Home Consumer Dell Precision 3280 Compact Review

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Review

by Charles P. Jefferies

The Dell Precision 3280 Compact is a mini workstation with impressive performance from its 14th-Gen Intel Core CPU and NVIDIA RTX 4000 Ada.

Dell’s Precision 3280 Compact is a mini workstation with impressive performance from its 14th-gen Intel Core processors and NVIDIA RTX 4000 Ada graphics.


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Dell Precision 3280 Compact Specifications

The Precision 3280 is a mini workstation built around Intel’s 14th-generation Core processors with a 65-watt base power rating. Many processor options allow for Intel vPro Enterprise remote management.

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Front

Expansion options are naturally limited in a tower this small, but they include two SODIMM slots for 64GB of DDR5 RAM and two M.2 2280 SSD slots. Certain configurations also include an M.2 2230 slot. It also offers dedicated graphics via an SFF graphics card up to the NVIDIA RTX 4000 Ada Generation.

The full specifications of the Precision 3280 Compact are as follows:

Processor Options
  • Intel® Core™ i9 14th Gen 14900 vPro® (36 MB cache, 24 cores, 32 threads, 2.0 GHz to 5.8 GHz Turbo, 65W)
  • Intel® Core™ i7 14th Gen 14700 vPro® (33 MB cache, 20 cores, 28 threads, 2.1 GHz to 5.4 GHz Turbo, 65W)
  • Intel® Core™ i5 14th Gen 14600 vPro® (24 MB cache, 14 cores, 20 threads, 2.7 GHz to 5.2 GHz Turbo, 65W)
  • Intel® Core™ i5 14th Gen 14500 vPro® (24 MB cache, 14 cores, 20 threads, 2.6 GHz to 5.0 GHz Turbo, 65W)
  • Intel® Core™ i3 14th Gen 14100 (12 MB cache, 4 cores, 8 threads, 3.5 GHz to 4.7 GHz Turbo, 60W)
Operating System
  • Windows 11 Home/Pro/Pro for Workstations
  • Red Hat Linux® 8.4 Enterprise
  • Ubuntu® Linux® 22.04 LTS, 64-bit
Memory Options 8GB – 64GB DDR5-5200/5600, ECC or non ECC
Storage Options 2x M.2 2280 Gen4
Video Card Options
  • Intel® UHD Graphics 730
  • NVIDIA® RTX™ 4000 SFF Ada Generation, 20 GB GDDR6
  • NVIDIA® RTX™ 2000 Ada Generation, 16 GB GDDR6
  • NVIDIA® T1000, 8 GB GDDR6
  • NVIDIA® T400, 4 GB GDDR6
Ports Front:

  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) Capable Type-C® port
  • (2) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) with PowerShare ports
  •  Universal Audio port


  • RJ45 (1 GbE) Ethernet port
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) port
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) with Smart Power On port
  • (3) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports
  • (3) DisplayPort 1.4a (HBR2)
  • Optional port (HDMI 2.1/Displayport 1.4a (HBR3)/VGA/USB
  • Type-C with DisplayPort Alt mode)
  • Power-adapter port
  • Kensington security-cable slot
  • Padlock ring
  • (2) PCIe x8 slot (x8 and x1 electrically)
  • (2) M.2 2230/2280 Gen4 PCIe NVMe SSD
  • M.2 2230 slot for WiFi and Bluetooth card
  • Height: 8.11 in. (206 mm)
  • Width: 3.12 in. (79.3 mm)
  • Depth: 7.00 in. (178 mm)
  • Weight (maximum): 5.59 lbs. (2.54 kg)
  • Weight (minimum): 4.03 lbs. (1.83 kg)
  • Qualcomm® Wi-Fi 6E WCN6856-DBS, 2×2, 802.11ax, MU-MIMO,
  • Bluetooth® 5.3 wireless card
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E AX211, 2×2, 802.11ax, MU-MIMO, Bluetooth® 5.3 wireless card
  • 180W AC adapter, 7.4mm barrel
  •  280W AC adapter, 7.4mm barrel
Hardware and Firmware Security
  • Dell Trusted Device
  • Dell SafeBIOS
  • Dell SafeBIOS Indicators of Attack
  • Dell SafeID
  • Dell Secured Component Verification
  • Intel ME Verification
  • Kensington Security Slot
Software Security
  • Dell SafeGuard & Response: CrowdStrike,
  • Carbon Black, Secureworks
  • Dell SafeData: Absolute
  • Dell SafeData: Netskope
ECO Labels
  • EPEAT Climate+
  • EPEAT Gold
  • TCO Certified Gen 9
  • Energy Star 8.0

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Build and Design

The Precision 3280’s chassis has a volume of just 2.9 liters, making it a fraction of the size of a typical mid-tower with a volume of 30 liters or more. It measures 8.11 x 3.12 x 7 inches (HWD). The HP Z2 Mini G9 is slightly larger, at 8.6 x 8.6 x 2.7 inches while the Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra is 8.7 x 7.9 x 3.4 inches.

