TMCnet Feature
June 07, 2021

Workstation vs PC: Which Do You Need?-



Systems that have become a part of everyday life for most people; computers. Whether you work in an office on spreadsheets or word processing, or in an animation studio, you’ll use one. However, animators are much more likely to need a decent workstation in order to carry out their work. While gamers are going to need a fully specced out gaming PC to achieve peak performance.



So what is the difference between the two systems? Due to the different uses of the two systems, you would rightly assume there’d be a number of factors that them apart. Let’s have a look at some.

Performance

While a desktop PC is great for day-to-day tasks such as internet browsing and word processing, a workstation is typically used to carry out more specialised jobs. Generally held to a higher standard than a standard computer, it is designed with the use of advanced applications in mind.

Nowadays, workstations come with the capability to outperform in a number of areas such as data analysis, video editing, 3D modelling and so on. This can be used by designers, content creators, developers and engineers - just to name a few. 

Of course, the gamers among us may choose to rock with a more specced out desktop; a gaming PC.

Internal workings

Graphics cards

To take the strain off of the CPU, the graphics processing unit (GPU) was introduced. It can be part of the computer’s motherboard or processor or can be a part of a much more powerful expansion card - the graphics card. With its ability to perform multiple calculations simultaneously, it is able to render images more efficiently. While a CPU can handle basic video editing, a GPU is a must-have if you’re looking to handle multiple high-resolution graphics or videos - especially in 4K.

Workstation graphics cards and their PC’s equivalent are designed to run for completely different software and programs - targeting two separate markets. For example, CAD applications need one that is able to perform multiple, precise calculations to render 3D models and animations. Most workstations will come equipped with a decent graphics card but it’s worth checking that it’s powerful enough to handle the tasks you’re looking to action.

Some PCs may not come with a graphics card - after all the CPU is capable of handling word processing, internet browsing, emailing and so on. However, for gamers, it is essential in order to achieve peak gaming performance.  Without a powerful graphics card, you’ll simply be left behind. So make sure to check the games’ requirements to ensure that you’ve got the right specifications.

Storage

When it comes to storage, there are two options available - a solid-state drive (SSD) or hard drive disk (HDD). Both store data in different ways. The standard HDDs typically have a higher storage capacity. However, SSDs, and their electrical circuitry, are able to access files quicker.

A graphic designer will be creating tonnes of large files. These will need to be stored somewhere. Hard drives come with any computer or workstation but it’s important to have one capable of storing those all important files. So you’re going to need an HDD with a storage capacity that goes well into the terabytes (TB) - as much as 10TB. The same goes for gamers, who will want to store tonnes of the leading games on their gaming PCs.

Of course, standard desktop PCs will come with a hard drive - some with HDDs capable of holding up to 1TB of storage. However, others will come with smaller SSDs with a capacity of 256 gigabytes (GB) - plenty enough to store photos, music, word files, and videos.

Memory & RAM (News - Alert)

Random-access memory, or RAM, temporarily holds information that your computer needs to access. RAM ensures that your computer can perform everyday tasks, such as loading applications or internet browsing.

When comparing the different workstations that are available and working out which workstation is best suited to your needs. It is recommended that graphic designers need a minimum of 8GB of RAM. However, for CAD software some recommend only 4GB is needed.

For gamers, RAM is critical. It can be the difference between a great gaming experience and a poor one. Modern-day games require a minimum of 12GB but it is also wise to future-proof your system by upgrading to 16GB.

For a standard desktop PC, 4GB will suffice. It’s enough to run an operating system without any issues. You’ll still be able to run most of the basic programs simultaneously without a problem. It’s really not worth spending too much money on RAM that you don’t need.

Cost

Depending on what you’re looking to use your workstation for, they can be very expensive pieces of kit. You can easily be looking at a fair few thousands of pounds to get one with the correct specifications for your needs. Workstations can range from £2,000 to over £15,000.

On the other hand, you may only need a system for standard use where a desktop PC will serve you well. In this instance, you can pick something up for well under £1,000 - less than £500 if you’re on a budget. 

It is worth noting however if you’re looking to run the very latest video games at full spec, a pre-built gaming PC will be considerably more expensive than an ordinary desktop.

Summary

When it comes down to workstation vs PC there really is no outright ‘winner’. It entirely depends on what you’ll need a system for. CAD engineers, graphics designers, video editors will be more comfortable with a workstation. Whereas gamers and those who use computers for more general tasks will be happy with their respective PCs. 

Author bio

Oliver Griffiths has a passion for film, video games and technology. He can be found at Tillison Consulting running a number of clients’ digital marketing campaigns across all sectors and platforms.  



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