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Question Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review ( Notebook Forums and Laptop Discussion Notebook News and Reviews )
Updated: 2008-09-19 11:25:03 (49)
Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

by Enduct

Overview and Introduction:
The Dell Precision M4400 was released on the 13th August 2008 – the updated Dell Precisions were launched together with the new Dell Latitude E-Series. Although not as much in the spotlight as the Dell Latitudes, these are undoubtedly Dell's mobile business class workhorses.

New features to the business range are a 15.4" WXGA+ LED screen (previously only seen in the XPS range), and is a step towards the future, with lower power consumption than standard CCFL screens. The option of having a backlit keyboard was also included (again only seen previously in the 17" Dell XPS) was a welcome addition. On top of this, Dell has anticipated the future by including an eSATA port, making sure that users will not be left behind because of old technology.

Dell's use of the mid-range nVidia Quadro FX 770M in the Precision M4400 is unprecedented in the 15.4" Precision Series, as it's predecessor, the Precision M4300, used a low-end nVidia Quadro FX 360M, a video card whose successor has now been confined to the smaller 14.1" model, the Precision M2400. However, this is keeping specs in line with similar Hewlett Packard and other business laptop manufacturers.

As with all Dell Precision products, the M4400 comes with certified ISV technology, ensuring a smooth transfer of software to the new machine and guaranteed compatibility.

Below are Dell's advertisement pictures (shown with a 9-cell battery).


Click here for a larger image

The System:
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 (2.40GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 3MB cache)
  • Screen: 15-inch 1440 x 900 WXGA+ LED, Matte (Philips LG, LPL0AA8)
  • Memory: 3GB DDR2-800 PC-6400 RAM (Samsung, 5-6-6-18)
  • Storage: 120GB 7200rpm HDD with Free Fall Sensor (Seagate Momentus, ST9120823ASG)
  • Optical Drive: DVD+-RW SATA (Philips Liteon, PLDS DU-8A2S)
  • Wireless: Intel 5300 802.11a/b/g/n 3x3
  • Graphics: nVidia Quadro FX 770M (stock 176.07, 3DMark06 tested with 175.80)
  • US backlit keyboard
  • 0.3MP (640x480) VGA Integrated camera and microphone (Creative Technology)
  • 56K internal modem, with telephone line splitter jack and modem cable (Conexant HDA D330 MDC V.92)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 module (Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth Minicard)
  • Fingerprint Reader
  • Battery: Output 11.1V, 56Wh 6-cell Li-Ion (Sony, FU27488)
  • Power Supply: PA-4E series, Output 19.5V, Maximum Power 130W (Flextronics, FA130PE1-00)
  • Dimensions: 358 x 257 x 27/33 mm (14.1" x 10.1" x 1.0"/1.3")
  • Advertised weight: 2.69kg (5.92 lb) with a 6-cell battery and optional solid state drive.
  • Actual Weight:
Code:
	Laptop w/o Battery: 	2.480 kg (5.47 lb)
	Battery:		0.328 kg (0.72 lb)
	Laptop w/ Battery: 	2.808 kg (6.19 lb)
	AC Adapter: 		0.652 kg (1.44 lb)
	Combined Travel Weight: 3.460 kg (7.63 lb)
Please note all tests are done in Windows XP unless specified.

Reasons for Buying:
In configuring the system, one must first gauge their level of requirements for each component, and the tradeoffs associated with each. With that in mind, this system is geared for most day to day 3D design, creation and visually intensive programs, and an effort has been made to do this, with a decent amount of RAM and a speedy 7200 rpm drive.

An optional WWAN card is available for this system, but in this M4400, it has been opted out. The availability and type of WWAN card depends on the buyer's location.

The processor chosen has been a Penryn P8600, clocking at 2.4GHz. This is a power saving chip compared to the T-series processors (25W vs 35W).

This laptop features both a PC card and Express card slot as standard, making it a no-brainer for compatibility. A 56K internal modem has been added for back compatibility and possibly the odd dial up software, and bluetooth for connection to the latest gadgets.

This notebook has almost everything, and the most up to date hardware. To date, the only other manufacturer that is utilising the Quadro FX 770M in a 15 inch model is HP with their Elitebook 8530w. The M4400 will be available with the Quadro FX 1700M, an even more powerful graphical processor, sometime in mid-September to early October.

Where and How Purchased:
This machine was purchased from Dell Online in Australia, then configured through their Sales Team on the phone. The final purchase price came to AU$2828. For a business laptop, the most important thing is peace of mind, and security in knowing that the machine will last for years without incident. Price is secondary if this concept is understood well.

Build and Design:
The design of the M4400 is largely based on its Latitude sister, the E6500. The only readily visible difference apart from the model label is the LCD back cover, which has been replaced by a multiple scalloped shell (coloured mute silver), illustrated below. The flash has been used to more easily and accurately discern what it really looks like reflectively wise.


Click here for a larger image

This LCD cover for the M4400 is a hard, rippled magnesium about 2mm thick, and underneath is a magnesium alloy chassis. This is in contrast to the Latitude's alloy back cover (coloured brushed metal black) as well as alloy chassis. Unfortunately, this colour scheme may disagree with some, but for lack of an alternative, if performance is needed, it is difficult to go past a Precision. As of this time there have been no pictures or announcements of different colour schemes, whereas the Latitude E-Series will soon have a choice of colours including red and blue.

