High-End Workstations: Dual CPUs, 32+GB RAM, Dual SSDs, Nvidia Quadro+Tesla, etc.

| May 4, 2013 | (8)
Corsair Obsidian 550D

The Corsair Obsidian 550D, the case recommended for the High-End Workstations, thanks to its looks, sound dampening, cooling performance and ease of components installation.

Six reasons to choose HR’s Workstations:

1. Every single part is hand-picked to ensure top-notch reliability and performance.
2. We don’t cut corners by using a no-brand low-quality power supply, cheap sleeve fans or any other parts that are likely to fail early.
3. Designed to run cool and relatively quietly.
4. For the same price, you’ll get more performance out of your custom workstation, or you’ll save money while getting the same performance compared to a retail PC.
5. Longer warranties on individual parts vs a shorter warranty on the whole PC. Parts have 1 to 6 years or even lifetime warranties.
6. No time wasted on uninstalling pre-installed bloatware and useless programs that you didn’t want in the first place.

Stop relying on, overpaying and being disappointing by HP, Dell and other big companies:
Build your own custom workstation today.
It’s easier than you think!

This Build includes all the parts/cables that you need and it was double-checked to ensure compatibility. Simply order your parts, set aside some time (a few hours at most), grab a screwdriver, get a table with a lot of light and build the workstation.

Then you’ll be able to say, “See that computer over there? Yeah, I built that.” Talk about being proud of a job well done.

High-End Workstations VS Mainstream Workstations:
The High-End Workstations, compared to the Mainstream Workstation, offer:

  • Much higher CPU performance thanks to the two physical CPUs with up to 16 cores in total.
  • The possibility of adding more RAM, up to 128GB, thanks to more RAM slots.

Choose Your Tier, based on your needs:

We offer four different tiers (configurations) in this article, to match different workload requirements. Go right below this section to see our recommendations depending on which program you use.

Tier A: High-End Workstation, with support for up to 4 or 8 monitors.

Tier A is the basic high-end Workstation, equipped with dual CPUs and one or two video cards to handle up to 4 or 8 monitors at once. This Tier is ideal if all you need is a lot of CPU processing power, with support for multiple monitors.

Tier B: For 3D modeling, CAD and the like.

Tier B is equipped with a Nvidia Quadro K5000, in order to handle your 3D, CAD and the like. Supports up to 4 monitors.

Tier C: For more GPU computing performance, with Nvidia Maximus, combining the power of a Quadro card and a Tesla card

If you need strong computing performance for GPU Computing applications (e.g. Seismic processing, CFD, CAE, Financial computing, Computational chemistry and Physics, Data analytics, Satellite imaging, Weather modeling, etc.), Tier C is the way to go.

It supports Nvidia 2nd generation “Maximus” technology, where you combine two video cards: A Quadro card for graphic (display) purposes and a Tesla K20 5 GB GPU Computing Accelerator card for computing (rendering) purposes. By sharing the loads on two specialized cards, you get better computing performance than using only a Quadro card with your CPU(s).

Tier D: DAW (Digital audio workstation) for Audio Professionals

Tier D is equipped with dual CPUs, one video card that supports up to four displays and a pro sound card, the ESI juli@ XTE.

Which Tier do you need for your applications?

Based on your comments and requests from the Workstation Builds: Throw in your Requests and Suggestions! post, I’ve come up with a list of recommendations, based on programs and their requirements.

  • Adobe Applications: Creative Suite 5 Master Collection, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Lightroom, Illustator, Indesign, Bridge, Bibble, Flash, Dreamweaver, etc.: Tier A. If you have intensive work that brings a modern (Quad-Core and higher) PC that its knees, consider faster CPUs. The faster that your CPUs are, the faster that the rendering/work will complete. Upgrading to more RAM (64GB) would be a good idea if you work with many very large files.
  • AutoDesk Suite (AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, etc.): Tier B. If your CAD workflow involves a lot of heavy rendering, computing and/or simulation, go with Tier C for higher performance.
  • CAD: Tier B. If your CAD workflow involves a lot of heavy rendering, computing and/or simulation, go with Tier C for higher performance.
  • Camtasia: Tier A
  • Cinema 4D: Tier A, Tier B for higher-performance. While it will run just fine with the High-End Workstation as it is, this is an application which scales very well when you add performance to your PC, meaning that the better that are your parts, the faster that your renderings will be completed. A faster Quadro card will improve performance and so will faster CPUs, especially the 8-core variants.
  • CorelDRAW Premium Suite X6: Tier A
  • DAW (Digital Audio Workstation): Tier D
  • Development (General coding, for web, Oracle, Java, pretty much any computer language): Tier A
  • FL Studio: Tier D
  • Microsoft Office Professional: Tier A
  • Microsoft Visual Studio: Tier A
  • Nvidia CUDA: Tier B or if you want even higher performance, Tier C.
  • Oracle Database: Tier A
  • Pinnacle Studio 16: Tier A, Tier B for higher performance thanks to Nvidia CUDA
  • Rhino 5: Tier B
  • Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (formerly Sage Timberline Office): Tier A. Go with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate; Home Premium isn’t supported.
  • Sony Vegas 12 Pro: Tier A
  • Sound Forge: Tier D
  • Other Programs: Got another program that you’d like to know if it would run well on the High-End Workstation or would require upgrades? Leave a comment at the end of this article and I’ll get back to you with my recommendations.

Need a Tier recommendation for your specific workload?

Simply leave a comment at the end of the article. Note that if you want me to recommend to you a completely custom workstation which is different from the four Tiers outlined in this article, I offer consulting services as well. Simply scroll down to the Consulting section towards the end of the article for more information.

Recommended Parts Summary:

Main recommendations, upgrades and alternatives:

1. Recommended Components are in Bold.
2. Suggested Alternatives and Upgrades are in Italic.
3. Some parts can be upgraded on any Tier and some parts can only be upgraded on some Tiers. See the indications below.

