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Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness - IT tutorials, reviews and articles
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DELL VENUE 8 PRO FULL REVIEW

A full 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet with active stylus for less than 14 ounces

By Maxime Abbey - First published on 04-13-2014 on Arachnosoft

Introduction and buyer's background
Technical specifications
Build quality, design, dimensions
Software ergonomics: Introduction
Software ergonomics: Windows Modern UI (codenamed "Metro")
Software ergonomics: Windows Classical Desktop
Hardware design: physical buttons
Hardware design: the connectors
The hardware: display/screen, ambient light sensor, gyroscope...
The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness

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When the first Bay Trail Atom tablets were announced, most people initially thought that performances were going to be weak.

Just because of this simple fact: unless very recently, the Atom name was used to reference CPUs made with battery efficiency in mind, not performance.

Things are going to change with the Bay Trail generation: the Z3740D unit powering the Venue 8 Pro is a quad-core CPU clocked at 1.33 GHz, which can go up to 1.8 GHz in Turbo mode, when needed.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness

And, surprisingly, despite of its Atom name, this CPU is working well, able to handle all tasks you should ask to perform on a tablet.

Its GPU is a good helper when it comes to render all transition effects on screen, and play HD videos without hiccups.

That said, don't expect to be able to run the latest famous games at maximum detail level, just like you'd do on a PC: experience will not be so good, although I admit it'd be worth trying on a true Windows 8.1 tablet. That said, most titles should be at least playable with minimum details.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness

Hopefully, this performance bump does not compromise battery life: power efficiency is still very good.

And so is thermal management: without any active cooling system (fans), this tablet never turns hot, only warm, with good temperatures.

RAM

On the memory side, there's nothing very worth mentioning: just like all other 2013-2014 generation tablets, the Venue 8 Pro comes with 2 GB DDR3L-RS ("Low Current, Self-Refresh") RAM, a memory variant designed with very low power consumption in mind. This memory only fits a single channel here (1 single 2 GB RAM module, no 2 x 1 GB dual-channel mode).

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness

Very surprisingly, although Dell mentions a 1600 MHz frequency for this memory (and so did many other websites afterwards), BIOS (and other software like CPU-Z) reports that this memory is actually running at 1333 MHz, which is Z3740D's officially supported frequency...

It seems that such limitations – speed and channel mode – could be related to the "D" variant of the CPU (Z3740D), unlike other tablets using Z3740 "no D" units, which should be able to handle 2 RAM modules.

The 2 GB memory amount complies to current market trends, if you compare the Dell Venue 8 Pro to the competition running Android or iOS. But, if you compare this with any traditional PC from these last years, which would usually come with at least 4 GB RAM, this memory amount could appear quite weak.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness

Unlike Android or iOS tablets, where you're not usually running more than a single fullscreen app at a time, Windows 8.1 allows you to run several applications at the same time, as background tasks or main apps in a multitasking environment (including several side-by-side applications), and you're still asked to close any unused applications yourself. Which can quickly lead to high memory needs.

But if you're mainly using the Venue 8 Pro as a content consumption device (reading multimedia files, browsing the Web, office work...) without heavily relying on multitasking, you shouldn't feel stuck with such memory amount.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness

Above is a screenshot from the Windows Task Manager, reporting RAM usage on an idle Windows session, with only a few apps running in the background.

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The hardware: internal and external storage
The hardware: graphics and gaming
The hardware: Photo, video and audio
The hardware: wireless networking
The hardware: battery life and cooling
Extended features - Wireless video display on external monitor (Miracast)
Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: description and design
Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: technical review
Conclusion, pros and cons

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