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DigitalSorcery8
04-11-2012, 06:05 PM
Okay... I know there have been lots of threads about specific workstations specs - and I've perused through MANY of them. What I'd like to know is, which brand of workstation would YOU buy if you had the money. I'm talking anywhere from $3k to around $6k. I don't know if some would call that mid-level or what, but that's around the price range I'm considering. Not only for myself, but for a basic studio workstation. Essentially an "all-around" machine that will handle 3D, compositing & editing.

My initial base would be:

- 16gb RAM minimum (24gb preferable)
- SSD for applications
- nVidia video
- dual monitors

Essentially I'm asking which brand would YOU want to buy and why. I appreciate all recommendations. I'll also be looking at desks and chairs to round out the studio.

Thanks!

DigitalSorcery8
04-14-2012, 11:42 AM
What... no one has any ideas on a workstation brand and why?

Very strange.

Do you all just build your own or order from any generic computer-builder?

All of my machines with the exception of two I built myself. But I was thinking that if I were to need a number of powerful workstations, it would be far batter to have a proven company that optimizes these machines.

No one has any track record with higher-end computer-building companies?

No recommendations?

Celshader
04-14-2012, 02:09 PM
What... no one has any ideas on a workstation brand and why?

Very strange.

Do you all just build your own or order from any generic computer-builder?

All of my machines with the exception of two I built myself. But I was thinking that if I were to need a number of powerful workstations, it would be far batter to have a proven company that optimizes these machines.

No one has any track record with higher-end computer-building companies?

No recommendations?

Pardon, this is the first time I've seen this thread.

The large studio that currently employs me runs on Dell workstations, for what it's worth. My 1-year old workstation at work has two four-core Intel CPUs (16 virtual cores), 16GB of RAM and Windows 7. My husband works at a studio that uses mostly Intel-based Dell machines plus a few Intel-based Apple workstations that run Windows. I have not yet worked at a studio that uses AMD.

At home I prefer to build my own workstations out of parts ordered from Newegg. In the past I could save $$$ doing this. These days I accept that I am not saving money by building my own machine, since manufacturers like Dell can afford to buy parts in bulk and offer similar specs for lower prices. However, I do get to put exactly what I want into my machine.

My 2-year old workstation currently has 12GB of RAM and a 65W quad-core AMD Phenom II. I may upgrade this machine later this year. I also use Lian-Li cases because I like their design and build quality.

That said, you might prefer buying pre-built workstations that have warranties. I think businesses can get a discount on machines from Dell if they order enough machines. However, you might want to ask Dell about this.

Dexter2999
04-14-2012, 02:28 PM
I used to look around over at Boxx Technologies.
http://www.boxxtech.com/

But then their sales guys started calling me...I hate sales guys.

JonW
04-14-2012, 04:19 PM
I tell my small supplier basically what I want & they build it. I can buy the parts for about the same price so why bother putting it together myself.

For top end, a pair of 2687w CPU on Supermicro MB.
(the CPUs are expensive but for the whole box set up you actually get a lot of GHz per $)

Single CPU setup 3930k & if you want the maximum CPU performance in 1 box a 3960x.

Either box you can build to a tight budget, even the top one you can easily build for $140 per GHz if you don't waste money on things you don't really need.

DigitalSorcery8
04-14-2012, 05:01 PM
The large studio that currently employs me runs on Dell workstations, for what it's worth. My 1-year old workstation at work has two four-core Intel CPUs (16 virtual cores), 16GB of RAM and Windows 7. My husband works at a studio that uses mostly Intel-based Dell machines plus a few Intel-based Apple workstations that run Windows. I have not yet worked at a studio that uses AMD.
Fortunately I'm not too concerned with the processor type - AMD or Intel doesn't matter. Though I've heard nothing but good things about the i7's. I think that the Xeons are probably the best bet though.


At home I prefer to build my own workstations out of parts ordered from Newegg. In the past I could save $$$ doing this. These days I accept that I am not saving money by building my own machine, since manufacturers like Dell can afford to buy parts in bulk and offer similar specs for lower prices. However, I do get to put exactly what I want into my machine.
I've done exactly the same thing - Newegg has been great. I can't remember how many dozens of machines I've built from items ordered from Newegg. Rarely have I had a problem. I think I'm more concerned about time spent building and potentially troubleshooting any problems. Also having the system optimized for a 3D workflow.