Visually, the Precision 3280 Compact looks and feels professional, prioritizing function over looks. Dell uses recycled materials in the chassis and packaging materials.

Beneath the front air grate is the power button, a hard disk activity light, a 3.5mm universal audio jack, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (one with PowerShare), and one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C. The latter is especially high bandwidth (20Gbps) and is good for connecting high-speed storage drives and capture devices.

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Front Ports

Connectivity on the back includes an Ethernet jack, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports (one with PowerShare), three DisplayPort 1.4 video outputs, and the power connector. The dedicated NVIDIA RTX 4000 Ada GPU has four mini-DisplayPort video outputs, and our unit has an HDMI port in the optional slot. This desktop is too small to fit an internal power supply, it relies on an external adapter. Our unit’s adapter is rated for 280 watts. Models with built-in wireless (which our unit doesn’t have) will have antenna connectors back here. (See the cutout holes at the bottom right in the photo below.)

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Rear Ports

There are no features on the sides of the desktop except airflow perforations.

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Side

Accessing the Precision 3280 Compact’s internals for upgrades involves removing the rear thumbscrews and the chassis cover. Here we see the processor heatsink and two SODIMM slots, which support DDR5-5200 and DDR5-5600 and both ECC and non-ECC memory. The SFF graphics card and the two M.2 slots are in the left compartment. Nearly every aspect of this little desktop is serviceable without tools.

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Upgrades

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Performance

Our Precision 3280 Compact review unit is equipped with these components:

  • Intel Core i9-14900 (24-core/36-thread) CPU w/ vPro Enterprise
  • 64GB DDR5-5200 (2x 32GB)
  • NVIDIA Ada RTX 4000 SFF w/ 20GB GDDR6
  • 2x 1TB Gen4 SSD in RAID 0
  • 280-watt power adapter
  • Starting price: $969
  • Price as tested: $4,313

Most Dell business products are sold through its channel partners, not online, so the price reflected above may very well be less especially if this desktop is bought in bulk.

Our maxed-out configuration is a far cry from the base model, which includes a Core i3-14100 CPU, integrated graphics, and just 8GB of RAM; it really isn’t a workstation when configured like that. The least expensive dedicated graphics option is the NVIDIA T400.

We don’t test compact workstations that often, so we’re using the HP Z2 Mini G9 (Core i9-12900K, Nvidia RTX A2000) and the Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra (Core i9-12900, RTX A5000 Laptop GPU) for comparison. They’re older but still very capable systems.

SPECworkstation 3

SPECworkstation3 specializes in benchmarks designed for testing all key aspects of workstation performance; it uses over 30 workloads to test CPU, graphics, I/O, and memory bandwidth. The workloads fall into broader categories such as Media and Entertainment, Financial Services, Product Development, Energy, Life Sciences, and General Operations. We are going to list the broad-category results for each, as opposed to the individual workloads. The results are an average of all the individual workloads in each category.

The Precision 3280 Compact started strongly, with dominating scores except in a few tests. The GPU Compute test suggests its RTX 4000 Ada is roughly on par with the ThinkStation’s RTX A5000 Laptop GPU.

SPECworkstation 3 (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact HP Z2 Mini G9 Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
Media and Entertainment 4.65 N/A 3.89
Product Development 5.45 4.09 4.22
Life Sciences 2.31 3.53 3.69
Financial Services 4.67 4.36 3.49
Energy 5.55 4.24 4.02
General Operations 3.53 2.85 2.91
GPU Compute 6.01 N/A 5.56

SPECviewperf 2020

Our first test is SPECviewperf 2020, the worldwide standard for measuring graphics performance of professional applications under the OpenGL and Direct X application programming interfaces. The viewsets (or benchmarks) represent graphics content and behavior from actual applications, without having to install the applications themselves. The newest version of this benchmark went through major updates late last year, including new viewsets taken from traces of the latest versions of 3ds Max, Catia, Maya, and Solidworks applications. In addition, they added support within all viewsets for both 2K and 4K resolution displays.