High-End Workstations Tiers:
– Tier A: Basic High-End Workstation, with support for up to 4 or 8 displays
- Tier B: For 3D modeling, CAD and the like.
- Tier C: More GPU computing performance, Nvidia Maximus: Quadro + Tesla card
- Tier D: For Audio Professionals, with ESI juli@ XTE sound card
Click on a component’s name (e.g. CPU) to jump to the detailed section of it.
Price
$3932
$5627
$9020
$4179
CPU: Can be upgraded on any Tier without modification
All Tiers: Two Intel Xeon E5-2630 2.3-2.8GHz DDR 1333 Six-Core+HT 95W
Two Intel Xeon E5-2640 2.5-3.0GHz DDR3 1333 Six-Core + HT 95W
Two Intel Xeon E5-2650 2.0-2.8GHz DDR3 1600 Eight-Core + HT 95W
Two Intel Xeon E5-2660 2.2-3.0GHz DDR3 1600 Eight-Core + HT 95W
Two Intel Xeon E5-2665 2.4-3.1GHz DDR3 1600 Eight-Core + HT 115W
Two Intel Xeon E5-2670 2.6-3.3GHz DDR3 1600 Eight-Core + HT 115W
Two Intel Xeon E5-2680 2.7-3.5GHz DDR3 1600 Eight-Core+HT 130W
Two Intel Xeon E5-2690 2.9-3.8GHz DDR3 1600 Eight-Core+HT 130W
-
$1240
$1760
$2200
$2740
$2960
$3100
$3520
$3940
Motherboard
All Tiers: ASUS Z9PA-D8 ATX Dual LGA 2011 Server Motherboard
-
$370
RAM: Can be upgraded on any Tier without modification
All Tiers: 32GB: Two Kingston 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz 1.5v ECC Reg.
64GB: Two Kingston 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3 1600MHz 1.5v ECC Reg.
128GB: Two Kingston 64GB (4x16GB) DDR3 1600MHz 1.5v ECC Reg.
-
$360
$640
$1062
Video Card
Tier A+D: Radeon HD 7770 1GB Flex 3 monitors support, 4 with adapter
*Tier A only: 6 to 8(w/ adapters) monitors:2x Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 1GB Flex*
Display Port to VGA Active Adapter for additional monitor support
Display Port to DVI Active Adapter for additional monitor support
Tier B+C: Nvidia Quadro K5000 4GB Dual-slot
*Tier C*: NVIDIA Tesla K20 5GB GPU for Computing Dual-slot
*With 2 video cards, you can’t install a RAID card. You’ll need a NAS for RAID 6 on hard drives.*
-
$140
$280
$30
$26
$1750
$2870
-
Storage
SSDs: Use the motherboard SATA ports. Can be upgraded on any Tier.
All Tiers: Two Samsung 840 Pro 256GB in RAID 1. Total capacity: 256GB
Two Samsung 840 Pro 512GB in RAID 1. Total capacity: 512GB
Hard Drives: You’ll need a RAID card or a NAS for RAID 6. Upgradable on any Tier.
All Tiers: Four Western Digital Red 1TB in RAID 6, Total capacity: 2TB
Four Western Digital Red 2TB in RAID 6. Total capacity: 4TB
Four Western Digital Red 3TB in RAID 6. Total capacity: 6TB
RAID card or NAS for RAID 6:
Tier A, B and D: ARC-1213-4I-MS PCI-E 4x drives SATA RAID Controller Card
Required cable for RAID card: HighPoint Mini-SAS to 4SATAx 3 feet Cable
Tier C + A (for 2x video cards setups only): Qnap TS-469-PRO-US NAS
-
-
$502
$968

-
$320
$468
$588
-
$370
$17
$815
Optical Drive: Can be upgraded on any Tier without modification
All Tiers: Lite-On SATA 24X DVD Burner
Pioneer Black 15X SATA Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner
-
$24
$70
Power Supply: Can be upgraded on any Tier without modification
Tier A and D: Seasonic X-850 850W 80 PLUS Gold Modular 5yrs war.
Tier B: Seasonic X-1050 1050W 80 PLUS Gold Modular 5yrs war.
Tier C: Seasonic X-1250 1250W 80 PLUS Gold Modular 5yrs war.
UPS/Surge Protector:
Cyberpower PP1500SW-T2 UPS 1000W PureSine 7-Outlet
Cyberpower PP2200SW UPS 1500W PureSine 8-Outlet
-
$160
$205
$300
-
$311
$441
Case
All Tiers: Corsair Obsidian 550D
-
$130
Cooling: See full section for where and in which direction to install the case fans.
All Tiers: Two (2x) Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler
All Tiers: Two (2x) Noctua NF-P12 120mm Case Fan
Tier A and D: Four (4x) Noctua NF-A14 FLX 140mm Case Fan
Tier B and C: Six (6x) Noctua NF-A14 FLX 140mm Case Fan
-
$140

$36
$80
$120
Sound:
Tier A, B, C: SIIG IC-510111-S2 DP 5.1 PCI-Express 1x Sound Card
Tier D: ESI juli@ XTE PCI-E 1x
-
$43
$290
Network
All Tiers: Onboard 3x Gigabit LAN RJ-45: 2 x Intel® 82574L + 1 x Mgmt
USB Wireless network adapters:
Rosewill RNX-N180UBE Wireless USB 2.0 802.11b/g/n with 5 dBi Antenna
ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-N900 USB-N66
-
Free

-
$20
$65

Trying to reduce the price of your Workstation?
Here are a few things that you can do to cut down on the total cost:

  • Remove both SSDs (-$500) and only use the hard drives. Sure, the OS, programs and files won’t load as fast, but this won’t affect the processing/rendering speed much, if at all.
  • Go from two SSDs in RAID 1 to a single SSD (-$250), where you lose both performance and redundancy.
  • Buy only one CPU and 16GB of RAM (4x4GB, just get a single kit) instead of two CPUs and 32GB (8 x 4GB) of RAM, to save $800. Needless to say, this involves a massive performance hit. Not recommended unless you intend on adding the second cpu/set of RAM later on, otherwise the Mainstream Workstation will offer more performance at an even lower price point.

Building this System, Got a Question, Need Help?

Computer Builds FAQs:

I often get questions such as:

  • Who are you to tell me which parts to choose?
  • Can you suggest me a step by step guide to build a computer?
  • And many more…

You will find the answers to all of these questions and more in this article: FAQ: How to Build Your Own Computer

Also, if this is your first build, here are 10 Quick Tips for 1st Time Builders to get you started.

Finally, if your newly built computer won’t start, I invite you to read Help me: Why won’t my newly assembled PC start or boot?

Have questions, need to consult with an expert?

I offer consulting services if you require my help. Simply scroll down toward the end of the article, to the consulting section, for more information.

High-End Workstation Hardware parts recommendations, detailed version:

Motherboard:

All Tiers:

ASUS Z9PA-D8 ATX Server Motherboard Dual LGA 2011 DDR3 1600/1333/1066$370 – ASUS Z9PA-D8 ATX Dual LGA 2011 Server Motherboard

What makes this motherboard great is the fact that it features two LGA 2011 sockets, allowing for a Dual-CPU setup, on the practical ATX format, allowing you to use a regular power supply and case, instead of far more expensive server parts based on far less common standards.

- It supports two Xeon 26xx series CPUs with a TDP of up to 135W for each CPU.
- It supports up to eight RAM sticks, with a frequency up to 1600MHz (depending on the CPU, see the CPU section for more info). I recommend filling them all, in order to get as much bandwidth as possible by taking advantage of quad-channel RAM (quad-channel: 4 RAM slots per CPU x 2 CPUs).

