Windows 10 Workstation Computer

I’m using the term “workstation computer” rather loosely; typically in computer science a workstation computer is something that has greater performance than a stereotypical personal computer. However, in my opinion, there is zero point for the average photographer to invest in a top of the line workstation computer using Xeon processors, just to load photoshop/lightroom. Pro-grade workstation graphics cards are also abysmal in terms of their price/performance ratio.

There’s a million and one ways to store, manage and edit photographs and data at the moment e.g. portable and stationary SSDs, super-fast m.2 SSDs, HDDs, dedicated NAS devices, rack-mount servers, etc.

For backing up photographs, I advocate using a low performance, low wattage Intel based computer with a server motherboard and a Xeon processor; no graphics card is necessary (to minimise current draw.) I’m not fond of dedicated NAS devices because they often use hardware RAID as a means for backup and when the NAS device becomes obsolete, if the RAID controller breaks and one HDD corrupts, you will encounter problems when restoring the data. By using your own server, you can use software mirroring and you can also use “FreeFileSync” to copy files from your “workstation computer” to your server.

This list will soon become obsolete as Intel and AMD release new hardware, but at the moment (19/01/2017), the hardware listed below offers good bang for the buck.

SSD Samsung 960 EVO Polaris 250GB M.2 1 $117.60 £149.99
SSD 250GB 850 EVO SSD 1 $112.97 £86.99
HDD WD Red 3 TB x 2 2 $128.41 £90.04
Bluray Writer Pioneer BDR-209EBK 1 $169.99 £58.77
Bluray Disks Verbatim BD-R 6x 50 x 25GB 1 £20.94
Graphics Card Radeon RX 480 Nitro+ OC 8192MB Graphics Card 1 £239.99
Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming Intel Z170 1 £133.98
CPU Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz 1 £312.95
CPU Heatsink Noctua NH-U12S 1 £54.95
RAM Corsair Vengeance LED 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 3000MHz 1 £200.82
PSU Seasonic X-Series 750w 1 £89.99
HDD Holder Icybox IB-158SK-B 2 £33.98
Mouse Pad G-HXL Heavy Extra Large Pro Gaming Surface 1 £12.95
SSD Converter SST-SDP08B Bay Converter 3.5 inch to 2x 2.5 inch 1 £6.95
Thermal Paste Arctic Silver 5 1 £5.99
Fan Corsair Fan, SP120 PWM Low Noise High Pressure Fan 4 pin 1 £32.99

I don’t normally care about fans, but these are EXTREMELY quiet and because they are 4 pin PWM fans, the motherboard can select a much lower power setting than with normal fans. In regards to the graphics card, I took a gamble. The NVIDIA 1060’s are probably better performance for the money.

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