The Precision and its RTX 4000 stayed just behind the Precision’s older RTX A5000, but in most instances the differences weren’t substantial. (We don’t have numbers for the HP in this test.)

SPECviewperf2020 Viewsets (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
3dsmax-07 81.96 90.02
Catia-06 63.44 69.51
Creo-03 122.52 118.21
Energy-03 42.4 21.17
Maya-06 202.42 225.13
Medical-03 42 21.38
Snx-04 277.27 528.13
Sw-05 100.84 129.36


Another 3D benchmark we will be looking at is LuxMark, an OpenCL GPU benchmarking utility. The Precision again was just under the Lenovo and its RTX A5000. (We also don’t have results for the HP in this test.)

Luxmark (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
Hallbench 13,617 14,226
Food 5,187 5,499

Blender OptiX

Blender is an open-source 3D modeling application. This benchmark was run using the Blender Benchmark utility. The score is samples per minute, with higher being better. The Precision’s numbers continue to suggest its GPU is on par with that of the ThinkStation.

Blender OptiX (Samples per minute, Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact HP Z2 Mini G9 Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
Monster 1,905 954 1,617
Junkshop 934 584 981
Classroom 960 511 840


Next up is the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) benchmark. Esri is a supplier of Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Esri’s Performance Team designed their PerfTool add-in scripts to automatically launch the ArcGIS Pro. This application uses a “ZoomToBookmarks” function to browse various predefined bookmarks and create a log file with all the key data points required to predict the user experience. The script automatically loops the bookmarks three times to account for caching (memory and disk cache). In other words, this benchmark simulates heavy graphical use that one might see through Esri’s ArcGIS Pro software.

The tests consist of three main datasets. Two are 3-D city views of Philadelphia, PA, and Montreal, QC. These city views contain textured 3-D multipatch buildings draped on a terrain model and draped aerial images. The third dataset is a 2-D map view of the Portland, OR region. This data contains detailed information for roads, land use parcels, parks and schools, rivers, lakes, and hill-shaded terrain.

The Precision slotted between the HP and the Lenovo, an expected showing for its RTX 4000 GPU.

ESRI (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact HP Z2 Mini G9 Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
Average FPS 274.69 165.13 355.55
Minimum FPS 158.11 78.02 167.61
Average FPS 234.07 125.07 268.97
Minimum FPS 160.22 83.47 155.58
Average FPS 2,461.21 1,742.84 2,479.61
Minimum FPS 1,080.50 654.55 960.74


Next, we look OctaneBench, a benchmarking utility for OctaneRender, which is another 3D renderer with RTX support that is similar to V-Ray. The Precision showed strong numbers here, often outdoing the ThinkStation P360 Ultra.

OctaneBench (Score, higher is better) Kernel Dell Precision 3280 Compact HP Z2 Mini G9 Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
Interior Info channels 13.98 8.04 11.66
Interior Direct lighting 44.10 25.04 42.00
Interior Path tracing 54.48 31.60 52.64
Idea Info channels 8.13 4.76 7.19
Idea Direct lighting 34.03 18.73 32.47
Idea Path tracing 41.09 22.77 39.83
ATV Info channels 21.28 11.03 17.58
ATV Direct lighting 44.90 25.61 45.28
ATV Path tracing 56.61 32.08 57.31
Box Info channels 10.94 6.50 10.04
Box Direct lighting 41.50 23.38 40.49
Box Path tracing 45.68 26.29 46.42

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test

We have also started running Blackmagic’s RAW speed test, which tests video playback. The Precision dominated the ThinkStation, especially in the CPU test. (We don’t have numbers for the HP in this test.)

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
8K CPU 106 fps 54 fps
8K CUDA 88 fps 63 fps

7-Zip Compression

The built-in memory benchmark in the popular 7-Zip utility saw the Precision 3280 Compact performing very well, which is especially evident from the decompression numbers. Its 14th-generation Core i9 processor and dual-channel DDR5 memory show what this system can do.

