Best 8-core workstation for the money?

I am contemplating getting a new workstation & I would like to know your recommendations for a reasonably priced 8-core workstation. I like the specs on the Mac Pro but frankly it seems expensive for what you get, the base config only has 2 GB of RAM and a 320 GB HDD. So then I would end up getting more RAM & HD and a good graphics card, which would raise the price. Do you know of any other companies that specialize in 8-core machines for CAD/3D rendering?

I found this one on eBay with 12 GB of RAM & 1 TB of disk space for $2375 but not sure if it’s a good deal or not. A similarly configured Mac Pro would cost $4699!


I take it your not up to the task of building your own system?

Well, I’ve done it before, the workstation I have now I built myself. But it just seems like too much of a hassle anymore… My time is worth more than the money I would save.

I´d definately wait for the Nehalem based Core i7 systems…

How long until that comes out?

Yes, wait if you can. It won’t be out till mid Nov, but when it does, the i7 offers a 25% speed boost over current CPUs at the same GHz. From what I’ve heard they are also going to come out with six core i7s. So a 12 core system isn’t too off the wall.

The thing to remember is, Apple doesn’t use Desktop CPUs. Period. On the Mac Pro, you’re buying server grade CPUs and on everything else you’re getting mobile CPUs.
That’s where the cost is coming from. It’s like buying a AMD Opteron over a Athlon.

On the bad side the i7 is DDR3 only so be prepared to spend an arm and a leg on RAM. But on the upside it supports 6 ram slots and tripple buffered ram. So you can get at least 12GB of ram (and probably 24GB if you want).

All that adds up to a serious performance boost…at a cost. 3GB of DDR3 high quality ram is going to run you about $100/GB while current DDR2 RAM is at about $30-40/GB.

If you’re not going to go with Apple, try IBM, I’ve been rather happy with the systems I’ve seen from them.

it only takes a 2-3 hours to build a system and configure your software on it if you know what your doing that is. And some of that time you can be doing other things because a lot of the software stuff is done automatically.

In other words my advice is to build it yourself if you can. Get lots of cooling, and eventually overclock it. THAT will save you upwards of a $1000 or more. Depending on how well it all overclocks which just depends from part to part.

But if you aren’t going to build it yourself, then yup $2600 seems like a pretty nice price to me.

Let’s see with 8 cores your going to want to be future proof so you’ll probably go with 16 GB of RAM upgrade and you’ll probably want 2-3 TBs of space.

That’s like an addition $600 bucks I’m estimating. Then a good graphics card… if you are using blender, you’ll probably want an Nvidia. So you’ll probably want one that’s about $370 bucks, because with graphics programs its the onboard RAM that you want.

So the 2600+1000 = about $3600. not too bad for a PC that should last you a good 4 years I think. Unless you are a gamer.

Thanks for the tips, guys. When the Core i7 comes out, do you think the current quad-core CPUs will get a price drop?

@kay_eva: Yeah, I know it only takes a few hours to build it, the long part is doing research, finding compatible parts, looking for a good deal, then you have to wait for all the parts to ship… The last time I built a machine it took several weeks for everything to come. So really, it’s a lot longer than you’d think.

Not to mention that you end up supporting it yourself. That’s the nice thing with Apple, they have good support, and the OS is rock solid.

BTW, with IBM/Lenovo and Dell, it’s possible to get a system that you can practically kick down the stairs and have them come and fix it. Infact a friend of mine worked with a Sony, and I think he said that in the agreement the only thing they said they wouldn’t fix was running it over with a car. So if you’re fanatical about support that’s an option.

Yeah, the current chips will drop some, but probably not that fast. It’s up to you. If you do a ton of rendering, you may want to hold off a bit more. Otherwise the current chips will do just fine.

Most likely. But i guess thats all going to happen after christmas… intel like everyone else will not cut their own profit on christmas sale…

The huge advantage is that the Ci7 will have a integrated memory controller. Till now it was part of the mainboard chipset for intel processors… AMD has integrated memory controllers for years now… With the Ci7 intel took the last thing from AMD that was better. I am curious what AMD has up their sleeves now and they better have…

If it is of interest, a french page (i don´t understand a word) tested 100 Processors the tough way, no synthetic benchmarking…
At least the charts speak for themselfes:

And as stated before for the Ci7 you can add about 20-25% performance at the same clock frequency due to its completely overhauled architecture.
Also some new processor insturctions are included and some got an overhaul… Parts of stringprocessing gets faster about 25 times with the Ci7 instruction set for example.

I own a C2Q 9550 and it works like a charm. If you cant wait for the Ci7 (like myself) i´d recommend those due to the best price-performance ratio.
And most of them can savely run with 3.4 GHz instead of the 2.88.
I prefere a rocksolid system though, thats why i stick with the reference FSB :slight_smile:
I use a Noctua CPU cooler and the cpu runs with a delta of 10°C on rendering in blender with 4 cores :smiley:


Yeah, that’s part of the reason I was thinking about Apple. I’ve spent several days this week dealing with some Vista issues, namely, corrupted system files. I did a repair installation yesterday and it’s still not fixed. I thought Vista was great when I first got it, now these problems are making me rethink that. Personally I’m not a fan of Apple but they do seem to have less problems than Windows machines. And I like Linux too but the lack of support for 90% of the applications I use are a deal breaker.

  	 			I´d definately wait for the Nehalem based Core i7 systems..

yep, I’m waiting for Nehalem too.

Any motherboard recomandations for a two processors (with 4 cores each) system?

that’s why u use newegg. get them all in 2-3 days tops

Well I decided to get the 8-core Mac Pro. I got the base configuration & also some 3rd party RAM and hard drive to upgrade myself. I am a bit disappointed about the video card options though, I didn’t realize that most PC video cards are not supported by OSX, which really sucks… You have to buy one that Apple actually supports. Ah well.