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Workstations on a Budget (trying to stay under $2k)

Question asked by Yudy Chen on Jan 19, 2012
Latest reply on Feb 15, 2012 by Gil Blomdahl

After reading a lot of threads on this forum, I have decided to get a Dell Precision T1600 to replace our old machines.


Our old machines are currently using 5-year-old Dell Precision 690's running XP 64-bit with Xeon 5160, 16gb RAM, and Nvidia Quadro FX-4600 videocards. We also have SAS drives in Raid0. These machines are fast enough but we are starting to experience hardware failure, including hard drive failure and motherboard failure. So we would like to get new machines mostly for reliability and maybe a slight boost in performance. Unfortunately, we are also on a tight budget this year for our CAD team.


The specs I am hoping to get are:

Quad-Core Xeon E-3 1270, 3.40 GHz

320W PSU

8GB, DDR3, Non-ECC SDRAM, 1333MHz, 2x4gb

Graphics: Firepro V4800 or Quadro 600 (will this be a downgrade from the FX4600 we are using? And which one Firepro vs Quadro would be better)

Regular SATA drive, No RAID.


I assume we are getting a significant upgrade in CPU performance and memory performance. My hope is that 8gb will be enough RAM (even though we used 16gb in the past, it seems we rarely used more than 4gigs. With Win7 and updated hardware, I imagine this 8 gig machine will be sufficient)?


Also we cannot afford the SSD drive and we are assuming that it makes little difference in SW performance? Also after having hardware failure with Raid0 we hope to have a traditional non-RAID SATA setup. Will this be a noticeable downgrade in performance?


My biggest fear is the video card which I know is entry level 3D today. But they do not seem to be inferior to the FX4600 which we have been using for 5 years. The next step up (Quadro 2000) raises the price by quite a bit.


Here is an example of a large assembly that we often need to open:

# components: 5503 (4834 parts and 669 subassemblies)

# unique part documents: 397

# unique subassemblies: 119


Our old machines handle them fine but we do not want to downgrade our machines. As you can probably tell we had a huge budget 5 years ago and a tight budget today!


Thanks for any guidance on this.