Holiday 2012 Workstation Buyer's Guideby Zach Throckmorton on December 10, 2012 3:20 AM EST
As stated plainly on the first page of this guide, it's critically important to consider whether to build a workstation yourself, or to buy a pre-built from a company that can provide support. If you're capable (and willing) to support the workstation yourself, or if your system isn't mission critical (like a prosumer-grade photo or video editing system that can be offline for a few days without impacting your wallet), then a DIY workstation can be a good value and enjoyable experience.
Before putting together a workstation, be sure to be especially cognizant of your storage and graphics cards needs, as these will be wildly variable between different workloads. Regardless of whether you need low or high powered components, pay attention to prices over the holidays. Component costs are especially dynamic this time of year, and you can save a lot of money by doing your research and watching for sales.
As always, AnandTech's General Hardware forum is a great place to share information with fellow PC enthusiasts, and the Hot Deals forum is full of useful tips for scoring cheap parts. Those interested in GPGPU computing can check out our Video Cards & Graphics forum for information on how various models perform in different scenarios. We also welcome you to share your workstation specifications and what you use your workstation(s) for in the comments section.