Workstation Builds: Throw in your Requests and Suggestions!

| September 10, 2010 | (71)

The LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62: most likely will be seen in at least one Workstation.

As you may know, I’m currently working on some new workstations builds.

Which is why I’m inviting to leave comments for the next two days (Until Sunday night) and make requests and/or suggestions of things that you’d like to see in the new Workstation builds.

Want to run a specific program?

Let me know programs you intend to work with and I’ll make sure to leave some in the articles regarding what hardware I recommend for that specific program.

Whether it’s Photoshop, Maya, some CAD program, video converting, just name it!

Want a specific feature?

You’ve got to have a FireWire port? E-SATA?

Four hard drives in RAID 1+0?

AMD FirePro or NVidia Quadro professional 3D video card?

Once again, name it and I’ll make sure to offer it at least as an upgrade.

This is your chance to get a Workstation with what you want in it!

Like I just said, if you want anything in the Workstation builds, let me know ;) Got a suggestion? Shoot!

Category: News, 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 .

  • Harry McBack

    I've always wanted to know what applications benefit from or truly need AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quarto cards. I've always just put gaming video cards in PCs I've built. Not always the latest and greatest but enough so I could run 3 or 4 displays. This was when I was doing development work mainly in SQL Server, but I would also have to have a slew of MS Office Apps and Visual Studio running, plus a whole lot of web browsers and tabs for testing. What I am more interested about today is a system for recording, editing, and producing videos using Camtasia. Would need to be at least dual monitor.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Harry,

      I've always wanted to know what applications benefit from or truly need AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quarto cards.

      Mostly 3D rendering apps and the like, for a variety of things. For what you're doing, no need for an AMD FirePro or Nvidia Quatro.

      What I am more interested about today is a system for recording, editing, and producing videos using Camtasia. Would need to be at least dual monitor.

      Alright, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for your feedback!

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • JohnDetroit

    Do a AMD workstation build, not a Xeon. People need to know there are alternatives to Intel.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      John,

      I'll probably end up doing both, depending on the budget. Probably sticking to the $500-$1000-$1500-$2000 price points, maybe another one or two at higher prices points.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • Lucas

    do a audio work station build, and maybe a basic build, meaning just your everyday computer that your average person needs. Just a thought.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Lucas,

      Audio-only workstation is a bit of a stretch for my knowledge, but I'll definitely include dedicated sound cards and such.

      (…) maybe a basic build, meaning just your everyday computer that your average person needs.

      Something like the Web PC?

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • Dave

    How about a build that's dedicated entirely to the art of editing and what it entails. Something that is built for programs like “Sony Vegas Pro” for video editing, along with maybe “Adobe After Effects” for graphics design for your company/video, and then something like “Sound Forge” for audio/music editing.

    So, I guess a dedicated sound card and a quality speaker system for high quality sounds/music. A high quality graphics card and monitor for creating stunning graphics. LOTS of harddrive space for large video and audio storage; possibly different SSD+Harddrive combinations for very quick program startups, while still having plenty of storage available. Then maybe splitting it up a bit into different cost categories like $500 build for anyone that's looking to just get introduced to editing or maybe just mess around creating their own videos/music for fun, up to a $2000+ build for people looking to possibly go pro. Anyways, just thought that might be a pretty good idea.

  • Gilbertgrape924

    Thanks again for helping us with this. I will briefly run by my situation again for the request section. I need to edit Canon 7d and Canon HV30 High def full res files in Pinnacle Studio 12.
    The computer would be used strictly for HD video (no gaming) and photo editing in Photoshop CS3. I am also wondering will the integrated video card be enough or would you recommend a separate video card also as an extra to your suggestions? And if you recommend a dedicated card, should I still go with a mother board that is integrated but has a dedicated slot? Or would it make sense knowing I need dedicated video card to get a different motherboard all together. I realize that scenario would bring me above the $500 but it would still be much less then the next jump up in build! Thanks again for your help!

  • Steve

    Thanks Mathieu, I am getting ready to build two systems one gaming and one high powered workstation. The workstation needs to be fast and mainly will be running Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 autocad, a full suite of Sage Timberline Office, On Center Software Digital Takeoff Table 2 and Microsoft Project and Office Pro with three monitors and possibly a fourth. It needs to be upgradeable so I was going to use the HAF-X tower and Asus Rampage exterme mobo. I was duplicating an Intel based extreme gaming system but I am so interested in your builds I will wait for your ideas.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Steve,

      What I have in mind for the $2000 Workstation, with its 2 CPUs and Professional Video Card should perfectly meet your requirements (Powerful for everything, 3-4 monitors support and upgradable.), much more than any Gaming PC can in my opinion.

      Looking forward to complete the article and publishing it online.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • Vesa Loikas

    I'm about to build a workstation for photography/graphic design. So Lightroom and photoshop are my main applications that I use. And I'm very interested using AMD processor if I can achieve a lower price point for the build with almost the same speed.

  • EBOBO

    klfgsdklfg I had a nice long post, but then my browser crashed. In short:

    -NAS backup for critical data, i.e. videos, images
    -Dual-socket motherboards
    -Xeon and Opteron
    -Quadro (6000 6GB hehe) and Firebird

    In regards to the high price for workstation cards:

    “Exact pinpoint renders for things such as vheicle/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 thoudands 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. Cosumer cards are built for speed at the cost of accuarcy, our renders need to be fast…not perfect. Workstation cards are the opposite, they need to be perfectly accuate at all times, speeds good but not priority, major differences in the cards are ECC ram (expensive, but a lost bit could be catastophic) 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 livliehood….

