QM processor. It also has 7 hours of battery life through the use of Optimus switching. It also has an 85 watt power adapter. The only areas that the MBP has an edge over the M6600 is that the display has more pixels and it has a Thunderbolt port. The MBP is also smaller, but is heavy at the same time. There is no dock. You can only connect to one monitor. The video card is 1/3rd the speed of the slowest M6600 card. It gets ridiculously hot under heavy CPU load. Less ports, less memory slots, less expansion, no blu ray, etc. Prices are similar. SPECviewperf 11 and several Autocad apps won’t run on a Mac. I know some people are using Bootcamp or Parallels to run them. You get no GPU acceleration now in the Adobe Creative Suite which renders AVCHD video 20x slower as a result. You get the idea. Depending on what you are willing to compromise, the MBP will be better suited to some. Feel free to have your own opinion, just don't hijack the thread with an Apple discussion.

    I did take some comparison pics of the Mid 2011 Macbook Pro 17":
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Performance and Heat

    In my opinion the most important measurements are SPECviewperf and how well the machine actually performs with professional software. That said, I understand the reasoning behind posting mainstream benchmarks like 3DMark. Not everyone buys an M6600 to run design and rendering software.

    People will also want to know how well the hardware handles Prime95 and Furmark. Even though these synthetic tests don’t always represent real world scenarios, they are a way to compare machines and generally display a modern sense of “mines better and faster”. I see them as analogous to car tuners. Benchmarks are sort of like drag racing. Overclocking is sort of like slapping a turbo onto a car. I get it.

    For more information about about the CPU, GPU, and Thermal Solutions see the reply follow up post immediately following this one.

    Quadro 4000M Benchmarks:

    SPECviewperf
    Stock Clocks
    Viewset Composite
    catia-03 36.43
    ensight-04 24.94
    lightwave-01 53.50
    maya-03 71.66
    proe-05 11.03
    sw-02 43.74
    tcvis-02 28.72
    snx-01 26.76

    4000M Overclocked
    catia-03 41.42
    ensight-04 32.85
    lightwave-01 54.23
    maya-03 84.10
    proe-05 11.05
    sw-02 49.17
    tcvis-02 37.19
    snx-01 33.94


    3D Mark 06
    20556

    3D Mark 11
    3DMark Score P3164
    Graphics Score 2885
    Physics Score 6661
    Combined Score 2979

    3D Mark Vantage

    3DMark Score 13255 3DMarks
    Graphics Score 11734
    CPU Score 21684
    Jane Nash 35 FPS
    New Calico 33 FPS
    AI Test 3014 operations/s
    Physics Test 28 operations/s

    Quadro 3000M Benchmarks:

    SPECViewperf 11.0 - Quadro 3000M

    Viewset Composite Multisample Performance
    catia-03 32.41 no result
    ensight-04 22.87 no result
    lightwave-01 39.92 no result
    maya-03 49.86 no result
    proe-05 8.76 no result
    sw-02 34.44 no result
    tcvis-02 27.46 no result
    snx-01 24.89 no result

    3D Mark 06 - Quadro 3000M OC
    14,702 (Not a bad score at all, but the Quadro 4000M is 40% faster

    Prime95/Furmark
    Running Prime95 with 8 threads of In Place FFTs (max heat and power) for 30 minutes, the i7-2920XM processor settled out at 2.75 ghz with the max temp being 82C. This is very interesting to note because the 2920XM is marketed as a 2.5ghz processor yet runs at 2.75 – 3.2ghz with all of the cores fully loaded. I was not able to produce a real world or synthetic cpu-only load that took the speed down to 2.5ghz. Fan speed was around 3500 rpm which is audible, but much quieter than most laptops.

    Running Prime95:
    [​IMG]

    Running Furmark 1.9.1 for 30 minutes yielded a GPU temp of 70C. Fan speed settled close to 5000 rpm and was louder than during CPU testing. It should be noted that the CPU has a larger fan and can move more air (and heat) at a given rpm.

    [​IMG]

    Running Furmark 1.9.1 at the same time as Prime95 does reduce the CPU speed to between 2.1 and 2.3ghz. There is NO throttling – the CMod stays at 100 - but the CPU speed is dialed back. Looking at the temps on the CPU, they fall from around 80C to around 60C. CPU wattage goes down from 55 watts to 35 watts. This means that the machine appears to scale back power to the GPU last.