That said, you might prefer buying pre-built workstations that have warranties. I think businesses can get a discount on machines from Dell if they order enough machines. However, you might want to ask Dell about this.
This is something that I've been seriously considering. Warranties and super-fast replacement for problems/breakdowns would be important. I would prefer NOT to have another $5k machine around just for a replacement. Then again, I can always use it in the renderfarm while it's waiting to be the replacement.

Have you had any problems with Dell workstations? I assume that LW works just fine and (hopefully) flies? :)


I used to look around over at Boxx Technologies.
http://www.boxxtech.com/

But then their sales guys started calling me...I hate sales guys.
Yes, I've been looking at Boxx as well as Alienware/Dell. Expensive for workstations but then again, they are optimized for 3D.

It's difficult to balance what I think we may need vs.the cost vs. the quality of the product. I guess my main reason for any consternation is I don't want any artist held back by their workstation. I realize some things still take time, but average tasks shouldn't be delayed by the workstation.


I tell my small supplier basically what I want & they build it. I can buy the parts for about the same price so why bother putting it together myself.
This is also a possible alternative. The important parts for me would be warranty and speed.


Either box you can build to a tight budget, even the top one you can easily build for $140 per GHz if you don't waste money on things you don't really need.
Hopefully my budget won't be so small that I have to seriously worry about skimping on any specs. I'm just very curious as to what others here on this forum have experienced and what you all would recommend.

Thanks - so far - for the recommendations! :thumbsup:

Celshader
04-14-2012, 07:38 PM
Have you had any problems with Dell workstations? I assume that LW works just fine and (hopefully) flies? :)

I have no complaints about the Dells I've used at work. LightWave, RealFlow, After Effects, Nuke and Maya all seem to run fine.

I did have some errors pop up with Maya 2011 on the Dell workstation, but they went away after updating to the latest nVidia drivers for the Quadro graphics card.

JonW
04-14-2012, 08:26 PM
I have being buying from my supplier for about 15 years (printers & most other stuff). Their computers have a 2 years warranty. Recently I took back a 4 year old computer that had stopped working. It turned out a hard drive was the problem. They put in 2 new hard drives (mirrored) & only charged me for the hardware. Can't ask for more than that!

I have even had my supplier visit to set up my network before I knew what I was doing & could not complain about the price.

A dual CPU box as mentioned earlier will be more reliable as all the components are designed for servers to run 24/365. If you use enterprise hard drives then you will have more insurance so to speak.


Find a small supplier in your area & build up a good working relationship.

DigitalSorcery8
04-14-2012, 08:35 PM
I have no complaints about the Dells I've used at work. LightWave, RealFlow, After Effects, Nuke and Maya all seem to run fine.

I did have some errors pop up with Maya 2011 on the Dell workstation, but they went away after updating to the latest nVidia drivers for the Quadro graphics card.
This is good to know. It's going to end up (most likely) between Dell and Boxx if I go the vendor build it route.

Thanks!

A dual CPU box as mentioned earlier will be more reliable as all the components are designed for servers to run 24/365. If you use enterprise hard drives then you will have more insurance so to speak.
This is also good advice - and something I would not have thought of regarding the harddrives.

Thanks!

biliousfrog
04-16-2012, 12:58 PM
I've got a Boxx, a couple of home builds and some rack servers from a UK server builder.

Home builds are great if you want cheap, maximum flexibility and have the time to build/maintain them. If you rely on a computer for your income it's probably not the best option unless you have another computer to use when something goes wrong.

I chose the BOXX because, at the time, they were the only company to produce VFX workstations who actually understood VFX software. Keep in mind that I'm in the UK, BOXX are in Texas (IIRC)...this wasn't something I considered lightly. One of the sales guys was a regular contributor on CGTalk, specifically the technical section, and I also spoke to another guy about my requirements before making the purchase. Now I know that HP, Dell, IBM and Apple (among others) make professional 'VFX' workstations but I dare you to call and ask them about Lightwave, Nuke, Houdini, Softimage, Modo etc. :D

I had an issue shortly after buying the BOXX, I can't remember what it was now, but I called them, had a brief chat about the apps I was using and they knew of a conflict with a piece of hardware and had already sourced a solution...that's what you need when you're working to a deadline. They also don't have a problem with you upgrading anything, the original components are still covered under warranty. They are also very well built...really solid cases which can be converted for rack use and are very well designed.

