Processor buying advice



  • I have been saving all year and I now have about £2000 to spend on a new system, with more coming gradually in the future. I use my main machine for gaming and 3D equally. I model in 3DS Max, but most of my rendering is in Poser. What are your thoughts between a 10 core regular processor, a 6 core extreme, or two or four lower cost Xeons? I'd have to buy a new motherboard and ram, and the motherboards appear to run at £300-500.

    Any thoughts or personal experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


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    My recommendation would be two Xeons, with as many cores as budget allows, comparing core count multiplied by clock speed. "Regular" Windows licenses won't acknowledge more than two processors (granting that it is possible to fool Windows by running VMware).

    Anything will work for modeling; it is rendering that is demanding.



  • Thanks for your response. I can't use more than two processors on a standard licence? Wow - did NOT know that. So is a 3ghz xeon with 8 cores the same speed as a 3GHz non xeon with the same number of cores? When you say comparing core count times clock speed, I assume you mean say 4 cores time 3ghz = 12ghz? It seems that there is such a small difference between clock speeds. Can xeons be overclocked?



  • Xeon's are harder to over clock than I7's, but keep in mind that a 3 ghtz Xeon is faster than a 3 ghtz I7 in almost every multicore benchmark.
    But they can be overclocked if you do your homework on choice of Xeon and the motherboard used.
    In general, the Xeon's have more math power (number of math units in CPU), higher memory bus speeds, higher internal cache (MBytes), etc.
    Xeon's also do not slow down as much when all cores are in use, some don't down clock at all. (Usually limited to 4 core Xeon's)

    As far as Windows licensing goes, you need Windows Server to use 3 or more CPUs.
    Standard Windows editions are 1 or 2 CPUs max regardless of core count.



  • @matb

    Hi there

    I would go with Xeon as above,but all depends there

    I can compare my i7-5820k with 4.5GHz OC and E5-2683v3 which is clocked 2.0GHz(turbo 2.3GHz),in single core operation or 3DS Max i7 is better and in rendering Xeon E5 is without the question is faster

    Regarding Xeon and OC,my E5 can be only OC through the BCLK (I've run OC mine to 2.38GHz) and this will gain slightly faster render times,but its not to worth to OC those chips,which chips on X99(LGA 2011-3) can be OC are E5-16xx series,but those chips are only single socket chips and you can't use them two on same board

    What to get,i7-5820k can be bought for reasonable money,I would get this chip,6800k are newer,but they're run lot hotter and they need lot more voltages for same GHz than older i7-5xxx series,don't get 5930k those chips are poor OC'ers and really they run hot with 4.5GHz OC

    Which chip I would get is i7-5960x which can be bought for something like £600-£750 right now and new i7-6950x are very expensive there and if they're worth,not sure,have tried that chip on mine(I've borrowed that chip from our work and tried OC to 4.4GHz and run bit hotter,but I'm, cooling all my CPU with NH-D15 CPU cooler and tried water cool and no difference there) and in rendering is lot better than my E5-2683v3

    I would wait on AMD Zen right now,I would keep eyes open as I've seen few Blender Cycles benches and Zen has been faster than Intel i7 counterparts in some benches,those chips should be here in Q1 2017 or later and they should offer great performance increase

    If you want to build right now then I would go route probably with X99 board,ASRock board I'm running,those boards are very reliable and don't have any issues,ASUS board have lots of issues on X99 and mainly they seems killing the CPU

    For multi CPU motherboards,have look on Tyan or Supermicro boards are best without the questions,ASRock do have one which is similarly to Supermicro board,ASUS Z are problematic(have owned only one and returned back to Scan)and Gigabyte do have few issues which can be sorted

    For CPU I would have look on ES chips,E5-2683v3 ES can be bought for £200-£300 as max ,you will need to use on those "server" boards ECC RAM and those RAM are expensive if we are comparing them to normal RAM,I would suggest 64GB should be enough for yours needs,I'm running 96GB on normal single socket ASRock X99 Extreme6 and I'm swapping CPU like i7-5820k for E5-2683v3

    And if you do use Poser then I would invest money for used Titan X,they cost around £450-£600 and you can build for £2000 easily X99 PC with dual Titan X and I would say you will have great monster,two GPU in SF are really worth extra effort there

    Hope this helps

    Thanks,Jura


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    @matb said in Processor buying advice:

    So is a 3ghz xeon with 8 cores the same speed as a 3GHz non xeon with the same number of cores?

