1. Workstations are the only way to go if you want rotatable, high-resolution
color images of biomolecules. However, the prices quoted for having a
workstation vs. a PC are not realistic. Because they are unix machines, you
MUST train someone as a system adminstrator. Either you will have to take some
time learning how to do this (ie., 100's of hours over several months), or
you will have to hire someone to maintain the system. Secondly, you will
HAVE to pay a yearly fee for software upgrades, running in the $1000-$2000
range. Finally, the software ALWAYS costs more than comparable PC software.
The reason that so many people have an Iris and a mac next to each other is
because it is too expensive to buy decent word processors and page layout
programs for the workstations.
So the real cost for molecular modeling is: about 15-20k for an iris with
all the trimmings, at least 5k for the modeling software (academic discount),
1-3k yearly for maintaining the system, and whatever it costs to pay you or
someone else to administer the system.
If all that is needed is visualization, there are Mac and PC based systems
that will display molecules from the coordinates, however slowly and with
limited (8-bit) color. Actual manipulation of structures requires workstation