Building a Workstation PC

If you are a web developer, a programmer, or a graphic designer, you will have a need for a strong and powerful PC to accommodate your needs and to expedite your work. As a web developer on the other hand, you might also consider getting a dedicated server so that you can test your web application on a live and public system. There are many webhosts that offers dedicated servers, all you need to do is to find the one that can provide you with the best features at the best price. Those dedicated servers are usually pre-configured and all you need to do (most of the time) is to configure the software. But, if you want to have a local server or a workstation PC, you will have to configure and maintain everything by yourself, from hardware, software and extensions/additional devices. With that in mind, we will focus ourselves on building our own Workstation PC by providing you with basic examples and important hardware that you’ll need.

 

Depending upon your work, you might need a different combination of hardware to improve efficiency. The basic parts are the CPU, motherboard, RAM, graphics card or video card, mouse, monitors, speakers, keyboard, PSU, and casing. Those are the basic building blocks of a complete desktop. Now, we’re going into more details.

  • CPU – for typical home use PC, a dual core or quad core is more than enough. Gaming and workstation PCs need more power, so consider getting a quad core with hyper threading from Intel or six cores or more from AMD (as of 2015, these are the modern or latest level of CPU technologies).
  • Motherboard – CPU and motherboard goes hand in hand with one another and they should be compatible. Check with your local dealer store to find a compatible high-end motherboard for your chosen CPU.
  • RAM – choose higher RAM speeds with at least 1800+ MHz speed and total capacity of at least 8GB, but if you do a lot of graphics related work, 16 GB is the best minimum.
  • Graphics Card/Video Card – if you are a game developer or video/graphics designer, a high-end graphics card is needed. There are workstation graphics card that will perform better compared to consumer graphics card, but if you want to play modern games on the same PC, get GTX 900 series or above (as of 2015, these are the best of their line) or if you’re and AMD fan, R9 series and above. If you want pure workstation powerhouse graphics card, NVidia Quadro or AMD FirePro are your choices.
  • PSU – it is important that you choose a PSU with wattage that can support your components. For a workstation build, an 800W PSU is the absolute minimum. Check with your local dealer to see if what PSU wattage your chosen components can run.
  • Remaining parts like the mouse, keyboard, case, and monitors are a matter of personal preference. One thing to note, though, is that you might need a large and high resolution monitor for graphics design and/or video processing. Multi-monitors are also a great way to expand your working area.

PC for Professionals

If you are a web developer, a programmer, or a graphic designer, you will have a need for a strong and powerful PC to accommodate your needs and to expedite your work. As a web developer on the other hand, you might also consider getting a dedicated server so that you can test your web application on a live and public system. There are many webhosts that offers dedicated servers, all you need to do is to find the one that can provide you with the best features at the best price. Those dedicated servers are usually pre-configured and all you need to do (most of the time) is to configure the software. But, if you want to have a local server or a workstation PC, you will have to configure and maintain everything by yourself, from hardware, software and extensions/additional devices. With that in mind, we will focus ourselves on building our own Workstation PC by providing you with basic examples and important hardware that you’ll need.

Depending upon your work, you might need a different combination of hardware to improve efficiency. The basic parts are the CPU, motherboard, RAM, graphics card or video card, mouse, monitors, speakers, keyboard, PSU, and casing. Those are the basic building blocks of a complete desktop. Now, we’re going into more details.

  • CPU – for typical home use PC, a dual core or quad core is more than enough. Gaming and workstation PCs need more power, so consider getting a quad core with hyper threading from Intel or six cores or more from AMD (as of 2015, these are the modern or latest level of CPU technologies).
  • Motherboard – CPU and motherboard goes hand in hand with one another and they should be compatible. Check with your local dealer store to find a compatible high-end motherboard for your chosen CPU.
  • RAM – choose higher RAM speeds with at least 1800+ MHz speed and total capacity of at least 8GB, but if you do a lot of graphics related work, 16 GB is the best minimum.
  • Graphics Card/Video Card – if you are a game developer or video/graphics designer, a high-end graphics card is needed. There are workstation graphics card that will perform better compared to consumer graphics card, but if you want to play modern games on the same PC, get GTX 900 series or above (as of 2015, these are the best of their line) or if you’re and AMD fan, R9 series and above. If you want pure workstation powerhouse graphics card, NVidia Quadro or AMD FirePro are your choices.
  • PSU – it is important that you choose a PSU with wattage that can support your components. For a workstation build, an 800W PSU is the absolute minimum. Check with your local dealer to see if what PSU wattage your chosen components can run.
  • Remaining parts like the mouse, keyboard, case, and monitors are a matter of personal preference. One thing to note, though, is that you might need a large and high resolution monitor for graphics design and/or video processing. Multi-monitors are also a great way to expand your working area.

