In and Around the Dell Precision M6700

The internal hardware goes a long way, certainly, but the Dell Precision M6700 is unfortunately on the back foot when it comes to shell design. Take a look at our review of the HP EliteBook 8760w then come back here, and you'll see that Dell's aesthetic comes up short in more ways than one. You'll see it's not just about looks, either; HP's design is more functional.

Part of what kills is that the Precison M6700's shell may incorporate magnesium alloy and aluminum alloy, but it feels largely plastic. Dell's site lists the M6700 as having been subjected to Mil-spec 810G testing, but not if it meets that standard, while HP confirms that their current-generation 8770w does. They apparently use aluminum for trim and the back of the lid, but as a whole the notebook just doesn't feel as all around sturdy as its competitor is.

That said, when you do open it, the interior surfaces are flex-free, just uninspiring. The M6700 is two-toned, but the two tones aren't really complimentary. They use a gunmetal gray that's very dark, so that in soft light it's essentially indistinguishable from the black plastic used for the keyboard trim and bottom panel. As a whole, the two tones aren't unattractive, but there's a kind of cheap feeling to the materials, regardless of whether or not they actually are. HP's EliteBook looks and feels sturdy, with the aluminum trim and interior shell.

People who lament HP's shift to a chiclet keyboard may be happy at first with the M6700's traditional key style, but Dell's keyboard layout is confused both for them and for the end user. The "Page Up" and "Page Down" keys sandwich the up arrow, while the row normally reserved for document navigation above the number pad is instead a shortcut for the calculator and then media controls, which just plain don't belong on a notebook like this. Those could very easily and should very easily have been Fn+Function Key combinations. Overall the keyboard is plenty usable, but the layout is off-putting. On a less expensive notebook it's something that can be tolerated and adapted to; on a notebook that starts north of $1,600, it's unacceptable. As for the touchpad, it's mostly fine and easy to use, but it's actually on the small side and could stand to be wider. Again, though, Dell's design lacks the pleasant surface treatment of HP's.

Finally, the M6700 could make up some ground by at least being easy to service, but that turns out not to really be the case. HP's design is as easy as pushing a latch and popping off the bottom panel, but the M6700 was actually a little confusing. There are two screws hidden inside the battery slot that must be removed, and then the panel slides up and off. The interior layout supports three 2.5" drives and an mSATA drive, but what's the point of having one drive caddy slide out of the side of the case if you have to remove an internal screw to unlock it? It's not a horrible interior design and definitely looks reinforced, but the M6700 just feels a little more cobbled together than I'd like.

Introducing the Dell Precision M6700 Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • Gunbuster - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    I like how the HP gallery shots are pretty much pristine, yet the M6700 has greasy fingerprints all over it and you didn't even bother to remove the plastic sheet over the SD card slot.
  • p05esto - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    The coating on the Dell interior is like a rubberized metal that stays warmer to the touch and does not leave fingerprints as easily. It's also feels softer and much MUCH nicer than aluminum. I'll say it again, this review is just terrible and even the pictures are horrible in the review. Yes, I own this laptop, but I own like 20 computers so I'm not that biased.
  • araczynski - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    i generally like dell's hardware, but that's just fugly. reminds me of the Winbook Si models from back in the day.
  • p05esto - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    I bought an M6700 and LOVE it. The IPS screen and better resolution than the HP was what sealed the screen. Really 1080 on the HP, who would want that crap?

    This Dell M6700 has no equal, NONE. Only a couple laptops have IPS screens and only the Dell has the good resolution. This workstation laptop (Quad i7, 16GB Ram, fast GPU, SSD) as as fast as my tricker out and new desktop. It's got every conenction I need when I go to meetings or at home, it's freaking fast an functional for my development/web/design needs.

    Yes I'm a pretty hard core content creator and this is what this laptop is designed for. I love the color, the simplicity and industrial design. I've seen the HP the author is gushing all over and I wanted the Dell hands down. I also have the original M6500 and love that one as well. Seriously, the laptop is exactly perfect in my opinin. I live the understated design and no frills silent but powerful look. This workstation isn't meant to be carried around to classes at school, not even close. This is when you want POWER on the go, at various locations or to dock at home/work and never miss a beat.

    Seriously, this review is pretty bad, the whole point to this system is lost on most of you. Workstation replacement!!!!
  • p05esto - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    Holy crap I should have proofed that comment. Sorry about that!
  • lx686x - Friday, December 14, 2012 - link

    Someone didn't do any research I see.
    The HP's have a 1080p DreamColor display, that is actually better than the one on the M6700 (I see you didn't even read the review).
  • scottwilkins - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    I think the asthetics, keyboard layout and hardware access of this laptop are top knotch! The keyboard changes are very welcome and work fantastic. The hiding of the screws for panel access are welcome too, as to not be too obtrusive. This reviewer has personal issues that he should not have shared with the community.

    Dell still blows away HP on ease of service and simplicity of configuration after purchase. Try getting the right drivers for an HP!!! Almost guaranteed to fail with an HP.

    Add to that, this notebook beats out HP on performance, and it's a no-brainer as to which notebook to get.
  • lx686x - Friday, December 14, 2012 - link

    I never had any problems with HP's drivers...

    Where did you see it beating out the HP on performance, if you are referring to this review, it was compared to 8760w (SNB CPU and older gen GPU), compare it to 8770w and it's a tie.
  • yinkadesigncode - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    To me this review is fail, if we say this is a workstation. Den I xpect it to be reviewd like so for example u mentioed about the gpu without giving us specific gpu benchmark like iray vray rt, even mecury play back engine. All d benchmark just uses the cpu, ram hard drive nd general opengl performance plss go nd look out hw cgchannel reviews. Apart from benchmarks show us real world usage. Show us how fermi is to kepler in gpu performance like vray rt. Wow had high hopes for dis review well guess I wld continue using my hp elite book. Wirth d 5010m my cinabench cpu score is 6.3 nd gpu is 81 wow u blew dis review. Any body gettin dis machine wld be gettin it for the gpu. Also d display neva told us d advantages over say a retina macbook pro. Dis is why d pc ecosystem is dying ppl need to see how dis is in d realworld wen editing nd stuff.
  • shermanx - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    at this level it would be nice to see some direct comparisons with desktop chips; I am surprised manufacturers are not able to produce significantly more powerful performances for desktop platforms given how much more space and margins they can have. It would be interesting to see a laptop beating the s**t out of the AMD 8-core power-hungry rubbish.

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