Our workstations are the workhorses in most businesses. We use them daily for many hours at a time to write letters, manage our business, bookkeeping, etc. Someone's job is reliant on that workstation and if it isn't working properly it reduces that persons ability to work. If someone isn't working efficiently then they are not producing as much and when you break it down, it reduces the bottom line of a business. It is highly important to keep these running well.
Having the right workstation for the type of work being done on it is highly important. I have talked with more than one person who complains about their workstation being slow and they are running software on it that the workstation just meets the minimum requirements. People don't realize that those minimum requirements are good if you are not running any other software at the same time.Hence, their computer can't do what they want it to do. We talk with you to help make sure to avoid that problem.
Graphics work, whether it is photography, video editing or 3D modeling (animation, CAD/CAM, etc) all require computers that are able to handle a lot of processing power. The general workstation will slow down tremendously and could make you wait and wait to do some tasks. If you are multi-tasking on a basic workstation while attempting to do the high end graphics work then you are wasting a lot of time waiting for the computer to finish a simple task.
There are a few key components within a graphics workstation that need to be planned properly that could be dependent upon which type of graphics work you are doing.
The memory is the least dependent upon which type of work you are doing. All graphics work can be memory intensive so fast high quality memory chips are important. By using faster memory with a low latency (the time it takes between receiving a request and starting to send back the requested data) it allows for computations to be performed quicker. A 4 millisecond difference may not seem to make a difference, but when we start talking of tens of thousands of calls that will start adding up. The more calls for data from the memory that you make the more it becomes apparent that the small difference one a single call can end up being a larger savings of time.
Hard drives not only come in different sizes, but also different speeds. The faster drive can not only help with making programs and files faster, but most operating systems use storage space on the hard drive to store data that it might want, but it won't fit in memory. By using the right drive storage solution (faster hard drives, solid state drives and/or RAID) the computer can be made to run faster making production more efficient.
Processor technology changes often so it is important to look at the software packages that you are planning on using and seeing what processor might be the best fit for your needs. AMD and Intel both make a great product and for most computers I recommend AMD because you normally get a little more for your money, in my opinion. However, when it comes to higher end graphics we need to look at which is going to be the best fit for your needs and budget.
When it comes down to it, this is the most important components of a graphics computer. The processors on the video card are designed for processing graphics and have instructions to make it more efficient at it over the CPU. Some of this efficiency comes from the fact that it does allow the computer to focus graphics processing on the video card and other processing on the CPU so the CPU doesn't get bogged down with a bunch of graphics work. Some graphics chips even have instructions to improve video stability and rendering.
Do I need a desktop or can I get away with a laptop?
As people are becoming more mobile, more people are turning to laptops for the workstation needs. There are some advantages to this route including they take up less space, often use less power, it can go to a job or meeting with them and it is a single unit. However, there are disadvantages as well which include limited expansion room, have overheating issues, more costly to repair and a greater security risk.
My recommendation to people when they ask me about replacing their desktop with a laptop is if they do not need to move their computer around then don't buy a laptop. You get less for your money with a laptop and in most cases the desktop lasts longer and you can more easily upgrade it.