Intel’s Haswell-E 8-Core Processors

The increased demand for more powerful computing is always there, we are always power hungry that even the latest releases of computer components are easily getting outdated. However, the newest generation of Intel’s processors offers greater number of cores and clock speed. Some even dubbed it as the faster CPU ever, well, if you’re going to look back but it will definitely become a laugh stock ten years from now. But taking into consideration the latest games, software and standards, the Intel’s Haswell-E processors offers powerful computing power, which could satisfy our current needs for computing power.

Intel’s Extreme Edition processor line is over 10 years old now, they’ve been around since 2003 with the single-core Pentium 4 EE 3.4GHz, which had the same Socket 478 stage as standard Pentium 4 processors yet got a select L3 reserve. Having been involved 169 million transistors on the 130nm process and estimated in accordance with what it may have amounted to assemble a whole PC; the Pentium 4 EE was not kidding business.

The chip that we are looking at comes with a massive eight cores. It also comes with massive 20MB smart cache and it supports the latest DDR4 memory. This latest processor from Intel’s extreme edition package is also accompanied by the new 9-series chipset, the X99 and it supports more SATA 6 GB/s ports. It also brings native support for USB 3.0.

There are three new processors, namely Core i7-5820K, Core i7-5930K and Core i7-5960X. Pricing starts at $389 for the 5820K, while the Core i7-5930K costs greater at $583 mark. You might say that the price increase of around 50% is unjustified, but if you take a look closer, the available PCI 3.0 lanes are increased from 24 to 40 lanes. Thus, unless you require more than 28 lanes, for example, a multi GPU setup, cheaper Core i7-5820K is going to be a better buy than the 5930K.

The extreme edition version Core i7-5960X offers a significant 33% upgrade of 20MB cache. And the core count from six to eight and the aid of Hyper threading technology means a massive 16 threads are supported. However, though it has the most number of cores, tagged at $1,050, the Intel Core i7-5960X comes with the lowest base clock speed of only 3.0 GHz, with a max turbo of 3.5GHz. The TDP for the Haswell-E processors are rated 140w.

One of the most important thing to note when getting your own Haswell processor is that they do not come with any cooling system. Liquid cooling is the one recommended by Intel and their own TS13X solution costs around $100.

Another thing is the new socket, which was called as LGA2011-v3 socket. That also means that older processors cannot be used on the new X99 motherboards and the Haswell-E processors can’t be used on older X79 motherboards.

The Difference of APU, CPU and GPU

If you are building your own computer, you have a lot of choices nowadays. You can choose a prebuilt computer or build your own, picking each and every part to fine-tune your build. Nevertheless, there are some popular acronyms that popped out in today’s market and they are somewhat confusing. These acronyms are APU, CPU and GPU and we will tackle them one by one.

CPU

Let us start with the easiest, the CPU. You’ve probably heard this before and it is a common terminology in the world of computers. CPU stands for “Central Processing Unit” and it’s the one responsible for all the computation and decision-making. Without CPU, your computer cannot do anything, thus it’s dubbed as the brain of the computer.

The CPU aids in everything, from loading the OS upon boot up to calculating the damage taken by the player after a direct hit from a game.

GPU

The GPU is the acronym for “Graphics Processing Unit”. This is the one responsible for handling the images, texts and videos that you can see from your monitor. Computers can still function without a GPU but you won’t be able to connect a monitor to them. One of the common computer machines that doesn’t need a graphics-processing unit are servers, as they are controlled via a remote computer by using terminal commands.

There are two types of GPU, dedicated graphics card that are separately bought or integrated graphics, which are built into the motherboard. The more powerful your GPU is, the better your computer will perform graphics intensive tasks such as computer games, graphics rendering and 3D modelling.

APU

It’s easier to understand an APU by learning about CPU and GPU first. APU is the acronym for “accelerated processing unit”. These chips combine CPU and GPU in one. They are more efficient and less power hungry because they can communicate via one another seamlessly.

APUs are enough for medium level users and they are cheaper compared to buying a CPU and GPU and they are generally less power hungry compared to the CPU + GPU combination. However, power users might not be satisfied with its limited power as even the most powerful APU available nowadays isn’t even at the heels of the most powerful CPU+GPU combination.

What Do I Need?

These three components are important part of a computer and you must choose wisely. If you’re just going to use a PC by browsing the web and some word processing, an APU is more than enough. However, if you are going to use your PC as a gaming rig or if you are a video editor or software developer, you’ll need a powerful CPU + GPU combination to satisfy your needs. It all depends upon your use, so make sure to do your research first.