    It cost money to make money and or move things forward to a large degree, great designs arent doodled out on a napkin in a country diner anymore.

    There are many products out that scale th 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 onstruction.

    Back to the cards a lot of pro level apps 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 apps 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 (cept 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.”

    Uh. For the Disqus comment box, I can't expand it so I'm stuck to this tiny little box.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      EBOBO,

      -NAS backup for critical data, i.e. videos, images
      I was planning to go with RAID 1, 5 or 10 depending on the builds. I'll think about NAS backups, perhaps as an add-on, not included in the budget, for those who are interested. Or just recommend some NAS solutions. I'll think about it.
      -Dual-socket motherboards
      Most definitely in the $1500, $2000 and higher priced (if there are any) Workstations.
      -Xeon and Opteron
      Once again, most definitely in the $1500, $2000 and higher priced (if there are any) Workstations.
      -Quadro (6000 6GB hehe) and Firebird
      Quadro 4000 and 5000 are available at NewEgg, can't find the 6000 though, I believe that it's not available yet.

      Thanks for the great explanation of the difference between consumer and pro video cards. I might borrow a few lines from that, if you don't mind of course ;)

      Uh. For the Disqus comment box, I can't expand it so I'm stuck to this tiny little box.
      Yeah, I find it a tad small too (coming from someone who writes 6k+words articles and just loves to write hahaha). I wrote an e-mail to Disqus support, see if there's any way to make the comment box longer. If they tell me no, I'll get in touch with my webmaster and hopefully figure a way to hack it.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

      • EBOBO

        Well, the quote is from this thread here: http://forum.desktopreview.com/desktop-components/241434-workstation-video-cards.html

        I'm sure they'd be fine with you borrowing their words. Credit where due, of course.

        I'm using Google Chrome if it matters; it's the only browser I have installed so I can't test anything else. Pretty sure that's against the EULA/ToS. :p

        • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

          EBOBO,

          Thanks for the information. Of course, if I quote from them, I'll link back to them as well.

          We'll see if they reply and if they do, what they say. I know it's API based, so it might not be possible. EULA/ToS? That never stopped me from doing something before lol, but I'll double-check, just to be on the safe side here.

  • sswh

    I would like to see a build optimized for architects, especially for Rhino3D, photoshop, illustrator, indesign, Maya. I'm also interested in the advantages of workstation cards vs gaming video cards, if they're faster and worth the money.

  • Geran Brown

    How about something for HD video editing using Open Source software? Maybe in the $1000 to $1500 range.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Geran,

      There will definitely be a $1000 and a $1500 Workstation that will be capable of handling HD video editing without a problem. Software wise though, I'll leave that up to you and our other readers, since my specialty is hardware, not so much software ;)

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • Xcalibur

    I have an idea for a new kind of build: I'm strugling myself to build a combination of media center and NAS together. Most of the times the NAS and the media center stay powered on the whole time. The media center needs a lot of storage space for movies, music etc, which the NAS could provide. But instead of building myself two separate parts, I was thinking of building one system combining multimedia center and NAS capabilities. This is maybe an idea for a new kind of build.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Xcalibur,

      Wouldn't either the $1000 or $1500 HTPC Builds, perhaps with different cases if you want more hard drives, be suitable for that?

      I mean, RAID 0/1/5/10 is available on the $1500 HTPC (Could be on the $1000 with a different motherboard) and with a Gigabit LAN, you have network access for backups and such.

      Sure, it's not perfect and could be a bit less expensive, but it's probably something close to what you are looking for.

      I'll also see what else I can come up with, when I update the HTPC Builds later this year.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

    Throwing in some of my own ideas/suggestions before I forget them:

    - Build for CUDA, with SLI
    - General-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU), such as Folding@Home (F@H), SETI and the like. Crossfire or SLI can be used here

    • Liveonc

      Thanks for answering my question yesterday in a different tread. It was used for this: http://www.gpugrid.net/forum_thread.php?id=2287 which was a PC to be used for GPUGRID.net which was to use a Asrock 890GX Extreme3, MD Athlon II X3 445, Kingston 2 GB (1066 MHz NON-ECC) DDR3-SDRAM, S1000W Xilence Redwing Gaming-Edition, GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 460 768MB which totaled €533. He said that he'll use an old PC case & run it over the network, so he'll save on the HDD too. He wanted to be able to add 2 extra GTX460 later, & the same with buying a case & adding more RAM.

      • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

        Liveonc,

        Problem is, the Asrock 890GX Extreme3 doesn't support SLI, only Crossfire. So you need a different motherboard.

        Also, the GTX 460 can only be used in SLI, not in Three-Way or Quad-SLI, so two cards are the max. For Three-Way SLI or Quad-SLI, only the GTX 465, 470 and 480 can be used.

        Finally, the gigabyte gtx 460 is not recommended for SLI, due to its open cooler.
        A card with a closed cooler that exhausts the heat outside of the case, is what I recommend. The reason being that with a cooler like the gigabyte card, the bottom card exhausts the heat within the case, which raises and gets sucked up by the top card, meaning that your top card will run significantly hotter. Really to avoid for a 24/7 build.

        he'll use an old PC case Then the cards will really overheat due to the lack of airflow…

        You can build a budget build, you just have to be careful to pick the right components and not try to cut corners too much. That build has quite a few major flaws and as it is, won't run as intended.