During installation, do note that you need to plug in a 24-pin power cables and TWO 8-pin power cables in order for the motherboard to function properly. Rest assured that the recommended power supplies do come with those power cables.

Back Ports:
On the back, you have two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one PS/2, a serial port, a VGA output and three LAN ports (Two Intel 82574L 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN ports and one mgmt LAN port).

Expansion ports + Storage Ports on the board:
Two PCI-Express 3.0 16X, three PCI-Express 8X slots, one PIKE slot (Used for Audio Card), two SATA 6Gbps and four SATA 3Gbps ports. Note that the board does not support floppy drives nor IDE-based drives.

In which expansion slots should you install the expansion cards (video, RAID and sound cards):
From top (closest to CPU sockets) to bottom:

  • Tier A (single video card): Top PCI-Express 8x slot: Sound card, top PCI-Express 16x slot: Video Card, bottom PCI-Express 8x slot: RAID card
  • Tier A (dual video cards): Top PCI-Express 8x slot: Sound card, top PCI-Express 16x slot: 1st video Card, bottom PCI-Express 16x slot: 2nd video card. No RAID card, make sure to get a NAS for the hard drives in RAID 6 (see storage section).
  • Tier B: Top PCI-Express 8x slot: Sound card, top PCI-Express 16x slot: Video Card, bottom PCI-Express 8x slot: RAID card
  • Tier C: Top PCI-Express 8x slot: Sound card, top PCI-Express 16x slot: Quadro K5000, bottom PCI-Express 16x slot: Tesla card. No RAID card, make sure to get a NAS for the hard drives in RAID 6 (see storage section).
  • Tier D: Top PCI-Express 16x slot: Video Card, bottom PCI-Express 16x slot: sound card, bottom PCI-Express 8x slot: RAID card

Additional information:
Note that the motherboard includes six SATA cables, so you don’t need to buy any additional SATA cable, unless you add a lot more drives, since the build only needs three cables (two SSDs and one optical drive, the hard drives have cables with the RAID card or don’t need any in the NAS).

CPU:

All Tiers:

Intel Xeon Six-Core E5-2630 2.3GHz 7.2GT/s 15MB LGA2011 Processor without Fan, Retail BX80621E52630$1240 – Two (2x) Intel Xeon E5-2630 2.3-2.8GHz Turbo Six-Core + HT 95W

Note that the price is for two (2) CPUs.

The Xeon E2630 is the second lowest-end entry-level Xeon CPU from the E26xx family. It features six cores + Hyper-Threading, so it can handle up to 12 threads. Its base frequency is 2.3GHz but just like the consumer class Core i5 and i7 CPUs from Intel, it can automatically and safely boost its frequency, up to 2.8GHz for the E-2630, when faced with heavy workloads.

Did I say entry-level? That’s relative, considering that this setup will outperform any comparatively priced system. Needless to say, for your workloads, this setup will outperform any single cpu setup, whether it’s from AMD or Intel, in the vast majority of workstation type of workloads. If you need raw CPU power, a dual-CPU setup is a great upgrade from a single-CPU setup.

The dual-socket 2011 platform gives you access to Quad-Channel RAM and also allows you to upgrade to the 8-core Xeon CPUs (See the available upgrades below) if you want even more performance.

Note that no CPU Cooler is included with them, hence why I recommend a CPU cooler further down in this article.

Regarding RAM frequency:
Note that the maximum RAM frequency supported by the E-2630 is 1333MHz. If you want 1600MHz RAM support, you’ll need to upgrade to the E-2650 or an higher-end model. Higher RAM frequency means more memory bandwidth, which can improve performance with some programs.

Available upgrades:
Note that core count and frequencies are compared to the E5-2630.

  1. $1760 – Two Intel Xeon E5-2640 2.5-3.0GHz Turbo Six-Core + HT 95W – Base and Turbo frequency higher by 200Mhz, identical otherwise. RAM will run at 1333Mhz.
  2. $2200 – Two Intel Xeon E5-2650 2.0-2.8GHz Turbo Eight-Core + HT 95W – Two additional cores (8 vs 6 cores), base frequency lower by 300Mhz, Turbo frequency identical. RAM will run at 1600Mhz.
  3. $2740 – Two Intel Xeon E5-2660 2.2-3.0GHz Turbo Eight-Core + HT 95W – Two additional cores (8 vs 6 cores), base frequency lower by 100Mhz, Turbo frequency higher by 200MHz. RAM will run at 1600Mhz.
  4. $2960 – Two Intel Xeon E5-2665 2.4-3.1GHz Turbo Eight-Core + HT 115W – Two additional cores (8 vs 6 cores), base frequency higher by 100Mhz, Turbo higher by 300MHz. RAM will run at 1600Mhz.
  5. $3100 – Two Intel Xeon E5-2670 2.6-3.3GHz Turbo Eight-Core + HT 115W – Two additional cores (8 vs 6 cores), base frequency higher by 300Mhz, Turbo higher by 500MHz. RAM will run at 1600Mhz.
  6. $3520 – Two Intel Xeon E5-2680 2.7-3.5GHz Turbo Eight-Core + HT 130W – Two additional cores (8 vs 6 cores), base frequency higher by 400Mhz, Turbo higher by 700MHz. RAM will run at 1600Mhz.
  7. $3940 – Two Intel Xeon E5-2690 2.9-3.8GHz Turbo Eight-Core + HT 130W – Two additional cores (8 vs 6 cores), base frequency higher by 600Mhz, Turbo higher by 1000MHz (1GHz). RAM will run at 1600Mhz. This is the fastest Xeon CPU available that’s compatible with this build.

Video Card:

Tier A and D:

Sapphire Radeon Flex HD 7770 GHZ 1GB DDR5 DL-DVI-I/SL-DVI-D/HDMI/DP PCI-Express Graphics Cards 11201-12-20G$140 – Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 1GB Flex 3-4 monitors support

While the motherboard comes with a VGA output, I recommend avoiding using it, as its based on the awful Aspeed AST2050 onboard video chipset with a mere 16MB of memory, which is completely underwhelming and useless for a Workstation.

The video card that I recommend for Tier A and D, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7700 1GB Flex may look like a rather basic video card, but it has the capability of outputting to up to three DVI monitors without any adapters.

It can also output to up to four monitors at once, if your 4th monitor has a Displayport connection or with one of the two following adapter:
- For VGA monitors: $30 – Display Port to VGA Active Adapter
- For DVI monitors: $26 – Display Port to DVI Active Adapter

This is unique to Sapphire Flex video cards, other Radeon video cards support two video cards out of the box or three with an adapter. For more information on Sapphire FleX technology, I invite you to visit this page on their website.

Need support for more than 4 monitors?

If you need support for more than 4 monitors, you can add a second Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Flex to your system, without any other modification to the workstation. Out of the box, you’ll have support for 6 displays. By adding one or two adapters recommended above, you’ll get support for 7 or 8 displays respectively.