The base is one large piece of magnesium alloy painted black. The finish on the bottom is marked easily with fingerprints but as it is underneath, it is probably not often seen. Plastic muted silver coloured hinge covers are present, although underneath it, the chassis is still magnesium alloy and appear to be only cosmetic. Five rubber feet about 2mm high are present (one on each corner and one over the hard drive) to prevent slippage. These elements are illustrated below.


Click here for a larger image

Regarding the weight of the M4400, the advertised weight of 2.69kg differed little in comparison to the actual weight of 2.81kg. Something that may have contributed to the 118g difference would concern the hard drive not being an SSD.

Hinge quality, as noted also in the Latitude E-Series, is of a superior quality, the whole block being comprised of an alloy piece. Suffice to say that these hinges should last a great deal longer than standard issue, and for a business model, it's a perfect compromise between mobility and endurance.

The screen has some twist present when an external force is applied on opposite sides of the screen. However, ripples do not appear on the LCD itself. There is no twist with normal use of opening and closing the screen. This degree of flex might be possible due to the bezel design of the model. A standard laptop screen is held together by screws mounted through the bezel into the chassis, and can help to stabilise it. However, the Latitude E-Series and new Precisions have "snap on" bezels (yet again, much like the Dell XPS) which do not help structural soundness. Furthermore, there is a very real risk of snapping the bezel if it is needed to be removed because the plastic is so thin, and great care must be taken to avoid possible damage to it.

The bottom half comprising of the base of the M4400 is a one piece magnesium alloy shell, within which the rest of the non-metal assemblies are fixed to, while the plastic top half forms the palm rest and surrounding structures. Items that are easily switchable and replaceable without removal or disassembly is the hard drive and DVD drive. These are shown below, with the hard drive still having the bezel attached.


Click here for a larger image

The hard drive can be removed by the removal of four screws in the base. The DVD drive is easily removed by the pressing of the lever, and the drive slides out once pulled. An optional screw through the lever can prevent the annoyance of an accidental pressing of the lever, however an extra will be charged for this “premium”, to the tune of $5 or so, depending on ordering location.

Access to components of the M4400 are easily done through the base of the machine by the release of a single captured screw to allow removal of a piece of the chassis covering, and enables quick access to any component inside. The illustration below has the access panel, hard drive, DVD drive, battery and hinge covers removed to expose all contents of the internal circuit board.


Click here for a larger image

Note the two separate heat sinks and cooling pipes. The rectangular heatsink (topmost) cools the CPU and the triangular heatsink (bottom) is for the GPU. The hard drive mount (bottom right) also does not have any shock absorbers.

On the reverse side, access is granted by the removal of the LED cover bezel, then the keyboard by the removal of two screws and sliding out the keyboard from its socket. Here is the reverse with keyboard, hard drive and DVD drive removed.


Click here for a larger image

The following picture has the right speaker grille and fingerprint sensor removed to expose the speaker system.


Click here for a larger image

Above is a close up of the speaker and an Australian dollar coin for comparison (which is slightly larger than a US quarter), proving that most of the space under the grille is just that.

Screen:
The LED display panel that came with this laptop is supplied by Philips LG (model LPL0AA8), and is a native screen size of 1440x900. However, 1280x800 and 1920x1200 were also available at time of purchase, although only the 1440x900 is available in LED. No dead or stuck pixels were detected with this panel.

There are both good and bad things about this screen. The good news is that it is bright. Very bright. Outdoors, there is no visibility problems even in bright sunlight. This degree of brightness can be seen in a comparison of the screens below with a Vostro 1500, which sports a CCFL Truelife display with the same resolution.


Click here for a larger image

Both are turned up to the maximum brightness. Note particularly the amount of reflection off the table.

The bad news is that to the perceptive eye, the Philips LG LED screen appears to be possibly a grainy display. However, there is reportedly an alternative LED display model by Samsung (SEC5442) for the M4400 that does not have this particular problem.

Apart from this problem, the display viewing angles from the left and right side are very good. There is slight inversion if the display is viewed from a vertical axis beginning at about a 45 degree angle from the horizontal in both directions, and worsens as the angles become higher. There is no evidence of uneven backlighting.

Speakers:
The sound quality emanating from the speakers are mediocre and lack strong bass and depth, enabling the listener to hear operating system sounds, but for other intentions and purposes, such as audio editing or quality music, they are useless.

Worse still, in Windows XP, the sound quality is very poor even with headphones, and the effect is like listening to something through a tin can. Thankfully, there is a potential fix for this problem by turning off the PC speaker in advanced settings in the Volume Control. This is most likely an audio driver problem, but until the problem is fixed, expect the ill-informed to be disappointed with watching movies and other sound related content in Windows XP (reportedly switching to Windows Vista fixes this level of poor sound quality with headphones altogether).

Finally to top it off, the audio ports are located very inconveniently on the top right side of the laptop. How many people have headphone wires that come from the right earpiece, especially ones that have a microphone headset combination? Also, the right side would not be a convenient place to put external speakers, as there will be a fight to get through them every time it is necessary to reach the two USB ports located directly behind audio and microphone ports.

