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Dell M4600 vs. Thinkpad W530


Dell M4600 vs. Thinkpad W530

I am making the jump from a desktop workstation to a mobile laptop workstation due to my responsibilities with system administration for Creo and Windchill.

I am on the fence about the brand because I am very familiar with Dell Workstations as we use them for all Engineers but our company uses Thinkpads exclusively for our Regional Sales Managers.

How do Dell Laptops hold up in comparison to Thinkpad's?

Is there an advantage of one over the other?

any input is appreciated

"Too many people walk around like Clark Kent, because they don't realize they can Fly like Superman"

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As long as the laptop is certified there isn't much difference beyond the name on the cover. Most laptops are made in China at factories owned by one company. They come down the assembly line like the old GM factories did cars; 1 Chevrolet, 1 Buick, 1 Chevrolet, 1 Pontiac, 2 Chevrolets, 1 Pontiac, etc.

Thank you,

Ben H. Loosli

That's an interesting thought about assembly line computers. Make mine a Sony, if you please.

As long as it has a CAD graphics card and not a gamer card, you should
be good.

Cars are still built that way. I toured the Lansing Delta assembly
plant where GM build the Lambda SUVs (Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick
Enclave and at one time my Saturn Outlook), they come down the line
interspersed. Very impressive facility.

Honda does it even better; all their cars have the same mounting points
for the assembly line, so they can swap a line from Civics to Pilots in
days to meet demand. I'm not sure that they intersperse them, though.
Pilots and Odysseys and MDXs maybe, but not likely Civics at the same

On laptops, China's a big country with a lot of factories; I doubt they
all come from one supplier. Besides, the parent company's oversight on
that supplier can have a big impact on the quality of the product
produced, I would think.

Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer

That's a good point Doug. I know nothing about graphics cards. I always
thought a gamer card would kick butt on CAD. What's the diff?

We have some W520's and I have evaled a W530. They both have issues
with how the graphics system works and they require relatively large
power bricks which some might not like too much. Creo and Pro/e behave
normally but the machines have two graphics cards in them. The intel
graphics built into the cpu and the separate Nvidia card. Read up on
the internet about them before you dive in. One big problem with the
two card setup is doing presentations. You cannot clone the laptop
screen to the side vga port that you would normally plug the projector
into. You can only extend your display to the side port. It also takes
a bit of screwing around to get the latest graphics drivers to go on.
The idea behind the two cards is that the system will use the low power
intel one unless an app calls for a more powerful card at which point it
switches to the nvidia card. Good theory; poor implementation. I can't
tell you anything about the Dell.

I’m not sure of the technical differences, but gamer cars (the Nvidia GeForce line) do OK with moderate amounts of data in a single window or maybe two. Open too many windows and they lock up. I’ve not had issues with the CAD cards (Nvidia Quadro line).

Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer



I never looked at it this way but I guess there is a lot of truth to the fact that most things are made in one location somewhere in China.

I am leaning toward the Dell M4700 just because we currently have all Dell Precisions 3500 Workstations and they have done well for us.

Here are the specs. I am considering.

3rd Gen Intel Core i7-3520M Processor (2.9GHz, 4M cache)

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

AMD FirePro M4000 Mobility Pro Graphics with 1GB GDDR5

8.0GB, DDR3-1600MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMMS

15.6" UltraSharp FHD (1920x1080) Wide View, Anti-Glare

128GB 2.5" (SATA3) Mobility Solid State Drive

8X DVD+/-RW Slot Load

9-cell (97Wh) Primary Lithium Ion Battery, (3.0Ah) ExpressCharge Capable

Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 802.11n 3x3 Half Mini-card

Time for the hardware geeks to jump in and let me know if everything looks good. 🙂

"Too many people walk around like Clark Kent, because they don't realize they can Fly like Superman"

The big difference in the cards is the underlying software implemented in the hardware/chip.
Gamers use DirectX and CAD uses Open GL.
They will both work for the other purpose but you take a hit as the CPU has to translate the display calls in software between the different formats.
On Pro/E with a gamer card, you may get better performance with a single part, but not an assembly. Also, a gamer card may only have enough memory to open 3 or 4 part windows, while a CAD card may open 10 or more.

Thank you,

Ben H. Loosli

You might consider Grumman Creations as well. I know Bernie Grumman and he would do a bang up job for you.

Good to know all this. Thanks Ben!

I bought the m4600 last year and really like it. The kicker for me was the keyboard layout includes a numerical keypad, not available in the 15.6" thinkpad..
Most of the time my computer sits closed on a docking station while I use a Logitech keyboard and mouse with a 22" monitor.
I took the nvidia GeForce and that works fine.
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