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Dual quad (Xeon) vs. single quad (i7)

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  • CPUs
  • Quad
  • Intel i7
  • Motherboards
  • Product
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January 13, 2010 2:39:46 AM

Please be easy on me here, team---I'm a little over my head here...the PC's I've built a few years ago seem like it was the dark ages.
I want to build a serious workstation for video editing (Premiere & After Effects) and file conversions like BluRay to matroska h264 files.
As my thread title suggests, I am weighing the pros and cons between a dual socket motherboard for a pair of quad Xeons, or keeping it a lot more simple and going with a single quad i7.
I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts.
Here's what is spinning around in my head:
--All the apps I intend to use are multi-threaded.
--DDR2 on the dual xeon board vs. DDR3 on the newer motherboards (speed, price, etc)
--new processors vs. older ones (speed, price, etc)
--is more (sockets, in this case) faster? (can I assume that two quad xeons is faster than 1 quad i7?)
--looking at the Supermicro X7DALEO dual socket motherboard for the Xeon route
--can't seem to find a dual socket motherboard for two quad i7's

Thank you for any input..I appreciate it!

More about : dual quad xeon single quad

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January 13, 2010 2:50:08 AM

i7s are generally desktop chips.

Xeons are server/ workstation chips.

Newer Xeon models are normally rebranded i7s.

Multi-threaded apps will benefit from the extra quad-core.

You should definately purchase the latest i7 or Xeon, they far surpass those of previous generations due to technological advancement.
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January 13, 2010 2:53:32 AM

Since the chips are essentially identical with the exception of socket (arch of latest i7 and Xeon are identical), more sockets will definitely lead to more processing power.

EVGA have recently released a dual-i7 motherboard at CES. This will shortly become avalible. http://www.fudzilla.com/content/view/17204/1/

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January 13, 2010 2:54:21 AM

It depends which processors in particular you are looking at, if you are comparing 2 slow core 2 based xeons to an i7 960 then it might win, but if you are comparing 2 fast core 2 based xeons to an i7 920 then the xeons will win. Also realize that Xeons are just intels server processors, there are core 2 xeons and nehalem xeons. Now if you want a dual socket i7 motherboard those arent too hard to find, just check under the server motherboard section of newegg.

For the apps you are considering as they are multi threaded more sockets mean more threads means better performance so yes, more sockets in this case means more speed. DDR3 or DDR2 doesnt make a ton of difference, a DDR3 system will have lower upgrade costs down the line but the performance difference between the two isnt too much.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 13, 2010 3:00:44 AM

In conclusion, going the i7 route will be cheaper. RAM is around the same price for DDR2 and DDR3, with the latter only showing marginal improvements. Xeons are more expensive but will handle a higher workload more effectively.

Both are good choices.

However, having dual Xeons does not always improve performance. In smaller single application workloads, the first quad might not even become strained. Since I presume you will doing these tasks at the same time I recommend you choose the Xeons or dual i7s. With such heavy workloads the Xeons should allow system responsiveness.

If you happen not to be purchasing your computer strictly now, I would recommend waiting for the new hex-core i7s and Xeons coming soon. These processors are manufactured on a smaller process and generate less heat per core and also has the added advantage of 2 extra cores.
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January 13, 2010 3:02:57 AM

hunter315 said:
It depends which processors in particular you are looking at, if you are comparing 2 slow core 2 based xeons to an i7 960 then it might win, but if you are comparing 2 fast core 2 based xeons to an i7 920 then the xeons will win. Also realize that Xeons are just intels server processors, there are core 2 xeons and nehalem xeons. Now if you want a dual socket i7 motherboard those arent too hard to find, just check under the server motherboard section of newegg.

For the apps you are considering as they are multi threaded more sockets mean more threads means better performance so yes, more sockets in this case means more speed. DDR3 or DDR2 doesnt make a ton of difference, a DDR3 system will have lower upgrade costs down the line but the performance difference between the two isnt too much.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Nehalem Xeons are essentially i7s anyway.
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January 13, 2010 3:34:56 AM

lol, it's like nobody even reads what I post anymore.
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January 13, 2010 3:39:18 AM

reading it all---thank you so much! :) 
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January 13, 2010 3:40:59 AM

You're welcome.

Do you have a budget for this build?
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January 13, 2010 3:52:02 AM

well---I guess around $2500 would be my max. I've priced out the 2 quad xeons and the motherboard, and I found a few great ebay auctions selling used proc's in pairs (!), getting a few parts at NewEgg and a few random other places (found lower prices than NewEgg)...and I'm doing pretty ok.
Can I also ask your opinion on video cards?
I want to power dual monitors--and then a 3rd screen---a 40 inch LCD.
I was looking at the nVidia Quadro FX 580 512MB..so I guess I'd get two of those. I would love to find a card that could power 3 screens at once...LOL.
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January 13, 2010 3:57:29 AM

I think some of the newer ATi cards have Eyefinity which lets you use 3+ monitors on the same card.

Unless you are keen on having great GPU-application accleration, I think a HD 5750 would be enough. Not much is done on the GPU when it comes to video rendering unless you happen to be encoding on the GPU (which I discourage as most applications either cost money or have dodgy format support). The highest amount of acceleration in CS4 is mainly with zooming in and out and with some filters. Depends if you really want to spend extra on the Quadtros.
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January 13, 2010 4:06:59 AM

wow---cool card--thank you so much for your thoughts here!
I will go to the site and read more on it--but it looks like I could power dual monitors *and* go HDMI out to my LCD? Three separate images at once? That's what I need!
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January 13, 2010 4:10:00 AM

One thing I will point out is that one monitor must be connected to Displayport in order for Eyefinity to work. So you can have DVI + DVI + Displayport or HMDI + DVI + Displayport. Also keep in mind that for 30" monitors you may need dual-link DVI so one graphics card might not cut it.
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January 13, 2010 4:11:57 AM

question about overclocking (sorry--all over the map here)---if I go with the 2 quad xeons--can I overclock them both? Or--is overclocking just for single CPU situations?
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January 13, 2010 4:13:41 AM

Overclocking is generally unsupported on server motherboards.