        Take care,
        Mathieu

        • Liveonc

          SLI & CUDA are two different things. He wanted to use it for GPUGRID & maybe other BOINC Projects. They don't support working on one thing on two or more GPU's at once. I've read that NVIDIA has got something that can use more then one GPU to work on the same task, but I don't think it requires the SLI bridge, so therefor a Crossfire motherboard can be used.

          What I've noticed most about cooling is that it depends more on a side fan (or removing the side panel) & manually setting the GPU fan to 100%.

          It's not me who's building it, I'm just trying to to find a solution, & I don't get anything out of it apart from being curious to how it can be done.

          • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

            Liveonc,

            SLI & CUDA are two different things. He wanted to use it for GPUGRID & maybe other BOINC Projects. They don't support working on one thing on two or more GPU's at once. I've read that NVIDIA has got something that can use more then one GPU to work on the same task, but I don't think it requires the SLI bridge, so therefor a Crossfire motherboard can be used.
            Interesting, I wasn't aware of that. Then again, I never used CUDA before, which explains my lack of knowledge regarding it.

            Regarding cooling, yeah, if noise is not an issue, you can run GPU fans at 100%.

            I understand that it's not for you, I wasn't trying to tell you what to do or anything, simply throwing in my own opinions regarding the build. Of course, if it can be done, in a reliable way, I'm curious to learn about it too.

            Take care,
            Mathieu

  • Liveonc

    What about a DIY home office for small business' who neither have much money or experience, but lots of sweat & bravery? I've know a few myself. They usually give up in frustration or because of unexpected overspending.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Liveonc,

      Depends on what you'd want for such a setup. If it's nothing fancy, then the Web PC would probably be just fine for it. Otherwise, a basic $500 Workstation would do it most likely, but then again, it depends on what they need/want.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

      • Liveonc

        I've tried that already, even the absurd. Scavenging second hand part to piece together 5 PC's trying to get a sick budget to add up, only to drag so much cable in order to get them to share the printer & Internet, only to also have to call the power company for an upgrade so they all could be used at once.

        What I wanted to do, but didn't know how to, was how to set up 5 thin clients & a server dirt cheap. That was 3 years ago, now there's much more choice & dragging cable isn't even necessary. What it had to do was be able to use Excel, Photoshop/Corel, Macromedia, Outlook, Internet Explorer, listen to music, & play games (off hours).

        It was a small family business in a Developing Nation, but I also know of a small family business with a much bigger budget, that could have saved lots of money (if they could be bothered), that use all of the above & Concord.

  • KenAttorri

    An HD editing workstation which is also energy efficient and low noise ……. hopefully not an oxymoron.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Ken,

      Great suggestion, I'm surprised that no one suggested that yet, but yes, there will be a focus on energy efficiency and low noise, when possible that is.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • KenAttorri

    It would be nice if the workstation included a small SSD drive for quick loading of the OS and applications, and a cost-effective mechanical drive for storing work product,

  • Bej

    I would like to see a build using onboard video and
    that doesn't have to be upgraded (mobo/cpu) for the
    for several years !!!

  • Bej

    Well, I just had to look at the $500 workstation
    build for my answer. Is the Radeon 4200 as
    good as it gets ??

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Bej,

      Is the Radeon 4200 as good as it gets ?? It's one of the best onboard GPU available right now.

      However, keep in mind that I'm about to do major updates to the Workstation Builds, so I recommend waiting to see what's coming ;)

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • Dedmonwakin

    Fantastic articles! Stumbled on this site a couple days ago and I've really enjoyed reading and using much of the resourceful information here. I'm currently in the market for a computer and have been struck with this wise idea to build a PC myself, which will be my first ever. Sounds great and I'm all for it. But I think I may be pushing the limits with the boundaries I've set. I figured if I'm going to build a PC, the price needs to either match or be less than any pre-built PC package that I'm currently interested in with upgrades.

    I've set a current budget of $1500 which must include a monitor and OS. I also wanted the best of both worlds where I can easily edit and view 1080p videos natively and streamlessly on Sony Vegas 9 and game casually. I was able to bring down the cost of certain things here and there by researching their practicality and advantages such as the DDR3 1333 vs 1600 and ssd.

    I think what has been the hardest for me is the Phenom II X6 1095T vs i7 950. Going with the AMD chip, I think I could easily shave off another $100-$200 off the current items I have in my cart rather than going the intel path. But even now, I'm not sure which is best for my needs. I hear great things of the AMD but it seems it is exclusive to particular situations and it's advantage is marginal, whereas the i7 950 quad is the best all around chip for everyday use and capable of matching or exceeding the 1095t with just 4 cores and it's hyper threading.

    I purchased a copy of Win 7 home premium and used it on my other HP….(is there any way to install this in more than one…if not, then I have the OS factored in to this current build)

    So now all I need is someone to verify whether the parts I have ready for purchase will perform more than sub par, but most importantly,…..will work together flawlessly. I would really appreciate any help, thank you!

    Here are the parts (no PC case yet, too many to choose from!)
    $300 i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz
    $219 ASUS P6X58D-E
    $149 SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100284VXL Radeon HD 5750
    $231 WINTEC AMPX 4GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
    $88 Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM
    $25 LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98
    $100 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    $36 ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 92mm Fluid Dynamic CPU Cooler
    $27 ASUS PCE-N13 PCI Express Wireless Adapter
    Actual Total $1416.87
    LOGISYS Computer PS575XBK 575W

    • Dedmonwakin

      Sorry, forgot to add the monitor.
      Here are the parts (no PC case yet, too many to choose from!)
      $300 i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz
      $219 ASUS P6X58D-E
      $149 SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100284VXL Radeon HD 5750
      $231 WINTEC AMPX 4GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
      $88 Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM
      $25 LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98
      $100 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
      $36 ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 92mm Fluid Dynamic CPU Cooler
      $20 LOGISYS Computer PS575XBK 575W
      $27 ASUS PCE-N13 PCI Express Wireless Adapter
      $220 ASUS VW246H Glossy Black 24″ 2ms

      Actual Total $1416.87

      • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

        Dedmonwakin,

        In reply to both of your comments:

        Regarding the Phenom II X6 1090T vs the i7 950: You're pretty much correct here. The Phenom II X6 1090T performs very well under some specific conditions, but the i7 950 is a better performer all around, for the majority of things.