Compatibility notes:
- This option is only compatible with Tier A, as the other Tiers have other video or sound cards that will prevent you from installing two Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Flex in your system.
- If you use two Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Flex, you will be unable to install a RAID controller card. To be able to have four hard drives in RAID 6, you’ll have to purchase a NAS (Network Attached Storage). I recommend the $815- Qnap TS-469-PRO-US for its high performance (Dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM, Dual LAN ports), reliability, solid build and top-notch customer support. It will store the four hard drives, will allow you to run them in a RAID 6 array and connects directly to your workstation via two LAN ports. Alternatively, you can connect it to your network, so that other users can easily access it.

Tier B and C:

NVIDIA Quadro K5000 4GB GDDR5 Graphics card (PNY Part #$1750 – Nvidia Quadro K5000 4GB Dual-slot

Recently launched, the Nvidia Quadro K5000 4GB is the most powerful professional card from the Nvidia Quadro line-up. It will easily take care of 3D rendering, CAD programs and the like, as well as accelerating programs UI and video decoding of course.

It is capable of handling four monitors, with DVI-I DL + DVI-D DL + DP 1.2 + DP 1.2 display connectors.

FirePro vs Quadro:
Performance wise, the latest Quadro line-up (K series, avoid the older non-K series) has the edge over the FirePro series, thanks to superior drivers that simply deliver more performance. Quadro cards are also supported by more applications and finally, their drivers are more optimized for greater performance in some applications.

While the AMD FirePro line-up of cards can be an interesting alternative thanks to their relatively low cost, they are just not supported by as many applications as the Nvidia Quadro line-up cards are.

Considering the cost of this workstation, I’m sure that you’ll want to get top-notch performance all over the place in all apps, including Adobe apps and top-notch drivers, hence why I only recommend Nvidia Quadro cards in this build.

Professional 3D Workstation Video Cards:

What applications benefit from or truly need AMD Firepro or Nvidia Quadro Cards and what’s the difference between consumer cards (Radeon/Geforce) and professional cards (FirePro/Quadro)?

Accuracy & reliability:

“Exact pinpoint renders for things such as vehicle/building/contraption etc design, think many moving parts working together such as an engine prototype….things where a millimeter or so off could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars or much much more lost or even death…. They are tools for professionals, and if you really need one you’ll know it.

Gaming cards and workstation cards are very similar, but the differences are major. Consumer cards are built for speed at the cost of accuracy, gaming renders need to be fast…not perfect.

Workstation cards are the opposite, they need to be perfectly accurate at all times, speeds good but not priority, major differences in the cards are ECC ram (expensive, but a lost bit could be catastrophic) and very robust and detailed driver support…the drivers are really where the bulk of the expense comes from and , they have to work and have to work well, we gripe and moan about bugs in our games…when the card is holding you back from your livelihood….

It cost money to make money and or move things forward to a large degree, great designs aren’t doodled out on a napkin in a country diner anymore.

Similar to other class of products on the market, i.e consumer vs pro cameras:

There are many products out that scale the same way, look at cameras, a $200 point and shoot for the trip to disney world or the $5000+++ used to shoot what we see in magazines and such, a nice solid sub $500 Asian import guitar vs a $3K+ made in the USA model, the latter has better quality components and much more time and care in construction.

Back to the cards a lot of pro level applications will work to a degree on consumer cards (with some hacking and preening), but thats more like an artists sketch pad….good for practice and education, or proof of concept work but nothing mission critical…for most pro applications key features are disabled and their is no formal support unless a proper card is being used.”

“Workstation card core chips are mostly identical to the consumer grade stuff (except for the memory controller), but everything around it is usually made of much higher quality components. The heatsinks and fans are made of better materials etc. etc.”

Thanks to our reader EBOBO and the folks on the forums of DesktopReview.com for that great explanation.

Other than that, Quadros and Firepros have optimizations in their drivers for various specific applications as well for the usual workload that a Workstation will be used for. These optimizations are only activated when a Quadro or Firepro is detected.

Tier C:

NVIDIA Tesla K20 - 5 GB GPU Computing Accelerator Processing Unit Active Cooling Part Number$2870 – NVIDIA Tesla K20 5GB GPU for Computing Dual-slot

Need more computing performance?
If you need strong computing performance for GPU Computing applications (e.g. Seismic processing, CFD, CAE, Financial computing, Computational chemistry and Physics, Data analytics, Satellite imaging, Weather modeling, etc.), Nvidia offers their 2nd generation “Maximus” technology, where you combine two video cards: A Quadro card for graphic (display) purposes and a NVIDIA Tesla K20 5 GB GPU Computing Accelerator card for computing (rendering) purposes. By sharing the loads on two specialized cards, you get better computing performance than using only a Quadro card with your CPU(s).

For more information on Nvidia’s Maximus technology, performance improvements that you can expect and testimonials, visit this page.

If your computing needs aren’t that demanding yet, you can stick to only a Quadro card and upgrade to the highest-end Quadro (K5000) if necessary. If you have a Quadro K5000 already and need more computing power or if you just know that you need as much computing power, then adding a NVIDIA Tesla K20 5 GB GPU Computing Accelerator computing card to your workstation that also contains a Quadro K5000 makes sense.

Note that the Tesla card has no display outputs, so you must have a Quadro card to handle your monitors. As explained above, combining it with a Quadro K5000 is the best and most powerful option, hence why that’s what I’m recommending for Tier C.

Warning about a possible compatibility issue:
The downside of using a Tesla K20 card with a Quadro K5000 card is that due to the dual-slot size of both cards, you will be unable to install a RAID controller add-on card, due to the lack of space on the motherboard to do so.

In other words, you can still have two SSDs in RAID 1 with the Tesla K20 card and the Quadro K5000 card, but four hard drives in RAID 6 (which requires an add-on RAID controller card) won’t be possible, unless you get a NAS (Network Attached Storage), which is an external enclosure that can be connected directly to LAN port(s) to ensure high transfer rates, with four hard drives in RAID 6, along with two SSDs in RAID 1 in the PC case.

I recommend the $815- Qnap TS-469-PRO-US for its high performance (Dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM, Dual LAN ports), reliability, solid build and top-notch customer support. It will store the four hard drives, will allow you to run them in a RAID 6 array and connects directly to your workstation via two LAN ports. Alternatively, you can connect it to your network, so that other users can easily access it.

RAM:

All Tiers:

Kingston Technology ValueRAM 16GB Kit (4x4GB Modules) 1600MHz DDR3 PC3-12800 ECC Reg CL11 DIMM DR x8 Intel Certified Server Memory KVR16R11D8K4/16I$360 – Two Kingston 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz 1.5v ECC Registered

Note that you need to buy two (2) of those kits, so that you get a total of eight (8) RAM sticks, to fully populate the motherboard’s RAM slots, in order to take advantage of quad-channel and get as much RAM bandwidth as possible.