Server/Workstation boards are mainly designed with stability in mind.

You could probably get away with the best of both world with dual i7s.
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January 13, 2010 4:14:19 AM

re: the graphic card---cool, thanks--just went to this site and got the skinny on that. Pretty cool stuff. So---you would go ATI over nvidia just over price?
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January 13, 2010 4:16:17 AM

re: overclocking, etc---
Ok, I get ya---but looking at that dual i7 board---I wonder how much that would be---and what kind of case I would need for that! Holy cow.
Sorry---another total newbie question here (probably pretty obvious by now my level of know-how)...why is this i5 so much cheaper that i7?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 13, 2010 4:19:17 AM

sdpcuser2010 said:
re: the graphic card---cool, thanks--just went to this site and got the skinny on that. Pretty cool stuff. So---you would go ATI over nvidia just over price?


Unless you intend to use GPGPU acceleration such as CUDA encoding (which I find on my Nvidia card quite disappointing in quality.) or GPGPU application enhancement, I would recommend the ATi card. It's not like the graphics card needs to do much more than running 3 displays. That on top of minor GPU acceleration. CS4 doesn't really take advantage of too much of your graphics card. That's why it's not a benchmark.
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January 13, 2010 4:22:21 AM

i5 is cheaper because it lacks Hyperthreading.

Hyperthreading is virtually emulating CPU cores to trick the software into loading data more efficently. This is a huge factor in encoding. Makes a ~20% boost.

Also, i5s cannot be run in dual-socket boards. That's why instead of an i5 I decided to purchase a Xeon X3440 with Hyperthreading for my production computer (single socket).
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January 13, 2010 4:27:00 AM

holy crap I should pay you for all this---thank you again.
Just saw this on NewEgg---pretty cool set up if I end up going just single quad:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

So much cheaper too! I just want to have a really cool experience ripping a bluray to h264 mkv file and watch it blaze...still so pulled if a dual quad xeon would be faster for stuff like that.
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January 13, 2010 4:32:53 AM

Personally I think one quad is enough.

(What I have now)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The only complaint I have is the fact the i7-870 is horribly overpriced for the little benefit it gives. The X3440 I have is in fact the same chip, just 500mhz slower, but my Xeon is 1/2 price of the i7. (That and my little Xeon has more Virtualization functions than the i7s)
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Best solution

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January 13, 2010 4:34:06 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Or this?

Only 200mhz slower.

Overclocking can make up for the rest.

Edit: Yes, you can thank me, with the select as best answer lol :p .
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January 13, 2010 4:50:28 AM

wow---so cool!
So I overclock in the bios, or with a piece of software?
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January 13, 2010 4:54:04 AM

You can do it with both.

BIOS normally has the most control.

Software works fine too.

Check your motherboard maker. They should have overclocking software.

Remember not to go too extreme. You are potentially putting your hardware at risk (a minor OC of ~15% won't hurt). Just make sure you have your temps under control.
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January 13, 2010 4:58:48 AM

ok--I see. Is this a really killer cooler system you would recommend for this processor? (Intel Core i7-860)
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January 13, 2010 5:14:24 AM

sorry---meant to write: "Is *there* a really killer cooling system you would recommend for this processor"
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January 13, 2010 5:42:15 AM

ok--i think you've seriously changed my mind to build a LOT cheaper single quad.
I can't thank you enough.
I'm off to bed!
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January 13, 2010 4:57:04 PM

sdpcuser2010 said:
ok--i think you've seriously changed my mind to build a LOT cheaper single quad.
I can't thank you enough.
I'm off to bed!

I suggest talking to a reputable computer company that can give you solid, accurate advice on a proper system for the apps you will be using. AMDgirl has some good suggestions, but is also lacking basic information about the products she is discussing such as the difference between a Core i5 and i7....the difference she points out is hyperthreading....that is hardly the difference between the two...how about the integrated memory controller and QPI links? that is what makes the two series of procs so different. Advice always sounds good when you dont know what is right and what is wrong.
I would start off with a call to the software manufacturers and find out what system they recommend and go from there. Follow their specs not specs from someone who doesn't know what their talking about. Either build it yourself or find someone that can build to your specs for a fair price. After all, you get what you pay for.
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January 13, 2010 8:40:20 PM

^ http://ark.intel.com/Compare.aspx?ids=41316,37147,42915,

The only difference between a Lynnfield Core i5 (LGA 1156) and a Lynnfield Core i7 (LGA 1156) is that the Core i7 has TxT (Trusted Execution Technology) and extra virtualization instructions (which don't really make a difference to his computer) on top of the Hyperthreading I've mentioned already. Lynnfield Core i5 and i7 are essentially the same die with certain features disabled.

The difference between a Lynnfield Core i7 and a Bloomfield Core i7 is an extra QPI link for the Bloomfield, slightly larger die size for the Lynnfield, an integrated memory controller for the Lynnfield, more aggressive Turbo Boost (auto overclocking) and the fact Lynnfield i7s have TxT.

It's pretty easy to get lost with Intel's current naming scheme.

There is only a minor difference between the performance of Lynnfield and Nehalem. Besides, the main question was whether to buy a Dual Xeon or Single i7.

:) 
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