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What workstation hardware spec should I be looking for?

Budget (including currency): ~$3000

Country: USA

Games, programs or workloads that it will be used for: AutoCAD, SketchUp, Blender, & various other architectural/3D/rendering software; Adobe Suite; BEEFY macro enabled Excel files; Analysis software like eQuest; some casual gaming here and there.

Other details I won't be buying for a while. I'll wait for prices to drop and wait for pcie5 - maybe longer.

 

So I'm basically looking to build a powerful workstation, but I don't know what I should be looking for in each part. Should I be putting more money for my cpu into cores or clock speed? Am I going to kick myself later if I don't go with M.2 over SSD to save money? I'm going to probably go for 32 GB of memory because I'm currently bottlenecking at 16, or do I just need faster than 2933? If I game very little, how important is a high end GPU for my workload.

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Fishwhip said:

I won't be buying for a while. I'll wait for prices to drop and wait for pcie5 - maybe longer

I wouldn't plan any parts now, wait till those come out

 

3 minutes ago, Fishwhip said:

m I going to kick myself later if I don't go with M.2 over SSD to save money?

Go m.2/other nvme drives, no reason not to now. Sata drives don't much much sense in new builds

 

4 minutes ago, Fishwhip said:

'm going to probably go for 32 GB of memory because I'm currently bottlenecking at 16,

Id probably go 64gb, why not, should fit in that budget, and more is better for those programs.

 

4 minutes ago, Fishwhip said:

or do I just need faster than 2933? If

Wait till we see what ddr5 speeds are, probably gonna want faster than 2933

 

5 minutes ago, Fishwhip said:

f I game very little, how important is a high end GPU for my workload.

Basically all of those programs need a gpu, depending on how much you use cad programs you might want a quadro as many cad programs are gimped on consumer gpus.

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I will echo @Electronics Wizardyon the 64GB of RAM. I run many of the same programs and I have run into problems where 32GB of RAM simply isn't enough at times. Which ever platform you go for I would get at a single kit of 64GB RAM so that you have room to upgrade say to 128GB down the line.

CPU: Intel i7 - 5820k @ 4.5GHz, Cooler: Corsair H80i, Motherboard: MSI X99S Gaming 7, RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB DDR4 2666MHz CL16,

GPU: ASUS GTX 980 Strix, Case: Corsair 900D, PSU: Corsair AX860i 860W, Keyboard: Logitech G19, Mouse: Corsair M95, Storage: Intel 730 Series 480GB SSD, WD 1.5TB Black

Display: BenQ XL2730Z 2560x1440 144Hz

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For CPU, the things you need to consider is cores/threads and clock/IPC. Though not always the case, those tend to be mostly either/or scenarios. Like if you need some crazy amount of threads like a Threadripper part can offer, the clocks/IPC is generally going to be slower. It can do more things at once, but overall does each thing slower. For what you've detailed, 8-12 cores is where you should be looking. Then, for clockspeed, you need to factor in IPC as well (instructions per clocks). For example, a 10th Intel CPU might be able to get to like 5.2GHz, but a Zen 3 AMD CPU can match or beat it at 4.8GHz, because it can do more instructions per clock cycle. In other words, clockspeed alone isn't everything. As for specific recommendations, I'd go for a 5900X. Short of that, I'd get something like a 5800X, 11700K, or 10850K.

 

M.2 is a connection type. NVMe and SATA are the interfaces SSDs would use. You can get SATA SSDs that actually slot into an M.2, but that's a waste of a generally limited M.2 slots. NVMe is the interface used by the fast SSDs (over 600MB/s), but those are limited by the PCIe revision. PCIe 3.0 maxes out around 3500MB/s, while PCIe 4.0 maxes out around 7000MB/s. PCIe 5.0, is still a ways off, and won't offer any immediate benefits. PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs are already faster than anything reasonably makes use of. Graphics cards are just barely saturating PCIe 3.0 at this point. The only thing PCIe 5.0 is likely to be good for, for the foreseeable future, is just more I/O (i.e. potentially more onboard high bandwidth USB/Thunderbolt).

 

Games at the moment don't benefit from more than SATA, but once DirectStorage makes its way into games, that could change. A boot drive (OS) won't benefit from much more than PCIe 3.0 NVMe, and you won't see a benefit to PCIe 4.0 NVMe at all unless you're working with very I/O heavy applications like scrubbing through 4K/8K raw video files. It might be worthwhile for you to at least have one PCIe 4.0 drive, but you need to make sure that the platform you get supports it. That requires 11th gen Intel or better and a 500 series chipset  on the motherboard or Ryzen with a B550 or X570 board.

 

32GB of RAM would be more appropriate for your workflows. The speed depends somewhat on the platform. Ryzen is very sensitive to memory speed because of its infinity fabric, so you shouldn't go any slower than 3200MHz and ideally 3600MHz. There's not much benefit in going higher, though. For Intel, it's the faster the better, but there's diminishing returns as you go to faster clockspeeds. 3000MHz would be fine for Intel, but I'd probably at least go 3200Mhz there as well.

