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Budget workstation questions

Question asked by Richard Elliott on Sep 22, 2010
Latest reply on Nov 5, 2010 by Rich Schneider

I am looking to build an affordable SW workstation to use at home to allow me to work from home on a regular basis. I have not yet worked out a budget for this machine but I expect somewhere between $1500-2000 AUD. Obviously I would like to have a machine that will last for several years with upgrade potential if required.


The work I do often involves very large assemblies that take a long time to rebuild, save and load on my work PC, I would like to have better performance on this new build. (My work PC is... Win 7 x64, Core 2 Duo E8500 3.16GHz, 4GB RAM, Quadro FX 1700 graphics). I occasionally do FEA, but mostly I just use standard SW, no fancy rendering etc.


I have checked Anna's Solidmuse Blog and looked at the benchmark performance of many PC configurations, I can see that the i7 900 series processors perform very well, but these are expensive. I was considering using an overclocked i5 760 processor to save money (this has 4 cores like the i7 but no hyperthreading) judging by some of the benchmark results very high performance can be achieved in SW without hyperthreading. I have seen several articles that suggest the i5 760 could be overclocked to approx 4GHz.


For a graphics card I have looked at both Nvidia Quadro and Ati FirePro cards, the best comparison I have found so far has been from this site

but the article is quite old, and is missing some of the newer cards but It does look like the Nvidia cards had the best performance for SW at the time of the test.

For my budget my choice is between the Quadro FX 580 or a FirePro V3800 or V4800 cards. Any opinions


At the moment I am stuck on one technical stumbling block. Can anyone tell me whether these graphics cards use the full PCI express x16 or only x8, I have found that one potential problem with any P55 chipset is that there is a limit to the number of PCI express lanes that the processor has available. So that if the graphics card uses x16 then there are not enough lanes left available for features such as USB 3.0 or other add in PCI cards. I want my PC to be compatible with future usb 3.0 devices if possible. Would limiting the graphics card to x8 have a noticeable effect on its performance?