The previous post might be interesting for you if you are seeking out advice on tabletts and pen-displays as input devices.
The workstation, regardless which brand you chose, should be a reliable and scalable workhorse, in the following points, I´ll guide you through the main differences and what you should keep in mind when buying or better said; investing in one.
#1: Mac vs. PC:
Conclusion: There is no real difference anymore, it has become a matter of taste.
#2: Ultrabook or Macbook?
That is the first reason, why Apple isn´t quite necessary anymore, PC-Manufacturer have established a notebook standard and from several brands there are "Ultrabooks" available, what´s up with that?
The Ultrabooks often look similar to Macbook Pro´s from Apple and they meet certain criteria to get the label Ultrabook such as; portability, battery-life, power consumption, power and speed.
Actually always a bit lower priced than any Macbook you can lose a big chunk ov money on a high-end Ultrabook as well.
For working with digital painting or digital illustration I´d give some thoughts to the following before you invest in such a portable computer for your work:
- Are you often on the move? If yes, such a "Notebook" can be a good investment
- Notebooks don´t have much space for capable graphics cards
- Notebooks get hot when used for a long time -hence they reduce GHz bandwidth to reduce heat
- Macbooks and Ultrabooks have reduced slots for Ram, making upgrades expensive and limited(Macbook configurations are especially limited in recent models, which makes an upgrade later impossible)
If you have a replacement to work with, I´d suggest getting a late 2015 5k iMac with the best configuration possible is simply the best bet here as the hardware is usually built to last. You can get a i7, 4GHz with 64GB Ram and PCIE-SSD AIO Workstation with 5k resolution that has no real competitor in the PC niche even for the hefty price tag of 3600 Euros. Even Dell or HP has no equivalent All-in-one solution featuring an i7 quad core processor.
- Make it big: Get a big tower that allows for many internal parts, HDD´s GPU´s, etc
- Get a powerful powersupply, don´t trust the manufacturer of system parts, calculate your power demand and order the correct parts
- If you are only working with it, consider getting an Nvidia Quadro card the mid-range cards are not that expensive anymore , but they are short on power consumption compared to any GeForce card!
- For mainboards, go for Asus or Gigabyte
- Processors, I just use Intel: get an i7 if you want constant high-power and speed or a XEON if high-speed and multitasking is what you need.
- Processor: Get an I5 if you are eager to save on Idle time and have power when you need it.
- Use SSD for system and fast access (scratch-disk) and get bigger SSD´s they are faster.
- Use HDD´s for storage
- Get a small 2.5" HDD´s 1TB drive as external drive for backup, they get power through USB
- Go for triple channel RAM or Quad channel use double channel only if you need to save money
The Mac Pro is also just relevant if you want to edit movies or do a lot 3D rendering. A configuration around 8-12 cores gives you the best bang for the money starting at $8000. The only advantage the Mac Pro has over any other workstation is that it stays silent and uses not much room for itself, that´s it.
- Get an older 2012 Mac Pro model right now or when the new one comes out, it get´s cheaper then.
- The old Mac Pro is silent, even the smaller machines have a Xeon Processor and Quad-Core.
- They have enough room to add-in RAM bars and HDD´s and several Graphics cards.
|HP z820 inside|
There is a paper from Intel about the difference between Desktop-PC and Workstation (PDF) that may additionally help you to decide for one or the other.
The HP Z820 is a very good choice, but be advised that no NVidia GeForce card will work, only Quadros or AMD FirePro. It is watercooled and I´d suggest getting one as a barebone, means just the case with mainboard and probably processor and fit the rest in, matching to the specs of the connectivity. With room up to 512GB RAM you shouldn´t run out of memory ever. A 6-Core XEON processor should also last very long with this machine. Get more info here.
More info here.
While DELL seems as good as the HP, problem might be that it can be more difficult to get a configuration without anything except processor, mainboard and case.
A very interesting thing is when workstation enthusiasts tweak and find the best hardware to put it together, ADK is about that. More aimed towards video-editing, their workstations are also great for any photographer or digital painter working in 2D and 3D tools. More info here.
BOXX is around quite a while and prices range between the 2k and 3,5k mark like the other brands for a decent, not too shabby Photoshop workstation. More info here. Configuration and research is key here.
As with all computer related investments, research is due for any of these recommendation. Time flies and a good recommendation now is worthless in 6 month from now and so on.
However, some brands like ADK keep you up-to-date with a configuration as much as most of the manufacturer configuration web-tools too.
So it is up to the user to decide which kind of graphics card you need for your workload, which Processor, how much RAM and which Harddrive. What might be of interest is that Adobe CS6/CC as also blender makes use of CUDA, a core-technology developed by NVidia, programms that make use of this extra-processors can benefit from a card that uses it.
Another big advantage of workstations is warranty. Usually you have warranty claim from one dealer/manufacturer, not many opposed to the self-built Desktop PC´s. And in this regard the higher cost include a free service repair or interchange service -next-day, which can come in handy if you have to get work done.