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Building a Workstation PC with the i9-11900K

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The i9-11900K is a somewhat confusing component. On the one hand, it compares unfavorably with its own predecessor, the i9-10900K: it has 8 cores (down from its older sibling’s 10), yet has the same top speed. And indeed, benchmarks by Gamers Nexus show that performance is very similar, with the i9-11900K sometimes slightly behind its predecessor.

On the other hand, 8 cores (and 16 threads) is likely to be more than enough for the vast majority of both gaming and workstation users, 5.3 GHz is still an excellent native top speed, and the two fewer cores do make a slight positive difference in favor of cooler temperatures on the 11900K. Thus, although the core count has been ‘downgraded,’ this i9 remains a powerful processor.

So, with the discontinuation of the 10900K making that chip frequently unavailable or overpriced,  building with this new unlocked i9 will still make sense for many. With good performance in both single- and multi-core tasks, this CPU may ultimately be surprisingly popular for all types of users in the coming year.

As a result, in this article we’re taking a look at putting together a workstation PC with the i9-11900K:

 

The Build

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master MASTERLIQUID ML240L

Since the TDP of the i9 still is 125 Watts, I went with water-cooling to give cooling headroom for some overclocking. This is a 240 millimeter AIO from Cooler Master that should do provide the desired cooling. Aside from being a capable liquid cooling unit, it also has the most vital of features: RGB!

Motherboard: MSI Z590 PRO WIFI

A motherboard from the newest chipset, with decent VRMs (again, to allow the possibility of overclocking) and native WiFi! It has Pcie 4.0, too. Another feature worth mentioning is the 8+4 pin CPU power header, but don’t worry if your PSU does not have the extra four pins; those are only needed for (not recommended) extreme overclocking.

Memory: G. Skill Ripjaws V Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16

16 GB remains to be the sweet spot for RAM sticks, and these relatively fast sticks will be more than enough for starting and even intermediate professionals. If you do intend to use the PC as a high-level workstation for rendering or a similarly memory-hungry task, however, it would be advisable to go for 32 GB instead.

Storage 1: Intel 660p Series 512 GB M.2-2280 NVME SSD

Our motherboard comes with an M.2 slot, so let’s use it! This is a fast M.2 NVME SSD; it is intended for your OS installation and your most used programs. Thanks to the speed of this SSD, your OS and programs should boot up lightning-fast!

Storage 2: Crucial BX500 2 TB 2.5″ SATA SSD

This SSD is meant all your media files, documents, infrequently used programs, and anything else. It has enough space for all of that whilst still being noticeably faster than an HDD! Get a smaller SSD (or even an HDD) if you want to save some money and you’re certain that you don’t need all the storage room.

Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10 GB Founders Edition

This card is hard to get your hands on, but regardless of whether you get one for a good price or a bad price, you will have a very strong GPU! This graphics card is one of the best currently (un)available, and will do very well with any hardware/GPU-dependent workloads—not to mention being terrific for gaming when the workday is done.

Case: Corsair 5000D AIRFLOW

This case from Corsair is, as the name says, built with airflow in mind. Since both the processor as well as the video card can run hot, a cool case is essential. If you want even more cooling performance, consider adding some extra case fans (such as Noctua P12s). And thanks to the tempered glass, you will always be able to see your components in action!

Power Supply: SeaSonic FOCUS 850 W 80+ Gold

A fully modular, well-rated, high-power PSU to finish off the build. Full modularity should make it so you can build with ease, and high power should give you plenty for all your components (as well as keeping room for upgrades). Its 80+ gold rating means it has an excellent level of power efficiency, in this case at least 87% at 100% load.

 

Conclusion

With a total price of around 2600 USD (could be less or could be more depending on the current price of parts, especially the RTX 3080), this build around the i9-11900K will be suitable for a professional user with heavy workloads.

It is not be discounted, though, that this system would also shine beautifully in running games, due to its strong single-core performance as well as ray-tracing and DLSS features. These attributes would allow the build to give the performance needed when gaming in 4K, or when playing competitively at 1080 with huge FPS numbers—after all your work is finished, of course…

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