Today we have a high-end workstation, the Dell Precision T7920 on our review docket. When Dell says this is a high-end workstation, they mean it. The Dell Precision T7920 can scale up from a single processor and graphics card to dual CPUs, multiple graphics cards, network options, and storage. What is more, Dell’s engineering means that all of this is housed in an easy-to-service tool-less chassis. In our review, we are going to discuss what makes this system different.
Dell Precision T7920 Workstation Overview
In our Dell Precision T7920 review, we are first going to discuss the hardware looking at the system’s exterior features followed by the internal features. Most users will only see the exterior of these systems, but what is inside is what differentiates the system.
Dell Precision T7920 External Overview
Taking a look at the Dell Precision T7920 Workstation, it is a large tower. Specs put it at 17.05” x 8.58” x 22.29” or 433mm x 218mm x 566mm. Weight is 45.0lb or 20.4kg. It is so big and so powerful, that Dell even offers a 19″ rackmount kit as an option for the workstation. Two handles at the top of the case aid lifting the large heavy case to the desk. At the side, a cover release latch gives access to the T7920 internals.
Here we are looking at the front and back of the Dell Precision T7920 workstation.
At the front we find:
- Power Button
- SD Card Slot
- 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port with PowerShare
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port
- Universal Audio Jack
At the back of the Dell Precision T7920 Workstation, we find:
- Audio Line-Out port (via Realtek ALC3234)
- Microphone/Line-In port
- Serial Port
- PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
- 2x 1GbE Network Ports (Intel i210 and i219)
- 5x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port (with PowerShare)
External qualities aside, this is essentially a desk-side server. The internals are far more interesting.
Dell Precision T7920 Workstation Internal Overview
With the side cover off we see the large air shroud that covers the CPU and RAM area, banks of fans at each end and an additional fan in the center provide air-flow through this area. Of note are the blue tabs are seen throughout the inside, these are tool-less locking tabs that allow for easy removal of components such as PCIe devices and fans.
With the air-shroud removed we can see the CPU and RAM locations. Dual Intel Xeon Scalable processors are mounted below large heatpipe heatsinks. We wanted to point out here that the heatsinks do not have fans, instead, these passive assemblies rely on chassis fans to provide airflow. That allows Dell to make cooling redundant. If you were to compare this to many boutique workstation providers, those companies use active assemblies that are vulnerable to a fan failure causing an overheating event. While this is a small detail, the Precision is, in many ways, built like a server. This cooling solution is a great example of that.
Each socket is flanked by a platform maximum of 12 DDR4 DIMMs each (24 total.) PCIe cards are located on either side of the centerline CPUs and memory.
Here, we also gain access to the cooling fans. Removal of these fans requires a screwdriver. Fans rarely die these days, but that is an area for hot-swappable improvement.
Inside the air-shroud, we find the main cooling fan that fits between the dual Intel Xeon Platinum CPUs. The power cable we see coming off the fan connects to the motherboard. We found the cable length is short and does not allow one to remove the air-shroud and move to the side without disconnecting the power cable, it can be a challenge to re-plug back in.
The blue PCIe locking tabs are simple enough to use, push to the left and flip-up. PCIe cards can then be added or removed with ease.
PCIe Gen3 slots in the system with two CPUs installed are:
- 4x PCIe x16,
- 1x PCIe x8 (open-ended)
- 1x PCIe x16 (x4 electrical)
- 1x PCIe x16 (x1 electrical)
One loses PCIe capacity with only a single CPU. For example, one loses two of the PCIe x16 slots. That is a reality of Intel Xeon systems so you will want to configure two CPUs if you want to use all of the PCIe lanes.
A single 1400 watt 80Plus Gold PSU supplies power. This unit can be swapped using a blue locking tab that allows for easy tool-less service.
At the front, we find a large bank of 4x fans to cool the entire case. We also spot a speaker on the left side for system audio. This, however, is not a speaker you want playing music.
At the front, the left bottom is the storage cage which can be configured for different storage needs. As we can see our unit came with 4x 2.5” 4TB drives. Dell is more than happy to configure the system with SSDs as well.
If you are wondering why the Dell logo above looks so shiny, we left the packing tape on and did not see it in the photos until the unit was sent back.
Removing the right-side panel we find another compartment. While the motherboard and expansion cards are in the main compartment, the Precision T7920 has a compartment dedicated to features like storage and power supplies. This is a great way to segment the case while allowing for a compact and modular design.
Additional storage locations offer more flexibility in the platform. Providing power cables to all the included components can be a challenge with workstations. The Precision T7920 uses an accessory power PCB for all the various components to plug into. This removes cabling from the main area of the case and allows for better air-flow and accessibility. This is another great design point.
Before we get on with our testing, let us look at the BIOS and software and move on to our testing.