Not All Workstations Are Equal


Historically and recently, there’s been some churn around what constitutes a true workstation. A question that comes up with some customers is, “why can’t I use a high-powered desktop as a workstation?” While it is true that many of today’s desktops may be powerful enough from a basic hardware perspective, that’s only part of the requirement.

Dell Precision workstations are certified to run approximately 40 professional applications, including apps from ISV’s such as Autodesk, SoftImage, AVIDDassault Systemes and others are designed to help engineers, designers, developers and artists do their daily jobs. By comparison, many competitive systems don’t offer a formal application and hardware certification program or only offer proprietary applications.

So we’re on the same page,  a “workstation” as defined by the industry must:

  • Be specifically designed, configured and marketed to technical markets, including multi-tasking and graphics capabilities.
  • Feature configurations that have been certified to run workstation-specific applications and workloads.

Many competitors attempting to compete in this space resort to a “one size fits all” approach which, for some customers, is like using a teaspoon to fill the Grand Canyon or, for others, it’s like using a shovel to scoop sugar into your coffee.

Dell offers a range of mobile and desktop workstations to meet specific needs. You need a teaspoon, we give you a teaspoon. You need an earth-moving bulldozer, we have that too. Need to take your tools with you on the road? Dell’s got you covered with the mobile workstation line.

When we launched the Precision line of workstations in 1997, we helped define the workstation market with a commitment to industry standard architectures and proven ISV partnerships and certifications. Additionally, all Dell workstations come standard with 3-year on-site support.

In this vlog, I discuss Dell’s mobile and desktop workstation lineup and talk a bit more about what makes a true workstation.

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Format: wmv

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9 thoughts on “Not All Workstations Are Equal

  1. So, what beneficial information did the video provide that the blog text did not? Was it just to reinforce the message?  It looks like just another advertisement.

    Also, the definition of a workstation is changing. While it is still based on a higher standard of hardware reliability, processing power, memory capacity, video performance, operating system and application certification, what has often been left out of the definition is workstation management for multi-system environments.

    I know I for one would like to see more about workstation management features that benefit system administrators by improving recovery tasks, making remote access and monitoring easier and more secure, and securing workstation hardware physically.

    These are some of the features that cut down on maintenence time, reduce costs by doing so, and are equally weighed alongside traditional workstation features.

    Just another 2 cents in the till.


  2. Fred-

    You haven’t actually looked at a new Precision, have you?  Plastic makes up about 10% of the outer box.  Yes, look at Apple’s Mac Pro.  It looks suspiciously like the G5 with new guts.  Because it is.  Its their consumer box now being called a "workstation".  

    Also, its cheaper because  1> Apple marketing is a bunch of dim wits and couldn’t make an honest comparison if they had to.  2>  Apple is trying to fight the stigma that their products are expensive.  Since they are now essentially just annother PC, they are trying to compete on price.

    Do you want a Dell or an Apple?

  3. My experience with the Apple machines are that as soon as their off the shelf you can forget about things like product support.. the dell precisions given their different certifications for programs provide that.

    Maybe EU citizens are more at luck with their support, since the gold expert center in ireland is doing a top job.

    I have nothing but praise from the service ive recieved from them.

  4. It’s funny, I wouldn’t define "one-2-one communications with Dell" as a forum where I’d expect you to pimp your latest products at me.

    That’s what your sales site is for.  Try to reserve this site for your service-oriented lies, ok?

  5. Antonio,

    Did you ever think that perhaps customers are drawn to high-end desktops rather than workstations not only because of the price but because the Precision machines have traditionally been extremely unappealing to the eyes? If you buy something that expensive you don’t want it to look like an entry level machine. Granted, the 390/490/690 looks slightly better than the previous "black blob" generation, but still, they have a long way to go. Apparently there’s this notion that corporate customers couldn’t care less about looks, that they’re just gonna stuff the machine under a desk and never see it again. And yet I opted for an XPS700 over a Precision strictly for the looks and the fact that it had an aluminium shell and not the usual wobbly plastic. Of course I was swiftly punished by the atrocious noise level that makes the XPS unusable in an office environment, but anyway, why can’t the Precision machines look cool?

    Look at Apple’s Mac Pro, for example. Beautiful quad-Xeon workstation, aluminium enclosure, cable free inside, with little metal drawers for the hard drives. And yet it costs less than a Precision with all the bells and whistles. How is that even possible? Are your margins 4 times larger than Apple’s, or why is it that Dell can only offer plastic for the same price Apple gets you an aluminium machine (and people say Mac is too expensive)?

  6. D.L.: Thanks for the feedback.  I’ve forwarded your ideas to the workstation development team.

  7. When is there going to be an Optiplex model with the Core 2 Duo?

    Is the Intel’s vPro specs going to be applied to the new models?

  8. Friendly comment, I don’t care what competitors are doing. Please tell me what you are doing without meaningless “sales” words. What exactly is a “teaspoon”?


  9. Allen,

    You said: “What exactly is a “teaspoon”?” 

    It is a common English word for a particularly sized spoon. In general, it holds about 5 milliliters, and is commonly the “small spoon” used in place settings. It is commonly used when serving tea, coffee and other beverages that may require a spoon for adding flavor enhancers (sugar, creamer…etc) and stirring.

    And, I seriously hope you were joking. It’s not difficult to check a dictionary.



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