Type: Critical Essays
Sample donated: Archie Copeland
Last updated: September 24, 2019
IntroductionPC Magazine defines aworkstation as, “A high-performance, single-user machine geared to theprofessional rather than the consumer. Employed for video editing,computer-aided design (CAD), software development, medical imaging andscientific applications, workstations use a fast multicore CPU with largeamounts of memory (RAM) and storage. Today, a workstation is typically anx86-based computer running Windows, Linux or Mac OS X. In the past, RISC-basedmachines from Sun, HP, IBM and SGI fell into the workstation category.” Thisdocument outlines the proposed workstation computer given a $2,500 budget.
CPUThe Intel Core i7-7700K isthe selection for the CPU. This processor has four cores and eight threads frommultithreading. The processor has a base frequency of 4.
2GHz, and up to 4.5GHzwith the turbo feature. The “K” designation on this processor indicates that itis “unlocked” and more readily overclocked. This CPU is highly compatible withmost motherboards on the market, offering support for 100 and 200 serieschipsets.The $290 price pointincreases the processor’s economic viability, offering high performance at alower cost. This version is also preferable over the later generations largelydue to compatibility. The later models only work with new and often expensivemotherboards with limited performance increases.
The component was alsoselected in part because of Intel’s reputation as a chip maker, as well as thisparticular model’s well documented performance, compatibility with mostmotherboards on the market, and proven durability. CPUCoolerThe Corsair H60 is aliquid cooling solution that provides increased cooling with less noise comparedto air cooling products that are cheaper but often bulkier. The H60 is poweredby a specially designed 120mm fan that increases static pressure, reducingnoise while improving overall effectiveness.
The system is highlymodular, coming already filled with its cooling material and thermal compoundon the cooling plate, providing easy installation. The system also comes with a5-year warranty.Liquid cooling was chosento ensure that the CPU would be able to remain cool under load for extendedperiods of time thus extending its lifespan. Although there exist air cooledoptions, they can be bulky for little if any increase in cooling performance.Thus, it made sense to be conservative with the usage of space within theparameters of the midtower case and go with the liquid cooling option. MotherboardThe Asus Maximus IX Hero motherboard was selected due to itsbalance of features, performance, and price. The focus of the selection waslargely on performance to ensure that the high end video card and RAM discussedlater may operate up to their full potential and that extra performance wouldbe able to be squeezed out via overclocking.
The board offers reinforcedgraphics card slots with the unique feature of increased separation to allowfor thicker graphics coolers. The PCIe slots are also open ended to allow forlonger cards can be installed and operated. The motherboard also features sixSATA 6Gb/s headers along the front edge.
A potential downside is the sacrificeof a 40 Gb/s ThunderBolt 3 controller for two 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 controllers thislimits the board’s ability to adapt to the changing USB technologies and willlimit its ability to benefit from these technologies in the future.Asus brand was chosen for its reputation as a motherboardmanufacturer. The Hero IX provides the brand reliability and customer supportalong with the high performance and compatibility with the rest of thecomponents in the build, maximizing the potential.
The motherboard alsoprovides the opportunity for future expansion or upgrading of the build, avaluable feature from the cost/benefit perspective. MemoryDDR4 RAM has notablyhigher speed and efficiency compared to DDR2 and 3 resulting from increasedtransfer rates and decreased voltage. DDR4 chips typically see transfer rates of2133 MT/s to 4266 MT/s. The selected DDR4 RAM has a transfer speed of 4600 MT/s.By comparison, DDR3 technology only supports 800 to 2133 MT/s.
This is the fastest RAMavailable on the marketplace. So fast that its full potential might remainuntapped until other components catch up as it operates at a higher voltagethan is typically recommended. This means that the technology will be relevantfor longer and a high level of performance will be maintained for a moreextended period of the workstation’s lifetime.Corsair is also acomponent manufacturer with a reputation of producing quality parts andproviding good customer service. This played a role in selecting this componentas it provides the customer with the confidence that they are receiving aquality product and the peace of mind that should something go wrong there isadequate support available. StorageSSDs utilize less power,have faster boot times, no noise, vibration, or heat. They also have lowerfailure rates, faster copy/write speeds, full disk encryption, up to 30% fasterfile opening speeds, and are safe from magnetism.SSDs are rapidly becomingthe new norm.
