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It's hard to imagine that a machine as fast and powerful as a departmental server could be held in one hand and run for hours on battery power. Yet that's the story of the Dell Precision M6600 Mobile Workstation, one of a series of super-fast and powerful mobile workstations from Dell.
More workstation than mobile, the nearly nine-pound unit sent to the CRN Test Center for evaluation was built around Intel's Core i7 2920XM, a 2.5-GHz quad-core powerhouse with 8MB cache running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate on 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory (using four slots) and an NVidia Quadro 4000M discrete GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory.
Out of the box, it delivered a Geekbench score of 13,959, surpassing many of the high-end servers and workstations we've tested here. And after setting Windows for maximum performance, we were able to squeeze out a top score of 14,021.
We used the 64-bit version of Geekbench 2.2, with the 17.3-inch four-point touch sensitive display set to its maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. Our test unit was also adorned with dual 256GB SSD SATA 3 hard drives configured as a RAID 0 array. When disabling the discrete graphics controller in favor of Intel's on-chip GPU, its high Geekbench score dropped to a still-respectable 13,851.
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With a price tag of $5,689 as tested, who in the world would buy such an animal? According to Mano Gialusis, Dell's product marketing manager for mobile Precision workstations, anyone who needs the performance of a tower workstation to take with them.
"The type of performance is like a true desktop workstation," said Gialusis. "So [it's appropriate for] people working with media and entertainment, scientific applications, oil and gas exploration, medical, CAD/CAM, and any and all verticals with high-power computing needs."
The advantage of having such a powerful portable, he said, can be realized in time saved and jobs completed in the field. "So for example, if you're doing seismic analysis, you can take bigger chunks of the seismic picture, analyze it faster and make decisions on the spot."
The alternative would be to send findings "back to corporate to crunch the numbers." Having such power in the field saves real man-hours, he added, and "really allows people to take their work with them when they need to be mobile. It's easier to carry an 8 pound system than a 70 pound tower and all its peripherals."