        I just took a look at your build and I've got to say: It's a poor build.
        Simply put, it's not properly balanced and you're spending too much on the CPU/Motherboard/RAM platform and not enough on the Video Card. For gaming on a 1080p monitor (Like the one that you've picked), a Radeon HD 5750 is not powerful enough.

        Also, you've picked several parts that are not reliable (RAM and PSU to name them) and also picked parts where you can get a better part for a similar price. I don't blame you though, it's your first build and it's tough to figure it all out with spending many hours researching.

        Considering your needs and budget, here are my recommendations:
        First off, we'll start with the $850 Gaming PC (Which doesn't include monitor and OS, I'll get to those after) as a base for your build.

        Next, you'll want to upgrade the CPU to the Core i7 870 (+$95), since the Core i5 750 in the $850 Build does not feature Hyper-Threading, while the i7 870 does, which you definitely want for your needs.

        Next, you'll want to upgrade the RAM to G.SKILL 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333MHz 1.5V CAS9 (+$78), since 4GB will be too little to multi-task as you intend to.

        Finally, you can upgrade the hard drive to the Samsung F3 1TB (+$17).
        Now, if you take the base cost of the $850 Build ($859) and add the three upgrades (+$95, +$17 and +$78), we're at $1040.

        Add the ASUS PCE-N13 Wireless adapter ($27) and a decent CPU Cooler (Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus, you can get it for $25 at Amazon instead of $40 at NewEgg) and we're at $1092

        Add the monitor ($220) and the OS ($100, you can't legally use the same copy of Windows on two different machines) and you're at $1312. So about the same price as before.

        Now, let's compare the two builds, with the first part being what you had before and the second one being what I recommend:
        CPU: Core i7 950 3.06GHz Quad-Core with HT vs Core i7 870 2.93GHz Quad-Core with HT. This is pretty much the only “downgrade”, as you lose a mere 0.13GHz. However, this CPU is based on the Socket 1156/P55/Dual-Channel RAM platform, which costs significantly less than the Socket 1366/X58/Triple-RAM platform, while barely affecting performance. Basically, unless you have an ultra high-end Gaming PC, the X58 platform is overkill for your needs.

        Video Card: Upgrade from a Radeon HD 5750 to a Gigabyte GTX 460 1GB: The Radeon HD 5750 would struggle with games at 1080p, while the GTX 460 1GB will run pretty much any game maxed out with AA/AF.

        RAM: By the looks of it, you were going to buy three kits of two sticks of RAM and aim for 12GB of RAM. First of all, 12GB is overkill for your needs. Second of all, buying three dual-channels kits is suicidal, since if any stick from any of the three kits doesn't “like” another, they'll cause tons of errors. You want to buy as little kits as possible. Not to mention that it's more cost-effective to buy all your RAM in one kit.

        Here, you have a kit of two 4GB sticks (Total: 8GB) that have been tested together. Best of all? You can upgrade to 16GB down the road, simply by adding two more identical sticks.

        Hard Drive: The Samsung F3 1TB has been proven to be faster and more reliable than the WD Caviar Blue, not to mention that it costs less.

        CPU Cooler: The Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 pro was an excellent CPU Cooler, like 1-2 years ago. Today, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus performs better and is more silent.

        Power Supply: The power supply that you pick is of absolute horrible quality, it will not output the power that its rated for and will most likely fail horribly, going out with a bang and take a few parts down with it. To absolutely avoid. The $850 Build is equipped with the SeaSonic S12II 520W power supply, which is reliable, efficient and will protect your components. For more information on power supplies, take a look at the following article of mine:
        Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply

        Case: Where's your case in your build?! The $850 Build comes with the Antec 300 Illusion, a case with thick steel that's rock-solid and equipped with four speed-adjustable fans, for proper airflow to keep your components cool, yet with not too much noise.

        So to resume, we have the $850 Build, with the Core i7-870 CPU upgrade, the G.SKILL 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333MHz 1.5V CAS9 RAM upgrade and finally, the Samsung F3 1TB hard drive upgrade.

        In my opinion, this would be a way better build for your needs, that will be far more reliable and actually capable of handling SC2 at 1080.

        Let me know if you have any questions regarding my suggestions or anything else.

        Take care,
        Mathieu

  • Dedmonwakin

    Thank you very much for taking the time to not only reply, but lead me in the right direction with an in depth plan.

    I do have a couple of questions. I've never had any experience Over clocking and wouldn't mind trying it. Would there be any alterations needed to be done in your recommendations if I went for the i7-875k?

    I suppose one of the reasons i went for the 1366 socket was in hopes of the hexacore to drop in price (one day) when everyone has moved on to the next big thing. While that might still be over kill for many of my current needs, I do like to keep possible changes open.

    Would this recommended build, open me up for future upgrades with ease?