7-Zip Compression Benchmark (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact HP Z2 Mini G9 Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra
Current CPU Usage 1,358% 2,033% 1,231%
Current Rating/Usage 9.369 GIPS 4.372 GIPS 4.080 GIPS
Current Rating 127.249 GIPS 88.990 GIPS 50.236 GIPS
Resulting CPU Usage 1,438% 2,049% 1,251%
Resulting Rating/Usage 9.130 GIPS 4,864 GIPS 3.998 GIPS
Resulting Rating 131.115 GIPS 91.456 GIPS 19.995 GIPS
Current CPU Usage 3,111% 2,245% 2,352%
Current Rating/Usage 4.504 GIPS 4.642 GIPS 4.096 GIPS
Current Rating 140.152 GIPS 108.383 GIPS 96.327 GIPS
Resulting CPU Usage 3,121% 2,341% 2,344%
Resulting Rating/Usage 4.575 GIPS 4.772 GIPS 4.178 GIPS
Resulting Rating 142.789 GIPS 111.692 GIPS 97.915 GIPS
Total Rating
Total CPU Usage 2,280% 2,195% 1,798%
Total Rating/Usage 6.853 GIPS 4.618 GIPS 4.088 GIPS
Total Rating 136.952 GIPS 101.574 GIPS 73.955 GIPS

Blackmagic Disk Speed Test

We run the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test against the system’s primary storage drive. The dual Gen4 RAID 0 drives in the Precision 3280 produced highly respectable numbers.

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Disk Speed Test

UL Procyon AI Inference

UL’s Procyon estimates a workstation’s performance for professional apps. On each system, we ran the test once on the CPU and twice on the GPU. We only have numbers for the Precision 3280 Compact in this test. Note how much lower the GPU scores are than CPU; clearly, this type of work is ideal for GPUs.

UL Procyon Average Inference Times (Lower is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact (Core i9-14900) Dell Precision 3280 Compact (RTX 4000 Ada, TensorRT) Dell Precision 3280 Compact (RTX 4000 Ada, Windows ML)
MobileNet V3 1.21 ms 0.44 ms 0.56 ms
ResNet 50 9.83 ms 1.56 ms 2.36 ms
Inception V4 29.39 ms 4.71 ms 6.01 ms
DeepLab V3 31.21 ms 4.28 ms 13.33 ms
YOLO V3 72.78 ms 4.99 ms 9.52 ms
Real-ESRGAN 2,923.68 ms 280.52 ms 255.35 ms
Overall Score 137 963 626


y-cruncher is a multi-threaded and scalable program that can compute Pi and other mathematical constants to trillions of digits. Since its launch in 2009, it has become a popular benchmarking and stress-testing application for overclockers and hardware enthusiasts. We only have numbers for the Precision 3280 Compact in this test.

y-cruncher (Total computation time, lower is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact
1 billion digits 22.580 seconds
2.5 billion 77.587 seconds
5 billion 174.252 seconds
10 billion 383.813 seconds

Geekbench 6

Geekbench 6 is a cross-platform benchmark that measures overall system performance. You can find comparisons to any system you want in the Geekbench Browser.  We also only have numbers for the Precision 3280 Compact in this test. There’s not much to note except how much more powerful a real workstation GPU like the RTX 4000 is versus the CPU’s integrated GPU. (That’s part of the reason we said we don’t consider the Precision 3280 Compact a workstation unless it has a dedicated GPU.)

Geekbench 6 (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact
CPU Single-Core 2,971
CPU Multi-Core 19,230
GPU (RTX 4000 Ada) 129,038
GPU (Arc integrated GPU) 8,601

Cinebench R23

This benchmark uses all CPU cores and threads to generate an overall score. This is another newer test we run where we only have numbers for the Precision 3280 Compact.

Cinebench R23 (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact
Multi-Core 23,101
Single-Core 2,201

Cinebench 2024

We also started running the latest Cinebench test. Likewise, we only have numbers for the Precision 3280 Compact.

Cinebench R23 (Higher is better) Dell Precision 3280 Compact
Multi-Core 1,361
Single-Core 130
GPU 12,748


Dell’s Precision 3280 Compact offers impressive performance in a chassis size of just 2.9 liters. It won’t top a full-power workstation, but few computers offer this much performance in such a little space. It performed well in our testing with its Core i9-14900 CPU and NVIDIA RTX 4000 Ada graphics card. This desktop offers abundant connectivity, which is important considering its limited upgradeability, and ample hardware and software security, including Intel vPro Enterprise with select processors. Overall, the Precision 3280 Compact is recommended for those needing a compact high-performance workstation.

Dell Precision 3280 Compact Product Page

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