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3d workstation processor question

Last response: in CPUs
May 13, 2009 4:42:15 PM

Hi guys :)  My first post so far, I really badly need help because everybody tells me something different. I don't really know much about that, so it might happen I write some BS here ;) 

I want to assemble a 3D workstation and I have performance/money issue, better said a Xeon/Core i7 issue.
What shall it be: Core i7 965 4x3.2GHz @ 8 threads or 2x Xeon E5530 2.4 GHz @16 threads?
The cost would be approximately the same, Xeons might cause an extra cost of about 100€ more for the MoBo.

What do I need: fast frame rendering, not only animation (I could build a home render farm), but fast rendering of stills with lots of ray tracing used. I can use up to 8 threads (special build) for rendering an image, possibly even twice as much.
What would be great: if I could use some of the CPU power for other applications while doing rendering - digital painting, for example, so if one CPU with HT is maxed out, I could use some of the remaining threads. In case that works that way...

In the computer store, they tell me the 2 Xeon quads would smoke the i7 965 although they have "only" 2.4 GHz. But of course they want sell me something, so I really prefer to ask in a public forum.

I'll be going with 12GB ram (fluid sims need a lot) and probably a GeForce GTX 295 (can't afford highend there..)

PLease? :) 
a b à CPUs
May 13, 2009 5:00:58 PM

The Extreme chips is honestly overpriced for what it is. You can easily OC the lowerend chips to the 3.2GHz speed.

Also, If your apps will use all cores of a dual Xeon 5530 systems, that is TOTALLY the way to go. Are your applications CPU intensive or are they GPU intensive? Maybe a single i 920 would be more economical and a HIGH end workstation card would be in order. Just throwing out ideas.
May 13, 2009 5:27:57 PM

My applications are more CPU intensive for sure. I've heard (also from the computer store) that as long as the GPU supports CUDA it should be fine for GPU intensive applications. I also can upgrade the GPU more easily than the CPUs, to I personally wanted to go for higher end CPUs.

So you guys are sure that 2x 2.4 Xeon Quads are gonna blow an i7 for rendering? :)  That'd been the path I'd have chosen anyway, but I 'd rather ask around a lot than sit on an overpriced piece of equipment that won't give optimal performance...
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May 13, 2009 5:37:25 PM

They are, I know, but 2.4vs 3.2GHz... I don't know. But that's why I'm here :)  I have a feeling I want the Xeons. Others said I should get i7 920, but all no hardware cracks! Same price, more power - no decision problem :) 
May 13, 2009 6:00:18 PM

Good... I was quite worried because all the new 3d workstations coming out have the i7 965 built in :-( but I figure this is to keep them affordable. They all feature at least an Ati Fire Pro for 1100€ if not a 2500€ Nvidia. So there are no concerns, anybody?
Damn, I'll be happy to get rid of that Athlon 6400 :) 
May 13, 2009 6:21:27 PM

Well, I haven't yet considered a board as I'm not, or warsn't yet sure about the CPU, but I guess an Asus never goes it possible/wise to OC Xeons? I never ever in 20 years OCed ANYTHING. I guess that will make decisions about the board easIer. Any recommendations?:) 
Thanks for you help!!
May 13, 2009 6:41:49 PM

12 Gb in Tri :)  So I'll best ask Asus then...?
a b à CPUs
May 13, 2009 6:56:35 PM

If it will use all cores, the no question the dual Xeon will blast the 965 away
May 15, 2009 6:39:55 PM

One more question to ask: would the 5550 at 2.66(?)GHz be worth shelling out another 400€ compared to the 5530? had an X2 maximum, so I don't know to which extent the 2 quad's GHz would add up. Would that be just a LITTLE faster or make a real difference for rendering 3d?
Thanks, guys :) 
a b à CPUs
May 15, 2009 9:37:29 PM

^No. It won't make too much of a gain compared to the price of the 5550.

Also if you are doing 3D rendering you WILL benefit from a workstation graphics card over a gaming card. If you can find an old 8800 you could softmod it and it should be better than the gaming cards for 3D renderings.
September 15, 2009 11:02:44 AM

Hey Corn,
can you post your build details and how its working out for ya?
September 15, 2009 11:31:28 AM

Sorry, not yet - I got pummeled by a few major bills, so no new workstation yet :(  I will post once I'm there, as lately the AMD 8-cores have been released the whole thing might get a new face after all....