Conclusion: The Times Change for HP

When I attended the Dell press event for their revised Precision line, one of the other journalists there essentially called Dell to the mat for playing second fiddle to HP, and asked what Dell was going to do to make up the difference. Given the comparison between the Z420 and Precision T3600 we were able to make today, it looks like we might just have our answers.

While strictly comparable machines can't be configured between the two vendors and Dell really needs to just get the new Precision line out the door, it's pretty evident to me that a hungry and revitalized Dell is going to put the screws to HP. Dell's price-to-performance ratio is better (even after you discount the ridiculous $30 plastic handle), and I honestly think that depending on your usage scenario Dell may actually be even more compelling on the software side. HP's Performance Advisor is a cute idea that continued to underwhelm here, while Dell's Reliable Memory Technology seems to be the real deal.

At the same time, Dell's new chassis design is just plain easier to service than HP's, and between that and the aforementioned memory technology, the new Precision systems seem geared for longevity and superior overall uptime. Those are two metrics that IT is liable to be looking closely at.

If you need to buy a workstation (or several) right now, HP is pretty much your only option, end of list. Every day Dell's revised Precisions stay off the market is an opportunity for HP to make a buck at their expense. If you can wait a month or so, however, HP's hardware suddenly becomes far less compelling.

Both vendors aggressively pursue ISV certifications, and both vendors seem to be pretty aggressive about getting their hardware in the hands of major customers. Yet Dell's workstation offerings seem to be more forward thinking as a whole, and if they can continue to hit better price points than HP, they may yet leave a complacent HP behind.

Build and Power Consumption
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  • satai - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    How do Dell and HP offerings compare related to noise? Does anybody offer an ULN workstation with enough horsepower?
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    I can't give you definitive noise figures, but I can tell you the Precision was noticeably quieter than the HP. The T3600 was very quiet, while the Z420 was noticeable. Not LOUD, but definitely audible.
  • satai - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Thanks. That helps me a much.
  • ectoplasmosis - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Why on earth would you not test noise as part of the review? Not what I'd expect form Anandtech.
  • thewhat - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    The case, layout and cooling seem very generic. At this price point I'd expect something better.

    It seems that quiet builds are never a priority with big companies like HP and Dell.
  • piroroadkill - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    In my experience Dells have always been pretty good in this area, they were the first to adopt BTX style cases with CPUs at the front with nice intakes (if not the first, they must be close!) and always have nice extensive cowling, temperature adaptive fans, and generally are nice to service.
  • Taft12 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Fully agree with you there - I've found Dell desktops to always be whisper quiet compared to any PC assembled from parts unless special care has been taken to choose parts geared for silence
  • mapesdhs - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Very true, I have a Dell T7500 (dual XEON X5570), it's extremely quiet. It makes so little
    noise, sometimes I forget it's turned on.

  • behold4r - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    I would like to ask something very specific. I know that many of you might find this a joke, but still I would like to know, because I haven't had the opportunity to own such a machine myself but I am in the process of researching such an option.

    I would like to ask if you could overclock the Xeons (the E5-2687W for example on this system) in order to take them up to 4.0GHz , just like an intel 3960 cpu can. Is there such an option in the BIOS (whether it is on the HP machine or with some other motherboard you've seen)

    That would it make very attractive for rendering or fluid simulation (more bang for your buck, and since we are talking about ~1.900$ these are a lot of money for a single cpu)

    And one other thing, would it be possible in your tests of server cpus (xeons or opterons) to include any fluid simulation test, in particular with RealFlow as well as any rendering tests with a real scene (meaning not just cinebench but rendering a maya scene in mental ray, and I am not talking about prefabed tests like specviewperf)
  • fic2 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    I don't know about this system, but in general large PC companies such as HP and Dell do not leave any overclocking options in their bios.

    For that you are generally better off either building your own, going with a small PC builder or going with one of the companies that specializes in high end overclocked systems.

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