We know there are many people out there who wish to plan and own a build that can do it all. Gaming PC builds are easy but workstation focused systems need to take many more variables into deep consideration. What are the applications that you’re going to run? Do they benefit from single-core or multi-core performance? Can they scale well to many threads? Can CUDA accelerate performance in mentioned applications? Will I have enough RAM capacity and speed for my intended work? These are all questions may seem tiring at first but that is absolutely important for the success of your build. Today we will focus on answering these questions as concise as we can while building a high-performance machine capable of handling workstation tasks.
This is a great time to do such a build, thanks to the introduction of the RTX 3000 series which brings a new architecture, improved number of CUDA/Tensor cores and many new features. If we were to attempt building during the past generation, we would have to stick with an RTX 2080 Ti or a professional card in order to get amazing performance with the system. The RTX 3070 graphics card is announced to be on par or better than the previous generation’s flagship, the RTX 2080 Ti, while having more hardware horsepower for a workstation system; and all that, for $499. When compared to the $1,199 of the previous flagship, that’s a huge leap in price/performance that consumers can enjoy in more accessible builds.
Among the most important performers of this build, we have the Ryzen 9 3900X which is AMD’s 12 core and 24 threads consumer CPU based on their Matisse micro architecture. It may be an year old now but its still a performance king in its price segment and value is getting better and better with current price cuts. For $430 you are getting ultimate performance in the segment, easily beating Intel’s top end 10900K consumer CPU, overshadowed only by the much more expensive Ryzen 9 3950X. Built on TSMC’s very efficient and dense 7nm process, the 3900X not only offers never seen before levels of single and multi core performance but also does it at a low and manageable power consumption; that itself bodes very well for a silent and stable build.
Lets get to the full list of components though because there are other exciting and carefully selected components that will ensure great and valuable performance for your money!
Best RTX 3070 Workstation PC Build – The Parts List
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X||$429|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-D15S||$79|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X570 AORUS ELITE WIFI||$199|
|Memory||G.Skill Ripjaws V 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 Memory||$139|
|Storage||Sabrent Rocket 4.0 1 TB M.2-2280 NVME SSD||$199|
|Storage||Crucial MX500 1 TB 2.5" SSD||$99|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070||$499|
|PC Case||Phanteks Eclipse P300A Mesh||$66|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master MWE Gold 650 W 80+ Gold||$105|
|Case Fan||Corsair AF120 (3-Pack)||$39|
The 12 Core Ryzen 9 3900X Processor
We are going to use this processor as a very fit pairing with the RTX 3070 card. Of course, other pairings will work even better if you have other use cases but for the system we decided to build today, the Ryzen 9 3900X and RTX 3070 will provide the main horsepower. If you are looking for an even more high end system, namely with a 3950X and RTX 3090, then you can check our enthusiast workstation article that features those exact two!
First and second generation Ryzen processors may have a reputation of being picky about memory speeds, timings and their overall stability was not a strong point; you needed high end Samsung B-Die modules in order to hit 3,200MHz and up. The off die memory controller design in the new Ryzen 3000 CPUs has allowed CPUs like the Ryzen 9 3900X to claim a much higher sweet spot of 3,733MHz; they managed all this by optimizing trace routing to the processor and decoupling the memory frequency from the Infinity Fabric (IF) clock. For newcomers, the IF is a proprietary system interconnect architecture that facilitates data and control transmission across all linked components; in shorter words, it allows AMD to scale their CPUs in core count much more easily than the competition, this allowing incredible performance and pricing, like the case with the Ryzen 9 3900X.
This is it, we live in a great time for consumer CPUs because for the first time in over a decade AMD is essentially on top of the consumer CPU race and much like in the Athlon 64 days, Intel has no meaningful response on their road map. We’re not bashing any company here as that’s not our interest but the Ryzen lineup, especially with the 3000 series has brought back fierce competition to the market and we, as consumers, will only have to profit from it. Intel is going to have to slash their prices in order to stay competitive and that will give us great processors from both companies.
The Ryzen 9 3900X is an exceptionally well engineered CPU. It may be an year old now but its as powerful as ever in the consumer space, efficient and cheaper thanks to price cuts; this allows it to be the star of this highly focused workstation build. Even though the Ryzen 9 3900XT launched this year with a few tweaks, the performance is largely the same and its easy to argue that the 3900X is still the 12 core to buy.
One of the best air coolers on the market: The Noctua NH-D15S
The Noctua NH-D15S is a modified variant of the well-known NH-D15 that increases overall compatibility with smaller factor systems such as mini ITX or Micro ATX. This is one of the reasons why we’re choosing it for this build since in a workstation, memory clearance is very important if you want to use a lot of memory channels. The visual difference between the regular and the S version is the usage of a single 140 millimetre Noctua fan. The heat sink and heat pipes have a slightly offset layout and its done, again, to create more space for the PCIe slots of the motherboard, as well as for RAM clearance.
