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5k-10k Workstation

Originally posted on reddit, one user suggested posting here as there’s guys with server building xp that could give good advice. (

What will you be doing with this PC? Be as specific as possible, and include specific games or programs you will be using.

Software development using (mainly) visual studio for C/C++ (i.e. large compilations); running anywhere from 1-5 virtual machines at once through virtual box; UE4 development (compiling from source regularly); 3dModeling mainly in Maya and 3dsMax but gradually switching over to blender (with some possibility for Zbrush); starting to get more into Houdini and will be using heavily for procedural modeling and vfx in conjunction with Substance Painter/Designer for baking/procedural textures and possibly several different renderers. Will also be doing a lot more audio production in the future - recording, mixing, and mastering. Not an audio guru yet so not sure which DAW I’d be using it with (likely Studio One, Nuendo, or Reaper) or what all peripherals will be connected aside from a decent mixing board but I think just knowing it will be used for that is more important than knowing which applications/etc.

What is your maximum budget before rebates/shipping/taxes?

5k-10k USD

When do you plan on building/buying the PC? Note: beyond a week or two from today means any build you receive will be out of date when you want to buy.

Depends. This build is intended to last a good 7-10 years (if not more) so if there are any notable (as in an order of magnitude, not 5% here 3% there) improvements coming out in the next year or less I can certainly hold off on it, but otherwise relatively soon.

What, exactly, do you need included in the budget? (Tower/OS/monitor/keyboard/mouse/etc)

Mainly just the machine and Windows 10 Pro, don’t need aid on the rest

Which country (and state/province) will you be purchasing the parts in? If you’re in US, do you have access to a Microcenter location?

US, Texas, yes

If reusing any parts (including monitor(s)/keyboard/mouse/etc), what parts will you be reusing? Brands and models are appreciated.

None, though I’m open to buying used stuff depending on value vs. reliability

Will you be overclocking? If yes, are you interested in overclocking right away, or down the line? CPU and/or GPU?

Nice to support, but longevity is more important. Possibly CPU down the line, likely not GPU

Are there any specific features or items you want/need in the build? (ex: SSD, large amount of storage or a RAID setup, CUDA or OpenCL support, etc)

Definitely a LOT of storage, upwards of 2TB SSD (at least one being SLC since longevity/speed is important for most frequently used apps and OS) and minimum 10TB HDD with at least possibility for expanding as needed (i.e. more storage shouldn’t come at the expense of other parts since I can add more later). My workflows will also require a good deal of fast RAM, likely no less than 64gb, probably not more than 256gb though I’d like the possibility of increasing up to 1TB in the future.

Do you have any specific case preferences (Size like ITX/microATX/mid-tower/full-tower, styles, colors, window or not, LED lighting, etc), or a particular color theme preference for the components?

This is a workstation, no need for RGB. I’d prefer minimalist, subtlety, and elegance for the case, but wouldn’t be opposed to small accent lighting (I can’t stress enough how little I care for RGB). Size matters not. I’d probably prefer not having tempered glass sides but not too picky. Being quiet is a plus but not necessary. I prefer darker colors that don’t stand out too much. If I had to order preference it’d be: minimalist, elegant, and not too loud (visually “loud”) > air flow and thermals > darker color scheme > acoustics > steel side panels > accent lighting > size. Also minimal/easy cleaning is a big plus… somewhere between air flow/thermals and color scheme.

Do you need a copy of Windows included in the budget? If you do need one included, do you have a preference?

Yep, W10 Pro

Extra info or particulars:

I’m a software dev with not much hardware expertise past what’s important to know for optimization and computer architecture, and though I’m certainly capable of all the troubleshooting and forum searching I’d prefer the build to be relatively painless and work with all the above software without constantly having to fix stuff. Ideally this machine should never need a single upgrade with the exception of storage and RAM. Yes, I am doing graphics heavy work, but it seems (in my uneducated opinion) that I should be fine with 2080Ti(s) as the Quadro’s seem pretty overpriced and a more powerful CPU with high core count is more important for compilation.

Also, here’s one suggested build:

Not a bad build but I think you could improve a bit.
The case you chose, isn’t known for being good at air flow.

Also, I’d go with the Ice Giant Thermosiphon cooler over the dark rock pro tr4.

How soon do you need the build? I’d expect better pcie gen4 ssds to come soon with good random i/o performance. Even newer optane ssds should be hitting the market soon.

It’s actually a build another Redditor came up with. Got any other case suggestions? It seemed like a pretty good balance of my preferences but if there’s something similar with better air flow I’d like to see it. Would better airflow matter as much if doing water cooling? And thanks! That’s good to know, I can definitely wait a while.

Would probably go 3960 with dual Enterprise ssds inraid w/e size you are comfortable with (8tb w/e) rest of parts up to you would probably go air over water with such long goal of lifetime

Yup, you need to have a good airflow case regardless of whether your cpu/gpu are air cooled or watercooled. And you ideally want all components to be thermally “happy” as even one component warm/hot running component can become a performance bottleneck.

There are some more questions I’d like to ask you first:

  1. How many GPUs do you think you could eventually, possibly run? (4 max possible with TR3000). If you want the option to scale up to 4, you need to change the motherboard.