I had Dells in a previous job and my experience wasn't great. If you're happy to buy and leave alone then I'm sure they're fine but they only spec the PSU's to match what's installed when it leaves the production line. Don't expect to upgrade anything. The PSU's and motherboards aren't even a standard size so they can only be replaced by Dell's own. Also, they're a consumer/office oriented brand. They'll talk you through the instruction manual in broken English when something goes wrong but don't expect much beyond that. I can say that their Ultrasharp monitors are excellent though and the support for those is brilliant.

bobakabob
04-18-2012, 01:27 PM
I've used Dell workstations since the mid 90s and hardly ever had any problems. They still work. Customer support was superb. I did invest in Boxx several years ago but it was unreliable and noisy as hell :) Seems I was unlucky, they have a good reputation. Support was very good though I needed it far too often. It ended up on a skip, someone with good taste nicked the glorious casing. I didn't miss it.

Dexter2999
04-18-2012, 01:38 PM
I see Boxx is being used at the Newtek booth from the pics Rob Powers posted here...
http://forums.newtek.com/showthread.php?t=127525

monovich
04-18-2012, 02:00 PM
Boxx makes gravy stuff, it just comes at a premium. Depending on the money value of your time you may or may not "save" money going DIY or Dell.

Nicolas Jordan
04-18-2012, 02:46 PM
I recently opted to get a Asus G74 as replacement for my old Desktop machine for at home. A huge beast of a laptop but for the most part retains the power and speed of a desktop while having the option of portability.

DigitalSorcery8
04-18-2012, 08:36 PM
I chose the BOXX because, at the time, they were the only company to produce VFX workstations who actually understood VFX software. Keep in mind that I'm in the UK, BOXX are in Texas (IIRC)...this wasn't something I considered lightly. One of the sales guys was a regular contributor on CGTalk, specifically the technical section, and I also spoke to another guy about my requirements before making the purchase. Now I know that HP, Dell, IBM and Apple (among others) make professional 'VFX' workstations but I dare you to call and ask them about Lightwave, Nuke, Houdini, Softimage, Modo etc. :D
Yeah, I've read up quite a bit on Boxx. In fact several years ago I bought a 1U rackmount rendernode that I've still got, but it's just a little too loud and now it's slow as molasses. And I agree, most of these other system builders would have no idea what those apps are.

I had Dells in a previous job and my experience wasn't great. If you're happy to buy and leave alone then I'm sure they're fine but they only spec the PSU's to match what's installed when it leaves the production line. Don't expect to upgrade anything. The PSU's and motherboards aren't even a standard size so they can only be replaced by Dell's own. Also, they're a consumer/office oriented brand. They'll talk you through the instruction manual in broken English when something goes wrong but don't expect much beyond that. I can say that their Ultrasharp monitors are excellent though and the support for those is brilliant.
Dell is about the only other company I'd consider, but I don't like the proprietary nature of their systems - as you point out. And while they are probably fine machines, I don't think I'll go down that path. Well... unless of course my budget is severely limited. ;)

I've used Dell workstations since the mid 90s and hardly ever had any problems. They still work. Customer support was superb. I did invest in Boxx several years ago but it was unreliable and noisy as hell :) Seems I was unlucky, they have a good reputation. Support was very good though I needed it far too often. It ended up on a skip, someone with good taste nicked the glorious casing. I didn't miss it.
Yeah, as I said above, my Boxx rackmount was rather loud - but then I knew it wouldn't be too quiet anyway. And now I've heard that the system fans are better - especially for Workstations. I've liked Dell for years, but for me these Workstations need to kick some serious as$ and be reliable. For the number of Workstations we'll need (again, keeping budget in mind) I think we'll get some good service. :)

I see Boxx is being used at the Newtek booth from the pics Rob Powers posted here...
Good to know! :thumbsup:

Boxx makes gravy stuff, it just comes at a premium. Depending on the money value of your time you may or may not "save" money going DIY or Dell.
You got that right. If/when I get the ball rolling, time will be at a premium and I'd rather not waste time troubleshooting a number of systems. If it were one or two... maybe, but not 5, 6, 7 or more? Nah, I'd rather use my time elsewhere.