    Also, here's one of the issues I've been facing and hopefully this build will eliminate this. Recently purchased a Panasonic TM700 pro-sumer camera. the .mts format is one of the most difficult formats for yester years computers. To compound things, the camcorder records in actual 1080/60p @28bit/s…..play back on my HP with Phenom X4 9500, 6gb ram, and inboard video card was horrendous and even worse when trying to edit. As I keep learning things, I probably could have upgraded the video card and possibly upgraded the AM2+ socket processor and been fine….too late, sold it. :)

    I do plenty of video editing on Sony Vegas 9 and a lot of gaming mostly on my Xbox 360 or Ps3, but I would really like to get into the gaming part of it, with out sacrificing my ability to run daily tasks on my computer.

    Obviously your set up is a vast improvement to mine, but how semi- future proof is this? (if there is such a thing in the PC world)

  • KenAttorri

    I would encourage everyone who has the financial means to join me in donating to Hardware Revolution via PayPal. This website provides valuable, up-to-date, unbiased information. I'm looking forward to building Mathieu's new workstation (when it's announced) and sharing the results with all of you.

    • Dedmonwakin

      @Ken

      I agree with you 100%! His information is invaluable and spot on. Not only has he saved me money, but a whole lot of headache on what will be my first build.

      I'm really happy to have found this site and beginners like myself are fortunate to have him lend his experience!

      I'm kind of wondering if I should wait for this new workstation build to be published before I purchase the previously recommended build.

      @Mathieu

      What's the difference between the rig you guided me through and a strictly gaming build? Absence of hyper threading?

      Thanks,
      Tony

      • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

        Tony,

        In reply to both of your comments:

        Would there be any alterations needed to be done in your recommendations if I went for the i7-875k?
        Nope.

        I suppose one of the reasons i went for the 1366 socket was in hopes of the hexacore to drop in price (one day)
        Highly doubt that will happen in the next year or two even. Lower priced hexacore will be on the new sockets, since Intel likes to make money and incite people to move to their new platforms ;)

        Would this recommended build, open me up for future upgrades with ease?
        Be a bit more specific here, it depends on what part.
        CPU: No, you'll have to upgrade the motherboard, just like with pretty much any current build that won't be compatible with Intel and AMD new sockets next year.
        RAM: Yes, you can add more and you'll be able to re-use your sticks if you change motherboard.
        Video Card: Yes, without a problem, for years.

        Regarding your camera: You can't playback 1080p due to the integrated video card. This build will playback 1080p like a piece of cake. Editing won't be a problem either.

        The build is semi-futureproof in the sense that it's highly powerful and should last you a few years. It's about as futureproof as it can be, since you're getting pretty high-end parts here and considering that no current build would be compatible with future platforms/CPUs from Intel/AMD.

        What's the difference between the rig you guided me through and a strictly gaming build? Absence of hyper threading?
        Well, keep in mind that the rig that I suggested is based off a Gaming PC. In short yes, you have a more powerful CPU with Hyper-Threading and more RAM, while a Gaming PC is more focused on video cards and not that much on CPU/RAM.

        I'm kind of wondering if I should wait for this new workstation build to be published before I purchase the previously recommended build.
        Well, the $500 Workstation will be less powerful for sure. The $1000 Workstation will probably end up being similar to what I recommended above. I basically recommended a custom build for your specific needs, so I don't think that I can top my own recommendations ;)

        Hope this helps.

        Take care,
        Mathieu

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Ken,

      Thanks for the support, it's nice to feel appreciated =)

      I can't wait to be done with the new workstations too, can't wait to show it to everyone.

      Cheers,
      Mathieu

      • Charlie

        Will one of the work stations builds that you are working on be compatible to run all the various programs in 'Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection'? I'm an independant film maker and I'm trying to save tons of money by learning to do my own post production work. So i have enrolled in an Adobe class which I need my own home pc for. I have been looking on the internet for over a month for a build when I stumbled on your website. It sounds like I finally found someone that knows what they are talking about.

        Charlie

        • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

          Charlie,

          While the $500 Workstation that I'll publish first will be underpowered for your needs, the $1000 Workstation and higher-end Workstations that will follow clearly meet the requirements to run all of the programs contained in Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection. Obviously, while the $1000 Workstation will smoothly run said programs, if you go with an higher-end Workstation, tasks/work/render, etc. will be completed more quickly.

          Just a quick question though: Do you intend on running several programs from the Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection at once, or only one at a time? Needless to say, the first option would be more demanding on your PC, so I rather double-check with you first.

          It sounds like I finally found someone that knows what they are talking about.
          Well, I am a computer enthusiast with 10 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying computers as I point out in my About page, so yes, I know a thing or two about computers ;)

          However, no matter what I can say, the testimonials left by readers and all the comments left by various people on this website speak of my knowledge/desire to help, much more than I ever could begin to explain.

          I'm an independent film maker and (…)
          Do you have a website or a link to your movies/projects? You've got me curious there.

          In any case, it'd be my pleasure to help you out, after I published the new Workstation builds, to help you figure out the best build for your needs.

          Take care,
          Mathieu

    • Gilbertgrae924

      Definitely show your support! Hopefully as many people as possible can use the money and time saved by following these builds to help suport Mathieu and all his efforts. This site is like an online computer school, with a teacher that is here to answer any question! Great stuff.

