Dell Precision 58108 Jul, 2015 By: Alex Herrera
First Look Review: This solid performer offers high-quality engineering and excellent rendering performance.
The Dell Precision Tower 5810 is Dell's offering in the premium, single-socket (1S), deskside segment of the workstation market. (This is the same segment addressed by two machines I reviewed recently: the Maingear Quantum F131 and HP Z440.)
Front and rear views of Dell's premium single-socket tower workstation, the Dell Precision Tower 5810. Image courtesy of Dell.
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Dell's attention to quality engineering is evident in the Precision Tower 5810. While it's not hard for a vendor to include all kinds of value-added features at the high end — thanks to ample budgets — it's much more of a challenge in the more cost-conscious mainstream market. Yet Dell managed to do quite a bit to differentiate the Precision Tower 5810, offering several features one might expect only in higher-priced models.
The first thing we noticed was the metal casing, notable because plastic often dominates at this price level. The Dell Precision Tower 5810 shows off a bit more alloy than the norm, particularly in the convenient front and rear chassis handles. And second, a look at the rear panel reveals a small handle and finger tab to release the 5810's modular, serviceable power supply unit (PSU). While most premier workstation vendors now support swappable PSUs, Dell is one of the few that also does so with the more economically priced, 1S machines such as the Precision 5810. The PSU's rated 685 watts of supplied power beats out most others in this class as well.
The 5810's case measures 16.3" x 6.8" x 18.5", fitting mini-tower dimensions typical for this class of product. Inside, we found meticulously organized components and cables, with attention obviously paid to channeling airflow efficiently through the chassis. In fact, Dell's thermal engineering for cooling the CPU might be the best in this class of machine, if its modestly sized CPU heat-sink is any indication — it is noticeably more compact than others we've seen cooling the exact same CPU. Components are laid out thoughtfully, with respect to both access and thermal management.
As with both its previously reviewed peers, the Dell Precision Tower 5810 that was configured for Cadalyst started with Intel's Xeon E5-1630 v3 CPU. The fact that all three were configured with the same model of CPU isn't a surprise, as the E5-1630 v3 represents a very sensible sweet spot for performance-hungry clients, balancing the number of CPU cores (eight) for parallel processing throughput with high frequency (3.7 GHz) to optimize the single-thread processing that's still common in CAD computing (e.g., parametric modeling). The other key system processor, the graphics processing unit (GPU), was a very capable NVIDIA Quadro K4200 — a bit higher-end spec than what most machines in this price range might include, but certainly justified for complex, 3D-heavy CAD modeling. The 5810 is capable of supporting a second midrange (i.e., modest-wattage) GPU, but our review model came configured with only one.
Also matching its peer machines, the Dell Precision Tower 5810 came configured with 16 GB of 2,133-MHz DDR4 (RDIMM) memory. Backing up that memory were a smaller 512-GB SATA solid-state drive (SSD) and a 2-TB SATA hard drive — the former was our system's boot drive, taking the brunt of the system testing (ahead). The Precision 5810's base input and output (I/O) support is comprehensive and typical of the machine class: one USB 3.0 and three USB 2.0 ports in front, and Gigabit Ethernet and six more USB ports in the back (three 3.0 and three 2.0). Also typical were the analog audio I/O mini jacks in both front and rear. Finally, less common I/O requirements — including Thunderbolt, FireWire, and eSATA — can be met by selecting the appropriate PCI Express and PCI add-in card options.
All told, the upgrades Dell chose for our review machine resulted in a final price tag of $3,449, a considerable jump over the model's base price of $1,199. A good portion of that increase can be directly attributed to the Quadro K4200 GPU, which adds $675 over base graphics.
To gauge overall system performance for CAD, we again employed Cadalyst's own workhorse c2015 benchmark, running AutoCAD 2016 with our in-house workaround. (Editor's note: We are in the midst of reworking our c2015 benchmark for distribution). This time, we also ran components of SPEC's SPECwpc, a relatively new benchmark that focuses on a wide range of system-level and GPU-specific tasks common to workstation applications. Given our focus on CAD, we ran a subset of the SPECwpc battery, specifically the Product Development and General Operations suites. Finally, we ran the tried-and-true SPECviewperf 12 benchmark to specifically test rendering performance. Prior to testing, we downloaded NVIDIA's most recently released and supported driver, and ran at a screen resolution of 1,920 x 1,080.
|Dell Precision Tower 5810|
|CPU||Intel Xeon E6-1630 v3 at 3.70 GHz (four cores)|
|GPU||NVIDIA Quadro K4200 with 4 GB|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4-2133|
|512 GB SATA SSD (2 TB SATA HDD)|