Dell Precision 3640 Power Consumption
We tested our configuration using 120V power and on an Extech TrueRMS power meter in a 17.7C and 72% RH environment.
- Idle Power (Performance Mode): 56W
- STH 70% Load: 167W
- STH 100% Load: 191W
- Maximum Observed Power (Performance Mode): 354W
Overall, this is a very solid power consumption range. There is still a lot more that we could have done to increase power consumption in this system such as add USB 3.2 Gen2 peripherals and more internal components/ DIMMs. So we would likely want a 550W or 460W 80Plus Gold power supply as we had here. Dell also provides that advanced I/O front panel with the higher-end power supplies so this makes even more sense.
A Note on Microsoft Windows for this Platform
Something that we did want to discuss in this platform is the OS. Ubuntu 18.04 is effectively the no-cost option, but most users are going to run Windows 10 Pro on this. That is where things get interesting. While we have been working on this review, there have been two version of Windows 10 Pro “64bit” and “64-bit” that have around a $25 delta on the Dell configurator. Our advice if you are purchasing a system with a license from Dell instead of through a Microsoft enterprise agreement, is to get the less expensive option. That seems to be a $25 hypen.
The plot thickens a bit from here. The Windows 10 Pro 64-bit and 64bit versions cannot be configured on our test system. Dell says that Microsoft requires “Windows 10 Pro for Workstations” and generates warnings in the configurator saying that the standard Windows 10 Pro is not available because it is a Xeon system. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations has a few major features. You can read about them here in more detail. The concern with Microsoft forcing this upgrade on a Precision 3640 is that many of the features are not useful in this segment:
- ReFS (Resilient file system): This is perhaps the most useful one, but most users will not use this over standard NTFS in the Precision 3640. There are a lot of corporate IT scripts that will not handle the change, so IT departments often do not use this optional feature to help keep support costs low.
- Persistent memory: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations has NVDIMM-N and PMem support. The Precision 3640 does not support these modules.
- Faster file sharing: SMB Direct file sharing is great for high-end systems and servers with RDMA capable NICs such as the Mellanox ConnectX-5 VPI 100GbE card we reviewed. The Dell Precision 3640 comes with a 1GbE NIC standard and cannot handle more than a single 25GbE port if a GPU is used in conjunction with the PCIe Gen3 x4 slot for networking. For most Precision 3640 systems, they will not have a NIC that can take advantage of SMB Direct.
- Expanded hardware support: From Microsoft (article referenced above): “Users will now be able to run Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on devices with high-performance configurations including server-grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors, with up to 4 CPUs (today limited to 2 CPUs) and add massive memory up to 6TB (today limited to 2TB).” This is great but the Precision 3640 is limited to a single CPU and 128GB of memory. It cannot even match half of what the standard Windows 10 Pro offers.
We checked, and this is a Microsoft pushed move in this space when “Xeon” CPUs are used. Other vendors such as HP and Lenovo are doing the same thing that Dell is here with Windows 10 Pro for Workstations being the choice on Xeon W-1200 series machines. Since the vast majority of customers cannot use the additional features with this class of machine, we hope that Dell and other large Microsoft partners will push back on Microsoft and stop this practice.
Although Microsoft has become “cool” again, this is a great example of the company’s “uncool” legacy.
Again, this is more of a comment on the software licensing impacts of this configuration rather than the Precision 3640, but we want our readers to be aware.
There is a lot to like with the Dell Precision 3640 workstation. We get a relatively compact chassis with a lot of I/O. Realistically Dell has built a flexible Intel W480 platform that can take either 10th Gen Intel Core processors or Intel Xeon W-1200 series processors, including the higher power/ performance models. This flexibility extends to storage and GPU configurations as well.
The system itself is well laid out and uses a common Dell chassis design. Being built on a common chassis means that Dell has done a lot of great design work on making aspects of the system serviceable and expandable while keeping the tower size relatively compact.
We do wish that AMD would finally enter the professional workstation market with a product other than the AMD Threadripper Pro “WEPYC”. That would shake things up in this segment, but the professional workstation market from major vendors is dominated by Intel designs at this point. We also wish that Microsoft classified the Xeons in systems like the Precision 3640 as more of consumer parts for Windows 10 Pro licensing reasons.
Overall, the Dell Precision 3640 is a well-built workstation that has a plethora of configuration options and impressive performance while having the Dell service and support behind it.