  • Gilbertgrape924

    I have been trying to take your suggestions as a trial from the old workstation suggestions and head over to Bestbuy.com to see if they had the same products available. I know I would be paying more per part going there instead of Newegg or Amazon but Bestbuy has a payment option that allows you to buy at no payments or interest for 18 months. This is huge because I currently don't have the funds to build what I need to edit large amounts of HD Video but desperately need to come up with something by end of October. I am trying to educate myself on all the parts but unfortunately must admit a lot of the products I see are still just numbers to me. If there are other folks interested in the bestbuy route would it be possible to link up to some of the products they sell at Bestbuy.com? Or can try my best to put together a list from there and maybe you could tell me if I am good or not? Thanks!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E2HKZPLTYIUKZVNOTAY7MR3ZG4 richard

    Hey Mathieu – great site and a great idea, asking for feedback. When do you think you'll actually post your builds? I'd really like to wait and follow your suggestions…I'm nearing the end of my research to build myself a workstation and I can't wait to get started assembling it!

    Actually I don't think I can offer you any suggestions because your site really covers a wide range of solutions.

    I'd love to see a build that included the 980X. I really enjoyed reading your dual proc setup with the pair of 5520s. Something like that except with faster processors would be great too. I really learned a lot about “balance” after reading your site. I can't say I've incorporated it too well into my new, in-the-process build, as I'm top heavy with the 980x. But I have a feeling any system with the 980x is going to be top heavy… I wonder what you think of that processor for home-maybe-probably-turning-pro users like me.

    Because I'm about 90% sure I'm going with that 6-core beast from Intel. I know, crazy money, and yes you can overclock the Bloomfields to reach the 980X's level. But I'm so done with half-measure solutions and I'm not an overclocker. I want something that creates sparks while it works! (not literally of course…!)

    The most demanding workflow I use is rendering 3D animations out of Cinema 4D, importing into After Effects (CS4 now, CS5 once I build this machine – AE CS5 is finally a 64-bit app, as is Premier) and building various scenes, animations, shorts. I'm not a pro, yet, I'm just beginning to create a portfolio. I've learned ActionScript in Flash,. some javascript in AE, some c.o.f.f.e.e in C4D…

    Anyway, I want to build a fast fast fast machine. I can no longer work spending most of my time waiting. The ideas I have all seem to involve video moving in 3D space, wrapped around models I've constructed in C4D, eventually going out to a .SWF or a .MOV. Eventually I'll have a website to show off all this stuff but right now I'm just trying to make my work as interesting and as unique as possible.

    Well I hope I haven't bored you. Like I said I doubt I can offer you much in the way of suggestions because I really think you cover it perfectly well already. If anything I'd say – how about that 980x? Or the dual proc setup with maybe $1500 invested in the processors. Not sure which ones that would buy right now but I'd love to read your take on it.

    Thanks so much for your work here. I've only just found your site but it is truly comprehensive and a real pleasure to read. And if your new builds are posted soon enough I'm quite sure I'll be following much of your guidance.

    -Richard

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Richard,

      Just to let you know, I read your comment and while I won't reply to all your points right now (Got another 40-50 comments to reply to…), I can tell you that I'll definitely address all of them in the Workstation Build themselves.

      For the best performance/price ratio, the 980X is actually an interesting choice, see the comparison below:
      A 980X LGA 1366 motherboard will set you back $250-$300, 12GB of RAM $250-$300 and the CPU $1000. With six cores at 3.33GHz, you get the equivalent of 20GHz of processing power, for a total cost of $1500 to $1600

      Two X5507 2.53GHz will set you back $1136, 12GB of RAM $250-$300 and the dual-LGA 1366 motherboard $250-$400. With eight cores at 2.53GHz, you the equivalent of 20.24GHz of processing power, for a total cost of $1636 to $1836. So a tad more power for a tad more money.

      Difference is: The LGA1366 i7 980X is the top CPU that you can get on a single socket motherboard. The two Xeons can be upgraded to faster CPUs, such as the E5640 2.66GHz (2 Quad-Core 2.66GHz CPUs, or 21.28GHz). Also, you have twelve slots for RAM on a server motherboard, allowing for up to 48GB of RAM with reasonably priced 4GB sticks.

      Then again, the 980X can easily be overclocked to 4GHz+, giving you over 24GHz of processing power. Also, by using the 980X, you get the use standard consumer motherboard, that are usually easier to configure and have more standard things that server motherboards can lack (i.e USB headers for USB ports on the front of the case).

      By the look of things so far, the $1000 Workstation will be based on the single-socket consumer LGA1366 motherboards, with the option to upgrade the CPU all the way up to the 980X. What I'll do for the $1500 Workstation is what I'm wondering about. $2000 should feature the dual-socket motherboard. I might just go for a much higher-end workstation too, if its worth it.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E2HKZPLTYIUKZVNOTAY7MR3ZG4 richard

        Thanks for your reply Mathieu –

        I am at the “Submit” button on newegg – going with the 980x – basically for the reasons you stated: simplicity of configuration and the nearly equivalent processing power of what I'd consider an affordable dual-processor setup ($1200 max for both). I love the idea of 24 DIMMs and the ease-of-upgrade to the faster Westmeres but they get awfully expensive in a hurry – times 2. So… next time! I'm hoping and expecting the 6-core to keep me and After Effects / C4D happy for a few years…

        Thanks again for your reply. I sure look forward to reading your new configurations. I hope I'm not cursing myself when I realize I've overlooked something obvious…!

        Oh btw – have you heard anything about the Sandforce controller on some of the SSDs causing random reboot and BSOD issues? …last-minute surfing I came across Corsair's support forums and there are some unhappy people there…

        I probably shouldn't judge an entire product line by the complaints on a user forum but it scared me away from their Force SSDs…too bad to because the specs are great and the price is right.

        if you're interested – here's a link to one of the more detailed threads..The link is page 1 from late July and the thread continues as of today…apparently still unresolved.

        http://forum.corsair.com/forums/showthread.php?t=88341

        • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

          Richard,

          I have no doubt that the 980x will serve you well, it is the fastest Intel CPU on the market after all.

