Thursday, June 02, 2011

more on the Dell Precision M4600

Damn, I just realized I made a mistake... well two mistakes actually. In my rush to buy this notebook, I forgot to check how many DIMM slots it had. It was only after opening the back panel I discovered that this one had only two DIMM slots. Here's what the documentation on the Dell website said

Intel Core i5 and i7 Dual Core
processors
two DIMM slots

Intel Core i7 Quad Core and i7
Quad Extreme processors
four DIMM slots

If I had spend more to get the Quad Core processor (which is like RM243 more) I would have gotten 4 DIMM slots! Now I only have two. Not really a big deal. Initially, I was planning to upgrade to 4X4GB of RAM for a total of 16GB of RAM. So far, the 8GB now is doing well. In future, I can just pull out this two chip and put in two 8GB chips.

Also, I assumed this notebook would have 2 hard disk bay. It only has one. If I knew, I don't think I would have taken the SSD drive. After formatting, it only has 228GB of space. After installing my software and putting in my 56GB of music, I only have 99.5GB of space left. Not a lot.

I think I got confused when I started reading about how some people swapped their optical drive for a hard disk instead. I think in future, I might consider doing that. For now, the plan is to buy an external 1TB USB 3.0 Hard Disk and just store my other data in it. I am already using a 500GB USB2.0 external Hard Disk and it's almost full.

I also plan to get an eSATA external hard disk for editing my HD videos. This one I might get a RAID drive with 4 hard disk slots.

Okay, back to the notebook. When the delivery guy delivered it, it just came in a small box.





So when I opened the box, this is what I got. The strange thing is there wasn't much documentation explaining about the BIOS, DIMM slots, etc. I guess they want you to just call their help desk and deal with them directly.

The box says it's made in China. I always thought Dell assembled it in Penang, I guess this model is assembled in China. It's got Foxconn stickers inside it.



Front view. The button that pops open the monitor is quite sturdy.

Left Side.

The Express Card slot and the SD card slot.

The back.




The Right side.

 This WIFI switch doesn't feel very sturdy. You can see it's a little of keel already. I think this one is going to be a problem in the future.


 This is the main hard disk bay (where my SSD is). There's 4 screws to remove inside and a switch to pop if I want to remove it. I haven't tried it yet.


The dock connector doesn't have a cover. I can see it getting dust inside. I think I'm going to cover it with tape to prevent dust from entering the port.






They don't print the model number here. I wonder why?

 That's the battery. There was no documentation to show how to remove the battery. I just had to fiddle around as there was just one tab at the back to slide and out it popped.


 After I removed the battery, there was two small screws holding the back panel down. I removed the screws and slide the panel away from the battery dock.

It seems that the only area I could access from here is the DIMM slots, the hard disk is to the left of the DIMM slots and above the battery dock.






When I removed the optical drive, this is the connector I saw. I think I'm going to find a caddy to fit in here so I can use a secondary hard disk.

 I removed one of the fans and I saw this. Not sure what part this is. I tried googling some of the names I saw but nothing that made sense came up.

Overall, the construction of the notebook is really sturdy. It feels solid enough. The only fun part about the SSD is that applications open up really fast. Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 opens up in less than 5 seconds. I can also play full HD videos smoothly in Premiere.

One of the main reasons I bought a Dell instead of a HP is because of their service. I've seen their service and it's really fantastic. I have a colleague who has a Precision notebook and he used to call the technician to come over and fix problems for him and they would change hardware parts with no questions asked. I love that kind of service. When I had my old Benq notebook, they had the worst service and I had to drive to them and wait weeks for anything to get fixed.

I think me and this notebook are going to have loads of fun working together. I took a 4 year warranty from Dell for it. So I'm going to be playing around with it for a long time.



UPDATE:
I just read the owner's manual and I was wrong. There are 4 DIMM slots on the notebook. The Primary slots are under the keyboard, the secondary slots are at the bottom of the notebook. It's just my configuration doesn't allow to use 4 DIMM slots. Will try adding it in future to see if it works.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry but you're wrong. The M4600 has 4 DIMMs on all systems, dual and quad. 2 are located under the bottom door and the 2 are located under the keyboard.
Check your facts next time.

luxen said...

Hi Anonymous,

My facts are from the Dell support documents on the notebook here:

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/wsM4600/en/sfits/sfits_en.pdf

This is what it says under Memory:

Memory connectors
Intel Core i5 and i7 Dual Core
processors
two DIMM slots

Intel Core i7 Quad Core and i7
Quad Extreme processors
four DIMM slots

Memory capacity 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB

Memory type DDR3 1333 MHz and 1600 MHz (faster
UI)

Minimum memory 2 GB

Maximum memory
Intel Core i5 and i7 Dual Core
processors
16 GB

Intel Core i7 Quad Core and i7
Quad Extreme processors
32 GB


So for the i5 and i7 Dual Core processor, it's only 2 DIMM Slots. I wish you were right and I was wrong so I could have 4 slots too!

