Dell Precision M4600 review:

Dell Precision M4600

The performance of our review laptop was above average for its class, but it was not the mind-blowing experience you might expect for its price tag. That's not to say the CPU/GPU combo we had was slow; it can certainly handle demanding tasks. During anecdotal testing we experienced no slowdowns with photo and video editing, and multitasking definitely posed no problems. It did well in our lab tests, too, but next to the consumer-oriented high-performance laptops we've tested, it appears fairly ordinary. The graphics cards available for the M4600 are designed for 3D modeling, CAD, and graphic arts, so our gaming tests don't really do them justice. Still, you should have no difficulty playing games on this system at high resolutions. Keep in mind that a lot of this system's cost goes to the rugged build, the PremierColor display, and its various other capabilities.

Juice box
Dell Precision M4600 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.74
Sleep (10 percent) 1.38
Idle (25 percent) 17.71
Load (5 percent) 91.88
Raw kWh 84.13
Annual energy cost $9.55

Annual power consumption cost

Mobile workstations aren't known for their great battery life. The M4600 did well in our video drain test, though, for what it's worth. It stayed up and running for 3 hours and 16 minutes with its nine-cell (97Wh) battery, which is all the more surprising because the PremierColor display requires a lot of juice compared with what a regular LCD needs. What's nice is that this larger battery pack doesn't add to the dimensions of the laptop at all. What we would like to see, though, is easier, more straightforward power management beyond picking from a handful of preset plans.

Part of the reason to get a professional system such as the Dell Precision is for the increased warranty and support options over consumer systems. The base warranty is for three years, but you can increase that coverage with accidental damage protection and data recovery services. Something that also shouldn't be overlooked is the host of security options Dell offers for its Precision systems. This includes Dell DataSafe for online backups, tracking and recovery service should your laptop go missing, and Laptop Data Encryption for remote encryption of all data on any corporate PC connected to the Internet from virtually any location.

Overall, the Dell Precision M4600 is a very good choice for professionals whose performance needs go well beyond spreadsheets and presentations. We're a little concerned about the quality of the PremierColor display, but everything is under warranty, and if your work doesn't demand color accuracy, you don't need to spend the extra money for this display--there are three others to pick from.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

What you'll pay

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