The fins are made from untreated aluminum and the heat pipes are nickel-plated copper, a material known to transfer heat very well. Cooling wise the NH-D15S performs well with the 12 core Ryzen 9 3900X, the temperature never exceeding 78 degrees Celsius. This cooler’s silent operation and ability to maintain your CPU in check for long bursts of performance warrants it a great recommendation for a workstation build where you don’t want to be disturbed or interrupted with any noise or cooling issues. Also remember that Noctua products age very well thanks to the company providing free upgrade kits for any future modification to a socket. The Noctua NH-D15S is the high-end Noctua CPU cooler with just one fan and sacrificed a bit of cooling performance in order to provide even more silent operation. That’s a worthy trade for a workstation-grade build and its why we’ve went with an air cooler instead of a LCS (Liquid Cooling Solution); the pump and fan noises of a water cooler may get in the way of your work.
The GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Elite WIFI motherboard
|Voltage Regulator Module||12 + 2 phase|
|USB Ports||USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps): 2x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps): 4x Type-A USB 2.0: 4x Type-A|
|M.2 Slots||2 x PCIe 4.0 x4 / SATA + PCIe|
|Ethernet Controllers||Intel GbE LAN|
The X570 AORUS Elite comes will the most important bells and whistles a motherboard should have. Two M.2 cooled slots and 6 SATA 6GB/s ports are responsible for the high-performance storage solution; we’ll get to it in just a second.
We also like this board for its feature-packed yet well laid out BIOS and that its PCIe 4.0 ready, boding well with the RTX 3070 graphics card that is ready to take full advantage of this new standard.
32GBs of high performance 3600MHz CL16 DDR4 memory
We could get away with 16GB memory kits on a gaming focused build but a workstation PC is a whole different beast. Many applications that you’re going to run on your system are going to be very hungry on RAM so we are recommending at least 32GBs of good memory with such a beefy build. depending on your exact use case, you may need even more than that; you need to do your research before buying too little or way too much memory. The capacity we’re recommending here is a sweet spot for such a build as it can easily handle a rendering or content creation machine but more specialized applications may go well over that.
The low 8.889 memory latency of this G.Skill Ripjaws V RAM kit will also aid overall performance and snappiness of your Ryzen 9 3900X thanks to the improvements it brings to the Infinity Fabric speed. The G.Skill kit is very fast at stock but its also highly tweakable and can definitely achieve better performance if you’ll be willing to push it with some more voltage.
Dual Channel memory is also mandatory at this budget and level of performance. Shy away from single DIMMs because you’ll be losing on half the bandwidth of a Dual Channel memory kit. 64GB or even 128GB kits are supported on the X570 motherboard chipset and its best to achieve those capacities with 2 x 32GB or 4 x 32GB.
Fast and big capacity storage: Sabrent Rocket 4.0 M2 1TB + Crucial MX500 SATA 1TB
The storage needs for a high-end content creation machine consist of the fastest storage drive that you can afford for the OS and application drive and plenty of secondary capacity for your workstation files, renders, resources and so on. Without breaking the bank, we are powering this build’s operating system using a Sabrent Rocket 4.0 M.2 drive which brings a performance edge and sense of snappiness to your system. It used the Phison E12s controller which is popular for its pairing with the 96 layer TLC flash by Micron. The massive performance uplift for random writes, even at low queue depths is due to a DRAM chip that is available as very fast temporary storage for the drive’s internal mapping tables. In other words, you can expect very few, if any, slowdowns even in the most hardcore usage scenarios. The throttling aspect is handled by a copper foil-based heat spreader which helps the drive run at max speed 4 times longer than without a thermal dissipation solution.
For the secondary device, we will be using a SATA solution that is known for its great stability even in the hardest read/write situations. Thanks to its DRAM cache implementation, the Crucial MX 500 1TB never slows down from its rated speeds and that is more important for a secondary storage drive. Being able to constantly and reliably access resources at a known pace is of utmost importance in a workstation build and this is why we’re recommending this storage device. Of course, if you feel like you won’t have enough capacity with these, then you can go to the 2 TB version of the MX500 and even then, if not enough, you can use multiple .We can’t know for sure what your storage needs are so we’re just recommending what most users will use for an enthusiast workstation PC.
