Dell introduced two new 15-inch mobile workstations last month while playing coy with the accompanying 17-inch model. And if you're shopping for a mobile workstation, odds are you're looking to go big with it. Today, the "next-generation 17-inch mobile workstation concept" Dell previously hinted at takes shape as the Precision M6400.
The M6400 workstation starts at $2,299. Dell is taking orders and expects to start shipping units on October 22. The system uses the Intel Q43 Express chipset and offers a number of Core 2 Duo processors, from the P8400 to the X9100, along with a quad-core Core 2 Quad QX9300 chip. The system supports up to 16GB of memory (should you choose 64-bit Vista), but Dell is offering a max of 4GB currently. A pair of Nvidia Quadro cards give you a choice between the 512MB FX2700M and the 1GB FX3700M. You can outfit the M6400 with one or two hard drives, in RAID 0 or 1 configurations. (Dell's Web site claims 500GB spinning drives and 128GB solid-state drives will be offered, but they are not showing up on the online configuration tool for the system at present. The highest capacity drives currently offered are 320GB and 64GB, respectively.)
The 17-inch display features a 1,440x900 resolution, though you can upgrade to a 1,920x1,200 resolution, which is LED backlit and supports 100 percent of Adobe's RGB color gamut. HD video editors or anyone looking for high-capacity optical storage will be dismayed to see that a Blu-ray drive is not offered.
The Precision M6400 measures 15.4 inches wide by 11 inches deep by 1.35 inches high. It weighs 8.54 pounds, which is very reasonable for a 17-inch laptop with a 9-cell battery. The system includes a touchpad and pointing stick. The touchpad has jog/shuttle dial controls that play nice with video- and audio-editing apps.
Networking options abound. In addition to 802.11b/g and a/g/n Wi-Fi, you can outfit the laptop with mobile broadband from Verizon or Sprint (EV-DO) or AT&T (HSDPA). Bluetooth and ultra-wideband Bluetooth are offered, too. Notable connections include eSATA, FireWire, and DisplayPort ports.