Xeon or i7 with 24 GB ram for rendering + gaming

I want to build a pc for both rendering (maya, etc.) and gaming. I can't decide between Xeon (maybe dual?) and i7. My budget is $3000 (include all other components too). I plan for air cooling, so don't have to concern with costly liquid cooling.

I know that Xeon is less-power drawn and much more stable but have slower performance on single thread app and probably game as well, whereas i7 is more high-end but I am not sure if it can endure hardcore 24/7 fullload rendering and does as effective multitask as Xeon (virtual machines etc.)... I plan to go with 24 GB ram, though I know that LGA1366 socket mobo support up to 24 GB, but will 24GB unbuffered have noticeable, deteriorated performances compared to 24GB registered?

From what I read, unbuffered ram will have high load of electricity compare to registered ones, Thus combos with i7 high power drawn, it'll be costly for 24/7 workload. However, registered rams will suffer from delay in registers and will perform slower than unbuffered ones. Will the delay be noticeable in gaming? which one do you think will have a better Performance-Cost? (Cost in this case is the power drawn)

If I go with server mobo, I might have an option to add more ram in the future with that 8 gb stick, where as desktop mobo wouldn't let me do so. However, what would be suitable amount of ram I need for render works? or the more the better? (if this is true, it'd support the idea of going for server mobo)

I plan for desktop graphics card (not very concern of viewport or hardware render, plus workstation card is very expensive)

PS: Well, I would've already gone for server mobo (for ECC registered ram/less-power draw), if not because of i7 > dual Xeon in gaming and (from some sources) rendering too.
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  1. Sounds like a 930 would be more suitable to me.
  2. Are you going for pro or entry system?
    This is the biggest decision in rendering games, which has direct influence on the budgetting.

    For pro, I would recommend to got for Xeon (as many cores as you can afford) with EEC RAM (the more the better) and Workstation graphics (Quadro or FireGL)...but believe me, this won't be cheap....and make sure that your rendering software can use that effectively.

    For entry (semi-pro) i7 930 (12GB RAM) or X6 1090T (8GB RAM), non ECC RAM (ECC RAM should do also fine), and workstation graphic (if you want it, but desktop graphic is ok). ...here you decide with your pocket.

    It is your call.
  3. Complete home (non-pro)
    i7 820 or X6 1055T, with 8GB RAM, and a mid classed GPU like HD5770 should be enough.
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