- Great 1080p IPS display option
- Plenty of ports
- Extreme performance
- Poor battery life
- Thick and heavy
- Weak backlit keyboard
- Expensive if heavily customized
The Dell Precision M4600 is one of the most powerful 15-inch mobile workstations available. Just be ready for high costs if you customize it.
A “mobile workstation” isn’t the same as a typical business notebook and the 15-inch Dell Precision M4600 isn’t the same as a typical mobile workstation. This impressively durable powerhouse is available with just about every high-end component you can imagine … but is it worth spending more than $4,000 on a mobile workstation? Keep reading to find out.
Build and Design
The Precision M4600 certainly looks like the old, boxy Dell business notebooks from the previous decade, but there’s something to be said for the idea that form follows function. The thick chassis is made of a combination of aluminum and magnesium alloy in order to give this mobile workstation some added durability. Granted, most of the graphic artists and engineers using mobile workstations are keeping them at a desk, but if you need to travel with your PC then all that thick metal will keep those high-priced components safe.
The screen lid is pretty rigid and provides enough protection to prevent the screen from distorting when you press on the back of the display. We wouldn’t recommend standing on the lid, but it should survive an accidental drop without any trouble. The screen hinges are very strong with enough tension to require two hands to open the lid. The remainder of the notebook is similarly tough with no obvious signs of chassis flex under pressure and no “squeaks or creaks” when you try to twist the notebook in your hands. In short, this is a very solid mobile workstation.
The bottom of the M4600 is pretty well sealed at first glance. You’ll have to remove the battery from the bottom of the notebook to reveal the three screws that have to be removed in order to access the various internal components. The M4600 uses two large cooling fans to help keep the system cool but there are actually four air intakes to make sure there’s plenty of air flow for high-power processors and graphics.
Ports and Features
A mobile workstation is very much focused on business and it’s pretty common for people to need to connect a mobile workstation to a wide variety of external storage devices and displays. To that end, Dell provides five USB ports (two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0 and an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port), FireWire, and even an ExpressCard slot for expanding your port options. In addition, you get three video out ports (VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort). Sure, the M4600 is pretty thick, but you get a great deal of connectivity in return.