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Old June 21st, 2011, 11:52 PM   #1
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i7 vs. Xeon

I know that some people really do not like so many threads regarding purchasing and building editing workstations, but I am really in a pickle. I have run a HP xw8200 for several years now and I have become somewhat used to the idea and benefits of dual xeon processors. The time has now come to upgrade and looking at the HP workstations has my bank account crying. HP z800 workstations support dual xeon processors. However, the base HP workstations come with only 3gb ram and it’s ECC, so buying more ram is crazy expensive. Enter Dell. They’ve got a xps9100 that runs a i7-960 at 3.2GHz, can be configured with 24gb of ram, and still comes out cheaper than the HP workstations.

I guess my question is whether the expandability of a second processor in the HP workstations is worth an extra $400? And whether the i7-960 running at 3.2GHz is similar in power to the xeon e5645 running at 2.4GHz?

Any suggestions, comments, and ideas would be awesome. Oh and building a system is out of the question.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 05:00 PM   #2
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

HI,
unless buying at least 2 x 6 core 2.8GHz a dual Xeon is pointless
a single 990x or sandy bridge 2600 will outperform the dual xeon.
even a 960 should outperform the 2.4GHz Xeons.

other than very heavy animation dual xeons are not the best option out there. dual processors do not mean 2x the power more like 20-40% increase over 1 and thats assuming the software is multi-thread capabale.
or working with uncompressed or Red 4K type codecs.
(you didint mention codec or workflow.)

lastly you are looking at the wrong companies for a custom NLE.
better products with far better support can be had elswhere for less $


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Old June 23rd, 2011, 05:57 PM   #3
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

Hey Scott...

Did you ever think of becoming a sponsor on this site??
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 06:10 PM   #4
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

Neil,

Neither the HP nor the Dell is ideal. The HP's dual low-power hexa-core E5645s combined are only about as powerful as a single quad-core i7-950 or i7-960 to begin with.

As for the Dell, they do not currently offer a configuration with any Nvidia GPU at all; the only GPU choices for that system come from AMD (formerly ATi). And they do not offer a configuration equipped with more than two hard drives (which are the absolute minimum number of internal disks that are required by most prosumer NLEs such as Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 - and all of those NLEs strongly recommend more than two physical hard disks). Worst of all, Dell's BIOS offers very, very little in the way of any tweakability at all whatsoever (for example, the RAM cannot run any faster than DDR3-1066 speed, nor would any aftermarket performance RAM work properly if at all on that system - and of course, there is absolutely no provision at all whatsoever to manually set the bus, memory or CPU speeds, timings or voltages).
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 10:48 PM   #5
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Fisher View Post
I guess my question is whether the expandability of a second processor in the HP workstations is worth an extra $400? And whether the i7-960 running at 3.2GHz is similar in power to the xeon e5645 running at 2.4GHz?

Any suggestions, comments, and ideas would be awesome. Oh and building a system is out of the question.
If building a system is out of the question, then the answer is: Yes, adding a second processor will be better for an HP workstation as opposed to one i7. However, is it worth $400? That's up to you. How much RAM you need depends on the resolution and size of the footage you are using. If you're aiming at 2K (and up) you'll probably need 24GB.

Instead of trying to compare, just ask yourself this question: Does the Dell answer your needs? If yes, buy it. If no, go for the HP. If both answer your needs, then buy the cheaper one.

The only other option is performing tests on both machines. My personal choice would be to build my own system, if I was on a cash crunch.
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Old June 30th, 2011, 06:57 AM   #6
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

Have a look at the (alpha/beta) page Benchmark Results

You can sort on practically every column by clicking on the column header and reverse the sorting order by clicking again.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 04:08 PM   #7
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

Alright so having read through everyone's suggestions, is the previous generation i7 970 with 6 cores running at 3.2GHz still faster than a newer i7 2600k with 4 cores running at 3.2GHz.

For some more background I'm using an Adobe production suite to edit 5dmkII footage. So also from what I gather, 24GB would be the minimum amount of RAM necessary?
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Old July 5th, 2011, 10:37 PM   #8
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

24GB will be overkill, for H.264 at 1080 you can do well with just 12GB (which is the minimum recommended for CS5.5)
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Old July 14th, 2011, 11:46 AM   #9
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Re: i7 vs. Xeon

Neil,

We probably need to know more about how you use the Production Premium suite and where you are most concerned about best performance. Honestly, any fast i7 system with 12+GB of RAM, a CUDA-capable graphics card, and reasonably fast RAID to push source files at the timeline efficiently will be great for general editing. You may need to crank it up if you do large, complex projects.

Can you give us an idea if you do large AE comps, or multi-task alot. Do you pretty much stay within PPro and edit two or three tracks at a time, or do your projects become very large and complex with many streams of HD footage? Do you use a lot of effects and/or critical color correction? Is maximum export speed critical to you? All those needs drive how you balance your system in terms of subsystems and cost.
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