If you are considering buying a computer for gaming, I’m sure you have noticed there is a wide variety of power and specialized configurations for you to choose from. Eliminating both laptops and standard desktops from the mix -- both unsuitable for the most popular video games – we’re left with workstations and gaming PCs. These two products are marketed to a clientele with specific performance requirements.
Workstations are designed for extremely complex computing tasks and are generally used by various professionals. They are assembled with computer hardware more powerful and sophisticated than what is typically found in a traditional gaming PC.
Two Kinds of Computers, Two Different Functions
Workstations are used in engineering, 3D modeling, graphics, animation, research, data management and deep learning. Although their specifications may vary slightly depending on the application, they are distinguished by processor power and an above average installed memory capacity. Since they are intended for continuous use in business environments, they benefit from specialized components that make them more efficient and more reliable.
Like the workstation, the gaming PC is more powerful than a standard desktop computer. Its components are optimized to meet the processing requirements needed to run different games and related applications.
The Main Differences Between Workstations and Gaming PCs
The differences between a workstation and a gaming PC reside mainly in their key components: CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage.
CPU: Central Processing Unit
The greatest dissimilarity between the two types of systems is essentially the power of the processor (CPU). Workstations can require processors with up to 32 cores and with a substantial memory to enable multitasking and the processing of large volumes of data.
These processors go well beyond what a gamer might need, unless they want to build a computer that can perform the same tasks as a workstation. For an optimal gaming PC, it is recommended to use an Intel® Core™ i7 processor.
GPU: Graphics Processing Unit
In a gaming-optimized system, it is rather the graphics processor that is the essential component. Although the GPU is becoming more important in workstations, a GPU for a workstation may not be the most appropriate for gaming.
If you want to build your own gaming computer and include some workstation features, such as 3D modeling, video editing, and graphics, two models are best: NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon RX. They are both suitable for gaming and intensive computing tasks.
Standard workstations usually contain between 32 or 64 GB, while high-end machines can reach 128 GB and beyond. Some of them rely on different features such as error-correcting code (ECC), which improves program stability and prevents data corruption.
In most cases, as little as 8 GB of RAM should be enough for smooth and fast gaming PC. ECC RAM is usually not worth buying because it uses more power, creates more heat, and costs more without increasing performance. Depending on your motherboard, your gaming PC may refuse to boot.
Storage: Hard Drive
Although modern workstations favor the use of SSDs (solid-state drive) as the primary means for storing information, Workstations are usually configured with several terabytes of space to allow users to handle a large volume of data.
In any case, the storage capacity of the workstation is generally much greater than that of Gaming PCs. Gamers often use a SSD for the operating system, and HDD (hard disk drive) for data.
Workstations are among the most powerful computers on the retail market, it makes sense that they could be used for gaming. However, performance gains will depend essentially on the GPU. To perform both types of functions, in which case you will need an NIVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro graphics card.
Conversely, a gaming PC can be used as a workstation only under certain limited situations, depending on the lower-performance needs of the user. Many players use their computers for both work and pleasure. In this case, it is strongly recommended to build a system that’s suitable for your requirements, integrating essential elements for both workstations (CPU, RAM and storage performance) and gaming (optimized GPU).