Comparing a Dell Wyse 3040 with a Raspberry Pi 4

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August 27, 2022

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In our previous article exploring the Dell Wyse 3040, we mentioned the potential suitability of the device in replacing a Raspberry Pi for certain workloads. If you haven’t already, check this article out here.

In this article, we’ll compare the two in detail, and give our thoughts on how the two stack up.

Also, be sure to check out our video overview of the 3040.

First Impressions

The first thing to note about these machines is just how small they both are.

The Pi is known for its small size, famously being around the size of a standard credit card.

The 3040 is not much larger, with a footprint of around 10x10cm.

Wyse 3040 vs a Raspberry Pi 4

Both devices are a similar height, which is largely dictated by the height of the Ethernet port.

The Wyse shares a general aesthetic with other Dell products – the power button in particular features on several other Dell PCs/laptops. The flat matt/diamond cooling vent design is also seen on a few other products.

The obvious difference between the two is the lack of case on the Pi – that’s an extra part you’ll have to purchase separately. It’s a reminder that the Pi is designed to be as low-cost as possible, while the 3040 is a machine aimed at businesses.

Hardware Specifications

Next, we’ll take a close look at the hardware.

The table below shows a quick comparison of the main hardware features of the two devices.

Dell Wyse 3040Raspberry Pi 4
CPUIntel Atom x5-8350 Quad Core CPUBroadcom BCM2711 Cortex-A72 Quad Core CPU
GPUIntel Integrated GraphicsBroadcom VideoCore VI
RAM2GB DDR3L-RS 16001GB/2GB/4GB/8GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM
Storage8GB/16GB eMMC (SDIO)Micro SD Card (SDIO)
EthernetRealtek 10/100/1000 Broadcom 10/100/1000
WirelessAzurewave AW-CM389MA (Marvell 8897) 2.4/5GHz Wifi/BT 4.2Broadcom/Synaptics BCM/SYN43436 2.4/5GHz Wifi/BT 5.0
Display2x DisplayPort (1920 x 1080 x 60Hz)2x Micro HDMI (3840 x 2160 x 30Hz)
Audio3.5mm Audio Jack3.5mm Audio Jack
USB4x Total (1x Front USB 3.0, 1x Front USB 2.0, 2x Rear USB 2.0)4x Total (2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0)
OtherBattery Backed RTC40 Pin GPIO Header
CSI Camera Port
DSI Display Port
Power5V/3A or 12V/2A 4.1×1.7mm Barrel Jack5V/3A USB Type C
Basic comparison between the Wyse and the Pi 4

There are a few similarities between the two devices. Both feature a quad core CPU, Gigabit Ethernet, SDIO-based storage, support 2 displays, and feature 4x USB ports.

Looking past this, these are two very different machines.

CPU

The 3040 includes a quad core CPU, from Intel. The Atom x5-8350 runs at 1.44GHz, with a 1.92GHz turbo mode. The Atom is a 64-bit CPU, featuring 2MB cache.

The Pi 4 also features a quad core CPU – this one’s from Broadcom. The BCM2711 is an ARM-based, 64-bit CPU, with 1MB shared cache.

Being based on a standard Intel platform (codenamed Cherry Trail), the Atom CPU is part of a line of Intel processors of a similar design. Any standard OS you can install on your PC should run on the system.

The ARM-based Pi, on the other hand, is a little more limited. ARM software compatibility is much more patchy, and even if ARM-based software is available, there’s no guarantee it will run on this CPU. It’s recommended to run an OS with a specific Pi version, to ensure software compatibility.

There’s not much more to say about the two CPU wise – take a look at the benchmarks at the end of the article to see how they match up.

GPU

You’re unlikely to be considering either device if you’re looking to run anything GPU intensive.

The 3040 features two DisplayPort connections, with a maximum output of 1920x1080x60Hz when using two displays. The ports on the 3040 are full-sized, and can be connected to an HDMI connector through a cheap DP/HDMI adapter.

Based on the 8th Gen Broadwell Intel HD Graphics, this GPU supports OpenGL 4.4, Open GL ES 3.0, OpenCL 1.2 and Vulkan 1.0. As an outdated architecture, it’s unlikely to see any further software support for this GPU.

The Videocore VI in the Pi has lesser support for OpenGL, only supporting 2.1. OpenGL ES support is better though, supporting up to version 3.2. Vulkan support is in heavy development, with Vulkan 1.2 conformance reached earlier this month.

The Pi does offer 4k 60Hz support (single monitor), which is not offered on the 3040. Display connections take the form of micro-HDMI ports. Note that these are different to the Mini-HDMI port found on the Pi Zero.

If you already use DP and have cables lying around, the 3040 might be the winner here. If not, either option is likely to require the purchase of new display cables. The Micro HDMI of the Pi, in particular, is fairly non-standard (despite being an official HDMI connector).

Both are more than enough to connect a pair of monitors if necessary – you really shouldn’t be using either for anything graphically advanced.

Networking

Both devices feature Gigabit ethernet. The 3040 has a Realtek 8169 ethernet controller, while the Pi uses a proprietary controller from Broadcom.

