What are workstations and how they compare against Desktops

Akash jain Estimated Read Time: 2 Minutes

Computer systems are the workhorses of your business and it is important that you choose a system that will help you stay productive.

So how do you decide whether to choose a desktop or a workstation. Each system has a specific purpose, and ultimately it is your use case that will determine which system you should choose.

What is a workstation?

First, let us take a look at what exactly a workstation is. The easiest way to define a workstation is to think of it as a desktop (or laptop) with extreme power to accommodate demanding workflows and applications. Applications such as video editing, engineering, CAD and 3D design, graphics editing, and artificial intelligence are a few examples of applications so demanding that only a workstation cuts it

A workstation is not just an upgraded desktop with more memory or better processor, but the entire hardware is selected to give you maximum performance. Let us take a look at the hardware differentiation in workstations.

How a workstation is different from a desktop

What makes a workstation a workstation - the hardware, of course. The hardware of a workstation is different from that of a desktop PC in a number of ways

  • Ability to use GPUs: Workstations give you the option to purchase and upgrade to higher-end GPUs. Graphics-intensive applications, rendering, and AI learning are some of the applications that benefit greatly from GPUs.
  • Faster ECC memory: most workstations use the higher performance (DDR5 3000MHZ) RAM with error correction. So it is not just a higher number of RAM, but a higher number of high performance RAM.
  • High-speed storage with protection: you can use SSDs in desktops as well, but workstations offer additional slots for NVMe SSDs that you can use as them as boot drives for faster performance. They may have RAID controllers so you can combine multiple drives with failover protection.
  • Power and cooling: They have larger power supplies to accommodate more components and often have better cooling.
  • Expandability and Slots - Both internal and external expansion slots are offered for future expandability.
  • ISV Certification : Workstation manufacturers receive certifications from independent software vendors - the vendors that develop the software most commonly used on workstations. This certification guarantees that your favorite application will run smoothly and with optimal performance on the certified Worksation.

All of this make a workstation PC different from a regular consumer Desktop PC.

Applications Where the workstation fits

When you need high computing power and a hardware platform that is scalable and expandable, you need a workstation.


1. ML, AI and data scientists.
ML uses GPUs and requires large memory to store raw data sets. Workstations are ideal for such applications

2. media users - 3D designers, video editors, animators.
Rendering 3D video, viewing high-resolution graphics, and editing video in 8K require powerful GPUs and high-performance memory on workstations.

3. CAD designers, engineers, and graphic artists.
Workstations with GPUs and powerful CPUs provide an optimal user experience for designers and engineers.

4. other verticals - healthcare, finance, energy
Anyone who needs an agile machine that can process large amounts of data quickly can turn to workstations. Users in Verticals like Gas, Energy, Finance and Healthcare use workstations to run their resource hungry applications.

Workstation form factors - Tiny, SFF, Tower and Laptop.

If you are short on space, a Tiny or SFF (Small Form Factor) workstation may be for you. They are smaller and have a smaller number of ports.

A full-size tower offers maximum expansion capabilities and a variety of ports.

Finally, there are mobile workstations in laptop format.

 

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