32GB of memory: Run lots of programs with many large files with no problem!
32GB of RAM will allow you to run many programs at once, with a lot of larges files open at the same time, with minimum latency.

Kingston RAM: Highly reliable
I recommend Kingston for their high reliability (lowest return rate in the RAM industry, according to hardware.fr who gets their data from a major e-tailer) and compatibility with the vast majority of motherboards.

ECC Memory:
I recommend with ECC (Error-correcting code) memory, which is a type of memory that:

(…) can detect and correct the more common kinds of internal data corruption. ECC memory is used in most computers where data corruption cannot be tolerated under any circumstances, such as for scientific or financial computing.

ECC memory maintains a memory system immune to single-bit errors: the data that is read from each word is always the same as the data that had been written to it, even if a single bit actually stored, or more in some cases, has been flipped to the wrong state. Some non-ECC memory with parity support allows errors to be detected, but not corrected; otherwise errors are not detected.

ECC memory may be more expensive than standard memory, but it’s also a lot more reliable and a lot less prone to failure, two highly important factors for a Workstation.

Alternatives: Need more than 32GB?
If you need more than 32GB for your specific needs or just want to future-proof your workstation with more RAM, here’s a 32GB (x2 = 64GB) and 64GB (x2 = 128GB) kit.

Remember that you need to buy two kits, so that you get a total of eight (8) RAM sticks, to fully populate the motherboard’s RAM slots, in order to take advantage of quad-channel and get as much RAM bandwidth as possible.

Storage:

High-availability solution that ensures that your data is available even with multiple drives failure:
For the High-End Workstations, I’m recommending two Samsung 840 Pro SSDs in RAID 1 and four Western Digital Red hard drives in a RAID 6 array.

The reason for this recommendation is two-fold:
1. The SSDs will give very high performance for the OS, demanding programs and large files that you are currently working on, while the hard drives will provide a lot of storage space to save your projects and other large files for backup.
2. By backing up your SSD content onto the hard drives, you ensure that you have two redundant storage solutions, so if against all odds you get a critical failure on your SSDs, you still have your data safe on the hard drives, which are setup with RAID 6, which allows for two drive failure, so if you lose one hard drive and when you re-construct the array you lose another (more common than you think, especially with large 1+TB hard drives), you will not lose any data, unlike with RAID 5.

In other words, even if you lose both SSDs AND two hard drives, your data is still available.

Here are a few examples of possible failures and the outcome:
- One of the two SSDs in RAID 1 fails: The other SSD still contains all the data from the failed SSD. Simply replace the failed SSD and rebuild the RAID 1 to ensure data availability on both SSDs. No data loss.
- Both SSDs fail: Replace both SSDs and load a saved image of their content from the hard drives. No data loss.
- One hard drive fail: Replace the failed hard drive and rebuild the RAID 6 array. No data loss.
- One hard drive fail and a second hard drive fail during the RAID array rebuild: Replace the faulty hard drive and rebuild RAID 6 array. No data loss.
- Both SSDs fail and two hard drives fail: My, what are the odds of that? Still, replace the faulty hard drive, rebuild RAID 6 array. Then you replace both SSDs and load a saved image of their content from the hard drives. No data loss.

As you can see, this is a solid solution that ensures that your data is safe.

However, if you have a 3 or 4 hard drives failure, you WILL lose your data, so to be certain, backups over other locations (external hard drive, other NAS, online server, optical disks, USB key, etc.), preferably off-site (to avoid data loss in the case of fire or theft) are recommended to be absolutely confident that you will not lose critical data even in the worse case possible.

RAID is NOT a backup solution:
RAID is not a backup solution, all it means is that if a drive fails, the data is available on another drive. However, it doesn’t protect you from an accidental file deletion, viruses, problems with software or OS updates causing issues and the like. RAID is not going to help you with any of those problems, because all drives will have the same problems.

Taking the time to setup a proper backup system is critical to avoid headaches that will cost you precious time and money later.

That said, let’s move on to the recommendations.

RAID controller or NAS:

For Tier A (single video card), B and D:

To run RAID 6 on your four hard drives, you’ll want a RAID controller card. I recommend the $370 – ARC-1213-4I-MS PCI-E 4x drives SATA RAID Controller Card – Extra Text.

Note that it doesn’t include the necessary cable to connect the hard drives to the controller card. I recommend the following cable: $17 – HighPoint Internal Mini-SAS to 4SATA(SFF8087 to SATA) 1M (3 feet) Cable

For Tier A with dual video cards and Tier C:

Since you can’t install a RAID controller card due to the lack of space caused by the two video cards, you’ll want a NAS. I recommend the $815- Qnap TS-469-PRO-US for its high performance (Dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM, Dual LAN ports), reliability, solid build and top-notch customer support. It will store the four hard drives, will allow you to run them in a RAID 6 array and connects directly to your workstation via two LAN ports. Alternatively, you can connect it to your network, so that other users can easily access it.

SSDs: All Tiers:

Samsung Electronics 840 Pro Series 2.5-Inch 256 GB SATA 6GB/s Solid State Drive MZ-7PD256BW$502 – Two Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SATA III 2.5″ SSD in RAID 1: Total capacity: 256GB

Why the Samsung 840 Pro (not to be confused with the 840 non-Pro series) SSDs?

Two very simple reasons:
1. Reliability: From my research and customers feedback, Samsung produce the most reliable SSDs right now, hence why I recommend them for a Workstation.
2. Performance: The Samsung 840 Pro tops the charts, pretty much all professional reviewers online praise its high performance, even under very demanding workloads.

Samsung 840 Pro SSDs have a SMART attribute “Wear_Leveling_Count” which counts down from 100 to 0 as the drives wear out. This allows you to track their usage and to predict when you’ll need to replace one of them if necessary when the time comes. Note that this is likely to take many many years.

Thanks to RAID 1, if one of them fails, the other one still holds your data.

The case natively supports 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives, so you don’t need any adapter.

The motherboard includes six SATA cables, so you don’t need to buy any additional SATA cable, since the build features two SSD and one optical drive, for a total of three SATA drives. The hard drives are connected to the RAID controller card (which has a dedicated cable to handle the four SATA hard drives) or a NAS, which doesn’t require any cables. In other words, you shouldn’t need any additional SATA cables.

Need more than 256GB of ultra-high-speed storage?
Simply upgrade to: $968 – Two Samsung 840 Pro 512GB in RAID 1, total capacity: 512GB

 

Hard Drives: All Tiers:

WD Red 1 TB NAS Hard Drive$320 – Four Western Digital Red 1TB in RAID 6, total capacity: 2TB

Why the Western Digital Red series?
1. They are designed for 24/7 usage.
2. They are designed for RAID environments, no dropout after a short amount of time.
3. Three years warranty with 24/7 support.

