I recently encountered a project requiring a small computer, and my initial thought was to use a Raspberry Pi. However, due to current shortages, Raspberry Pi prices have surged. For example, a Raspberry Pi 4 B with 2GB RAM is now selling for around $129, and most retailers are out of stock.

If you don't need the Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins and are looking for a compact computer to host your project, the Dell Wyse 3040 Thin Client is a great alternative.

Why Choose Dell Wyse 3040?

I found a Dell Wyse 3040 on eBay for $20, with an additional $11 for shipping, totaling $31. Here are some reasons why it's a viable option:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8350 running at 1.44GHz.
  • Storage: 16GB built-in storage (note: some variants come with 8GB, and storage is not upgradable).
  • RAM: 2GB.
  • Ports:
    • 2 x DisplayPort
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
    • 1 x USB 2.0 (front)
    • 1 x USB 3.0 (front)
    • 2 x USB 2.0 (rear)
  • Power Supply: Operates on a 5V power supply. (Note: Most units do not come with a power supply; I purchased a universal 45W Belker power supply from Amazon, which works well.)

Power Consumption

The Dell Wyse 3040 is energy-efficient, drawing:

  • 4W when idle
  • 5W when running

WiFi Capability

The 3040 has an optional WiFi module slot. However, compatibility is limited to certain cards. The slot is an M.2 with a key ID of E and supports SDIO interface cards. The recommended module from the datasheet is the Azurewave AW-CM389MA with a Marvell 8897 chip.

Operating System

I installed Ubuntu Server Linux V 20.04.4 LTS on my unit. Despite the minimal storage, the system runs smoothly, leaving about 8GB free. For lighter setups, a more minimal Linux distribution could be considered.

Setup Tips

  • BIOS Access: The default BIOS password is Fireport.
  • USB Boot: To boot from USB, enable the USB boot option in the BIOS, as it is disabled by default.
  • Boot Menu: Press F12 during startup to access the boot menu and BIOS.


The Dell Wyse 3040 Thin Client is an excellent alternative to the Raspberry Pi, especially when factoring in current pricing and availability. It offers sufficient computing power for various and is cost-effective. By switching to this thin client, you can maintain project momentum without breaking the bank.

If you need to control more extensive hardware, consider adding a relay driven by a transistor. This setup provides flexibility and scalability for various applications.

Note: Ensure to double-check compatibility and system requirements for any additional hardware or software you plan to use with the Dell Wyse 3040 Thin Client.

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Front with two USB Ports
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Rear with Power, Two Display Ports, two USB, and network.
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