Workstation Build (Part II): The Best-Laid Plans...

, Tormaid

I realize that it has been a while since my last post. I haven't had a lot to write about, since most of my projects require regular access to a Windows machine, and I am still in the process of building my new workstation. I thought I'd give an update on that, though, since I've made several important revisions to the build.

The first, and most-significant change I've made is in regards to the GPU. I no longer have my eyes set on the $850 Quadro M4000, but instead its younger, just-released sibling, the Quadro M2000. The reason for this comes down to cost for performance: due to its low clock speeds, the Quadro M4000 seriously underperforms its consumer counterpart, the GTX 970. In fact, it performs worse than the GTX 960. The $450 Quadro M2000, on the other hand, is based on the newer GTX 950 core, and maintains that GPU's higher frequencies, all while adding a 4GB frame buffer. If you look at the cards' respective computing performance, the M2000 comes in at 1.8 TFLOPS, while the M4000 only manages to edge out 2.6 TFLOPS, despite it having over twice the number of CUDA cores.

Quadro M2000

It doesn't take a genius to see the diminishing returns offered by the pricer card, and with new GPU architectures on the horizon, I just couldn't justify the much-higher price of the M4000. I'm getting gouged as it is by Nvidia's Quadro Tax™. I would like to note, however, that while the price differential between the pro- and consumer-grade cards is absurd, Quadros hold onto their value like you wouldn't believe. I fully expect to be able to sell my M2000 for 80-90% of what I payed for it should I choose to do so any time within the next four years. I can't think of a single other PC component for which that is true.

The second revision to my build has to do with my choice of SSD. I was mistaken when I wrote in my last post that I could re-use a SATA-based M.2 drive in my Macbook when I upgrading to a PCI-E-based drive down the line. Apple uses proprietary PCI-E storage, and while there is a 3rd-party selling upgrades, they're outrageously expensive. So, since I lack any kind of upgrade path, I chose to get the 256GB Samsung 950 Pro PCI-E M.2 SSD. This drive lacks the write speeds of its 512GB big brother, but I decided that A) I wasn't willing to spend over $200 on what is ultimately a stepping stone to a 1TB+ drive, and B) I valued speed over capacity.

Samsung 950 Pro

That's it as far as changes to my choice of components are concerned. As for the status of the build: it's mostly complete. All I have left is to install the GPU, which I'll be ordering after I get this week's paycheck. My monitor and custom engraved power button are the only other components still on order.

The next post will contain lots of build pictures (heatpipe porn), so look forward to that!