Recommended Workstation PC Builds

Welcome to Custom PC Review’s recommended workstation PC computer builds section! Here’s where you’ll find that new build to power your work to the next level! These builds are designed to help give you an idea of what kind of PC hardware you’ll need for building a great workhouse for powering you through intense applications such as photo editing, video editing, 3D modeling and more! If that’s what you intend to do with this machine, keep reading. If you’re looking for another computer build such as a gaming PC build, please jump over to our Computer Builds section for more builds!

Workstations are among the best builds you should put together yourself. Big box companies often markup their machines by thousands of dollars and get away with it because businesses and professionals are willing to pay for the extra cost. However, if you’re willing to spend a couple hours on a weekend building your own brand new workstation, you can easily save thousands of dollars! No longer will you need to pay Dell, HP, or Apple $5,000 for what you can build yourself for $2,000!

Below you’ll find a list of what we think are the best, most recommended purpose built workstation PC computer builds out there sorted by budget. Each piece of hardware in each build is hand-picked by our staff through consideration of a multitude of criteria such as price, performance, reliability, and cost. We also will typically recommend only hardware either reviewed by us or some of our partners to ensure our utmost faith that our recommendations will give you the best workstation PC out there for the price. Additionally, we’ve also designed our builds to be extremely balanced as well, so you’ll find that each build will have plenty of upgrade opportunities down the road. As usual, this article is meant to serve as a guide for reference purposes only. Hardware prices and availability constantly fluctuate, so if any piece of hardware listed below is out of stock, or is priced improperly, feel free to let us know in our community forums.

 

Best Entry Level Workstation (Budget $500 – $800)

The purpose of our entry level workstation is to build a fairly powerful workhorse for professionals on a budget working in fields such as photography, light videography, light 3D Modeling, etc. Now the idea behind this build is that it’s an all purpose workstation that isn’t necessarily application specific yet has plenty of room for upgrades depending on application or if additional performance is needed down the line. With our entry level workstation, I’d recommend this build as more of a photo editing rather than video editing or 3D modeling system, but it will work for those applications as well. Those looking for a workstation oriented primarily towards video editing or 3D modeling should definitely check out our mid-range or high-end workstations builds instead.

 

Best Mid Range Workstation (Budget $800 – $1,500)

Alright, so you’ve got a couple more bucks to spend and you want to build a higher performance workstation. You want something with a bit more power under the hood, but you don’t really want to spend too much either just yet. Welcome to the mid range workstation. This workstation is better suited towards video editing and will handle photo editing perfect as well. This setup is great for those who enjoy creating as a hobby and need something with upgrade potential that will last a couple years or more.

 

Best High End Workstation (Budget $1,500 – $2,000+)

So video editing, photo editing, or 3D modeling is practically your job and you need a superfast rig that’ll process/render/encode all of your photos, videos, and 3D models without breaking a sweat. You’ve checked out Dell, you’ve checked out HP. Companies like these want $5,000+ for a PC that would suit your needs, and unfortunately while you’d be happy to blow $2,000, you’re not ready to drop $5,000. Understandable. What can you do? Well, how about buying some hardware and building it all yourself!

 

Workstation Graphics Cards

Those looking an entry level or mid range workstation will find that the graphics card is optional. While you’d expect that it might be necessary to have a graphics card for video or photo editing, these tasks are actually CPU intensive, which means a graphics card won’t necessarily do much especially if you’re using software that isn’t optimized for GPU acceleration. With Intel’s onboard graphics being as powerful as they are these days, those looking to do photo work or some light video work will find that onboard graphics is all you need.

That said, those of you looking to do some heavy video editing with applications that support workstation graphics such as Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas along with those of you who work with 3D graphics or 3D modeling applications such as 3DS Max, Maya, POV Ray, etc. You might benefit from purchasing a workstation class graphics card. While these graphics cards are hardware wise identical to lower to mid range gaming graphics cards, what you’re actually paying for are drivers that will accelerate stuff like viewports in your 3D models. It sucks that you have to pay 3x-4x more than a gaming graphics card, but companies like Nvidia and AMD conveniently leave out 3D modeling optimized code in the drivers so you pretty much have no choice but to purchase these workstation class graphics cards. Similarly, many professional video editing applications will not recognize non-workstation grade graphics cards, which means if you want GPU acceleration on your videos, you’ll have to shell out the extra for a workstation class graphics card.

Below then are a couple recommended graphics cards if you’re planning on building a new video editing or 3D graphics workstation. Our recommendations below are exclusively Nvidia as they feature CUDA support, which is a GPU acceleration technology that a lot of 3D modeling and video editing applications support.

 

Question about why we chose X and not Y? As usual, don’t forget to visit our community forums! We’d be happy to make recommendations on alternatives for out of stock parts, alternatives on in stock parts, help on putting the entire system together, and even suggest you a 100% custom build fit for your needs if you’d like. All you have to do is register for our forums and post in the appropriate section! It’s as easy as that, and 100% FREE! Yup, free computer build advice and technical support from a community of computer enthusiasts! You can’t really go wrong!

We also may have some featured workstation PC builds every month as well, so be sure to drop by our Featured Workstation Builds section to get some more ideas for your new computer build.

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Last Updated: February 2014