If you have ever experienced shopping for a PC, you have probably come over a few common terminologies like gaming PC, workstation, entertainment etc. However, it can get quite tricky to understand what sort of hardware either one of these houses inside of them. The vast number of terminologies usually confuse buyers, but don’t you worry as we will make it clear for you.
The differences between a gaming PC and a workstation might be substantial. However, most of the differences depend on the use difference between the two. We’ll break down every point you need to know to give you a clear picture of what each different type of computer offers. So, let’s head in.
What’s a Workstation?
A workstation is a computer mainly used by professionals to perform intense computational tasks. These tasks may range from rendering animations, running 3D modelling programs, or just for research purposes. Whatever the task it is, these users require a little extra power on their computer compared to a regular average PC. The extra power is used to run major heavy programs smoothly and swiftly.
Some of the main features you’ll find on a workstation are powerful processors and a lot of RAM compared to your average PC. The build quality might also be far superior to keep everything in place and make the computer more durable. The parts of a workstation are constructed while keeping in mind the expectancy of perpetual use. Workstations are built to carry out major tasks and sustain performance over time.
What’s a Gaming PC?
Like a workstation, a gaming PC is also built more robust than an average PC. A gaming PC is built to run the heaviest games with ease to provide the best experience for users. High-end games require powerful software and hardware.
This is why a gaming PC is loaded with some of the most powerful parts, and you’ll see substantial differences in the performance of a gaming PC and an average non-gaming PC. The differences between a gaming PC and a workstation are also quite evident and vary from one component to another.
Workstation vs Gaming PC: The Ultimate Matchup
Let’s break down the major differences between a gaming PC and a workstation to see how both round up.
The main difference between a workstation and a gaming PC can favor either side, depending on the PC you’re using. A gaming PC usually has a more premium price to performance ratio compared to a workstation. So if you compare some of the top workstations and gaming PCs, you’ll ultimately find the price to performance ratio favoring the gaming PC. However, this may not always be the case in certain comparisons.
When you talk about stability, you’ll find that the workstations are built entirely different. However, stability is of paramount importance on a workstation as instability may cause major inconveniences and waste of time. Take an example, you’ve been working for hours designing a 3D model, and suddenly your computer crashes. Wouldn’t you want to smash your computer to the ground for wasting your hard work?
Nowadays, professional computer hardware manufacturers have been working closely with ISVs to ensure their hardware runs as stable as possible when running major applications. This minimizes instability and errors to prevent any inconvenience from happening. Furthermore, the drivers and hardware’s are tested extensively to eliminate such instabilities to the greatest extent.
Versatility is a great feature you will find more pronounced on a gaming PC. A gaming PC can almost perform any task besides gaming, such as video editing, photo editing, graphic designing, and modelling plus animation.
You might as well have a 16 core CPU that gives out wonderful single-core speeds, a RAM that makes full use of DDR4 capabilities, a GPU with up to 24 GB of memory, and lighting fast PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSDs in a single gaming build. Most gamers aim to load their gaming PC with the latest hardware to future proof their rigs and prolong the life of their PC hardware. This also gives enhanced performance and provides a brilliant experience.
On the other hand, if you use a workstation as a gaming PC, the performance you’ll get will mostly be sub-optimum. You might have a workstation with components way more expensive than a gaming PC, but they’ll usually fail to provide a gaming experience as brilliant as a dedicated gaming PC.
A workstation is built to last and has great endurance if you consider a workstation. However, this is less of a concern for gamers as the gaming hardware keeps frequently upgrading, almost on a yearly basis. Therefore, overclocking your CPU, GPU, or RAM might not improve the intended lifespan.
Professional hardware for a workstation must always be built to provide reliability. Having various components fails unexpectedly might bring huge losses for the customers, which must be avoided at all costs. This is why workstations are built to provide greater reliability.
We have already mentioned that the price to a performance ratio will vary amongst gaming PCs and workstations. If you’re on a budget and you want to get the best out of everything you spend, the gaming PC is an ideal choice for you. It will provide the desired hardware to manage your workloads.
Ensure your PC is loaded with essential components and features such as adequate PCIe lanes, extended vendor support, and complete software features.
Workstation CPU vs Gaming PC CPU
If you consider major differences between the two, you’ll find the CPU a top priority. Any computer claiming to be a workstation will have some of the most powerful CPUs. The processors used on a workstation are augmented for parallel processing without laying much stress on the gaming performance. These processors function beyond what a gamer would require.
The main difference between workstation CPU and gaming CPU is Price. For a gaming PC, you might need a processor that will cost you only up to $500, while a workstation CPU may cost up to $2000. This is because a consumer CPU has a limited number of cores (usually 4 to 6), while a workstation CPU can require up to 32 cores along with huge cache size. More cores don’t always mean better performance. If your software can’t take advantage of all the cores, then your huge CPU is useless.
Gaming usually requires a smaller number of cores, and an eight-core CPU can pretty much get the job done right. However, professional tasks on a workstation utilize more cores and therefore require a more powerful CPU. This is why spending too much on a gaming CPU is useless, as most games can function well with a small number of cores.
Workstation GPU vs Gaming PC GPU
A GPU is the most eminent component of a gaming PC. A powerful GPU is a major necessity to run your games to their best limits. Powerful GPUs are also required on a workstation if your tasks involve 3D modelling, animations, video editing, and other intensive tasks. If you consider GPU, the throne is shared by two major manufacturers, which are AMD Radeon and Nvidia GeForce. These manufacturers provide the highest end GPUs, and almost every card on the market is based on their design.