 

You need to also pay attention to memory timings, though, particularly the CAS Latency. This should ideally be 1/2000 the clockspeed or less, i.e. 3200MHz CL16. Higher is really too loose, but tighter timings are not always practical from a cost to performance ratio. For example, 3600MHz CL16 is better than CL18, and pretty easily available at a decent price. However, 3600MHz CL14 is vastly more expensive and not worth it aside from a few very specific scenarios.

 

Finally, GPU is very important for things like Blender, so you're not going to get off light there, if you want a true workstation class computer. I'd pretty much shoot for a 3080 minimum. That will also of course let you run any game you care to.

 

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X · Cooler: Artic Liquid Freezer II 280 · Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 Unify · RAM: G.skill Ripjaws V 2x16GB 3600MHz CL16 (2Rx8) · Graphics Card: ASUS GeForce RTX 3060 Ti TUF Gaming · Boot Drive: 500GB WD Black SN750 M.2 NVMe SSD · Game Drive: 2TB Crucial MX500 SATA SSD · PSU: Corsair White RM850x 850W 80+ Gold · Case: Corsair 4000D Airflow · Monitor: MSI Optix MAG342CQR 34” UWQHD 3440x1440 144Hz · Keyboard: Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (OPX Switch) · Mouse: Corsair Ironclaw RGB Wireless Gaming Mouse

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45 minutes ago, Fishwhip said:

Budget (including currency): ~$3000

Country: USA

Games, programs or workloads that it will be used for: AutoCAD, SketchUp, Blender, & various other architectural/3D/rendering software; Adobe Suite; BEEFY macro enabled Excel files; Analysis software like eQuest; some casual gaming here and there.

Other details I won't be buying for a while. I'll wait for prices to drop and wait for pcie5 - maybe longer.

 

Should I be putting more money for my cpu into cores or clock speed? Am I going to kick myself later if I don't go with M.2 over SSD to save money? I'm going to probably go for 32 GB of memory because I'm currently bottlenecking at 16, or do I just need faster than 2933? 

 

 

 

Great news for you, I use CADs, Slicers, Edit 4k footage, & run dynamic systems models- our workloads are similar & I'm also trying to build a workstation (though my budget is more like $2000) so you can vaguely follow what I'm doing.

 

CAD, Excel, Analysis are CPU heavy, cores over clock speed when it comes to workstations.

CAD, "other architectural/3D/rendering software," Blender are GPU heavy. Also since your workload is CAD & development renders (as opposed to gaming or animation) you need a workstation GPU ( Quadro, Quadro RTX, NVidia A series, Radeon Pro WX) not a gaming gpu & definitely not a weak sauce one either.

 

M.2.s are faster & smaller, I'm going to get one (even with my small budget) but it's more a question of future proofing (& how often you want to remove motherboard heatsinks) if you go with a regular SSD than an M.2.

 

Impressive you bottlenecked at 16, 32gb will be an improvement but RAM is a quick way to burn money. Check what RAM clock speeds are compatible with your CPU (not your motherboards outrageous claims) when you choose it, & it'll probably be cheaper to get 4x8gb now & replace them all with 4x16 or 4x32gb later than it is to get 2x16 now & hope you find that same 2x16 in stock (& affordable) if you want to upgrade.

 

Disclaimer, I'm buying used & cannibalizing used PCs for parts, if you just buy what I am New instead it'll come out to about $3k

 

Ryzen 9 5950x (lots of cores, good clock, good bang for buck compared to dual xeon's with compatible motherboards)

X570 motherboard, something between the Gigabyte Aorus Pro (ATX) & the MSI PRESTIGE X570 CREATION (EATX) (biggest decider of motherboards is SAS or SATA & onboard audio quality, if you want high audio quality, a great onboard audio will cost less than adding in a good audio card)

Quadro p4000 (solid workstation GPU that will keep up with your needs, more power or budget look to the quadro rtx 4000, quadro rtx 5000, or NVidia A4000)

4x16gb DDR4 non ECC RAM @ 3200 (Ryzen 9's don't like RAM over 3200 & using over 3600 takes some finangling to even make it work.)

HP 1tb M2 (its $120 but has a large cache)

spend $400 on offbrand radiators, fans, pump, waterblocks (CPU & GPU), & soft line tubing

Get a good 500-850W PSU which will more than meet your future upgrades & good luck on the case, I'm still working on that partl

 

Alternatively I'd swap the CPU for a Threadripper Pro 3975WX (huge cpu, 32 cores, crazy powerful, very expensive , can handle 2tb of RAM on 8 channels, & rather uncommon) & the Motherboard for literally any TRX-40, the bottom tier motherboards for Threadrippers are about the same as high tier X570 boards (Only one threadripper board is ATX, odds are if you get a threadripper you'll have an EATX board.  

 

Images attached are prospective benches of above hardware with both CPU options. Site doesn't list, but Quadro p4000's are running $1,400 new, $950 refurbished- I'm yanking mine from a used workstation for an effective cost of ~$400

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