When Is A Laptop Not a Laptop? When It’s A Workstation
Most people tend to forget that there’s more to computing than just desktops and laptops (with a side order of smartphones and tablets). Part of that may be because the computer companies tend to focus on selling those to us. Desktops may sometimes be all-in-ones, but that doesn’t change what they are. Laptops get relabeled as “ultrabooks” and “netbooks” or whatever, but they’re still laptops. But that’s for the consumer realm. For the professional, there is also the workstation to consider. If you’re someone who uses workstations, you likely just pictured a big, bulky machine.
The Dell M3800 Precision Mobile Workstation is many things, but it is not a “big bulky cube”. In fact, at first glance it appears to be just another Dell laptop. Okay, not “just” – it’s thin and light, with understated style. But that’s just the first glance.
One important part of any computer is the screen, and workstations are no different. While a 15.6” screen seems small, the point is the portability, and the rest of the specs make up for it. Dell has stuck a QHD+ screen in the M3800, with a resolution of 3200×1800. For those playing at home, that’s higher than Apple’s much-vaunted Retina Display. Even better, the screen has multi-touch functionality, something you don’t see in enough workstations. As more and more applications are updated for Windows 8, touch is becoming less of a cute thing, and more of a killer feature. Powering the screen is NVDIA’s Quadro graphics system. If that’s unfamiliar to you, that’s because it’s not a consumer chip, but one aimed directly at the pro market. Compare that to other companies, which slap “pro” at the end of their products but ship with consumer-oriented graphics cards.
As for the rest of the silicone, the M3800 runs the new Intel Haswell chip. Haswell is codename for the 4th generation of Core i chips. The Dell M3800 Precision Mobile Workstation ships with an i7, and while already darn powerful, the Haswell line has been making tech pundits drool for the power consumption tweaks so sorely needed in this mobile world. It’s unsure just how battery life will work in this case, but you can likely work untethered for a notable amount of time, even with the prosumer video card system.
One thing you need when rendering is RAM and storage. You know what’s awesome? Getting to choose between an energy efficient solid state drive or a massive traditional hard drive. Generally, I suggest the SSD option to anyone working with audio, as they are quieter. SSDs are also slightly more energy efficient. Traditional laptop drives give you more space for less outlay, so they’re hard to rule out. Good thing Dell gives you options – just remember to backup! As for RAM, gone are the days of a gigabyte of RAM being something gamers needed. Instead, most basic laptops come with 4 GB. The M3800 does one better by coming with 16 GB. It is possible that your own unique needs may require more memory, but for general workstation use, that’s a very good number.
In terms of software, the M3800 is part of the Dell ISV (Independent Software Vendors) program. For the unfamiliar, it means that Dell and partners in the program work to make sure that hardware and software will work in a manner that is seamless to the end-user, something anyone – be they the professional user or their IT manager – can appreciate.
There’s more to talk about the Dell Precision M3800 that I could natter on about, but honestly, it had me at “portable, multi-touch workstation for under 4.5 lbs”. The last workstation I reviewed was lovely, but an utter beast that required two people to move. The idea of one that you can throw in your bag? Madness. Sweet, delightful, madness.
This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell