The following article will focus on an enthusiast-grade workstation build which is up to date with late 2020 standards. Such a PC will fit very well in a developer/artist/producer/content creator or streamer’s arsenal as its both CPU and GPU strong in any application you may want to throw at it. Fast, plenty and upgradeable amounts of RAM and storage are some of the other highlights here which make this build or other PCs based on these same parts the most powerful build the mainstream workstation market has
Among the most important performers of this build, we have the Ryzen 9 3950X which is AMD’s 16 core 32 threads consumer CPU based on their Matisse microarchitecture. This is simply the most powerful desktop CPU that can fit on a consumer socket, namely AM4, and is also priced accordingly to its level of performance. Bringing the ultimate performance to the mainstream market has been a long pursued endeavor of AMD’s and they managed to break all expectations with this industry-leading chip while also introducing new exclusive feature sets like bandwidth doubling PCIe 4.0. Built on a very efficient and dense 7nm process, the 3950X not only offers never seen before levels of single and multi core performance but also upsets Intel’s position in high-end desktops and disrupts their extreme HEDT in the process.
The other hero in this build is Nvidia’s newly launched RTX 3090 Graphics Card based on the Ampere architecture. Apparently, this will be the Titan of this generation and rightly so at the steep price of $1,499. Availability of this GPU will begin on the 24th of September and stocks are going to be low at first. Though, don’t let that discourage you because the RTX 3090 is a serious piece of engineering as its aimed to the workstation PC market more than the gaming market (though find our RTX 3090 gaming PC build here).
Ryzen 9 3950X+ RTX 3090 Workstation PC Build – The Parts List
The 16 Core Ryzen 9 3950X Processor
In the past, people had to decide between building a mainstream PC or a high-end workstation PC because historically, its been very clear cut; if constrained by a budget and interested in gaming then a consumer would opt for a mainstream CPU. if a user is otherwise looking to get into high compute work and have the budget for it, they would definitely look into high-end desktop, namely HEDT. AMD has been blurring this line over the course of recent years by bringing more cores and multi-threaded performance to the mainstream market. With the Ryzen 9 3950X, that line has disappeared almost completely. This is what we are building here today, a high-performance desktop PC with a CPU capable of HEDT performance; coincidentally, this processor also belongs to the mainstream market and that’s great news!
Not everyone needs 32 processing threads but some definitely do. People will put their dollars in what gives them the best gaming performance if that’s their focus. On the other hand, users that want to edit, create or use ML/training are going to look at content creation focused hardware. There’s also added incentive in the business world thanks to the ability to gain a return of investment in the time used to compute certain tasks. Take for example a video editor who would very much love to spend 30-40% more on a CPU that is able to halve his render times, thus paying off in long term.
The Ryzen 9 3950X is an exceptional CPU and one of the stars of this highly focused workstation build. Don’t be fooled by our workstation talk though as this processor can also put out some of the best gaming frame rates on the market, especially when paired with the other star in this build, the RTX 3090.
CPU AIO Liquid cooler
ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280
This AIO cooler presents one of the best value and performance levels on the market. Outperforming much more expensive and flashy liquid coolers like the NZXT Kraken X62, this product is aimed at people who want a very capable CPU cooler in their system with very acceptable noise levels and good warranty; and oh boy does it deliver! The Liquid Freezer II has integrated cable management within fully sleeved tubes for a clean look in your PC’s case. Its also thicker than other solutions thanks to its 317 x 138 x 38 housing dimensions.
With a simple installation thanks to the wiring being hidden inside the tube sleeve, cable management is a breeze and the only cable you can see is the 4-pin fan connector thus leaving your case uncluttered. For this very affordable solution that provides stellar cooling results and silent operation you get a nice, sleek-looking, liquid cooler without RGB functionality. A not so big drawback is that you can’t monitor the exact RPM of the fans because the pump and VRM fan are linked together.
Here at PremiumBuilds we’re all about performance and you can know for a fact that we’re not going to recommend something that has more form than function; this is why this chart-topping LCS makes our recommended list for this build. In testing, it blew our mind and impressed us in every aspect and even if this Liquid Cooler’s MSRP sits around $80, it does still make a lot of sense to buy even if you can’t find it for that price.
The MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon
As its name probably suggests, the MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon includes a black carbon design with a chipset heatsink, standard to the X570 motherboards; two more heatsinks are fitting the two M.2 slots. There are four RAM slots in the top right-hand corner of the PCB with support for up to 128 GB DDR4-4400 memory. 6 SATA ports, 4 of which are right-angled and 2 straight angled complete the ample storage capabilities. PCIe 4.0 capable slots are also a great selling point for AMD’s X570 boards since they operate at double the throughput of PCIe 3.0, allowing for insanely fast storage or GPU devices to be present.
The RTX 3090 graphics card that we’re using in this build recommends the use of a PCIe 4.0 capable motherboard and this is why this combo is such a great fit for a workstation. This board is WiFi-6 ready and MSI included Intel’s new AX200 802.11ax Wi-Fi adapter with speeds capable of up to 2.4 Gbps; antenna ports are included on the rear panel.
The ample I/O consists of 3 x USB 3.1 G2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 G2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1 G1 Type-A and 2 x USB 2.0 ports. Besides those, MSI includes a BIOS Flashback buttons, mainly useful for users who like to have peace of mind when tweaking their system to its limits; this feature allows the BIOS to be reverted to a safe backup if something goes wrong while tweaking.
32GBs of high performance 3600MHz CL16 DDR4 memory
Especially because its workstation focus, this build clearly needs the capacity and speed of a high RAM kit in order to provide the necessary performance in any high load situation, be it rendering, developing, machine learning or powering several Virtual Machines. The amount of memory needed for such a build will definitely vary from user to user but we’ve found a nice sweet spot with the Trident Z Neo Dual Channel RAM kit. 32GBs of capacity should be enough for the largest percentage of workstation enthusiasts while the 3600MHz CL16 stock values will aid the CPU with the low latency of 8.889ns. This kit can be further tuned to achieve even better latencies but that counts as overclocking; it’s definitely nice to also have great out of the box performance.
Content creation, rendering, gaming while streaming and other various multi-core applications will eat memory like crazy and this RAM kit will definitely make sure there’s always some free capacity in order for the system not to slow down. For very focused builders that know the memory needs of specific applications that they will be using, we recommend getting an even bigger RAM kit if 32GBs is running it too close for comfort. 64GB or even 128GB kits are supported on the X570 motherboard chipset, should you need the extra horsepower.
The base storage needs for such a high end system
The Sabrent Rocket M.2 1TB is targeted at more demanding users who want higher performance across all use scenarios. It uses the highly popular Phison E12s controller paired with a 96-layer TLC flash made by Micron. A DRAM chip is available which is used as very fast temporary storage for the drive’s internal mapping tables. This allows for a massive performance difference for random writes and it impresses in tests that write a lot of data, even at low queue depths which are typical for today’s consumer workloads, making it a great performer as both an OS drive and main applications drive. Sabrent also includes a copper foil on its M2 that acts as a heat spreader; this helps throttling by quadrupling the time this drive can operate at max speed before lowering its performance by a bit.
For the secondary storage device, we will be using another popular SSD, in the form of the Crucial MX500 1Tb; we like this device a lot for its inexpensive fast storage that never slows down thanks to its DRAM cache. Again, like the case with the memory capacity, certain people will need more storage in their systems for various niches or applications. Depending on that, you should adjust your storage needs based on what you want from your system but these two devices will work very well together for a workstation build and the majority of builders will find their speeds and capacity suiting for them. We can’t know for sure what your storage needs are so we’re just recommending what most users will use for an enthusiast PC.
The RTX 3090 Graphics Card
This newly launched graphics card is based on the new Ampere architecture and promises to deliver the highest levels of performance in the consumer sector. The large GA102 graphics processor has a die area of 628 mm² and 28,000 million transistors, features 10496 shading units, 328 texture mapping units and 112 ROPs. Its a behemoth of a card with a suitable price tag of $1,499 MSRP. Its 328 improved tensor cores and 82 ray tracing units can be used to heavily accelerate various applications through the CUDA platform. NVIDIA has paired 24 GB of cutting edge GDDR6X memory connected through a 384 bit memory interface which may come in very helpful in many VRAM hungry software suites.
A beefy cooling solution has been attached to this card in order to combat its rather high power draw of 350W, supplied through the 12 pin power connector. This is why this build will include a high wattage and high tier PSU that will be able to handle this beast at any load levels.
Available September 24 2020, the RTX 3090 is truly a powerhouse for a workstation build and will come in both Founder’s Edition and AIB models. Availability won’t be great and some hunting is recommended if you want to get your hands on this GPU, especially at launch.
One of the best airflow cases on the market right now: The Lian Li Lancool II Mesh RGB
Combining the Lian Li Lancool II Mesh case’s front mesh panel, the 3 included PWM front fans and the 2 additional case fans in this build, you’ll have one of the best cases for airflow on the market. Silent operation and building ease are some of the great focuses of this build and it truly delivers to its word. It doesn’t feature any fancy design elements aside from the Lian Li logo at the bottom of the mesh panel but the slick looks and great lines are enough to make it stand out.
The tempered glass panels swivel outwards and are hold closed firmly with magnets making opening your system dead simple; it also screams quality. The Lancool II Mesh also has a very thoughtful internal layout, making it easy to accommodate all sorts of hardware combinations. The main motherboard compartment doesn’t bring any surprises, and there is room to install two 2.5-inch drives behind the motherboard tray along with three 3.5-inch drives in the HDD caddy under the PSU shroud.
Overall, this premium case ticks all boxes needed for such a capable workstation build; it has great airflow, its ready for our recommended hardware combination and its also beautifully designed!
Dimensions: 478 x 229 x 494 mm (D x W x H)
Compatibility : CPU Cooler Max height 176 mm | GPU Max length 384 mm | PSU Max length 210 mm
Included Fans: Included 3 x 120 mm Front RGB PWM.
The Corsair RMx 850W: A proper high tier PSU for this build’s powering needs
Its no easy task to make something as high quality as this PSU is and keep perfecting it with every revision but Corsair managed to do it with the RMx 850W. It competes with the likes of EVGA’s Supernova G3 which is also a very high tier PSU. The final result is fully satisfactory, achieving higher performance in the cooling and safety department while also being smaller by the previous revision. It is very quiet and its full modularity means you’ll be able to just use the cables you strictly need for this build; that is a great plus for cable management.
Among other PROs of this unit are the well sleeved cables, the compact and good build quality and the ultra high 10 year warranty, making it a very reliable Power Supply for multiple builds during its lifetime.
Dimensions: 152 x 87 x 162mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 1.66 kg
Form Factor: ATX12V v2.4, EPS 2.92
Cooling: 135mm Rifle Bearing Fan
This section concludes our enthusiast workstation build which hosts a mighty Ryzen 9 3950X & RTX 3090 combo. Absolutely no corners have been cut in the making of this build though the ~$3300 price can be discouraging for some. If you have the means to use all the power of this build, you’ll be very happy with how this build will literally make your work a breeze; technology is advancing generation by generation and together with it, the ability to leverage more and more of our work to a system thus making our creation process easier and faster; also, multi-core performance and CUDA capability are at the highest levels.
The RTX 3090 build is more than an all-rounder. We are living in great technology times thanks to the ample competition in the market and this system’s components push every boundary forward. It would be easy to go overboard on price with an enthusiast build while reaching much steeper prices but we feel that this list ticks every box with its carefully chosen components. Its truly accessible for the people that can use it and it would be a real challenge to find a better performing PC at this price point; that’s right, anywhere else in the market.
If you have any questions about the components and choices in this build, we love to answer questions in the comments section below. The RTX 3090 may be hard to get, especially at launch but all the other components are already established on the market; sales for them are already present within many markets, including the 3950X which is now down in price in anticipation of the new Ryzen 4000 series.