All Pi 4 models feature built-in Wifi and Bluetooth, using the included BCM/SYN43436. The Azurewave AW-CM389MA is an optional addon for the 3040, and most devices were sold without this fitted. It connects to the internal M.2 slot. In theory, a different card could be fitted here, though there’s no guarantee it will work (and we don’t have a different card to test). The two are similarly capable, though the Pi supports BT 5.0 (as opposed to 4.2 for the Wyse).

Audio

Both devices include a headphone jack, with the 3040’s being located on the front of the machine.

The DisplayPort/HDMI ports also provide audio outputs. Not much to say for audio, though the audio on the Pi can be improved using a GPIO-based addon.

USB

Both devices feature 4 USB ports, though the 3040 has them split between front and rear.

Only the right-front port on the 3040 is USB 3.0, compared to two of the 4 on the Pi.

Power

There are two slightly different variants of the 3040, so you’ll need to check the bottom of the device to find the power requirements.

All of the models we’ve came across are the 5V/3A variety, though there are versions of the device that require 12V/1.5A. From photos, it seems the 12V version is possibly a later revision, though we can’t confirm this.

Power is supplied through a 4.1mm x 1.7mm barrel jack. We use USB A to 4mm converter cables to power them through a USB charger, which works well.

The Pi foundation recommend a 5V/3A power supply for the Pi 4. This is fed into the Pi through a USB type C socket.

If you get the 5V 3040, power requirements are very similar between the two machines. With USB C becoming more popular, the use of this port on the Pi makes it somewhat more flexible to power.

We should also not forget the ability to power the Pi through the GPIO pins – though for this comparison, this functionality is not particularly relevant.

Other I/O

While the Pi also includes CSI and DSI outputs (for the camera module and display), the 3040 has something rather basic which the Pi is missing – a power button!

On top of this, the 3040 has a built in Real Time Clock (RTC), with the fairly standard CR2032 battery keeping the internal clock ticking.

One of the main features of the Pi 4 is the extensibility of the platform. The GPIO pins provide an easy way to add extra hardware functionality to the device.

The 3040, as a more standard PC platform, has none of this extra functionality. For anything requiring such extra hardware, the Pi will naturally come out on top.

That said, it’s still possible to add USB add-ons to the 3040. The Pi TV tuner hat, for example, could be easily supplanted by a USB TV tuner on the 3040.

Benchmarks

The following benchmark tests were all run using Phoronix Test Suite. The Wyse was running Ubuntu Server 22.04 LTS, while the Pi 4 was running Raspberry Pi OS based on Debian Bullseye. Both 32 and 64 bit versions of the Pi OS were tested, as the Pi foundation has recently started pushing the 64 bit version as the default.

Both systems ran side-by-side, in out-of-the-box configuration (e.g. no additional cooling or overclocking on the Pi). This includes the software, with all settings left as-is after the distros were installed.

Temperatures were not monitored, but as both are passively cooled, it is likely thermal throttling occurred in some tests. Keep in mind, it’s easy to add cooling to the Pi, which would be expected to give a small boost to some results.

The Pi was tested using a 64GB SanDisk Ultra micro SD card. Disk-based benchmarks on the Pi will vary depending on the micro SD card you use.

These results are by no means scientific, but should give a rough idea of what to expect from your Wyse. With those caveats out of the way, here’s a very basic summary of the results.

WinsLast Places
Wyse 30401510
Pi 4 2GB 64-bit1211
Pi 4 2GB 32-bit511
Summary of the test results.
Geometric mean of the test results. Results are relative, with the Wyse set to 100.

If you want to see the full results, you can find them over on OpenBenchmarking.org – I’d strongly recommend doing this. In addition to seeing the full results, you can apply filters/analysis to give a more in-depth analysis. You can also test your own system against these results, to see how they compare.

Overall results are generally quite mixed. There are a few strong wins in these results – the Wyse excelled at disk reads, the Pi 64-bit for vector maths. There are also quite a few very similar results between the devices.

One thing that’s clear, is that there’s generally not a huge difference between the two. Certainly, not enough for us to recommend one over the other based on benchmarks alone.

Price and Availability

At the time of writing, you’ll be hard pressed to find a new Pi at short notice. In fact, you’ll be lucky to get one before 2023. Pricing depends on the RAM option you choose, with the 2GB Pi coming in at around £45.

Dell no longer offer these new, but on release, they were £259.99. We certainly wouldn’t pay that much for one, but you can often find the 3040 used for a similar price to the Pi. Companies often replace them in bulk after their warranty period has ended.

Conclusion

We switched from a Pi 4 to a 3040 to run our development systems, which should probably tell you what we think. The improved disk performance and integrated case make the 3040 a more suitable product for our use case. Software compatibility is also a factor, as several of the packages we use had to be compiled manually for ARM-based systems.

It does lack storage, though – an issue the Pi doesn’t have. A small USB drive tucked in a rear USB port makes this easy to overcome, though requires a bit of work to mount parts of your system on an external drive.

Really, it comes down to your requirements from your system.

Being a bare board, the Pi is more flexible, and is a much better fit for projects requiring a low power board to power them. The GPIOs are a great feature, and open up the Pi to a world of expansion the 3040 will never know.

The 3040 is, on the other hand, a complete product. The rather nice looking case (complete with power button) and greater software compatibility make the 3040 a great choice for a home server, or a development box.

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