Simply put, they offer great reliability, can be used in RAID, in a NAS, are designed designed for 24/7 usage and offer a great warranty. Ideal for a workstation.

2TB isn’t enough for you?

No problem, you can stick with the same RAID 6 solution and move up to 4 or 6TB of storage capacity with the following hard drives:

Optical Drive:

Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive - Bulk - IHAS124-04 (Black)$24 – Lite-On SATA 24X DVD Burner

This drive is able to read and burn CDs and DVDs. Relatively silent (it obviously makes some noise when reading/burning at high speed), compatible with all major formats including DVD-RAM.

The motherboard includes six SATA cables, so you don’t need to buy any additional SATA cable, since the build features two SSD and one optical drive, for a total of three SATA drives. The hard drives are connected to the RAID controller card (which has a dedicated cable to handle the four SATA hard drives) or a NAS, which doesn’t require any cables. In other words, you shouldn’t need any additional SATA cables.

Upgrades:
If you want the ability to read and burn Blu-Ray disks, then the $70 – Pioneer Black 15X SATA Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner is what you want.

Regarding Blu-Ray playback:

As far as I know, you still require a specific software to playback Blu-Ray disks on a PC.

Based on various reviews and feedback on various forums, PowerDVD 12 3D Ultra is the software that I recommend to you. You’ll want at least the professional version for Blu-ray playback.

It is fully compatible with Windows 7/8 and shouldn’t give you any problems.

Case:

All Tiers:

Corsair Obsidian Series Black 550D Mid Tower Computer Case (CC-9011015-WW)$130 – Corsair Obsidian 550D

A powerful workstation needs a case to match it. It needs to be capable of ensuring proper cooling, while being discrete enough to not get some odd stares (Lots of noise is annoying and flashy LEDs look out of place in a corporate environment).

With a subtle yet good looking style design including a diamond-cut brushed aluminum front panel, sound proofing and an ease of components installation that their rivals could learn from, the Corsair 550D is what I recommend to you.

  • Cooling wise, this case includes three case fans but unfortunately, they have sleeve bearing, which tend to fail within a year and can be noisy.To ensure proper cooling with enough airflow, low noise and many years of service, you’ll be replacing them. See the cooling section for more details.

Features wise, you get:

  1. A solid case. No flimsy panel, nor sharp edges here.
  2. A case that facilitates your PC assembly. Working in this case to assemble your PC is a lot easy and simpler than in some other cases.
  3. Outstanding wire management.
  4. Magnetically mounted dust filters
  5. One-button side panel removal
  6. A tool-less system that works.
  7. Support for up to six 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives, perfect for two SSDs and four hard drives.
  8. 2 x USB 3.0 and Audio out/MIC in at the top. Unfortunately, USB 3.0 aren’t supported by the motherboard, but the case includes a converter to USB 2.0, which is supported by the motherboard. So you’ll effectively have two USB 2.0 ports on the front of the case. Rest assured that you also have two USB 3.0 and two more USB 2.0 ports on the back of the motherboard.
  9. 5 years warranty

Power Supply:

Tier A and D:

Seasonic 850W 80 Plus Gold ATX12V/EPS12V Power Supply - X-850 SS-850KM$160 – Seasonic X-850 850W 80 PLUS Gold Modular 5yrs war.

This power supply has a maximum power output of 850W, not that should rely only on this information as I often point in posts such as Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply.

More importantly, it can output a maximum of 70A on the 12V line, one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a power supply.

Best of all, it is 80 PLUS Gold certified, meaning that it’s always at least 85% efficient, resulting in less heat, more silence and a lower electricity bill for you, compared to a less efficient power supply.

Also good to know: It’s modular, meaning that you only plug in the power cables that you need, instead of being stuck with a bunch of unused cables that you have to tuck away somewhere in your case.

The Seasonic X series is known for the very high quality of its components and its reliability. That and the fact that features two EPS 12V 8 pins connector, a must for the dual-CPU motherboard that requires two EPS 12V connectors. Many power supplies only offer one EPS 12V connector and would be inadequate for this workstation.

Finally, it comes with a solid 5 years warranty.

Tier B:

With its Quadro K5000, Tier B requires a more powerful power supply. I recommend the $205 – Seasonic X-1050 1050W 80 PLUS Gold Modular 5yrs war..

Tier C:

With the Quadro K5000 and the Tesla card, you’ll need an even more powerful power supply. The $300 – Seasonic X-1250 1250W 80 PLUS Gold Modular 5yrs war. is what I recommend.

UPS/Surge Protector:

I highly recommend getting a UPS, especially if you’re in an area with a lot of thunderstorms, brownouts or in a work area with older electric wiring. If you lose power, the UPS will keep your PC running for a few minutes, enough for you to save your work and to properly shutdown your PC.

The two recommended UPS below also protects against electrical surges, protecting your PC and other equipment plugged into the UPS, from dangerous power surges, which are one of the main causes of defective computers.

PC components are extremely fragile and the last thing that you want is to plug all that expensive equipment equipped straight in a power outlet. You want it plugged in a surge protector (featured in the UPS units below), which will protect your expensive equipment.

My recommendation:

Yes, there are less expensive UPS units available, but nothing that’s as reliable as the units above. These are designed for network-grade, mission-critical servers and other environments where a power loss without a chance to save current projects would be disastrous and unacceptable. The recommended UPS units above are made solid, batteries are replaceable and the UPS units work when they need to.

Cooling:

Noctua NH-U12S U-Type Premium Cooler$140 – Two (2x) $140 – Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler

This Workstation is based on a server-type platform, meaning that the CPUs don’t include CPU Coolers. Also, since this is a dual-socket motherboard, you have to be careful to pick a heatsink that will both fit and that will be capable of offering proper cooling, in order to ensure reliability, even when you run your workstation under a 24/7 load.

The Noctua NH-U12S will do exactly that and after a lot of research, it is my recommendation.

Equipped with the Noctua NF-F12 fan which features a high-quality SSO bearing, you can be sure that it will last many many years while being fairly silent. Rest assured that if for any reason you wish to change the fan, it’s something possible with this CPU Cooler.

To top it off? Noctua offers a six years warranty! The customer service is top-notch and the long warranty is a statement to the quality of this product.

Remember though: You’ll need to buy two, since you have two physical CPUs in this system.

Thermal Compound:
The thermal compound is what you’ll put between the CPU and the CPU Cooler, and its job is to transfer heat between the two. Using an high-quality thermal compound ensure that your CPU temperatures will be as low as possible.

The great news is that the Noctua NH-U12S includes some NT-H1 thermal compound. It’s a top-notch product that I have no problem recommending.

