Dell Precision: Building Innovation into Entry-Level Workstations

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That continual technology evolution is typically considered in engineering terms is hardly a surprise. However, doing so obscures or ignores the practical benefits that the process delivers to consumers and businesses. For this latter group, substantial increases in performance and capabilities, combined with ever-lower costs highlight the driving force behind new system refresh plans and purchases.

That’s obviously true for large and mid-sized enterprises, but small to medium businesses (SMBs) also stand to gain. In fact, while deep-pocketed enterprises are typically the first-movers in adopting new technologies, smaller companies also make the most of computing products that, not so long ago, qualified as enterprise-class solutions.

As a result, technological evolution is a means to competitive advantage for businesses, including SMBs. One vendor that’s particularly adept at helping customers of all sizes understand and prosper from these dynamics is Dell Technologies, as the company’s continuing leadership in various business IT markets attests. Dell’s recent announcement of new and updated entry-level Precision workstations is a case in point.

Dell’s Precision by the numbers

The new and updated Precision offerings include:

  • Dell Precision 3930 Rack is a 1U height system designed to support better rack density and extended operating temperatures, and features short depth design, dust filters, legacy ports and 3 PCIe slots. Supports Intel’s new Xeon E and latest 8th gen Intel Core processors and provides up to 64GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory. Options include up to 250W of doublewide GPUs (NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro are both available) and up to 24TB of storage. Optional Teradici PCOIP supports up to quad display zero clients. Priced starting at $899
  • Dell Precision 3630 Tower is 23 percent smaller than the previous generation model but offers more expandability, including an optional Smart Card reader for secure data management. Supports Intel’s new Xeon E and latest 8th gen Core processors, up to 64GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory, and up to 225W of graphics. Storage options include SATA and PCIe NVMe SSDs for up to 14TB with RAID support. Priced starting at $649
  • Dell Precision 3430 Small Form Factor Tower offers many of the same benefits as the Precision 3630 but in an even smaller form factor. Supports up to 55W of graphics and is expandable to 6TB of storage with RAID support. Starting at $649
  • Dell today also introduced support for Intel’s latest Core X-series processors, in addition to the Intel Xeon W processor options already available for the Dell Precision 5820 Tower. These new Intel processors provide enhanced performance and reliability at a more affordable price point. The Dell Precision 3000 series also support Intel Optane memory for enhanced responsiveness and storage price/performance.

Intel energizes entry-level workstations

As has been true in past releases, Dell doesn’t go it entirely alone in developing new and refreshed solutions—notable strategic partners also contribute to the process. In the case of the new Precision offerings, Intel’s presence is especially heavy, mainly due to the presence of the company’s new Xeon E2100 CPUs which are designed specifically for entry-level workstations and deliver 1.36X better performance than previous generation Xeon chips and 1.76X performance improvement on a standard four-year refresh.

The new chips feature up to six cores and 12 threads and deliver up to 4.7GHz performance by implementing Intel Turbo Boost technology. That should be more than enough muscle for medical imaging and industrial automation applications, as well as many complex, graphics-intensive engineering, design, science and mathematics workloads. These Intel innovations are designed to inject new energy into Dell’s solutions and the larger workstation market.

Final analysis

There’s much to like about the new and refreshed additions to Dell’s Precision portfolio. The company has filled in some spots in its entry line, particularly with the new top-end Precision 3930 Rack and small yet highly-expandable Precision 3630 Tower solutions.

The new solutions are also notable for the absence of AMD’s highly touted new desktop chips. Dell’s entry-level workstations seem like an ideal spot for AMD, especially since the company already offers its Radeon graphics technologies as options for some Precision solutions. Though Dell does provide customers AMD Radeon Pro graphic options, ignoring AMD CPUs has to be considered a blow.

Some will probably claim that it simply mirrors Intel’s influence and its longstanding relationship with Dell. However, Dell has long been fearless in pursuing what it believes are promising business opportunities, despite potentially stepping on partners’ toes. A good example is the 2011 Project Sputnick effort that focused on developing Linux-based solutions for developers. That resulted in Ubuntu-based versions of flagship Dell laptop and desktop solutions, including the XPS13 and XPS 15 and, most recently, Precision 3530, 5530, 7530 and the 7730 mobile workstations.

Dell is also unapologetically straightforward when it comes to pursuing what it considers to be promising commercial opportunities. Considering those points, the absence of AMD CPUs from Dell’s new and refreshed entry-level Precision solutions likely reflects a simple lack of interest among the company’s workstation customers. Whatever the case, it also has to be considered bad news as AMD tries to make its case for being a viable or superior alternative to Intel.

Overall, Dell’s new and refreshed Precision workstations offer a lot to like. With prices starting well below $1,000, these new solutions deserve the attention and are likely to attract significant interest of Dell’s workstation customers and prospects.

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About Author

Charles King, Pund-IT’s president and principal analyst, has deep communications expertise that makes him a valuable and trusted asset for clients. In addition, Charles regularly speaks with the mainstream and technical media on topics from emerging IT products to continuing market trends.

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