Camera and Microphone:
The 0.3MP VGA camera (640x480) worked well with its colour balancing and image quality, despite it's low resolution. While it serves business net meetings to satisfaction, it unsurprisingly does poorly in an outdoor setting. The microphone attached however performs above expectations, and records clearly with little to no distortion from sound produced internally by the machine. Dell Webcam Central for Business is provided to facilitate ease of use and control over attributes.

AC Power Adapter:
Compared to the power adapter size of the Dell AC adapter of the previous generation, the new E-Series adapter is larger and thinner. The older generation AC adapter has a maximum output power of 90W, while the adapter for the E-Series gives a maximum output power of 130W. Both use the same output voltage of 19.5V. Here is a picture to give some idea of the difference in size.


Click here for a larger image

The left is the new E-Series adapter, while the right is the old generation adapter. Side views in ordered in a similar fashion.

Latch:
When buying any new laptop, if it has a device to keep the screen closed, it should always be checked to make sure it is well designed. It could mean the difference between a damaged screen resulting in costly repairs or an insignificant scratch on the cover.

The latching system on the new Precision and Latitude E-Series utilises a single fixed rectangular "O" ring and latch that fits through it, compared with most laptops that utilise a "J" hook spring type mechanism. The latch button is recessed into the edge of the laptop, making it much less likely to be depressed and thereby opening the screen accidentally.

Processor and Performance:
The Intel Core2Duo P8600 processor was tested in the M4400 for boot time performance. A lot of time has been shaved off boot times through the improved BIOS, which has been updated to a GUI style. A cold boot through the BIOS portion now lasts 5 seconds. On Windows XP, boot time onto the desktop including BIOS is 57 seconds, and includes loading of all default installed programs. This time involved the use of 3GB of RAM and a 7200 rpm drive.

Benchmarks:
SuperPi CPU benchmarking results are listed below. These are included only for the sake of completion, as the test itself is a bit out of date.



The nVidia Quadro FX 770M is a mid-range professional 3D graphics card, but that doesn't mean it can't run the latest and greatest games with ease! This graphics card runs Crysis with moderate settings fluently at 1280x800. The graphics performance benchmark 3DMark06 was run and confirms this, with 5 benchmarks run at the default of 1280x800, no AA, clocking an average of 5884 marks (5870, 5885, 5876, 5884, 5906).

The hard drive's HDTune report is displayed below. As expected the 7200 rpm improves the seek times drastically compared to a 5400 rpm drive.



Heat, Noise and Drive Performance:
After letting the system sit for an hour, HWMonitor was run to start recording temperatures, benchmarking then commenced for an hour, and finally the M4400 was allowed to sit for another hour while temperatures were recorded in the process. The temperature monitor chart is reproduced below.



The minimum temperature values are values obtained over idling the machine for an hour beforehand and afterwards. The maximum temperature column are the temperatures reached during benchmarking.

While the metal chassis at the base felt warm, it was not at an unpleasant level. The plastic palm rests remained cool throughout the tests.

The hard drive received with this laptop is a Seagate Momentus 120GB 7200rpm with Free Fall Sensing Protection. The Free Fall Sensor may be the reason why the drive enclosure does not have extra padding. This particular hard drive comes with two platters and three read heads and has a very quiet operation. Seagate's use here is applauded (whether by choice or chance) as they produce some of the most reliable drives, which independently boast a 5 year warranty.

The Philips LiteOn DVD+/-RW drive, while physically sound and fairly quiet, appears to experience problems writing and reading from certain media, and could possibly be due to a firmware issue. In either case, expect a new set of coasters for the coffee table every month (and maybe spares for the neighbours) until a firmware patch is released, or don't use it for media duplication at all. Below is the capabilities of the drive.



The fan makes an average level of noise when it is operating, and appears to operate on one of two fan speed (and noise) levels, depending on how hot it gets. When not in graphics demand however, the fan stays silent, and it is apparent that the separate heatsinks provided take the heat away and dissipates it fast enough via passive cooling that the fan does not need to work overtime.

Keyboard and Touchpad:
The backlit keyboard is shown as below.


Click here for a larger image

The keyboard feels tactile and responsive, and has a satisfying feel, bounce and depth, and the keyboard will feel right at home for Latitude D-Series users as they share a similar layout and format, although something should be done about the blank areas of keyboard on the left and right of the Up arrow key. There appears to be some degree of “keyboard lag”, where holding down one key will not produce a smooth stream of letters. This occurs in Windows XP – Windows Vista is untested for this anomaly, but appears to be a driver problem as it does not occur while running in Safe Mode. There is a slight keyboard flex on extreme right edge of the keyboard.

The backlight for the keyboard can be controlled by the ambient light sensor, software inside Windows or the Fn keys. The degree of backlight at the centre is slightly weaker than at the sides.

The pointing stick functions well, as do the buttons relating to it. The trackpad appears a little on the small side though, but still useable and responsive. Both the trackpad and pointing stick feature three buttons.

The status lights on the M4400 keyboard are in Dell's current trend of deep blue. The power and battery lights are reflected on the display back cover (not shown). Minimal to no bleeding of light through the surrounding status lights was detected. There is a mini volume control panel situated on the top right of the keyboard. These are non-backlit, even when pressed. Below are the lighting features and volume control as described.