Case Fans

To ensure proper cooling, low noise and longevity, you’ll be replacing the case stock fans with the following Noctua fans.

Why Noctua fans?

  • Exceptional quality, with SSO bearings that are reliable and will last many many years (MTBF rating of more than 150.000 hours, or over 17 years running 24/7) without making more noise, clicking or anything that you’d expect from an aged fan.
  • Good airflow to noise ratio: They provide good airflow while being next to silent. A few fans from other companies offer slightly better performance, but none are as reliable as the Noctua fans.
  • 6 years warranty

 

All Tiers:

Two 120mm case fans, to be placed in the front of the case, as intake fans (pulls air inside of the case. Find the arrow on the side of the fan to determine the direction of the airflow):

$36 – Two (2x) Noctua NF-P12 120mm Case Fan

Tier A and D:

$80 – Four (4x) Noctua NF-A14 FLX 140mm Case Fan

You’ll want to place:

  • Two at the top of the case as exhaust (pushes air outside of the case)
  • One at the back of the case as exhaust
  • One at the bottom of case, as an intake fan (pulls air inside of the case)

Tier B and C:

$120 – Six (6x) Noctua NF-A14 FLX 140mm Case Fan

You’ll want to place:

  • Two at the top of the case as exhaust (pushes air outside of the case)
  • One at the back of the case as exhaust
  • Two on the side of the case as intake fans (pulls air inside of the case)
  • One at the bottom of case, as an intake fan

Sound:

Tier A, B and C:

Dp Soundwave 5.1 Pcie 24-BIT with S/pdif Optical Out$43 – SIIG IC-510111-S2 DP 5.1 PCI-Express 1x Sound Card

Seeing as the motherboard has no onboard sound, I recommend a basic 5.1 sound card.

Because it’s so small, it will fit in the top PCI-Express 8x slot, next to the RAM slots, allowing you to install two video cards or one video card and a RAID card.

Tier D:

ESI Juli@ XTE$290 – ESI Juli@ XTE PCI-Express 1x Sound Card

Of course, for a digital audio workstation, a basic 5.1 sound card won’t cut it.

For Tier D, I recommend the $290 – ESI juli@ XTE PCI-E 1x.

If you want one of the best, if not THE best professional sound card available, this is it.

  • It features highest quality 24-bit 192Khz ADC (114dB) and DAC (112dB).
  • Its unique swappable I/O socket allows you to choose your analog connectors between unbalanced RCA jacks and balanced TRS jacks, making Juli@ XTe the perfect solution for any stereo I/O application, analog and digital.
  • The EWDM drivers of Juli@ XTe provide unparalleled performance and stability, and provide support for all professional audio applications using ASIO. Of course, Windows 7 and 8 are supported.
  • With its digital I/O and the integrated MIDI interface, Juli@ XTe is perfect for post-production studios, one man bands and use with mixers and you can monitor the inputs and outputs directly through the digital mixer.
  • Juli@ XTe features optical and digital outputs that allow AC3/DTS pass through for Dolby digital and DTS surround sound playback.

Of course, if you already have your own PCI-Express sound card and would rather use it, it should work without any issue in this workstation.

Note that PCI sound cards are NOT compatible with this build, because the motherboard has no PCI slots.

Network: Three Gigabit LAN connectors on motherboard

Integrated on the motherboard are three Gigabit LAN connectors.

However, if a LAN network is not an option or if a wireless network is preferable for you, I recommend either the:
- Inexpensive and reliable – $20 – Rosewill RNX-N180UBE Wireless USB 2.0 802.11b/g/n with 5 dBi Antenna, which connects into a USB 2.0 port. It comes with a base, so that you can move it away from the PC for better reception and a 5dBi external antenna to improve reception further. Support 802.11b/g/n, 300Mbps max.
- Supports up to 900Mbps- $65 – ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-N900 USB-N66, which connects into a USB 2.0 port. The receiver is a base, so that you can move it in the best spot for better reception. Support 802.11b/g/n. Dual-band 3×3, up to 900Mbps.

Recommended operating system:

The operating system cost, if there’s one, is not included in the total cost. The two reason for this are:

  1. The budget only considers hardware.
  2. You may be able re-use a previous license, have a corporate license (volume license), etc..

If you decide that you need to buy an OS, here are our recommendations:

Windows 7

Despite Linux gaining more and more support, Windows still is the platform of choice for compatibility at the moment. Considering that you’ll have 4GB of RAM or more, along with a dedicated video that also has memory (512MB or 1GB), you’ll need a 64-bit version, as 32-bit is limited to 4GB of memory for the entire system, which is not enough now, nor in the future if you decide to upgrade.

Windows 7 is by far better than Windows Vista, looks better, more functional, less annoying, consumes less resources and brings DirectX 11 to the table.

Three Available Versions:

  1. Windows 7 Home Premium: To avoid, as it supports a maximum of 16GB of RAM, while the High-End Workstations are equipped with at least 32GB. Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate support up to 192GB of RAM.
  2. Windows 7 Professional: If you want the virtual XP mode, you’ll need at least the Professional edition. Also required if you want to backup to a network, using the built-in backup mode in Windows. Also good to know: You’ll need at least the pro version to take advantage of Remote Desktop Connection.
  3. Windows 7 Ultimate: To help protect data on your PC and portable storage devices against loss or theft with BitLocker and to work and switch between 35 languages.

OEM vs Retail:

The OEM version allows you to only install it once on a computer. You cannot transfer the license to another computer in the future and you do not receive support from Microsoft. It’s the same type of license you get when you get Windows on a desktop or laptop that you buy from Dell, HP and such. It’s less expensive, but gives less flexibility. Ideal if you intend on keeping your computer for many years.

The Retail version is the full version, which allows you to transfer the license to another computer in the future and you can call Microsoft if you need any form of support. Ideal if you intend on upgrading/changing your computer down the road.

Other than that, you get the same features on both, only the license differs. The price between the two differs obviously.

OEM Versions:

  1. Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM SP1 – $136
  2. Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit OEM SP1 – $199

Retail Versions:

  1. Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Retail – $300
  2. Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Retail – $310

Windows 8

Released on October 26th 2012, Windows 8 is Microsoft’s latest version of the popular Windows operating system. While it uses the same core as Windows Vista and Windows 7, visually it is a departure from these two OS, using colourful tiles and a look often referred to as “Metro”.

While you can switch back to the classic desktop look, “Metro” loads up by default. The “Start” button and menu are gone too. While this will irratate some users, it is possible to have the desktop load by default and it is also possible to bring back the start button and menu by installing third parties apps.

The vast majority of applications that ran on Windows Vista and 7 should have no problem running on Windows 8.

For more information on Windows 8, there are countless reviews of it available online that will do a better job than I can fully describing the changes that it brings to the Windows OS.