Nvidia and AMD have a specific line of GPUs for workstations, which are the Quadro and RadeonPro.
The main difference between workstation GPU and gaming GPU are far superior compared to ordinary GPUs and provide higher video memory, optimization for GPU-oriented software, and much higher clock speeds. However, although they can be used for gaming, these GPUs are not specifically optimized for this task and may showcase minor issues with support.
Workstation RAM vs Gaming PC RAM
The main difference between workstation RAM and Gaming RAM is user requirements. A gaming PC does not utilize much RAM. Even though greater RAM is better and makes everything run smoother, 8GB of RAM will suffice for a gaming PC. This may be enough to run every game out there to perfection.
On the other hand, a workstation will require a major amount of RAM to perform data-intensive processing. A regular workstation might be found to carry about 32 GB to 64 GB RAM. Some of the highest-end workstations may also be equipped with up to 128 GB RAM or even more.
A workstation also uses a different RAM type than a gaming PC. This is called an error-correcting code (ECC) memory. This type of RAM can improve the stability of major programs and protect your data from corruption. This can be done by detecting data correction within itself. Therefore, the ECC RAM can prove to be an essential component of your computer where there is no tolerance for corruption like banking or scientific research.
Gamers don’t require such type of RAM as it can cost them way more and will fail to offer the same desired performance. You’ll only need the ECC RAM when you need high immunity from data corruption.
Sound & Motherboard Differences
As it is evident from the differences between CPUs and GPUs of gaming PCs and workstations, you’ll also find matching differences amongst the motherboards. The workstation motherboard is loaded with appropriate sockets required by the PC.
Apart from that, the motherboards are unlocked to accommodate higher amounts of RAM and usually have superior quality of the build. Chipsets aren’t a significant feature of a workstation motherboard.
Coming to sound, you’ll find the differences most evident on the gaming PC. A workstation does not focus on sound and is a minor priority. However, the sound is of paramount importance on the gaming PC and is a necessity for gameplay.
No matter what type of gamer you are, a premium sound chipset will favor your performance in any aspect. Most gaming motherboards have an audiophile construction which provides the best sound facilities.
Workstations are usually constructed to have a design that matches an office. They have a business-first aesthetic touch to them and are not much flashy. On the other hand, the gaming PCs are built entirely different. They are loaded with tempered glass cases, windows, RGB LEDs, and multiple customizable features for a futuristic touch. They focus on minor details to provide an aesthetic outlook for gamers.
If you consider cooling, a PC with powerful components produce more heat. And to get rid of the heat, you’ll require a proper cooling system. For example, both gaming PCs and workstations are very powerful and generate a lot of heat compared to an average computer. Therefore, both of them utilize a high-end cooling system to deliver optimal performance.
A workstation and a gaming PC also show similarities when it comes to storage. However, workstation motherboards are designed to be equipped with more storage drives, but that may depend on the case.
Which Type Should You Buy?
If you’re building a PC yourself, the definitions above might not fit the criterion for a gaming PC and a workstation. As a matter of fact, in a custom-built PC, you can match and mix various features to get the best of both worlds. The type you should buy depends entirely on the purpose of use.
Comparing a PC and a workstation is like comparing a huge 18-wheeler truck with a Lamborghini. The parts of a workstation are more heavy-duty and much powerful than a gaming PC. Workstations have the ultimate high functionality for various tasks and are super strong. They are meant for professional use such as modelling, rendering, editing, and so much more.
However, if your main purpose is gaming, you are advised to avoid a workstation. Workstations are built for gaming and might not give desired performance when it comes to gaming. The gaming performance depends on the GPU. If your workstation has a powerful GPU, it will give decent performance.
Regardless, it’s better to go for a gaming PC in this case as it provides the best gaming performance and also offers versatility. This means you can perform many other tasks along with gaming as well. A gaming PC can also be used as a workstation if you have the proper hardware equipped under the hood.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Can I use a workstation as a gaming PC?
Answer: You can definitely play games on a workstation, depending on the type of workstation. If you ask me whether it is worth it, the answer is no. A workstation is loaded with super expensive components, which is unnecessary for gaming. On top of that, it still might fail to deliver the same performance as a gaming PC.
Which is better, workstation or gaming?
Answer: It all depends on the purpose of use. If your purpose is solely gaming, then the gaming PC will suit you best. However, if you need a PC to carry out computationally intensive tasks, then go with a workstation.
Can You Game on a Workstation?
You can definitely play games on a workstation, depending on the type of workstation. If you ask me whether it’s worth it, the answer is no. A workstation is loaded with super expensive components, which is not necessary for gaming. On top of that, it still might fail to deliver the same performance as a gaming PC.
Why Are Workstations So Expensive?
Workstations are usually expensive due to the professional components used inside. The components include ISV development and certification. Other than that, additional research and development have taken place for the specialized hardware of workstations, which is the reason why they are so expensive.
Remember that custom building your own workstation can save you a lot of money.
The Final Verdict
After breaking down all the major differences between a workstation and a gaming PC, it is pretty clear where either one stands. The workstation focuses on power and reliability to give to massive force to perform various heavy tasks. On the other hand, a gaming PC focuses on optimum gaming performance and provides hardware required ideally for gaming. A gaming PC is also quite versatile and can perform all sorts of tasks.
Now that the difference is clear, it should be easier to decide which PC you’re going to need. If you want a PC to carry out professional intensive work, a workstation is the option to go with. However, if your sole purpose is gaming along with all the other tasks a gaming PC can perform, then go with this choice.