Their performance benefits and falling cost deliver the resultsthat a workstation demands. The 1TB of storage is more than enough for anygiven user given the ready availability of cloud storage technology. Thestorage drive provides plenty of speed and space for any files or projects thatmight be required to be stored to a physical drive.High performance storagenot only helps to increase productivity and overall system performance, but italso helps to future proof the workstation. The 1TB capacity of this Samsung deviceis more than any single user demands and the aforementioned availability ofcloud storage technology only increases the potential storage of the machine. Onthe physical device, going with the 1TB SSD offers a solid balance ofaffordability, capacity, and performance and allows the workstation to benefitfrom all three. Video CardThe GTX 1080 is the 2ndfastest consumer graphics card on the market trailing just behind the GTX 1080TI. The 1080 has a much lower price point at nearly 200 dollars cheaper thanthe 1080 TI.
The selected version of the card has custom cooling hardware thatallows the card to run 10% cooler and 13% quieter than the standard model. Thiscard has a 1,721MHz base clock and 1,860MHz boost out of the box. These clockrates rank at the top of the table for graphics cards. However the performanceis slightly limited out of the box as the GDDR5X memory is not overclocked outof the box and instead runs at the default 10,008MHz. Overall the card benefitsfrom a compact size at 267mm, performance, quality, and a one year warranty.The GTX 1080 is thepowerhouse of this machine. Still a competitive card given the advancements ofthe 1080 TI, the 1080 FTW provides some protection for the future as it willremain competitive for a longer period of time.
In the present this cardprovides more than enough processing power to handle most every job a usercould throw at it barring the animation or HD video work that more frequentlyrequires a much more specialized machine. CaseThe Deepcool Tesseract isa budget ATX mid tower case. Notable features include USB 3.
0 and 2.0 ports,two pre installed cooling fans, a metal mesh construction that provides bothprotection and cooling potential, a more spacious interior that can accommodatelarger graphics cards, a wide CPU cutout for better cooling, and support for120mm liquid coolers.This case is a standardATX mid tower case. It was selected largely due to its available features givena very low price point. The compatibility with water coolers, preinstalled fanconfigurations, full metal construction, and room for large graphics cardsmakes this case an ideal for providing the functionality and protectiondemanded at a budget price. This case is a value selection. PowerSupplyThe Corsair CX550M is a semi modular ATX power supply thatprovides 550 Watts of electricity and has an 80+ Bronze efficiency certification.Some if its most beneficial features include removable peripheral cables sothat the user can connect and disconnect cables to fit their individual needs,preventing unnecessary clutter.
The power supply also contains a thermallycontrolled fan that minimizes noise while maintaining performance. The 85%energy efficiency also lowers the heat produced and helps to save on energycosts. Finally, the powersupply comes with a five year warranty.Corsair is known fortheir power supplies which frequently find their way into computer builds fromenthusiast to more hard core setups. This selection delivers the desiredfunctionality on a budget and comes with quality customer service and warranty. UPSThe Liebert 850VA 500WBattery Backup & Surge Protector is a surge protection and battery backupsystem that features a 500W electrical output providing backup power andprotection against sudden spikes or loss of electricity. The unit also comeswith a 3 year warranty covering both the device and battery. The devicecontains both four surge protection outlets and four battery backup outlets andis TAA Compliant for data line surge protection.
The following device wasselected because it is relatively inexpensive, coming in at $100 and providesthe required backup functionality. The device also features additional portsthat allow for flexibility for repurposing the device down the line. The threeyear warranty also provides security should the device fail and requirereplacement within the next three years, a considerable chunk of the hardwarelifecycle at a corporation. The device also carries a four and a half startrating on Amazon over 92 reviews which suggests that it is a quality productthat satisfies customer demands. OpticalDriveAsus E-Green technologylowers the power consumption of the drive while maintaining competitiveread/write performance. The E-Hammer feature also allows the drive toeffectively destroy a disk should a user require to prevent theft of data. Technologiessuch as OTS and AVRS can alert the user when a given media won’t be burnedcorrectly, and adjust the balance of the drive to limit the noise it produces. This selection is abudget selection.