    Nominally, any 3GHz CPU would run a single thread at the same speed as any other 3GHz CPU. In actual practice, Xeons on server/workstation motherboards often outperform core i7 CPUs on home/gaming motherboards which have higher claimed specs. Probably due to the heavier duty support infrastructure of server motherboards, and a similar distinction between the CPU series (Xeons are the heavy duty commercial grade stuff).

    @matb said in Processor buying advice:

    When you say comparing core count times clock speed, I assume you mean say 4 cores time 3ghz = 12ghz?

    Well, a quad core i7 @ 3.2GHz would give a coreXclock factor of 4x2x3.2=25.6, but the units would be something more like 25.6 giga floating operations per second (Gflop). The 2 accounts for HyperThreading, which doubles the effective core count.

    A workstation/server motherboard with dual hex-core Xeons @ 3.46GHz then gives 6x2x2x3.46=83.04 Gflop

    6cores x 2(for HyperThreading) x2(for dual CPUs) x 3.46 (clock speed)

    @matb said in Processor buying advice:

    It seems that there is such a small difference between clock speeds.

    Yeah, that's why core count (and using two CPUs) is the most effective way to gain render speed.



  • @seachnasaigh said in Processor buying advice:

    @matb said in Processor buying advice:

    So is a 3ghz xeon with 8 cores the same speed as a 3GHz non xeon with the same number of cores?

    Nominally, any 3GHz CPU would run a single thread at the same speed as any other 3GHz CPU. In actual practice, Xeons on server/workstation motherboards often outperform core i7 CPUs on home/gaming motherboards which have higher claimed specs. Probably due to the heavier duty support infrastructure of server motherboards, and a similar distinction between the CPU series (Xeons are the heavy duty commercial grade stuff).

    @matb said in Processor buying advice:

    When you say comparing core count times clock speed, I assume you mean say 4 cores time 3ghz = 12ghz?

    Well, a quad core i7 @ 3.2GHz would give a coreXclock factor of 4x2x3.2=25.6, but the units would be something more like 25.6 giga floating operations per second (Gflop). The 2 accounts for HyperThreading, which doubles the effective core count.

    A workstation/server motherboard with dual hex-core Xeons @ 3.46GHz then gives 6x2x2x3.46=83.04 Gflop

    6cores x 2(for HyperThreading) x2(for dual CPUs) x 3.46 (clock speed)

    @matb said in Processor buying advice:

    It seems that there is such a small difference between clock speeds.

    Yeah, that's why core count (and using two CPUs) is the most effective way to gain render speed.

    Hi @seachnasaigh

    I wouldn't compare older X58(LGA1366) with newer LGA2011 or X79 etc as those CPU have better IPC and mainly they support Intel Embree,AVX which right now most of the renderers do support and with them you will have lot faster renders,I can only compare Corona Renderer and V-RAY where my old X5670 OC to 4.4GHz rendered scene in 45 minutes and newer i7-4790k which has been clocked at 4.4GHz done same scene in 35minutes

    Agree this core count is important,have look my i7-5820k have 12x4.5GHz=54GHz,E5 2683v3 clocked to 2.3Ghz have 28x2.3=64.4GHz,in most renderers Xeon E5 although ES chip still is faster than i7

    I would have look on this benchmark,I'm using this mostly for benching the rendering performance

    https://corona-renderer.com/benchmark/

    My old X5670 done same scene in 3.36 minutes,current i7-5820k OC to 4.2GHz 2.42 minutes,E5 2683v3 1.59 minutes

    Hope this helps

    Thanks,Jura



  • @seachnasaigh
    I would use a factor of 1.2 for hyperthreading.