Click here for a larger image

Input and Output Ports:
This section gives a list ports and connectivity options present on the M4400. They are listed based on the location of their presence on the laptop, from left to right side, and top to bottom. A photo snap is included for the eyes to help convert jargon to understanding.

Front:
  • Display release latch


Click here for a larger image

Left:
  • Security cable slot
  • USB port (PowerSharing enabled)
  • eSATA USB port
  • External monitor port
  • Air vents
  • ExpressCard slot
  • SD card slot


Click here for a larger image

Back:
  • Modem port (RJ-11)
  • Network port (RJ-45)
  • DisplayPort (HDMI, DVI, dual-link DVI, VGA via dongle)
  • AC Power Adapter


Click here for a larger image

Right:
  • PC Card slot
  • Optical drive
  • Smart card slot
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth switch
  • Wi-Fi Catcher
  • Firewire (1394a) port
  • Audio (line-out) port
  • Microphone (line-in) port
  • USB port x2


Click here for a larger image

Connectivity and functionality which is hidden and its location:
  • Radio frequency ID (RFID) reader (Underneath right palm rest)
  • Expansion port – Battery slice or docking station (Base, directly below battery)
  • Sim card slot (Behind battery)

Battery:
The 6-cell battery does moderately well, running for approximately 2 hours 45 minutes of normal office usage at 30% display brightness. With the option of a 9-cell battery, this could be extended to 4 hours on the battery cell alone without the extra battery slice.

Operating System and Software:
The system came pre-installed, and Dell has made an effort to ensure that in the event of a disaster, there is a way to fix things quickly. All software pre-installed was supplied on disks also. The M4400 was shipped with Windows XP as default. Dell will support both Windows XP and Windows Vista for the machine if it is purchased with Windows XP downgrade, but will not offer support if a downgrade is made from Windows Vista after receiving the machine, so it is always better to choose to downgrade at the factory, unless it can be ascertained that Windows XP won't be needed for sure. The supplied disks and documentation are:
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional - SP2 (CD)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business - SP1 (DVD)
  • Drivers and Utilities (DVD)
  • Dell Webcam Central for Business (CD)
  • Cyberlink PowerDVD DX 8.0 (CD)
  • Roxio Creator 9.0 DE (CD)
  • Dell Precision M4400 Setup and Quick Reference Guide (72 pages). Available from http://support.dell.com/support/edoc...up/X001CMR.pdf
As of this review, a new M4400 Service Manual has been posted on Dell's Website. It can be accessed from here: http://support.dell.com/support/edoc...n/sm/index.htm

Other problems:
The supplied Dell ControlPoint software has a check for connection access (Connection Manager). In the case that the machine has a connection problem, it will send an error message to the screen every minute or so, which can be very irritating. There does not seem to be a way to stop the messages short of terminating Dell ControlPoint.

The ambient light sensor can be annoying on a partly sunny day, as there will be constant fluctuation in screen brightness. Luckily this sensor can be turned off.


Conclusion:
The machine designed to meet all business needs with confidence is here. It has everything there is to need from a business machine, with legendary Dell next day service on-site for the next 3 years for peace of mind. This is one of the most powerful portable laptops available in this screen size today. Therefore, this machine can be recommended to most business class users who need 3D CAD and visually intensive graphics at a high performance level, or those who are looking to upgrade their old machine. If functionally it is needed as a gaming machine only with no emphasis for 3D designs and creations, there are cheaper options with the GeForce series for the same or better amount of performance. If graphics performance is not needed at all or work is largely with a lot of spreadsheets or other 2D software, recommendations can be made to take a look at the Dell Latitude E-Series, which have the same solid build quality as the Precisions but with a graphics card to do the tasks at hand better.

However, the biggest problem is to beware a possible poor quality display. No amount of words can describe the importance of this, as interaction with this piece of hardware is a basic necessity of a portable system. The upside of this is that if Dell Customer Service understands the problem and offers to repair it, there is a guarantee that there will be a call from a Dell engineer within the next working day. And that is what good customer service is all about. Just make sure to have a good book and spare time while waiting in the infamous Dell phone queue - the waits, transfers and dropouts may cause a good hour or more to be wasted before someone knowledgeable is able to help.

Pros:
  • Strong 3D design performance graphics card
  • Durable hinges
  • eSATA connection available
  • Easy access to internal components
  • Availability of both PC Card and Express Card
  • Quiet performance overall
  • Efficient cooling system
  • No screen backlight bleeding (LED)
  • Good screen chassis (no “rippling”) and base
  • Above average inbuilt microphone
  • Backlit keyboard

Cons:
  • Possible poor screen performance (graininess, depending on model received)
  • Reduced touchpad area
  • Poor audio quality from inbuilt speakers
  • Poor sound quality even with external speakers in Windows XP
  • Bad placement of external jack location
  • Problematic DVD drive in reading and writing
  • Lack of LCD back cover choice of colours compared to Latitudes
  • Large AC power adapter brick
  • Mediocre implementation of ambient light sensor (bad on partly sunny days)
  • No backlight or edge lights for touchpad/pointing stick
  • Incomplete colour lighting consistency (green reading LED on DVD drive)

EDIT: Weegie has gone to a lot of trouble to show the M4400 community the screen really is magnesium alloy, and has both scratched it and shown us the recyclable Mg sign. Thanks for it! Review updated to reflect that, a few typos fixed.