This component was selected because it is able to deliver therequired functionality at a low price and exceeds its expectation withadditional features that improve its performance such as its low powerconsumption and low noise. Operating SystemWindows10 is a 64 bit operating system developed by the Microsoft corporation. Onpersonal computer systems Windows is and has been the leading operating systemsince the 1990s. The result is high compatibility with third party software asmost computer programs are developed to run on Windows systems. Additionallythere exists a large support base for this operating system including thirdparty and vendor support options.
Microsoft also provides frequent patching andupdates to their Windows operating system helping to ensure continued security.Thereare a limited number of major operating systems on the market. Out of Windows,OSX, and Linux, Windows is the most business and user friendly and would beavailable on this hardware. Due to the limited viable options for operatingsystems Windows is the clear choice after taking into account its features,compatibility, and available support. WirelessNetwork AdapterThe Asus PCE-N15Wireless-N adapter is rated for speeds up to 300Mbps and is equipped with twoantennas on different frequencies to reduce signal interference in areas withmany existing Wi-Fi networks. The adapter also features a “Software AP” modethat allows the adapter to act as a wireless access point effectively extendingthe network should the user so choose.
This network adapter wasa value selection as it offered the desired functionality at a low cost. Thedevice would provide the workstation with the flexibility to be connectedwithout a direct, wired connection and does not add a significant cost increase. MonitorThe Acer GN246HL featuresVGA, DVI 1 X VGA, and 1 x HDMI ports, allowing wide user flexibility and compatibilitywith a number of systems. The monitor also provides a widescreen cinematic viewfor an improved multimedia experience.The key to this monitoris the high, 144Hz refresh rate that would provide a smoother user experiencewhen dealing with graphical input. The GN246HL lacks some of the features ofhigher end monitors of this class such as gsync compatibility, but still offersthe main benefits of a high refresh rate to the user experience from arelatively low price point. Keyboard/MouseNotable features of thekeyboard include a 2mm key actuation. Many keyboards have a 3mm actuation ormore so the smaller distance allows for an increase in typing speed, andsilicon is found under the plastic key shells which makes for a softerkeypress.
The mouse features a large arch for the users palm providingincreased comfort, although the mouse provides no additional features beyondthe standard left/right mouse buttons and a scroll wheel. Both the mouse andkeyboard are covered by a three year warranty and the three triple A batteriesrequired to power it all will last the keyboard up to three years and the mouseeighteen months. Overall this mouse andkeyboard combo offers a basic and flexible setup, with quick response,ergonomic keys, wireless technology, and a contoured mouse, this combo providesthe user with comfort and flexibility at a low price point. SpeakersThe Z533 has a peak power rating of 120 watts and an RMSfigure of 60 watts. Although the system is not the most powerful set ofspeakers available, it delivers loud, reasonably clear sound with a simplesetup. The Z533 is a relatively inexpensive sound system that canprovide the user with adequate performance over a wide range of audio tasks.The speaker loses some clarity at high volumes but this is unlikely to have asignificant impact as the workstation will likely not need high clarity soundat a high volume very frequently if at all. This speaker setup provides thenecessary functionality that any user basic user would require.
ConclusionThe system build outlined in this paper creates a powerfuland versatile desktop computing machine. The user requirements for this build:A high performance, single user machine geared towards the professional andemployed for video editing, computer-aided design, software development, andscientific applications are met. This machine features a powerful, multicoreprocessor, top of the line RAM and video card and added features such as a networkadapter and UPS. The total cost of the build comes in just under the budgetedamount and many of the components were selected for their high potential toremain effective for a longer time.
This includes choices like the high endvideo card and RAM, critical components to the performance of the machine as awhole, and the cutting edge technology proposed would mean that they willmaintain their relevancy longer than an older but less expensive component.Cost saving measures in this device included a very basic case, peripheral, andnetworking devices. These devices were selected for their functionality andhave a less significant impact on overall system performance.