Dell unveils new mobile and tower Precision workstations

Summary:Dell's mobile Precision workstations get a Haswell upgrade, while the Ivy Bridge-based tower range is expanded with single- and dual-socket models.

Dell's Precision workstation portfolio, aimed at users of demanding content creation, engineering, scientific, financial and other professional applications, has been expanded with three new tower systems and a pair of cutting-edge mobile workstations running Intel's latest-generation Haswell processors.

Mobile: M4800 and M6800

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Mobile workstations: the 15.6-inch M4800 and 17.3-inch M6800. Image: Dell

The 15.6-inch M4800 is powered by the fourth-generation (Haswell) Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and can be configured with an ultra-high-resolution QHD+ display that delivers a stunning 3,200 by 1,800 pixels. That's a higher pixel density (235ppi) than Apple's 15.4in. Retina MacBook Pro (220ppi), and is obviously well suited to graphically demanding design and engineering applications. With four DIMM slots, the M4800 accepts up to 32GB of 1,600MHz RAM or 16GB of 1,866MHz memory. GPU options are AMD FirePro M5100 Mobility Pro, Nvidia Quadro K1100M or Quadro K2100M — all with 2GB of dedicated DDR5 graphics RAM.

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Dell Precision M4800 (15.6in.)

Built on a MIL-STD-810G-compliant aluminium/magnesium alloy chassis and measuring 37.6cm by 25.6cm by 3.62-3.99cm, the Precision M4800 weighs from 2.88kg. As well as Dell's standard E-Port Plus port replicator, the M4800 optionally supports 60GHz WiGig short-range, high-throughput wireless connectivity. Dell claims 'all day battery life' for the M4800 (and its larger M6800 sibling): this remains to be tested, but we strongly suspect you'll need the 9-cell battery, discrete/integrated graphics switching enabled and maybe the optional 9-cell extended battery slice too.

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Dell Precision M6800 (17.3in.)

The 17.3-inch M6800 lacks the 15.6in. model's ultra-high-resolution display option but can be configured with a 1,980-by-1,080-pixel 10-point Wacom touchscreen. There are four GPU options: 2GB AMD FirePro M6100 Mobility Pro, 4GB Nvidia Quadro K3100M, 6GB Quadro K4100M and 8GB Quadro K5100M. To keep all this running smoothly, there's a dual-fan cooling system that includes a GPU-dedicated fan. The M6800 has four storage options: 2.5in. drives in an 'easy-eject' bay, an internal bay and an optical drive bay caddy; and a solid-state Mini-Card (the smaller M4800 lacks the internal 2.5in. bay). Not surprisingly, the flagship M6800 is a bulky and hefty system: it measures 41.67cm by 21.06cm by 3.64-4.04cm and weighs from 3.57kg. You won't want to be carrying this one very far.

Eminently more portable will be the M3800, which was unveiled in July but won't be available until later in the year, according to Dell. Essentially a thinner, lighter version of the 15.6in. M4800 (complete with the 3,200-by-1,800 QHD+ screen option), the M3800 weighs around 2kg and is just 1.8cm thick.

Tower: T3610, T5610, T7610

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Towers of Precision: T3610 (single socket), T5610 (dual socket) and (right) the flagship dual-socket T7610. Image: Dell

The new tower systems build on the Ivy Bridge-powered Precision T1700 that was launched in May (and which we currently have in for review at ZDNet). There are two small-footprint models, the single-socket T3610 and dual-socket T5610, plus the larger flagship T7610 — which Dell describes as "the world's most powerful tower workstation".

The T3610 runs an Intel Xeon E5-1600 v2 processor with up to six cores, while the T5610 is powered by one or two CPUs from the Xeon E5-2600 v2 family, with up to 10 cores. The top-end T7610, meanwhile, can accept 12-core E5-2600 v2 processors. The smaller towers can handle up to 128GB of 1,866MHz ECC or 1,600MHz non-ECC RAM in 8 DIMM slots, while the top-end T7610 has 16 memory slots and can be configured with up to 256GB of RAM.

As far as GPU options are concerned, the T3610 and T5610 support two PCIe x16 (Gen2 or Gen3) mid-range 3D, entry-level 3D or professional 2D graphics cards, while the larger T7610 can handle up to three GPUs including the 'high-end 3D' Nvidia Quadro K5000.

To prevent I/O becoming a bottleneck with these increasingly powerful CPUs and GPUs, Dell has upgraded the disk controller on the flagship Precision T7610 from Intel (AHCI) to LSI. As standard, the T7610 comes with an integrated LSI 2308 6Gbps SATA/SAS controller with host-based RAID 0, 1 and 10 support; you can also optionally specify an LSI 9271-8i PCIe controller with RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 support. LSI controllers are optional on the T3610 and T5610, which use integrated Intel AHCI as standard. Dell is also offering another (albeit expensive) I/O bottleneck-busting option in the shape of Micron's P320h 350GB PCIe SSD.

The new Precisions will be available to order on Dell's website on Thursday. UK prices start at £796 for the T3610, £1,441 for the T5610, £1,870 for the T7610, £1,152 for the M4800 and £1,380 for the M6800.

Topics: PCs, Dell, Laptops

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Hello, I'm the Reviews Editor at ZDNet UK. My experience with computers started at London's Imperial College, where I studied Zoology and then Environmental Technology. This was sufficiently long ago (mid-1970s) that Fortran, IBM punched-card machines and mainframes were involved, followed by green-screen terminals and eventually the pers... Full Bio

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