Hoping to build a 'budget' engineering workstation (FEA/Matlab)

Hi there,

I'm in the midst of a PhD and need a new computer to run some FEA simulations (ABAQUS) and to do some data crunching and analysis (Matlab). I really don't do much gaming but I'd still like to have the option to occasionally play some newer games (at a reduced frame rate, resolution etc) when I have the chance.

I've been browsing the forums pretty hard but was hoping to get a little bit of feedback on the build I've put together!


Approximate Purchase Date: Within the month (do we think HDD's will have dropped in price by then?)

Budget Range: £500-£600

System Usage from Most to Least Important: FEA, movies, gaming

Parts Not Required: Mouse, keyboard, monitor, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: dabs.co.uk, aria.co.uk, overclockers.co.uk, amazon.co.uk,

Country: UK

Parts Preferences: No real preference - open to any good sugestions

Overclocking: Yes - I've never overclocked before but would be looking to get the most out of the CPU when running simulations

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: As I can't spend as much as I'd like right now I'm looking for a build that will allow me options to upgrade in the near future


Intel Sandybridge i5-2500K - £170

XFX ATI Radeon 6770 HD 850MHz 1GB - £77

Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 - £80

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB SATAIII - £75 (Would ultimately be looking to buy something similar from dabs.co.uk to unlock the £25 off on purchases over £400)

Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz - £33 Should i go for 16GB?

Antec 300 - £45

Corsair 500 Watt CX500 V2 Builder Series 80 Plus - £45

Samsung 12x BD-ROM/DVDRW Lightscribe SATA - £44

All in ~£545 (with £25 dabs.co.uk discount)

So..... any problems, thoughts, advice?


5 answers Last reply
More about hoping build budget engineering workstation matlab
  1. I would go either with 2600k or 6 core AMD
    causer it looks like u'll need some multitasking
    also get a better HDD or SSD ultimately u won't need too much space and SSD will benefit you
  2. I agree with madchemist the 2600k would help with its hyper-threading if you can afford the price bump. Also 16Gb ram would also help depending on how large you data sets are. In my bioinformatics work its common to see matlab or blast use 4-7Gb by themselves.
  3. Thanks for the quick replies! I guess I'll have to have a think about whether I can squeeze my budget a little more... Would I need to get a better motherboard to get the best out of the i7 2600k?

    Should I also be thinking about getting a cooling fan to go with all of this?

    Thanks again!

  4. No on mobo. Yes on cooler
  5. motherboard is fine, but for what you are doing you need an i7.
    If you are not stuck on OCing then get a regular i7 instead of a K version. Also, look into the previous version of i7's as they can all OC, and are still quite good processors for this sort of thing (but you would need a different mobo for them). Stay away from AMD for matlab as it is made specifically for Intel chips.

    Check to see if any of your software supports CUDA, if they do then you will get more of a boost going with Nvidia instead of AMD, if not then just stick with AMD for graphics.

    16GB is a must for what you are doing. Much more important to have bulk ram than fast ram. If you need to trim the budget it would be fine to step down to 1333 instead of 1600. There will be a slight slowdown, but not as bad as not having enough Ram.

    Seriously consider saving up for a Quadro card down the line as it will help with what you do. Also future SSD or HDDs in Raid will help you out a bit, but what you have is fine to get you started. HDD prices may come down a little after the Christmas demand dries up, but the cost is still going to be high because manufacturers are still going to be in a production deficit compared to the demand. Prices will really start coming down in the summer/fall, and get back to 'normal' next winter. If you need to save a few bucks then go find an old spare HDD and see if that will get you through until prices come back down.

    You can build without the aftermarket cooler to get started as the stock one is quite effective. Once you are really ready to OC then you can get your cooler at that point. Do not let buying a cooler get in the way of better hardware.
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