Dell Precision M3800 (2015) – Screen & Sound Quality
The screen on the older M3800 wasn’t exactly a slouch, but it’s been replaced by a glossy 4K touch panel that’s protected by Gorilla Glass.
Dell boasts that its screen has three million more pixels than Apple’s Retina display, and its density levels certainly back that up. The Dell’s 282ppi measurement easily beats the 221ppi MacBook and the 238ppi HP.
It’s undoubtedly a headline figure, but in the real world the 4K screen is a double-edged sword. When properly formatted text, icons and other page furniture look pin-sharp, and images look fantastic. Windows handles the extreme resolution well; scaling the OS to 150% of its normal size removes the need to squint while still leaving room to work with multiple windows.
Some third-party tools still struggle with such a high pixel count, however, with tiny text or pixellated icons – plus there are only so many scenarios in which it’s actually useful.
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Whether you want the 4K screen or its 1080p stablemate is your call – but there’s no denying the quality of the high-resolution panel inside our sample. The 357-nit brightness level is superb, and when combined with a 0.32-nit black point it makes for a decent contrast measurement of 1,116:1. This will ensure you can enjoy inky dark colours alongside brighter light shades, and good punchiness to every tone in between.
The average Delta E of 2.05 is good if not outstanding. The maximum Delta E isn’t much higher, plus the Gamma measurement of 2.06 isn’t far off the ideal either. Uniformity is reasonable, with the screen losing only about 5% of its brightness at the top edge and around 10% at the bottom.
The out-of-the-box colour temperature of 7,038K is a little cool, although this can of course be adjusted. The sRGB coverage level of 89.8% can’t be tweaked, but it’s a reasonable figure that should suffice for all but the most demanding of colour-accurate requirements.
Overall it’s among the best screens we’ve seen recently on a Windows laptop; the HP falls behind in almost every area. It’s a match for the MacBook: its higher resolution and quality don’t look shabby alongside Apple’s stunning Retina panel.
The speakers are good. Volume is strong and pleasantly rich, plus there’s a reasonable amount of bass that provides a good thump without overwhelming lighter sounds. Overall, the M3800’s sound can easily match the MacBook’s audio kit.
Dell Precision M3800 (2015) – Keyboard and Trackpad
The M3800 takes inspiration from Apple’s hardware. The keyboard is a MacBook-style unit that sits in the middle of the base, incorporating dark buttons with flat surfaces and an unfussy font.
On the whole, it’s excellent. The base is reassuringly solid, and the keys are consistent and quick to respond – balancing a soft, comfortable action with the snap required for fast typing. It’s also backlit for easy typing in the dark.
However, a numberpad is lacking – forgivable on a 15.6in machine, but may
still be an issue for some – plus the layout is US rather than UK.
trackpad falls behind Apple’s hardware: it doesn’t have the smart
design or wealth of features afforded by the MacBook’s Force Touch pad, but it’s still perfectly pleasant to use.