Sunday, June 12, 2011

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 on the Dell Precision M4600

I've been testing my Dell Precision M4600 with the Premiere Pro CS5.5 trial version. I love it.

My M4600 came  with a NVIDIA  Quadro 2000M and 8GB of RAM. I put in two HD uncompressed clips back to back and played it out. It played smoothly even on the highest quality at 100% size. So the new Mercury Playback Engine was working well. It was just like the demo videos on the Adobe websites. Only when I put color correction into the clip did it start to jerk a little, however on 1/2 quality it played smoothly.

I exported one of the clips to After Effects to use the warp stabilizer. It took about 3-5 mins for the background render to complete for a 1 min clip. At the same time I could continue editing in Premiere Pro. That is going to save so much time in the future.

While it's still amazing, I think the Quadro 2000M is just scratching the surface and meets only the minimum requirement for the full capabilities of the CS5.5. To really see its full capabilities and enjoy fast unrendered workflow, the Dell Precision M5600 is the machine to go for. the M5600 will have the higher end NVIDIA Quadro 5010M cards on it. However, this is way out of my budget.

For me, what I have now is good enough. While I only have 8GB RAM and it's already doing well. In future, if I am going to be doing more effects and rendering, I would upgrade to 16GB RAM.

Also, I've been playing Shogun 2 on it at the highest setting. It plays smoothly and looks great.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Owner's manual for the Dell Precision M4600

Dell finally updated their support website with the owner's manual here.

So now if you ever want to take apart the notebook, you can do it on your own!

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
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.

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.