I recently opted to get a Asus G74 as replacement for my old Desktop machine for at home. A huge beast of a laptop but for the most part retains the power and speed of a desktop while having the option of portability.
I'm not even considering laptops - just beefy Workstations. :) Highend graphics card, 16 to 32gb of RAM and probably water-cooled.

Yeah... definitely leaning towards Boxx. Now... if my budget will allow it....:question:

-----------

Just thought of another question.

How does everyone at studios store their data? In my small home office I just use a NAS that all of the machines can access. It's a simple two terrabyte ShareCenter. Originally had a Western Digital 1TB MyBook NAS that died. But since we will be requiring lots more data stored, what would be the recommendation regarding storage? This is one area where I have severely limited knowledge and any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

biliousfrog
04-19-2012, 03:04 AM
Just thought of another question.

How does everyone at studios store their data? In my small home office I just use a NAS that all of the machines can access. It's a simple two terrabyte ShareCenter. Originally had a Western Digital 1TB MyBook NAS that died. But since we will be requiring lots more data stored, what would be the recommendation regarding storage? This is one area where I have severely limited knowledge and any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

I recently bought one of these HP Microservers: http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/uk/en/sm/WF02a/15351-15351-4237916.html?dnr=1

Only 139 after the cashback promo, 4 HD bays plus the optical bay, loads of USB ports for extra storage. I've got a system drive in the optical bay (I've seen people put 6xSSD's in there) and 4x2TB HD's (RAID 5) in the removable bays plus 8GB RAM. It's almost silent, looks cool and sits on a bookshelf next to my router, switch and printer.

I'm running Windows Home Server 2011 with Cloudberry Backup (http://www.cloudberrylab.com/) which backs up all the data to a Cisco NSS4000 stored in my garage with the render nodes. The NSS4000 was my primary shared storage before the microserver.

Cloudberry also allows automated backup to various cloud services.

DigitalSorcery8
04-19-2012, 02:50 PM
I recently bought one of these HP Microservers: http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/uk/en/sm/WF02a/15351-15351-4237916.html?dnr=1
Thanks for this!

I don't know which route we'll be going. If this production does go to series, we'll be requiring many TB's of space for each episode. And if we go the 3D route, it would be more.

This is a great starting point - thanks again!

GraphXs
04-19-2012, 03:11 PM
I use Dell Precisions T7500 (12 core) at work, and have a Dell Precision 690 (8core at home). Dell is a good brand, but they cost money. I used to build my own machines and that is the best way to go to save. I eventually want to get a new computer so I'm looking at these as possible turn-key solutions. Never had one by these companies, but I have done software business with them.

Liberty3D Computers

http://www.liberty3d.com/category/liberty3d-workstations/

SafeHarbor Computers

http://www.sharbor.com/build-yours/

They might be some good options!

jburford
04-19-2012, 03:16 PM
I personally would go for the HP Z600/800 lines, or full size Mac Pros running Windows. Good solid hardware. Used to be a Dell man years back, but switched over to HP primarily about 5-6 yrs back.

Lightwolf
04-19-2012, 05:48 PM
Depending on the size of the studio it might be worth it to just hire somebody dedicated to managing the hardware - that would include building it as well as taking care of the set-up including software.
From a certain size onwards a sys-admin is a good investment anyhow, might as well let that person take care of assembling the hardware.
Having said that... it won't be easy to find somebody who can deal with that.

Cheers,
Mike

DigitalSorcery8
04-19-2012, 06:26 PM
I use Dell Precisions T7500 (12 core) at work, and have a Dell Precision 690 (8core at home). Dell is a good brand, but they cost money. I used to build my own machines and that is the best way to go to save. I eventually want to get a new computer so I'm looking at these as possible turn-key solutions. Never had one by these companies, but I have done software business with them.

Liberty3D Computers

http://www.liberty3d.com/category/liberty3d-workstations/

SafeHarbor Computers

http://www.sharbor.com/build-yours/

They might be some good options!
Dell is still a possibility. Regarding Liberty3D, I'm not a fan of Shuttle computers and I think I'm leaning more towards Xeons as opposed to i7's. I hadn't thought of Safeharbor - I'll check them out as well.

Thanks!


