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New Cadalyst White Paper Tests Workstation Against Gaming PC

6 Dec, 2018 Sponsored By: Intel

Benchmark test scores illustrate specific pay-offs of professional hardware for design and engineering work.

Cadalyst announces the publication of its latest white paper, Workstation vs. PC: In the Race to Meet Design Deadlines, Which Option Wins?

Workstation vs. PC: Which Option Wins? White Paper CoverSponsored by Intel, the 11-page paper shares the results of recent benchmark tests to evaluate the CAD and graphics performance of a $2,200 professional CAD workstation against a $2,100 desktop PC outfitted for gaming.

Test results also illustrate the performance differentiation between the 2018 professional workstation and a comparably priced 2015 professional workstation. 

The paper was produced by the editors of Cadalyst. Research, testing, and writing were conducted by hardware expert Alex Herrera, a consultant focusing on high-performance graphics and workstations and author of the Workstation Report series published by Jon Peddie Research. It is an updated version of a paper by the same name published in 2015. 

The paper is available for free download here and from the Cadalyst Library, which offers numerous free white papers, tip sheets, and case studies about workstations and other CAD-related hardware and software. 

About Cadalyst: For more than 30 years, Cadalyst has delivered independent, expert guidance about the software and hardware technologies that support design and engineering workflows in the AEC, civil engineering, and manufacturing markets. 


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Re: New Cadalyst White Paper Tests Workstation Against...
by: Jimbosticks
February 4, 2019 - 10:32am
I read this white paper. Seems to me a little disingenuous. Your workstation had a six core Xeon process, PCI Express SSD, and a professional graphics card with 8GB memory. The gaming PC was hampered by a four core I5, SATA SSD and a graphics card with only 4GB memory. And you claimed that the prices were comparable. I'm guessing you had to search long and hard to find such a heavy hitter workstation for $2250, and didn't make much effort to get your money's worth for the $2100 gaming PC. How often do workstation manufacturers put their new tech on sale? Never in my opinion, because I have been shopping..... I use BricsCAD for 3D design and the company tells me a XEON, ECC memory, professional graphics card are a waste of money.
Re: New Cadalyst White Paper Tests Workstation Against...
by: Nancy_Johnson
February 5, 2019 - 4:41pm
@Jimbosticks: Thank you; we appreciate that you read our report and took the time to give us feedback.

As explained in our report, when setting up the comparison we weren't aiming to optimize the gaming PC component by component; rather, we aimed to illustrate how a CAD user might be short-changed when purchasing a machine marketed as a "high-performance PC" or "gaming PC" vs. a comparably priced professional workstation (in this case, a gaming PC for $2K-ish vs. a workstation for $2K). The pricing was not disingenuous, as those were the prices stated by the supplier of the machines featured in the study.

You are correct that the 6-core workstation CPU has an advantage running the SPECwpc multi-threaded tests -- but again, this advantage is inherent to the argument for buying a professional-grade workstation vs. a gaming PC. Gamers emphasize single-thread performance over number of cores (for good reason). Hence, a machine with specs balanced more for gaming (like the one in our report) would likely spend more on a gaming GPU than, say, more CPUs for the same budget. Although it's not yet the norm, design and engineering professionals are more likely than gamers to run applications that do benefit from multiple cores.

We can't comment on the requirements for BricsCAD specifically, as it was not one of the applications from which specific viewsets were tested. We'll take your word that Bricsys stated that a professional graphics card is a waste of money for its CAD system. But for SOLIDWORKS, Siemens NX, CATIA, Creo, and others sampled in SPEC benchmark, performance of the professional GPU is deliberately optimized to support their OpenGL 3D viewsets. The developers of those CAD applications do recommend professional GPUs over gaming GPUs. In any case, when purchasing a new machine, you should always consult your software developer(s) and work with the computer seller to optimize your hardware to support your software while staying on budget.

Remember, performance differences are only one component of the workstation's value over gaming and consumer PCs, as described in our report. Even if your CAD software doesn't demand a discrete GPU, professional-grade computers as a rule offer better reliability, warranties, product life, tech support, and ISV certification (for applicable software).

Although this report was sponsored by Intel, the benchmark testing and conclusions presented were conducted independently by Cadalyst editors. We stand behind our conclusion that professional workstations are a better choice vs. gaming PCs when it comes to overall performance and value for professional design and engineering workflows, especially given that these days you don't have to spend significant (if any) more money to acquire a professional machine. --Cadalyst Editors
Re: New Cadalyst White Paper Tests Workstation Against...
by: Jimbosticks
February 8, 2019 - 2:32pm
Ms. Johnson, I don't know when you made this comparison or whether you made any effort to shop for machines. (I HAVE.) You didn't actually say you BOUGHT the machines. You said the vendors quoted the prices. So can I assume they GAVE you the machines to test to promote their products? DID YOU VERIFY THAT YOU COULD BUY the exact machines for those prices? I don't think you will get a workstation equipped the way you describe for that much money. The price you were quoted by the workstation vendor was very likely the BASE price for the machine without the heavy duty upgrades. Not only that, but you would have to ignore a lot of deals to find such a poorly equipped gaming machine for such a high price. You're not even comparing current technology. Look at the benchmarks for the CPU's. Your gaming machine's processor is WAY down the list as far as performance. I'm making an educated guess that the performance differences are NOT due to some hard to quantify configuration or software tuning by the workstation vendor. Rather, it's due to a drastic difference in the capability of the hardware. That's it, I'm done. Only reason I commented is I thought I might learn something from the white paper. I didn't.
Re: New Cadalyst White Paper Tests Workstation Against...
by: ConstructiveCriticism
February 25, 2019 - 12:00am
I would like to point out there was never an Nvidia GTX1080 consumer graphics card with 4GB of VRAM produced. It was a high-end consumer card with multiple other options below it. There was no need to offer a version with less VRAM. If only 4GB were registering during Cadalyst's testing then the card is either defective or the appropriate settings need to be adjusted. Also worth noting is Xeon CPU processors are server grade chips which are not used in all workstations. Those other workstations use the same CPUs available for consumer oriented products. That being said, people should be aware features like ECC memory work with very few processors outside of the Xeon processors. The Xeon processor used during testing has hyper-threading as well as a CPU hardware and software architecture that is a year newer and different than the consumer CPU. I was also confused where the data recorded during the benchmarks is noted. Only overall summary charts and information were included in the main body of the white paper and there are no appendices included at the end of the document.