Dell Precision M3800 Owner's Review

Discussion in 'Dell Latitude, Vostro, and Precision' started by Bokeh, Oct 22, 2013.

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  1. dimadima

    dimadima Notebook Enthusiast

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    Could you compare that IGZO panel to the IPS in a retina macbook pro?
    Screen is the most important part of a laptop for me, so this would help me decide between the M3800/ XPS 15 and a rMBP.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

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    Thanks! Hoping to post pics later today.

    The QHD+ panel is as accurate as the RGBLED backlit IPS panel in the M6700 Covet, but does not have the super wide color gamut that covers AdobeRGB and NTSC . Viewing angles are also less than the IPS panel.

    The QHD+ panel does fully cover the sRGB color gamut and around 74% of AdobeRGB. It is 25% brighter than the Covet's panel. While it does not have the deep color saturation of the RGBLED panel on my M6700, I like the QHD+ panel a lot.

    You really can't compare the 15.6" UltraSharp FHD(1920x1080) Wide View Anti-Glare LED-backlit panel that is the other option in the M4800 to the QHD+ panel. The QHD+ is on another level of color, contrast, brightness, and quality. Considering that the QHD+ panel is a $170 option on the M4800, I will not buy that system with the TN panel again. The QHD+ panel is just too much of an upgrade for relatively little money.


    Correct. one mSata (up to 512gb), one M.2 for Wifi, one 2.5" drive slot (up to 1tb) with the 6 cell battery.

    The screen is very thin. Around 2mm at the edge (about as thick as a U.S. Nickel) , and 2.5 - 3mm including the slight curve in the middle of the lid. The main body of the M3800 with the display open is slightly thinner than just the display on the M6700 Covet.

    It looks like the gorilla glass is helping to keep the screen rigid. To keep it that thin, you have to have the glass on the front.

    Will check...;

    Average Delta is around 1 for 24 or 48 color swatch tests. Many colors are in the .5 to .75 range.

    Just got my Lightroom 5 license and will be upgrading. Glad to hear they updated it for high dpi. Will get screenshots for you.

    System is very responsive in Premier Pro. Not seeing any lag. Need to test Vegas.

    Touchscreen works well, but I have not tried painting or using a stylus with it.

    Depends on what you mean by blend. Transitions, animations, and effects are great. Multitrack audio mixes very well. In a room full of ultrabooks and MBPs, it blends in very well.

    If you mean putting it in a blender for a YouTube video, I would be more interested in seeing the damage on the blender blades at the end of the run.

    I had an unexpected accident with the M3800 that involved it taking a pretty hard hit to a metal railing on the bottom of the machine. The hit was right on the speaker cutouts, which are one of the weakest parts of the bottom shell. I was sure that the machine was broken, but there was no damage. There is a slight scuff, but the carbon fiber bottom panel is much stronger than I expected it to be.

    1. Will it have PCI-E SSD options like the M4800 and the new MBP?

    If you are talking about the mSata drive, then yes, it is the same as the M4800. If you are talking about the PCIe card in the MBP, that is a propriety drive.

    The mSata and 2.5" drives are both Sata 3, so you top out at 600MB/s.

    2. How is the IGZO screen for eyestrain vs the regular high-res screens?

    Viewing angles are wider than most TN panels. Moving your head around or shifting the screen does not change the color, contrast, or brightness. The angles are not as wide as the best IPS screens.

    With Windows 8.1, text is very crisp.

    Not sure if I answered your question.

    You could get power usage down to the 6-8 watt range and go over 6 hours, but most people don't put the effort into streamlining their OS settings for the longest run times. Last night I had the system in Balanced power mode, brightness around 75%, while surfing and typing on the web. I got a little over 5 hours of run time and had 13% battery when I shut down. I could have gotten more run time, but did not worry about it.

    Is this true, that m3800 has no mechanical dock port, only wireless?

    No mechanical dock on the bottom. You have to use the USB 3 dock instead. I don't see a WiGig antenna on this system, so Wigig is probably not an option either.

    Is this possible to drive HDMI+DisplayPort+internal screen(QHD) simultaneously? I mean without D5000...