    The actual amount varies by application, between 5% and 40% improved performance, compared to non-hyperthreaded operation.
    Giving it a factor of 2, implying a doubling of the core's performance would be an overstatement.



  • @matb You might try one of the suppliers of 'refurbished' machines, for example: http://www.bargainhardware.co.uk/dell-precision-t7500-a-grade-configure-to-order/

    You could specify two hex-core Xeons (that's 24 threads) running at 2.9Ghz, 96Gb RAM, plenty of HD space etc. etc. and still have change out of £1250. The case is HUGE - definitely an under-the-desk job - and the technology is slightly behind the curve, but such a workstation will give top-of-the-range new systems a run for their money.



  • Thank you very much for all of your advice everybody. There's an awful lot to digest, and to add to the mix, I just found out you can buy dual i7 motherboards, which may be another route forwards!



  • @jura11 I like your thoughts on E5-2683v3 which is very affordable, but I fear that such a low clock speed would not meet my requirements for also being able to play games. I already have a Titan X, so adding another would add render speed but not memory as I understand. Also, Poser 11 Pro is just quirky A/F using GPU rendering (weird displacement problems discussed in another thread) , but of course, crashes using CPU rendering. Moreover, a number of pro apps don't support Direct X at all, and some decline to support gaming cards according to 3D Artist.



  • @matb

    Hi Mat

    All depends on budget,I bought mine for rendering only E5-2683v3 which is ES chip,if I would get normal stepping E5-2683v3 or retail chip then my turbo will be in 3.5GHz and normal clock 2.8GHz

    You can get better chips which will cost more,I would check ebay for Xeon E5 V3,those chips are compatible with most of the X99 motherboards,I've went with ASRock as this board supports 16GB RAM single sticks,I'm running 96GB RAM and its supports Xeon out of box

    Regarding the gaming on E5-2683v3 all depends,have played games and have benched games with my E5-2683v3,here are my results,gaming on E5 is not bad there,but off course if this ES chip could run extra 500Mhz I would be happy bunny

    E5 2683v3 with Titan X

    alt text

    i7-5820k with 4.4GHz

    alt text

    Regarding the running multiple GPU in Poser Pro,running them and using them mostly in most of the rendering SW which supports or using GPU for rendering and no issues,yes you will gain on render speed,I'm running Titan X with GTX1080 and no issues and everything is fine,some issues are there,but mostly on W10 with TDR which is annoying

    Not memory sadly if you are running multiple GPU,this is or will be possible on OpenCL 2.0,but nVidia is stuck with OCL 1.3

    Yes pro apps don't supports DX,but this has been from start,they mostly use OpenGL and NVIDIA do have good OGL and I wouldn't be worried regarding that and mostly depends on GPU too and drivers itself,I'm running or using only Qudro drivers on mine

    Regarding the declining or not supporting gaming cards,which SW don't support gaming cards,all SW which I've tried and used and worked as I work in company which is using most of the apps and we are running only Titan X in our machines

    Hope this helps

    Thank,Jura



  • @jura11 Thank you so much for your help Jura.



  • @seachnasaigh What OS do you run on your dual Xeon servers?


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    @mr_phoenyxx said in Processor buying advice:

    @seachnasaigh What OS do you run on your dual Xeon servers?

    Win7Pro 64bit. I found a place which had a stack of OEM disc/holo-sticker/licenses for $72* each and gobbled a bunch up, plus a few Win7Ultimate for workstations.

    But I think you could run a Windows Server license and PiXiE boot the whole stack in one shot. @shvrdavid would know more about that than I.

    • SoftwareSpeedy - they're out of them now