At the company I work for we use some third-party software that is
CPU hungry and doesn't utilize RAM hardly at all in its calculations. Video RAM is also not a concern. Our lease department works with Dell and has sent me specs on their T5500 workstations and says we can upgrade them to the Xeon W5590, but I've seen where the i7 970 and i7 980x chips benchmark higher. Just looking for a recommendation on what to tell my IT guy to order.
I'd recommend the Phenom X6 1055t, building a whole (cheaper) cluster of them. If you do that with a 880G chipset you won't even need to buy a discrete graphics card.
If power is a concern, go with the Core i7-980X, but keep in mind you could build 2 AMD machines (hex-cores) for one i7-980X. Perhaps even building a few i7-860 (quad) and saving those bucks, because CPU wise a i7-860 is about 3x cheaper than a i7-980X.
Really, forget the Xeon. The reason people pay masses of money to buy the Xeon is because it can support a bucketload of RAM, it has ECC and it a bit more reliable than your standard run of the mill computer.
I appreciate the feedback everyone. As our company's lease with Dell has us locked-in to the T5500 workstation, using AMD processors or building customized machines simply aren't an option. Power also isn't a concern as my company is a utility!