Dell Precision M4800
- Intel Core i7 4810MQ clocked at 2.79 GHz; 6MB cache
- Number of cores: 4 physical, 8 logical (via SMT)
Motherboard Dell Inc. [check & report]
- Bios version: A11 originally; field-updated to A13 (Feb 2015) mid-March; field-updated to A14 (27 May 2015) on 28 May; field-updated to A15 (13 Oct 2015) on 19 Oct; field-updated to A16 (14 Dec 2015) on 22 Sep 2016); field-updated to A18 [there was no A17] (06 Jan 2017) on 11 Mar 2017; field-updated to A19 (24 May 2017) on 28 June 2017; field-updated to A21 (08 Jan 2018) on 18 Jan 2018.
- Memory: Initially, 8 GB total memory (2x4GB) 16000 MHz DDR3L (expandable to 16 GB: there are 2 more DIMM slots under the keyboard); expanded to 16GB (2x8GB 16000 MHz DDR3L from MemoryX (still leaving 2 slots open for further expansion)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GPU Quadro K1100M (GK107GL) w/2 GB DDR5 [Intel also exists, but I disabled it in BIOS]
- Screen: 15.625" 16:9 Max res. 1920 × 1080
Harddrive: Seagate Momentus XT (750 GB Hybrid drive) -- field-replaced (so I could leave the Dell-supplied drive "pristine"). Subsequently re-replaced with Seagate FireCuda (ST1000LX015; 1 TB Hybrid drive), likely to be replaced soon with a full-on 1 TB SSD.
- DVD+-RW: HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GS40N A100
- Network: Intel(R) em0Ethernet Connection I217-LM
Wireless: Mini-PCI Broadcom Corporation ["Dell Wireless 1550 2X2 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0"] (not supported); field-replaced by Intel WiFi Link 5100 (iwn) [scavenged from Precision M4400 -- M4800's predecessor]
- Bluetooth: was on the same miniPCI card as the Broadcom WLAN NIC. Since I replaced that NIC with one that doesn't have Bluetooth (but mostly works), I have no Bluetooth on this machine.
- Power supply is 180W; 90W power supply (for M4400) is functional, though by default the BIOS whines at boot, and the smaller adapter will only charge the battery "opportunistically" (i.e., when the machine is sufficiently idle that there's adapter power to spare). It does work in a pinch, though.
- My usage is likely atypical: I usually track FreeBSD stable/11 and head, [amd64] (and update/refresh installed ports) on a daily basis. This also means that any given observed behavior is rather subject to change from day to day.
Suspend/resume generally worked in stable/10 up to nvidia-driver-346. In stable/11 (and head, I presume), suspend works (though sometimes the Alt-F1 chord is ignored, so I run "zzz" from the command line, which works), but resume seems to fail to re-initialize video if the default vt(4) is used for the console driver; I have not been able to recover from this except via power-cycle. To avoid the problem, I find that appending 'kern.vty="sc"' to /boot/loader.conf works well. Note: I am now using nvidia-driver-367, and find that resume fails even with kern.vty="sc". Downgrading to x11/nvidia-driver-340 has restored suspend/resume. See Bug report Note: As of 20 Oct 2019, I switched back to x11/nvidia-driver, and suspend/resume (still) works OK. It is necessary to load nvidia-modeset.ko (as expected).
Wireless is in "working-ish" state -- it "works" until it stops working, which is only apparent from "ifconfig" output or attempts to use the link. (I.e., the "WiFi" LED can be lit solid, and the link can be completely unusable.) It seems to work pretty well at home (using WPA-PSK); rather less well at work (using WPA-EAP). (This seems better in stable/11 and head than in stable/10.)
- To circumvent the "Number of created screens does not match number of detected devices" message, I entered BIOS configuration (via F12 at boot), selected Video, then disabled "Switchable Graphics." That done, the Nvidia graphics works fine for me (using ports/x11/nvidia-driver).
External video output (VGA; DisplayPort; HDMI) all work (at least, with Nvidia).
- Keyboard video brightness controls do not work (but xbacklight(1) does -- thanks to sbruno@ for pointing that out).
- Multimedia keyboard controls also do not work.
While sound through the speakers works, attempts to use the headphones result in a very loud hissing/static sound through the headphones (that mixer will not mitigate). See the Dell Community Forum and firstname.lastname@example.org archives for details. There is a PR for this issue. Update: that PR contains a patch that fixes the problem.
- There is a known BIOS bug such that keyboard characters may suddenly start repeating. The BIOS update from A11 to A13 was an unsuccessful attempt to fix this. I was able to update to BIOS A14; I think the issue is at least mitigated.
The M4800 is more difficult to open up & repair/replace components than the M4400 was, but still fairly straightforward (and the documentation on how to get at the hardware is available online).
Battery lasts just under 5 hrs. (4:52:57, based on the log entries) if I leave it unplugged accidentally overnight. Actual moderate usage battery life is about 3 hrs.; I suspect it would be quite a bit less if I were doing the full suite of "buildworlds" & friends that I usually do.
- The AC adapter connection falls out (too, IMO) easily.
It has 2 fans (CPU & GPU), but they are relatively large, and thus, not overly loud even under load. In normal use, it's quiet and seems to run fairly cool (compared to the M4400, at least).
- It is heavy (~8 lbs) and big (14.875" x 10" x 1.25"; 37.7 x 25.5 x 3.3 cm).
- The keyboard includes a "calculator-style" keypad (on the right), thus offsetting the regular keys, as well as the trackpoint, trackpad, and mouse buttons to the left; I find this annoying (as I find that I'm twisting to get my hands centered with respect to the (normal part of the) keyboard, while trying to keep my head "centered" with respect to the screen).
- Webcam works if webcamd is enabled in /etc/rc.conf and a flag is set to tell it which device ('webcamd_0_flags="-d 1.3"').
- You don't need FreeDOS, MS-DOS, or MS-Windows to update the BIOS: merely format a USB stick as a msdosfs, copy the BIOS file to it, hit F12 early in the boot sequence, and select "BIOS Update".