I'm not going to open up the notebook again just to check under the keyboard. Too much hassle for now. Will do it only later when I really want to upgrade.

Anonymous said...

Regarding RAM: all M4600 have 4 DIMMS slots but dual core CPUs only support 2 DIMMS (while quad core CPUs support 4 DIMMS). So if you want 16GB with a dual core, you'll have to get 2x8GB.

Regarding the storage: the M4600 has only one hard disk bay (and I'm not sure you'll be able to use a caddy in the optical drive bay like it was possible with previous models) so the "manufacturer way" to get a SSD+HD combo is to get a mini card SSD and to use the standard bay for the mechanical drive.

Anonymous said...

Hi Luxen and thanks for your comments on the m4600.

I just bought one myself and planned to change the mechanical HDD to a SSD and use the HDD as a D:.

Both my dealer and Dell said that it was possible to use two hard drives in the m4600. And now you and others says that it isn't possible.

Actually I'am sitting right now and try to remove the HDD...

Is that correct? Since the Dell technician said that you can use raid systems and use double disks..

Anyone know how it is?

BR/Andy

Anonymous said...

Hi Luxen and thanks for your comments on the m4600.

I just bought one myself and planned to change the mechanical HDD to a SSD and use the HDD as a D:.

Both my dealer and Dell said that it was possible to use two hard drives in the m4600. And now you and others says that it isn't possible.

Actually I'am sitting right now and try to remove the HDD...

Is that correct? Since the Dell technician said that you can use raid systems and use double disks..

Anyone know how it is?

BR/Andy

Anonymous said...

well you need to get a caddy that is the only way for you to use 2.5 hard drives. The 2nd HDD dell supports and offers is a Express card like device. Only the M6600( the larger model) supports 2 2.5 HDDs +1 express card

I own a m4600 and i used a caddy from my old 4500 and it work just fine


2.5 HDD is a Laptop size hard drive

luxen said...

If one needs to use two HDD, you should have ordered the 128GB Solid State Minicard Drive as it would not use the HDD slot in the M4600.

If you order the M4600 with the minicard, Dell's website will ask you to order a secondary hard disk. You can probably tell the sales rep you don't want one and buy your own which is more value for money.

Only the M5600 has two HDD slots.

Trying to buy a Minicard drive other than the Dell one is very hard. Haven't found one yet.

The other option is to use an optical drive caddy. Take out the DVD drive and put in a HDD adapter (caddy) and tben you can have 2 HDD.

Mine came with just the basic DVD drive. I plan to take it out one day and put a HDD in it there and buy an external blue-ray drive to use.

Anonymous said...

Hi luxen

What's the noise like ? Is it a quiet laptop?

Thanks

E

Gnyff said...

Regarding Mini-Card flash disks there /seems/ to be a selection available. My best bet right now is the RunCore RCP-V-T5060-MC (60GB, seems to be one of the fastest - also available in ~120 and ~30GB). And then probably a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid HD (500GB magnetic and 4GB flash) in the 2½" bay.

Ref: http://www.mydigitaldiscount.com/runcore-60gb-pro-v-sata-6g-50mm-msata-ssd/ (they list it to be compatible with the M4600 ;-)

Gianluca Sartori said...

Stay away from the RunCore mSata for this laptop. It simply doesn't work. See here for more info: http://spaghettidba.com/2011/10/19/runcore-msata-ssd-on-dell-precision-laptops/

luxen said...

Sorry, accidentally deleted comments asking about the fan noise.

To answer your question,

My room is adjusted to 26C, so it's a little warmer than most people like it. The fan hardly came on and even if it does, it was not louder than the ambient noise in my study room or loud enough to be noticeable. It hardly turned on unless i was using it outdoor in the sun.

Anonymous said...

Has any one used the mini hard drive. I got my 4600, swapped the HDD for a SDD Crucial 250, but would really like to get the 128 or so microdrive as primary and use the SDD as secondary. Any performance lag with the micro SDD

Anonymous said...

You can always change the CPU, that's what I did.

Now I have 16GB RAM, and the world is a much better place :-)

Arthur Dent said...

I am considering the purchase of an M4600 now. Has anyone found a mini-card SSD or was successful in just ordering the M4600 from Dell with just the mini-card SSD and no HDD? The price goes up dramatically once I add both HDD and SSD minicard from them...

Anonymous said...

I just installed an mSATA in the WWAN labeled slot and it worked and there is a driver to install on their site that makes it work even better. I used the mSATA that was purchased initially for an M6800.
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=N0X8T&fileId=2731100421&osCode=W764&productCode=precision-m4600&languageCode=EN&categoryId=DD
or this one
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=KC9W0&fileId=2731102814&osCode=W764&productCode=precision-m4600&languageCode=EN&categoryId=CS

after I ran them both the yellow flag for the Mass Storage Device went away.