I personally would go for the HP Z600/800 lines, or full size Mac Pros running Windows. Good solid hardware. Used to be a Dell man years back, but switched over to HP primarily about 5-6 yrs back.
No Macs. I'm used to dealing with PC's and have no desire to get into Mac hardware/software. I've had a few friends with HP's and not one of them enjoy their machines. I'm not against checking anything out, but Mac or HP would not be my first choices. But it's good to know that some people DO have a positive experience with these machines. Nothing on my end is written in stone until I receive my budget.

Depending on the size of the studio it might be worth it to just hire somebody dedicated to managing the hardware - that would include building it as well as taking care of the set-up including software.
From a certain size onwards a sys-admin is a good investment anyhow, might as well let that person take care of assembling the hardware.
Having said that... it won't be easy to find somebody who can deal with that.
I don't want to go there. I'd rather have an extra machine or two as backup for any serious problems. Even if I have a decent budget, I don't want to have the extra expense of a sys-admin - especially as a start-up studio. That said, perhaps down the line it may be a great solution - when we have the money.

Thanks! :thumbsup:

Andy Meyer
04-19-2012, 09:55 PM
i like synology nas. use them for many years and they never let me down.
they have nas available from 1 to 16 discs. with expansion cases you can have 100+tb with one nas.
i prefer a dual nas solution. one nas for work data, use 24/7 server disks. and a second nas for backup, use cheaper disks on this system. raid5 is good for 5-8 disks, if your nas has 8+ disks i would suggest raid6. i use a paired gbit connection from master switch to nas and switch to main workstation.
if you do massiv scene compositing you want your data on very fast local discs or san/das, not on nas.

DigitalSorcery8
04-19-2012, 11:44 PM
i like synology nas. use them for many years and they never let me down.
they have nas available from 1 to 16 discs. with expansion cases you can have 100+tb with one nas.
i prefer a dual nas solution. one nas for work data, use 24/7 server disks. and a second nas for backup, use cheaper disks on this system. raid5 is good for 5-8 disks, if your nas has 8+ disks i would suggest raid6. i use a paired gbit connection from master switch to nas and switch to main workstation.
Just checked out Newegg - looks like most reviews on Synology are pretty good. And they're definitely capable of large capacities. I have no idea how they handle data in small studios, but I'm thinking separate storage for each episode and a primary storage (with backup) for all 3D models and textures accessible to all Workstations.

if you do massiv scene compositing you want your data on very fast local discs or san/das, not on nas.
Yes, something else that needs to be addressed. Although I have done compositing accessing drives via USB and it is possible and not too problematic. However, I did not have very many items to composite so that is probably not the best test. I think that a NAS that can be accessed directly from the compositing workstation MAY be enough. But not being an expert I could be wrong. :)

Hieron
04-20-2012, 03:06 AM
if you do massiv scene compositing you want your data on very fast local discs or san/das, not on nas.

Still waiting for 10Gbe nic's here. Hope to solve that..

Andy Meyer
04-20-2012, 03:32 AM
Still waiting for 10Gbe nic's here. Hope to solve that..

there are a few from intel (Intel AT2, Intel X520-T2) and others.
you need a reeeeealy expensive switch and a serious nas that can deliver real world 10gbe.

but the problem is another topic. the OS only has "file level access" on shared network folders. on local storage the OS has "block level access". you can solve the problem with iscsi, but then you no longer can share a network folder with others directly...

but, yes, i'm waiting for 10gbe too :-)

Andy Meyer
04-20-2012, 04:35 AM
My initial base would be:

- 16gb RAM minimum (24gb preferable)
- SSD for applications
- nVidia video
- dual monitors

Essentially I'm asking which brand would YOU want to buy and why. I appreciate all recommendations. I'll also be looking at desks and chairs to round out the studio.

Thanks!

i build a 6000$+ workstation, so here is my planned 50+ ghz rig:
- 2 Xeon E5-2687W
- Asus Z9PE-D8 WS, Dual 2011
- Corsair Venegeance 1600 or 1866, 8 * 8 GB
- Enermax Platimax 1200 Watt PSU
- Samsung SSD 830Series 256GB system disc
- 4 Raptor 600GB raid 0 work disc
- 2 WD Caviar Black 2TB disc for local backup and temporary files
- win7ultimate 64bit
atm i didnt decide what cpu cooling and case i will use.
i will use my current gtx580 and wait for the gtx780.
1200 watt psu is for 2cpu and 2gpu, if you need only one gpu a 900-1000 watt psu is more than good.
this rig will sum up in a 50+ ghz workstation 16c/32t with 3.4ghz in all core turbo mode. the only bad thing is that intel fully locked the e5 xeons so no overclocking is possible.

