My old main workstation is getting on towards three years old, and it’s time for an upgrade. I ordered another Dell Precision workstation, in spite of the teething pains I’d had with the last two. Here’s the story of the setting-up, known in the biz as the OOBE (out-of-box experience). Foreshadowing: things went much better this time.
It’s a pretty hefty machine:
These are only hex-core processors, for a total of 12 cores, and 24 virtual ones. That’s fewer than I had before. But I opted for more scalar performance and bigger caches.
I went for JBoD storage, rather than arrays (these are just the internal drives):
The boot drive, OS, and the swap drive are both PCIe 1 TB SSDs. Dell has a rating system for SSD speed, and these are class 5, the fastest. The D: and E: drives are both 10 TB 7200 RPM spinning rust SATA units. Dell doesn’t sell drives larger than 4 TB on these workstations, so I ordered it with 1 TB drives — the smallest available — and swapped in the bigger drives. I’ll get to that below. The H: drive is a Samsung Pro-level 2 TB SATA SSD installed by me, and the N; and O; drives are 1 TB 7200 RPM ones shipped with the system.
The T7920 has eight easily accessible drive bays. In the past, I’ve found that Dell has not wired bays that were not used in the shipping configuration, making adding drives afterwards less than simple. That’s why I ordered those 1 TB drives — to make sure the bays were wired. But when I got under the skins, I found that there were two bays that were not used, and they both had sleds for 2.5 inch SATA drives. Were they wired up? I put the Samsung SSD in one of the sleds and slipped it into the bay. The computer saw it just fine, so that bay was wired up. I’ll bet the other empty bay is, too. That means that I probably didn’t need to order all those 1 TB drives.
I did run into one interesting problem. The two front 1 TB drives wouldn’t come out of the bays. They unlocked just fine, but they are stuck. I’m sure I’m doing things right, because the 1 TB drives in the back bays came out just fine.
The computer fired up with no incidents, and getting it on the domain went smoothly. Then I started loading apps. Over the years, I’ve found that every app and setting porting tool I’ve tried ended up making a mess of things, so I do it all by hand. It’s a good chance to decide what apps you really need, and I could afford to be choosy because I’ll have the old Dell workstation as a backup.
I installed Chrome and Firefox first, then my password manager, then Dropbox. That made logging onto all the websites that had the apps easy. The new 250 Mb/s fiber connection make the downloads go quickly, though hardly anyone supports their downloads at that rate (Shout-outs to Mathworks and Adobe).
I used GoodSync to restore all my data and image files from NAS backups.
Now most of the apps are installed, but I have not yet gotten to the point where I am ready to move the new computer to the old one’s location and vice versa.
A few comments on the computer. Like other recent Dells, it is very cleanly laid out inside, with a minimum of flying wires, and you don’t need tools to disassemble it. The cooling is well thought-out, and looks bulletproof. A nice touch that I’ve missed on recent Dell workstations is a nice bright disk activity light.
All in all, quite a nice OOBE.