    Running Furmark and Prime95:
    [​IMG]

    A note about Furmark. Many people consider it to be an unfair test since there are no real world conditions that can reproduce the strain that Furmark places on a video card and overall system power consumption. It should be seen as beyond a worst case scenario since it pushes power consumption beyond what would ever likely be seen. It has been known to literally break hardware. Still, many people will want to use the effect that Furmark has on a machine to compare it to other machines.

    It is interesting to note the behavior of the M6600’s power management when you hit it with this much of a power load. The battery quits charging and the system adjusts over about 8 seconds to the extreme load on the video card. Watching the load on the Kill A Watt power monitor, the load from the wall never goes about 190 watts.

    After the hour of mixed testing, I picked up the unit to see how the chassis had warmed. The machine itself was warm on the back of the unit where the vents are and underneath the unit where the dock attaches. The 240 watt slim power adapter was also warm to the touch. I was able to hold my hand on any part of the M6600 chassis without discomfort. It was warm, but it not too hot to hold for a couple of minutes. I realize that this is not exactly a scientific measurement, but Stereophile Magazine has evaluated high end audio amps by whether or not you could hold your hand on the cooling vents for decades, so I am going to use it as well.

    For more information about about the CPU, GPU, Thermal Solutions, and Keyboards, see the reply follow up post immediately following this one.

    Disk Drives

    Dell 128gb Mini Solid State drive:
    [​IMG]

    and its performance:
    [​IMG]

    Compared to an Intel X25M 80gb SSD:
    [​IMG]

    How that same Intel X25M performs in an M6500:
    [​IMG]

    How the stock Dell Seagate 750gb 7200 rpm drive performs:
    [​IMG]


    Displays

    Explanation of M6600 Screen Options
    To be added

    Pros and Cons of the Touchscreen Display
    To be added

    Touchscreen Digitizer Info and Demo
    To be added

    To get a reference point for Color Gamut, I started with measurements of the Dell U2410 desktop monitor. It is a wide gamut 24" display. All measurements were taken with a Datacolor Spyder 3 colorimeter with the machine running Spyder 3 elite software version 4.

    Here is how the U2410 measured:
    [​IMG]

    These measurements are very close to the ones Xbit Labs took - http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/monitors/display/dell-eips-roundup_7.html#sect0 - so I will assume that these tests have a standard, are verified by 3rd party measurements, and are sound.

    One very important thing to realize is that while the color gamut of the M6600 WLED backlit screens only covers sRGB, it does a really good job at completely covering it. If you look at some of the other monitors measured on the Xbit labs page you will see that many desktops don't do as well. Even the Dell U2410 does not cover sRGB as well. These are actually good measurements.

    M6600 Touchscreen color Gamut:
    [​IMG]

    M6600 WLED FHD color Gamut:
    [​IMG]

    M6500 RGBLED color Gamut:
    [​IMG]

    E6520 15.6" LG WLED color Gamut:
    Will be posted

    M6300 color Gamut:
    Will be posted

    Sharp Compet 32 color Gamut:
    [​IMG]


    Yes, I actually measured the Sharp Compet 32 color Gamut:
    [​IMG]

    Comparison of glare between the Touchscreen and WLED FHD screen:
    [​IMG]

    Comparison of overall system thickness with each screen:
    [​IMG]

    Sounds:

    Speakers
    To be posted

    Headphone Jack
    I have had the high end 2 channel audio "bug" for around 15 years now. Have owned and listened to a wide variety of sources, preamps, amps, and speakers. Everything from the syrupy warmth of Conrad Johnson to the grainless detail of Audio Research and Sonic Frontiers. I tend to prefer Hales and B&W for speakers. I have used Sennheiser HD-600s for many years now as my reference headphones with a Sonic Frontiers Line 1 SE as my headphone amp. I have also helped to master studio and live recordings for local bands.

    I have listened to several sets of headphones plugged directly into the M6600 playing CDs, Lossless files, and a few 320kb mp3 files. The headphones are AKG K 240mk II, Sennheiser HD-600, Shure e3c, Etymotic HF3, Sony MDR-EX310LP, and Klipsch s4.

