Build a Windows-powered 'Mac Pro-like' PC workstation

Build a Windows-powered 'Mac Pro-like' PC workstation

Summary: Like the Mac Pro workstation but want one that runs Windows? Here's what you need to build one at a fraction of the cost.


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  • Like the Mac Pro workstation but want one that runs Windows? Here's what you need to build one for considerably less.

  • The updated 12-core Mac Pro system is built around two 2.4GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5645 processors. These processors are based on 32-nanometer Westmere architecture and were first produced during the first half of 2010. They're good processors, but I think we’d do better to go with a processor from the newer Intel "Sandy Bridge" line.

    I've chosen the Intel Xeon E5-2430 6-core processor. This is a 2.2GHz part that can be turbo boosted to 2.7GHz and makes use of the LGA1356 socket. It's a bit more expensive than the E5645 but it's also better.

    Remember that you need two of these processors.

    Price: 2 x $560.

Topics: Hardware, Processors, Storage

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  • 12-core dual Xeon system

    Adrian: How would your two systems compare?

    Obviously the 12-core and 4-core systems are most beneficial to users who use; 64-bit native multi-processor optimized software.

    I can envision this 12-core setup being a powerhouse using CS6 for photo/video editing. For those not taking advantage of software written for multi-cores, I can see the two boxes producing similar performance.

    What kind of increase might we expect moving from the Bloomfield chips up to the Sandy Bridge? Would it pay to move now or wait a bit?
  • Would it pay to move now or wait a bit?

    This is not what the industry wants to hear, but it always pays to wait until you actually can demonstrate a need for the extra computing power.

    Buying the prior top of the line just after the new king comes out is usually the best bang/buck as by then the BIOS bugs are usually gone and only carefully chosen benchmarks can show the speed improvements.

    Once in a while, the new generation is both a little faster and a little cheaper so do your homework before buying.
  • Another terrible presentation

    If I had the time to go through all these slides while waiting for the interminable ads to load, there might be some useful information here.

    Put all the information on a single page and then offer expanded details on sub pages.
    • Another terrible presentation

      I agree, I do not understand why ZDNet continues to use this format. It makes it impossible to review the information succinctly and it takes too much time to go from one slide to another.
      • Hmmm...

        Looks like you need to be running Adrian's fast PC!
    • Should have offered the "Blog Post" option...

      Several ZDNet items have the option to view in a blog post (but not enough of them). I'm getting an ad for Brocade on every page.. takes for ever to load each new page (and I'm on 30 Mbps down circuit).
    • Ad bragging rights!

      That's how you artfically inflate your page view claims and feed those unsuspecting companies that pay top dollors for ads we barely see anymore :)
  • few points

    Why use 1066 ram when higher is supported by the motherboard?
    A computer with large loads, that it looks like you are configuring one for should use buffered not unbuffered.
    Your hard drive is a potential bottleneck. I would use an SSD HD for OS and any resource intensive applications and a 1-2 TB HD for file storage.
  • Are you not missing something ?

    What are you going to put all this hardware into ?

    A cardboard box ?
    Alan Smithie
  • Forgot a few details

    He not only forgot the case and the SSD but how about work station level video and a couple monitors.
  • System drive?

    NEEDS a solid state system drive. The Green series WD's spin at 5400. If you're going to limit this machine w one spinner (makes no sense), the WD 1T Velociraptor is the only choice.
    • Black label is better choice

      The WD green label drives only have a single bearing. They're not as reliable in the long run as the WD black label (2 bearing). However, there may be less chance of read-errors with the slower drive.
      • hard drive

        As soon as I saw the hard drive spec'ed, I had to stop and comment. It's supposed to be a powerful workstation and you want to go with a single 5400rpm drive? At minimum, a Black or Barracuda, possibly with a SSD as well. I just bought 4 Barracuda 3TB drives at $150 each, cheaper than this Green drive.
        big red one
  • Horribe format.

    Spread this content over 19 pages! I gave up after the 4th page.
  • Cooler

    That processor cooler looks great. I'll try one (or more) in my next build. Thanks.
  • What's the tally?

    I just went through 19 pages (some unnecessary second views of some parts), and I have to add it all up myself?

    OK, the price for the high-end build (without a case or a VIDEO CARD) comes to $2190. According to the Apple store online, the 12 core Mac Pro starts at $3799.
    big red one
  • Why build a Win Mac, when you can build a Power Mac which runs Windows?

    You can build a pure Mac OS-X to match the MacPro for a fraction of the cost (check out the TonyMacx86 site) and run Parallels to run Windows when you want. You will have to buy the motherboard, CPU, memory, HDD, video card, power supply and enclosure.
    • Because it would be illegal

      You can only legally run OSX on a machine built by Apple
  • Interesting Choices!

    DIid you know Asus makes the Z9PE-D8 WS motherboard that supports dual socket 2011 Extreme CPUs? It also supports Quad Channel memory at 1600 and has a Marvel PCIe controller that support 4 6Gbs SATA 3 ports in a RAID 1, 10 or 0 configuration?
  • The only thing good about this article are the comments.

    Someone should fire both the guy who created this format for these articles and the dummy who just used it, despite the repeated complaints about it in every article.

    It takes so long to go through all of the slides, that even the writer gave up and didn't finish listing out the case, GPU, monitor options or a recap explaining the total costs for the various builds. Useless article.