The RTX 3070 Graphics Card
The RTX 3070 promises to perform like an RTX 2080 Ti for $499 which is the range-topping performance from one generation ago. If we were to believe Nvidia’s claims, this is one big leap in generational performance and that would make the 3070 have serious acceleration horsepower for a workstation system. Based on the GA104 die and built on Samsung’s 8nm process, the card supports hardware raytracing, variable-rate shading and its increased number of CUDA cores will surely push its compute performance way over what we’re used to in the $499 – $699 sector. The GA104 chip has a large die area of 392 mm², 17,400 million transistors and features 5888 shading units, 184 TMUs and 64 ROPs. The power connector for this GPU has been redesigned for this generation and Nvidia includes a dongle with the 3070 in order to assure compatibility with any PSU; it draws power from a 1 x 12 pin connector with power draw ratings of up to 220 W. Display outputs include 1 x HDMI, 3 x DisplayPort and 1 x USB-C on some models.
Its new PCIe 4.0 x16 interface means that this card supports and prefers PCI Express 4.0 enabled motherboards like the B550 and X570 chipsets. Currently, only AMD with their AM4 platform support PCIe 4.0 and it is not known yet if the difference between PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 will affect performance; we’re using an X570 chipset with a Ryzen 9 3900X so we don’t have anything to worry about anyway.
Available October 15th 2020, the RTX 3070 is truly a step forward in price/performance, equaling the RTX 2080 Ti for a fraction of the price. It will come in both Founder’s Edition and AIB models but availability won’t be great, especially at launch.
Great airflow case: The Phanteks Eclipse P300A Mesh
This Mid Tower, the Eclipse P300A Mesh, is a new case from Phanteks that drastically improves on airflow when compared to other similarly priced cases. Its also in the name; the A from P300A stands for airflow! We are loving this case because it comes with many features that are found in products with a much higher price tag. Great airflow, solid metal build, an edge to edge tempered glass panel, space for additional fans and lots of space for cable management; what’s not to like?
Many cases at this price range went the route of crazy designs and RGB paired with plastics all over the place; like people usually say, lights improve frame rates, right? Well, we don’t want to be those guys but RGB certainly doesn’t, and workstation builds need to be silent and reliable. This case is a great example of that because with its engineered in such a way to make your build and maintenance processes easier; that’s of utmost importance for most people. The P300A is a simple product packed with quality features and a well thought layout. Its front panel is not closed but it features a mesh material with dust filters that allow air to freely pass through the build, cooling it and maintaining the consistent performance of your other components.
- Dimensions: 400 x 250 x 455 mm (D x W x H)
- Form Factor: ATX Mid Chassis
- Compatibility : CPU Cooler Max height 176 mm | GPU Max length 355 mm
We’ve also added a 3 Fan pack from Corsair in order to supplement the included fan in this case. We’re going for a 2 intake / 2 outtake configuration for the cooling and the Corsair AF120 120mm 3-Pack is perfect for this; quality and nicely built fans without breaking the bank.
The Cooler Master MWE Gold 650 W 80+ Gold Certified: A proper PSU for this build’s powering needs
For proper efficiency, we want the average load power consumption of the system to be in the range of 40 to 60% of what a PSU can output and this is why we’ve went with a Gold certified unit. The current must be delivered and handled without any spikes and we can trust Cooler Master on the quality of their PSUs.
The MWE 650W Gold doesn’t really need an introduction. Its reputable manufacturer, Cooler Master, is a long present top company that has established themselves for their quality and over the top support and warranty. Together with full modularity and a long history of faultless units, the Cooler Master MWE 650 W will fit in perfectly with this build. All cables scream quality, are nicely sleeved and can be used in any combination without crowding the case, all thanks to modularity. The Full Modular type of this power supply also helps with cable management which is mandatory if you want to have an easy way of maintaining your build in the future. The available included cable connectors are as follows:
- Dimensions (L X W X H): 160 x 150 x 86 mm
- ATX connector 20+4 pin: 1
- CPU 12V 4+4 PIN connectors: 1
- 6+2 pin PCIe cables: 4
- SATA Connectors: 8
- Power & Cooling: Active PFC & 120mm fan
We hope that the past few sections have been informative enough in order for you to be ready to order your next workstation build. The Ryzen 9 3900X and RTX 3070 combo is probably one of the most desired combos right now for a workstation build thanks to the sheer amount of power you’re getting for around $1,700. Previously a build with such capabilities would’ve cost closer to the $2,500 price point.
Technology is advancing generation by generation and we get the ability to leverage more and more work to a system in order to parallelize and achieve results faster. At $1,700, the investment in such a build is definitely not as huge as few years back and the performance gained from this build will help decrease the amount of work and waiting a content creator has to do; money well spent we believe!
If you have any questions or concerns about the components or choices in this build, we always love to answer questions in the comments section below.