In terms of power consumption, this system was a bit higher.
On 208V power, we saw idle around 58W and hit over 130W without pushing the GPU. This is probably 15-30W higher than we would expect on a desktop. At the same time it makes sense. This system has redundant PSUs that lower efficiency slightly trading that for the redundancy feature. Also, this system has 9x midplane fans. It then has a fan on the GPU and each PSU has a fan as well. With a dozen fans in this system, and smaller thus less efficient fans, having additional power consumption makes a lot of sense.
Key Lessons Learned
Our key lessons learned were twofold. First, in terms of pricing, this was a solid deal. We purchased a refurbished unit with a 3-year onsite warranty for just over $1000.
While this may not be the top-end configuration, adding some RAM makes it very reasonable. For that price, the GPU alone sells used for $400. Effectively this is a very similar price to a Project TinyMiniMicro node for those who would want a bit more expansion and rack mounting capabilities.
The second key lesson learned was the Windows for Workstations licensing. If one truly does not need ECC memory, the Intel Core CPUs are going to be a much better value in these systems.
Adding $100-150 for 6-8 core configurations on systems that realistically are unlikely to use many or any of the additional features seems like an artificial tax on systems. Although this is a Microsoft licensing thing, it feels like something that is not right in this market.
Overall, the Precision 3930 is actually a nice system. Dell certainly has a lot of configuration options that are available in this platform to customize it and pricing, especially on refurbished models, can be excellent.
At the same time, if you want to use high-end GPUs, or if you want higher-end CPUs, or you want higher-end networking to actually use features like SMB Direct RDMA networking to its fullest, you probably will want a higher-end workstation. An example of that is something like the Supermicro 2U dual node solution that is popular at a big studio:
One feature the Precision does not have is iDRAC. On the Xeon E-2000/ Intel Core series, there are technical reasons that it makes perfect sense to do this. One can still potentially use features like vPro or others for management, but it is different than higher-end workstations or servers with IPMI functionality. As a rackmount, it is important just to be clear that is not available here.
Dell did, however, add some really interesting features like the Marvell 10Gbase-T port that we think is absolutely awesome.
Overall, this Precision 3930 we purchased just to see how it compared to some of the other experiences we had. Although it may look like a 1U server, it is certainly distinct from standard 1U servers. Still, it seems like we got a great value with the unit we purchased and we will use this in the future despite the fact that we really wanted out-of-band management in the platform.