    Starting with over the ear headphones. The AKG and Sennheisers will be volume limited with the M6600 if you listen to music at extremely high volume settings. The M6600 drove them to levels slightly higher than I was comfortable listening to. The AKG headphones are an easier load for the M6600 to drive and they did get a little louder. With the HD-600s if they are not being driven well, they usually start tilting their balance toward the bright end neutral and there is less bass. To my ears they stayed neutral, but needed to have the volume up to at least 75% to sound good. Both headphones had good detail and soundstages.

    With the other in ear monitors, they sounded like they usually do. The Shures are very mid range focused with rounded off highs and lows. The Etymotics are also mid focused with a brighter and more extended top end. The Sonys are full in the low end and a little rounded off in the highs. The Klipsch are overly rich in the deep bass and high treble regions - sort of like they have their own loudness button.

    The Shures and Etymotics were very detailed. The Etymotics just nail the details in drums - especially the snare and cymbals with their more extended treble response. They also do a great job in bringing out detailed guitar work. They were not bright and they were detailed with the M6600.

    The Klipsch headphones are boomy in the bass and tilted up in the treble, but they do gloss over a lot of details in the mids. The only time I could say the M6600 was lacking in detail it was the headphones. They sound the same no matter they are plugged into. They are fun for electronic and bass heavy music, but they are not neutral by any means.

    The Sony's are great headphones for running, but the slightly rolled off top end makes them not a first choice most of the time. Once again, they sounded the same with the M6600 as they sound with all of my other PMPs and amps.

    The best sound so far is with a set of Shure SE425 headphones.

    The bottom line is that for true reference audio, you will need an external headphone amp. The sound of the headphone output on the M6600 is similar to the better ipods/iphones that Apple has put out. It is clear, it has no hiss with sensitive headphones, and it is well balanced. It is just not as good as a $1500 dedicated headphone amp.

    Latency

    Very low. Make sure to use the low latency power scheme that comes with the Dell ControlPoint software.

    [​IMG]

    Latency usually sits between 140-170 with occasional spikes up to around 250. Highest latency as reported by DPC latency checker over a 1 minute period is 263. I am seeing no difference between having the Intel 6250 wireless card in or out of the machine.

    The biggest thing that was affecting the latency was the software running on the machine. My *guess* is that with a very lean build of Windows 7, I could get it down to the 90 -130 range. I just don't have a need for that.

    Mic Array
    Surprisingly good when using the machine for teleconferencing.

    Video Capture
    Bulletproof. This is the only machine I trust for live video streaming. High Def Capture is also very stable to the pair of 750gb drives in Raid 0 in this machine.

    Webcam
    To be posted

    Does it Skype?
    Yes, very well. No feedback in the audio even though the speakers pretty much point directly at the mics.

    Fan Noise
    Fairly quiet for a machine with cooling this aggressive - it simply never allows the processor to get very hot. Wish there was a way to get more control over the fan for very quiet situations. In meetings there is never an issue with fan noise. Much quieter than any of the projectors we use.

    Heat Measurements
    To be posted

    What if your room is 100F?
    Not a problem. More fan noise, but you can still run whatever you want without issues.


    Power Adapters

    At this point in the review I think it is appropriate to have a moment where I am completely quiet. If you listen carefully during this silence, off in the background someone is complaining about how "Oh my God! The power brick on the M6600 is massive! Its bigger than my lunchbox! I need another backpack just to carry it!". And now for that silence (crickets........wind.........whining about power packs........birds chirping). Ah, I feel better.

    So. How big is this power adapter? To be honest, it depends.

    Its all relative. Most people will have used a laptop before they buy an M6600. Unless they are coming from another high end laptop, they will probably be used to a smaller power adapter. One of the main reasons why people's first reaction to the M6600 power pack is to say its a large power pack is that to them, it is. They are used to smaller power adapters. I was used to the 130 watt adapter from the M6300 and a very large adapter from an XPS 1730 when I first saw the 240 watt thinline. Coming from the pack that shipped with the 1730, the thinline was almost svelte.

    So, lets look at some power adapters. The M6600 would usually be powered by the 240 watt thinline adapter. If you purchase the dock, you might also have the 210 watt standard. Here is a pic comparing a few adapters.

    [​IMG]

    And here we have a view from the side

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, some power adapters are bigger than others.

    But, here is the thing - you can use ANY of these power adapters with the M6600.