    Will have to test it.

    Does DP support 4K? And HDMI?

    DP drives my U3014 panel with no issues. Will have to check HDMI.
     
  3. nons_

    nons_ Notebook Consultant

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    thanks alot for your reply! I think it's great how much effort you put to answer everyone's questions. I know usually you wouldn't care so much about the power draw, it's just sometimes you get into those situations. for general usage I'm fine with 5 hours. I just wanted to confirm thats not the max ;) - actually, the more I consider it, the more I prefer a dual SSD/HDD system over max battery life.
     
  4. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

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    No worries. You definitely are NOT ruining the thread.

    The M3800 should be faster than the MBP with the i7-4750HQ (assuming this is the right cpu) since it has a lower base frequency than the i7-4702HQ. The i7-4750HQ in the MBP is also 47 watts, but it may use more power to do the same work.

    If you upgrade to the i7-4700HQ for the MBP, it should be faster than the M3800 since it has slightly higher clocks and more watts of TDP to work with.

    The Quadro K1100M in the M3800 and GeForce 750M in the new MBP are both based on the same GK107 GPU core. The Quadro will be a large advantage in software that uses it for acceleration. The GeForce 750M might be faster in games.

    The QHD+ panel on the M3800/M4800 should be similar to the MBP. The Apple will run at 2880x1800 while the Dells will run at 3200x1800. I guess Apple really wanted to keep that screen ratio. Contrast and color gamut looks close to the same. Depending on which Retina panel you get, the color gamut on the Apple will be slightly less than sRGB or right at sRGB. The M3800 will be slightly brighter. Not sure about viewing angles. Will have to visually check that one for you.

    The M4800 will have the fastest CPU and GPU options of the 3 systems. Not sure about the Lenovo w540. Does the Lenovo have an option for the 57 watt CPUs? As you said, having 4 ram slots in the M4800 is a plus.

    If you need the most performance, the M4800 is the best choice.

    If you need portability, the biggest decision will be what OS you need to work in. The M3800 and MBP do similar things. If you can stretch your budget a little closer to $3000, Apple offers a 2.6Ghz processor upgrade that looks fast. If the software you run only runs in Windows or OSX, the decision is already made for you. Also check to see if the Quadro GPU would speed up your software.
     
  5. winterwolf64

    winterwolf64 Notebook Enthusiast

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    I know it's not about the m3800 per se but would a PCI-E SSD getting another 250 mb/s or so actually be noticeable for the user? I know it can be great for servers with a lot of I/O but what about booting the computer and launching apps? It's already a huge bandwith @600/mb/s.

    My other question was about how long you can stare at the IGZO panel without eyestrain compared to regular "Retina" level screens. I read that the refresh rate was 1 ms for IGZO and that it doesn't need to use backlighting as much for static images. Thus, I figured it would be easier on the eyes for extended use.

    Lastly, is the extra pixel density noticeable vs Apple's retina display?

    I don't mean to make this about the MBP but it's the other computer I've been considering so comparisons are natural.
     
  6. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

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    This is a tougher question to answer. In my opinion, a workstation should have a professional graphics card, at least a quad core processor, be adaptable and reliable. If it has a great screen, even better. It should be built around the idea of getting work done. Content creators should be able to use a workstation to supply entertainment and learning for content consumers. Designers and engineers should be able to use workstations to create the places we live, the objects we use, and create beauty. Everyone will have different needs for the work that they do.

    The M3800 takes 15 minutes to encode a video that I can encode on the M6700 i7-(3940XM) in 12.5 minutes. An ultrabook with the i5-4350U processor takes 32 minutes. I also don't get any GPU acceleration from the ultrabook. For my needs, the lack of performance on the ultrabook means that it cannot meet the needs that I have for heavy video work. The M3800 does meet my needs, but I will have a small tradeoff in performance for the extra portability and QHD+ screen.

    The M3800 seems to be reliable, but that will only be known in time.

    In my opinion, the M3800 is a real workstation. Whether it is enough of a workstation for people's specific needs is a better question. If the bottleneck for your workflow is the GPU, you are going to be looking at something like the M6800 with the K5100M. It is all about what is important to the work that you get done.
     
