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Are the expensive Intel CPUs worth a premium?



  Desktop computer and headphones on a desk in a dimly lit room.

Apple caused a sensation in June 2019 when it released an outdated Mac Pro desktop computer with processor and graphics performance. The main components behind the new Mac Monster are Intel Xeon processors. They range from an unnamed 8-core Xeon W at 3.5 GHz (possibly the Xeon W-3223) to another unnamed Intel Xeon W processor at 2.5 GHz and 28 cores (probably the Xeon W-3275 or the W-3223). 3275M).

The new Mac Tower has sparked discussions about how-to-geek watercoolers, whether it's worth packing one of these multi-core giants into your next PC build.

Apple's new workstation is unrealistic for most of us. Prices for the new Mac Pro start at $ 6,000 and go up to "Small Business Loan." The new desktops offer limited upgrade capabilities due to proprietary connectors, and they lack the enormous gaming potential on the Windows side.

Leave the benefits of the Core i7 and i9 processors behind to experiment with the world of Xeon.

Probably not, and why.

What is a Xeon CPU? on business workstations and servers. These CPUs typically offer more cores than traditional PCs, but the clock speeds are a bit shaky compared to the Core i7 and i9 CPUs.

For example, the Intel Xeon W-3275 / W-3275M has clock speeds starting at 2.5GHz and rising to 4.40GHz, with a further increase to 4.60GHz under certain loads. Compare that to the popular Core i9-9900K, which has a base clock of 3.60 GHz and a 5.0 GHz boost. The clock speeds of the Core i9-9900K are clearly better for the average PC user.

  Intel's Xeon processor package.
Intel

Then you have the Xeon W-3223. This is also an 8-core chip with 16 threads, like the Core i9-9900K, but its clock rate reaches the peak at 4.0 GHz, and its MSRP is about $ 250 higher than that of the i9-9900K. In short, Xeon clock rates can either be near an upper core part or far below.

Where Xeon's rules are power consumption and heat generation – and not in a good way. Xeon chips are much more power hungry and become much hotter. For example, the Xeon W-3275M with 28 cores and 56 threads has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 205 watts and the W-3223 has a TDP of 160 watts. The i9-9900K now has a TDP of 95 watts.

With the 16 core core i9-9960X with 32 threads and a TDP of 165 watts you get closer to the Xeon. However, the vast majority of Core i7 and i9 components do not have these higher energy and heat conditions.

Why are Xeons more expensive?

Xeon CPUs typically have much more integrated, mission-critical technology. For example, they support ECC (Error Correction Code) memory that prevents data corruption and system crashes. ECC RAM is also more expensive and slower, so the compromise is worth it for a few home users because home PCs are pretty reliable.

In companies where availability is critical, even a few hours can cost far more than ECC reminder is worth. Take, for example, financial trading, where transactions happen faster than people can understand. When computers fail or data gets mixed up, these companies have lost a lot of money, which is why they are willing to invest in specialized technology.

Xeon processors also support far more RAM than core chips So if you add a bunch of cores, support for ECC, tons of PCIe lanes, and large memory support, the price will reflect that.

The more cynical PC enthusiast, the higher the price Intel charges for Xeon, because it's possible. Everything designed for businesses typically has a higher price than consumer devices.

Should I buy a Xeon for my PC?

  Intel Core i9 processor package on blue background.
Intel Core i9 Processors

So far, Xeon sounds pretty good: tons of cores, respectable clock rates (in some cases), and lots of PCIe lanes. Heck, the energy problem is just an invitation to work on a custom cooling system, right?

Maybe. However, Xeons are not the best choice for average home users.

If you're interested in a CPU-intensive workload on a Xeon processor or need 24-hour availability without frying your computer in a few weeks, Xeons are well worth a look. But when it comes to games, you spend a lot of money on almost no return.

When critics reviewed the $ 3,000 Xeon W-3175X desktop CPU in early 2019, most of the productivity benchmarks ran the way the Xeon always did well, but then ran against core processors in gaming benchmarks. The results showed that the Core i9-9900K often left the Xeon W-3175X behind with only a few exceptions. And that was against a processor with 28 cores and 56 threads.

But these cores were not that important for modern games, because at some point the higher frequencies (clock rates) of the i9-9900K were more important than cores for playing. There are certainly CPU-bound games that pay for having more cores (most players should have at least one quad-core CPU with eight threads), but the clock rate in combination with IPC (instructions per cycle) is usually the more important measure.

You can overclock a Xeon W-3175X. This could cause the processor to exceed the basic performance of the i9-9900K. However, you can also overclock the Core i9. The W-3175X is also an edge case, as fewer Xeons are unlocked for overclocking, giving core parts another advantage.

If a Core i9-9900K costs less than $ 500 and a high-speed Xeon costs many times more, Xeon offers little to no performance gain and makes little sense for games.

The day might come when a massive core of gameplay is important, but for the time being most of the game world will continue to rock with four of them -core machines.

Who should buy a Xeon?

As Intel's marketing says, these chips are workstations and servers. Even the "desktop" Xeon W-3175X is aimed at 3D artists, game developers and video editors.

If you work in one of these professions or are a "prosumer" enthusiast in one of these areas, then a Xeon processor is for you.

For the rest of us desktop plebeians, a Core i7 or i9 is the way to go.


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