    So what happens when you plug in a smaller power adapter? Well, to answer that, lets first see what happens on battery power. If we disable Optimus (since not everyone has it) and fire up our good friend Prime95 and let it load some of the processors, HWInfo64 says that we are pulling around 72 watts of power from the battery with the 2920XM quad core (which is also a worst case scenario). The 2920XM will stay at 3.2Ghz on battery under this scenario. If we stop running Prime95, the power draw on the battery falls back to around 27 watts.

    Now, lets plug in a 90 watt adapter. With the machine at idle, the battery will either not charge at all or charge at 2.8 watts. If I run Prime95, the clocks on the processor actually run slower than on battery. Looking at the Kill A Watt that the adapter is plugged into, we are pulling between 45 and 77 watts or 0.65 amps. The machine is working to protect the 90 watt adapter from overheating while stopping the drain on the battery. So what does this mean? It means that in a pinch, you can grab one of a bazillion 90 watt adapters from the D or E series Latitudes and use it with the M6600. Will it be a pleasant experience? Yes - you got to give your big presentation! No - rendering video is slow!

    Moving on to the 130 watt adapter. The results are pretty much the same as the 90 watt adapter with one key difference - the battery will always be charging. Not very fast, but at least we are seeing a charge. The Kill A Watt shows that we are pulling up to 85 watts. Once again the M6600 is being very conservative with power drawn. Note - this was the older style 130 watt adapter. I will retest with a newer thin 130 watt to see if there is a difference.

    All of the power adapters pull 76-78 watts of power from the wall when charging the battery with the machine turned off. Surprisingly, the M6600 will not allow a 65 watt adapter to charge the battery with the machine turned off. It looks like the 90 watt thin is the minimum adapter you can use.

    But wait!! What if you you do have Optimus enabled?

    This gets kinda cool. If you have Optimus enabled, you can run with the 90 watt power adapter while very slowly charging the battery, with the screen in max brightness while surfing the web on wireless - and only pull 25 watts from the wall. This is with the machine set to Windows default power mode of "Balanced". Remove the battery at you can get down to 20 watts. Turn down the brightness with a full battery and flip into the "Extended Battery Life" power setting and you are now pulling a whopping 15 watts of power from the plug. 15 watts. The 240 watt adapter adds 2 watts of power pulled.

    If you really did want to travel light, you could carry either the 90 watt or 130 watt with you. You would be trading off a lot of processing power for that little bit of weight savings.


    The 210 and 240 are both covered below.

    AC Power Usage

    Using a Kill A Watt power meter, I measured how much AC power the M6600 uses.

    The 240 watt slim power adapter shows usage of 0 watts and 0.03 amps when not plugged into a system.

    With the M6600 off and a 97whr battery installed, the machine pulls 84 watts of electricity to charge the battery.

    With the machine booted and sitting at idle, HWinfo64 shows a charge rate of 61 watts to the battery while the Kill a Watt shows power draw of 130 watts from the wall.

    With the battery fully charged, the M6600 typically pulls around 75 watts of power with Optimus disabled to ensure that the Quadro 4000M is on. You can get this down to 26 watts (likely less) with Optimus enabled.

    The max power pulled by the M6600 was 190 watts during extreme testing.


    Battery Life

    When using a Quadro video card, the M6600 offers the option of using Optimus technology to switch between the GPU built into the Intel CPU and the Nvidia GPU. This switching saves at least 17watts of power. While 17 watts may not sound like a lot, it greatly affects battery life. A well optimized M6600 with normal Windows 7 power saving tweaks only uses 8-13 watts of power. With Optimus disabled this number goes up to 25-27 watts. Your battery either has 87whr or 97whr of power storage. If you take the capacity of your battery and divide it by the average power consumed, you will get your likely battery life. Double the power consumed = half the battery life.

    Even with Optimus enabled, user habits greatly affect battery life. Using HWInfo64 to watch power usage while Optimus is enabled, I am seeing 8-13 watts of power most of the time. When I go to a page with certain types of video streaming ads, the power usage goes up to 24-26 watts. Normal flash ads do not cause the Quadro to kick in - just the video ones.
    If you take the 97whr of the battery and divide by power draw, you get the estimated run times. If you run ad blocking software you can expect to get 7.4 - 10 hours of runtime (97whr / amount of watts drawn) . If you are using Optimus and watch videos or let all ads run, you are looking at 3.75 to 4.5 hours of runtime. These times are close to what you get not running Optimus at all.