Answers: Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review ( Notebook Forums and Laptop Discussion Notebook News and Reviews )
Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by qaz333
Btw, John Ratsey, if i purchase a HDX Dragon with a 8800GTS, could i do a thorough guide like the review of the 8400GS? Thanks, i really want a greyed Username
That's a question you will have to ask Andrew.

John

John Ratsey

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant.
One of themost thorough and non-biased reviews i have ever seen on the internet.

I bow down to you (wheres that smiley when i need it!)



Btw, John Ratsey, if i purchase a HDX Dragon with a 8800GTS, could i do a thorough guide like the review of the 8400GS? Thanks, i really want a greyed Username

plasma.

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Thanks all for your kind words. I've been busy and haven't been on lately to answer the questions! John has been kind to answer a few questions it appears in my absence. I will skip the ones he answered for me already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSingularity
Did you experience any problem while gaming for more then 20 min with crysis was wandering did you experince the frame drop like cpaek72 did?
No I did not, even though I tested it for over an hour or two. It is very likely a driver problem that causes something like this, as laptopvideo2go.com users have identified this problem in some of the latest drivers they use. It is associated with bad drivers and/or overheating of the GPU chip, which causes an automatic or premature downclocking of the graphics card (designed to protect the GPU chip from overheat damage) until the next system restart.

Example:
http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/forum/...howtopic=19274

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtwn83
Excellent review. + rep. I found the "inconsistency of lights" as a con rather funny.
I didn't find it to be a problem, although there are perfectionists and I thought I'd like to point it out. I remember mentions somewhere of pink and blue lights on the older Vostro series not having a good stand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weegie
Lol...was wondering what happened to the review you were doing Enduct.

You've done a fine job with this,very fair and accurately portrayed....seems a few other people are not too impressed with the LG WXGA+ also.
Hopefully you are being looked after by dell in this regard,at some point,at least.

I love my samsung led screen,but like I said to you before,don't really know if my standard for screen quality is as high as yours or some others,but,I have had a lot of dell notebooks and this one is easily the pick of them,for what thats worth.....still it doesn't help any unhappy LG users,if dell won't exchange them for an alternative,to at least try.


Once again...excellent job

PS.do you still have it?
Thanks for your comments. I like to think I don't set any standards, but the problem was so obvious to me it had to be mentioned, as I'm sure others will detect it too.
No I don't have the machine anymore, as Dell said they couldn't change the screen for me anymore and agreed it was probably nothing to do with defective panels and wouldn't change the brand to Samsung for me (excuse was out of stock, never going to restock Samsungs again), so they took a refund for it. The Dell reps were hard to convince, but once the technician who replaced my screen (who happens to also be able to notice the graininess) got on to talk with the reps, it was solved pretty fast. As problematic as it is so far for me, I still would like to repurchase the M4400 again in the future, providing that the LG screen is not issued to me. If that can't be done, I won't bite this time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by m477hew
First off, amazing review. It is a fantastic commodity to have reviews that communicate so much vital information to the consumer.


Ok this is a long shot...

In this picture: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v3...luetoothyn.jpg it looks like the card circled is the bluetooth module, and it looks awfully like a mini PCIe card...if that's true then would it be possible to shove one of these in it?
It is the Ultra Wide Band (Wireless) and Bluetooth cards there. While I agree with you that it probably is a mini card slot, there are actually two of them in the M4400, one where you circled and one on the left side of the picture where there is a tag "WWAN/FCM" which is exactly the same mini slot. It would be a better idea to try and fit it there instead. Dell specifies you can only install the wireless/bluetooth module in the top right slot, and it probably has something to do with the switches located on the right side of the machine to turn it on and off and the wifi locator.

Enduct

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

First off, amazing review. It is a fantastic commodity to have reviews that communicate so much vital information to the consumer.


Ok this is a long shot...

In this picture: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v3...luetoothyn.jpg it looks like the card circled is the bluetooth module, and it looks awfully like a mini PCIe card...if that's true then would it be possible to shove one of these in it?

m477hew

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyceis
Very nice and thorough review! I will say, that although the power adapter seems big next to a prior gen 90W, It looks a *lot* smaller than a last gen 120-130W adapter, thats for sure.

Again, fantastic review!

PS - Are the problems with the DVD severe enough to warrant trying to get replacement drive from support? Seems like it would be to me...Just my two cents.

N
I really doubt Dell can do anything about the drive at this stage, since it appears to be standard issue across the range of new Latitudes and Precisions. Maybe if you get the plain (heaven forbid) DVD, they will give you a different model. As it appears to be a firmware problem, there is nothing to do but wait for the manufacturer to release a firmware update.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wujohn
Any one know for sure what the Quadra FX770 is...guessing it is equivilant to the 9600GT? What about the FX1700 that will be due later this month?
That is correct, it is the equivalent as a 9600M GT. The FX1700M will probably be close to the 9700M GT since it is still based on the same chip as 9600M GT, albeit an overclocked version.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ratsey
Thanks for this very helpful review.

I think I see many design aspects and parts shared with the E6400. Apart from that problematic DVD burner, the keyboard looks to be the same.

I've no hint of graininess with my 14.1" LG-Philips display. it's interesting that the 15.4" version isn't as good.

