Workstation advice


I’m going to help my friend assemble a new workstation.

We did some research and the more we looked, well the more we got lost! There’s just so
many things in terms of CPU models which kind of directly affects which motherboard and
so forth.

So basicaly, what we’re getting (or want) for sure is this:

  • Video card: Quadro FX 1100
  • CPU: Intel based preferably, 2.8ghz or above
  • Motherboard: We simply don’t know! With all the different P4 chips and now Prescotts
  • Sound card: Audigy 2 (or above)

This is in essence the core of the system. From there once we know what CPU model and
motherboard we’re getting, it will be easier to choose the RAM, PSU and SATA hard drives.

The main appz he’s going to be using are Maya, Deep Paint and Photshop CS.

Thanks in advance!


Well it seems like you’ve got a good budget…
IMHO I buy a dual processor setup, preferebly Xeon, Supermicro’s making some nice boards
and maybe save up some money and buy some applications and get rid of the appz:D


Sorry about the term ‘appz’, I mean they are not pirated warez, he bought
Maya (version 4.5), recently Photoshop CS and once his new setup is set,
he’ll pick up Deep Paint.

We already discussed about getting a dually since he’ll be doing alot of high
resolution texture maps but he doesnt want one.


that fx1100 will smoke with “with high res” texture maps in your viewports, but a dual processor will help you render high-poly scenes much faster:) I guess it really depends on what type of work your going to be doing, high-poly, low-poly, character, enviroments, animation, particle fx…


Our budget is about $2000 (USD) at the most.

He doesn’t want dual cpu. At first he wanted an Intel based system but he’s opening up
to Athlon 64s.

There’s no need for monitors, he’ll be keeping his 19’’ and 17’’ from his old rig.


I’d hold off on getting an Athlon64. Last I checked, There arent really enough apps that make full use of the 64bit technology, but if your friend is looking ahead, by all means…

what i can say for sure is:
get at LEAST 1GB ram.
get a fast hard drive, its usually the bottleneck of any system.

Keep in mind, the athlons run hotter than intel. Make sure you get a case that can accommodate the heat.

here is a thread from when i was building mine:

#7 is a GREAT resource for getting reviews on the latest equipment.


Opterons and AMD’s entire line of 64 bit cpu’s perform 32 bit calculations at the same speed as, if not faster than Intels comparable models. For Maya especially, AMD is faster.

tomshardware: take every word from that site with a grain of salt, even the words like: a and but. Ask around, you’ll see why. I doubt their are any experienced persons reading that site anymore.

Look for an Opteron 146, and an Asus socket 940 mobo. Pop in the quadro fx 1100, the soundcard, and as much RAM as will fit his budget (but only in multiples of 2, ex: 2 or 4 sticks of registered ecc ram)
Also, this will enable him to slide a dual core Opteron cpu into the pc sometime next year, giving him an ~80% increase in speed over the same Mhz. rated cpu.


Thanks novadude.

For the motherboard, which is better for the work he’ll be doing, an nVidia based
chipset or a Via?

Are the Opteron 14x line of processors better then the AMD-FX chips?


There is a lot of religion floating out there regarding Mobo’s. Asus, Aopen, & MSI I find to be pretty well respected. The nVidia nForce2 chipset tends to perform the best. There can be little differences between models of the same make them, make sure you read the fine print to be sure it has all the compatabilities you need. (i made the mistake of buying a mobo that did not have an ATA socket which i needed for my HD [dooh] )

No matter what you do, Do NOT go cheap on memory!!! Also, get the fastest sticks your mobo can handle. Most overclockers swear by Mushkin. make sure you buy it all at once but that shouldnt be a problem, since most DDRAM comes in kits of two nowadays. getting cheap ram or mixing sticks is like playing roulette with your system stability.

oh yeah, Athlons love power. pending on the system, get at least 400W Power supply. also, try to get one with two intake fans (one underneath, AND one on the front face.)

another place to check for advice:
read the customer reviews on as well

PS: No matter what you do Do NOT go cheap on memory. :wink:


I would get a nForce 3 board, although that is just preference. Don’t consider VIA if he wants to run linux, though. Opterons and Athlon FX’s will perform exactly the same, the only difference being that the FX’s have unlocked multipliers which makes them overclockable.

You shouldn’t go cheap with any of the parts in your computer, really. Try to only downgrade the parts that you can afford to dowgrade, such as the cpu, or the amount of hd space.


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