    I was lucky enough to get a battery with a little over 100whr of measured capacity. Just for fun the we put the M6600 into Extended Battery Life power mode, set it to min brightness, loaded up HWinfo64, and then loaded up a website with mostly text and a couple of flash ads (that auto-refreshes every 5 minutes) and left it running. It shut down after a little over 9 hours. While this is not quite real-world, it gives you an idea of what is possible.

    HWinfo64 Info Screen
    [​IMG]

    I normally run with Optimus disabled. I use my machine docked 90% of the time and most meetings are less than an hour. I can easily get over 3.5 hours of run time with no regard for screen brightness or types of usage.

    Application Compatibility


    Autodesk Master Suite 2011
    No issues.

    Maya
    No issues

    Adobe Master Collection 5.5
    The only current issue (Oct 2011) is an issue with Adobe After Effects CS 5.5 and the N-Trig pressure sensitive application.

    Acceleration with the Quadro 4000m works very well.

    What does Optimus to each?
    I prefer to disable Optimus when I am doing heavy work in any of the above programs.

    I have also seen issues with the Datacolor Spyder losing calibration profiles when switching back and forth between Intel and Nvidia.


    Conclusions

    Overall the M6600 may look similar to the M6500, but it is a large step forward in the Precision Line. Users have much more speed, much more battery life, and will soon have the best display ever offered by Dell. The compromises made to take a workstation mobile have always meant you would not be able to have the full performance the desktop machine. In my opinion, those compromises are smaller than they have ever been. I am very happy with the machine.

    To be continued...
     
    alaskanjackal likes this.
  2. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    1,325
    Messages:
    1,791
    Likes Received:
    259
    Trophy Points:
    101
    Information about about the CPU, GPU, Thermal Solutions, and Keyboards.

    To remove the keyboard, you CAREFULLY remove the fascia from around the keyboard, then remove the screws at the bottom. The keyboard is also held in place by snaps on the left and right sides as well as spring loaded retainers underneath. In the picture below, the fascia has been removed and is laying on its back to show the location of its retaining snaps.
    [​IMG]

    Here is what you see under the keyboard. One ribbon cable connects the keyboard. Note the location of the RAM. If you look carefully, you can see 3 metal pins in the bottom of the keyboard. They snap into the spring clips and plastic clip beneath the keyboard. Also note CPU fan on the left and GPU fan on the right. This is the backlit keyboard.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a detailed shot of the pin and clip under the center of the keyboard.
    [​IMG]

    At the bottom left corner of the keyboard is a drain hole that allows liquids spilled on the keyboard to escape through one location. Here is the where liquids would then fall through the chassis without hitting the motherboard.
    [​IMG]

    While I was removing the keyboard, I noticed that it looked familiar. I went and grabbed a Latitude E6520 and pulled its keyboard. It appears to me that the two machines share the same keyboard with the exception of the ribbon that connects to the motherboard. This ribbon can be removed. I personally really like the keyboard after getting used to the new feel. The M6500 had a great keyboard, but it had greater key travel and was more prone to fingernails getting under keys. I also don't mind the part being shared between the two lines. It means keyboards will be here in our parts locker which is not usually the case with Precisions. Here are some comparison pics. The E6520 keyboard has the clear back due to it not being backlit.

    Bottom of the keyboards:
    [​IMG]

    Sides / Screw locations:
    [​IMG]

    Top:
    [​IMG]


    Thermal Solutions

    Here is one thing I REALLY like about the M6600. Finally the heat sink fins are easy to clean. You remove 2 screws to take off the bottom plate, then remove two screws to remove the CPU fan.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a shot with the fan removed:
    [​IMG]

    The GPU fan is tougher to remove, but if you removed the keyboard and bottom plate, you have access to the top and bottom of the fan blades. You could easily send compressed air back through it to clean the fins.

