This is a fun one today. At STH we cover a lot of server and workstation gear. Today, we get to look at what is in many ways a crossover. The Dell Precision 3930 is a 1U rackmount workstation that offers an Intel Xeon Processor, a NVIDIA Quadro GPU, and a lot of workstation features while being placed in a rackmount enclosure.
Dell Precision 3930 Hardware Overview
Since this is a rackmount workstation, it does not fit in our normal review methodology easily. It is a rackmount, meaning it is like a server. It also a workstation missing some of our server-style features like IPMI. As a result, we are going to do this one more in the spirit of our recent TinyMiniMicro reviews. This system is a workstation and we purchased it for not much more than we would a high-end TMM node. We also have a video for this that you can see here:
We suggest opening this in a new window, tab, or app for the best viewing experience.
The plan, as usual, is to go over the external hardware overview, followed by the internal hardware overview.
Dell Precision 3930 External Hardware Overview
Part of this system is clearly its form factor. The depth is not particularly short at 23.19” or 589.1mm, but it will fit into most edge racks and data centers. It even has a little service tag that says “Dell Precision 3930 Rack.”
The front of the system will look a bit different from many servers. On either side of this 1U platform we have storage and in the middle we have I/O.
The middle I/O is really unique. There is an audio port, a USB Type-C (10Gbps) port, and two USB 3 5Gbps ports. Next to that though, we have a SD card slot. In the video we mentioned that we could take the SD card directly from the Canon C70 and put it into this SD card slot which is very different for a rackmount system we test these days.
On each side, there are two storage bays. Our system is setup for both being 2.5″ bays, but one can see that on each side there is a space for a 3.5″ drive but we have two 2.5″ bays instead. We only have the left side populated, but we could put two more 2.5″ drives on the right side.
Our system came with a 256GB SATA SSD as well as a 1TB SATA HDD. One item we are not fond of is that Dell is still using old-fashioned screws here instead of tool-less trays. Most of the servers, now even the low-cost ones from small vendors, include tool-less 3.5″ and 2.5″ trays. This is mitigated by the fact that we have a 3-year on-site warranty, but it is still something we would like to see improved.
Now, let us move to the rear of the system.
In general, one will notice that this looks a lot like it is a server in terms of layout.
On the left side we have the expansion slots that are designed for either a single or two GPUs.
In the center, we get another riser card slot. Below that we have two Type-C ports that can be either USB or DisplayPort and are driven from the Intel CPU’s iGPU. We even get a power switch header and a serial port.
In terms of networking, this is something special. We get Intel i219-lm integrated chipset networking for 1GbE. For the second port, we get 10Gbase-T. This is great to allow the system to access local NAS or clustered storage at higher speeds without having to add an additional NIC.
This 10GbE port is based on a Marvell/ Aquantia AQC107 NIC. This is not the highest-end solution, but it has a nice feature: it can run at 1GbE, 2.5GbE, and 5GbE speeds as well.
The power supplies for this unit are nice 550W 80Plus Platinum units. As a quick note, Dell also offers lower-end PSUs and single PSU options. PSU requirements vary by the GPU configuration.
One small note before we get inside the chassis is that this system has a standard Dell service guide on the bottom of the lid. This is a nice touch that we like to point out.
Next, we are going to get inside the system for our internal overview.