Dell Precision M3800 Mobile Workstation Review

Article Index

Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Mobile and workstation aren't two words that often played nice with each other, though we're starting to see an interesting synergy emerge. Dell's Precision M3800 is yet more proof that workstations can be truly mobile, not just in name, but in performance. Compared to the wealth of home consumer laptops we've tested in the past, including high-end ones, the M3800 showed that it can perform every bit as good, and even better in many cases. This is especially true in professional grade benchmarks like Cinebench, where the M3800's Quadro K1100M ran circles around the integrated Intel HD Graphics that most Ultrabooks lean on. We were also impressed to see that the M3800 could play games, even though that's not a point of focus. In our Far Cry 2 benchmark, it averaged over 75 frames per second, proving that if you need to take a break, the M3800 will happily oblige.

Dell Precision M3800 Open

There's little room for error when building a mobile workstation, and for the most part, Dell got the important parts right, starting with the display. The Precision M3800 brings a 4K resolution display to the job site, offering plenty of on-screen real estate in a portable 15.6-inch package. It's a second generation IGZO panel with excellent viewing angles, and icing on the cake is touch functionality. Even if you're opting for Windows 7, which was never designed for touch, having that capability can come in handy when manipulating 3D objects. Just as important, touch support wasn't added at the expense of quality -- the visuals on the Precision M3800 are superb.

When it comes to work chores, the Precision M3800 as configured offers a solid foundation consisting of an Intel Core i7 4712HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, a fast 256GB solid state drive, and a professional grade NVIDIA Quadro K1100M GPU for 3D grunt work. Combined with ISV certification, the M3800 has all the pieces to not just survive, but thrive in the field. And when you're back in the office, you may find value in the Thunderbolt 2 port, which allows you to view/edit and write 4K content simultaneously.

As far as what's not to like, the list is small. For one, you may run into some scaling issues at 4K. Also, don't expect to game at the laptop's native resolution, a moot point for pretty much anyone that's in the market for a mobile workstation to begin with. But our biggest complaint is battery life, which is compounded by the lack of removable battery. That means you can't bring along a spare. If you're really taxing the M3800, it's likely to Peter out within a couple of hours.

You'll have to decide for yourself if battery life is a deal killer. If not, the Precision M3800 is a strong contender in the growing mobile workstation category with lots more upside than down.

  HH Approved

  • Brilliant 4K touch IGZO display
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Professional grade Quadro K1100M graphics
  • Fast storage
  • Great overall performance

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Can't select a higher end GPU when customizing the  configuration

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