I was at a meeting in New York this week with a major PC vendor, and one of the things the company’s sales data shows is that people who should be buying workstations — or even gaming machines — are buying mainstream Windows PCs instead. (The focus wasn’t on gaming, but on productivity and performance.)
Given I’ve been covering PCs and workstations since the early 1990s, I want to explain the difference between the two and when you should consider one over the other.
The big difference
The main difference between workstations and Windows PCs is that PCs are usually built for business (where IT makes the final decision), and workstations are for individual users. Originally, workstations were mostly used by engineers who need higher performance and have less tolerance for even small errors. The configurations generally required two things: error checking memory (ECC) and certifications from software vendors who made the apps designed to run on them.