The bigger screen and the dedicated GPU give a substantial reduction in battery time. Perhaps Dell should have opted for switchable graphics for the Precision series.

John
Thanks John. In all honesty, I tried to make my review match yours on the sections so people could easily compare the two, including parts and such. You will notice some similarities in the systematic, especially when I show features. You are an inspirational person!

Yes the keyboards do seem to be the same. They have no reason not to be!

I agree with you on the screen. My good screen on my Vostro (which I compared to the Precision in this review) is also a Philips LG (LPLD00), but is not grainy in the slightest. It is probably a production process or a parts thing and is situational, much like how you will randomly get Samsung or Philips LG with Dell. Of course, across screen sizes, with the E6400 being a 14.1" you could miss out altogether!


Now if only the forum moderators can add my review to their list... I've asked them almost a full week ago on their email. In the end I had to resort to putting pictures up on an external site just to get the whole thing to link properly.

Enduct

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Thank you for the very thorough review! I have been searching for a review on this laptop every day for the last 2 weeks. I am planning on ordering mid Oct. Hopefully the higher res LED screen and the updated graphics will be available by then. Once again, Thank you.

vbnet

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Good review!
Btw...has anyone seen/ has pictures of the black finish LCD cover?

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Thanks for this very helpful review.

I think I see many design aspects and parts shared with the E6400. Apart from that problematic DVD burner, the keyboard looks to be the same.

I've no hint of graininess with my 14.1" LG-Philips display. it's interesting that the 15.4" version isn't as good.

The bigger screen and the dedicated GPU give a substantial reduction in battery time. Perhaps Dell should have opted for switchable graphics for the Precision series.

John

John Ratsey

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Very nice and thorough review! I will say, that although the power adapter seems big next to a prior gen 90W, It looks a *lot* smaller than a last gen 120-130W adapter, thats for sure.

Again, fantastic review!

PS - Are the problems with the DVD severe enough to warrant trying to get replacement drive from support? Seems like it would be to me...Just my two cents.

N

Nyceis

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Very nice and thorough review! I will say, that although the power adapter seems big next to a prior gen 90W, It looks a *lot* smaller than a last gen 120-130W adapter, thats for sure.

Again, fantastic review!

PS - Are the problems with the DVD severe enough to warrant trying to get replacement drive from support? Seems like it would be to me...Just my two cents.

N

Nyceis

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Thanks for the review. NBR is telling me to spread some reputation around before giving it to you, so sorry about that!

ElectricTool

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Thanks for the review
I've been waiting on one for the M4400 for awhile now
I orderd mine just before reading this

spajix

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Nice review and a pretty good looking laptop. I've been waiting for a Dell that met my needs hardware wise. Any one know for sure what the Quadra FX770 is...guessing it is equivilant to the 9600GT? What about the FX1700 that will be due later this month?

Wujohn

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Lol...was wondering what happened to the review you were doing Enduct.

You've done a fine job with this,very fair and accurately portrayed....seems a few other people are not too impressed with the LG WXGA+ also.
Hopefully you are being looked after by dell in this regard,at some point,at least.

I love my samsung led screen,but like I said to you before,don't really know if my standard for screen quality is as high as yours or some others,but,I have had a lot of dell notebooks and this one is easily the pick of them,for what thats worth.....still it doesn't help any unhappy LG users,if dell won't exchange them for an alternative,to at least try.


Once again...excellent job

PS.do you still have it?

Weegie

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by The General
Is the ambient light sensor located on the bezel below the screen like it is on the D420? I've found that the one on my D420 is easily blocked when typing causing it to dim the screen too much, is there a similar problem here?
That's the arrangement on the E6400 so the M4400 is most likely the same. I use it only for triggering the keyboard backlight, not for the display brightness.

John

John Ratsey

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ratsey
That's the arrangement on the E6400 so the M4400 is most likely the same. I use it only for triggering the keyboard backlight, not for the display brightness.

John
OK, thanks. I swear dell must not have actually tested the ambient light sensor before releasing it because it should only take a day of usage to realise how stupid it is. I use it as a quick toggle for screen brightness on my D420 for when I'm typing or in the dark, it's not use for anything else.

The General

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enduct
Thanks John. In all honesty, I tried to make my review match yours on the sections so people could easily compare the two, including parts and such. You will notice some similarities in the systematic, especially when I show features. You are an inspirational person!
Thanks.

Your review also deserves more recognition than it is currently getting.

John

John Ratsey

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Is the ambient light sensor located on the bezel below the screen like it is on the D420? I've found that the one on my D420 is easily blocked when typing causing it to dim the screen too much, is there a similar problem here?

The General

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Excellent review. + rep. I found the "inconsistency of lights" as a con rather funny.

dtwn83

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Let me see...i have the ST9250421ASG...the 250 and 320 are ofcourse the capacities but what could the -G or notr -G at the end mean...speed or maybe the freefall sensor..or is that the FDE? All these terms leave me puzzled..lol

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

AS = no FFS / ASG = FFS

Hagbard Celine

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

At first glance I assumed it would be the 7200 FDE - ST9320424ASG but I can't find that anywhere for sale so maybe they are using the 7200.3 - ST9320421AS

pneffkell

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhinos
Results of Specviewperf 10.0

3DSMax 34.46
Catia 39.91
Ensight 29.41
Maya 59.8
Pro-E 36.88
SW 48.46
Tcvis 17.95
Ugnx 17.46
Thank you very much. And very nice results too. My FireGL V5600's Pro/E score was 31 or so. For those who don't already know, specviewperf is a benchmark program for professional GPUs, just like 3dmark is a bench mark for gaming GPUs.

