When it comes to productivity, you need a solid machine that can handle all the workloads breezily. Whether you are going to do video editing or graphics designing or create 3D models, you should consider getting a powerful graphics workstation. What you buy really depends upon the applications you would use on the machine. As there are plenty of options to choose from, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Desktop or Mobile Workstation?
Portability or extreme performance? These are two aspects to consider when choosing a Desktop or Mobile Workstation. It was always preferred and assumed that desktops are much faster than laptops. Even though modern-day mobile workstations have become really powerful, but nothing beats the desktop workstation.
So choose a mobile workstation only if you need to carry your work with you to different places, or it’s not very demanding. On the other hand, if you never uncompromising performance, then a desktop workstation is perfect for you.
The brain or processor – CPU (Central Processing Unit), plays an important role to give you a smooth working experience. The CPUs have evolved and become more powerful, but their nomenclature has also become complex at the same time. So, it’s important to understand that to ensure you get the CPU you need for your needs.
The processor description consists of several words and numbers such as generation, model, CPU frequency (speed), and the number of cores. Look at terms like CPU frequency (speed) and number of cores. Higher is better in both cases. The latest generation of CPUs is not always the right choice due to higher cost, but, if your budget allows, then consider getting the latest one with higher frequency and cores.
While Intel Core series of CPUs is a good choice, you might also like to consider the Xeon series if you’re considering to buy a very powerful workstation machine.
Though CPUs are also capable of handling graphics, but when it comes to 3D modelling, graphics designing, or VFX, then you need a separate graphics card. If you don’t need to do graphics processing, then you can go for integrated graphics.
The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) options differ widely and operate separately from the CPU and provide faster rendering, superior visuals, and more.
The NVIDIA Quadro is one of the most popular GPUs for workstations aimed at professionals working on CAD drawings, artificial intelligence (AI), animation, etc. For other graphics-intensive software, you can rely on AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce.
No need to tell you what RAM does? How much RAM you need depends upon how you will be using the machine. Advanced software requires higher memory and so does heavy multi-tasking. In graphics workstations, the higher the RAM, the better the performance.
Another point to note is to consider Error-Correct-Code or ECC RAM. This type of RAM uses an error correction code to detect and correct data corruption that occurs in the memory. This is important in workstations, as they deal with very heavy files and long rendering times. One small data error in the RAM can crash the system, taking all your hard work with it. This is not something that graphics and video professionals can afford.
So, go with a workstation that supports ECC RAM.
Regarding storage, two aspects you need to consider – type and capacity. In type, you can choose between HDD or SSD, though a better option is SSD, as it enhances the overall performance of your machine. If your budget doesn’t allow you to choose SSD alone, then you can go for hybrid – SSD + HDD.
This is very important when choosing a graphics workstation. As software that you work on keeps getting more demanding with every upgrade, your system should have the required upgradability options. For instance, does it have sufficient number and sizes of PCIe slots? The most powerful is PCIe x16. Plus, the latest version of PCIe is 5.0, which gives higher bandwidth capacity as compared to the earlier PCIe 4.0 version.
This is another critical element to consider in a graphics workstation. If the hardware is certified by all popular software vendors, then it makes the system more stable. You obviously don’t want a rendering job that you’ve been running overnight to suddenly crash after reaching 99% completion. This will not happen if the hardware is certified by ISVs.
Besides the key components, also look for other things like tool-free access to internal components should there be a need to service the machine. Plus, is the machine noiseless or does its fans start spinning loudly the moment you throw a heavy task at it? Ideally, if the machine has been designed to keep it properly ventilated, then it will operate quietly and effortlessly.
Whatever workstation you are purchasing – desktop or mobile, you must get a minimum Quad HD (1440p) display. If possible choose higher resolution UHD/4K displays for workstations.
If you’re looking for a mobile workstation then check out the HP Z Book Studio G8 Mobile Workstation. It’s one of the most powerful mobile workstations out there. You can customize its configuration to suit your requirement.
In Desktop Workstations, you could opt for the HP Workstation Z4 G4 Data Science Workstation. These have 192 GB RAM, Intel Xeon W CPU, 2 TB SATA SSD, and nVidia Quadro RTX 8000 graphics. The configuration is powerful enough to handle your most demanding workloads.
So there you have it. All you wanted to know about how to choose a graphics workstation. Though a few things we’ve mentioned are very minute, but they’re very important to the stability and performance of the device, so do look out for them before buying.