System Builder Marathon Q1 2016: $1275 Professional Workstation

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cadder

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It is interesting to see a build with workstation components and how they compare to enthusiast-oriented components. I work in the building construction industry and almost everybody uses Revit for CAD. Revit is slow and power-hungry, only uses one core, doesn't need much GPU but needs a single core running as fast as you can get. This is a misconception about workstation users, many of them don't need a lot of slow cores. I wonder how many people that use workstations benefit from lots of cores and how many don't. This would be an interesting study. My company is switching from desktops to laptops- my Dell desktop workstation with dual Xeons is 3/4 as fast as my Dell Precision workstation laptop.
If you are loading a lot of apps like we do, a 250GB drive is not enough. When my newly configured and loaded workstation was put on my desk it had about 350GB of files on the hard drive.
When I built CAD workstations for my previous company about 6 years ago, I used i5 processors and overclocked them. I took them as high as I could go and then backed down 0.2GHz for a little safety margin. The machines ran 24/7 with no problems.
 

edlivian

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i understand you couldn't get ecc memory for this review, but the whole point of a serious workstation is not performance as you have said, its about precision with no errors. There is no way you could quantify this with benchmarks. ECC memory is an invaluable requirement in the server market, or anything you can not live with an error. And 90% of the workstation and server market are not custom builds, they mostly come from Dell, HP, Lenovo and Apple
 
Kudos for your bravery and sacrifice, your system dying horribly in the charts, but not before heroically yielding some usable data. As you said at the outset, it was nice to see something other than a gaming build.
 

Valentin_L

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I have been managing PC builds for our office for several years. We have a dozen seats of Solidworks with some simulation softwares. For productivity, we ditched the ECC requirement for faster compute... We ended up with overclocked mainstream cpu 2700K, 3770K and I'll continue with 6700K. The $$ saved from not going ECC goes into SSD and other productivity "enhancer". Staff wait less, they are happier, complain less about PC freezing over and over. Then, do we have memory issues, surely, I mean, I don't have ways to measure it, but if somebody raised a hand and say that he takes the same file twice from the server and once it works, once it crash, we know there is an issue somewhere. But it never seems to happen consistently enough that it hinders productivity. Plus... I am not building rockets...
If you browse through solidworks own forum (not sure it's open to public) you will see a lot of report of people moving to mainstream overclocked cpu + professional card.

For the server side... YES, ECC everywhere, Xeon (or the equivalent AMD) everywhere, redundancy like our life depends on it... that, we can't screw up.
 

DouglasThurman

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I think this build was a little doomed to begin with. Very nice small set of parts though and I like the use of a workstation graphics card. Most times when I come across a laptop with a workstation card in it in a refurb sale I'd choose it over one with a lesser regular gaming graphics card. Performance is a little slower but still rock solid and better power consumption.
 

MartenKL

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We have 32GB in our current workstation builds and I would like to double that to our next build, and we are going back to ECC and no overclock this time due to low gains in performance and added crashes with overclocked systems. Also running Autodesk Building Design Suite with Revit and Autocad. Main focus will be single threaded performance. Hopefully I will find a solution for striping two 500GB samsung Pro 950 as when all software is installed we approach 500 GB.
 
G

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If your RAM had been ECC, your results would have been even lower. It's too old now, but the AMD FX series supports ECC (unregistered only) out of the box, if the motherboard also supports it. So you could have gotten an FX-8370 for about 200$, with an Asus motherboard that supports ECC RAM for about 150$, then went for a Firepro w7100 or such with the money saved.

Nice try, but if you didn't get it running ECC in the end, it's a fail imo.
 

gunbust3r

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Is the $1232 Prosumer PC going to be better? I kind of dread entering the giveaway at this point for fear of winning this stinker.
 
Look at all those SATA ports. Here's a reasonable home server box. For that use, a PC-Q08 would be an excellent case, able to hold five 3.5" drives plus optical and SSD. You'd be limited to a short card though, like a GTX750Ti.
 

Crashman

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It's focused on using pro apps at home and playing games because why would you need two systems for that, right?

 

Roe5685

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I was speechless in reading this very funny tongue in cheek review. I was on the floor with laughter! I was even more speechless to see how many took the bait. I am a business owner and sure I have some consumer grade 2011 and some skylake computers ( and a few are Asrocks ) but in business I prefer the xeon 2011 and the xeon e3 series.
To get serious a REAL business computer this strength would be:
A supermicro MB for e3 V5 CPU's with IPMI. Who would have a business computer without IPMI? Such as say an X11SSZ-F. say $240
The E3-1275 CPU and 16 GB memory
A Supermicro mico case/PSU combo for around $100.00. With the swing out HD holders.
By all means the Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB Nvme for top business speed.
At least four 4TB Seagate or WD or equiv. for the 4 slots. Maybe 6 or 8 Tb?
The Nvme device goes on a card that fits on a slot.
An Nvidia 960 or even 970GTX video card.
You will also need to spend a few bucks to populate your headers! i.e. wireless and blue tooth devices onto the USB headers.
The base cost of such a machine is more reasonable than the Tom's machine.
It's passmark score approaches 6000. See what same scores are for top I7 Skylakes
So that is the real business world! !


 

firefoxx04

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I built a dedicated autocad system not too long ago. I went with an overclocked 4690k with integrated graphics. Later we will add a directx 11 card because that's what autodesk software uses. No need to go with a workstation card
 
Interesting experiment that is a strange workstation design that is for sure. Nothing like the workstations I have sold. One minor point I have always used Windows Pro for workstation builds for the obvious reason not Windows Home.
 

Matt_82

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Thanks for doing a workstation build. I am always frustrated with the lack of workstation reviews / tests / builds. As an owner of 3 solidworks licenses and a small business, I'm always interested in good bang for the buck. I'm interested to find out how a Xeon E5-1650 V3 will stack up to my 4770k. I'm interested in the E5-1650 because it has a lot more cache and is comparable with ECC memory, but I'm basically taking a shot in the dark that it would be more stable and faster. I'm also waiting for a newer generation to come out (it was released Q4 2014 I think).
 
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