Building a $5000.00 Desktop Workstation


Lets say that you want to build the most powerful desktop workstation that you can, and you have a relatively large budget of $5,000.00. What components might you buy with that sort of budget? What is important when building a $5000.00 desktop workstation?

I have a recent post, “What Parts Should I Use For a New PC?” that goes much deeper into the rationale behind how you can analyze your choices.

Building a $5000.00 Desktop Workstation

In this case, we have a hard requirement for at least an 8C/16T CPU, 128GB of RAM, two 2TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 storage cards, one 4TB SATA SSD, and an upper mid-range GPU.

To start with, we can easily satisfy these requirements with a mainstream AMD desktop CPU. We could also do it with an Intel mainstream desktop CPU. With either CPU vendor, there is no need to jump up to a more expensive high-end desktop (HEDT).

Building a $5000.00 Desktop Workstation
Compute and Capacity Limits

AMD Mainstream Desktop Build List (Low Budget)

It is pretty easy to meet all of these requirements, spending only about 60% of our budget. The parts I linked below totaled $3,105.00 on Amazon when I wrote this (and they were all in stock). We could easily squeeze $400-$500 off of this figure by choosing a lower cost 8C/16T Ryzen 7 3700X CPU, a lower cost B550 or X570 motherboard, and a less expensive power supply. Using a 4TB SSD (even a QLC NAND model) is also expensive on a per GB basis.

Gigabyte X570 AORUS Master
Gigabyte X570 AORUS Master

AMD Mainstream Desktop Build List (High Budget)

Lets try to spend a little more of that budget, and see what we can get. We can jump up to a new Zen 3 16C/32T Ryzen 9 5950X (if you can find one). Otherwise, you could grab an older Zen 2 Ryzen 9 3950X. We can use a slightly better CPU cooler, and get three 2TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe storage cards and a better 4TB SATA SSD. This takes us up to $3,872.00 (at the time of writing).

We are having a hard time spending that $5,000.00!

If you are determined to spend $5,000.00, you could (eventually) get a high-end NVIDIA RTX 3000 series or AMD Radeon 6000 series video card and easily burn up the rest of your budget. You could also get three 4TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus storage cards when they become available.

Another alternative would be moving up to an AMD HEDT platform, with a 24C/48T Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and a TRX40 motherboard. For many workloads, I would rather have a mainstream Zen 3 16C/32T Ryzen 9 5950X CPU. The main reason to go HEDT is to get double the memory capacity and more PCIe 4.0 lanes.

Final Words

If you don’t need the portability of a laptop, you can get a lot more capability and flexibility for considerably less money. I talked about this in more detail in this post, “5 Reasons Desktop PCs Are Better Than Laptops“. Even so, I know from personal experience, that many people simply prefer a laptop. I also know that many people also have absolutely no interest in building a desktop PC from parts.

My main point here is that you have options. If you are willing to build a desktop PC (or buy one with the appropriate components), you can get more performance and capacity for less money. You can also get a LOT more performance and capacity if you actually spend the same amount of money as you would on a high-end, fully loaded laptop. The most expensive laptop workstations can get very expensive.

Fully Loaded Dell Precision 7550
Fully Loaded Dell Precision 7550

If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerryThanks for reading!

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