Dell Precision M3800 review

Dell packs a beautiful 15in display (3,200 x 1,880) into a 19mm chassis. But is performance and battery life up to scratch?

Ergonomics

Dell has clearly been inspired by Apple for the Precision's backlit keyboard: both laptops have Scrabble-tile units in the middle of the wrist-rest between wide bands of empty space.

The keyboard has a good action, with a solid base alongside responsive, consistent keys. The forgiving action soon saw us up to speed. Dell's smooth, wide trackpad is a match for the Apple equivalent, too, thanks to gesture support and a pair of snappy buttons.

The omission of a numberpad is unusual on a workstation designed for work, but there's no need for such small Return and cursor keys on a laptop of this size.

Options and upgrades

Our sample was priced at 1,865 but this drops to 1,738 if you're willing to forego the ProSupport warranty.

The top spec will set you back 1,974 model and it comes with a spacious 512GB SSD.

An entry-level model with a 1,920 x 1,080 screen, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk is also available priced at 1,506. None of the specifications can be customised.

Each system can be augmented by basic and ProSupport warranties lasting between one and five years priced from 102 to 511. Various security options including anti-theft tagging, data protection and tracing options are available too.

The BIOS can be customised with boot settings and other tweaks for a small fee, and a 157 docking station adds USB ports, extra display outputs and a Gigabit Ethernet socket.

Overall

The Dell excels in key categories of the display, processor and has an ISV-certified discrete GPU. It's all inside a stunning, sturdy chassis which gives Apple's MacBook a run for its money.

However, Apple devices have faster storage, superior battery life, and Intel Iris graphics can even outpace the Nvidia GPU in some tests. The Retina Display might not have as many pixels as the Dell, but it's a brilliant screen in its own right.

The Dell is 150 more expensive than the MacBook Pro, but only the screen justifies this price. The M3800 is the best Windows workstation we've seen for some time, and it's a great buy if you need the best screen possible but the MacBook is a better all-rounder.

Verdict

A brilliant workstation laptops which balances great design with power. However, it could have better battery life and it is expensive.

Processor: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4702HQ GPU: Nvidia Quadro K1100M with 2GB GDDR5 Memory: 16GB DDR3 Storage: 256GB Lite-On SSD; 500GB hard disk Optical: n/a Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4 Ports: 3 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, SD card reader, 1 x headphone Dimensions: 372 x 254 x 19mm (WxDxH) Weight: 1.88kg

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