Johnny T

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Well...what Dell uses are Seagate Momentus drives with freefall sensor. Ofcourse the ffs is an option you can choose to take or not but those disks are more expensive but...better protected. Keep in minf that the laptop itself doesn't have that much shock protection for the HDD because they (i think) assume people to go for the FFS drives.

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Results of Specviewperf 10.0

3DSMax 34.46
Catia 39.91
Ensight 29.41
Maya 59.8
Pro-E 36.88
SW 48.46
Tcvis 17.95
Ugnx 17.46

rhinos

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Lol...no need for me to do it then Setup here is pretty much the same

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

I assume these are WD hard drive right? This is a killer deal - Western Digital WD3200BJKT 89$ - would it not be just fine?

pneffkell

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Hi Johnny

Downloading the app you mentioned as we speak...never really heard of it before so...could you tell me what it tests exactly? I saw a test for 3dsmax in which i specifically would be interested, is that included in the 587mb i'm downloading?
Will post results when done

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

So no issues with just ordering the Harddrive and replacing it then. Cool.

pneffkell

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

No but what i did was call them and give them the choice to sell me the HDD + RAM at a competitive price or i would upgrade later and buy minimum from them...ended up paying about 100€ less than i would've payed upgrading later
ALWAYS worth calling iso ordering online

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

The m4400 does come with a 64bit OS depending on which country you're ordering in. I don't really understand why it is not o 7c12 ffered in the US.

Enduct.
I didn't point those out in disagreement with your review as indeed those were issues at that time. It was more meant as information for the people reading it that some of the problems no longer exist. I loved your review and it was one of the best informational pieces i found that convinced me to buy the laptop.
Definetly agree about the speakers though...they could've been better easily. But as an audio enthousiast (and part time producer) i'd never listen to any laptop speakers anyway..only a few are near decent

pnefkell...you could just order the Seagate drive mentioned in the Configurator at any shop and replace it. Don't know too much about all the other options but i know that the module bay only takes 1,8" drives where most large drives are 2,5" so options are limited as far as i know.

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

I just ordered one of these things for my work pc. but now I have a question. I only got an 80g 7200 rpm drive for my main drive because i saw you could have a second drive. I do a lot of video and I am purchasing this laptop to film direct to drive with OnLocation. Now I am thinking I would have to replace my dvd drive with the second drive as a video drive. A couple of questions. Can I just replace the 80gig drive with any 320 gig 7200 rpm drive. Can I use a 320 gig 7200 rpm drive via the dvd port, can i really get good write speeds via the eSata port?

pneffkell

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Hi All

I'm just about to replace my works machine and this looks the one to get, i do mostly SQL and Visual Studio 2008, very little in the way of graphics. So it is just raw power i am after.

I looked at the M6300 and M6400 but i could not see why they were so expensive!! Any ideas?

Also i have dual Monitors at work running 1280 x 1024 would this laptop with the E-Port Plus allow me to use them?

Also i don't know whether to get Vista/XP or 32bit or 64bit!

Would appreciate some guidance, don't want to get stuck in the mud!

Cheers

Danny

dannywooly

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by e-trak
disappointed with the speakers and flaws when you`re paying so much
Me too. Some Altec Lansings or Harmon/Kardon internal speakers wouldn't have hurt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LPTP-LVR
I have too say most of those flaws are pretty much personal issues i think.

Screens are poor though but the rest....some of the probs just don't exist in my laptop, others have been fixed and some are just not that important.

Even with the issues i did have i still consider it well worth the money!
It might seem that way because I try to address everything. It is for that reason it is called a peer review, and one mans rubbish is anothers' riches. If Dell have fixed some problems with the system, then that's great. Keep in mind this review was written 1 month after release of the system, and about 2 weeks after the first machines were delivered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ernstloeffel
I have a question about the battery runtime. How long does the battery last while:
- Watching movies
- Web surfing?

I'm especially interested in the results with the LED screen and the difference between 6 and 9 cell.

Thanks.
Probably more than what I used in the numbers I listed, as I was doing heavy construction modelling at the time. Also I was not using the wireless for web surfing at the time. Basically you can x1.5 the time between a 6 and 9 cell. I still do not expect the 9 cell battery to outlast 6 hours using the best power management configuration (4 hours for 6 cell).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackyb
i love casing on this laptop
It does add class to the product, as the majority of business laptops look like Lenovo Thinkpads (ie. black and more black). I am a little surprised that the new Precision M6400 do not keep the rippled cover style, but knowing that when it was announced, it was part of the Latitude series and I guess management did not want to waste time changing such superficial things when they had the parts in production already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannywooly
Hi All

I'm just about to replace my works machine and this looks the one to get, i do mostly SQL and Visual Studio 2008, very little in the way of graphics. So it is just raw power i am after.

I looked at the M6300 and M6400 but i could not see why they were so expensive!! Any ideas?