  2. Case cooling+Silence + many many HDD cases >>> Case size? (Any physical size constraint?)

Kind of a placeholder build for now.
The Wraithripper cooler is only a placeholder for the Ice Giant. Also the Samsung 970 Evo Plus is a placeholder for the upcoming pcie gen4 Samsung nvme ssd (which will be faster than the current pcie gen4 ssd in random i/o operations and should be good enough in your case. Alternatively, you could get another one and raid 0 them for mental performance).

Of course, you need to buy stuff for cooling the gpus, and I would direct you to, they have very cool AIO watercoolers that are made with their custom watercooling parts. ( They’re all connectable to one another thanks to quick release fittings, so you could buy some longer tubing and set them all up in serial connectivity and enjoy even better cooling.

Since you don’t seem to know yet how deep your needs for gpu memory are right now, a dual 2080Ti in nvlink will outperform a Titan RTX in most cases.

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Not super certain on how many GPU’s, but the hope is that if I decide the thing needs to be a mini render farm it can be, or a server for multi-user remote work it can be, so I’d say the possibility of having 4 GPU’s is there, and is also why I’m thinking I might hold off until there’s more reasonably priced server CPU’s that support 1TB memory (3990 seems to have been strangely limited according to LTT’s video so maybe if the next one is out before the year’s up they will have lifted the limit from 256gb to 1TB).

Size of the case doesn’t matter at all. The one in your revised build is a bit ugly haha, but ultimately function is more important.

Seems like it might be best to wait at least till the RTX 3080 comes out as well since that should be relatively soon and is said to have pretty notable performance gains all around. But in terms of upgrading, would it not be better to have 1 titan over 2 2080’s? Since upgrading eventually to 4 Titans would obviate the need for the 2080’s when I could otherwise continue using the Titan?

Build looks solid if not overkill for your needs. What are you upgrading from?

Some specifics:

  • ok… If this is your job then that is a long time. Most commercial builds are amortised over 5 years (3 for consumer parts) therefore if you are claiming tax expenses you may want to think about pricing over 5 years and consider if the ROI is worth it, possibly adding a midlife upgrade.

  • Trx40 boards are large. The define r6 will be tight. Wendell covered that in the define7 video. If you are planning ahead the new define 7 is a better case for you.

  • 4 X 14TiB hard drives in 2020? Welcome to level1, the forum where all spinning rust gets put in a NAS. Build a NAS, put your precious archive data there, get a fast network and have a better time. You will appreciate it later.

Overall my input here would be to build in a more modular way, focussing on a basic build now (perhaps 128GB RAM) and using the savings to build a solid NAS for your archive data and future growth. That way your workstation can be tinkered with midlife or serviced regularly and your data is safe, you have a quieter workstation and your case options get better.

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@GStrade There are some disquieting reports on this site, still at the I-wonder-if stage, raising the question of whether Aorus TRX40 boards have an issue. You might want to study the situation and gather more info.

Airstripone makes a good point about the Define 7, which seems to be a nice refinement (at a cost) of the Define R6. I believe the “regular” Define 7 is the same size as the R6, and you would need the XL version for extra-large motherboards. However, the spec’d motherboard is ATX, and the R6 / 7 accept at least some E-ATX boards.

The S2 Meshify is quite similar to the R6 “open layout” setup, but only supports 3 HDs. “They say” that with high-quality fans (e.g. Noctua) it can be fairly quiet even with good airflow.

There are likely to be big changes in computing over the next few years; I dunno if 7-10 year life is viable. Airstripone’s idea about a more moderate initial build, with followup in a few years, is worth considering.

Have a Good Build!

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@Airstripone While it will be used for my job, the performance needs mainly come from personal projects and the idea was to have everything in one box for convenience and mobility. I could look into a NAS it just seems to me it would add more points of failure and troubleshooting as well as being more inconvenient when moving (which could be frequent). Plus, there may be situations where I transport the machine to a different location with slow/no internet in which case the NAS would be problematic, and I don’t anticipate using any other devices with it at least for several years. That being said it does seem like a NAS might offer more convenience than it takes.

I’d agree on the modular sentiment, but like I said the idea was to have something that never needed an upgrade other than storage and RAM and required little maintenance.

@Caped_Kibitzer thanks for the heads up. In terms of hardware advancements I’m sure there will be sizable gains in that time frame, but I’m also pretty sure that the workloads won’t inflate so much that a machine like this will have unbearably longer execution times. Were it solely for work it certainly wouldn’t be viable in terms of productivity loss but I’m looking at is as more of a reliable all-purpose home utility

Ok understood. Take care moving all that around though, those tr4 coolers are damned heavy and the r6 and define 7 have single point of contact mounts for hard drives that may not enjoy the back of your car. One thing to consider is whether you want to have just one or two of the bulk drives in the workstation and split your data to a NAS as your mirror. That way you split the risk. Always backup separately of course.

I agree with that. I tend to keep my production systems for ~5 years then move them to other duties. But since my last workstation upgrade from sandybridge to first gen threadripper I find that in a lot of loads the difference is not that great, not compared to previous jumps. Even nvme is mostly ‘meh’ in terms of added throughput. But as @Caped_Kibitzer says, the next few years will see changes coming that will finally get me to retire the old Xeon boxes for good.

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I’d stay away from the aorus line of trx40 boards for now. There’s murmors of issues with them. We aren’t sure if it’s the cpu, bios, firmware or the board itself, but it’s mostly 3990 users, so you may be okay if you don’t go that route.


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