With the impending end of Windows 7 support rapidly approaching, businesses that aren’t already on Windows 10 are quickly moving towards adoption of Windows 10. Windows 7 support ends January 14, 2020. If you are familiar with my blog you probably already know that even though I use Windows 10 on my primary PCs, I am not the biggest fan. Even so, I recognize the inevitability of Windows 10 for my clients. There simply isn’t another viable choice for financial services firms and other security/compliance sensitive businesses.

With that in mind, I have stopped howling at the moon for the time being and if you share my sentiments about Windows 10 you probably should too. Accepting that this upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 must be done, there is perhaps no time better than the summer to get these upgrades out of the way. The alternative of Windows 7 workstations in your office without ongoing security updates from Microsoft in January is much less appealing. So how do you make the best of this forced software reset?

970 EVO Plus - 500GB

You’ll need to take the opportunity to upgrade your systems in such a way that the disruptions associated with Windows 10’s shortcomings and fluid updates to the OS will be as limited in duration as possible. In order to do so, you should place an emphasis on the hardware to support Windows 10 and other software well into the future. As someone that shares in the decision process or possibly makes that decision at your firm, you need to be sure that your hardware is up to the task of running Windows 10 effectively.

Trust me. Spending money in the right places on hardware that is running Windows 10 will pay for itself. Like much of life, it isn’t necessarily about how much you spend, but more importantly what you spend it on that will determine how happy you are in the future.

IT is all about potential bottlenecks and eliminating any you can. If you are knowledgeable enough you can pick and choose what you need to focus on, or you can simplify things further by removing as many barriers to optimal performance as possible. When configuring workstations and servers I prefer to do it in such a way that they never need to be upgraded over their useful life. My recommendations to help achieve that goal follow.


Your processor is the most obvious bottleneck to local processing of data, spreadsheets, file management and other locally processed information such as Axys reporting. Picking a processor that performs poorly in comparison to a significantly more powerful processor at a justifiable price point is a decision you will pay for as long as you own the PC. When evaluating CPUs, it is important to understand your primary applications and whether those apps require optimal single thread performance or can utilize multi-core performance to its full potential. I frequently reference Passmark’s CPU benchmarks when choosing processors.

Armed with this information, you can make the right choice regarding what processor is best for you. Though I tend to lean towards Intel, AMD’s latest Ryzen processors are surprisingly powerful yet affordable. For example, when comparing the Passmark CPU Mark of AMD’s Ryzen 3700X and Intel’s i7-9700 @ 3.00GHz, AMD appears to deliver about 50% more processing power than Intel at the same price point. That is a huge difference and shouldn’t be ignored.

However, buying new workstations with Ryzen processors instead of Intel from traditional channels like Dell isn’t as easy. If you decide to go with Ryzen processors, you may need to make your purchases through a less traditional sales channel and that may be an unpopular idea since Dell is well-established as perhaps the most popular and reliable source of high-quality PC builds for businesses.

How fast is fast enough? That depends on the applications that are most important to you and your firm, but given what is available today and the overhead of Windows 10, I wouldn’t want a new PC that has a CPU Mark less than 10,000.  I’d prefer to see a new workstation configured with a CPU Mark somewhere between 12,500 and 20,000 depending on the type of heavy-lifting involved and the available budget.  Intel’s newer generation of processors (the i5-9500, i7-9700 and i9-9900) fill out this range.


It makes no sense to have less than 16gb of RAM on a new workstation running Windows 10 Pro. Though arguments can be made about whether you truly need that much, the current price of RAM makes this a decision a no-brainer. For an extra $100, some may be tempted to go for 32gb of RAM in the name of future proofing their configuration.


Your motherboard either empowers you take advantage of the latest technology advances or hinders your ability to do so. Newer motherboards offer support for some of the fastest processors and have compatible expansion slots available for latest NVMe storage devices, which you want in your new systems.


Storage Device aka Hard Drive
Last, but not least, one of the most important decisions you can make regarding your new system is that it supports the latest NVMe tech. The newest storage devices are cost-efficient game-changers that will make any system not running them seem soooo sloooow by comparison.

To understand the import of the latest NVMe technology you should know that some of the fastest mechanical hard drives, which are still in use today operate a roughly 1/5 of the speed of more traditional SSD drives that plug into a SATA port. By comparison, the fastest traditional SSD drives are roughly 1/7 the speed of today’s fastest NVMe devices. An NVMe could potentially be 35x faster than the hard drive in your PC today.

If you are considering configuring a new PC with anything less powerful than one of the fastest NVMe drives available, please STOP. You can buy a 512gb NVMe drive for about $110 and that is more than enough storage space for most workstations.


As always, there are caveats regarding what works with what and how well.  There are different types of NVMe devices (4x, 2x, et cetera). You must combine a NVMe storage devices with compatible motherboards to get optimal speeds.  It is also possible to double the performance of the fastest NVMe device by purchasing a motherboard capable of supporting dual NVMe on the motherboard in a RAID 0 configuration, but in that configuration a single NVMe failure would cause you to lose all of your data.

I generalize quite a bit here because this blog isn’t aiming to give every last detail related to NVMe drives, just the fact that you should have one.  If you want to learn more about the technical specifics of NVMe drives this article from PC World should help.


Commitment to Dell
I still like to use Dell for many of my customers’ workstations and servers, but dealing with Dell is rarely a perfect customer experience. For example, Dell classifies hard drives into types 10 to 50, which I find both frustrating and potentially deceptive. I suspect the practice is intended to simplify decision making for decision-makers, but frankly I want to know the specs of the drives I am putting in my systems not the hard drive class Dell has assigned those drives.

If you are not familiar with Dell’s hard drive classes, you are likely to spend more time than you should searching the web for a description of Dell’s system of categorizing hard drive classes. In my own experience, I eventually found a link that did a better job describing Dell’s “classes”, but I really don’t need Dell to classify drives for me. I can do that myself.

Recently, I requested NVMe storage devices from Dell in Optiplex and Precision lines, and received some Precision line quotes with class 20 hard drives. If I actually ordered those PCs the class 20 drives would have hamstrung system performance. My advice regarding purchases from Dell and anyone else is to carefully review the specifications before making your order. Making assumptions about what tech vendors are including in your systems is bound to leave you disappointed.

In summary, if you are moving to Windows 10 this year make sure that your new PCs can support the fastest, affordable 4x PCIe NVMe drives available and don’t be cheap when it comes to processing power. A properly configured workstation should have a useful life of at least three years.  For most users, that configuration should include 16gb RAM, a 500gb NVMe storage device with a compatible motherboard that facilitates maximum sequential-read speeds of 3,500MBps, and an Intel i5-9500 processor or better.  Spending a little extra money on the right equipment now should save you many hours of frustration over the life of your new equipment.


About the Author: Kevin Shea is the Founder and Principal Kevin Shea Impact 2010Consultant of Quartare; Quartare provides a wide variety of technology solutions to investment advisors nationwide.

For details, please visit Quartare.com, contact Kevin Shea via phone at 617-720-3400 x202 or e-mail at kshea@quartare.com.