monovich
04-20-2012, 11:57 AM
I just pulled the trigger on my new rig today.

i7 3930k (which I will overclock)
AS Rock X79 Extereme6 mobo
32 gb Gskill ram /w coolers ( can go 64gb in the 4 ram slots that are left if I need to later)
Rosewill 1000w psu
Plextor SSD. (great reviews!)
Corsair H100 liquid cooling
GTX 550 Ti
Raidmax Serian ATX-902WB case
Windows

Came out to 2016.00 shipped. For a reasonably priced workstation, I expect it to smoke my current AMD rig.

DigitalSorcery8
04-20-2012, 04:35 PM
Tough decisions.

I know that I won't be building these myself. I'm liking Safe Harbors' Tsunami Force workstations as well as Boxx and even Dell. I'll probably be talking with all three builders and trying to see how close I can get to an ideal machine. Right now the Tsunami's are ahead since I can get 32gb of RAM - which is REAL nice! Still... Boxx is 3D king and Dell's are slightly more affordable as far as I can see. At least there are choices available. :thumbsup:

rwhunt99
04-24-2012, 07:03 PM
You should be considering going with a server, something for storing content like images and textures and such, especially if you are going with 5+ machines. Use a RAID array for dependability, like a mirrored + striped array. This also works well with a render farm. you can use Microsoft Small Business Server or even Windows Home Media Server. This is a better set up than just using a NAS.

Don't recommend laptops, while they are great portability wise, not much upgrade capability, greater chance of damage or theft.

Would think about leasing also, better tax break, less upfront costs.

Dell used to be notorious with their proprietary systems, but now a days they have off the shelf parts in them. I am still burned about how they treated customers when they had a slew of bad capacitors on their MB's so I won't ever trust them.

Building them yourself, while not a real money saver, if you have any idea about computers, you can buy top quality parts, and build them yourself, especially when building 5 or more at the same time. With all the competition in computers, the parts is where they really cut corners, especially power supplies. Not sure what the best video cards are, there is a big debate on whether go with good gaming system vid card or a dedicated Nvidia Quadro.

I have my own computer repair/ small business consulting firm with about 20 years of experience.

DigitalSorcery8
04-24-2012, 08:40 PM
You should be considering going with a server, something for storing content like images and textures and such, especially if you are going with 5+ machines. Use a RAID array for dependability, like a mirrored + striped array. This also works well with a render farm. you can use Microsoft Small Business Server or even Windows Home Media Server. This is a better set up than just using a NAS.
I'm sure you're right. One thing I've not done is set up a server, but I'm sure that one of those we hire will know the basics. And yes, I was definitely thinking of RAID and redundant storage. And yes, we'll need LOTS of storage coming from the renderfarm!


Don't recommend laptops, while they are great portability wise, not much upgrade capability, greater chance of damage or theft.

Would think about leasing also, better tax break, less upfront costs.
:agree: No laptops! Working in an office, a nice desktop (underneath the desk) with at least two monitors is the way to go. Looking to get sit/stand desks as well. And leasing is already on my list - which I should be able to do with both the workstations AND renderfarm.


Dell used to be notorious with their proprietary systems, but now a days they have off the shelf parts in them. I am still burned about how they treated customers when they had a slew of bad capacitors on their MB's so I won't ever trust them.

Building them yourself, while not a real money saver, if you have any idea about computers, you can buy top quality parts, and build them yourself, especially when building 5 or more at the same time. With all the competition in computers, the parts is where they really cut corners, especially power supplies. Not sure what the best video cards are, there is a big debate on whether go with good gaming system vid card or a dedicated Nvidia Quadro.

I have my own computer repair/ small business consulting firm with about 20 years of experience.

I'm still not sold on any particular vendor, but Dell was on the list - albeit at the bottom. Boxx and Safe Harbor have killer machines, but they do cost quite a bit. Building my own would be fine if it were only a few workstations, but if we're talking six to eight or more... I'll go with the professionals and higher-end machines. And if leasing... it's not that much... right? 8~

Thanks for the info - MUCH appreciated!