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Workstations

Dell Precision 5810

9 Jul, 2015 By: Alex Herrera

First Look Review: This solid performer offers high-quality engineering and excellent rendering performance.


Cadalyst Benchmark. The Dell Precision Tower 5810's scores on c2015 were solid, coming in as follows: a Total Index of 576, a 3D Index of 142, a 2D Index of 1,345, and a Disk Index and CPU Index of 305 and 249, respectively.

The Cadalyst c2015 benchmark scores for the Dell Precision 5810.
The Cadalyst c2015 benchmark scores for the Dell Precision 5810.

SPECwpc's Product Development suite stresses a workstation with CAD-specific workloads beyond AutoCAD, measuring the throughput of both the entire system and the GPU in isolation (SPECviewperf benchmark). As the name suggests, SPECwpc's General Operations suite executes operations common in workstation applications, in general.

The Dell Precision Tower 5810 performed well, particularly when it came to rendering CAD viewsets, thanks to its higher-end Quadro K4200 GPU. It didn't post scores as high as others we've seen in tests that depend significantly on storage performance, a fact we attributed to the fact that the Precision Tower 5810 came configured with a SATA SSD, rather than a higher-performance PCI Express SSD.

CAD-specific SPECwpc benchmark scores for the Dell Precision 5810.
CAD-specific SPECwpc benchmark scores for the Dell Precision 5810.

SPECviewperf. When it comes to assessing a workstation's maximum rendering capability, the SPECviewperf benchmark remains the standard. SPECviewperf renders real-word viewsets to provide the GPU a steady, heavy, and generally realistic workload. However, because it is synthetic and does not account for full application computation and overhead, Viewperf results are better used to judge the capabilities of a GPU, rather than as an indication of a system's overall real-world performance.

Unsurprisingly, the Dell Precision Tower 5810 with the high-end Quadro K4200 GPU provides high-end rendering performance, as measured by SPECviewperf. However, it's worth nothing that the average selling price of the K4200's little brother, the Quadro K2200, is around $440, while the Quadro K4200 costs nearly twice that: $810. So while the K4200 wins in raw performance, a user with middle-of-the-road 3D rendering needs could do as well with a K2200, and save a few bucks to boot.

SPECviewperf Scores.

Wrapping It Up

Dell's done an exemplary job with its design of the Dell Precision Tower 5810, to the point we're not sure we can complain about anything about the box. Furthermore, Dell's attention to workstation buyer's needs is extending beyond the box. The Dell Precision Optimizer utility provides additional value-add, automatically monitoring for use of a range of CAD applications (virtually all Autodesk products, along with SolidWorks, CATIA, Siemens NX, and PTC's Creo) and adjusting system parameters for optimal performance. In addition, it offers Teradici's PCoIP Workstation Access Software, as well as PCoIP Remote Workstation add-in cards to allow CAD professionals to access their machines and projects remotely and securely.

While configured admirably otherwise, Dell's Precision Tower 5810 as configured missed the mark in one respect: the lack of a PCI Express interface option for the SSD. Dell does have PCIe SSD options available for Precision, but ours didn't come with one, so that's more a criticism of this particular build rather than the Dell Precision Tower 5810 model in general. Why do the hardware and software interfaces for the SSD matter? PCI Express opens up the option for greater incremental performance by eliminating I/O bottlenecks, as explained in the Herrera on Hardware article here.

Ultimately, the Dell Precision Tower 5810 is a solid midrange workstation that performs well for CAD. If you order yours with a PCI Express SSD, you'll be set to perform high-end 3D rendering and design. To free up some cash to make that upgrade, the vast majority of CAD users will do fine stepping down to the Quadro K2200. Only workflows that see very large-scope 3D models typically viewed with fine-grained level of detail really warrant a high end GPU like the K4200.

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About the Author: Alex Herrera

Alex Herrera

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