Building My Next Workstation–Part 1

It’s been four years – maybe more – since I last bought a workstation to use for development and lab work. It’s served me well since then, hasn’t changed much, but is slow by the standards of what I use today even in my laptop. When I bought the last one it was to host one main environment and a VM or two. The VM’s changed a lot, the base OS and config did not, and I think that has been a mistake. I need to treat it as something that can wiped at any time and all of it rebuilt as needed.

The last machine I bought from CyberPowerPC. If you think Dell allows you to customize a PC you’ll be either intrigued or aggravated with the amount of customization you can do there (also on You can pick the case, the motherboard, the processor, and just about everything else. The prices are not bad (though not cheap) and you get it delivered to you ready to go. I like these sites because I get more options, but also because I can opt out of buying the OS license which I already have via my MSDN subscription.

As useful as those sites are, this time I’m planning to build from scratch. Why? There are a handful of things that drove the decision:

  • I’ve never built one from the ground up. Over the years I’ve replaced every kind of part a PC has, but I’ve never had to do the homework to see what kind of cost/benefit is there on various pieces and I’ve never cabled one.
  • I’ve been reading CPU Magazine for a couple of years from now. It’s mostly gamer/super power user oriented, hard to not get workstation lust from reading it. It’s free online,but you can also get free print copies from TigerDirect (Compusa) stores.
  • I’m hoping that putting all the pieces together will interest my kids,though I think they care more about what it does than how it works right now.

Over the next couple weeks I’m going to write about the research and purchases that lead to the final machine and try to wind up with a recipe you can follow, or at least a baseline you can use to figure out if its worth your time to build vs checking the boxes on a configurator menu.

My guess is I’ll make some mistakes along the way. I’m writing that now so I can remember it when I make a mistake that costs me some money!

One thought on “Building My Next Workstation–Part 1

  1. Other than my very first computer (an early 286) I””””ve built all the desktop computers I””””ve owned. I got my kids involved in building them with me as soon as they were old enough to hold a screw driver. My girls have moved on to other interests over the years but my son has stuck with me. He””””s 10 now and he””””s not a bit afraid to crack the case on any of our computers. I””””ve heard stories of him doing the same to the computers at his elementary school when they break. I couldn””””t be more proud!

    I””””ve used laptops almost exclusively for the last couple years, but here lately I””””ve been thinking of building a new desktop for a home lab. I””””m looking forward to reading about how your project works out.


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