Dell Venue 8 Pro review

Can 8-inch tablets bring more consumers to the Windows 8 fold?

Dell Venue 8 pro
Dell Venue 8 pro

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Ice Storm: 14,007
Cloud Gate: wouldn't run
Fire Strike: wouldn't run

CPU: 0.91
GPU: 5.73

Single core: 619
Multi-core: 1906

PCMark 8
Home battery life: 8 hours 17 minutes

In Cinebench, the Dell scored 0.91 and 5.73fps in the CPU and OpenGL tests – but the Acer Iconiascored 1.16 and 6.21fps in the same benchmarks, and the Asus Transformer had similar speed. TheSurface Pro 2 scored 2.52 and 20.97fps.


This machine's 3DMark Ice Storm result of 14,007 was a handful of points ahead of the Acer, but it's still behind the Asus and Microsoft machines – and the Venue simply wouldn't run more demanding 3DMark tests.

The Venue didn't compare well to Windows devices, and it returned mixed results when up against Android and iOS tablets. The Dell's GeekBench single- and multi-core scores of 619 and 1,906 were ahead of the Nexus 7's 571 and 1,796, but the iPad mini scored 1,291 and 2,320 in those tests.

They're not exactly high-end benchmark results, and the lack of power manifested itself in several ways. Even basic applications sometimes took seconds to load in desktop mode, and there was occasionally a delay when loading the Start screen and its own apps – although Metro UI software did run smoothly when it had loaded.


Multi-tasking brought the Bay Trail CPU to its knees, with poor performance across the board, and there's no chance of running more intensive desktop applications – poor form for a work machine.

The screen was sluggish and inconsistent when switching orientations, and even the on-screen keyboard was sometimes slow to appear. The whole experience just isn't as smooth as iOS or Android, and we'd be loathe to use this for a whole day at a desk or in the field.

The bulk of the Venue's body is taken up by a 4,830mAh battery, and this unit lasted for just over eight hours in our PC Mark test. It's only 13 minutes short of the Acer and its slightly larger power pack, and it's a good score for a Windows machine – but it's not able to match the Nexus and iPad mini.

The first batch of Venue 8 Pro tablets were afflicted by a firmware issue that caused the screen to stay unnaturally dim, but that's now been fixed. Updated Venue 8 Pros returned a superb brightness level of 399cd/m2. That's higher than many laptops, and not far off the Nexus and iPad's figures.

It's a good result, and it ensures that the Venue 8 Pro will never look dim. The contrast ratio of 1,663:1 is even more impressive, and it means that this screen always looks bright and punchy – there's none of the dimness categorised by cheaper slates.

Tablet and keyboard

Viewing angles are consistently good, and the Venue's touchscreen layer proved to be both accurate and subtle, with no visible grain.

The biggest issue with this screen is its resolution. The 189ppi panel used here is the match of the Acer, but it can't compete with the Full HD screen on the forthcoming Lenovo tablet, and other devices are sharper still: the Nexus 7 and iPad mini have PPIs of 323 and 326 respectively.

It's not a terminal issue, but it's undeniably irritating – the on-screen keyboard takes up half the screen, for instance, which often blocks other software.

Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.