Let’s address the obvious question:
Should you use Windows 7 or 8 for your workstation PC?

While I welcome novelty and change, performance doesn’t improve that much on Windows 8 (not when you have such a powerful workstation anyway) and the “Metro” looks makes it less efficient to multi-task and switch back and forth between various open applications, which is problematic for a typical workstation workload

More importantly, Windows 8 is a brand new OS, while Windows 7 has been around for three years. What this means is that Windows 7 bugs have been nearly all fixed, while Windows 8 is crippled with bugs, as any new operating system usually is.

Considering these two points, I’d sticking with Windows 7 for now. Don’t get me wrong though, Windows 8 definitely brings some good changes to Windows and it has the potential of being a great OS eventually, but it still needs some time to get its bugs fixed to be reliable enough for a workstation laptop. Perhaps when its first service pack (SP) or the rumored Windows “Blue” will be released, Windows 8 will be the OS of choice.

To find out more about Windows 8, I invite you to read one of many reviews available online that get deep into what has changed from Windows 7 to WIndows 8.

That said, if you’re interested in Windows 8, there are two versions available. Note that there isn’t any “retail” version, you can re-install it as often as you need to:

Hardware Revolution consulting services:

About me:
I’m a computer expert with over 12 years of experience in recommending, building, fixing and modifying computers. I’ve assisted countless people and companies over the years with completely custom designs ranging from $300 to $25,000+ and of course, I’ve assembled many systems myself. In the last two years, I’ve recommended for over 10 millions dollars in various computer equipment purchases.

I’m not your average Joe, nor your Mom & Pop’s consultant. People trust me because I’m independent, neutral, stay on top of new technologies and because I recommend only what I would buy myself.

Testimonials:

Andrew:
The computer looks amazing. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much for your help.

Kevin:
Thanks for all your help! The computer is a beast! You were a great help as I do not have the knowledge base concerning individual components and compatibility. (…) matching the individual pieces to produce a level performance field was key. I could not be more happy with the system!

Paul J. Klein:
I’ve known Mathieu for some time now and while his knowledge of computer hardware has continued to astound me, I’ve been even more impressed with his personable, affable nature! (…) if I were you, I’d hire him without hesitation!

Get Mathieu’s services today!

Basic services:

Configuration verification for compatibility, what’s best for your needs, etc.

- Are you hesitating on what’s best for your needs?
- You want to have your final build double-checked and get my opinion on it before ordering?

My rate for basic services consulting is $99.95.

For this price, you’ll get:
- My recommendation on what’s best for your needs.
- My confirmation that your workstation parts are indeed compatible and are the best choice for your budget or alternatively, will tell you that this is not the case and offer you alternatives that are compatible, reliable and offer the best performance at a given price.

I accept Paypal only, which allows for credit card payments or electronic transfer from your bank account. Once your payment is completed, please contact me with your questions at the e-mail found further down in this article.


Advanced services:

Custom build for your specific workload needs. Basically any modification to a Workstation that requires a part that isn’t recommended/suggested in this article is considered advanced services.

- Need a high-end workstation with more than 4 hard drives for additional storage?
- Need 256GB of RAM?
- Need to modify a workstation Tier to match your needs?
- Have a lot of questions that will requires a lot of my time?
- Want a custom workstation that’s different from the four Tiers recommended in this article?

My rate for advanced services consulting is $299.95.

For this price, you’ll get:
- My recommendations for parts for a completely custom workstation that matches your specific needs
- Unlimited e-mail support with fast replies (usually within 24 hours, often faster).
- I’ll be there to assist you until you’re satisfied with your custom workstation and order your parts.

Note that if you need more than one custom configurations (for a few or many different workload types or different budgets), please contact me at the e-mail address below so that we can negotiate a reasonable rate based on your needs.

I accept Paypal only, which allows for credit card payments or electronic transfer from your bank account. Once your payment is completed, please contact me with your questions at the e-mail found further down in this article.


Custom services:

- Need assistance or have any questions that aren’t addressed here?

My rate varies depending on your needs. Please contact me with your question(s) at the following e-mail address:

(Yes, this is an image, you’ll have to manually copy the e-mail address. While this may be a slight inconvenience, this is necessary for me to avoid spam e-mails.)

Show your appreciation for this article

If you liked this article, if it helped you save money and time and if you appreciate the website for providing valuable, up-to-date, unbiased information, I kindly ask you to help us by making a donation via PayPal.

I suggest donating 1% of your build cost, or part of what you saved by using our recommendations in this article. Of course, feel free to donate as much as you wish or can. Thank you.

Conclusion

Don’t agree with my choices? Have a suggestion to improve this build?

I do realize that even if I took a year to write this guide, it wouldn’t be perfect and it wouldn’t cover every possible software/scenario.

This is why if you don’t agree with one or several of my choices, think that you can come up with a way to improve this build, have requests, comments, etc. by all means, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

Would you like to see an additional feature? Let me know.

One or several parts are out of stock?

Simply drop a comment below to let me know. I’ll personally recommend to you an equivalent alternative and I will update the build shortly after.

What do you think?

What’s your opinion on this build?
Did you find a typo or error in this article?
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Don’t miss out on the Workstations updates!

We’ll soon be updating the Mainstream and Entry-Level Workstations. Also, as time goes by, parts go out of stock, new more powerful/efficient parts come out and more reasons cause me to update the builds. To make sure that you don’t miss an update, you can receive our updates for free via RSS or E-mail.

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Category: Workstation

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with 13 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • bob

    Windows 8 fixes all kinds of issues for networking, it’s really not as bad as people think it is… Don’t hide from technology if you consider yourself an IT professional..

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      Did you even read my arguments as to why I recommend Windows 7 over Windows 8?

      I’m not saying that Windows 8 is bad, simply that at this point in time, Windows 7 is preferable over Windows 8 for a workstation, due to superior stability/compatibility and multi-tasking that’s a lot easier/faster to do on Windows 7.

  • M4ENY

    I am hoping that you can update the budge gaming pc build article. I am trying to build one for a family member and I am bit torn between AMD apu vs Intel build.

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      I’ll be updating the Budget Gaming PCs this month, most likely this week.

  • Dreake

    Thanks for the article.
    I was wondering about your thoughts on the E5-2620 2.0 – 2.5 GHz.
    Are their any issues to be concerned about, other than the slightly lower clock speed (Compared to the E5-2630)?
    (Looking to save a bit of $)
    Thanks

    • Mathieu Bourgie

      Nope, no issues with using the E5-2620, it’s just a model with lower frequencies.

  • Sorin

    Hi Mathieu,
    If i buy a Cpu Xeon E5 2690 from ebay and same model 2690 from local shop, can i use the in dual with this motherboard?

  • Thiên Tàn Vương

    Thank for your article :) !

    Can I combine 2 cards Quadro K6000 and Tesla K20x?