What comes to mind when we say workstation? If you're thinking some big, spaceship-like contraption, you'd traditionally be right. But these days, workstations are sleek and trendy machines that still provide intelligent performance for most applications. They're useful tools for designers, engineers, financial analysts and researchers running more demanding applications, like rendering complex graphics, financial analysis and computations and digital content creation. There are even a few amazing options that come in laptop form.
But, with so many on the market, what merits do the office "power users" look for when deciding upon which workstation is the best investment for an increase in productivity, limited downtime and improved reliability?
Update: The enterprise desktop will be making a comeback, at least that's what Intel, AMD and Dell believe. Intel is optimistic that Skylake will spur new desktop designs, and AMD claims that once users discover what they can achieve on an AMD A12 Pro APU with boosted integrated graphics performance, they'll want an even more powerful machine at their desk. Dell is hoping that Skylake and the launch of Windows 10 will spur a new cycle of hardware upgrade this year.
Here are a few that we've reviewed that we recommend:
1. Dell Precision T7610
Meet the world's most powerful workstation, so says Dell
CPU: Up to two Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v2 processors | Graphics: AMD FirePro or Nvidia Quadro | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 3TB, 7200RPM | Ports: 9 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0, Serial, RJ45, PS2, SATA, headphone, microphone | Connectivity: Optional | Size: 16.95 x 8.50 x 20.67 inches
The Dell Precision T7610 is a capable mid-range workstation that is expertly designed, sturdy, powerful and reasonably priced for what it offers.
Read the full review: Precision T7610
2. Fujitsu Celsius W530
An impressive and compact desktop workstation
CPU: 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4790 | Graphics: AMD FirePro or Nvidia Quadro | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 256GB SATA III SSD | Ports: 9 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0, VGA, DisplayPort, DVI, Serial, RJ45, PS2, eSATA, headphone, microphone | Connectivity: Optional | Size: 6.9 x 16.5 x 15.6 inches
The W530 is a solid performer which is more than capable of hosting basic CAD/CAM applications, and it represents good value for money.
Read the full review: Celsius W530
3. Boxx Apexx 2
A high-end performance machine
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Up to two x16 NVIDIA GeForce, NVIDIA Quadro, NVIDIA Tesla AMD FirePro Graphics cards | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 4TB HDD, 7200RPM | Ports: 4 USB 2.0, 6 USB 3.0, VGA, audio, optical, Gigabit | Connectivity: Optional | Size: 6.85 x 14.6 x 16.6 inches
The Boxx Apexx 2 workstation is what any serious CAD, multimedia, and video designer needs to have in their workplace to increase performance and productivity.
Read the full review: Apexx 2
4. Apple Mac Pro
With a unique design and tremendous power, this is the workstation to beat
CPU: 3GHz octa-core Intel Xeon E5 | Graphics: Dual AMD FirePro D500 | RAM: 64GB | Storage: 1TB SSD | Ports: 4 USB 3.0, 6 Thunderbolt 2.0, dual Gigabit, HDMI 1.4, audio, headphone | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Size: 6.6 x 6.6 x 9.9 inches
Not everyone needs the workstation-level power and performance offered by the new Mac Pro, but wouldn't you just love one? It's a masterpiece of engineering and suitably expensive.
Read the full review: Mac Pro
5. Overclockers RENDA PW-E7F
A pro workstation from British component retailer Overclockers
CPU: Intel Core i7 5820K / 5930K Six Core or 5960X Eight Core Processor with Hyperthreading | Graphics: 3 x Nvidia Quadro Series Professional or AMD Firepro Series Professional Graphics | RAM: 64GB | Storage: 3TB SSD | Ports: 10 USB 3.0, SATA 3, SATA Express, M.2, PCI-Express | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Size: 9.1 x 17.3 x 23.1 inches
Well-built and powerful, if you run any kind of professional software, from video editing tools to CAD or CAM, the PW-E7F will not disappoint.
Read the full review: RENDA PW-E7F
Update: If you need to upgrade to a larger solid state drive for your workstation, Samsung's 850 Pro SSD delivers 2TB of capacity to store your most important files, documents, photos and videos. The 2.5-inch SATA drive delivers fast speeds and a long 10-year warranty.
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