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Dell Precision M6800 review

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  • Recommended by TR

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Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
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  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800
  • Dell Precision M6800

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Great power in demanding applications
  • Fantastic keyboard
  • High-quality 1080p screen
  • Rock-solid magnesium alloy chassis
  • Huge port selection

Cons

  • Middling battery life
  • Heavy, thick design
  • Disappointing speakers

Key Features

  • 17.3in 1,920 x 1,080 screen
  • 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-4800MQ processor
  • Nvidia Quadro K3100M graphics
  • 16GB RAM
  • 750GB hard disk
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 4 x USB 3
  • HDMI, DisplayPort and D-SUB
  • SDXC, ExpressCard and Smart Card slots
  • 3.6kg
  • Manufacturer: Dell
  • Review Price: £2,075.00

What is the Dell Precision M6800?

Dell has put more of a focus on its business hardware over the last couple of years, and the Precision M6800 is, arguably, one of its flagship products. It’s the largest and most powerful workstation notebook the firm produces, and it’s designed for employees who can’t compromise on power and versatility while away from the office.

It’s got every bit of hardware we’d expect of a premium productivity device, and it’s got the price to match: this hefty notebook costs £2,075. It’s also got an opportunity in the high-end notebook market, as Apple no longer produces the 17in version of its competing MacBook Pro.

SEE ALSO: Best Laptops Round-Up

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Dell Precision M6800: Design & Build Quality

The M6800 is a function-over-form machine, which means that huge attention has been paid to the Precision’s physical design. The system is built almost entirely from magnesium alloy and aluminium, and it’s as sturdy as any machine we’ve ever tested. Its looks aren’t much cop, but the gunmetal grey exterior is smart and subtle rather than cheap and boring, and the numerous visible seams don’t hint at any weakness. Only specially ruggedised machines are stronger.

These are not the only steps taken to ensure this machine’s strength – it’s also been tested in accordance with the MIL-STD-810G protocol. That means this system is resistant to dust, it’s been tested in extreme temperatures, and it’s able to cope with humidity, high altitudes and sudden impact - not quite 'take anywhere' but 'take to a factory or office anywhere'.

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The M6800 has a fantastic port selection. On the right there’s two USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort output and a physical Wi-Fi switch, and a hard disk bay that can be easily removed for quick drive changes. The left side serves up two more USB 3.0 ports, a pair of audio jacks, and a Kensington Lock connector. There’s a slimline DVD drive, and SDXC, ExpressCard and Smart Card slots crammed in there too.

The rear has D-SUB, HDMI and an eSATA port alongside an Ethernet socket, and the base has a connector for a docking station. On the inside, there’s the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is what we now expect from this class of system, and a welcome bit of future-proofing.

The stunning versatility continues to the interior. The battery is removable, and the rest of the components can be accessed for quick replacements or upgrades. Most of the screws are numbered in their order of removal, and it’s easy to get inside – remove two screws beneath the battery and the base panel lifts away.

Office-friendly touches abound. There’s a trackpoint in the middle of the keyboard and a second set of mouse buttons below, as well as the trackpad and its own set of buttons. You also get physical buttons for volume situated above the keyboard, a handy row of status lights, a backlit keyboard, and the lid secures firmly in place with a sliding clasp.

The M6800 is a heavyweight machine that tips the scales at 3.6kg, and it’s 40mm thick. That’s twice as heavy and thick as the Precision M3600, and it marks the M6800 out as a serious bit of kit – you’ll need a sturdy bag to cart this system around.

SEE ALSO: Best Laptops for Students 2014

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Dell Precision M6800: Screen & Sound Quality

Dell has fitted the M6800 with a practical display panel. It’s non-touch and has a sensible, rather than ultra-high, resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 – so no chance of Windows scaling issues – and it’s got a matte finish, so office lights won’t cause problems.

We expect good quality from machines like this, but the Precision’s panel offers surprisingly mixed benchmark results.

The Precision’s main strength is colour accuracy. The Delta E of 1.26 is fantastic, easily beating the Toshiba Satellite P50t and Dell’s own Precision M3800, and it only deviates to a maximum of 3.68, which means colours are consistently accurate. The sRGB coverage level of 93.4% is excellent - it’s in fact one of the very best scores we’ve seen. Colour temperature, at 6,352K, isn’t far from the 6,500K ideal, and viewing angles are decent.

SEE ALSO: Best Laptops Round-Up

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The brightness of 257 nits is less impressive: fine for the office, but potentially irritating outdoors. The black level of 0.35 nits is good, but has been bettered elsewhere. Those figures combine for a contrast ratio of 734:1 – a decent figure, but worse than every key rival.

The resolution, matte screen and incredible colour accuracy and coverage all mark the Precision’s screen out as a serious work panel, though, even if the brightness and contrast aren’t the best. That means other systems have better all-round panels – but for work, the Precision is a worthwhile choice.

The speakers have huge volume, which immediately puts them ahead of those of most laptops, but they lack quality. The bass makes up for a lack of subtlety, but the overarching deep tones don’t work work well with the muddy, flat mid-range and the indistinct high-end. The M6800’s bass-heavy audio isn’t good enough for truly satisfying music or movie watching after you’ve finished your work.

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Prem Desai

July 3, 2014, 3:49 pm

Fantastic spec.

Dell now need to challenge themselves - keep the spec, but halve the thickness and weight. It can be done so do it ....

AA

July 3, 2014, 10:39 pm

The laptop to buy if you're a serious professional looking for a serious machine.
Still using my 7-year-old Precision M6300 and it's sturdy as ever. Oh, and their support service is unbeatable in the industry. Well worth paying the extra, IMO.

danielfrisbee

July 6, 2014, 11:40 am

the screen resolution is too low, I use an 11" screen at 1080p for 3d graphics/photoshop etc on the move, but it's just not enough pixels to get things done easily. On a 17" screen these days at over two grand there's no reason not to have 2560x1440. Most creative professionals will be making use of higher resolutions these days and would be foolish to sacrifice that..

Mladen Milic

August 12, 2014, 8:46 pm

Here it is:

Dell Precision M3800

Bjarne Nilsen

August 21, 2014, 10:14 am

Does this laptop support hardware virtualization ?

MO JO Ham

September 19, 2014, 10:08 pm

Of course it does. you don't even need to ask this question with these capabilities .

Guest

October 19, 2014, 12:02 am

from a closed comment story I saw your batshit crazy comment on:

Nope not god, science and doctors.

Guest

October 19, 2014, 12:04 am

Those Chinese Doctors don't believe your God, think you are weak for wasting time, so do I.

MO JO Ham

October 21, 2014, 10:59 am

what was that? lol

Cg Data

June 26, 2015, 3:49 pm

this comment is a year old now but I still struggle to find any(!) 2K display laptop.

danielfrisbee

June 26, 2015, 4:03 pm

I think Lenovo and Samsung laptops have 3200x1800 displays on some of their laptops

Cg Data

June 26, 2015, 10:18 pm

I mean 3/4K on 17" panel

Michael Beijer

July 3, 2015, 11:37 pm

Hell no, leave it the way it is! Those ridiculously high-def screens make everything tiny and unusable, at least in the programs I use as a translator.

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