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  7. nons_

    nons_ Notebook Consultant

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    I just wanted to correct, the 750M on the XPS15 has 2 Gb of DDR5 VRAM, not 1. At least according to the Dell specs.
     
  8. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

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    I think Dell made the M3800 to directly compete with the MBP, so all is ok :)

    I have not had any issues with eye strain on the IGZO panel. It is sharp and uniform. With Windows 8.1, text is very crisp. If you type a lot, you will appreciate how good docs and email look. Scaling in web browsers is also very good for almost all sites. If you are sensitive to working with screens that have large pixels - think 1366x768 on a 15.6" panel - then you will really like the IGZO's ppi.

    I tend to get more eye strain from working with low quality TN panels. I really don't like a screen where the brightness and contrast are already washed out, but keep shifting when you make the slightest move. Then you have a screen with viewing angles so narrow, that you sort of have a round area of better contrast in the middle of the screen, but the corners are gone. I hope that the IGZO tech helps put these low quality screens into the past.

    I am very interested in the power draw of the IGZO panel vs IPS panel.

    On the disks, I guess it would depend on what you are running. If you are reading a large number of files or very large files, any speed would help. In the real world, I am not sure.

    For boot speed, I count about 7 seconds from power button press to login prompt on a boot. The Startup tab in the Task Manager says my last BIOS boot time was 3.7 seconds.
     
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  9. winterwolf64

    winterwolf64 Notebook Enthusiast

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    I would love to know the maxed out settings and price but probably it's not 100% certain yet. Anyway, here's my pro/con chart vs the maxed MBP.

    Display: Dell due to higher resolution and touch. Still, possibly not quite as great viewing angles. I also don't think Windows 8.1 would support the resolution as well as Apple's software ecosystem does for Retina.
    Batterly life: Easily Dell, especially considering this is a Windows laptop. You can basically shave off an hour or two from Apple's advertised amount if running Windows on a MBP.
    Design: Both look great and seem very sturdy so I don't lean strongly either way. I give Dell a slight edge if they don't have stickers since I think it weighs a bit less.
    CPU: the 4960HQ is a lot faster than the 4702HQ but it does cost extra battery life and is more expensive. Since I already find >7hours battery life sufficient, I favor Apple here.
    GPU: The 750m is basically a rebranded 650m and it isn't as useful for actual work as the k1100m. The 750m also has a higher TDP. I game on a PC anyway so I'm not interested in a crappy mid-range mobile GPU from a year ago. I was disappointed Apple didn't go for the 760m at least. I favor Dell here.
    Storage: It seems like Dell offers a max of 512GB mSata SSD. I'd be interested in the read/write performance using something like CrystalDiskMark. Apple offers up to 1TB PCIe, which should be a whole lot faster. However, it's not clear if that translates in a measurable way to real-world performance gains like booting up or opening programs. Apple wins decisively here though both in terms of capacity and performance.
    Software: Apple ships the new Macbooks with Mavericks as well as iLife and iWork. Having a MBP means access to all the OS X ecosystem while still being able to run Windows virtualized or natively for ~$200 more. If I only want to run Windows, it wouldn't matter. However, I own quite a few OS X programs too and like some of the apps/design better. Still, this isn't something Dell controls so I won't judge them for it.
     
  10. seancho

    seancho Notebook Guru

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    Fantastic! Thanks a ton, bokeh. There really is no bad news to report about this laptop, is there? If the worst thing you can think of is the lack of ethernet, then that is pretty damn amazing. I've got a XPS 15 in production right now. From all appearances, it seems to be identical to your machine, minus the GPU. I expect that most of what you've said about yours will hold true for mine.

    I'm still not sure I understand how scaling works in W8.1. You are saying that, with scaling, working on the desktop or in a web browser is like having a double-sharp 1366x788 display? Do different browsers behave differently? Is it possible to scale the OS/display to other resolutions, say 900p or 1080p with sharp results? I'm wondering how this display will affect my web design work. I'm hoping I can find a good way to balance screen real estate and resolution.
     
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