Also i have dual Monitors at work running 1280 x 1024 would this laptop with the E-Port Plus allow me to use them?

Also i don't know whether to get Vista/XP or 32bit or 64bit!

Would appreciate some guidance, don't want to get stuck in the mud!

Cheers

Danny
The pricing difference comes mainly from the graphics card. The Quadro FX 2700M and 3700M (Grade 1 graphics cards) in the M6400 are vastly superior to the 770M (Grade 2 graphics card) in the M4400. As they are business class graphics cards, they can increase the price of the system substantially.

Quoting the E-Port Plus, "It provides optimized support for VGA, two DVI and two Display ports. With native resolution of 2560x1600 via display ports it can support two 30" LCD." As the DisplayPorts can be converted to a number of connection types, I am sure you will be fine.

Assuming you already have the 64-bit versions available (as the M4400 only comes with the 32-bit at point of sale) the 64-bit versions would deliver more power, as you yourself have said you want a system with more raw power. Also it allows the proper usage of 4GB of RAM (or more) should you choose to install that much. Whether you get Vista or XP is a tossup, as I believe both (with service packs applied of course) to function on par. There are not many new features between Vista and XP for me to find the upgrade from XP to Vista viable. My advice is if you already have both Vista and XP 64-bit, to install Vista, but if you do not have Vista and are contemplating buying it to replace XP, don't bother. The extra features within aren't worth it. Better to save your money and have a look at the upcoming Windows 7 which is slated for next year. And of course if you are having compatibility issues with older hardware (pre-2006) you would be better off using XP 64-bit, and if that still does not work, as a last resort, down to 32-bit when all else fails. However, most companies offer 64-bit drivers for their hardware these days so this problem is not likely.

Enduct

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

I have a question about the battery runtime. How long does the battery last while:
- Watching movies
- Web surfing?

I'm especially interested in the results with the LED screen and the difference between 6 and 9 cell.

Thanks.

ernstloeffel

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

i love casing on this laptop

Jackyb

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Cons:

* Possible poor screen performance (graininess, depending on model received)
* Reduced touchpad area
* Poor audio quality from inbuilt speakers
* Poor sound quality even with external speakers in Windows XP
* Bad placement of external jack location
* Problematic DVD drive in reading and writing
* Lack of LCD back cover choice of colours compared to Latitudes
* Large AC power adapter brick
* Mediocre implementation of ambient light sensor (bad on partly sunny days)
* No backlight or edge lights for touchpad/pointing stick
* Incomplete colour lighting consistency (green reading LED on DVD drive)
disappointed with the speakers and flaws when you`re paying so much

e-trak

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

I have too say most of those flaws are pretty much personal issues i think.

Screens are poor though but the rest....some of the probs just don't exist in my laptop, others have been fixed and some are just not that important.

Even with the issues i did have i still consider it well worth the money!

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Nice review. While I'm not in the market for a Precision, it is refreshing to see well written reviews regardless of what products I'm interested in.

surfasb

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by pneffkell
i found it at nowdirect . com
nowdirect has awesome HD prices. even the Intel X25-M is a good price at $610.

sgogeta4

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Still think you should've just called them to ask for lower price....now your HDD isn't covered in their guarantee....or did you already have your laptop?

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enduct
May I have your permission to add this data into the review when I update it?
yeeeeees

rhinos

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Thanks for all the help guys. Ordered the 320gig drive for 100 bucks today. Way cheaper than what dell charges.

pneffkell

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

i found it at nowdirect . com

pneffkell

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by LPTP-LVR
The m4400 does come with a 64bit OS depending on which country you're ordering in. I don't really understand why it is not offered in the US.

Enduct.
I didn't point those out in disagreement with your review as indeed those were issues at that time. It was more meant as information for the people reading it that some of the problems no longer exist. I loved your review and it was one of the best informational pieces i found that convinced me to buy the laptop.
Definetly agree about the speakers though...they could've been better easily. But as an audio enthousiast (and part time producer) i'd never listen to any laptop speakers anyway..only a few are near decent

pnefkell...you could just order the Seagate drive mentioned in the Configurator at any shop and replace it. Don't know too much about all the other options but i know that the module bay only takes 1,8" drives where most large drives are 2,5" so options are limited as far as i know.
I will hopefully get around to updating the things that have been fixed with the M4400, and of course I did realise that some things would be fixed, especially the glaring problems so I will update accordingly. Thanks again for the heads up

Enduct

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhinos
Results of Specviewperf 10.0

3DSMax 34.46
Catia 39.91
Ensight 29.41
Maya 59.8
Pro-E 36.88
SW 48.46
Tcvis 17.95
Ugnx 17.46
May I have your permission to add this data into the review when I update it?

Enduct

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Ah see...thx hagbard

LPTP-LVR

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by pneffkell
I assume these are WD hard drive right? This is a killer deal - Western Digital WD3200BJKT 89$ - would it not be just fine?
where is it $89?

sgogeta4

Dell Precision M4400 Peer Review

Thanks for the review, good read and some excellent information in there. I am puzzle as to why this was never on the front page.

Looks like a very decent notebook in terms of build quality. Is it possible for you and a M4400 owner to run some specviewperf 10.0 benchmarks... or have someone already done it in the Dell forum? I'd love to see some of those scores for the FX770.

Johnny T

Johnny T

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