          Regarding the Sandforce SSDs, this is the first time that I hear about it and after reading the thread, this looks like a very rare compatibility issue that happens in some specific instances.

          By the look of things, most people with SF SSDs have no problem, only a small % have that issue, which should be fixed soon with the next Firmware. Thanks for the heads up.

          In any case, whether you use hard drives, ssds or a combination of both, you should have a backup system in place, just in case. So if anything happens, you know that your data is safe.

          Take care,
          Mathieu

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E2HKZPLTYIUKZVNOTAY7MR3ZG4 richard

            Thanks Mathieu – I wondered how widespread the Sandforce issue was. Google wasn't exactly flooded with hits about it… I wanted to do two Force60s in a RAID array but I couldn't confirm whether TRIM support is available for SSD RAID – I believe Intel implemented it on a few of their boards but that may be the extent of it for now…(?)…so I went with Crucial RealSSD C300 (Marvel). Write times are certainly slower than the Sandforce drives, at least on the 128G drive I bought, but I was willing to trade positive reviews for faster writes. Maybe by the time I'm ready for another SSD TRIM will be supported in all SSD RAID arrays (if it's not already).

            Thanks for the reminder about implementing a backup system – a lesson I learned the hard way a few years ago. Now I think of my hard drives as temporary storage, nothing more.

            Thanks again Mathieu!

          • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

            Richard,

            I can confirm that TRIM is NOT supported with RAID, by any controller. Intel latest firmware supports TRIM on a single SSD, with two hard drives in RAID, but with SSDs in RAID.

            The Crucial C300 is a good alternative, as long as it runs TRIM, as its performance degrades by a lot without TRIM.

            Take care,
            Mathieu

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E2HKZPLTYIUKZVNOTAY7MR3ZG4 richard

            Thanks again Mathieu – yes, TRIM and MLC were the first 2 specs I looked at.

            I'm glad I didn't go with 2 64G RealSSD instead of the one 128G. You confirmed that TRIM isn't supported with SSD RAID and I know the performance suffers pretty badly without it. I understand the manufacturers use various “garbage collection” routines that mimic TRIM but they seem like temporary workarounds to me.

            Plus, with Crucial's SSDs the write speeds really get progressively worse as you go to smaller and smaller capacities, so two 64G Crucial in RAID 0 may not be so great. I can't spring for their flagship ~$600 256G drive but that's where the best speeds are in Crucial's SSD lineup. I don't know if they're hobbling the lower capacity drives on purpose or if it's the controllers they use. Whatever the reason, a 128G is a good compromise for me now.

            I'll be referencing my old 7200rpm HDDs anyway, so I have a good feeling I'll be satisfied…

            Thanks for your replies Mathieu!

  • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

    Everyone,

    Thank you for all your suggestions, feedback and requests. I'm actually surprised, I didn't expect that many comments for the future Workstation Builds.

    I'll be double-checking/reading for the xth time all your comments this afternoon and evening and will do my best to answer your requests, listen to your feedback and insert your suggestions in the next Workstation Builds, the first of which, the $500 Workstation, will be published tomorrow, at 6-7PM EST as usual.

    Once again, thanks for all the feedback, suggestions and requests. They are all very appreciated and help me publish better guides/builds for you!

    Cheers,
    Mathieu

    • Ron

      Mathieu,

      Last I saw you were going to publish the $500 workstation yesterday. I am waiting to look over the build before building 15 student CAD stations based on the old/current build you have up. Any update on when you'll be able to publish the new one? Thanks!!

      • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

        Ron,

        Unless I get hit by a bus or something alike, I'm publishing the new $500 Workstation Build tonight, for 7PM EST.

        Take care,
        Mathieu

  • Seth

    I'm interested in a system to run programs from the Autodesk Suite (particularly AutoCAD, Inventor, and Revit) and the Adobe Creative Suite 5. Preferably a price point around $1000 with a quad core i7, plenty of RAM, and possibly an SSD for quick launching of programs. Basically, I like your $1000 build right now but updates and parts specifically tailored for 3D CAD and Adobe programs would be greatly appreciated.

  • Jmwoodworks2

    What about duel monitor support?

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Jmwoodworks2,

      That will be supported by default. Support for 3, 4, 6, 12 or even 24 monitors will be available, through upgrades, as well.

      Take care,
      Mathieu

  • RY

    Hybrid HD. I use a SSD for my gaming system but SSD storage is not a value. The new hybrid storage hard drives are ~200% over a standard hard drive but with a significant performance gain.

    Reviews of the technology can be found at Tom's and Anandtech.

    Specific product:

    http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/internal-storage/momentus-xt-kit/

  • Mark

    First of all I'd like to say that this site is very useful and I'm happy that I've found a reliable source of information. Secondly, I will be building (paying to build) my first workstation and after a fair amount of research I would like some final confirmation from more knowledgeable people than myself. Cost isn't a big issue for the current requirements but I'd like to keep it under £3000 without the monitor. The purpose of of the build is heavy Photoshop (2GB files), heavy Illustrator (300MB files) and future use of Autocad for product design mainly for the fashion industry. Thank you in advance for any much appreciated input.