    Once you remove the keyboard and palm rest, the interior of the M6600 is fairly easy to work in.
    [​IMG]

    The heat sinks for the CPU and GPU are massive. There is a ton of copper inside. I did not weigh the heat sinks, but between the two they weight at least a pound. This is why the machine runs so cool. The heat sinks and fans are built for anything. Here are a few close up shots of the GPU heat sink. Note the 3 heat pipes that are cooled by two fans.
    [​IMG]

    Here is your part number:
    [​IMG]

    And the GPU fan:
    [​IMG]

    Here is a clear shot of the CPU heatsink:
    [​IMG]

    Note the copper in between the heat pipes:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the bottom of the CPU heatsink:
    [​IMG]

    And a clear shot of the GPU heatsink:
    [​IMG]

    And the bottom of the GPU heatsink (The techs chose to leave some thermal pads were left in place) :
    [​IMG]

    When I removed the heatsink from the CPU, I did notice uneveness in the application of the thermal compound. It looks like the bottom was well bonded, but the top may not have been.
    [​IMG]

    The CPU heatsink also cooled these chips through thermal pads.
    Assuming this is the PCH chip.
    [​IMG]

    Power Supply for CPU?
    [​IMG]

    The GPU appeared to be much more even.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the space under the MXM 3b Video Card
    [​IMG]

    Here is the bottom of the Quadro 4000M MXM card:
    [​IMG]

    Clearly uses Samsung .4ns RAM. This means 5000mhz in DDR5. Since DDR5 multiplies by 4, we have our nominal top memory speed of 1,250mhz.
    [​IMG]

    Here is your part number:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the thickness of the card. This is a composite of 4 photos, so there is some weird blurriness. You can still get an idea of how the brackets work.
    [​IMG]

    Moving on to the top of the card, here is the actual Nvidia chip:
    [​IMG]

    Some GPU power supply chips:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And GPU controller chips:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I re-pasted the chips with the thermal compound Dell ships to self maintaining service shops. The techs have tested literally every thermal compound they could get their hands on and the stuff Dell sends is the best. I have seen their gaming rigs. I trust them.

    The CPU is now more even in temperatures. Max variance between the 4 cores is down from 10c to 3c.

    The GPU is the same. Same temps in Furmark. Same speeds. Same testing scores.

    I should also say that you might not want to try taking your machine apart at home. There are a lot of connectors that you could easily break if you don't know what you are doing. While I did not have it in the pictures, we also had grounding clips on both the machine and the people working on it to avoid static issues.
     
    DEagleson likes this.
  3. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    1,325
    Messages:
    1,791
    Likes Received:
    259
    Trophy Points:
    101
    reserved for more future updates
     
  4. HCW

    HCW Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    246
    Messages:
    1,575
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    56
    Great review ! Thanks
     
  5. iieeann

    iieeann Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    298
    Messages:
    488
    Likes Received:
    44
    Trophy Points:
    41
    Woot, your M6600 review finally, and wow you have so many models to compare with.

    Touchscreen is thicker and glare, that is not good...

    I should have chosen M6600 instead of M4600, the graphic card performance and future upgrade option for m4600 is too poor.
     
  6. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    1,325
    Messages:
    1,791
    Likes Received:
    259
    Trophy Points:
    101
    But it is a KILLER touchscreen. Will add a Photoshop demo to the review. The digitizer pen has 256 levels of flow control and 400 dpi of resolution. You can edit on the screen with very nice flow control based on how hard you press down with the pen. The screen can be like an ipad with 4 finger multitouch, but it can also be like a 17.3" digitizer pad.
     
  7. zergslayer69

    zergslayer69 Liquid Hz

    Reputations:
    62
    Messages:
    1,551
    Likes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Thanks for the macbook pro comparison. Didn't realize that the precision wasn't that much thicker. MBP just deceives its thickness due to curved edges. Pretty insane specviewperf scores especially after overclock. I'm planning on getting the 8900 and I'm disappointed the scores between that and the 5950 are nearly identical.
     
  8. TheNaeblis

    TheNaeblis Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Amazing review. Thank you
     
  9. TheNaeblis

    TheNaeblis Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Question on the Mini PCIe SSD. Do you still have to use the other drives in a RAID configuration? Since I have 2 SSDs (M6500) I would rather not use RAID 0 since I would lose trim.
     
  10. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

    Reputations:
    5,413
    Messages:
    10,725
    Likes Received:
    1,204
    Trophy Points:
    581
    Nice review! My friend recently had his M6400 replaced with an M6600, for him and me the biggest disappointment is going from WUXGA RGBLED to the 1080p screen (he's an engineering student, does CAD). But the new Sandy Bridge architecture was the biggest boost over his Core 2 Quad Extreme. Though he's already had Dell replace 2 faulty motherboards. :rolleyes:
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page