Need some input on a workstation build.

Hi Guys. I used to spend most of my time back on maxpc's forums and would ask there if I needed help putting together a build but the last few times I've posted there I've gotten very little useful feedback, so I figured I would try here.

My lab group on campus (I'm a grad student in EE) is moving into a new lab space and we have been in desperate need of new computers for a long time now. Most of what we have now is P4 based....

Now, here's the bad part. Normally what would happen is these computers would be purchased by the university on contract. However, no one thought to write in the computers into the contract and they have to be written in for us to buy computers. BUT, we can buy computer parts to 'upgrade' what we have, so I've recommended that we upgrade our current p4 machines into i5/i7 machines :).

All said and done we are looking at building 5-9 machines over the next 4 months or so. 1 file server, 3 workstations, and 3-5 test boxes. Descriptions of each machine are below, and I've added in hardware that our IT guy has recommended for ya'lls review where I have it. Hardware lists are at the end of the post. I don't need keyboard/mice/monitors/OSes to be included, we have those taken care of already.

Last but not least, we are required to order through GovConnection. The site is very clunky to use and makes it difficult to find certain things, but their prices are pretty close to Newegg and Amazon. Please note that these prices drop significantly once we log in with our contract credentials. What I've been doing is searching Newegg for parts and when I find something I like, plugging the part number into GovConnection's search feature. It's worked pretty well so far.

File Server: x1
(depending on cost: x2, or some other way to keep a redundant copy of these files in a separate location. )
Description: Supports and mirrors/backs up all important data, code,
etc. Will run any network license servers for our software. Must be
reliable. CPU speed not as important. Sufficient RAM to keep most
commonly accessed files in RAM. (min 2GB).
Hardware Raid: Mirrored/stripped, 2-2 (4x 2tb drives)
Separate system drive (80GB min)
Gigabit NIC
Linux compatible hardware
Maybe rack mount?
USB 3.0
UPS battery backup
Most likely will run linux

Workstation: x1 (simulation, coding, compiling, etc)
Quadcore or better
12gb+ (Max out the Mobo)
CUDA compatible video card
2x 24" panels
Gigabit NIC
USB 3.0 would be nice.
minimum 500GB hard drive (or SSD?)
CD/DVD Drive
UPS battery backup

Workstation: x2 (general use)
Description: Sufficient boxes to run our software if someone else is
using the good box.
Dualcore or better
Gigabit NIC
2x 24" panels
minimum 200GB hard drives (or SSD?)
CD/DVD Drive

Testbox: x3-5
Description: Cheap boxes that will run Visual Studio and have minimum
80GB hard drives. Must be reliable and contain a full size PCI card
slot. Must all be the same, would prefer to be able to image the drives as we change software.

Micro/Mini ATM Mobo
PCI on Mobo
Onboard video
2GB ram
Smallest/cheapest case possible that still fits a full size PCI card
Gigabit NIC
DVD Burners
1x 19" panel
UPS battery backup

Gigabit switch with enough room for all of these machines (7-9) and a
few more ports for expansion, so a 16port should be good.

Hardware list below:

Workstation Main
ASUS Rampage IV Formula
8gb Kingston DDR3 x2 (16gb total)
Plextor 24x
Antec Nine Hundred
CoolerMaster GX 750W
WD Velociraptor 500g


Workstation Secondary x2
ASUS Rampage IV Formula
eVGA GT 520
8gb Kingston DDR3
CoolerMaster GX 750W
Plextor 24x
Cooler Master Gladiator 600
1tb WD Caviar Black


Test boxes: ?

File server: ?
3 answers Last reply
More about need input workstation build
  1. This topic has been moved from the section CPU & Components to section Systems by Proximon
  2. Proximon said:
    This topic has been moved from the section CPU & Components to section Systems by Proximon

    Thanks Prox, that was a my bad, I didn't see the systems option.

    I've been thinking more about the test boxes, what if we went with the FX-8120 and this board:

    That appears to be a solid combination that could serve us well, with onboard video too. Ideally I'd like to see both onboard video, eSata, and USB3 on the test box mobo, but I'd also like to try and keep each of these boxes under $500.
  3. Wow, looks like this post got pushed back really far really quick.

    The hardest thing for me right now and I don't know enough about these recent processors to know which will handle our computing tasks better. What we do is all very math intensive and the majority of it we code in house so I am assuming we could work around the limitations of the architecture if we needed to.
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