    - Case: Silverstone Fortress FT02B
    - CPU: Intel Core i7 960 3.20GHz (I've been thinking about the Intel Core i7 980X 3.33GHz but I was told that it would be an overkill but I'd really like a final opinion about it)
    - CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 (I have chosen this one because I've read that it offers an good balance of performance & noise; if you know of a better and quieter cooler please do tell me)
    - PSU: Corsair TX 650W
    - Motherboard: Asus P6X58D-E Intel X58 (Socket 1366)
    - Memory: 12GB (3x4GB) Corsair Dominator, DDR3 PC3-12800 (1600)
    - Boot Drive: OCZ Vertex 2E 60GB 2.5″ SATA-II
    - Scratch Drive: OCZ Vertex 2E 60GB 2.5″ SATA-II
    - Storage Hard Disks: Three Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB drives (Not sure if I should RAID them though)
    - Graphics Card: 768MB PNY Quadro FX1800 (The only reason I've chosen this card is because of the future Autocad use since I've read that Autocad performs better with workstation class cards; I would also appreciate your opinion on this one too please)
    - Optical Drive: Pioneer BDR-205 12x BluRay RW / 16x DVD±RW Drive
    - Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE 7.1
    - Wifi Adapter: Linksys by Cisco WMP600N 600Mbps
    - Firewire: Belkin Firewire 3-Port PCI-Express Card
    - OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit
    - Monitor: Dell U2711 (Also thinking about the Dell 3008WFP & HP ZR30w)

    So that's pretty much it. I'm trying to achieve the best performance/sound proofing ratio I can so if you have any suggestions on the matter feel free to share and thanks again for any inputs.

  • Tony B

    Any thoughts or a chance for a desktop Hackintosh build

  • Curious George

    Mathieu, do you have an ETA for the new workstation builds?

  • Ross

    I don't have any specific features to request, but I would like to see a build priced around $800. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  • Phil

    Great websiite, thanks for all you do to help people make PC's with good components for good prices.
    I am an Amateur Radio operator and these radios are becoming more and more digitally controlled. Much good software has been written to control the rigs from PC,s and to run Software Defined Radio (SDR) software to analyze radio spectrum.
    The PC needed to so this requires a dual core CPU (preferably AMD) at a minimum, a good sound card (to receive audio frequency data), and multiple COM ports to handle keying and other submodes. They need to be small footprint cases so they can fit either next to the radio or alongside it.
    Any ideas you have would be great to see.

  • Benghaner1

    If you're still reading comments, Mathieu, I'd like to learn more about building a PC based on someone's needs. Consider Nvidia's webpage for helping the user choose the correct video card: http://www.nvidia.com/content/HelpMeChoose/fx2/HelpMeChoose.asp?lang=en-us

    They say “What are you looking to do with your home PC?” and then give you options. Well, that's what I'd like to master – How can I convert my needs to building the best PC? My friend wants to do this, this and this and play these games and watch these movies and etc. So, how much should the PC cost to fulfil those needs? For me, once I know a decent price range, I feel comfortable building.

  • rydersims

    How about a damn near silent workstation, that also has a lot of power. I've been looking at the Quadro 4000, but I ran across some videos of the NVidia GTX 580 last night where they were talking up it's new cooling system and how it's a lot quieter. I know you can get very quiet PSU's and such, so the stealth-station build would be handy.

    I'd also be interested in some comparison of cases and ease of access issues / cleaning, I'm also interested in tips on organizing the case, during the build. Cabling options, ect.

  • Michael Milligan

    Mathieu,

    I found your site today and am amazed at what you’re doing, and how well you’re doing it. Along with your obvious technical abilities, you have a gift for communicating very complex ideas as simply and clearly as possible while remaining accurate, your description of the various RAID configurations being a prime example. I’ve not seen a site like this anywhere. Thank you.

    I’m an Oracle DBA/Developer and Data Modeler. I typically have Oracle 11g Enterprise Edition, ERwin Data Modeler, a couple of Chrome windows with about 40 tabs open, and PowerPoint or Word, and maybe Visio to boot. I guess I’m looking for a good Development Build, but in my case it’s not Java but Oracle Database and all the rest I mentioned. We Developers are forever looking up error codes or exact syntax in Google and have a lot going on at once. Three monitors would be ideal – Oracle on one, Google on another and ERwin on the third, etc.

    Thanks in advance and, again, for this incredibly helpful site.

    Michael Milligan
    Layton, Utah

  • Robertxc

    Firstly, wow — what an awesome website ! I am reading through most of your articles. I am a photographer/visual effects guy and am looking at rebuilding my workstation. I am looking at 2600K, SSD, 16GB RAM etc … also looking at running the following apps, CS5 prod suite esp PSCS5, Premiere/After effects CS5. What would u recommend?

    Thx much

  • Andrej Papesa

    Hi, nice to meet you! I’m a computer enthusiast with 0 years of experience in building and In the month of August 2011, I decided to build my first workstation and now I am writing to you…..
    I am hoping you are going to give me first class advice on that.
    I do not want to OC this computer but would like to get the most juice from it as it is. Would you recomend one cpu or two and would you recomend one gpu or more. I was thinking this way:

    Sr-2 with ECP, 1x Xeon E5645(for now till I earn some money),  (3x2gb)  G.Skill DDR3 PI Series PC3-12800 CL6,  2x ssd samsung 128gb(which i already own), Seagate baracuda 320gb (which i already own), 750W power (which i already own), and Ati v7900 2gb.
    My idea was to do the impossible: fit all this (modded of course) in a Lian li A05fnb case but that seems more than impossible if not some other smallest case i could fit it in. Give me your thoughts.
    Much obliged  Andrej , Croatia

  • Andre Litvin

    What about FL Studio and other DAWs?